A lot of guides to sustainability list lots of small things to change in your everyday life which can sometimes seem overwhelming or a lot of work.
I’ve come up with some ideas to how to be more sustainable and make a big impact with minimal effort.
Keep reading to improve your sustainability.
What we eat contributes to how sustainable we can be. Reducing our meat intake will have a substantial impact on our sustainability. According to the Center for sustainable systems, food is 10-30% of an American’s household carbon footprint. We can make the most impact by changing 2 things, eating less meat and wasting less food.
Greenpeace states eating meat causes deforestation and fire, climate change, increases the risk of future pandemics, kills wildlife and is an inefficient way to eat. There are so many meat alternatives and great vegetarian recipes that there is no reason not to cut down.
30% of food is wasted and food waste/loss accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation. Better food planning and shopping less often could help reduce waste. Less waste also makes financial sense.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states electricity and heat are the largest single contributor to global warming and make 25% of 2010 total emissions.
In 2019 renewable energy contributed to about 11% of US energy usage. So who supplies your energy and how do they make it?
Currently about half of the US states have some choice in their energy provider. If you live somewhere where you can change to a renewable energy supplier, then it’s an easy change to make that will continue to make a difference year after year.
If you don’t have a choice in provider then write to your local government representative asking for deregulation. Not only will it benefit the environment but also your monthly costs.
Once you’ve tackled your energy provider review your energy consumption. There are many changes you can make to improve your home’s energy consumption. For example, unplug your electronic devices, use low energy light bulbs etc.
14% of global greenhouse emissions come from transportation (EPA). Flying at the moment is only responsible for 5% of global warming. That may seem low as we are always being told how bad flying is. It’s worth bearing in mind currently only a tiny proportion of the world population is actually flying, if it were to increase significantly it could be catastrophic. 1 longhaul flight can easily surpass a year of car emissions from 1 family.
A lot of the time flying is down to personal choice. Think about different modes of transport where possible, train, car or coach for example. Re-think your destination. And if you have to fly choose a company that uses newer aircraft with lower emissions, fly economy and take less luggage.
Cars, these days it’s hard to live without a car. Collectively cars and trucks contribute to almost a fifth of US emission according to the union of concerned scientists. The pollution from cars also impacts our health and can be a contributing factor in many respiratory illnesses. This costs us more in healthcare. There has never been a stronger case to ditch the car.
But what can you do if it’s not realistic to ditch your car? Run a fuel efficient car, use cleaner fuels or go electric. If you do go electric, review if your provider’s electricity comes from renewable sources.
If all of the above are out of reach, keep your car in good condition, get it serviced, keep the tyres at the correct pressure, don’t carry extra weight. Avoid using it where possible.
Retail, we live in a consumer driven society, driven to continuously buy buy buy. Fashion alone emits about 10% of global carbon emissions.
Do we really need everything we think we do? Before every purchase we need to think. Do you have something already that you could reuse or mend? Could you buy this secondhand? If we spent a moment to think before being lured into new purchases, there could be countless opportunities to reduce production and waste.
Where a purchase is necessary be more selective about who you buy from. Buy better quality where possible. Enquire about the companies you buy from. Do they have sustainable practices and systems in place? Are they supporting communities? Do they care about their workforce? What commitment have they shown to safeguarding the environment?
Leisure, we’ve become a sedentary society. Get up and go outside, connect with nature, find local green spaces and nature reserves. Walk, run, cycle or skate, whatever gets you moving.
Use the opportunity to get your families involved, go on nature hunts, bird watching, these can be done anywhere, make it fun. Instead of going for coffee suggest a walk. Best of all, nature is free, connecting with it will remind you why you are making these changes to your life.
Social and Community
Educate, share and petition.
Educate yourself and your family. Share your knowledge with friends and family. Petition your local government to make changes.
You will be surprised what small changes you can make that can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Use a carbon footprint calculator to evaluate your current lifestyle.
Write to your local government, ask for green policies like the clean power plan and carbon taxing for polluting companies. Petition for better plastics recycling, improved local recycling and local composting.
Share your learning with friends and family, you don’t need to be an eco warrior, small changes by many all add up. Set up local groups for sharing and recycling. Help your gran switch to renewable energy supplier. Tell your friends about ecosia search engine.
What to do next? Choose 1 sustainable change and start your sustainable journey today!