The smallest of lifestyle changes, collectively, can have a HUGE impact on the health of Earth and the things living on it.
Everyday reflection is a natural part of being sustainable, as we try to figure out what we can do to make earth better for everything on it. This means our soil, our oceans, our air, our plants, our animals AND our people. There are so many things we can and need to improve, but change doesn't happen overnight. For true change to happen there needs to be consistency, even if it's small.
So... Choose a change. Today, Right now. PICK ONE THING. Commit to it. Try it for a week, do it for a month, make it last the year. And then be an advocate for it. Tell people about it. Talk about what was good, what was hard, what you want to do better. Then, when you've incorporated it into your life and taken it as far as you can go, pick another change.
Take baby steps and together we can all protect our earth.
Preach! This one is old school! Although many households recycle on some level, more can always be done! It's estimated that between 40-70% of landfill* could have been recycled. With so much literally going to waste, recycling seems like an obvious place to start. Understanding what can be recycled in your area will enable you to make informed and sustainable buying decisions in the future
Take some time to:
- Learn what you can recycle locally and where.
- Think twice before putting it in the bin.
- Learn about the different grades of plastic and how they need to be disposed of.
(varies, depending on the source)
2. Change Your Diet
Be vegetarian or vegan for one day a week. Agricultural activity, in particular, cattle farming, is one of the biggest global contributors of greenhouse gas! By cutting down your consumption of meat and/or dairy products, you'll be contributing to a happier planet.
BONUSx1: Once you've mastered a whole day eating vegetarian or vegan, try upping the ante and increase the number of days. Heck, try a whole week!
BONUSx2: Eat seasonally! Seek out local producers stock in supermarkets or start shopping at farmers markets.
3. Buy A Reusable Water Bottle
Carry it everywhere. Once you're in the habit of having it with you, you'll no longer be contributing to the problem of plastic water bottles. & hello... Think of the money you'll save! BPA free plastic bottles are a good alternative, but glass or steel are considered the more sustainable options.
4. Reusable Bags
Get one. Take it with you. EVERYWHERE.
We use approximately 5 trillion plastic bags every year. It's a daunting figure when you take a second to think about where the hell they're all gonna go and how you as an individual can combat it. Think of it like this... If you use 5 plastics bags a week for 60 years you'll consume over 15,000 plastic bags. You eradicate this by buying just 1!
The most sustainable options are made from cotton or burlap, but as long as it replaces single-use plastic carriers, you're on to a winner.
5. Replace Plastic
We produce nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year, which is (apparently) enough to wrap around the earth a staggering 4 times!! Approximately 8 million tons of this ends up in our oceans and about 50% of it single-use.
STEP 1: Identify a plastic-based product that you use regularly.
STEP 2: Find a non-plastic alternative.
STEP 3: Repeat.
Some easy switches include; bamboo toothbrushes, steel straws, food and drink stored in glass and buying loose fruits and veggies.
6. Omit Using Transport
Commit to walking short journeys. If you can get from A to B, without using a car or public transit, within 20-30 minutes... Do it! That's one more seat for someone else on transit or less fuel in your car AND fewer emissions in the air!
7. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Changing consumerist behaviour is hard! Reduce, reuse, recycle is the perfect mantra to have on loop while you're shopping, especially if you're an impulse buyer.
Try to always think about what you need, how long it will last and how you will dispose of it. Asking these questions will help you stay on track to making sustainable buying decisions. You'll also build a clearer image of what is sustainable and what is waste that can be avoided.
BONUSx1: Before buying new, try to find a recycled, up-cycled or second-hand version.
8. Turn It Off
If it doesn't need to be on, turn it off! Light switches are the first thing we think of, but try to extend this mantra to everything electrical. If you're not using it, does it really need to be on standby/sleep mode? This is a hard change to make. We need to stop thinking of electricity as something that is infinite and start thinking about it as a disposable finite resource.
BONUSx1: If you're heading on vacation for a week or two, empty your fridge/freezer and turn them off!
BONUSx2: Switch out to energy-saving light bulbs.
9. Pick It Up
It might not be yours but do it anyway.
It's pretty sad when our waste ends up in nature. Even sadder when you realise that unwitting critters eat it. Clearing it up doesn't have to a mass organized event, it's literally as simple as committing to picking up 5+ items a day, more if possible.
BONUSx1: Recycle what you find.
BONUSx2: Organise a nature clean-up!
10. Start Composting
This one can be tricky and icky. Unfortunately, a lot of organic waste ends up in landfill, producing mass amounts of methane gas that damages the atmosphere. Most local governments offer commercial composting, which reduces the amount of methane released into the atmosphere. Commit to composting all of your organic waste.
BONUSx1: If don't have access to commercial composting, but you do have a garden... start your own!
BONUSx2: If you don't have a garden or access to commercial composting campaign for it. Write to your building management, local government figures or start a campaign.
11. Buy Organic
Organic products, whether plant or animals based, omit the use of harmful and/or artificial substances. This makes organic products better for your health, animals, soil, and wildlife.
12. Develop Green Fingers
It's no secret that we need plants to improve our air quality and sustain biodiversity. Fill your garden with a large variety of plants to create a mini eco-system for local wildlife.
If you don't have the luxury of outdoor space, move your focus indoors. Research shows that indoor air could be some of the most toxic! Filling your house with air-filtering plants helps to re-balance your indoor air.
13. Cut Out The Chemicals
One of the culprits for toxic indoor air is chemicals found in everyday products and furnishings. These toxins can be harmful to us, damage the environment when produced and usually end up in our water systems. Try being mindful of this when making purchases and source natural alternatives.
Easy switches include deodorants, home cleaning products, and laundry detergent.
BONUSx1: Find a small batch local producer.
BONUSx2: Find some all-natural recipes and make your own cleaning and beauty products.
Automotives are one of the leading producers of Co2. We need to combat this with greener solutions and getting more cars off the road. Commit to sharing a ride with a friend or co-worker. There are lots of great sites that can connect you with people traveling in the same direction!
15. Go Paperless
Paper takes a lot of energy to produce and the majority of it ends up in landfill.
Simple switches include; receiving electronic statements, opting out of paper mail and buying in-store (rather than online) to reduce packaging.