Author – Shivansh Gupta
As the heat of blistering summer rises, as natural resources become scarce, we become conscious of the crumbling environment around us. Then when the World Environment Day arrives, we suddenly realise that we must need to do something for Mother Earth. Then we struggle to adopt some eco-friendly ways of living that are difficult to practice. Rather, if we understand that sustainable living can be easily adopted, then our lives would be much better and even healthier. Here are a few tips to adopt a simple sustainable lifestyle –
The critical first step of waste prevention has been overshadowed by a focus on Recycling. We need to get a better awareness of the importance of the ‘Reduce’ part of the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle mantra. For a better overview of how raw materials and products move around the world, see the video The Story of Stuff.
- Replace Disposables: Wherever possible, replace disposable products with reusable ones (i.e., razor, food storage, batteries, ink cartridges (buy refill ink), coffee filters, furnace or air conditioner filters, etc.).
- Simplify: Lead a simple lifestyle as much as possible. Only keep belongings that you use/enjoy on a regular basis. By making the effort to reduce what you own, you will naturally purchase less/create less waste in the future.
- Determine Your Impact: The Eco Footprint, Greendex and Water Footprint calculators give you a great way to determine how you are impacting the environment.
- Reduce Purchases: In general, think before you buy any product – do you really need it? How did the production of this product impact the environment and what further impacts will there be with the disposal of the product (and associated packaging materials)? When you are thinking about buying something, try the 30-Day Rule — wait 30 days after the first time you decide you want a product to really make your decision. This will eliminate impulse buying.
- Observe an Eco-Sabbath: For one day, afternoon or hour a week, don’t buy anything, don’t use machines, don’t switch on anything electric, don’t cook, don’t answer your phone and, in general, don’t use any resources.
- Buy second-hand goods: Purchase used products whenever possible. Some sources:
- Local kabaadi stores, Ebay, Craigslist, Amazon (search on refurbished then click on links in left sidebar or search for specific refurbished product)
- Freecycle helps find goods for free!
- Neighbourhood garage sales (search in your area in the ‘for sale’ > ‘garage sales’ section
- Used refurbished goods such as computers and local used furniture (search in your area)
- Make Your Own: Whenever possible, make your own products to cut down on waste and control the materials used. Here are some great inspirations: Pinterest DIY projects and apartment therapy household cleaning recipes.
- Borrow From Friends: If you only need something temporarily, ask if a friend or neighbour would loan it to you.
- Share With Friends: Share things like books, magazines, movies, games, and newspapers between friends and neighbours.
- organic vegetables: Grow your own vegetables at your home balcony or buy organic vegetables from your local store.
- Tree-Free Home: As much as possible, create a tree-free home:
- Replace paper napkins with cloth napkins
- Replace paper towels with a special set of cloth towels/napkins (or cut up old t-shirts for great towels) – store the used ones in a small container in your kitchen and just wash and reuse
- Purchase bleach-free, toilet paper that is made from the highest post-consumer waste content you can find (80% minimum).
- If you print documents, print on once-used paper and/or bleach-free, recycled paper with the highest post-consumer waste content available (or hemp/alternative-source paper, if you can afford it).
- Switch to a digital organizer for tracking your to do’s and grocery lists. A few free suggestions: Wunderlist, Remember the Milk, GroceryIQ.
- Reuse envelopes, wrapping paper, the front of gift cards (as postcards) and other paper materials you receive wherever possible
- Read books, magazines, and newspapers from your local library or online (many have email newsletters)
- Create and use note pads from once-used paper leave messages for family members/roommates on a reusable message board make your own.
- Go Zero Waste: The ultimate goal is to learn how to reduce waste to zero at home. So practice the mantra of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle and you will attain eco-nirvana!
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