Sustainable Lifestyle and the Individual Journey
We have all heard of a sustainable lifestyle at some point in our lives. However, it may be hard to figure out what exactly a sustainable lifestyle consists of To put it simply, a sustainable lifestyle attempts to reduce an individual’s use of the Earth’s natural resources as well as one’s personal resources. This echoes the most quoted definition of sustainable development, which states: “sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Essentially, sustainability is tied directly to the way we live our lives. By being conscious of our consumption and making efforts to preserve resources for the generations of the future, we can not only live a better life and reduce our carbon footprint while also guaranteeing that our children and grandchildren have the opportunity to live with the same resources that we did.
Now, sustainable development is extremely vital to preserve resources for the future, but the question remains, how exactly do we live a sustainable lifestyle? There is no single action that you can take to get started since sustainability consists of smaller and more personal actions that add up as time goes on.
Reducing your consumption:
Firstly, we must work on reducing our consumption. The Earth and the sea are drowning in the items that we have consumed and thrown away, such as plastic straws, and most recently, disposable masks. Disposability as a trend has skyrocketed in recent years, with more and more items that people use once and then throw away. This leads to an increase in consumption which leads to more resources being used when they can be preserved.
In order to be more sustainable, we must look at the purchases we make and how much we get out of them when compared to the adverse effects they have on the planet. Buying items that are reusable is a much better alternative to using disposable items. For example, we can replace plastic straws with metal straws that can be washed and reused. We can even replace disposable masks with cloth masks that last significantly longer.
Similarly, buying organic food ensures that the profits go to smaller resellers and farmers rather than to faceless organizations that tamper with the food that we eat. While the prices may be higher when we buy organic, the tradeoff is marginal as organic food has more nutrients and is overall healthier as it is free of chemical fertilizers and antibiotics.
Supporting small businesses:
However, being sustainable doesn’t mean never buying anything ever again. Smaller businesses are significantly more sustainable than global corporations. Buying something from a small business rather than a large corporation not only supports them but also sets us on the path to a sustainable lifestyle.
By supporting a small business, we support a local community and keep our money within the local economy, supporting people that are passionate about their work and put their own time and energy into creating a product or providing a service. Supporting large corporations means also supporting their carbon emissions, which amount to a quarter of total carbon emissions in the US.
Abolishing fast fashion:
Fast fashion is the mass production of cheap, low-quality, disposable clothing. The fashion industry creates 100 billion items of clothing a year, which is not only an insane number in and of itself, it’s also over 400% more than it produced 20 years ago.
The issue at hand is that clothes are getting cheaper, and their quality is falling with their price. Fashion trends, however, are rising. This means that there is a higher demand for newer, more trendy clothing. The next trend being just around the corner means that people dispose of their clothing much faster, and the poor quality adds fuel to the fire.
This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if the clothes were donated or recycled, but as it currently stands, most clothes get sent to landfills. Clothes take over two centuries to fully decompose, meaning that they continue to harm the environment as they decompose, and more and more clothes are being made and thrown away every year.
In order to be more sustainable, we must be more mindful of the way we treat our clothes. It is always better to buy clothes that will last longer, stay in trend longer, and donate them once we are done with them.
Reducing your waste:
Waste reduction is a great way to be more sustainable. Everything that we throw away causes major problems for the environment. This goes hand in hand with reducing your consumption. If we consume less, we waste less, and we throw less away.
The linear process of buying something new, using it, and then throwing it away is harmful for the environment, but if we don’t throw it away once we use it, and instead use it to make something new, be it something useful or simply an art project, we keep it in circulation for significantly longer and therefore preserve the resources that went into making it in the first place.
Reducing single-use plastic and food waste is a great starting point to the sustainable journey.
To conclude, we must remember that a sustainable lifestyle is a major lifestyle change that lasts for a long time. There is no easy or quick shortcut to being more sustainable, so we must be mindful of every decision we make, every product we purchase, everything we throw away, and make the right choice, and keep trying to do the right thing. This way, slowly and steadily, we will find ourselves living a sustainable lifestyle.