What is Sustainable Living?
To move in harmony with the environment and resources around you as you operate in your day-to-day is the broad idea of living sustainably. To break it down a bit more, by choosing to prioritize environmental impact in all that you can, whether it be where you shop, the food you eat, the clothes you purchase, the way you power your house, and more, you are on the path to leading a sustainable life. Sustainable living means putting future generations at the forefront of your decisions, learning about the environmental impact you have, and working to reduce your carbon footprint. While there is no definition of how to live “perfectly” sustainably, there are a lot of things all of us can do to create a healthier planet and live healthier lives. Bonus – transitioning to more sustainable habits is good for you, too!
Benefits of Sustainable Living
It’s no secret that we are in a dire moment of the climate crisis; either we all choose to get on board, work together, and adjust our lifestyles, or irreparable damage is headed for our beloved planet. A big thing to remember is that sustainable living isn’t just a positive for Mother Earth; it can also have massive benefits for you and your family. Here are some of the big ones:
Health & Happiness
Making small changes to a more sustainable lifestyle can have a massive impact on your health and your happiness. For instance, by aiming to walk or cycle to work instead of driving, or even just walk to the grocery store instead of driving, not only do you reduce your emissions, but you also get a workout in and release happy hormones in your brain. It’s a win-win!
Additionally, many people choose to source local produce or grow their own at home. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a full-out farming operation! Having a few of your favorite veggies from a local farm or from your small garden will bring more nutrients and minerals to your diet than produce that is mass-farmed.
These are just a few examples of how sustainability can benefit those who choose to embrace it! We can live in a world where a symbiotic relationship exists between people and the planet, but people have to make the change.
Sustainable Living Saves Money
When you first start shopping for sustainable products like reusable cloth towels in place of paper towels or purchasing reusable storage bags rather than disposable baggies, you may feel some sticker shock at the price. However, if you truly break it down, by purchasing a set of reusable “paper” towels that will last a year or more, you will never have to purchase another disposable roll again! All the disposable products add up in cost, often much more than most consumers realize. Get out of this headspace and break down the math, and you’ll see the financial benefits that come with sustainable living.
It Feels Good to do Good
There’s a certain amount of fun and excitement that comes with focusing on sustainability. Not only do you get to purchase fun new products that will last a long time and incorporate habits that are good for you, but the sense of accomplishment that comes with helping the planet in small ways each day is incredibly powerful. When you take a sip out of your reusable water bottle, you’ll be reminded of the positive impact you’re having and might even be motivated to do more! This sense of accomplishment and motivation will propel you into the world of sustainability as well as keep you moving through the trials of life.
Have you ever gone into a sustainable shop or chatted with people who are also making the switch to a sustainable lifestyle? If so, you know just how welcoming those situations can be and how they can provide a sense of community you didn’t know you needed! It’s not always easy to make changes in how we live, but if we know we have wonderful people alongside us to cheer us on and help us navigate roadblocks, it becomes much more manageable. Things like ocean cleanups, forest conservation efforts, and more are great activities to join in on and they allow you to meet people as well!
Where to Start?
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that sustainable living has to be all or nothing. In fact, it’s best to make a slow, sustainable transition. If you try to do too much at once, you may find this new lifestyle overwhelming and struggle to keep up with it. Starting out, choose one or two from the list below or come up with other ways that work better for you!
Use a Reusable Water Bottle. This one is such a simple switch but can end up saving so much plastic from ending up in landfills! Plus, who doesn’t love a trendy water bottle that adds to their aesthetic?
Incorporate More PLANTS. You don’t need to drop everything and go vegan tomorrow but incorporating more plants into your diet or trying one day a week of no meat can have a massive impact. Plus, your gut microbiome will thank you for the added plant diversity which contributes to a healthier gut.
Avoid Driving When Possible: Next time you are visiting your friend, walk somewhere and meet up. Give taking a bicycle to work a go and you might be surprised at just how manageable it can be. Or challenge yourself this way: if a place is less than a 10-minute drive away, walk there instead. The transportation sector is a major contributor to climate change so this one can make a huge difference.
Start a Compost Bin: Composting used to sound scary, but in reality, it’s easy! You can have a small bin on your counter, a larger compost bin outside, or even store compost scraps in your freezer and deliver them to a city composting program on a regular basis, depending on where you live. Food waste that ends up in landfills releases methane, which is 28x more potent than carbon dioxide. Through composting, food waste can be used as fertilizer for crops, which improves soil health.
Join a Conservation Organization: Look for a monthly ocean cleanup crew or an organization that supports an effort you’re passionate about. These export organizations need time and money from all of us, so giving one or the other (or both!) is a great way to join the sustainability community.
Progress > Perfection
Don’t let the fear of not being perfect stop you from trying. You might try to compost something that isn’t compostable or struggle with a plant-forward diet at first, but these things get easier in time. Most people who make the switch to sustainable living start seeing the benefits quickly, so give it a go. What’s the worst that happens? What’s the best that happens?
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