Easy steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle
One of the major challenges of the conscientious, environmentally-aware modern lifestyle is the fact that it is a moving target – and it can be exhausting. In all fairness, most people in the world have enough troubles just getting by, and the scale of your challenges is relative. Certainly people in developed countries have a higher standard of living and many more resources to draw on in their daily lives – but that does not mean that the daily challenge of working, raising a family, and living a responsible life is easier.
And the goalposts move: At first you are to be praised for simple things, like changing out the light bulbs in your house – and then you find that isn’t enough. If you try to tackle living a ‘sustainable’ life all at once it’s a monumental task, and society at large is often far behind your own personal efforts, making every change Herculean in effort. As a result, many people lose heart and lose energy, and give up.
It doesn’t have to be this difficult, of course. No one person or family can single-handedly change (or save) the world. Make it easier on yourself: Take a step back and a deep breath, and simply follow this Easy Guide to Living More Sustainably – and note the strategic use of the word more.
Saving Power and Water the Easy Way
One of the key things to remember is that you don’t always have to shoot for the top-tier of sustainable living. Yes, you could move your family to the wilds and spend your life savings on an Earthship or similar 100% sustainable home. But there are real costs to that decision, and perhaps these costs are beyond you. Instead, go for Step One instead of Step Twenty – simply reduce the energy and resource footprint of your current home.
Change those light bulbs, yes. And while you’re at it, install a standby power switch on your appliances – and replace those appliances with energy efficient versions. Don’t run the dishwasher unless it’s 100% full, or wash your dishes in the sink using a single sinkful of water and only running the tap when you’re actively rinsing. By simply being mindful of the resources you’re using, you will reduce your waste and improve the world by a measurable amount. That’s Step One. Don’t try to cross the ocean in one day – just start paddling.
Think about Waste
We’re almost trained to ignore our waste materials, to pretend that they magically disappear. Trucks arrive and whisk away our trash; our sewage is pumped away from the house automatically. It’s not all our fault, either – the packaging materials used in the products we buy are often far too complex and bulky, resulting in a huge amount of waste being generated just by opening the package!
What we can do is be mindful of our waste. Step One isn’t a dramatic refusal to contribute to landfills and investing in expensive home water treatments for your own sewage, it’s simply being mindful of your waste and seeking the simple ways to reduce it. Make sure you understand the recycling programs in your community and follow them carefully. Switch from paper bills and statements to electronic versions and have much less paper to recycle. When organising trash one night, consider every item you’re throwing away and ask yourself if there is a simple way to re-use these things instead of buying a constant supply of new ones.
Vote with Your Wallet
Finally, one of the simplest aspects of Step One is to simply put your own resources, however modest, behind bigger organisations – the Green movements that seek to change the laws and customs of whole areas to be more sustainable. Your contribution of time and/or money may not be large, but when combined with hundreds or thousands of people like yourself it becomes monumental, and real change can be implemented. By combining your personal efforts with support for larger organisations – or simply by voting with your wallet by purchasing products and services from companies which have public commitments to sustainable practices, supply lines, and the like – you are helping to make real change.
And once you’ve incorporated Step One into your life, and see how little harm it’s done to your overall lifestyle, you might begin to eye the next step and think, why not? One step at time – that’s how we’ll all get there in the end.