Introduction – A Sustainable Living Guide
When it comes to living a sustainable lifestyle, there is a lot of information out there. You might be overwhelmed by all the terms and buzzwords related to sustainability, but don’t worry – in this article, we’ll go over a 5 step program you can use to switch your life into one that’s more sustainable and eco-friendly. We’ll discuss what sustainability means and why it’s important in this sustainable living guide; how to go zero waste at home; how to reduce carbon footprint through food choices; and more. So read on for tips on how you can make your home more sustainable!
Importance Of Sustainability And Reducing Carbon Footprint
The aim of sustainable living is to reduce the impact of your lifestyle on the planet’s ecosystems and resources. This includes everything from how you treat animals to how you cook dinner. In an increasingly resource-limited world, it’s important to think about how we can all use less energy, water and food without sacrificing quality of life.
The carbon footprint refers to the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) produced in a given time period by a person or group of people—or any other source for that matter, including vehicles and factories. It accounts for all sources of GHG emissions such as transportation (cars), heating/cooling (energy), food production (farms), construction materials (lumber). How much CO2 is released into our atmosphere each year depends on several factors: where we live; what type(s) of energy sources we use; what types of products we buy; how big our home is compared with others in its area; whether or not we own pets—the list goes on.
Americans are very productive on a per person basis. With that productivity comes a heavy cost in terms of carbon. Americans emit, on a per person and a country-wide basis, the most carbon compared to anyone and anywhere else on the Earth. China is another country with massive carbon emissions, but on a per person basis, carbon emissions are about 4 times lower compared to Americans.
Step 1 – Practice Sustainable Food At Home
To start, you can practice sustainable food at home. Most of us are already aware that organic and local produce are better for the environment, but there are other ways to support sustainability in your kitchen.
Buy less processed foods. The less processing and packaging a product has, the more likely it is to be sustainable. When possible, choose ingredients that come in their own packaging such as dried beans instead of canned ones or fresh fruit instead of pre-cut packaged apples.
Buy in bulk when possible. Bulk bins allow you to buy exactly what you need without having to pay extra for packaging or delivery fees associated with buying small quantities online or in individual packages at grocery stores—and they tend to be cheaper than buying smaller quantities from regular stores! You can also find bulk bins at health food stores like Whole Foods where many items are sold by weight rather than unit price (though these prices will vary depending on how much each customer buys).
Step 2 – Switch To Sustainable Energy For Heating And Cooling
The easiest way to cut down on carbon emissions is by switching to sustainable energy. In addition to the three main types, there are also other kinds of green power options you can use, like geothermal and tidal power. All of these are renewable sources of energy that don’t cause pollution or contribute to global warming.
The first thing you should do is calculate how much CO2 your household produces each year. You can do this by going online and entering information about yourself and your family’s habits into a calculator created specifically for this purpose (see Resources). Use this number as a benchmark for future comparisons so that you know if your lifestyle has changed significantly over time—for instance, if you get married or have kids—and whether or not those changes should be reflected in how much carbon dioxide you emit every year. You’ll also want to calculate how much electricity and natural gas (or propane) it takes for heating and cooling purposes each month; then keep track of this data over time so that it can be compared against similar measurements from previous months. Finally, figure out what percentage of total energy consumption comes from electricity versus natural gas (or propane).
There are several ways in which reducing CO2 emissions will reduce overall household consumption: simply turning off lights when they’re not needed; unplugging electrical devices when they’re not being used; installing timers on appliances like air conditioners so they turn off automatically at certain times during day while still remaining cool enough throughout night hours when temperatures outside might exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). It may seem like common sense but many people still forget these steps!
Step 3 – Use Sustainable Means Of Transportation
There are many ways to commute that do not require the use of a car. In fact, many people are finding that the best way to cut down on their carbon footprint is by choosing sustainable forms of transportation such as walking or biking. While these options may be more difficult for those with long commutes, they can also save you time and money!
If you’re able to walk or bike to work, consider doing so! Walking doesn’t just help you stay fit—it can also save you money! By walking instead of driving your vehicle every day, it will take less time for your car’s engine and tires to wear out; this means less frequent repairs and replacement costs over time. Studies show that if all Americans walked one mile per day instead of driving in an average sized sedan (a total distance equivalent to 4 miles), annual savings from reduced fuel consumption would be close $125 billion dollars .
If biking isn’t an option for where you live or work, try public transit instead! Many cities offer discounted fares for students.
Step 4 – Switch To Sustainable Fashion
One of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by reducing the amount of clothes you buy. This doesn’t mean you have to go cold turkey, but it does mean that you should be mindful about what and when you buy new clothes. Shops like H&M are now selling second-hand pieces, so why not try them out? If they don’t suit or fit properly, then try another shop or charity shop!
Many sustainable fabrics are made from recycled materials such as discarded fishing nets and plastic bottles. They’re also often made using organic cotton instead of pesticides and harmful dyes. Cotton has been growing for thousands of years in India, but it’s only recently become popular with western consumers due to its ability to absorb moisture easily without getting heavy (which makes it more comfortable).
Often times you’ll see clothing made of recycled materials referred to as “vegan clothing”, which is much more about sustainability rather than the non-animal product nature. A number of companies sell vegan swimwear that caters to this market.
You can look after your clothes by washing them less frequently (this will save water too!), line drying them when possible rather than putting on a tumble dryer because this uses less energy too! You could also try swapping out synthetic materials such as polyester with natural ones such as cotton which is less abrasive against skin when worn close together over time.
Consider also the practice of capsule wardrobes the goal of which is to come up with a collection of clothes that fit well to each other rather than stand alone. You will not have to restrict yourself to a single capsule, each capsule should follow a theme. A colorful capsule wardrobe is a self-contained theme that satisfy many purposes. That way, a small set of clothes goes a long way. This isn’t just for yourself, but also for your kids as in baby capsule wardrobes.
Step 5 – Have A Zero Waste Mindset For Sustainable Consumption
Our last tip in this sustainable living guide: you need to be mindful of what products you’re buying and where they come from.
You can do this by buying things that don’t come packaged in plastic, that aren’t single-use or disposable and that aren’t made from non-renewable resources.
Also keep in mind that the best thing to do is to buy nothing new. Using old items, upcycling, recycling, are ways to avoid falling into the production and consumption trap cycle.
For example, if you have a shirt that is no longer wearable, you can cut it up into tank tops or rags and make new things with them. If you’re feeling crafty, use your old t-shirts to make baby clothes, slipcovers for furniture or even pillow covers.
Urban Homesteading – Making Sustainability A Lifestyle Philosophy
Much like the tips we describe, a more complete way to think about sustainable living is urban homesteading which seeks to reduce one’s carbon footprint and become more self-sufficient. It is based on the idea of living simply and with minimal impact on the environment even if you are in a city environment.
It involves utilizing sustainable practices and renewable resources, such as gardening, composting, canning, animal husbandry, and renewable energy. Urban homesteading can lead to a variety of benefits, such as reducing one’s reliance on store-bought produce, eating healthier, fresher food, and saving money.
Conclusion – Sustainable Living Guide
This is just a small guide to help you get started on your journey of sustainable living. There are many more aspects of sustainability that we didn’t cover here, but these are some good starting points. You don’t need to make all the changes at once—you can take them one step at a time! Just remember to keep looking for ways to reduce your impact on the environment and consider what you can do today so tomorrow will be better off than yesterday.
Interested in greater detail for achieving sustainability goals? Check out the heftier 10 step sustainability guide from our own research.
Anna Lauer is a writer, gardener, and homesteader living in rural Wisconsin. She has written for Mother Earth News, Grit, and Hobby Farms magazines. Anna is writing a new book about growing your food for free and an ultimate guide to producing food at little to no cost. When she’s not writing or gardening, Anna enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters.