The path to a sustainable lifestyle is like going to the gym.
You need to work at it over years and build yourself to the point where you're lowering your impact without even thinking about it. Going zero waste right off the bat is a recipe for failure. Trying to take on THAT much commitment to sustainable decisions is too much for most folks to handle.
You make hundreds of decisions each week that trigger a sustainability choice. Most of them require some willpower.
So if you're going to do it all at once, then more like than not, you're going to give up and resume the status quo.
So my advice, don't do it all at once. Commit to a few sustainable swaps here and there over time. And within 2-3 years you'll drastically lower your personal impact.
1. Switch to Reusable Items
Single use disposables seem small. But they add up.
1,000,000 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute.
Half a million straws are used each day.
Plastic packaging (like for food containers) accounts for 52% of all plastic thrown away.
So the solution is to start refusing single use and start reusing.
2. Make Your Own Household Products
It's actually a lot easier to make your own detergents and cleaners than you might think.
Synthetic chemicals have contributed to pollution as well, with pesticides notorious for being hazardous to human health. Fortunately, you can counter this by using natural and biodegradable chemicals like mixing essential oils.
Other sustainable websites offer plenty of recipes to help people create their own cleaners while reducing their environmental footprint. You’ll even get to save money along the way!
3. Use Renewable Energy
We're living in the exponential age, and renewable energy is becoming substantially more powerful and economical.
Solar power may outstrip natural gas around the world by 2030!
That means it’s easier for you to switch to renewable energy for your home and vehicles, like by installing solar panels on your roof to take advantage of the free, unlimited supply of sunshine you get.
If you have an electric car, you can plug it into a public charging station instead of your home.
4. Buy Used and Refurbished
This is a big one.
Buying used clothing and furniture is true sustainability because it reduces one item from being discarded while saving another from being used.
Buying used instead of new reduces your carbon impact by 82%. If everyone chose to buy just 1 used item instead of a new one this year, we would save an approx 5.7 billion pounds of CO2 emissions, 11 billion KwH of energy, 25 billion gallons of water, and 449 million pounds of waste.
5. Walk, Bike, or Bus (When Possible)
Let me start by saying I know that eco-friendly commuting isn't a reality for many.
Depending on where you live, biking or walking would take several hours each day. And let's face it: no one is going to do that.
That said, walking, biking, or taking transit to get to your destination is a great way to cut back on your carbon footprint. While you don’t have to stop driving altogether, you can make your trips out more efficient by combining all your errands in one go.
If you’re moving soon, you may want to consider places with high Walk Scores, which indicate how many destinations like schools or stores are within walking distance.
Living a sustainable lifestyle may seem difficult to pull off at first. But with little swaps here and there you'll be well on your way within a few years. With these five steps, you can work your way towards reducing your waste, saving money, and joining the movement for a greener planet.
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