To live a sustainable lifestyle, first you need to have a really good understanding of what it means to live sustainably.
Sustainability is a lifestyle. It’s something you should practice everyday by making changes to your everyday habits that help reduce your demand and consumption of earths resources. Choosing to live sustainably in one area of your life is helpful (i.e refilling water bottles), but if you are still practicing unhealthy habits in another (i.e purchasing plastic water bottles from the servo and refilling for a few days) this can counteract your sustainable choices. That’s why it’s described as a lifestyle. It’s about recognising your impact and making conscious decisions in all your life habits and consumer purchases.
For people new to living sustainably, don’t worry, this is like any lifestyle change, such as joining the gym, it’s not something you change overnight. Instead it’s about taking small steps everyday to help you form healthy habits, until that healthy habit becomes the new norm for you and it stops being a conscious effort and starts being your go-to sub-conscious choice in ethics.
When I first started choosing sustainability. I found it hard at times. I’d fall off the track…..leaving my water bottle or lunch at home and end up purchasing lunch on the go or a drink from the shop which made me feel like I was failing. When in fact, I wasn’t and neither will you. At that point in my life I was habing to learn a new habit and unlearn a lifestyle of convenience. “It doesn’t matter if I leave my lunch at home, I can just buy sushi at lunch”. Along my journey, I decided that if I did forget my lunch or my water bottle, that was my fault for being unprepared and the planet shouldn’t suffer for my lack of preparation. I’d find a local café and ask for a sandwich preparing without the wrapping (yep, straight into my hand…..because that’s all that was going to happen anyway right?!) or drink water from the tap at work or a drinking fountain (because the quality of water from the tap is no different to what I’d buy in a bottle). Recognising alternatives or “how would I survive if I couldn’t buy this” is a huge step towards living a sustainable life. But it doesn’t stop at forgetting your lunch……there are sooooooo many ways to live a sustainable life to create an all-rounded wellness for you and the planet.
Here are our top tips to live a sustainable lifestyle:
1. Always be prepared – Preparing for the day / week ahead allows you to foresee what lifestyle habits you’ll need to break in the upcoming time ahead and not get caught short or having to rely on unsustainable purchases
2. Bag Life – Take a spare bag with you EVERYWHERE! Just incase you do need to purchase something. I usually have my backpack with my at all times so I’m never caught short! Also remember to take your own bags for your food shopping.
3. Plastic free veggies - If you do need to purchase from the supermarket, only purchase foods not wrapped in plastic. Purchasing unwrapped fruit and veggies is usually a sign of local produce meaning you’re supporting local farmers (stickers will usually tell you if it’s not local) but also…..since when and why do cucumbers need sheathing?!
4. Buy at bulk food shops – Taking your own containers and refilling from farmers markets and bulk food shops helps you remove a HUGE amount of packaging waste from your life. You can also save money purchasing food this way vs the supermarket! Buying in bulk also helps you stock your pantry with a selection of staples…..which leads to our next point……
5. Cook your own food – Ditch the lunches-to-go and takeaways. Not only will the help you lead a healthier diet and save you money, but you’ll also ditch any extra packaging that it comes wrapped in (and dare we say it the plastic!). now we know everyone likes a tasty treat every so often – google fake-aways to curb those cravings for takeaways!
6. Layer up – Having your house warm is a luxury…..but we warm our houses up so we can walk around in less clothes. How counterintuitive! The uneccessary energy usage contributes towards climate change and higher utility bills. The solution….wear a sweater or a couple of extra layers (hello thermals!), get a couple of blankets and throws for your house too so every room is snuggly!
7. Switch it off – Make sure you turn off lights and electrics if you are leaving a room. This includes turning items off completely, leaving them on stand-by still uses energy. Go super sustainable and switch items off at the plug when they aren’t in use. Learn to adore natural light, open the blinds fully before reverting to switching on a light.
8. Ditch the plastic – And any other unsustainable product for that matter. Even plastic which can be recycled is still not worth buying (check out this blog post to find out why). If you need to purchase something, consider is there a plastic free option. Choosing to go plastic free is a great step forward to a sustainable life.
9. Low waste life – Try to reduce the waste in your house. Where possible, buy items unpackaged. Get a compost bin. Reduce how much you send to landfill or plastic recycling centers. Reuse what you can, reduce your consumption of uneccessary items, repurpose items when you no longer have use, resell if possible and when there’s no other option…..recycle it.
10. Consider your transport – Fall in love with that old bike in your shed again, or purchase a second hand one. This helps reduce the emissions from cars and completely removes the need for petrol/ diesel saving you money and saving the earth. If public transport or car-sharing/ car-pooling is an option, take it up, and if you do need a car….make sure it’s got a great energy rating and low emissions…..or even consider an electric or hybrid!
11. Say no to fast fashion – If you can buy it at the high street retailer for $10, how much do you think the living wage or working conditions are for the person who made it? Fast-fashion is the need to consume unethically made items and keep up to date with the latest season…..instead check out second hand shops like Recycle Boutique and purchase quality items second hand, whilst they might not all be from ethical brands, purchasing second hand helps drive down the consumer demand for new fast fashion manufacture.
12. Love slow-fashion – Sure ethical clothing brands may seem more expensive….why? Because they are made to a higher quality, designed to last longer, and provide more ethical and sustainable materials, pay rates and environments for workers. Skip the latest full wardrobe of fast fashion, and replace with a few items from ethical brands which will still be in season…..every season.
13. Upcycle – Whether it’s a piece of furniture you were going to throw out or an old pair of jeans, learn some new skills to have a bit of fun with! Paint that old set of drawers that didn’t fit your new décor and give it a new quirky look. Or learn some basic sewing skills such as “visible mending” to upcycle those worn out jeans.
14. Go paperless – Notify and sign up to paper statements with your bank and utility companies. Regardless if it’s on your computer or coming through your door, it will still have the same info….the difference…..less trees cut down or print production needed to tell you the same info.
15. Say no to receipts – If you can get it emailed instead of printed, do so. If the cashier asks you if you need a receipt, tell them no. Not only does printing receipts have the same tree + print issue as the point above, but receipts also contain hidden plastics in the film of them – they aren’t just paper!
16. Indoor plants – Use indoor plants to help clean the air in your house. They are also a great way for you to consciously learn about impacts to plants eco-systems and what happens when we don’t look after them…..and helps you appreciate the larger ecosystem we call earth.
17. Sustainable beauty – Try replacing your plastic container beauty routine by making some of your own or choosing reusable products, or purchasing from refillable and ethical brands such as Zao. Use shampoo, conditioner and soap bars to ditch the plastic bottles and support local artisans.
18. Love the outdoors – Some once said to me there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. How true right! Regardless of the weather, get yourself outside, bathe in the sun, jump in the puddles, enjoy every element earth has for us!