It’s a conscience issue. It goes hand-in-hand with the desire to leave the best legacy you can for future generations. And since “future generations” are your own children and grandchildren, it’s nearer home than “just” thinking about the planet. As an individual, you know you can’t make much difference, but you do know that if each person did the best they can to live sustainably, it would make an enormous difference. How can you contribute to a better future for all? Implement these ideas for a more sustainable lifestyle.
1. Go Solar
Look for residential solar installers in your area. As an example, installers of residential solar panels Iowa will be able to help you to determine the cost of solar installation, and the return on investment you can expect. It’s true! Going solar isn’t just a matter of altruism. It actually pays for itself over time. So, although the initial cost isn’t anything to laugh at, not having to pay for all your electricity means that your expenditure becomes an investment. Meanwhile, you’re running your home on clean energy and, in grid tied systems, you’re even “selling” power to the grid.
2. Get an Electric or Hybrid Car
Even if you aren’t able to recharge your car using clean energy, it will still be the cause of fewer emissions and make less of a contribution to pollution and global warming than it would if you just went with petrol or diesel power. Most major automobile brands are now offering EVs, and these range from entry level to luxurious. While long trips can still present a challenge, your EV is ideal as a regular runabout for routine journeys – or you can go hybrid for the best of both worlds.
3. Walk, Bike, Share Rides or Use Public Transport More
Use your resolution to live as sustainably as you can to benefit your health. If you’re just nipping down to the local convenience store or visiting a friend nearby, walk or ride a bicycle. Most of us could do with the exercise, and every saved trip reduces your carbon emissions. Public transport? It’s a bonus. Chances are, it will cost you less too. School runs to do? Start a lift club with other parents. You all save time, money, and be responsible for less pollution.
4. Eat Less Meat, Stick to Local Produce, Eliminate Waste
It takes far more of the planet’s resources to produce meat than it does to produce plant based foods. Going vegetarian, or even just cutting down on meat, means that your diet uses less water and less land to support it. It also means fewer carbon emissions.
You can also help by choosing locally-produced food. Anything that’s imported or that travels long distances by road has a big carbon footprint. Supporting local farmers and eating seasonal produce means greater sustainability. Having access to all kinds of food all year round comes at a price – and not only in monetary terms. On the subject of eating locally: have you tried a little urban agriculture of your own? It’s fun, the food is fresh as it gets, and it has virtually no carbon footprint – especially if you use organic methods.
Last, but not least, plan menus carefully, shop smart and find creative ways to use leftovers. Food waste is a huge problem. All the resources that were poured into producing surplus food goes to waste, and once it has been discarded and is left to rot away in landfills, it produces greenhouse gasses.
5. Reduce or Eliminate Single-Use Plastics
Cutting down on plastic can be tough. It’s still incredibly difficult to find products that don’t come with plastic packaging. However, just using your own shopping bags, saying “no” to plastic forks and drinking straws, and opting for easily recyclable aluminum cans over plastic soft drinks bottles will already contribute. When you do use plastics, make sure that they go to a recycling depot and not to the landfill. Whenever you buy something, ask yourself if there’s a longer-lasting, less disposable alternative.
6. Have an Energy Efficient Home
Even if you’ve already gone solar, using less energy is good for the environment. The less energy your home uses, the more you can feed clean energy onto the grid. Check that your household appliances are energy efficient, switch to LED lighting, and make sure your home is well-insulated to reduce the need for extra heating and cooling. Be gentle with the thermostat. Wearing a sweater indoors in winter isn’t a huge inconvenience – just ask your grandpa!
7. Save Water
The world is heading for a crisis. Fresh water is already a limited resource, and the demand for it is still growing. Worrying signs of a coming crisis are all around us, so saving water is one of the ways you can do your bit for a sustainable future. There are lots of little ways that you can help.
Have dripping taps repaired. Check your household water supply for leaks. Reduce the size of your lawn and replace it with water wise landscaping. Don’t spray down outside paving with a hose. Only turn on your washing machine when you have full load, install a water-saving toilet, and so on. Although these steps may seem small, you might be surprised to find out how much your water savings can amount to.
8. Support Sustainable Brands and Buy to Last
There are a great many independent certifications to show that manufacturers and food producers are doing their best to work sustainably. The cost of the certification itself as well as a commitment to produce sustainability over low production costs means that many of these projects are somewhat more expensive than their counterparts. Support these brands even if it means paying a few dollars more.
While we’re out shopping, let’s keep it to the minimum. Buying things we don’t really need only to discard them is part of the reason why our planet is in trouble. Choose quality over quantity. Persuade your teen that being stylish doesn’t require a new wardrobe every season. Buy to last, and before you discard anything, first consider whether it can be repaired or repurposed instead.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
While there’s no need to make yourself or your family uncomfortable by making them do without, moving away from a resource-hungry, throw-away lifestyle to one that minimizes waste and promotes sustainability is the right thing to do. At some point in the future, it may even be a necessity rather than a choice. Perhaps, it already is.