5 Examples of Sustainable living

Sustainable living is the conscious practice of making greener, more eco-friendly changes to your lifestyle, and adapting your way of life to consume less of Earth’s non-renewable resources. 

Sustainable living is a growing movement among environmentally aware people who want to do what they can to minimize climate change and pollution. 

There isn’t a clear-cut list of 10 or 20 things you can do to Iive this lifestyle, how sustainable you can make your life entirely depends on your surroundings and where you live. 

There are, however, several things we can do no matter where we are to minimize our contribution to pollution and climate change. In this article, I will list 10 examples of sustainable living you can easily adapt to your lifestyle. 

How to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle? 

Making sustainable lifestyle choices is much like choosing a healthier diet, it should be done gradually and in steps. 

There is no hard and fast rule for sustainable living, but there are guidelines. 

Remember, the goal is to offset our carbon footprints and minimize pollution. You should hammer this point into your brain. 

So next time you are in town, ask yourself, do you need to hail that cab just to visit a friend 4 blocks away? 

Do you need to take your car out or is the public transportation in your city good enough to take you to your destination? 

Imagine you’re in the produce section of the supermarket, do you need those cut and processed spinach wrapped in plastic? Is it that different from that fresh bundle you see on another aisle?

Sustainable living is about making choices, very conscious, well thought out choices that help the environment, without putting an unrealistic burden on you. 

So start slowly, and slowly incorporate more and more habits into your daily routine. 

Here are some changes you can make no matter where you are to get you started. 

Examples of sustainable living:

One of the biggest ways we as individuals contribute to climate change and pollution is by generating packaging wastes. We may not realize the impacts of that little take-away we took our left-over food in all that well, but it all adds up. 

  1. Switch to reusable cutlery: During the pandemic, a lot of us have been ordering take-out, and I get it, we don’t always have the motivation to cook or wash our dishes. But, this is becoming a problem as our landfills are filling up with single-use plastic knives and forks.

    Next time you order from restaurants, make sure you choose the eco-friendly option in your food delivery app. Most apps ask you if you want plastic cutlery, you can choose to say no. Use reusable cutlery, it’s a small but impactful change that the environment will thank you for.

    Now, what about when you’re outside? Make it a habit to carry a set of reusable cutlery with you. It’s going to seem daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’ll be worth it.
  2. Boycott single-use straws: Whether it’s made of plastic, bamboo, or paper, single-use straws are not environmentally friendly. Plastic straws do not decompose and instead release microplastics in the oceans, it harms marine life and is more trouble than their worth.

    Now, what about the more “sustainable” options? Remember this, single-use materials are hardly ever sustainable. The carbon footprint you leave behind drinking with a plastic straw is less than that of a bamboo straw.

    Paper straws are not the best option either, it has to be made from virgin wood pulp to be food grade, which essentially means somewhere in the Amazon or Boreal forest a tree fell just to let you enjoy your drink. This is why it’s better to carry your metal or even reusable plastic straw with you no matter where you go.
  3. Use reusable personal care items: This is a switch that will probably be a bit difficult at first, but trust me, it’s an important switch to make. We contribute to a mountain of waste each year by using less sustainable personal care items.
    Depending on where you live, alternatives may not be readily available, but in most of the developed world, you will find an alternative.

    Switch to zero packaging or non-plastic packaging toiletries. Instead of running through a dozen plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, switch to bars. The same goes for face wash, there are excellent bars for all skin types which will perform the same as your bottled toiletries.

    Use a reusable cloth to remove your makeup instead of using cotton discs. Now I know, what if you have very sensitive skin and cotton cloth just won’t do it? Try an oil-based makeup remover or a balm, these don’t require any cotton discs, just place some in your hands and massage onto your skin. There’s a slew of options in the market so no matter where you are, you will find one.

    Switch to washable silicon q-tip instead of single-use q-tips, these changes add up.  There are bamboo-based toothbrushes and reusable tissues which can replace plastic brushes or tissue paper.

    The bottom line is, switch to reusable alternatives, and zero packaging toiletries.
  4. Carry a reusable shopping bag: There was a time when reusable shopping bags were bulky and hard to carry. Those days are gone. A great variety of shopping bags exist in the market today which are extremely lightweight, compact, and easy to carry. Most of these are small enough to fit into your back pocket.

    There are excellent microfibre bags that are durable enough to carry 50 times its weight.

    Now I know what you’re thinking, microfibre? That sounds like plastic. Yes, it is plastic. You can always opt for a cotton alternative but the truth is, the microfibre bags are more durable, can carry more weight, and are more compact. Now, even though it’s plastic it’ll last a very long time, and you can save a lot of plastic shopping bags by using these.

    Make it a point to take one with you whenever you leave the house. We often do not plan our trips to the market so it’s always handy to have a shopping bag with us.
  5. Make more conscious purchases at the grocery store: Now most grocery stores in the world are not pulling their weight when it comes to minimizing packaging waste. There are stores in big cities like Los Angeles, Melbourne, and London that require customers to bring their packages and bottles to buy milk, grains, and other produce but these stores are rare and in between.

    In reality, there are very few supermarkets that care about the environmental cost of cheap plastic packaging, and stores that advertise environmental sustainability usually price their items in exorbitant amounts. The average consumer cannot afford to shop in these stores.

    But you can care about the environment without spending over your budget buying groceries. You have to plan your weekly trips to the supermarket. Make sure you have a list of all the things you need and take reusable packets to carry your produce.

    Oftentimes vegetables and fruits are wrapped in cling wrap and served in polystyrene foam trays. A lot of the more exotic items are packed in clear plastic boxes, and some leafy greens are cut, processed, and packed in plastic bags.

    Make an effort to avoid these items, buy the items that don’t include plastic packaging. Most often these plastics are not recycled and end up in landfills.
  6. Eat local and seasonal foods: In our globalized world it’s difficult to know where the bananas on the grocery shelf are really from. With cheap transportation costs and growing demand for exotic foods, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we impose a large carbon footprint every time we fly our produce in from other countries.

    Now I know, if we stop buying foods from other areas all together it’ll have disastrous impacts on the farming industry in many less privileged nations. I still say we need to eat local and seasonal foods.

    By eating locally grown foods you can support the farmers near you, and save tons of fuel needed to carry your daily grain and fresh produce needs from overseas.

    There is an incredible storage cost to preserve produce past their seasons. This is why it’s always better to eat seasonal foods. Visit your local farmer’s market to stock up your pantry and help reduce your carbon footprint in the process.
  7. Eat less processed foods: We have heard a lot about the dangers of processed foods in the past two decades. These foods are usually high in sugar and fats and can leave lasting impacts on our health.

    Of course, it is impossible as well as impractical to eliminate these foods from the diet. Who doesn’t love a pack of chips now and then, right? But we just need to be mindful of our purchases.

    The packaging used for most of these items is non-recyclable, primarily because most of these items are composites of plastics, metals, or paper.

    So we must minimize packaging waste generated from these products. For example, next time you’re craving a Coca-cola, buy the can, aluminium is endlessly recyclable and over 90% of the metal is recycled globally. Or buy the bag of chips that are packaged in compostable paper bags.
  8. Carry your water bottle: Cities there aren’t public water fountains; which is why it’s so important to carry your water bottle. We generate a lot of plastic waste when we buy water. These bottles, no matter how recyclable they are, cost energy and natural resources to make or recycle. We could save these resources by simply carrying a bottle with us.

    It could even be a recyclable plastic bottle itself, do not buy into the sustainable living standards where you have to eliminate plastic. Although it sounds wonderful on paper, it’s hard and inconvenient. You need to adopt changes gradually and carefully. Any change that makes the process harder than it has to be may not become a habit.

    Needless to say, a metal bottle or a glass bottle would be better. But these are mostly heavy and are harder to carry. Plastic on the other hand is much lighter and depending on the quality, can be very durable. Flasks made of bamboo also exist, but those have a shorter lifespan due to the non-durable nature of the material.

    Your main objective is to minimize waste, so focus on that first and foremost!
  9. Make sure to recycle: Yes! This is a must! Wherever you are, make sure to check your local recycling program and do your part. In most cities, there are curbside recycling bins. In some cities, like in most cities in the US, there is a single-stream recycling system, which means all recyclables go in the same bin. Make sure you throw all recyclables into these bins.

    Keep in mind certain items may seem recyclable, but your city may not have a program for it, separate those from the pile. Throwing random items into the bin makes it difficult for workers to sort through the materials and as a result, the whole batch may end up in the garbage.

    In Europe, the recycling system is mostly multi-stream, meaning you have to sort your glass, paper, metal, and plastic into groups before you throw them in your designated bins. The same rule applies, make sure the product you’re throwing in is recyclable.

    There are certain drop-off sites for certain materials in many cities, there are mail-in programs for certain plastics as well. Check if any such service is available in your area.
  10.  Compost your degradable items: Plastic use is generally scorned upon in the environmentally conscious community and alternatives to plastic are on the rise. Bamboo-based single-use cutlery, starch-based packaging, and food containers are gaining popularity. But keep in mind, even if something is biodegradable, it will not degrade in landfills.

    Biodegradable items require the right amounts of moisture, pH, temperature, and most importantly, the presence of microbes to degrade. This is why it’s so important to compost. Now keep in mind not all biodegradable items are not compostable, check labels and local guidelines before you throw anything in the bin.

    Composting doesn’t only apply to biodegradable plastic alternatives, it applies to organic waste in homes as well. Find out which wastes are compostable, collect them in a separate container to compost. Some garden parks near your area may have a program to take your organic waste, make sure you check if they do.

    Find out your local composting facilities where you can drop off your items. If you’re into gardening you can use these items to compost yourself. Composting is a way to return nature’s resources to her in a sustainable way. If we all do our part, we’ll surely make a sizable difference. 

Conclusion: 

Sustainable living is a growing movement among environmentally aware people who want to do what they can to minimize climate change and pollution. 

There isn’t a clear-cut list of 10 or 20 things you can do to Iive this lifestyle, how sustainable you can make your life entirely depends on your surroundings and where you live. 

There are, however, several things we can do no matter where we are to minimize our contribution to pollution and climate change.  This article listed 10 examples of sustainable living you can easily adapt to your lifestyle. 

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs): Examples of Sustainable Living

What are some ways to be more sustainable? 

The most important thing to remember when adapting to this lifestyle is to minimize the use of natural resources. So use reusable utensils, shopping bags, water bottles. Reduce single-use plastics, buy local and seasonal foods, prioritize public transportation over private cars, recycle, and compost biodegradable items. 

What is meant by sustainable living? 

Sustainable living is a lifestyle where you adapt certain changes to your consumption habits, behavior, and traveling habits to reduce your carbon footprint. 

What are sustainable practices at home? 

Make sure you remember to reduce, repurpose, recycle, compost, and reuse. Unplug your devices at night, switch off lights if you’re not in the room to save energy. Use bars instead of bottled conditioner, shampoo, body wash, dishwashing detergent, etc. 

What are the consequences of sustainable living?

It reduces waste build-up in landfills, reduces our energy expenditure, lowers our carbon footprint, and often helps local economies thrive. 

Is a sustainable lifestyle easy? 

It depends, as I said, you have made gradual, yet permanent changes. If you rush in and make too many changes it will appear daunting and you will end up making little lasting habits. Remember that it’s a lifestyle, you have to be slow and patient.

It won’t always be easy, but do what you can. Sustainable living is for the sake of the planet but your happiness is important too. Do not make too many changes that overwhelm you and isolate you from your peers. 

Reference: 

  1. What is Sustainable Living?. (2022). Retrieved 29 December 2021, from https://www.sustainablejungle.com/sustainable-living/what-is-sustainable-living/
  2. What is Sustainable Living? Definition, Meaning & Ideas | Inspire. (2022). Retrieved from https://www.inspirecleanenergy.com/blog/sustainable-living/what-is-sustainable-living
  3. Sustainable living – Wikipedia. (2022). Retrieved 3 January 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
  4. Sustainable_livinghttps://www.conserve-energy-future.com/15-ideas-for-sustainable-living.php
  5. What Does Sustainable Living Mean, Anyways?. (2022). Retrieved 3 January 2022, from https://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/sustainable-living-definition
  6. What Is Sustainable Living? | Maryville Online. (2022). Retrieved 3 January 2022, from https://online.maryville.edu/blog/what-is-sustainable-living/
  7. 13 Sustainable Living Examples To Help You Get Started. (2022). Retrieved 3 January 2022, from https://www.wheelsforwishes.org/news/environmentally-friendly-sustainable-living-examples/
  8. 14 ways to live more sustainably. (2022). Retrieved 3 January 2022, from https://www.wessexwater.co.uk/community/blog/14-ways-to-live-a-more-sustainable-lifestyle
  1. 100+ Simple Tips To Live a More Sustainable Lifestyle. (2022). Retrieved 3 January 2022, from https://theminimalistvegan.com/live-a-more-sustainable-lifestyle/
  2.  50 Simple Ideas to Begin Sustainable Living in 2022. (2022). Retrieved 3 January 2022, from https://www.minimalismmadesimple.com/home/sustainable-living/

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