Sustainability is an important word that gets thrown around a lot these days, but what exactly do we mean by it? In ecology, sustainability is the quality and ability of living and non-living systems to stay diverse and productive. Sustainability is our collective goal towards a state wherein humanity can continue to meet its basic needs without destroying our planet
Sustainability: 9 Daily Practices For Sustainable Living
1. Minimize Waste
Even when you throw stuff away, they don’t disappear. Sure, it’s no longer in your hands but it ends up in a landfill somewhere. Depending on the material, it can take centuries before it completely decomposes. Our trash accumulates in other places and can even be toxic to the environment. The energy and pollution that comes with producing these materials hurt our environment. We should keep in mind that ethical consumption is key to sustainability.
You’ve heard of “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” Some products such as plastic bottles have a limit to the number of times we can reuse them. Recycling can be costly in collection, transportation, and energy. So, reducing the amount of stuff we use should be our goal.
Don’t buy what you don’t need. This saves up on home space and money and you also help the environment. It’s a win-win for everyone! When shopping, try to buy products with low-impact manufacturing. As much as possible, buy secondhand products and opt for minimal packaging.
2. Ditch Single-Use Plastics
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
80 billion plastic bags and wrappers are used in the U.S. every year. Research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that with the current rate of plastic consumption, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050. These figures should be enough of a wake-up call to stop using plastics as much as we can.
There are many simple things we can do. One is refusing plastic straws in restaurants and bringing our own reusable utensils. Instead of purchasing bottled water, always carry a refillable water bottle. Additionally, avoid paper coffee cups which are usually lined with plastic. Use your own thermos or ask your barista to serve your coffee in a mug.
3. Choose Alternative Transportation
The U.S. used about 7.21 billion barrels of petroleum products in 2016. Using petroleum emits harmful greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming. To reduce our carbon footprint, try to take public transportation when going to work. If the distance is short, you can also try to bike or walk it.
4. Conserve Water
The EPA estimates that an average family wastes. This 180 gallons per week is due to household leaks alone. You can conserve water by up to 20% if you install low-flow and low-water models. Time to replace your dishwasher, toilet, showerheads, and faucets!
Other people have started practicing the five-minute shower. If this seems a bit extreme for you, make sure to take short showers instead of soaking in the bathtub.
5. Reduce Energy Consumption
Most of our electricity supply is produced by burning coal. This adds to the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. High energy consumption contributes to higher greenhouse gas emissions.
We can reduce our energy consumption in very easy ways. For example, just adjusting your thermostat by three degrees can cut your carbon dioxide emissions up to 1,050 pounds per year. When doing laundry, using cold water can save up to 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Turning off and unplugging appliances is another energy-saving act. Use LED light bulbs. If you are able, switch to a sustainable source of energy by installing solar panels.
6. Try Urban Gardening
Urban gardening is a great way to turn your home and community into a thriving and sustainable area. The upkeep of industrial agriculture is detrimental to our environment. It is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Urban gardening or farming can offset the damage of industrial agriculture. Growing our own vegetables reduces the need for transporting crops. We can use organic cultivation methods such as making fertilizer compost from our waste. This lets us avoid using chemical fertilizers which damage the soil.
Urban gardening beautifies our surroundings, promotes environmental sustainability, and enhances your well-being. It increases nutrient retention because our foods are less processed. It’s also a physical activity which strengthens the body and improves mental health.
7. Lessen Your Meat Consumption
Yes, meat tastes good. But, livestock farming contributes around 20% of our collective greenhouse gas emissions. One kilo of lamb is equal to 39.3 kilos of carbon dioxide—that’s equal to driving 91 miles! In contrast, fruits and vegetables have a lower impact. Moving to a mainly plant-based diet is a big step towards sustainability. If it’s hard to commit to a vegetarian diet, cutting back on red meat is enough to reduce your carbon emissions by 25%.
8. Choose Vegan Products and Best Practices
No material or process used in making vegan products involve cruelty to animals. This is good for the environment as it reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, when it comes to beauty products, vegan is better for your skin. All-natural ingredients mean you won’t be exposed to toxic chemicals.
A sustainable world should ensure not only a healthy planet but also equality on all fronts. You should support companies who promote environmental sustainability together with social justice. These two usually go hand in hand.
9. Support Sustainability Organizations
There are many organizations advocating sustainability. One of them is the Environmental Defense Fund. It works with the public and private sectors to make policies more environmental. Their top programs include climate and energy as well as ocean conservation.
Union of Concerned Scientists advocates for clean energy solutions and sustainable food production. Driven by research, they aim to install practical solutions to the problems we face today. They deal with global warming, transportation, and environmental misinformation.
Another organization, Earthjustice, provides a legal backbone against corporate interests which endanger our planet. Their tagline is, “Because the earth needs a good lawyer.” They seek to hold accountable companies that break environmental laws. Additionally, they promote healthy communities and protect biodiversity. Other organizations you can donate to are the following:
How do we make food production sustainable? Learn more about vertical farming in this video by Amazing Earth:
The definition of sustainability goes beyond knowing what it means. It involves taking the necessary steps to achieve a habitable and thriving planet. We gave some small steps we can take every day to safeguard our planet and the coming generations.
What are your practices for sustainable living? Let us know in the comments section below!
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