We’ve all at some point wondered what ONE person could do or change that would impact the world. Most times, we let the idea go and continue with our way of life. Some times, we take a step back and rethink our ‘ways’ and find better ones.
Sustainable living isn’t about trying to do everything right all at once, it’s about taking small steps everyday which create a ripple effect for bigger things. Here are some of my tips & ideas that I follow whether at home, while I travel or work. They’re easy and not over-the-top disruptive to your day to day, thereby making them easy to incorporate!
I’m no expert at this and there are plenty things I do which are still wasteful, but I try and so should you.
- Turn the tap off: GOLDEN, right? Brushing, Cleaning, Doing dishes, Bathing, Washing your face – everything. Just turn the tap off even if ‘it’ll only take me a few seconds’. Did you know that an average tap runs out 6 Litres of water per minute? That’s 3 peoples drinking water for a whole day!
- Fix that leak: You know what’s more annoying than that drip sound in your sink? The fact that it’s wasting a tonne of water. A drip per second wastes over 18 Litres of water in a day!
- Single use plastic: To be honest, this one is a toughie. It includes everything from the chocolate wrapper, hand cream tubes, straws, drinking water bottles. Anything plastic which can’t or isn’t being repurposed or reused is ‘single use plastic’. Eliminating this completely is something we can all aim to work towards but to start with, here are a few things I’ve done –
- Carry your own grocery bag: Find something which can fit into your purse and is washable & reusable. Dump all your groceries in this, from fruits to cereal! Don’t use plastic bags to wrap your veggies in, you’re going to wash them anyway.
- But your own water bottles & refill! This is especially necessary when you’re travelling. It’s the best way to stay hydrates, save $ and save the planet.
- Reusable Metal straws over anything else. I love drinking from straws, from my ice coffee to my evening drinks! If I were to use plastic straws, I’d have my own pile the size of Bermuda by the time I die, so go ahead and invest in some reusable (foldable) straws.
- Go for brands that use recyclable paper for packaging over plastic. Plus point- these are usually your smaller home grown local businesses which you now support while staying environment friendly! Like, I get my coffee from a store next door which is packaged in a recycled paper bag and it’s so much nicer in taste too.
- Limit your meat consumption: I used-to eat non vegetarian food 5 times a week (or even more). Slowly I’ve come to realise the impact that has on not just the environment but on my body too. No, I haven’t turned a 100% vegetarian or vegan but my consumption is now down to maybe once in a few weeks. Baby steps.
- Don’t go overboard, overnight: I knew someone who threw out all their ‘unused’ plastic water bottles because they wanted to ‘be sustainable’ going forward. Well, great. You’ve now added a pile of single use plastic to the dump + wasted water. I know we all want to do everything all at once, but remember to stay practical and build habits you can sustain.
- Say NO to Fast Fashion: Who doesn’t love that cute top that costs less than a coffee! Right? Wrong! If your clothes cost less that they should; then they probably aren’t great for the environment. I’m not saying go bu $1000 t-shirts but it’s good to do some research on the brands you’re buying from. There are couple of problems with fast fashion-
- They are usually super cheap which means somewhere in the world they are ignoring environmental laws, basic minimum wage and safety standards to provide you with something THAT cheap.
- Fast fashion means that they have 15-20 lines in a single year so think about it – what happens to the clothes which don’t get sold even post sales? They get dumped – 15 to 20 times in a year.
- The material isn’t great for your skin, it’s really not.
- It takes over 2000 Litres to produce a single T-shirt. Can you imagine the damage to the planet those “I ‘heart’ Planet” tees do? Be wise and buy things you’re likely to wear (and those that survive) for a few years at least to justify the damage.
- It encourages the idea of ‘use of throw’.
- Grow your own: Growing your own little herb garden or tomato farm doesn’t just give you the joy of getting fresh garden herbs for your pasta, it also shows you the nurturing and care that plants and the earth need. I’ve seen my outlook change over the weeks I cared for my Areca palm to revive from days of neglect. It gave me a new perspective about our planet and the environment.
- Reduce your waste: There are people whose entire years’ waste can fit in a little mason jar. Yes! It’s amazing what some individuals are able to achieve. We can try with smaller steps and slowly scale them up. Before you chuck a part of a vegetable/fruit out, think if it can be used in something. Every time you trash something, think about it. The more you think, the more you’ll realise how larger commercial brands layer on plastic and waste for packaging which ends up in the trash. Thinking is the first step to Doing!
- Turn the lights/ Aircon/ Television OFF: I had the hardest time in accomplishing this. I’d leave lights on across the house but now I have my husband nag me when I do this and it’s helped. Even keeping a single light bulb on is wasteful, everything adds up!
- Walk: In India, it’s a lot harder to walk to places even close by because of the heat, pollution and lack of sidewalks! But, TRY. I stopped taking my car out to go to any place within 1km of my house, grocery store, cafe, bank and even my dentist! It’s been fantastic.
There is so much one can do but remember Baby Steps! Tell me what are your ideas to be more sustainable in your day to day? Let’s help each other stay mindful of the planet and remember to be kind towards it.