Before we begin how individuals can contribute to sustainability in their daily lives, lets look at a very simple way to define sustainability.
Sustainability simply means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. These needs are not just natural resources, but also social and economic resources. Very often Sustainability gets bracketed into something to do with the environment, but it is much more than that. Embedded in sustainability is also concerns for social equity and economic development. Therefore, the very idea of sustainability is set on three tenets: environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, and social sustainability.
In my upcoming columns, I will be talking about these three principles in much detail, but now let us look at how individual human-beings can make a difference in their everyday lives!
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Often, when we talk about living sustainably, it either seems impossible, or something that may not need your immediate attention, or one may also feel if their individual actions have any impact at all. And if it does have any impact, how do you quantify it?
Well, here is an example from the McGill University: If every office worker in the United Kingdom used one less staple pin a day by using a reusable paper clip, 120 tonnes of steel would be saved in one year.
Just imagine the earth hour that we used to observe, it is something as simple as that. Let us go back and reflect once again on the quote by Margaret Mead for more inspiration to start living sustainably. Your actions matter.
So, let us look at few quick ways how your everyday actions can have a positive impact on the society:
- Next time you consider changing lighting in your homes, it will make sense to invest in LED lighting that has three benefits: good for the environment, energy saving and light on your purse.
- Say no to straws. Single-use straws add a lot of burden to the environment so ditch the straw. There are good sturdy steel and bamboo ones that you can consider using.
- If you have both a bicycle and car at home, try using the bicycle as much as possible! If it is a short distance, consider walking. Using public transport and car pooling all have positive impact on nature.
Let me give an example of sustainability here: Say you want to invest in a bike that runs on electricity and therefore good for the planet, there are a lot of resources that go in to making this electric bike and therefore it is upon us to make responsible use of everything that we own. Donating and responsibility disposing what we do not use anymore is very important.
- Grow your own produce: This may sound complicated but produce like brinjal, tomato, potato, onion can be easily grown from your kitchen, however small your place is. You not only have home-grown pesticide free produce for your meals, but you are also taking important steps in living more sustainably.
- Save water: Well, this is a no-brainer and we have been taught this from our primary classes and yet we do not pay enough attention to this. Planning your laundry to make optimum use of water, using lesser water for your dishes, or taking quicker baths are all good for the environment.
- Empty the fridge: This is a rule that we follow at home. All fruits and vegetables are to be consumed and those that cannot be goes into the compost for the garden. To empty the fridge every week, you need to plan your weekly meals, so that the waste you are producing is much less.
- Did you know that the fashion industry has one of the most unsustainable practices? The only way to work around this is to use your clothes gently, buy only as much as you need and donate your good clothes and gently used clothes that you are not using. There are also sustainable fashion brands that you can look for when making your next purchasing decision.
- WRITE THIS DOWN: Carry your water bottle and a cloth bag EVERY SINGLE TIME you step out of the house! This can save your carbon footprint to a great extent!
- The last one year, we have been cleaning surfaces down like there is no tomorrow. Did you know the impact that the cleaning products have on the water table? Our actions today hold a lot of impact on what we leave for future generations. There are a host of eco-friendly cleaning products available today and in fact it is also easy to make these cleaning products at home! When you take sustainability seriously, this may not seem so far fetching as it is now!
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