Five Easy Ways We Can Live More Sustainably
Eat a plant-based diet.
If we are one of the lucky ones, we eat three times a day, every day. With seven billion of us doing this, what we eat as a community adds up and has a real effect on the sustainability of our planet.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. It is also the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction – including rainforest destruction.The amount of fresh water and land needed to grow feed for the 70 billion animals we raise for meat, is simply not sustainable because we could feed a lot more people on plants with less resources. An easy way to see how what you eat affects these valuable resources is to know a person who follows a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to someone who eats meat. It is one of the most affective changes you can make to live more sustainably.
Say No to Single-Use Plastic
Plastic is not biodegradable and usually goes into a landfill – only 10% of the world’s plastic is recycled - where it is buried, leaching chemicals slowly into the earth around it, or it gets into the water and finds its’ way into the ocean. There are whole islands of plastic floating in our oceans – marine animals are dying from ingesting it and according to the Ocean Conservancy, in less than 10 years, scientists predict there will be 250 million metric tons in the ocean and by 2050 and more plastic in the oceans than there are fish.
The worst single-use plastic items are plastic bags, straws, coffee cups, soda and water bottles and a lot of our food packaging.
What you can do is take the plastic-free challenge! Have your reusable shopping bags with you in your car – they don’t help when we leave them at home! Buy yourself a reusable water bottle, coffee cup, straw (if you need one) and utensils – and keep them handy in your bag, like you would your wallet and phone! And you can try buy your food in bulk, at the markets and certainly don’t use plastic bags to put your fruit and vegetables in!
It is estimated that 40% of our rubbish that goes into to landfill is food waste. This is avoidable waste that we could instead compost. Why?
Composting reduces the amount of food waste thrown away and which in turn reduces the amount of methane greenhouse gases. We can then put the compost on our soil, because our plants need nitrogen-rich soil to grow fully, and build protein, so soil from a compost heap will add to the natural nitrogen cycle by returning enriched soil to the ground. You’ll need fewer artificial chemical fertilisers to feed your plants with, resulting in much happier and healthier plants. It is a win all around. Its easy to do, google it my friend. Once you start it feels as normal as using a recycling bin!
Studies show almost 99 percent of everything we buy becomes waste within six weeks of purchase. We can reuse, we can recycle but the most effective way to combat all this waste is to curb the consumption. To stop at the top of the chain. If we buy less, we throw out less. With “things” much more affordable these days, we are purchasing at a rate that is unsustainable – and these “things” are not valued to us because we don’t see the unseen costs of producing and disposing of them. If we value the planet, then we have to greatly consider before we purchase things – do we need it? How long will it last us? Could we borrow it from a friend or hire from a company? Once you open your mind that just because you can – afford it in this case, doesn’t mean you should – buy it – then you will start to be fussier with what you consume.
Choose Gentle Products
What we clean our clothes with, our dishes with, our homes with and ourselves with - all ends up going down our sinks and into the waterways. It may be in such small doses in each bottle, but we have to take into account what happens when we are ALL doing it, EVERY DAY. The build up effect of the chemicals in our waterways, that you think are "cleaning" you, changes the PH levels - increasing algae blooms and negatively affecting marine life. It is not only the end result that will make or not make a product sustainable either. It's about making sure everything from sourcing, manufacturing, packaging and selling is making the tiniest impact possible. Research the companies you are purchasing from and aim to buy products that are accountable for where they are sourcing or growing their ingredients, using recyclable packaging, environmentally-friendly production and avoid harsh chemical ingredients. Luckily the companies who are doing this normally are talking about it loudly and make it clear on their bottles.. just dont be fooled by false yet clever marketing!
AND A LITTLE EXTRA
Vote for those who care
We never really know if what the governments promise will actually happen, especially in Australia where our Prime Minister keeps changing with out even a vote from the people...um what the... but we have to do our best to show the ones who are making big decisions for our countries, that we care about sustainability. Without a thriving planet, it won’t matter about the economy… so we must put pressure on our leaders to make policies with sustainability as a priority. Personally we can share what we are learning and the actions we are taking with friends, work and schools, so sustainability can be a community initiative! Sometimes we can impose greater changes at a smaller scale, and then these can be an example to the larger community – and governments - of what is possible!