We all know it: our planet is suffering. Our society is simply not treating this earth in a sustainable manner. We are draining its fresh water sources, we are hurting the natural ecosystem and polluting the atmosphere. If you’re like me, thinking about all of this quickly leads to a small panic attack. But I also don’t want to shut my eyes to it. Instead, I have found that doing what I can to help combat Mama Earth’s devastation keeps my anxiety at bay.
Let’s face it: by simply being a human we are going to hurt our planet – that is, unless you are a recluse who lives off the earth, entirely self-sufficient. If you are, wow, I truly admire you – although I don’t see how you’d be able to read this post on the internet if you were. For most of us, however, that’s just simply not an option. Transportation, using electronics, consumerism; all these are part of modern life, and all these will harm our environment in some small or big way. Nonetheless, there are things each and everyone of us can do to, however small they may be, to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Disclaimer: I am by no means a saint. I fly in airplanes. I have all kinds of electronic appliances in my home, and I definitely don’t manage to buy everything organic or fair-trade. But I may be doing somethings that some of you are not doing, just as you might be doing things that I don’t. I want this post to be an inspiration of simple things to live more sustainably.
#1 Reduce the amount of trash you produce
The ever-growing human population is producing way too much trash for the earth to deal with it all. And we are not just talking about food waste here: we are talking about a material that will take axxproximately 450 years to biodegrade if formed into a plastic bottle. Especially our oceans are suffering through this: deceased animals are found with plastic in their stomachs, turtles become caught in plastic bags and the great pacific garbage patch is growing increasingly larger by the minute.
Some of you might have heard of the zero waste movement, or may be familiar with Lauren Singer, the inspiration behind Trash is for Tossers, and her single mason jar of trash. While I am not as dedicated as she is, I do try to reduce the amount of trash, especially the plastic, I produce. There are some simple ways to do this:
- Buy a non-plastic reusable water bottle. I use a gorgeous stainless steel water bottle.
- Choose products packaged in boxes over plastic-wrapped. This is quite easy when you also limit processed foods, which is not only the more sustainable option, but also healthier.
- Buy products of a higher quality that will last longer – I am talking clothes, appliances, yoga mats. My Jade yoga mat might be more expensive than a cheap Walmart mat, but not only is it of a higher quality all-round, it is also 100% biodegradable. And they even plant a tree for every mat sold! What more could an eco-conscious yogi want?
#2 Tackle your carbon foot print
I will never forget taking the Carbon Tax questionnaire and feeling this ego-driven happiness that with every single answer I gave, my visual carbon footprint grew smaller and smaller. That is, until the last question came: air travel. As soon as I put in the few flights I had been on that year – even without long-distance trips – my score skyrocketed.
Travel, work-related or otherwise, is necessity in today’s society, whether it be by plane, train or car. But there are ways to reduce your carbon footprint:
- Use public transportation when available, or car pool.
- Walk or bike smaller distances.
- For your next car, consider a more environmentally friendly option such as a Prius or even a Tesla if that’s in your budget.
- And when travel is unavoidable, there’s still a way out. Using the carbon tax questionnaire, I calculate how much I need to donate to NGOs in order to atone for the damage I have done to our environment. I also opt to pay the couple of €’s extra every time I book a bus ticket to counteract CO2 emissions. I do the same for air travel when available.
- For electricity, we signed up with a company that only uses green solutions such as solar or wind power. And it’s not even more expensive!
#3 Have a look at what’s on your plate
It’s 2017, and we can all accept that what we eat has an ecological impact. I know the implementation of some of these goals can be a lengthy progress, but changing your eating habits not only has a huge impact, it’s also incredibly simple. A sustainable lifestyle starts on your plate.
- Reduce your red meat intake. For just 1 measly pound of meat it takes 2,400 gallons of water, our most valuable natural resource. Instead of growing food which you then feed to an animal which you then proceed to eat, why not just eat the food yourself? You could be saving almost 15,000 gallons of water a week if you were to go for a meat- and dairy-free alternative for breakfast every day. That’s 882 showers!
- Buy organic or fair trade produce when possible, to reduce the amount of questionable pesticides that harm our environment.
- Buy regional when possible. Living a sustainable lifestyle can be as easy as choosing vegetables from your local farmer, so the food doesn’t have to travel far.
The smallest step counts
- Buy some house plants. They clean the air!
- Bring your own reusable coffee cup instead of a to go cup.
- Shopping at thrift stores is far more sustainable than hitting up fast fashion shops for every trend.
- Choose eco-friendly detergents and soaps for everything.
There’s something for everyone
To me, all I can wish for is that everyone does their small part in helping mother nature. My brother only ever buys fair trade clothes, my sister buys all her food organic, you may drive a Tesla and I am vegan. What unites us is that we care about our planet.
If you’re interested in learning more about why you should choose sustainable options, Before The Flood and Cowspiracy are definitely worth the watch, and I would love to hear any tips you might have to live more sustainably.
Until next time,
take care of this lovely planet we call home.