You may be wondering, what the heck does living a sustainable lifestyle even mean? Let me clarify it for you in the simplest way possible.
A sustainable lifestyle means actively reducing your impact on the environment as much as possible. To live sustainably is a commitment to preserve our Earth's natural resources while minimizing the amount of waste you create, reducing your ecological footprint. 👣
So, who can live a sustainable lifestyle?
Literally everyone and anyone! 👯♀️
The sustainability space can be a little intimidating for a complete beginner. You may not identify yourself as an avid environmentalist quite yet, and that's okay! The sustainable community has room for everyone, no matter what stage you are in along your journey.
That's right: it's a journey. Beginning to live a sustainable lifestyle is a process, it is something that takes time, and you will continuously be learning.
And that is why I am writing this article for you. This document will serve as a great starting point for you to embark on your new sustainable lifestyle.
Let's get started! 🥳
Plant trees online!Reforest the earth every time you browse online.
Change starts with each individual.
First things first: I recognize there is a lot of work to be done within large companies and the governments regarding our overall environmental impact. However, it's essential to acknowledge that our daily personal choices matter significantly.
Ditch the idea that you don't have the power to make a difference.
We create a positive impact when millions of people practice sustainability imperfectly, rather than a handful of people doing it perfectly. There is power in numbers.
It's like the saying, "it's just one straw - said 7 billion people." Our personal choices directly impact our planet's health, and it's up to each of us to take responsibility for our choices.
There are various ways to reevaluate the choices that you make daily. You may already be doing some entirely sustainable things, but others may need some work. Let me guide you through.
How to purchase sustainably
Buying products is a big part of our daily lives. Whether we are buying coffee from our favourite café, grocery shopping for dinner ingredients, or purchasing the perfect outfit for date night, each purchase matters and impacts the environment.
Purchase local or Fair Trade Certified Goods
When shopping for food, check the labels! It indicates whether the food or drink is Fair Trade Certified with a distinct logo. Fair Trade Certified ensures that the food or drink is produced ethically with environmental and human well-being in mind. Fair Trade focuses on limiting their impact on the environment by practising sustainable agriculture and paying their farmers a fair and living wage.
When you can - buy local goods! You will reduce your ecological footprint because your food will not have to travel far to get to your table, and you will be supporting your local economy by purchasing from local farmers. It's a win-win. 💚
Say "no" to single-use products
Single-use products are taking over the Earth by storm. By switching to reusable products, you can instantly make your lifestyle more sustainable.
An example of a switch can include saying no to disposable café cups and purchasing a cute reusable one! You can continue this by buying some steel or bamboo straws and cutlery, a cotton or hemp shopping bag, and a reusable water bottle. Not only will you keep single-use products out of the landfill, but you will also have quality reusable products that will last you for years.
Choose to buy second hand
Thrifting is cool now anyway, right?!
The average person wears an item of clothing only seven times before they throw it out. The fashion industry is one of the main contributors to greenhouse gases because most textiles end up in a landfill (rather than recycled). So, if you're looking for a new outfit, consider looking at your local thrift store or on an online thrift store before buying something new to avoid contributing to this problem.
Pro tip: I love to swap clothing with friends! It's like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but they only travel from my closet to hers, and vice versa. 👖
Shop at sustainable stores
Take note of which stores in your area use sustainable materials or contribute to environmentally-friendly initiatives.
For example: Check with your favourite clothing store to see if their products consist of sustainable materials such as hemp, bamboo, organic cotton, banana fibre, or recycled plastic. Synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, or acrylic consist of harmful chemicals, do not break down easily and even release microplastics into the environment during the washing process.
Nowadays, many stores also offer sustainable initiatives with every purchase, such as planting trees or carbon offsetting. One of my personal favourites is OurForest, the browser extension that plants trees for free every time you shop for anything online.
I've also compiled a list of my favourite sustainable clothing brands that you can check out here.
How to create sustainable habits
Adapting to a sustainable lifestyle is eye-opening at first. You'll start realizing that it isn't that hard to make the smallest of changes. As your sustainability journey moves along, you will create impressive habits that may even rub off on your friends and family!
Use energy wisely
When I first started to become aware of the amount of energy I was using in my apartment, I was shocked at some of my bad habits. I would leave the lights on all day while I was gone out, or accidentally leave my straightener plugged into the wall. 🙆🏼♀
To become more energy efficient at home, unplug your appliances when they are not in use. The lamp in the spare bedroom thats maybe turned on once a year doesn't need to be plugged all of the time!
When I leave the house, I repeat the three-step habit called "lights, heat, appliances." I turn off the lights, turn down the heating or turn off the air conditioning, and unplug my appliances... and voilà! I'm ready to go about my day knowing that I am using energy sustainably.
Walk when you can - or bike, if you're into that kind of thing 🚴🏼♀️
Reduce the emissions created from your car and choose to walk or bike where you can! Of course, driving is often essential, but if you're within walking distance of your destination, make a habit of walking. Your body and Momma Earth will thank you!
Take care of your things
It sounds so simple, but it needs to be said. Your possessions last longer when you take care of them!
Please treat them with respect, handle them with care, and keep everything tidy. If you take care of your things, it will keep you from making repurchases of the same items, and therefore you will be creating less waste.
Pro tip: Make sure your electronic cables are safely and neatly stored! I have struggled with this in the past, and have had to repurchase countless phone chargers because I would crinkle them up and throw them in a drawer. Don't be like me.
Pick up your clothes!
Yeah, I see you, with that mound of clothing in the corner of your room - pick up your clothes!
Hanging up your clothing is one of the quickest and most influential sustainable habits to create. We all try on multiple outfits before leaving the house but instil the habit of hanging clean clothes up after trying them instead of throwing them on the floor.
If you throw your clothes on the floor, then chances are you're going to end up washing it, even though it doesn't need washing. Washing too often will shorten the life of your clothing and also use unnecessary energy. To be sustainable, take care of your clothing by displaying it proudly in your closet.
How to dispose of sustainably
There’s no way that I can talk about sustainability without discussing the quadruple R's - because they work.
Reduce your impact on the environment and choose to consume less. Reduce your use of single-use items, reduce your gas emissions, and overall reduce your consumption of things you don't need.
Reuse things that are not easily recycled or disposed of. For example, repurpose take out containers that you get from restaurants and use them for storing food items in your cupboards!
Before you buy a product, consider if you can recycle it. Just because the label indicates that it is recyclable, it is not always true. Every city and town has different recycling facilities, and they each have their limitations.
Research your local recycling facilities to find out the exact materials and items that they accept for recycling. ♻️
Start asking yourself - do I really need this? Begin to practice asking this question before buying or using anything to avoid unnecessary purchases that are not sustainable. If it's not a heck yes, then it's a heck no!
Reforest the Earth when you browse the webPlant a tree while shopping online
Be patient with yourself
Be patient. Two words that I wish someone told me when I started my journey to a sustainable lifestyle.
The best advice that I can give to you is to take it slow and forgive yourself when making mistakes. It's unrealistic to believe that you can snap your fingers and magically become sustainable in all aspects of life. It is a process that will force you to learn and grow, and I promise that you will fall in love with finding new ways to be a better advocate for the environment! 🌍
Please remember that no one is perfect. I went shopping yesterday and forgot to bring my reusable bags, so I had no other choice but to use disposable plastic bags. I felt pretty bad about it, but then I reminded myself, "girl, you are doing your best!" We are all human, and we are all going to forget things from time to time.
If someone says they don't mess up within their sustainable lifestyle now and then, don't believe them. In fact, run away as fast as you can because they are probably a robot. 🤖
Please leave a comment below and let me know how you're doing on your journey to a sustainable lifestyle, I would love to hear from you!