These days, more and more people, across the globe, are wanting to live more sustainably. In a recent study by Southern Cross University, 87% of people said they regularly try to live an eco-friendly lifestyle. As the concern over plastic waste, pollution, and global warming grows, there are those wondering what they can do to make a difference.
Sustainability can come in many forms such as taking shorter showers or refraining from using plastic bags. However, one of the biggest principles of sustainability is responsibility. Through responsibility, we can understand how to make even better sustainable choices.
One of the contributing factors to being a more responsible member of society is incorporating green practices into more than just one aspect of your life. The goal is to leave the planet a better place than you found it. With that idea at the forefront of your sustainable efforts, it’s likely that you’ll find areas of your lifestyle that could be improved upon.
Make More Mindful Investments
Our homes are often major contributors to harmful impacts on the environment. A lot of waste can come out of our homes due to people simply spending a lot of time in them. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, nearly 139.6 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) were landfilled in 2017. Food was the largest component, then plastics, with paper and paperboard rounding out the top three. It can take a lot of energy, water, and other resources to power the typical household. And if people aren’t making responsible choices, there is also excess of trash coming from our homes.
A common weekend practice for the average homeowner is DIY projects; think activities such as starting a garden or updating the bathroom with new shelving. While there isn’t anything wrong with taking some time to improve your home, it can potentially lead to more waste. Learning to take the more responsible steps that will keep your DIY projects sustainable is a great way to achieve the results you want, without impacting the environment too much.
When looking at new gardening tools, it’s best to invest in long-lasting, high-quality ones to avoid replacing them every few months. When doing bigger projects that involve woodworking or construction, be sure your measurements are correct to avoid wasting raw materials unnecessarily. It might seem inconsequential to take such measures, but sustainable efforts (or lack thereof) add up quickly.
The Waste Hierarchy
Another important aspect of living a more responsible and sustainable life is being more aware of where our discarded things go once we’re finished with them. It can be easy to distance yourself from the waste you’re putting out when you’re unaware of where it goes and the effect it can have. While we are obviously aware that pollution impacts life from the ocean to the sky, there tends to be a much stronger reaction to seeing our own personal waste impact the planet.
Doing more research into waste processing can help us make better decisions in the future. While recycling is a great way to be more eco-friendly, there is also the responsibility of reusing and reducing items whenever possible. Recycling isn’t a stand-alone solution for our waste, rather it should be the last resort for items you’re no longer using.
For example, when you're in the process of packing and unpacking for a move, it's important to research what to do with your cardboard boxes after you’ve finished moving. It’s pretty common for people to simply recycle their boxes once they’re done, and while that is helpful, most boxes can be used multiple times. You can easily store cardboard boxes away until you need them again or you can use them to store seasonal decor and clothing. Recycling is definitely a more sustainable solution, but it isn’t always the most responsible option. Reduce and reuse should be as common a practice as recycling, if not more.
Make Safety a Priority
Riding your bicycle is one of the easiest and cheapest ways you can practice sustainability. Instead of releasing tonnes of fossil fuels into the air via a personal vehicle, you can help reduce your carbon footprint and get in some exercise by riding your bike to work, school, and even the grocery store. However, don’t limit your sustainable choices to just your everyday routine.
Bike riding can be utilized anywhere. Consider for your next family trip, instead of getting a rental car, rent bikes and safety equipment to get around. Living a more responsible eco-friendly lifestyle often involves making decisions that continuously motivate sustainability — even when you’re on vacation. Furthermore, while incorporating more cycling and less driving is certainly helpful, it's equally essential to be a responsible, law-adhering cyclist. When you do ride your bike, especially in new cities, you should be aware of the bicycle laws that you need to adhere to. Sustainability and safety should always go hand-in-hand.
With more active responsibility in regards to sustainability, why we should choose to maintain a more eco-conscious lifestyle becomes even clearer. The decisions we make now will impact the planet for generations to come, so let’s make the best choices possible.