A Beginner's Guide to Sustainable Living
The irony of human nature is that we cut trees and chant about saving nature on paper made from trees. We preach about saving honeybees from cell phones and devices that generate radiations endangering bees. We cage animals in zoos for the sole purpose of entertainment but adopt a pet separating it from its natural habitat.
A wise man once said, “Change is always good unless it’s the climate”. The urgency to rise to global challenges such as climate crisis can be overwhelming, yet the least we can do is make a difference where we live. While we’re aware of the sustainable changes we can adopt on an individual level to help save the environment, most of us fall into this endless loop:
- How can individuals help save the planet?
- Nobody around me practices sustainable living, so what difference will I make?
Well, like they say: “Success is all about little steps. Little steps, repeated, can turn small things into big things”. There is so much we can do as individuals to lead a green, sustainable lifestyle and conserve our surroundings. Remember, massive movements begin with a small group of determined individuals who believe in a better future.
How can I live more sustainably
Truly wish to make a difference but don’t know where to start? Fret not, this easy guide to sustainable living is just what you need. Sustainable living 101.
1. Sustainable steps to save energy
This is one area where most Indians can make a difference. Instead of investing in four cars, a family of four can look for solutions to work with two cars. Reducing the number of automobiles at home massively reduces your carbon footprint, along with noise and air pollution in your immediate surroundings. Wait, there’s so much more you can do to conserve energy at home. A little mindfulness around switching off electronics and appliances when not in use can help save the amount of energy you consume monthly, thus helping you save costs in the long run.
2. Invest in reusable alternatives
Another simple step towards sustainable living is steering clear from single-use products. Household materials that fall under the ‘use-and-throw’ category have a terrible impact on the environment. We often toss away plastic bottles and containers in the ‘white’ trash can, identifying them as ‘dry waste’, but have you ever wondered where this waste ends up? Plastic is one of the many single-use materials that takes decades to decompose. Around 40% of the world’s oceans have plastic waste floating around them, endangering marine life at every level. Since most of these single-use products generate from households, individuals hold the power to drive change by investing in materials that are reusable. Cloth bags, wooden utensils and all kinds of organic materials that are degradable and toxin-free are a great place to start.
3. Embrace kitchen gardens
Kitchen gardens are an engaging way to promote ecosystems in and around your neighborhood. Growing herbs, fruits, and vegetables helps you understand the kinds of chemicals used in local gardens, and when you opt for mild, organic pesticides, you save native plant species, insects, birds, and bees in your surroundings. Harmful chemicals that are otherwise used for farming not only pollute water and air, but eventually end up in our stomachs. When you grow your own produce, your dependency on local markets reduces, and so does your contribution towards fossil fuel consumption that is used to transport produce from place of production to local markets.
4. Donate, don’t discard
With rapid growth in trends, more and more people fall prey to fast fashion in the textile industry. Nowadays, markets are packed with clothing trends that only last a couple months, and as these trends progress, all previous clothing items end up in landfills. This creates waste in bulk and endangers natural ecosystems, because most materials used in production are not always degradable/ecofriendly. There are a bunch of things individuals can do to avoid this waste. From embracing thrift shopping to promoting second-hand clothing and even donating clothes instead of discarding, we can help prevent this waste and divert essentials to those who need them the most.
5. Try to go paperless
Thanks to technology, this is one step that can easily be adopted by people of all ages. With content available at the click of a button, most paper products such as books, newspapers, letters, and notices can be switched to digital formats. Individuals can drive change with small steps like switching to virtual notepads instead of making lists on paper. Occasions that require printing paper on a larger scale too can look for digital solutions, like e-invites for weddings and other ceremonies. This way, you can help save trees by eliminating paper products in small ways.
6. Attempt to be water-wise
Human life revolves around water and so we must make it a point to use it wisely. There are a bunch of ways to prevent wastage of water at home, like taking shorter showers and being mindful about the water we use to wash clothes and utensils. Another easy step is to water the plants at home with water that was used to rinse fruits and vegetables. Keeping a check on the water we waste daily and fixing leaks around the house can go a long way in saving water at home.
We often look at sustainable living as a practice that does not fit with our schedule. But did you know that all the steps mentioned above not only help save the environment but also help you cut down on costs? Let’s start by making these simple, sustainable changes in our lifestyles.