When Liam Connor was diagnosed with asthma in Coronation Street, his mum, Maria was shocked to discover that air pollution caused by traffic fumes is a common cause for the condition. Maria let her anger get the better of her and ended up smashing up Sarah’s van. Maria clearly had a bee in her bonnet about the issue and I expect that Corrie will explore this storyline further over the coming weeks and months. I also expect the other soaps to cover issues such as climate change, as it’s a pressing global problem.
This is an issue we need to tackle in real life too. By living sustainably, we can help to protect the environment. But what is sustainable living and how does it impact the environment?
What is sustainable living?
Sustainable living means reducing your carbon footprint by making changes in what you buy, what you eat, what you use to do things around the house and what kinds of transportation you choose.
Many people think that sustainable living is a goal only for environmentalists or those who are trying to fight climate change. However, there are many benefits of sustainable living that everyone can enjoy and future generations will thank us.
There are lots of ways to live more sustainably and we’ll look at some below. But the overall aim is to reduce waste and the impact your life plays on the environment and your part in climate change. All of these issues become more important each day as we see the impact of a changing environment on our lives.
Sustainable living v’s zero waste
Sustainable living is a lifestyle that focuses on what can be produced without compromising our environment. Zero-waste means what it says: there’s no rubbish to throw away because nothing was thrown out in the first place!
In simple terms, sustainable living could be described as living with what you already have and reducing what goes to waste. It’s about consuming less, producing less rubbish, wasting less water, using natural resources sustainably, or renewing what can’t be renewed.
The two terms are not mutually exclusive but sustainable living is more encompassing, as it includes the idea of a circular economy, where nothing is wasted and everything is recycled to what it was before.
Why is sustainable living important?
Sustainable living is very important because it can have a huge impact on climate change. Our society has developed an economy that depends on the use of natural resources and what we produce with those resources. But this is unsustainable in terms of what it does to our environment due to wastefulness and overconsumption.
In addition, sustainable living can also reduce your carbon footprint which will help prevent global warming. By eliminating what is wasted and what goes to waste, we can reduce the number of greenhouse gases emitted into our atmosphere.
How can sustainable living stop climate change?
Sustainable living can help stop climate change by reducing what you waste and what goes to waste. By being conscious about what we buy, consume, produce or throw away each day, we’re all making a difference in the fight against global warming.
Here are ways to help:
- Reduce what you use (buy less stuff, produce less, consume what you have)
- Don’t waste what is used (buy products that are reusable or recyclable instead of disposable)
- Recycle what can be recycled (plastic water bottles, aluminum cans, etc) and compost what’s not able to be recycled
When we use these three steps in our life, we create a sustainable lifestyle. By reducing what you buy, what goes into the bin, or what’s wasted in general, you’re helping reduce what contributes to greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
How to start sustainable living
That’s all the theory but let’s take a look at some practical ways that you can live a more sustainable life by making small but important alterations.
Composting is a great way to start living more sustainably because it doesn’t require any extra time or money. You can use this for your garden. It’s a great way of keeping waste out of landfill, because what you are throwing away is food scraps that are being put to good use.
2) Waste reduction and reuse
Try to get into a habit of reducing what you waste in your home by giving away what you don’t need, or reusing what can be used for other things. If something is broken, try fixing it instead of throwing it out, so that there will be less waste going into landfill.
3) Switch lights
Switching your light bulbs into energy-efficient ones can make a big difference when it comes to your electricity bill. LED lights are what you should be looking for. They are more efficient and last longer so they will save you money in the long-term.
4) Become more efficient with your errands
Being smarter with errands can help cut down the fossil fuels you use in your car and the carbon emissions it creates. For example, if you need to get a few groceries, it’s better to wait until the next day when there is less traffic. Give yourself as much time as possible so that what needs doing can be done more efficiently and in one trip.
Try to make one big shop a week rather than lots of smaller ones. Combine trips to different areas of shopping into one trip rather than going to one area one day and another the next. Use public transport where possible too.
5) Start using natural cleaners
Switch what you use to clean around the house. You might be surprised what a difference it can make. Examples of natural cleaners include citrus peels, vinegar, and baking soda. These are great for a number of things, such as cleaning the kitchen sink and silverware.
6) Try to get on a more natural sleep schedule
Your sleep schedule might not seem relevant but the more you can sleep during the dark hours and the less you sleep during the day, the less energy you use for lighting. You can even cut down on your heating bills.
7) Unplug device when not in use
Plugging in electronics when not being used can lead to what is known as a phantom load. This might be small but it adds up and could account for between five to fifteen percent of the total electricity you use. It’s best to plug in your devices only when they’re going to be used during that day or night, otherwise, make sure they’re left unplugged.
8) Recycle what you can’t compost
Don’t forget what’s not able to be recycled. For example, the plastic in your cereal box. You could even try purchasing items that are recyclable like water bottles.
9) Use daylight as much as possible
By making use of daylight, you can cut down on your electricity usage. That can mean things like reading outside in the daylight rather than using a reading lamp inside. Or using natural light to brighten the room rather than overhead electric lights to help reduce energy consumption.
10) Change your washing habits
Sustainable living include reducing our water usage. Practice taking short and times showers, washing dishes in a sink of water and then rinsing them and cutting down on the amount of laundry that you do.
11) Choose renewable energy
Try to choose renewable energy, such as solar or hydroelectric. You might even think about adding solar panels to your roof, to help generate your own power. This will also mean that you’re contributing excess power to the grid for others.
12) Buying products with less packaging
One way to help with what is sustainable living and impacting the environment can be by what we buy. Try buying products that have less packaging which will mean there’s more waste in landfills! And if the packaging is needed, opt for products that have recyclable packing.
13) Replace disposables with reusable items
Try to replace disposables with reusables. Things like plastic cups and using containers to store food could make a difference.
14) Use what you have before buying new items
This could be anything from using what’s in your house, to make a meal instead of ordering takeout. It might seem silly, but it can really help the environment.
15) Carry your own reusable shopping bags
If you don’t already, carry reusable shopping bag. This will allow you to buy groceries without needing a plastic or paper bag. Plus you can save on carrier bag fees.
16) Remodeling with green building choices
Remodeling your home with sustainable living in mind can make a difference. It could be as simple as adding energy-efficient windows, choosing more green materials for inside the house (such as bamboo flooring, or a stone countertop). There are also exterior choices that you could make to increase sustainability, like installing solar panels on your roof.
17) Don’t forget what’s in your kitchen cupboard
If what you have in the cupboard is old and doesn’t need to be there, what better way to practice sustainable living means than by donating it? Many charities can take food donations, so don’t let anything go to waste. Cutting down on food waste helps your pocket as well as the environment and is one of the simplest sustainable living tips.
18) Choose recycled materials for home renovations
You’ll be amazed at what some recycled materials can do for your home renovation. If you’re looking to remodel, or build a new house, why not opt for eco-friendly choices like bamboo flooring?
19) Choose reusable utensils over single-use plastic
Choose reusable utensils over single-use plastic ones where you can.
Living the sustainable life
Sustainable living and the environment are both complicated topics. But with these simple tips, you’ll be able to make a difference. We all need to embrace the changing world and do our bit to help.