There is so much confusion, frustration and negativity when it comes to learning just how unsustainable we live our lives. It may seem even more confusing and frustrating when trying to figure out how to live a sustainable life. But fear not, living a sustainable life is not as hard as it seems. There are many ways, tricks and tips to living a life that you can feel good about and that is not too difficult. With just a little bit of effort, a lifestyle that considers the earth can be achieved.
First things first…
- Ditch the Plastic: Whether it’s your grocery bags, food packaging, body care, cleaning supplies, plastic is plastic and it always harms something. Replace plastic bags at the grocery store with reusable grocery bags. Buy from bulk and bring cloth bags or mason jars. This decreases the amount of packaging used and also decluters your kitchen.
- Discover Your Green Thumb: Growing your own food can be rewarding. This reduces the emissions used to transfer food, eliminates the risk of pesticides or GMO’s, and it urges you to eat less meat. Meat uses a crazy amount of water to produce.
- Use Less Water: Your clothes do not need to be washed after one wear. Your dishes do not need an extra rinse in the dishwasher or a dishwasher at all. Your sinks do not need to run while brushing your teeth. Your sprinklers do not need to go off after it rains or in the middle of the day. Eat less meat.
- Drive Less, Walk More: Or just carpool.
- Buy What You Need Not What You Want: Food or clothes, buying more than you need results in trash. Trash is waste sitting in landfills emitting gas into the air and polluting the water.
- Clean Without Chemicals: Vinegar, baking soda and a sponge is the best cleaner you will ever use and the cheapest. Cleaning supplies are full of chemicals that spread across your home where you eat, breathe, sleep, and shower.
- Take a Second to Look At the Labels: Read your food. Look for USDA Organic, Fair trade, B Corp, and Non GMO Verified.
- Use the Stairs: Remain healthy while using less electricity.
- Bring Your Own Cup: Think about all the plastic and cardboard cups you go through each day for water, coffee, soda, etc. Bring your own bottle or coffee mug to fill up at any coffee shop or restaurant.
- Use the Sun: Solar Panels can be expensive but the sun can be used in many ways around the home. Utilize the sunlight for as long as possible so you do not have to turn the switch on. Use sunlight and shade for heating and cooling, reducing the AC use.
- Speaking of AC: Open the doors and windows at night to let cool, fresh air in.
- Get These Apps: iRecycle– Where, When and How to recycle wherever you live. HowGood– How good is that item your buying for you and for the environment? Zero Carbon– Track your CO2. Green Tips & Tricks– Maybe some more helpful tips than I have given! JouleBug– Earn points by living sustainably, it can be a game.
There really are a lot of easy ways to transform your life for the better. Live a life that you can feel good about. Influence those around you. And translate your lifestyle to your work style.
Fashion; The second largest pollutant to Earth after Oil. As sales go up, so do the pesticides, workers deaths, and debt to the farmers. So why do we still support such a harmful industry? Simple, because we get items like this.
But does that really weigh out the consequences of 350,000 farmer suicides just in India, or factory workers that cant keep their kids, or pesticides causing birth defects and mental illness of the neighboring citizens? I do not think so.
Neither do these companies; Levi, Patagonia, Hasmik, Danish Fashion Institute, and Eco-Age. That is why they have created programs to grow both consumers and producers knowledge on sustainability.
One of the issues with this side of fashion is that companies will over produce and not sell all they made. Patagonia created a campaign called “Do Not Buy This Jacket”. The point of the campaign was to advise consumers that the production of this jacket is harmful to the environment therefore do not buy it if it is not needed.
Patagonia has also created a solution to the clothing waste after it is bought. Their program called “Worn Wear” allows customers to get their worn out clothing repaired or they can send it into Patagonia where it can then be recycled to create a new product.
Levis Eric Joule has come up with a way to distress the jeans without using fresh water. The original process of distressing jeans took tons of water through several cycles just to get the perfect fade. Now Levis is saving fresh water by suggesting the use of ocean water.
Hamsik has created a program in effort to reduce the waste of clothing. Her clothes are designed only as samples and can be rented to wear.
The Danish Fashion Institutes’ Eva Kruse teaches sustainable fashion throughout the courses. Hoping for a better future of designers and fashion industry professionals.
But these efforts do not take away from the fact that Forever 21, H&M, and many other, much larger companies are getting away with pushing their workers to their breaking point or their clothes piling up in landfills and causing gas emissions. Companies need to turn the focus away from money and towards creating a greater environment on the inside as well as not hurting the environment on the outside.
How did we get this …
Instead of this?
And how can we achieve the later of the two in the future?
Although it may seem like established neighborhoods’ ability to be rejuvenated is long gone, the truth may surprise you. Many people are realizing that their cities need some TLC and environmentally friendly alternatives in order for the city to withstand time.
One example is the Eco Village in Los Angeles. This village is made of residents who commit to lowering their environmental impact everyday. They do this by using less water, riding bikes instead of cars to work, growing their own food, and spreading knowledge on sustainability.
Another example is The Sustainable City in Dubai who has plans to give residents golf carts so they do not have to use cars. They install solar panels on all homes. The kids will go to a “Green School”, educating them on living a sustainable life. Organic farms and individual farms will be implemented within the town homes. Sports in recreation will be encouraged. There will be 100% water and waste recycling as well.
More cities have began to incorporate useful ways to create less of an impact on the earth. Some cities have found ways to use trash for energy. Other cities have put in new irrigation and energy systems to use less. There are many changes that can be made to each and every city including the ones I have mentioned just to make less of an impact on the place we live.
It has been said in many different sources that the City is a machine. The city creates jobs, communities, friends, families. So why not give the city the same kind of requirements as we do machines, sustainable machines? A machine that uses less energy, less water, recycles waste, and reduces the big elephant footprint on the environment.
How can we communicate sustainability? It is hard for us to grasp large numbers especially when it comes to global warming. We are told that we consume almost two earth’s worth of resources, that the ocean has warmed a degree, and that the population is now at seven billion. But the reality is that we do not have two earth’s, we cannot physically see the change in one degree, and were only exposed to a very small fraction of that seven billion. So how do we change people’s behavior if the problem is not exactly visible?
We need to stop looking to communicate on a large scale and instead start small. Start local. How can we help our friends and family think sustainable? What can our grocery stores, waste management, water and energy do to communicate sustainability? How can we change sustainability from a negative burden to a positive habit?
Like I said, we need to start local, we need to make the information we are sharing relevant to those around us, and we need to share positivity and knowledge in order to get the idea of sustainability into an everyday routine.
The first thing we can do is take initiative ourselves.
- Recycle your plastics and glass
- Buy locally grown food
- Trap the rain water for garden/yard use
- Do your research
- Buy what you can eat
- Turn the faucet off in between brushing teeth
These are just a few really simple, small scale ways to be more sustainable everyday.
Second is to take initiative to teach our friends and family.
There are so many ways to get people excited, happy, or at least used to being sustainable we just have to find better ways to communicate it to people. It has to stop being a fad and start becoming a reality.