Seven Simple Ways to Live Sustainably
My first impression of choosing to live sustainably was that it was expensive and meant buying dull products from a limited selection. Quite the off-putting combo, huh? Conscientious living seemed to be for the exclusive few who had enough wiggle room in their budgets to afford the more expensive products. As a twenty-something who has been volunteering for the last few years, I didn't really identify with that being an option for me.
Little did I know that spending money is only one of many ways we can be conscious of our imprint on the planet. So, here's a list of seven ways to live sustainably. Hopefully you'll too be encouraged to see that these minor but impactful adjustments are pretty attainable.
1. Look after what you own
Sustainable living gets bad press for meaning that you suddenly need to throw out everything or radically stop your buying, but that's not the case at all. Rather, simply start looking after what you do own. Repair, resew and protect your belongings to keep them in good shape. It's a win for you and a win for the planet.
2. Scrap the disposables
• Bring your own coffee cup to cafés - most paper cups aren't disposable because of their waxy/plastic interior
• Bring your own canvas bag to the supermarket
• Skip the plastic produce bags for your fruit and veg
• Carry a reusable water bottle
• Say no to disposable straws and cutlery
• Store leftovers in glass jars
3. Up-cycle packaging
Begin to see every part of what you buy as valuable - the packaging too. Though packaging is meaningless to us, it costed the planet to make it. All around the world people are much more imaginative with items that we quickly call 'trash' once its original job is done: ice cream tubs, coke bottles, plastic bags - you name it. Families will keep these items and put them to use again and again, and we (in the West) need to join the bandwagon. So, let's be thrifty with all that we buy. Keep glass jars and plastic tubs (and their lids) and use them as alternatives to Tupperware.
4. Buy second-hand or borrow
Fast-fashion is the second biggest polluter to our world, after oil. Buying second-hand is a great way to slow this harmful pace by creating less need for things to be made new. The less we consume, the less we make. Buying items from thrift stores is also a great way to continue getting life out of plastic items which otherwise might end up in landfill, outliving us all.
There are heaps of DIY recipes to homemake some items from our shopping lists. Why not give it a try? I think these could be awesome/thoughtful/sustainable gifts for friends. You can make your own:
• Body scrub
• Facial toner
• Cleaning sprays
• Almond milk
Also, if you're not yet using coconut oil routinely, you're missing out. I regularly use coconut oil as makeup remover and moisturiser, and I have friends who cook with it as an alternative to butter, or even put it in their coffee as an alternative to milk. I used it to polish my leather boots once. Coconut oil is magical!
6. Shop bulk
For items you regularly re-stock (for me, this spans from Greek yoghurt to toothpaste), buy the larger sized items. This reduces how often you purchase and dispose of its packaging.
7. Strive for progress, not perfection
Learning to reduce your waste is a progress, so be gracious to yourself along the way. It takes a while to un-learn old habits and to adopt new ones. Continue trying to be mindful of your waste whilst not letting yourself get discouraged in the times you forget your canvas bag or when you buy a drink with a straw. It's a work in progress!