Climate change, and the overconsumption of several natural resources make the need for change more urgent than ever. Earth cities are crucial – but what can we do today for sustainable living?
With climate change, global warming, depletion of the ozone layer, and overconsumption of several natural resources, the need for a substantial change is more evident than ever. Their impact on our lives can be devastating.
To fight what seems like a gloomy future, sustainable living is gaining in popularity as a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual's or society's use of the Earth's natural resources.
Proponents of sustainable living aim to live in ways that are respectful of humanity's symbiotic relationship with the Earth's natural ecology.
Practitioners of the new conscious lifestyle often attempt to reduce their carbon footprint by altering transportation methods, energy consumption, and diet.
Together with the development of sustainable cities, practicing a sustainable lifestyle individually can go a long way in reducing our collective environmental impact and making this planet a cleaner and safer place for generations to come.
This is why we founded our company and are building Earth Cities. We believe that by designing and building cities from scratch, we can achieve a much faster and deeper transition to a sustainable way of living.
However, we acknowledge that this is not a zero-sum game and that many initiatives can and should be implemented worldwide. Sustainable living can also be approached by individual actions – but what is sustainable living?
What is sustainable living?
Sustainable living is achieved in a society by making choices that aim to reduce the individual and collective environmental impacts caused by living to offset climate change and reduce ecological damage.
Sustainable living considers the needs of future generations by ensuring that they will inherit a safe and healthy world to live and thrive on.
Here is a list of 10 sustainable living ideas we can adopt.
1. Practice a minimalist lifestyle – less is more
You have probably heard the proverb "less is more" – realizing that something of a smaller quantity could be of higher quality.
A minimal lifestyle involves living with fewer resources, whether in terms of a house or possession, while still feeling satisfied and happy. It is not a radical lifestyle but rather an optimal one – a personal choice and positive thought process.
Living minimally means ensuring everything you own and use is put to its maximum purpose. You can test your readiness to live minimally by trying to give everything a place – if you don't have a spot for something, it may be time to consider if they are items you need to keep.
2. Be more efficient running your errands
Taking care of everyday chores and running errands can quickly eat time better spent relaxing, exercising, or doing something nice with family or friends.
Research shows that people spend a significant amount of their time on chores and tasks and spend as much as a whole month, or 30 long days, every year carrying them out.
By becoming more efficient with their errands, people can create a system of sustainable living based on reducing the natural resources they consume, including time.
These easy tips can quickly improve your efficiency when it comes to getting your tasks and duties done. Scheduling one day a week to run errands instead of going out daily saves time while mapping out your errands for efficient driving saves fuel.
3. Use energy-saving home appliances
Energy-efficient appliances are becoming the new normal. Suppose you're planning to buy a new tumble dryer, washing machine, refrigerator, dishwasher, or another device. In that case, you should consider an energy-efficient option.
These appliances often put people off as they come at a higher price – but you'll reap the rewards as these devices use less energy than the cheaper ones. Energy-saving electronics are an investment that will help save households money on their electric bill for years. Especially significant when electricity rates are rising rapidly every year.
Besides using energy-saving appliances, consider how you use them. A full dishwasher will be more efficient per unit of dishes cleaned than a partially filled one. Also, energy-saving appliances use electricity when not switched on. Households should be mindful and switch off their devices.
Bottom line: Make sure your big purchases have significant environmental benefits and use them properly.
4. Reduce, reuse and recycle – especially old electronic devices
We live in a society where overconsumption and increased garbage are significant problems. Easier said than done, but we have reached the point where reducing our need to buy new products has become essential.
The three R's, which include reducing, reusing, and recycling, all function by helping to cut down on the amount of waste people throw away.
We can reuse or recycle several things, from food containers to clothes, when trying to take steps towards more sustainable living each day. One of the most relevant areas for recycling and reusing is electronic waste, which produces heavy industrial waste.
Massive amounts of electronic appliances end up in landfills where many machines contain toxins that leak into the soil or are released into the atmosphere, thus polluting the land and water and killing wildlife.
When buying a new electronic appliance, recycle the old one responsibly. Check if any parts of the device can be reused, and research how to dispose of an electronic device responsibly. For instance, check if there are centers that accept batteries, plugs, wires, laptops, old phones, and printers. Plus, many manufacturers will take products you no longer need so that you can ask your vendors for disposal practices.
5. Become a member of a community garden
A community garden is a green space where neighbors come together to plant flowers, fruit, vegetables, and herbs. Participating in a community garden allows neighbors to connect on a one-on-one basis.
The benefits of community gardens revolve around two major categories: the environment and people's physical and mental health.
Eating fresh fruit and vegetables is undeniably associated with a healthy lifestyle. Yet, in 2021, less than 15% of adults consumed the recommended amount of fruit, and the statistics were even worse regarding vegetables.
However, community gardens aren't just about growing your own fresh produce in an attempt to stay away from disease. While green spaces are essential for our state of mind, green metropolitan areas significantly offset carbon emissions and reduce the extra heat generated by vacant paved areas, positively impacting the climate change crisis.
Plants further absorb rainwater, which means that there is less runoff in the streets. This means fewer pollutants are washed into rivers, streams, and lakes.
6. Avoid using bottled water
Water extraction for water bottles can be harmful to wildlife and whole communities. Not only does bottled water come in plastic bottles, but there's no reason to use it.
Bottled water companies attempt to convince us that household tap water is terrible and not ideal for our health. In developed countries, this is simply untrue.
Several cities have won taste and quality tests over bottled water. If you suspect tap water within your water supply is not of good quality, use a water filter instead.
As our population constantly grows, so does the pressure on our water sources. Combined with climate change and unprecedented droughts, conserving our water is imperative.
7. Eradicate food waste
Food waste is one of the most critical issues the world faces. Research from the UNEP states that 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted in the world every year. According to the same study, the USA discards nearly 40 million tons or 80 billion pounds of food yearly.
Food is wasted along the supply chain. Today, food waste accounts for 10% of all greenhouse gasses when it ends up in our bins.
8. Reduce our meat intake, especially red meat
Red meat, and what it takes to produce it, has the highest impact on the environment. Red meat contributes to significant amounts of water use, pollution, destruction of habitats, and greenhouse gasses. 60% of agricultural land is used for beef production alone.
By reducing meat consumption, society will reduce its carbon footprint as well. Researchers believe the average meat consumer has double the global warming footprint as an average vegetarian.
Society does not need to turn vegan, merely limit the amount of red meat they consume to one meal a week, eating more fish, plants, and poultry in its place.
We cannot stop eating meat, but if we reduce it or buy more organic meat from local farms, it is more likely that farmers will take care of it better and thus be more sustainable.
9. Donating unwanted items into the circular economy
Instead of throwing away your old items where they will end up in landfills, society needs to donate them. Something that we may not need can be invaluable to another person's life.
Donating unwanted items can teach our children about the importance of giving when they grow up, as we need them to follow in our footsteps if we are to build a sustainable future.
By donating our unwanted items, we are not only reducing waste but become part of the circular economy, ensuring that each item produced is used time and time again. The circular economy tackles global challenges like climate change, waste, pollution, and biodiversity loss.
Doing this means those who cannot afford items can get what they need, and we can feel better, ensuring that we have not damaged our sustainable future.
10. Using solar energy to power our future
Sunlight is free, doesn't cost anything, and removes our dependence on fossil fuels to produce electricity. Fossil fuels produce vast quantities of carbon dioxide when burned.
These fossil fuel emissions trap heat in the atmosphere, leading to climate change - where we are now witnessing extreme heat waves and unpredictable weather causing property damage. The earth's temperature is rising as a result.
We need to harness this energy source rather than rely on fossil fuels for our energy.
Solar energy is clean, renewable, and available worldwide, and it is available whether you live in a sunny location or not. Solar panels produce electricity that can be either used immediately or stored in batteries for when the sun is not shining.
While there are many ways we can all start to live more sustainably, it can feel as though our impact will not make a real difference.
While the impact of one individual can feel this way, together as a collective, we can ensure that we can make substantial efforts to improve the sustainability of our planet.
It's why we’re building a sustainable city to ensure that we use less of our resources but provide a future for our children. You can read more on how we do this here.