By: Charlie Fletcher
If you find that you’ve been thinking a lot about living a more sustainable lifestyle lately, know that you are not alone. These days, more people than ever are beginning to realize that we need to make a difference on this planet to ensure that it thrives for generations to come.
However, while we often think about making a change, making it a reality seems easier said than done. After all, how can one single person possibly make a difference?
The idea can be daunting, but the reality is that your efforts can positively impact the planet, and if you are not yet ready to go all-in, you can still take small steps to a more sustainable lifestyle. Let’s talk about how you can get started and inspire others to follow your lead.
Make Small Adjustments at Home
While you’ve been thinking about living a sustainable lifestyle, you may have heard the term “zero waste,” which is the goal of only buying what they need and throwing away or wasting as little as possible. This is not a place that you will arrive at overnight, but you can start to make a dent without leaving home by running an eco-friendly household.
Start in the bathroom, where you can conserve water by taking shorter showers, installing low-flow faucets, and making intelligent decisions like turning off the water while you brush your teeth.
We also tend to waste a lot of electricity around the house, which is wrong because it raises utility bills and requires burning dangerous fossil fuels. While the goal down the road may be to buy and install solar panels that will cut that energy usage in half, you can start small by turning the lights off when you leave the room and swapping out your incandescent bulbs with LEDs.
Even if you take these precautions, if you live in an older home, you may be using more electricity than you realize, which is often due to leakage.
Seals around windows, vents, and doors can deteriorate over time, allowing your heat and air conditioning to leak out of the home, requiring your HVAC systems to run longer than necessary. You can make another small step towards sustainability by having a contractor come out and reseal those problem areas so you only use the energy you need.
Change How You Buy Food
In many cases, you can take small steps towards a sustainable lifestyle by tweaking the routines you go through every week, and you can start with how you shop. Choosing to pack your groceries into reusable cloth shopping bags is a good start, but you can make an even more significant dent by changing where you buy your food.
Next time you go grocery shopping, consider shopping at a neighbourhood market instead of the big chain store. The good news about small markets is that they often get their food from local farms. Big box stores typically get their food and products from across the nation, transported to you by trucks that produce pollution as they go from place to place.
If everyone shopped at their mom and pop stores, we would see a significant reduction of that pollution, and if you do, you can feel proud knowing that you are part of the solution.
On top of all that, when your fruits and vegetables come straight from the farm, they don’t require the extra chemicals that the large corporations use to keep their food fresh during the long drive across the country so that you will be healthier as well.
On that note, you could also help the environment and have a cleaner diet by growing a garden at home. Most of the vegetables you buy at the market are easy to grow, and you won’t have to burn any emissions by driving to the store. Plus, gardening is an incredibly relaxing and fulfilling activity that is great for your mental health.
Think About Things You Use Every Day
The longer you think about it, the more likely you are to realize how much we waste every day and choosing to make one change per week can help you reach your goals of a sustainable lifestyle. Start by looking at what you do every hour and consider how much waste is produced.
For instance, do you use disposable paper or styrofoam cups for your coffee? If so, purchase a reusable cup that you can use day after day. Do you use plastic cutlery with your meals? Swap that out favouring metal silverware that you can wash and reuse.
When you go out to buy new things, consider whether you need to purchase brand new products or reuse items that already exist. Next time, consider going to your local thrift or pawn shop, where you can buy anything from clothing to video games.
Items at the thrift store are clean and tested, and when you reuse existing items, you prevent the need for factories to create pollution as they manufacture new items.
You can also make a big difference with little effort by considering the companies you support and choosing those that make it a point to keep sustainable values. Research online and check if they have a TRUE Zero Waste certification, a B Lab certification, or use recyclable packaging materials. Support these businesses and convince others to do the same, and you’ll know that you are making a positive impact on our world.
As you can see, you don’t have to completely change your life on day one to reach your goal of a sustainable lifestyle. By taking small steps at home and adjusting your frame of mind, you can be confident that you have made a difference.