Sustainable living means living in a purposeful way in order to reduce one’s negative impact on the environment. This entails practicing environmental sustainability so that future generations may live in a healthy and prosperous global environment.
Sustainable Living vs. Zero-Waste
People often get confused between sustainable living and living zero-waste, and in hindsight they inspire many similar lifestyle practices but they are inherently different.
Sustainable living runs parallel with environmental sustainability: living with the aim of lowering one’s overall environmental impact. This incorporates many aspects of life: from eating sustainability to skipping single use plastic.
The zero-waste movement is, however, primarily focused on reducing the level of trash an individual produces. For example, someone living zero-waste may comfortably drive to and from work and ask for no receipt at the gas station. In comparison, someone practicing sustainable living may opt to take public transport, carpool or ride their bike in order to avoid contributing to carbon emissions.
Does sustainable living really matter?
The short answer: Yes!
The long answer: The average American produces 1,606 pounds of trash per year. By practicing sustainable living and undertaking environmental sustainability principles, a single person could save 100,000 pounds of waste from going to the landfill in their lifetime! Furthermore, by switching to a vegan or plant based diet, a single person can save over 10,000 square feet of forest, over 400,000 gallons of water, and over 7000 pounds of CO2 every year!
If we don’t make these sustainable living changes, we are consciously putting future generations at risk of living in a world without the proper resources to sustain them.
Still not convinced?
Sustainable living can be the best thing you’ll ever do for your bank account. Practices like grocery shopping in bulk, using reusable containers, and opting for car alternative forms of transport can be more affordable than the alternative.
Not only will you be living better for yourself, you’ll be doing it while successfully practicing environmental sustainability.
Easy Ways to Practice Sustainable Living
- Practice minimalism
Minimalism is a great way of practicing environmental sustainability because you’re ensuring that everything you own has a purpose for your lifestyle. By only having valuable things, your need to contribute to landfills is reduced.
What do you do with all the things you don’t need? Donate gently used items to a thrift store or gift them to a friend! If you can’t donate or gift it, repurpose it! For example, an old perfume bottle can become a bottle for your own homemade room spray. Most importantly, give your objects value and purpose.
- Walk, bike, car pool or take public transit
Sustainable living goes hand in hand with environmental sustainability, and environmental sustainability values reducing pollution and reliance on non-renewable resources.
Live close to work or school? Walk or bike! Not only is it good for Mother Earth, it’s also great for your mental and physical health.
Live far? Talk to friends and coworkers in your city about starting a carpool, or see what public transit roots are a sustainable option for you!
- Ditch the plastic
Plastic takes millions of years to decompose and is harmful for our ecosystem. Every year marine animals and wildlife are killed due to plastic contamination in our oceans, seas, and waterways.
Living with environmental sustainability in mind means opting for something that may last you a lifetime instead of something that may last a lifetime on Earth!
- Invest in sustainable energy
While this seems like a daunting task, simple changes such as adjusting your thermostats to a couple degrees cooler, unplugging electronics when they aren’t in use, or switching to energy efficient light bulbs can make a big impact towards living a life in line with environmental sustainability.
If you’re feeling inspired, try incorporating renewable energy solutions into your sustainable living lifestyle! A great option is to install solar panels to make your home more energy efficient. Not only is this good for the planet, many governments also offer tax credits for homes fuelled by renewable energy sources.
- Make sustainable food choices
Diet is a big part of sustainable living, but making sustainable food choices can be as easy as choosing seasonal and locally grown food options. By shopping locally and seasonally, you reduce the amount of carbon emissions necessary for transport.
Another step towards environmental sustainability is buying organic when possible. Buying organic helps reduce the risk of pollution from chemicals such as pesticides that are used on non-organic foods.
If you’re ready to commit to the sustainable living lifestyle, you may opt for a vegetarian or vegan diet. Non-meat products require less resources to produce and, therefore, production is more sustainable in the long run.
All of these diet changes are in line with practicing environmental sustainability!