Transitioning to sustainable living can be a rather daunting task. One that requires us to look past ourselves inorder to take care of others.
Because we are naturally selfish,the communities we build tend to consume more than they give .leading to a huge debt in our environments and the planet at large.
Furthermore, the phylosophy has been reduced to just green housing; Or even worse pushed to the side and ignored as a lifestyle for the rich, those with lots of time to spare reading labels and sourcing organically.
This I find very ironic since sustainable living does actually the opposite; It saves you a lot of money and time. If you are interested in knowing how, enter your email below to download your free PDF.
However,as more and more people are becoming interested in the idea, it is absolutely paramount for us to understand sustainability and why it matters; If we are to reap all the benefits from it.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABILITY
Sustainability is a holistic approach that considers ecological, social, and economic dimensions, recognizing that all these must be considered together to find lasting prosperity.
According to UCLA sustainability is defined as “the integration of environmental health, social equity, and economic vitality in order to create thriving, healthy, diverse and resilient communities for this generation and generations to come. The practice of sustainability recognizes how these issues are interconnected and require a systems approach and an acknowledgment of complexity.”
Simply put, for a society to be considered sustainable; Its economy, environment, and social well-being must be thriving and in harmony. One sector can not be neglected or sacrificed for the other; The three must live co-dependently.
In a sustainable society, humans live in harmony with the natural environment, conserving resources for their future generations, so that everyone enjoys social justice and high quality of life.
THE THREE PILLARS OF SUSTAINABILITY:
What would a sustainable world look like?
- ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
This means that Ecological integrity is maintained; All of the earth’s environmental systems are kept in balance; While natural resources within them are consumed by humans at a rate where they are able to replenish themselves.
- ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY
Ensuring that human communities across the globe are able to maintain their independence and have access to the resources that they require, financial and other, to meet their needs. Also, securing Economic systems making sure they remain intact and activities are available to everyone, such as secure sources of livelihood.
- SOCIAL EQUALITY
Making sure Universal human rights and basic necessities are attainable by all people, who have access to enough resources in order to keep their families and communities healthy and secure. Ensuring, healthy communities have leaders who establish personal, labor, and cultural rights; Making certain they are respected and all people are protected from discrimination.
WHERE DID SUSTAINABILITY START
While the concept of sustainability is relatively new…the movement has roots in social justice, conservationism, and internationalism; Which all came together in the call for sustainable development.
In response to the world’s need to find a way to harmonize ecology with prosperity; The United Nations tapped former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland to run the new World Commission called The Brundtland Commission In 1983. It released its first report titled Our Common Future. Which defines sustainability as we know it now; Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Many countries were still dealing with extreme poverty despite decades to raise standards of living through industrialization.
And so, it was realized that economic development at the expense of ecological health and social equity did not lead to long-lasting prosperity.
The Commission successfully unified environmentalism with social and economic concerns on the world’s development agenda.
Since then, Governments have jumped on board identifying sustainable development as a pillar of their national development strategy.
THE PRIMARY GOALS OF SUSTAINABILITY
According to the meeting of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development In 2012, these were the primary goals of sustainability;
- To end poverty and hunger.
- Provide better standards of education and healthcare – particularly water quality and better sanitation.
- To achieve gender equality.
- To achieve sustainable economic growth while promoting jobs and stronger economies.
- All of the above and more while tackling the effects of climate change, pollution and other environmental factors; That can harm and do harm people’s health, livelihoods and lives.
- Sustainability to include health of the land, air and sea
- To acknowledge the concept of nature having certain rights – That people have stewardship of the world and the importance of putting people at the forefront of solving the above global issues through management of the environment and of consumption.
WHY SUSTAINABLE LIVING IS IMPORTANT
The motivations for sustainability are relative and diverse.
Although it is impractical to create an ultimate list of why many individuals, groups, and communities are working towards this goal; Research proves that sustainability improves the quality of our lives, protects our ecosystem, and preserves natural resources for future generations. Here are some of the major benefits of embracing sustainability
Establishes a Future For All
For most people sustainability comes down to the kind of future we are leaving for the next generation. We all have a moral obligation to the Creator /each other/the future generations and other species to sustain the planet.
The choices we make right now have huge long-term impacts on future generations.
Practicing sustainability ensures that we make ethical choices that bring a safe and livable future to everyone; Since Sustainability presumes that resources are finite, and should be used conservatively and wisely with a view to long-term priorities and consequences.
Simply put, sustainability benefits us right now, our children, our grandchildren, and the world we will leave them.
Reduced Energy Usage Which Saves long term Costs
Sustainable practices lead to a significant reduction in long-term energy costs. Some quick initiatives, like switching to energy-efficient lighting, solar, and wind energy; Along with energy-efficient equipment reduce long-term electrical costs and monthly utility bills. Businesses and individuals find these alternatives more efficient.
The U.S Department of Energy states that if buildings were all green, the U.S. would use $20 billion less energy every single year. And also, you can receive discounts by making your home a greener one.
That goes to say that simple small practices in your home or office can reduce your energy consumption and save you money. For example, running your washing machine in cold can reduce a significant amount of energy used during each cycle.
Even more, by purchasing and installing energy star appliances along with water-saving plumbing systems, you will consistently save hundreds of dollars on your water bill annually.
Promotes Well Being
Sustainable practices help create a healthy habitat for all in the long term.
It is very apparent that our society benefits from improved water and air quality, reduced landfills, and increased renewable energy sources. When we are committed to sustainability we reduce our carbon footprint. And the amount of toxins released into the environment.
This is beneficial to the entire world that gets to live in clean, healthy conditions.
Also, using all-natural products makes you a healthier person. When you are healthy, you are also naturally more productive.
Promotes social equality
This is so because protection from discrimination, respecting labor and cultural rights, ensuring that everyone has fair access to resources promote social equality along with the economic development of a society.
So, it goes without saying that sustainable practices protect our greatest resource human beings.
Boosts Your Local Economy
Implementations like buying and eating locally as well as organically will eventually boost the local economy.
Due to the rise of supermarkets, farmers in your locality are struggling to run their businesses. You can provide support by shopping for local organic and seasonal products from local farmers.
Visit the local market and buy fresh produce from people who are directly producing them ethically. By supporting local businesses, more money stays in your community, and you help your community to grow and develop in all respect.
Also, locally sourcing food has a global impact because it reduces greenhouse gas emissions required to get that food on your plate.
An increase in urbanization has led to the dwindling of natural resources especially Rain forests. Every year a large area of rainforests goes towards the development of roads, highways, townships, and agriculture.
This is very unfortunate for our planet because rainforests act as air purifiers and are a lifeline for thousands of plants and animals.
Green practices like going paperless actively prevent Rainforest exploitation, which in turn has a positive impact on the environment.
Increases the Value of Your Home
Making your home eco-friendly, for example, by installing solar panels on the rooftop or adding a water-saving toilet and shower could significantly boost the value of your home. Giving you an advantage for new buyers should you ever decide to sell your home.
Plus a number of governments have jumped on board the sustainable program; giving subsidies to individuals who choose the sustainable path.
Green Homes are More Durable
Part of sustainability is ensuring you equip your home with quality systems.
These systems give your home long-term durability. This also means that you will save more money when it comes to maintaining your home.
Also, recycled products generally have the tendency to last over five times longer than traditional materials.
Improves Air Quality
Sustainable living reduces the number of pollutants that are emitted into the air.
For example, purchasing an eco-friendly vehicle and home makes for cleaner air for you and others to breathe.
Ultimately improving health.
In addition, choosing eco-friendly alternatives for household products or cosmetic products will greatly improve the air quality of your home. The fewer chemicals in the products you use, the fewer toxins you and your family are breathing in.
Plus, research has shown that green homes have better indoor air quality as paints and cleaners are low in volatile organic compounds.
Clean and Green Environment
By reducing your carbon footprint. you reduce pollution and the amount of energy being consumed which makes for a greener and cleaner environment.
It Slowsdown Climate Change
According to the NASA report, human activities are the reasons behind the abrupt global warming. Despite international efforts to protect forests and other habitats, a scientific 2016 study found that half of 825 natural ecosystems were still at a high risk of being destroyed.
So, more action is still necessary.
By encouraging green practices, this can slow down.
Discovering different creative ways to recycle valuable resources and waste, as opposed to producing new goods not only saves us energy; But also engages our brains and forces us to think out of the box.
Over time, this method helps you become more creative and come up with new ways to be energy and materially efficient
First, it helps reduce waste, thereby paving the way for a cleaner environment. Along with that, it also gives you the opportunity to sell recycled products and make money from the same.
Stretches Our Resources Through Smart Purchasing
A 2015 scientific study found that 50-80% of the land, materials, and water are used for household consumption. There is much that people can do if they can buy wisely, cut down on consumerism, and waste production.
This would ensure resources last longer.
Going green promotes self-sufficiency.
It will make you less reliable on fuels and other harmful toxins.
Because living a sustainable life requires you to make use of renewable energies and resources; It avails a degree of self-sufficiency.
For example, when you install solar panels, you might not be affected by power cuts in your community.
Eco-living is what you may call independent-living.
Green clean environments help us live a healthier lifestyle.
Which eventually increases our productivity both at the workplace and at home.
Prevents Water Pollution
Water pollution occurs when wastes are discharged into rivers and oceans. According to the National Ocean Atmospheric Administration, Every year oil and hazardous substances are discharged into our waterways, contaminating valuable wetlands and shellfish beds; Damaging important habitats for plants and animals.
And degrading the quality of life for people who live near, work/recreate in impacted areas.
Green living reduces waste by avoiding unauthorized disposal preventing water pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Non-Point Sources page suggests steps we can all take to lessen the damage of pollution in our waterways.
In addition, going green can contribute to us feeling better about ourselves as well as the people and environment around us. You will feel a sense of accomplishment and great stewardship for doing something positive for our earth.
By going green, you are teaching a valuable lesson to your children as well as their children. You are teaching them how important it is to be kind to nature and the environment around them.
WHAT IS A SUSTAINABLE HOME: FEATURES OF A SUSTAINABLE HOME
A sustainable home is both eco-friendly and comfortable for family life.
More so, a truly eco-friendly home features environmentally cautious features within its design, construction, siting, operation, and maintenance.
This home is an efficient home built in a way that respects resources. It is built of green or recycled materials. Optimizing energy through alternative energy resources and water use.
This home has quality systems that give it long-term durability.
When you are thinking of building a sustainable home low-impact, high-performance materials are your best friend. They should be efficient in terms of manufacturing, shipping, and installing.
Because of their high quality, these materials and systems waste less, break less, and last longer.
By making your house more sustainable, you’re not only making a contribution to improving the environment. But also, you can lower the cost of running your home; By saving energy, water, and maintenance on systems and appliances.
Even more than that, you create a healthier environment for yourself and your family.
Making your house sustainable does not have to be very difficult to do; here are some simple features you can consider;
- Sustainable building materials and methods
- Sustainable decorating choices and finishes
- Insulation Temperature-regulating walls
- Heat, ventilation and air conditioning
- Plumbing fixtures
- Use of smart systems
- Energy generation from solar and wind
- Your habits when it comes to regular maintenance, conservation and green cleaning
- Rainwater storage
- Food gardens
- Recycling features
- High-efficiency lighting
18 SIMPLE STEPS TO SUSTAINABLE LIVING.
You can develop eco-friendly habits to help you use less and make the most of what you have. Even though I don’t believe it’s possible to be completely zero waste, I do believe in the rational idea of more sustainable ways to reduce waste: If everyone can make some small changes, it would really make a huge impact on the yearly garbage that we are all throwing away every day.
Have a little audit of your house: Find out what you tend to throw away, Things you tend to go through the fastest. And think to yourself; How can I replace them with a more sustainable option.
Don’t just go out and buy all new products, that will defeat the whole purpose…First, wait for the stuff to run out then purchase the better option
Make your own cleaning supplies that are safe for you and the environment.
Buy in bulk to reduce plastic waste.
Invest in a compost bin.
Avoid buying fruits that are wrapped in plastic if you can, buy them fresh or go shopping at package-free shops; bring produce bags/ eco bags and glass jars; along with you.
Switch out your plastic utensils and straws for a more sustainable option like bamboo or metal.
Shake up your beauty/hygiene routine.
Brushes: both handles and bristles should be fully compostable so check first
Replace your toothpaste for tooth powder: it lasts longer
Replace your floss with a more natural one preferably one that comes in a natural glass container all you have to do is replace
Switch up your mouth wash
Use a cotton cloth or a reusable cotton pad for your makeup.
Swap up your razor for a safety razor
Switch up your paper towels for a more sustainable option like re-usable hemp clothes.
Worldwide yearly we use about 250 million tons of this stuff.
Upcycle things in your kitchen like jars.
Transition to Renewable Energy:
Look for opportunities to buy renewable energy for your home and your vehicles. Electric cars probably aren’t being recharged from a renewable energy source, yet, but that might change. Today, plugging an electric car into a public charging station means getting electricity from coal or natural gas in many cases.
At home, you are buying power from coal, gas, and nuclear power stations. If you want to make a dramatic statement, then you can install solar panels on the roof and generate some of your own electricity.
Have some go car-free days
You don’t have to stop driving, but that would be ideal. Almost everyone can cut back on the amount they drive, either by combining errands or walking and biking more. Take advantage of mass transit whenever possible. Buy the smallest, most efficient car that meets your household’s transportation needs, then use it only when driving is necessary.
If you live in a city, chances are that many amenities are within walking distance. If you are moving, look for a location with a high Walk Score; The Walk Score is an index that indicates how many common destinations, like shops and schools, are within walking distance of residents. Many apartment and real estate listings now give the location’s Walk Score because savvy renters and buyers are often looking for a walkable neighborhood.
Eat green and locally
Green eating means; eating local, organic, and seasonal products.
The normal American diet uses enormous amounts of energy, water, and synthetic chemicals. Some of that energy is wasted moving food from where it is grown to where it is sold. The best way to avoid contributing to that issue is to shop for locally grown foods. Finding food grown in your region can be a real challenge unless you live in a farm country.
There is still hope though. Farmers’ markets are in most towns and cities now. Those markets are the ideal place to get produce and sometimes other local products like jelly, eggs, or honey. Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is also an option in some metro areas. The idea of a CSA is simple enough; subscribers pay for a share of a farm’s products and get bags or baskets of assorted produce.
Try Organic farming and embrace healthy living and eating: this refers to the process of responsible land use and farming practices.
Buy a home that is big enough to meet your family’s needs, but no bigger. For example, an 800-square-foot condo takes far less energy to heat and cool. Opting for a condo is also not a bad idea because it is likely to be near shopping and mass transit.
It is easy to find a wide variety of used furniture, clothing, tools, and more. Many cities are home to thrift shops and consignment shops that are locally owned and operated. Habitat for Humanity, the famous home builder for the poor, operates several stores that sell gently used household items like doors, faucets, and windows. If you have a home improvement in mind, look for one of those stores.
Be a Socially Conscious Consumer
Buying less reduces your family’s ecological footprint. Reusing and recycling help too. However, none of those steps consider the social consequences of buying various products. Look for products that promise they are Fair Trade certified. Those companies make it clear that their workers earn fair wages and enjoy decent working conditions.
Reduce your animal product intake.
Try and eat low on the food chain; Environmentalists say that one of the best things you can do for the planet is to stop consuming animal products.
That means no honey or milk either. Ideally, you would not buy leather goods either.
Practically speaking, it is enough to go meatless much of the time, at least several meals a week. Try soy-based and almond-based alternatives to milk. Whatever food you buy, try to buy local and organic food. While the health and environmental benefits of buying organic are somewhat in dispute, the value of buying locally or regionally is not.
Turn off lights in empty rooms and use a programmable thermostat so you’re only heating or cooling your home when it’s occupied.
Businesses can also institute such practices, in addition to bigger initiatives, such as company-wide recycling programs to conserve natural resources and telecommuting for employees, which decreases air pollution and fuel consumption by eliminating daily travel to work.
Just remember this is one of those things that you can not beat yourself about. But you can only do what you are capable of doing. You can not compare what you are doing with waste reduction to what someone else is doing.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GREENWASHING
Companies sometimes label their products “eco-friendly” or “environmentally friendly” without them truly being so. This is called “greenwashing,”
Nevertheless, Marketing campaigns perpetuate this practice, aimed at helping companies increase their product sales by appealing to ecologically conscious buyers.
To avoid purchasing “greenwashed” products, look for products approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Star program, or an ecologically conscious consumer-advocacy group such as the Green Good Housekeeping Seal.
Sustainable living is very attainable. We can all do a little at a time and slowly change our world for the better.
Because a little GOES A LONG WAY!
Have you tried the sustainable path?…please leave a comment and let me know how your journey has been. I would like to know your challenges and wins. Lets encourage and inspire each other to a cleaner planet.