Environmental sustainability doesn't mean living without luxuries but rather being aware of your resource consumption and reducing unnecessary waste.
Simple things such as drinking from the tap instead of buying plastic bottled water, reselling and donating items instead of throwing out, eating in-season and choosing produce made as locally as possible are all examples of sustainable living.
A powerful way to live more sustainably is to eat locally. The convenience of supermarkets has changed how people think about food. You can stroll through aisles stocked with fruits, vegetables, and other products from all over the world any time of year. But these products consume huge amounts of fossil fuel energy to get from those global locations to your supermarket.
Other ways to live more sustainably are…
Reducing household energy use.
· Turn off appliances overnight.
· Install energy-efficient appliances and LED lights.
· Use a programmable thermostat that lowers when you’re not home or raises the temperature when you are due back.
· Open windows to allow a breeze instead of turning on the air conditioning.
· Enjoy summer shade from the West by planting a deciduous tree or vine.
· Hang clothes to dry outside instead of using a dryer.
· Take shorter showers.
Dispose with disposables.
Previous generations didn’t dream of single-use razors, forks, cups, bags, and food storage containers, but these days, you can find a plastic version of almost any object and then throw that object away after you use it.
Many of the environmental health issues today stem from toxins released into the environment by trash. Even trash that’s properly disposed of, such as that in a landfill, requires careful monitoring to ensure that dangerous chemicals don’t enter the surrounding environment.
When you make a purchase, consider the item’s life expectancy: How long can the item be used? Will it have more than one use? When you’re done with it, will it end up in the landfill? Start investing in reusable products for the items you most often throw away. Maybe coffee cups, water bottle, lunchbox and waxed wraps?
Plant seeds & seedlings.
Try growing your own food. Simply plant a few vegie seeds in a corner of your backyard or in a container on your porch or windowsill. You don’t need acres; a few square metres on a patio, along the driveway, or in a window box can provide enough space to grow edible herbs, soft fruit, and vegetables.
Recycle and reuse as much as possible!
Resell and donate items.
Items that you no longer need can get an extended life through resale and donation. By extending the life of any product, you help reduce dependence on disposable or cheaply made single-use products that end up in landfills.
Try reselling clothing and children’s things through websites or consider donating them to The Crow’s Nest or a charity organization.
Drink from the tap.
Dependence on bottled water has added more than a million tons of plastic to the waste stream every year, some of which ends up in the ocean.
If you don’t like the flavour of your tap water, consider investing in a filtration system. If you like the convenience of bottled water, purchase refillable stainless-steel bottles and keep one in your fridge, one in your car, and one at work.
An easy way to live more sustainably is to conserve household water use. Consider installing water-efficient dual-flush toilets that let you choose whether to use a full flush (for solid waste) or half-flush (for liquid waste). Newer clothes washers can automatically sense the smallest level of water needed for each load.
Smaller changes, such as switching to water-saving shower heads and adding aerators to your sink faucets, are also effective ways to significantly reduce household water use.
To conserve water outdoors, use landscaping adapted to your local environment. When buying plants, look for drought-tolerant species and varieties and be sure to plant them in water-holding soil and part-shade summer sun conditions to reduce any need for excess watering. Set up sprinkler systems carefully so they don’t water the footpath or the driveway, and use a timer.
Rely less on your car.
Using fossil fuels to support one person in each car on the road is clearly no longer sustainable. Try the local bus or carpool. When traveling close to home, walk or ride your bike. Investigate purchasing an e vehicle for your next car.
Purchase fair-trade products from the local Fair Trade shop.
When you purchase items that are imported from all over the world — particularly coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, chocolate, and fruit — look for the fair-trade certification. This designation tells you that these items were grown using sustainable methods of agriculture and that local people are receiving fair prices for the goods they produce. Real sustainability is social and economic as well as environmental.
(Sources: Ten Ways to Live Sustainably by Alecia M. Spooner and Future Living Skills website)