So, what exactly is sustainability? Most people might not know what it is because it’s not something that can be easily defined, but I’ll do my best to do so. To me, in order to be sustainable, you must be doing everything in your power to meet your own needs, while keeping the needs of future generations in mind too. In other words, we cannot destroy and/or deplete the natural resources that Earth has to offer. Luckily, there are numerous small changes you can make that will help the conservation effort and lessen your impact.
I know it sounds kind of crazy, but there are still far too many people out there who do not recycle. I’m serious. At a party just last week, I witnessed people throwing soda cans into the trash can. Before long, it was overflowing with aluminum cans. You know—the recyclable ones? The ones that you can easily recycle at your local recycling center? The ones that you get money for when you recycle them? Yes, those ones. C’mon, people! Ooh, you can even reuse a plastic bag by keeping your recyclables in there, until they pile up. Wow, you don’t even have to have a separate container. Pretty effortless, huh?
If visiting the recycling center doesn’t sound like something you want to do, I have an idea for you. All of those plastic water bottles you’ve been packing in your kids’ lunches for years? Forget them. Buy a reusable (and BPA-free) water bottle. Heck, buy a few of them. They’ll save you money and help you be less wasteful.
As a former grocery store bagger, I cannot stress this one enough—bring your own shopping bags to the grocery store. I was always glad to see someone hand me their own reusable bags (even if I had to wait for them to be retrieved from car trunks nine out of ten times). Some grocery stores show their appreciation by actually paying you a small amount for each bag you bring. On the other hand, some places across the United States are taking a different approach by charging you for each plastic bag you need. Unfortunately, this has yet to take effect where I live. I would recommend doing what I do; buy the reusable bags that fit into a small pouch because they fit in pockets and purses! If all else fails, just keep your bags in your car trunk. Hopefully, your bagger won’t mind.
Not too long ago, I bought way too many reusable containers for food storage (hey, they were cheap). However, it was a great buy indeed! I used to go through plastic bags and wrap too easily. Now, instead of throwing things away, I wash them. I’d also recommend bringing your own to-go containers to restaurants. In fact, some places will even give you a discount for doing so.
When you purchase cleaning products, make sure they’re environmentally friendly. If you’re feeling super sustainable, just make your own cleaning solution with baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils. Another way to be more sustainable is by cutting down on meat and dairy consumption and increasing your fruit and veggie intake. Products that aren’t plant-based take up more land, water, etc. You could even take it a step further by planting your own organic garden! Organic growing is key because it prevents soil degradation. Also, less trips to the grocery store means less pollution, as a result of fewer food miles and trips to the gas station.
Next time you make a quick trip to the store because you ran out of bread, hop onto your bike, instead of into your car. Putting one, some, or all of these tips to use can only make both you and the planet happier and healthier. So, why not give them a go?
Photo Credit: "Sustainable Development" by Drive Change is licensed by CC BY 2.0