Everyday sustainability is a subject that is entering the mainstream news. The global population increases exponentially while the world is ravaged by pollution, harvesting unsustainable materials and animal farming for food production. Many practices that were once seen as essential, such as oil production, are now obsolete and causing untold damage to the environment. And almost every industry has unsustainable practices.
The production of single-use plastics is a prime example of an unsustainable practice creating toxic pollution. First, oil is drilled and harvested, which alone causes alarming damage to the planet. The oil is then refined into plastics using extremely poisonous processes. Plastic is then used by humans and disposed of into the environment and the oceans, killing vast numbers of animals. This is just one example of an unsustainable practice. Yet things are slowly changing, and you can help with some simple adjustments and a little awareness. Everyday sustainability doesn’t need to be complicated, here are a few suggestions of things to try…
Simple Habits To Achieve Everyday Sustainability
1. Consider All Things Paper
Paper is a modern convenience that need not be wasted. The paperless office is a step in the right direction, yet you should use recycled paper whenever possible. Toilet paper rolls (not the used tissue) can be recycled these days. This is great since, in the UK alone, around 7 million trees per year are cut down to meet toilet paper demands. Give back where possible.
2. Try New Office Items
Traditional office items such as desks and chairs are made using expensive woods such as oak and mahogany. As stylish as these may be, they aren’t practical for most modern offices, and sustainable woods are better. For example, lightweight pine plywood is a common material used for contemporary office furniture such as the standing desk revolution.
3. Switch Utility Suppliers
Our reliance on fossil fuels is now at a crisis point. In response, many gas and electricity suppliers are sourcing their energy via renewable means. These include solar and wind farms that harness the power of nature without causing any significant harm to the environment while outputting no pollution at all. As long as there is the weather, you will have power.
4. Natural Health and Hygiene Products
Natural and sustainable hygiene products were once a gimmick and expensive. However, increasing public awareness of the harmful manufacture of hygiene products such as soap means that organic and sustainable product sales grow year on year. For example, handmade soaps are made with natural and sustainable ingredients rather than hazardous chemicals.
5. Sustainable Beauty Essentials
Similar to natural soaps and cleaning products, you can source sustainable and natural makeup. Unfortunately, many established makeup brands use toxic chemicals in their products as well as exploiting workers. Modern sustainable brands such as Rihanna’s Fenty products are cruelty-free vegan and manufactured with natural and sustainably sourced materials.
6. Ethical Fashion and Clothing
The fashion industry has long been known for its less-than-savoury practices. These include exploiting models, sourcing endangered animal skins and underpaying employees. But some in the industry are trying to shed the sins of the past by using only natural and sustainable materials in mass-produced clothing. Lucy & Yak are among the most dedicated labels.
7. Non-Metallic Cutlery and Dining
For centuries, valuable metals have been sourced for their manufacture in cutlery. From silver to iron, and more recently stainless steel, we have pit metal to mouth. To be fair, metal tends to last for a long time and can be recycled. However, it isn’t a renewable material. Bamboo and other biodegradable woods are currently among the most widely available sustainable utensils.
8. Responsibly Consumed Food and Drink
The food and drinks manufacturing industry is worth almost £100 billion in the UK alone. Yet Britain ranks as one of the worst when it comes to food sustainability. Organic farming of meat and vegetables is on the rise, yet wastage is shocking. Almost 4 million tonnes of edible food is thrown away each year by UK households who buy more than they need to prepare meals.
9. Buy Pre-Owned Electronics
Similar to food wastage, electronic consumer items such as TVs, radios, computers and mobile devices contribute to almost 70% of toxic waste at landfill sites. The sad fact is that nearly all electronics and their parts are recyclable, and most can be reused. Additionally, many modern electronics require conflict materials like coltan and gold for processors and circuits.
10. Make Use of Hand-Me-Downs
Being passed some clothes is a tradition for some families. Simply throwing clothing away makes no sense if it can be used again. Make use of any clothing by wearing them until they are no longer usable or upcycling into new clothes. If you cannot use clothing yourself, then pass them on or donate to charities who can distribute them accordingly or recycle materials.
11. Ditch Single-Use Plastics
One of the most significant contributors to environmental damage is single-use plastics. Items like bags, cutlery and drinks bottles wreak havoc on our oceans and kill marine wildlife en masse as they break down into smaller pieces. Fortunately, single-use plastic is slowly being phased out by many major companies, and alternative materials such as palm leaves are being introduced.
12. Swap Plastic for Paper
In addition to ditching single-use plastics, you can use paper wherever possible. For example, shopping bags don’t need to be plastic, and most supermarkets now offer paper bags in addition to long-life plastic. But the great thing about paper products is that when they are no longer helpful, they can be easily discarded into recycling. From then on, they may serve another purpose or biodegrade.
13. Use Engineered Woods
With advancements in technology and a more extensive public awareness about sustainability options, cutting down trees to furnish your home is no longer an ethical choice. Instead, there are many engineered woods available that look and function just as natural woods. Examples include laminate flooring and decking made from composite recycled wood and plastic.
14. Consider an Electric Vehicle
Petroleum and diesel-based pollution contribute massively to environmental damage and public health. The IPCC states that 89% of harmful CO2 comes from the fossil fuel industry, including oil production and vehicle emissions. At the same time, asthma rates are higher in congested road areas. Electric cars are now widely available from all manufacturers and produce no pollution.
15. Only Buy from Sustainable Brands
While the global conscience is slowly shifting towards everyday sustainability to help with the future health of our planet. Purchase products that you know for a fact have been sustainably, ethically and responsibly sourced. There is always an organic or sustainable alternative to top brands. Fortunately, this is forcing top brands to evaluate their processes and change where they can.
16. Use Only What You Require
As mentioned previously, food waste is a significant contention point when it comes to environmental issues. However, food can be partially recycled and reused in biofuels, animal feeds and fertilizer. But waste extends far beyond physical resources. For example, electricity is also one of the most wasted resources. Therefore, use only what you require to reduce the demand for production.
17. Make Some Household Changes
In addition to using only what you require, you could change some things around your home that will help with your everyday sustainability. For example, you could try using LED light bulbs. LED light bulbs use up to 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs. Also, turning off appliances when not in use will reduce your energy usage since leaving devices on standby still uses a small amount.
18. Address Home Issues
Your home’s efficiency will contribute directly to your carbon footprint, sustainability goals and environmental resource usage. It’s identifying these easy wins for everyday sustainability that will make all the difference. A draughty house, single glazed windows and inadequate insulation will not only cost you a lot more money to heat your home. Still, it will cause you to use more resources than necessary. Address these issues ASAP to save cash and conscience later.
19. Consume Less Meat
As the world’s population continues to grow, the demand for resources is reaching a breaking point. Land usage for raising livestock now accommodates 80% when factoring vegetation is required to feed the animals and the animals themselves. The vegan movement has made enormous strides over the past few years to reduce our dependence on animals as a food source.
20. Grow Your Own Produce
In addition to eating less meat, you could consider growing your own crops. Not everyone can do this, such as those living in an apartment. But if you have some land, such as a backyard, you can grow a surprising amount of vegetables with minimal land. This not only tastes better and fresher but you will save a lot of money as well.
21. Teach Others
Of course, it’s no good if just a handful of people make efforts towards reducing their carbon footprint or sustainably sourcing goods. Unfortunately, there are too many people in the world that require modern convenience and comforts. However, it would help if you tried to teach others how to reduce their waste and source responsibly. Conscious transformation is only achievable if we all work together.
Environmental issues are nothing new. But for too long, the world has looked the other way. At the same time, unethical corporations and industries ravage the natural resources of the Earth. This has led to a crisis point as we sit on the precipice of global change. You can help change the course of history by playing your part and making simple life changes that help reduce wastage, decrease demand on resources and help others do the same.
Contributing to a better tomorrow doesn’t require you to actively participate in rallies, evangelize the news of sustainable practices or even talk about it all. Instead, you can help by making simple personal changes towards everyday sustainability such as buying ethically sourced clothing, using LED light bulbs that use less energy and growing your own food. Anything you can do to reduce resource usage plays a small yet significant role to the whole.