Living a sustainable lifestyle is daunting. When I began to learn about sustainable living it felt overwhelming, as if everything that I did was bad and yet I couldn’t afford (with my time or my money) to truly have a sustainable lifestyle. Then I calmed down, broke it down, and decided to start small. I am sharing my journey to sustainability, not my currently 100% sustainable lifestyle. There is a very long distance for me to go, but this is where I’m starting.
I am practicing small-scale steps to make my own life more sustainable and large-scale steps to (hopefully) make the world as a whole more sustainable. Here is my outline for this year, of how to live a more sustainable, ethical and intentional lifestyle.
- Buy local. I am purchasing locally farmed food from farmers markets, and supporting local business retail. Even things that you would normally purchase at Target (candles, home goods, specialty furniture or even nice soaps and perfumes), I can almost guarantee that someone in your community is making it. We should purchase from our neighbors instead of promoting big business, big business waste, and big business greed. I call this “Political Shopping” or “Voting With your Money”.
- Support farm-to-table restaurants. Instead of going to Outback or Olive Garden or any other big chain that uses low-quality ingredients which travel long distances, use up precious resources and energy, we can support our communities and save energy by going to a local farm-to-table restaurant in your area. Is it slightly more expensive? Yes. Because it’s a significantly better experience from start (the way your food was produced) to finish (the nourishing food in your belly when you’re ready to leave).
- Create an ethical wardrobe. This means thrift shop, swap unwanted clothing items with friends, only buy new items when you absolutely have to and when you do, purchase them from companies that are ethical and manufacture their clothing in an earth-friendly, sustainable way. Check out my blog on this for more info.
- Carry around an eco-friendly water bottle instead of purchasing disposable plastic water bottles. We need to stay hydrated, I get it. Water is our life source. Just stop buying those damn plastic water bottles. I understand that they are convenient, but they are so harmful.
- Slow down on the disposables. Disposable cutlery, disposable paper towels, disposable cups, plastic bags, all of it. Most of these are made of plastic which lingers for centuries and ends up in places where it shouldn’t, harming animals and ecosystems everywhere. Stop using and purchasing plastic wherever and whenever possible.
- Recycle everything. Obviously our cardboard, glass, plastics and cans need to be recycled, but we should also recycle our clothing and old kitchen items that we replace, such as dishes, glasses, working toasters and coffee machines. You can recycle your old furniture when you upgrade instead of throwing it away to be sent to a landfill. Sometimes recycling is as easy as taking these items to a second hand store to be loved and used by someone else, or gifting your friends and family any items that you are no longer using.
- Eat less meat. Simmer down, I’m not asking you to go vegan (even though vegans are better people than the rest of us, don’t fight me on this). Try reducing your diet to 5 meals with meat every week. It really is not as difficult of a change as you might think, and the effects can be huge! The meat industry is resource-heavy, requiring tons of water, pesticides, feed, and fuel. The meat industry also forces a lot of greenhouse gasses into our environment and, if you care, the major industry players are completely unethical to the animals, even if they “technically” abide by standards. The standards are wack and those animals live a short life in hell. When you do consume meat, purchase locally-sourced meat and/or meat that was raised in more natural conditions. Hint – when you’re grocery shopping, these are the expensive meats. If you cut down on your meat intake, you will be able to afford a higher quality of meat when you do eat it!
- Solar power your home. Solar panels are becoming more affordable and more effective as time goes on. The more people who take interest in solar energy will prompt some research into solar energy. Consumer power is the most effective passive protest.
- Buy second-hand. There is no reason to buy new items if you can find just as good, or better, used ones. This applies largely to furniture, clothing, vehicles, bicycles, etc. Fix and refurbish items instead of throwing them away. It also saves you money, honey!
- Sign up for paperless billing and tell your mail carrier that you don’t want to receive any more junk mail.
- Support companies who source are sustainable, ethical and proactive about their products and processes. Support companies who CARE. Support them by giving them your loyalty and your money.
- Stop supporting companies whose products and processes are unethical, non-sustainable and unashamed. Stop giving these companies your money. Cut them off.
- Write to anyone and everyone who gets voted into office and represents you, and tell them that you care about environmental policies, and that they can secure your vote by voting in favor of laws that support and encourage sustainable and ethical practices.
- Vote. As frequently as you possibly can, go vote for legislators who will represent the values that you believe in.
- Write to companies who do not practice sustainable, environmentally-friendly and/or ethical processed and procedures and tell them that they have lost your business because of this, and tell them that you are spreading the word to family and friends the importance of supporting companies who care, and dropping those who do not.
- Talk to your family, friends and coworkers (whenever appropriate) and kindly and calmly explain to them the power of “going green” and living a more conscious lifestyle. Knowledge is power, and we need to lovingly spread this knowledge around. It’s cool to care, and these decisions do matter.
A final reminder to always be kind with yourself and other as we learn and grow together. Nobody is perfect and we could all be doing more. If you care and if you are trying, you are doing great.
What do you think of my list, did I miss anything? Was this helpful for beginners? Let me know in the comments!