Even though Earth Day has passed, we should still live each day conscious of our environmental footprint.
I’ve always been a lover of the natural environment, but it was only when I started learning more about anthropogenic climate change (that is, human-induced climate change) that I realised the true impact our daily activities have on our ecosystem. Everything that we do, everything that we buy and everything that surrounds us has a flow-on effect on the environment.
I am not a model citizen when it comes to sustainability. However, I learn something new every day. Being conscious about the life you live and the impact it has on the natural world is the first lightbulb moment in making a change.
Here are some of the ways that I’ve begun to start living a more environmentally sustainable life. Hopefully they’ll help you on your sustainable journey too.
1. Minimalise your lifestyle
Learning more about minimalism and the minimalist lifestyle has been helpful in shaping my mindset when it comes to sustainability. The basis of minimalism is: less is more. By having less things in your life, you’ll have more room for experiences, ideas and creativity.
To start your minimalist journey, follow prominent personalities who practice the minimalist lifestyle. My favourites are Jenny Mustard and Break The Twitch. It’s important to note that there’s no set way to be a minimalist – everyone can be a minimalist in their own way.
2. Re-purpose or donate items
De-cluttering is a great way to start yourself on your minimalist journey – just make sure you don’t throw things out in the trash (where they’ll end up in landfill) that can be given a second life.
See if you can re-purpose some old items that you don’t need anymore. If not, donate them to a charity or set up a yard sale. You can donate some of the money made to an environmental organisation.
3. Think twice and buy less
It was only a few years ago that I used to be a spontaneous shopper. I would go out to the mall when I was bored just to go on a shopping safari. Every week, I’d come home with bags full of clothes, makeup and useless items. Once I became conscious of the environmental impact my consumer habits were having, I started setting myself limitations.
In 2015, one of my resolutions was to stop buying things that I don’t need. In 2017, I’ve limited myself to only being able to buy 5 items of clothing. Setting myself these limitations has made me more conscious about what I’m buying. I find that I’m no longer buying cheap clothes from fashion chains because I would rather a quality item that lasts for years, even if it does cost more money. If you have the opportunity, try to buy second-hand items.
Remember: every time you purchase something, you’re making a choice of how you want the future of our Earth to be.
4. Use re-usable bags when shopping
Whenever you’re out shopping, make sure to bring a reusable bag. Organic cotton tote bags are great because they fold up easily in your backpack or handbag. Say no to plastic bags.
5. Say no to plastics
In fact, say no to any plastic. Plastic straws, plates and cutlery are a waste. You only use them for a few minutes and then they end up in the trash. That’s a lot of energy wastage to extract natural materials from our Earth just so we can use them for a few minutes. Bring your own cutlery if you plan to get take-away.
6. Bring your own bottle of water
Instead of forking out change for a plastic bottle of water, just bring your own refillable one! Not only does it save you money, but you’re saving the environment too.
7. Cut down on your weekly meat intake
For some people, it can be difficult to go cold-turkey and drop meat from your diet completely. I admire vegans for fighting the good fight. For me, there are a few things I can’t give up (eggs being one of them). Instead of giving them up completely, I just cut down my weekly intake.
Think of meat as a garnish, rather than your main ingredient. When you can, purchase organic, grass-fed and free-range selections.
8. Unplug and switch off power points
Energy conservation is a big one when it comes to sustainability. Whenever you’re not using electricity, make sure to unplug your power and turn the switch off. Leaving your electrical switches on (even if it’s not powering anything) uses up energy. After doing this for a month, you’ll notice a welcome change in your electrical bill.
9. Get educated on recycling and waste disposal
Waste disposal is one of the biggest areas that I think a lot of people can improve on. I see so many people throwing away recyclable items into landfill bins and vice-versa. I also see way too many people throw their rubbish on road-sides, footpaths and parks.
By educating yourself, your family and your friends about proper waste disposal can go a long way in cleaning up the streets. The Earth is not your rubbish bin.
Those are some of the ways I’ve started being more environmentally conscious. Sometimes I fail… but every time I make a mistake, I learn from it. It’s all about practice and it’s all a journey.
What are some of the ways you’re exercising environmental sustainability? Let me know in the comments!