Sustainable living is an important aspect of protecting our planet and ensuring its health for future generations. While many people may think that making sustainable choices requires a significant lifestyle overhaul, there are actually many small, everyday changes that can make a big impact.
#1. Switch to reusable shopping bags
Single-use plastic shopping bags are a major source of pollution in many countries. Worldwide, an estimated 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year. In Australia, only 3% of single-use plastic bags are being recycled. These bags take up to 1000 years to decompose and break down into smaller pieces called microplastics, often entering our rivers, lakes and oceans. According to the UN Environment Programme, approximately 11 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the world's oceans every year, with single-use plastic bags being a significant percentage of the total plastic waste that floats on the surface.
The impacts of this pollution can be devastating for wildlife, with countless animals every year becoming entangled in these bags or consuming them. It's clear that we need to take action to reduce our reliance on single-use plastic bags and help protect our environment.
To stop contributing to the plastic pollution, bring your own reusable bags when grocery shopping. As single-use plastic bags are a major source of pollution, by bringing your own reusable bags, you can help reduce waste and protect the environment.
#2. Transition to reusable water bottles and coffee cups
We've all seen the pictures of beaches and oceans littered with single-use plastics. It's no surprise that single-use plastic coffee cups and water bottles are a huge contributing factor to this pollution problem. These throwaway items don't break down, meaning they often end up in our oceans and other waterbodies. In Australia alone, an estimated 1 billion single-use coffee cups and 15 billion single-use water bottles are discarded every year. That's a lot of plastic waste, and it's having an overwhelmingly negative impact on our environment.
To help protect the environment, use reusable water bottles and coffee cups. Invest in a reusable water bottle and coffee cup and bring them with you wherever you go. Don’t become a victim of greenwashing by switching to other single-use alternatives such as compostable, biodegradable or edible products. All those are single-use, too - they require a lot of resources to be manufactured and are discarded just after one use. They can also be a major source of greenhouse gas emissions including methane if not disposed of correctly.
#3. Shop locally
Shopping locally is one of the best ways to help reduce your ecological footprint and contribute to sustainability. Buying locally-grown produce significantly reduces the amount of energy and fuel needed to transport food from other parts of the world, which in turn reduces air pollution. According to a recent study, locally-grown produce has a significantly lower carbon footprint than imported goods; it is estimated that transporting food - especially fruits and vegetables - generates around 6 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions globally.
Additionally, purchasing locally-made products helps to support local businesses and create a stronger economy within the community. This supports job growth and has a positive impact on the local environment.
#4. Compost your food waste
Composting food waste is one of the best things you can do to help reduce your environmental footprint. One of the local Australian Councils reports that food waste makes up to 35 per cent in households' general bins. Composting allows you to divert food waste out of landfills and release valuable nutrients back into the soil. Composting also helps to reduce methane gas, as food that is composted produces far less of the potent greenhouse gas than food waste that is sent to landfills. Additionally, composting food waste helps to conserve water, as compost increases the soil's water-holding capacity and helps plants to better absorb and retain moisture. Overall, composting offers a number of environmental benefits that help the environment and reduce our collective impact on it.
#5. Use eco-friendly cleaning products
Many traditional cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that can be harmful to the environment. Choose eco-friendly cleaning products that are made with natural ingredients.
When it comes to keeping your environment clean and healthy, eco-friendly cleaning products are a must. These sustainable alternatives to traditional cleaning products can help reduce your carbon footprint, save you money and benefit the environment in the long run. Eco-friendly cleaning products are typically made from plant-derived ingredients, reducing the amount of chemicals released into the environment. They are also packaged in materials like glass and recyclables and/or recyclable plastic, helping to lessen our reliance on single-use plastics. You can also make DIY cleaning solutions using simple ingredients from your pantry such as vinegar, herbs and washing soda. Another eco-friendly option is to purchase cleaning products without packaging at your nearby package-free bulk food store.
#6. Turn off the lights when you leave a room
Don't forget to turn off the lights when you don't need them! Reducing household energy use through simple changes like turning off the lights can have a major impact on the environment. Globally, 15 per cent of power consumption goes into electricity for lighting. Electricity for lighting also emits 5 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
Go a step further and install energy efficient lighting to reduce your households emissions even more.
#7. Use a reusable straw
Single-use plastic straws are a major source of pollution, so consider using a reusable straw instead. Reusable straws are an easy and sustainable way to reduce your environmental footprint. With just one purchase, you can help save the environment from the millions of straws that are used every day. Not only do reusable straws help reduce plastic pollution, but they also conserve electricity and water. To achieve the most environmental benefits opt for bamboo reusable straws instead of metal ones.
#8. Plant a garden
Having your own garden is a great way to help the environment — and save some money! Not only can you reduce your grocery bill by growing your own food, you can get the added benefit of knowing exactly what ingredients are going into your meals. Plus, gardening can help reduce carbon emissions and air pollution. According to some estimates, gardens that help you to replace 20 per cent of bought food, assist you in significant carbon footprint reduction - about 68lbs of CO2 per year. Gardens also provide a valuable environment for birds, bugs and other wildlife.
#9. Buy second-hand clothing
Thrifting is an excellent way to help the environment. Shopping for second-hand clothes, furniture, and other items helps reduce waste and conserve resources. According to Earth.org, Americans generate over 11 million tons of textile waste each year - but by thrifting, we can keep these items out of the landfill. Thrifting makes a huge impact on our environment, reducing the need for new materials and resources, thereby limiting emissions from manufacturing processes and conserving energy. Additionally, buying second-hand goods helps to extend the lifespan of products and reduce demand for newly produced items. So next time you’re looking to update your wardrobe or furniture, consider shopping second-hand - it’s good for the environment!
#10. Use public transportation or carpool
Public transport and carpooling are some of the best methods for reducing environmental pollution. Not only do they help to reduce traffic congestion, but they also reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and other pollutants from cars. Switching from a 20-mile commuting alone by private vehicle to public transportation will help you save 20 pounds of CO2 emissions per day which will result in shocking 48000+ pounds of CO2 emissions reductions per year.
By making small, sustainable choices every day, you can make a big impact on the health of our planet. Start implementing some of these tips today and start living a more sustainable lifestyle.