This article was originally published on impacthub.net.
The earth is heating up, and fast! Sadly the natural resources available to us are struggling to keep up with how much humans are using and producing. What we can do is make daily choices that lead to a more sustainable lifestyle. These decisions can also influence people around you and have a big impact on the wider community. On a personal level, any action, however small, can make a real difference on the planet. It also doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Often, the environmentally-conscious decisions you make are friendlier on your wallet as well.
Living an eco-friendly lifestyle is more attainable than you may think. Here is a list of how you can contribute to a greener future!
1. Shop consciously.
The call to “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” has been used so much that it almost sounds cliche, but it remains an effective approach in leading a sustainable lifestyle. Every product that we shop for carries an environmental footprint.
One of the best ways to change our attitude towards the products we buy is to understand how many resources they consume and what damage they cause throughout all stages of the product life-cycle. Choosing goods that use a minimal amount of resources (e.g. pesticide-free vegetables) and supporting brands that recycle is a big step towards living more sustainably.
Not sure about the environmental footprint of something? Mobile apps like the GoodGuide helps you know a product’s footprint by simply scanning the barcode.
2. Ditch the plastic.
Shifting away from using plastic does a lot of good for the environment. This is an especially powerful change because around 40% of plastics end up in our oceans and kill sea life and sea organisms. Switching to reusable bags for shopping and ditching single-use plastic is a simple but effective approach in leading a sustainable lifestyle.
3. Use water wisely.
Did you know that an average person uses between 80 to 100 gallons of water for indoor use per day? The biggest chunk of this is flushing the toilet. This accounts for about a third of a regular household’s water use! Replacing old toilet cisterns with newer and more water-efficient ones means you save water with every flush.
Changing other habits like having shorter showers and only using a dishwasher—that can use as little as three gallons per load—rather than manually cleaning dishes in the sink where you can easily use up to 27 gallons per washing also helps.
4. Read product labels and tags.
With more and more businesses shifting to greener approaches, it has become easier to go for products that are produced in a more environmentally-friendly way. For example, shopping for clothing made from recycled materials is a great way to support ethical and sustainable designers. On top of that choosing, organic products that don’t use pesticides help preserve land and water resources around the world.
5. Choose green transport methods.
The climate is changing, and transportation is a leading cause of that. According to studies by the US Environmental Protection Agency, transportation is the leading contributor of greenhouse gasses. Cars, trucks, buses, and other fuel-powered vehicles are responsible for 28.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Let’s consider ditching our cars and hopping on a bike or walking on our next trip. If you’re traveling far, consider taking other modes of transportation like trains which are more carbon efficient. Really need to fly? Go for airlines with newer plane models that have better fuel efficiency. You can check out this link for a list of the top airlines for more environmentally-friendly travels.
6. Make homes energy-friendly.
The amount of resources that we use at home is a primary contributor to environmental damage. Fine-tuning our homes to become more energy-efficient helps not only in the fight for sustainability, but it also helps us save more!
Using energy-efficient household appliances such as light bulbs can help you save not only on the electricity bill but also on our greenhouse emissions. If it possible, install solar panels and water tanks because using them means consuming fewer fossil fuels. It also uses resources available to you that do not harm nature.
7. Reduce meat consumption.
Did you know that meat production is considered to be one of the most destructive industries in the world? It is a driving force behind land and water degradation and loss of biodiversity. Livestock farming alone makes up for the 18 percent of human-produced greenhouse gas emissions around the world. Cutting down on your meat consumption is one way of showing that you do not support the meat industry.
You can still get your share of protein from meat-free alternatives and food such as almonds and lentils. If you are unable to eliminate meat from your diet completely then, buy it from local, ethical sellers that don’t use as many resources during production.
The decision is in your control
Living sustainably is more complex than just using less plastic. We must address the root cause of the problem which is human consumption and make more conscious decisions about where we purchase our products and services and really understand where they come from.
Acting alone can seem daunting in the face of such huge challenges–get involved! Encourage your family and friends to make the lifestyle changes with you and join groups and communities who are already doing so. Always be curious and ask questions about where your products come from and what you can do to reduce your environmental footprint! Apps like MyPlanet is a fun way to connect and encourage others to get things done and make a difference.