A Guide to Sustainable Living
What is Sustainable Living
For every person to share a vision that involves experiencing a healthy and happy life within the fair utilization of earth’s resources while allowing space for the wilderness as well as wildlife, people must adopt the principles of sustainable living. In other words, it must involve ways of living that advance good health and well-being while limiting the destruction of the natural environment and wildlife.
Sustainable living is based on four main pillars namely minimizing waste, limiting the use of earth’s natural resources, the wise use of the environment, and ensuring quality working/living environments. The following are the guiding principles that can be used as an initiative to make sustainable and stable living a reality.
Principles of Sustainable Living
- Effective land use and wildlife protection – This principle requires people to realize the need for effective land use and wildlife protection. The aim of the principle is to aid in creating new habitats and restoring biodiversity through effective land use and incorporating the practices in our surrounding environments. As custodians of the planet’s natural environment, wise actions with regards to proper land use and wildlife protection are vital in embracing sustainable living.
- Sustainable water usage – the requirement for the efficient use of water in farms, construction, and manufacturing is part of sustainable living principles. This principle emphasizes on the need to advance good water utilization practices by designing water management systems that can deal with issues such as flooding, water wastage, and protection of water sources from pollution or destruction.
- Supporting local and organic foods – Sustainable farming is one of the vital principles of sustainable living. The principal insists on humane and sustainable farming by encouraging the availability of healthy, local, organic, low impact and seasonal diets. Food wastage is also highly discouraged. For this reason, people need to support local farming and organically grown products by buying local and eating organic food.
- The use of sustainable materials – Sustainable materials refer to healthy, efficient, and durable products. Examples include materials that are locally sourced, manufactured from waste or renewable resources and those with low embodied energy.
- The use of sustainable transport – Promoting the use of low and zero-carbon transport mechanisms is one of the overriding principles of sustainable living. It encompasses the need to reduce travel and accepting green transport services such as electric trains and cars and walking or cycling as an alternative to driving high emission vehicles.
- Zero waste and zero carbon – According to this sustainable living principle, every little thing done should focus on reducing the waste to the landfills. Only buying and consuming the needed stuff is essential. Priority should be given on quality and not quantity to achieve this goal. People also need to find easiest ways of using efficient and renewable technology
- Creating own healthy environment – This involves indulging in active and meaningful life activities to promote good health and well-being. Fun, healthy, and less stressful living can be achieved by fun activities such as biking, hiking, walking, sailing and skiing.
- Realize local cultural values – Culture has easy and effective ways of preserving and enhancing the local environment. For instance, local cultures stress conservation, minimizing wastage, and the use of local materials and organic products. Thus, reviving and respecting the local culture, identity, and knowledge contributes to the progress of people’s involvement in environmentally friendly practices and bringing into existence a new culture of sustainability.
Benefits of Sustainable Living
Sustainable living comes with numerous benefits. Not only does it limit the impacts on the natural environment, but it also redefines our lifestyles with a promise of good health and reduced cost of living. Here are the top benefits of assuming a sustainable lifestyle.
1. Health benefits
Living a sustainable lifestyle is a sure way of attaining increased fitness and improved life balance. The health benefits are attributed to little dependence on vehicles or machinery and the consumption of quality food products that is either locally or organically produced.
With little dependence on vehicles or the use of machinery; biking, walking, and doing tasks manually can help one keep fit throughout. Because sustainable living embraces natural lighting and the appreciation of nature, it can also enhance happiness and lessen depression. Consumption of quality and non-toxic food products equally promotes good health.
2. Better and more stable planet for future generations
The most important reason for deciding to live sustainably is to simply safeguard the environment. It means ensuring its stability and existence for future generations.
Utilizing the sun’s energy, reducing environmental footprint, use of non-toxic materials, and effectively using the planet’s resources will ensure the environment is stable and able to support the current generations as well as generations to come.
Statistics reported by the UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions reveals that as sustainable movement advances, greenhouse gas emissions gradually decrease. This is an indication that sustainable living promises a more stable planet for future generations.
3. Cost Savings
More and more people are looking for simple ways to cut living costs. Well, sustainable living is the surest way for cutting back on living costs because it entails reducing the earth’s natural resource consumption.
For instance, sustainable homes promise reduced costs of water consumption, heating, and lighting through the implementation of water-saving techniques, use of green energy, and smart lighting solutions respectively.
4. Maximizing energy and water efficiency
The use of passive ventilation systems, passive solar design, water recycling techniques, rainwater harvesting, and waste management will ensure the maximization of energy and water efficiency. This benefit guarantees comfortable homes with reduced utility bills and resource wastage.
5. Sustainable and durable products
A sustainable lifestyle entails purchasing and using products that are green, durable, and sufficient. Furniture products crafted from Bamboo are good examples as they are entirely sufficient and last even longer.
Besides, unlike timber, bamboo doesn’t release stored CO2. Other sustainable, durable, and affordable materials are those crafted from recycled products or waste matter. Aside from their sufficiency and durability, they also help the environment.
Examples and Methods of Sustainable Living
There are lots of actions we can take to live sustainable lifestyle. Here are a few of the examples of sustainable living.
1. Stopping the use of plastics
Plastics are a growing menace in our environments, and they take billions of years to decompose. Furthermore, they also contain hazardous chemicals and are associated with the deaths of thousands of marine mammals, seabirds, sea turtles, and seals after ingesting the plastic or having been trapped in them. Therefore, ditching plastic especially one-time-use plastic products is a great example of sustainable living.
2. Reducing household energy use and the utilization of renewable energy
Reducing the overall household energy use promises a sustainable lifestyle. This can simply be done by turning off lights and appliances when not in use, installing energy-efficient appliances, use of a programmable thermostat that regulates the temperature, hang clothes to dry as an alternative to using the dryer, and replacing incandescent light bulbs with led bulbs.
The installation and use of solar or wind power is similarly a practical way of reducing energy costs and offsetting the overall carbon footprint.
3. Finding creative ways of reusing everything
There are a thousand and one incredible ways of reusing almost everything. Reusing common household products such as mugs, jugs, magazines, shoes, clothes, mats are good examples. Instead of throwing such items away, resell or donate to give them an extended lifespan.
4. Cooking food for yourself and eating locally
Cooking food for you and your family will ensure you enjoy your food and above all, you’ll be eating healthy while at the same time cutting back on your spending.
Eating locally is also a more impressive way of living sustainably. Instead of taking a trip to the supermarket, shop for vegetables, fruits, and other products locally as those in the supermarkets consume huge amounts of fossil fuel during transportation.
5. Conserve water
Conserving water in the house is an easy way to live more sustainably. By installing water-efficient toilets, using water-efficient washers, and the use of water-saving showerheads can significantly conserve water.
For landscaping, plants that are drought tolerant are the best as they’ll require less water for watering. Harvesting rainwater and wastewater recycling is also effective.
6. Depend less on your car, drive green
Carpooling, vanpooling, use of public transport or the rail system, biking, and walking are some of the most efficient and sustainable practices. If you intend to move within a short distance, bike, or walk instead of using the car.
Driving as one person in the car is completely not sustainable and is highly discouraged. The less one depends on his/her car, the lesser the fossil fuel emissions.
7. Grow your own plants and vegetables
Growing your own plants and vegetables is a perfect example of sustainable living. Simply grow a few plants and vegetables along the driveway, at the corner of your yard, or in a window box.
Big space is not a necessity provided the plants can grow and serve you with enough edible fruits, herbs, or vegetables to consume.
8. Recycle items
Subscribing to recycling programs provides an opportunity for sustainable living. Have the used glass or plastic products and obsolete electronics such as TVs, laptops, refrigerators, cell phones, batteries, monitors, CFLs among others picked up by appropriate recycling companies for responsible recycling.
9. Living in a small home
Staying in a small home encourages a simple lifestyle instead of the modern desire to live in unreasonably big homes. It has its benefits as it reduces environmental impacts and the cost of living that comes with living in larger homes than required.
Also, small homes are resource-efficient and reduce material wastage thus saving the planet’s resources for future generations.
Sustainability is important for a very simple, very straightforward reason: we cannot maintain our quality of life as human beings, the diversity of life on Earth, or Earth’s ecosystems unless we embrace it. There are indications from all quarters and from the smallest to the largest scale that sustainability is something we must address. We will run out of fossil fuels. Thousands if not millions of animal species will become extinct. We will run out of lumber. We will damage the atmosphere beyond repair… If we don’t change.
And the root of that change lies in understanding and striving for sustainability—in our own homes, in our communities, in our ecosystems, and around the world.