There are so many different ways you can live a more sustainable life. You don’t have to make big lifestyle shifts and throw everything out, in fact that is the opposite of what you should do.
Living more sustainably is more about making small daily changes to how you are living and what you are buying. Shifting your focus to living more sustainably doesn’t mean that you don’t live comfortably or that you never buy new things. Rather, it means making conscious choices about the things that you do buy. It means researching where products come from, how they are made and what their impact is on the world around us.
Sustainable living to me is about making choices that reduce our carbon footprint as a family. It is about making responsible choices and buying things with purpose rather than buying for the sake of buying.
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Easy Sustainable Living Tips
These are a few sustainable living tips that you can implement easily in your daily lives.
- Eat less meat. No, you do not have to become vegan. You don’t even need to become a vegetarian – just eat less meat. We eat a lot of meat in South Africa – just think of what goes onto a braai – MEAT and more meat! Switching up a few meals a week to meat-free options will go a long way in reducing your emissions. When you do eat meat, look for local farmers who are farming ethically and sustainably.
- Drive less. I know this is a little challenging in South Africa where public transport is limited. The pandemic, however, has meant many of us are, by default, driving less. If you can keep this up then it will help to reduce the pollution produced by cars. If you do have the option to catch the train or cycle to work or even walk, even better!
- Go eco-friendly in the bathroom. There are a few sustainable swaps you can make in your bathroom.
- Opt for natural, package free, soaps – you can find them pretty much anywhere (except large supermarkets).
- Stop buying tampons or pads and invest in a menstrual cup or reusable pads.
- Buy everyone bamboo toothbrushes.
- Switch to shampoo and conditioner bars.
- Buy less! This is so simple but one of the hardest things. We live in a world that implies loudly that we need things to be happy and successful. If we see something nice, just buy it. If something breaks, buy a new one. If we don’t like something anyone, buy something to replace it. Stop doing this and be intentional about buying less. Before you rush out and buy something ask if you really need it, see if you can’t find it second hand or borrow it from a friend. Buying less doesn’t mean you can’t have what you want or need but when we buy less it means less needs to be produced!
- Read labels! I generally read ingredient labels, which is always a good idea but now I read labels about how products are made, where they are made etc. You don’t have to focus on buying only organic products but look for the Fair Trade certifications and labels. Look for labels that tell you how the packaging is made, can it be recycled etc. Just pay attention to green washing. Larger brands will slap a “recycled packaging” label on but the actual product inside isn’t necessarily sustainable.
- Repurpose. If you didn’t think you could reuse or repurpose things, I am sure lockdown showed you, you actually can! It can actually be quite fun seeing what you can turn all the things in your home into. Old clothes and towels can be repurposed into clothes. Empty glass jars can be used for so many things. Cleaned out tins make stunning stationery holders, herb planters and funky decor.
- Camp or go on a staycation. I will admit I am not a fan of camping but if you are an avid traveler and don’t mind camping, it is a much more sustainable option than staying in a larger hotel. Not only is it kinder to the environment but being outdoors is so good for your soul. Travel, while amazing, isn’t kind to the environment so why not explore your home town, there is probably a whole lot of hidden gems you will discover, all on your door step.
- Start a veggie garden. Yeah I know this is not easy. We have tried (and failed) a few times and are trying again but when you get it right it is amazing. My mom has a pretty mean veggie garden going right now that produces a lot of stuff. Getting your hands dirty and feeling your feet on the ground really can be food for the soul, so get outside and start growing something.
- Use less electricity. Loadshedding has sort of forced us to be very aware of this but that aside, it is important to focus on reducing the amount of energy your home is producing. Switch lights and plug points off. Switch to gas if you can.
- Save water. Again living in South Africa we are constantly reminded to use less water. My kids drink a lot of water all day and they leave half empty bottles of water all over. I don’t think I would get any water in if they didn’t though and my plants are also very thankful. But the point is to use less water. Flush the toilet less, use gray water where you can, shower more, bath less. If you have boiled potatoes or pasta use the excess water to water your plants.
How are you trying to become more sustainable?
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