In the previous blog post, we tried decoding Sustainability. Sustainability in our daily lives is easiest to incorporate when we are mindful and conscious of our choices. Let’s start this journey of sustainability, by making little incorporation that contributes to sustainable living. This way, you will feel closer and more connected to the process, because with each little step you are making a difference and you will in the process figure out what more you can do.
Sustainability is about the small things. Each time you pick a product, try to assess the kind of resources used to create the product, its actual shelf life vs utility and eventually how it will be disposed of. Having a product that can be reused multiple times is better than products that can only be used once, however it takes forever to be disposed of properly. The most lucrative part of single-use products or the ones with a short life span is the affordability and the ease that they bring along.
Take plastic packaging for instance. Most of your products, particularly the ones you order online come wrapped in some form of plastic- sheets, bubble wraps, thermocol, etc. Are there alternatives to this packaging? Certainly. But why is plastic packaging bad? Because most of it is in no shape to get recycled and takes forever to dispose of. Instead, it ends up polluting the soil quality, and oceans and even finds its way into the bodies of animals, having hazardous effects on them. For those who consider burning to be a better way of disposing of waste, it causes greater harm to the environment. The toxic gasses released while burning plastic are hazardous to biodiversity.
Of course, plastic is lightweight and cheap. But it is also one of the major pollutants damaging the environment.
Here are a few ways how you can incorporate sustainability into your daily lives:
Switch to reusables
Instead of opting for resources that can only be used once or a few times, opt for products that have a longer shelf life and can be reused multiple times.
- Carry your own cloth bags for shopping. This way you can skip plastic bags or have to pay for the paper bags being sold at the various shopping outlets.
- Always carry your own water bottle as you head out of the house, in order to avoid the purchase of water sold in plastic bottles. You can easily ask for a refill at cafes and restaurants. Many cities also have water refilling stations at public places.
- Carry your own tiffin to pack the leftover food. Food packaging accounts for a large part of the packaging waste.
- Buy few but high-quality clothing in order to use them for longer periods. While most fashion brands out there are based on the principles of fast fashion, opt for something long plastic to be more responsible towards the environment. If you’re fond of fashion trends, identify options such as outfit rentals or exchanges with family or friends. This way, you will be utilizing the existing resources without adding to the environmental impact of producing more units.
- Shop second-hand: Be it furniture or vehicles, shopping for second-hand products can help decrease environmental impact by utilizing already existing products instead of creating demand for the production of new products.
Opt for lower emissions
The primary purpose of sustainability initiatives is to reduce the environmental impact, caused by the production overdrive and the emissions caused by the process of excess consumption. Being mindful of the emissions generated during the process and opting for options with fewer emissions is a small but extremely vital step in reducing the carbon emissions being produced.
Here are some of the ways to opt for such alternatives:
1. Environmental-friendly transport modes: Taking a cab or driving your car can be convenient and fancy, all at once. However, the emissions caused in the process for a small population are much higher. On the contrary, opting for public transport options such as trains, buses, and trams are likely to reduce environmental impact in several ways.
2. Trains over planes: Despite the large numbers of passengers, air travel is likely to emit more carbon than trains and hence, have a sizable contribution towards CO2 emissions, adversely impacting the environment. While air travel is seemingly more lucrative due to shorter travel times for longer distances, and sometimes the only convenient option, choosing train travel wherever possible is a great way to show commitment towards the environment.
3. Bikes and e-vehicles: An increasing number of global cities are opting for a transition to increased bikes and electric vehicles in order to provide easy transport options with lowered emissions. Additionally, the last decade has also seen a rise in sharing bikes, etc. This increases product utility and decreases the load on the environment. Not to forget, they are extremely healthy alternatives as forms of exercise.
4. Opt for plant-based diets: While going vegan is a major lifestyle decision, you can start by making conscious inclusions of plant-based foods in your diet. Due to the lower resource requirement for growing plants, it has a lesser impact on the environment as opposed to meat consumption. There is also an increased variety of plant-based meat alternatives which can be considered.
5. Quality over quantity: The truth is that capitalism is based on the idea of promoting consumerism. There will always be a new trend, product, or fashion that is better than the one you own. Advertising and marketing are aimed at getting you to buy more. That’s the key reason so much of a company’s budget is set aside for it. But that’s exactly the bullet that you need to smartly dodge. Discounts and sales are the easiest way to get you to shop. But just because something is cheaper, do you truly need it? Invest in quality. A slightly expensive product with a longer shelf life is better than a way cheaper product which will wear out sooner than you know, leaving you to shop again and consume more.
One of the best ways of incorporating sustainability into your daily life is by opting for local alternatives wherever possible. Sustainable living is really about helping others get sustainable in a way that helps them. This method contributes not just to the environment, but also to the society and economy in the locality.
Local produce: Instead of opting for exotic and imported foods, knowing the local produce and incorporating them into your meals helps you adapt better to the local culture, weather, etc. and other conditions. Since the food has been produced locally, the transport has a much lower rate of emissions, reducing the environmental impact. Another key advantage of consuming the local produce is the demand creation of local products that are suitable for the region’s geographic conditions and hence, have a positive impact on the environment and the economy.
Local employment: By employing the locals, you contribute to economic development as well as social upliftment. The employment opportunities for locals help them earn a livelihood so that they can afford the necessities and the amenities required to enhance their standard of living without having to settle for mediocre products. As they are already a part of the current ecosystem, they become self-sufficient and add to the environment instead of simply adding to the load.
Local shopping: Instead of shopping for fancy brands that are shipped from other destinations invest in the local economy by shopping for local products- handicrafts, and products created and manufactured locally. This helps in enriching the value of the local culture and also create a multitude of opportunities to popularize the local culture, contributing to social and economic sustainability.
Another key factor involved here is the lack of third parties causing financial losses to locals who put in the labour. For instance, when you shop for handicrafts from Rajasthan, the chances of locals being exploited for labour while you pay a hefty price for the product are lower. The power dynamics are beyond your control, but you can mostly be assured that the money stays within the local economy and is more likely to benefit the locals than the involvement of any third-party sellers.
Sustainable living: A way of life
The key objectives of sustainability are the mindful use of resources and reducing inequalities. Economic growth is a big part of it. But when we take our economic decisions keeping the social and environmental impact in mind, economic development can be correctly directed.
Sustainability is really about living mindfully. When you truly start considering what you’re consuming, where it comes from and how it gets disposed of, is good for your body, the environment… sustainability will become second nature to you. It does sound complicated and a lot of work to begin with. But when you really start thinking beyond yourself, finding newer ways to adapt sustainability in your life becomes a lot easier.
There is no benchmark or timing to get started with your sustainability journey. You can start the minute you even want to explore the concept. Because sustainability is truly about the small things, which in reality have a large impact. Avoiding wastage, opting for renewable energy sources, opting out of fossil fuels, and choosing to reduce the environmental load, all of these come out of small changes that we can make to our daily lives.
Your sustainability journey is not just life-changing for you. Your efforts towards sustainable living make room for others- those around you and your future generations to enjoy similar resources. It is likely to have an impact on the planet and the future.
SUSTAINABLE LIVING IS ALL ABOUT YOU. YOU ALONE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE, A LOT MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU CAN.
Do you have more ideas on sustainable living in your day-to-day lives? Share them with us in the comments and help make an impact.