Sustainability is the process of adopting a sustainable lifestyle that ensures the conservation and security of the Earth’s natural resources. Scientists are warning that humans are depleting these resources at an alarmingly fast rate, one that outstrips the planet’s ability to renew them. The sustainability philosophy is that we must not fill our own current needs at the expense of the needs of future generations.
The good news is that many of the changes you can make will also save you money and may even help you live a healthier lifestyle. This means that you are helping yourself when you live a more eco-friendly life, as well as the wider community and the planet. You will see the positive differences close to home and will be able to enjoy the benefits.
Here are just a few ideas to get you started with going green. Look at applying these strategies in your home; you will probably find that you can influence your immediate circle of friends and relatives and possibly your local community.
- Reduce your carbon footprint – and save money at the same time. Reduce your dependence on fossil fuels by driving less and using public transport or walking; reduce your energy consumption by turning off lights to empty rooms and appliances at the wall; choose energy-efficient appliances and alternative power sources; change to CFL light bulbs.
- Consider the household products you buy – reduce the toxic chemicals in your home and improve the health of your family and the planet. Cleaning, garden, washing and personal products often contain ingredients that are considered poisons on their own or are petrochemicals derived from oil. People lived happy and healthy lives before the advent of the huge range of cleaning products that currently adorn our supermarket shelves; their clothes, bodies and homes were perfectly clean as well. Look for eco-friendly products with limited recyclable packaging, low-toxicity, no petrochemicals, are biodegradable and phosphate-free.
- Read food labels – we have become dependant on processed foods in our busy lives but in the process have lost much of the nutrition of the food. Processing removes nutrients which provide flavor and so manufacturers put back chemical additives to improve the flavor and texture. Avoid artificial flavors and colors; you might be surprised what they are made from. If you cannot pronounce an ingredient, you possibly don’t want to eat it. Processed food uses vast amounts of energy in its production, making it an unsustainable commodity.
- Cook at home using fresh ingredients – home-cooked food is generally healthier, more nutritious, less fattening and uses less energy. Involve the whole family in menu planning and meal preparation. Keep take-out as an occasional treat. Source your ingredients locally, where possible, to reduce the miles the food has traveled to get to you. Source organic produce; you might pay more but you will appreciate the great taste and nutrition.
- Grow some of your own food – whether you have the room for a vegetable garden or keeping a few chickens, a balcony pot garden or windowsill herbs, by growing some of your food, you are further reducing food miles and eating healthier. By avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, you are also eating cleaner food and preventing these toxins from contaminating both you and the natural environment.
- Reduce your “stuff” – we are constantly being encouraged and enticed to buy more “stuff” in the consumer-driven societies in which we live. Stop and think before you buy; do you really need it or just want it; do you have something already that will do the same job; can you buy the same item second-hand?
- Reuse and recycle – consumerism has taught us to throw away anything that is broken or that we no longer want or need. It’s easier to go out a buy a new one, right? Unfortunately, this is wrong for the environment. The earth is staggering under enormous amounts of trash in land-fill, much of it able to be recycled. Sell or give away anything you no longer want; shop at second-hand stores and save lots of money; find another use for empty containers, old clothes etc.
- Use eco-friendly alternatives to harsh chemicals –– When your lawn is weed-ridden and dwindling away into a brown, dying wasteland, it’s tempting to buy the cheapest weed spray on the shelf at your local Home & Garden Center. However, there are eco-friendly alternatives such as weeding by hand, burning your weeds (use caution) or creating natural barriers to keep the weeds out.
- Conserve water – shorter showers, only run full dishwashers, collect washing water for the garden.
These are just a few sustainable living strategies that you can implement in your home to create a healthier environment for yourself and your family, to help the planet, and set the sustainability ball rolling in your local community.
So, how do you try to live sustainable?