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Everything on Earth is limited. Its resources are bound to finite numbers. Food, water, clean air, land and everything else cannot go on forever. But we are fully dependent upon this blue planet for our survival. We constantly extract resources to support our lifestyles. In the past, the level of human consumption was not a problem. Because our ancestors knew the finite nature they live in and respect it through sustainable living. But now in the 21st Century? Things are vastly different.
The modern world revolves around overconsumption. As human population shoots up to billions, the demand for resources to support this race increases exponentially. We constantly demand for resources for food, clothing, shelter and enjoyable things. But the way we consume isn’t sustainable. We demand more, more and more from a planet that’s quickly drying up of resources. This is an unfortunate effect of capitalism, which saw growth from the West to the developing nations.
Climate change has worsened since it was first noted as “global warming” by scientists in the 1890s. Under increasing pressure, our world reacts with unpredictable weather systems such as cataclysmic disasters, loss of water in towns and sinking islands. This signals the urgent need to shift to a lifestyle that sustains both humankind and Earth. Thus, humans need to practice sustainable living.
Sustainable living is a lifestyle geared towards reducing use of Earth’s natural resources. People who choose this lifestyle live more simply. They do everything with as minimal impact to Mother Nature as possible. Going green for them means more than trash or cleanliness. Rather, they save as much resources they can. From money to energy, they choose every action based on its potential impact to others and the environment.
Why is Sustainable Living Urgent?
July 29 is Earth Overshoot Day. This is the day scientists estimated as the time that humans consumed the full amount of annual allocation of Earth’s natural resources. According to the Global Footprint Network, this growing deficit of natural resources proves a severe problem to Earth-dwellers. We are now at the edge of a precipice. If we can’t shift to sustainable living, then soon Earth will rebalance its mechanisms through a cataclysmic event. It happened before. For instance, The meteor that struck the dinosaurs into extinction. Then the Ice Age. The mysterious calamity that expunged the existence of Neanderthals. Moreover, it will happen again.
Earth has taken millions of years to evolve to a habitable environment. But humans created a lifestyle that damaged this environment in just a few decades. Scientists banged the alarm of global warming since 1896. First, they started cautioning against greenhouse gases (chlorofluorocarbons). These gases tear into the Earth’s protective atmosphere. But man didn’t listen and act in unison against this problem. So now nature has gone haywire.
As greenhouse gases (CO2 and methane) continue to shoot up, they increase the heat of the planet. Rising temperatures led to a swathe of natural disasters. Hurricanes, storms and tornadoes devastated communities in unforeseen levels. Lands dried up from prolonged droughts. Wildfires spread faster and lasted longer than ever. Antarctic glaciers melt too fast that they cause seas to rise to the surface. Island nations and coastal communities keep sinking until the sea engulfs them like Atlantis. Worse, abnormally hot oceans cause bleached corals that threaten the survival of marine species and the whole planetary ecosystem.
15 Ways You can Live Sustainably
Sustainable living encompasses a variety of lifestyle changes. If you choose to live sustainably, you need to be prepared to change your way of life. It will be difficult. But it will be fulfilling to know that you’ll taking care of the planet Earth which your children and theirs can enjoy. Here are twelve ways I recommend for any beginner in sustainable living.
1. Go zero waste.
The first step to sustainable living is being mindful of your waste. We can best know our consumption by examining our trash. First, take a day to sort your trash. The more trash you pick up, the more you’ll realize the tragic wastefulness of your life. Every sachet of convenience, all disposables may make you cringe at their amount. Then think of where these may go. It is very likely that this will hurt animals, clog waterways, and intoxicate the environment.
Once you know what and where your waste is, think of reducing as much as waste as possible. Shift to a zero waste lifestyle. Going zero waste makes you less wasteful and more thoughtful to the environment.
2. Be a minimalist.
If you can’t commit yet to a zero waste lifestyle, at least choose to buy less stuff. Live more simply. Remember that your life is not about your belongings. Rather, living should focus more on your relationships. Practice minimalism. Pare down to only the essentials. Whether you follow Marie Kondo or The Minimalists, what matters most is your understanding of your own happiness and fulfillment.
Don’t let companies and society influence you to buy more than you need. Don’t buy into the sales, bargains, and deals. In fact, choose to minimize the times you buy stuff. So you can prioritize your funds and energies into the most important aspects of your life. Being a minimalist will lead you to sustainable living. Because going back to the basics shows you how to reconnect with nature more than stuff. In short, to be a minimalist is to live most simply and most sustainably with the environment.
3. Eat less meat.
Animals bred for food cause environmental damage as much as the manufacturing sector of any economy. Taking care of animals in an industrial scale is not a sustainable venture. Because population shoots up faster than ever, more land is needed for human necessities. More resources needed for food, clothing, shelter, and luxuries. Worse, animals such as cattle, poultry and pigs require as much resources as humans.
This is even worse when it comes to seafood. Over-fishing damages the marine ecosystem. Fish and other species slowly become extinct. And the most alarming thing about it, waste pollution has reeked microplastics into the ocean. Marine animals eat them. Then when we catch these for food, we also consume the harmful microplastics into our body.
The more humans demand food in meaty products, the more risky it is. First, animal production cannot go on lest we run of land, water, and other resources to sustain both animals and humans. Second, animals also release methane (mostly via farts and burps) which worsens the heating of the planet. Lastly, it is also risky for humans to eat meat. There is the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria due to overuse of medicine for animals by farmers. All in all, choosing to eat less meat will go a long way to creating a sustainable lifestyle. You save more money. Then you also help save the environment.
4. Go vegan.
Skip meat altogether? Can you do it? If you can, you will find shifting to sustainable living easier. Veganism is a plant-based diet. Because it’s plant-based, it requires less resources to grow and distribute. It also helps to preserve the environment. Plants help produce more clean air. They also help protect the natural water supply of the planet.
5. Choose to buy from sustainable sources.
Whatever you choose to buy, think of where it came from. Consider the full effect of materials, production, distribution and usage of every item. Most importantly, discern whether it benefits the planet or just humans.
Sustainable living involves examining the way you buy. Scrutinize where you buy. Check whether its materials are recycled. Find energy-efficient and water-efficient products and services. Avoid those with toxic or hazardous chemicals. Buy durable and long-lasting things. Most importantly, get only what’s necessary.
6. Drive less.
Vehicles contribute a large percentage of pollution. Their smoke also harms people’s health. These health effects include cardiac diseases, asthma, and lung degradation. Here you can choose to live more sustainably by changing your mobility options. You can walk. Ride a bicycle. Commute via buses, trains, and other public transportation. Or you can use ride-sharing systems such as carpooling.
7. Conserve energy.
Make sustainable homes through consuming less energy. This will also earn you great savings. And shifting to renewables increases the value of your real estate. Here you show that you maintain your home’s structure and keep to last for other generations.
8. Recycle better.
It is better to not recycle than to do it improperly. Learn what’s recyclable and what’s not. Then separate those things carefully. Next, clean out all recyclables to preserve the quality of materials.
Even if your city observes single-stream recycling, recycle in a multi-stream system. Separate plastics from plastics, metals, and other recyclables. Be inspired by this Japanese town‘s hyper-efficient recycling system. For products that your city cannot recycle, go the extra mile. Send them to companies like Terra Cycle. They can recycle the products that most recyclers refuse.
If you prefer a more affordable option, recycle goods yourself. Go to Pinterest. There you’ll find guides and recipes on how to turn trash into treasures. Even more, you can expand this habit into profitable business. Always look for ways to reuse products.
9. Be more self-reliant.
Learn to do things on your own. DIY is your best friend when it comes to sustainable living. Cook your own food. Repair your own things. Grow a garden in your indoor spaces or in your backyards. The less you depend on others, the less you consume resources. But also remember that you cannot do everything on your own. Know your own limits. Learn and do as much processes as you can. Then go from there.
10. Buy used than new.
Instead of getting new products, choose those that have already aged into the manufacturing cycle. This will save in many levels. First, it saves resources that go into producing new stuff. Second, it saves money since used always costs less than new. Lastly, this gives stuff a new life and diverts them from landfill.
11. Entertain by low impact activities.
Instead of traveling, choose a staycation. Find entertainment options that have low impact on resources. Want to go barhopping? Curl up in bed with a good book instead. Fancy the movies? Enjoy the picturesque scenery of nature such as mountains, rivers, forests, and falls.
Be selfless with your time and energy. To create a huge impact on environmental issues, get involved. Find non profit organizations, charities and agencies that foster care for the environment. Share your time and skills to worthwhile causes such as animal welfare and protection of lands. Here you will find best why you practice sustainable living. Because there is something worth fighting for in this planet.
Sustainable living is not impossible. It might be a drastic change to your lifestyle, but it is necessary. You cannot continue living YOLO. Rather, think of the environment you live in. Remember that whatever happens to Earth affects you and vice versa.
It’s not too late. Choose any of the twelve lifestyle changes to help re-balance Earth. Every effort counts in our quest to save the future.
We only have one planet to live in. Forget about investigating life on Mars. Always live with respect to our environment. Choose to live sustainably. It’s our duty as stewards of nature. Ultimately, sustainable living is the only way to ensure the survival of both the human race and Earth itself.