Living Sustainably. What Can I do?
I sit here staring out my kitchen window at a bright Autumn day. Leaves are falling off the trees, people are out running and I am sitting here nursing a back injury trying to figure out what, and more importantly how do I start writing my first blog post on a subject in which I am still learning.
I would imagine that I am typical of most people in the western world in their 30’s these days. We are all aware of the issues facing our planet and species, and more than aware that we have created most of these issues.
The problem, and the reason that we still have these issues, and that they haven't been resolved, is that we have been conditioned to think that we can’t really do anything about it. But guess what, we can do lots of things that would help in very meaningful ways.
I have always been environmentally aware, a nature lover, and interested in learning more about the environment. But to my shame, I have also been slow to make changes in my life which would help reduce my negative impact on the environment. Then I became a dad!
Becoming a dad was like taking the cork out of the bottle for me. It helped me remove some limiting factors and beliefs in my life which for one reason or another were stopping me from making changes.
So before I ramble on too much about me and turn this blog post into something akin to a confession to a psychiatrist, let's get to the topic at hand. What can we do to live more sustainably?
What is living sustainably?
This is a great question to ask, and by asking the question and looking for the answer, solutions seem to materialise before you!
Living sustainably is, as Wikipedia puts it: “Sustainable living describes a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual's or society's use of the Earth's natural resources, and one's personal resources. It is often called as "earth harmony living" or "net zero living".
Sustainable living is trying to live more in tune with the world around us, and trying to be more mindful of the impact our everyday choices make on the environment. People who try to live sustainably attempt to reduce their carbon footprint in any way they can.
What can I do?
As previously mentioned, I know how hard it is for most people to start making changes, but there are small simple things that we can all do right now that will make a positive impact and hopefully start the sustainable snowball rolling in our lives.
Ditch the plastic toothbrush.
When it comes to humans negative impact on the environment, plastic is the devil! I am not going to go into facts, figures and stats here, but when you go digging for them they are compelling.
Simply google “How long does it take for a plastic toothbrush to decompose.” and prepare to be horrified. The first plastic toothbrush you ever used way back in the day is still sitting in a landfill somewhere alongside every other plastic toothbrush ever made! There are plenty of fantastic companies making and selling Bamboo toothbrushes all around the world these days. Most of them even do subscription services where they send you out your new toothbrush every quarter or couple of months. It couldn't be easier, and it is a fantastic place to start your sustainable living snowball rolling.
Check out our friends at reuzi and see how they can help.
Avoid plastic packaging when shopping.
We’ve all seen it, the rows and rows of fruit and veg sitting in plastic trays and wrapped in plastic. When you really stop to think about the unnecessary waste here it really is laughable. I'll leave the stats gathering to you and your smartphone but the figures are again compelling.
The easy answer is to buy loose fruit and veg, “but wait a minute,'' I hear you say, “what do you put them in once you pick the loose groceries? Aren’t the only options those rolls of plastic bags you tear off and put your items in?”. Well they are in most grocery stores, although some provide paper bags instead. However you can bring your own small reusable net bags with your main shopping bags to put the fruit and veg in. Some grocery stores are now providing these small reusable fruit and veg net bags in store. Our friends over at reuzi.ie also stock these. Job done.
Some of our much loved, and frequently used products are harder to replace and harder to find a non plastic alternative to. You just have to look at the row upon row of cosmetics from shampoos to shower gels and deodorants to wonder how you will find a non plastic replacement for your go to cosmetic brands.
Thankfully some of these products are easily replaced, like the squeezy soap containers. Why not switch back to the tried and tested bar of soap and get rid of the plastic soap bottles while washing your hands?
Shampoos, shower gels and the likes are a little harder, but there are some fantastic alternatives out there from brands like Lush who make shampoo and shower wash bars which don’t come wrapped in plastic of course.
You could also make a conscious decision to go for the products in the more easily recyclable metal containers.
Don’t buy bottled water.
This is an obvious one for me! With all that beautiful free water in our homes and the abundance of reusable bottles out there, we don’t really have an excuse. Yes there are probably going to be times when we forget our reusable bottle bought from great businesses like 21DW Design (check out our reusable water bottles here), and we need to buy a plastic bottle of water, but we should be working towards removing them from our lives.
If every one of us started with these three simple changes, we would be taking three fantastic, easy and positive steps in the right direction, and setting a great example for the next generation.
This is where my very “Joe Soap” advice ends on the subject. But there is plenty of advice and resources out there on blogs and different websites, which have very detailed steps on becoming more sustainable.
Just remember, every little helps.