3 Simple Ways To Start Living Sustainably
Updated: Jul 16
The idea of sustainability is like a rainbow unicorn - everyone has heard about it, some people talk about seeing it, but does it really exist? The conversation surrounding sustainability has only been talked about in mainstream media the last 40 years and many are still coming to terms with what it truly means. Despite the varying definitions, in essence it is the ability for human civilization and the Earth to co-exist. Sounds easy enough, right?
For someone who is new to sustainable living, it can be tough to know where to begin - but it doesn't need to feel like a search for an elusive mythical creature. In fact, we've broken it down into 3 main categories with actionable steps that make it easy for anyone to start.
1. CONSERVE ENERGY
Did you know your appliances can use up energy while plugged into the wall - even if they are turned off? Standby power can account for up to 10% of an average household’s annual electrical use. Notice how many times you open your refrigerator door, waiting for some magical food item to appear, or the number of electronics being used passively as ‘background noise’. There are so many things that we do daily, not realizing its slow-burn impact on our environment. Have no fear! We have come up with a list of, things you can do to be more conscious of to minimize these energy-zapping customs:
Unplug electronics when not in use (needless to say, this doesn’t apply to things like your fridge)
Speaking of the fridge, take a photo of what’s inside to avoid the frequency of opening and closing the doors (makes the perfect screen background)
Instead of using your TV to play background music while you cook, opt for a wireless Bluetooth speaker
Wait for a larger pile of laundry before running a cycle, and wash using cold water. We even challenge you to hang dry your clothes
Use windows to your advantage - a room that receives a lot of sunlight will be warmer, thereby reducing the need for heating. And vice versa, a shaded room will be much cooler, reducing the need for AC
Swap for more energy-efficient light bulbs (LEDs baby!)
Use task lighting: turn off the ceiling light and switch to a table lamp
Switch your desktop to a laptop. You can plug into a monitor for the larger screen and only need to consume energy when plugging in to charge your battery
Although some of these changes may seem small, if we make a collective effort to be conscious about our energy consumption, it WILL make a difference. Not only will your planet thank you, but your wallet will too.
2. AIM FOR LESS WASTE
Despite our eco-friendly demeanor, Canada has been surveyed as one of the worst waste-producing countries among 36 surveyed in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) - ranking even lower than our southern neighbour, the US. So what can we do to combat this stat and what exactly are we putting into the landfills?
Minimize food waste. A study done by Second Harvest claims that 60 percent of food produced in Canada ends up wasted. Planning meals with on-hand ingredients or grocery shopping with a prepared list are some of the most effective ways of reducing wastage. If a dish calls for a little of a specific ingredient, instead of letting the remaining expire due to lack of use, look up other recipes using the same ingredient. Being conscious of the ingredients you are buying or finding ways to preserve it is a great way to contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle. A general rule of thumb are the 3 P’s: pickle, preserve, and pesto. IKEA recently came up with an ingenious recipe book called The Scrapsbook which targets this exact issue, how to cook with less waste.
Plastic waste is a whole other beast. On a micro level, we can reduce our plastic consumption by eliminating single-use plastics as much as possible - this means switching them out with reusable ones. Some easy switches are things like:
Reusable mugs or water bottles
Reusable silicone snack bags instead of Ziploc
Beeswax wraps or stretch silicone lids instead of plastic wrap
Soap bars instead of liquid soap in plastic bottles
Reusable produce and shopping bags
Safety razors instead of disposable
Saying no to cutlery when ordering delivery/keeping a set of cutlery in your bag/reusing your plastic cutlery
Although many plastics are considered “recyclable”, a research project from Queen’s University found that some tracked items left in the blue bins found its way to landfills in China, Mexico and India. Why not have them land filled locally rather than spend the extra carbon to ship it abroad? When things are deemed “recyclable”, it can be naive of us to think it will be handled that way. Less waste is always the way to go.
3. SHOP WITH INTENTION
Not everyone lives or wants to live a minimalist lifestyle. Buying is sometimes a necessity and other times, a form of therapy. There’s no shame here, but there is an offer of a new perspective on how you buy. Incorporating the concepts we’ve mentioned above, before your next purchase, think about how the products serve you and the environment. That means also looking at what material(s) the product is made of, where it’s being shipped from, and if the company employs sustainable and ethical practices?
Quick tip on avoiding impulse buys? Add it to your cart and come back to it the next day or even the next week. If it’s still a want after a week, then go for it! Or try adding things you’d like to buy to a list - when a sale occurs, you already have a pre-planned list of things to buy at a discount rather than buying just because there’s a sale.
If you’re in need of new clothes, why not try buying, trading or swapping pre-loved items or go virtual thrifting? If you have too many clothes on the other hand, find donation centres and follow their safety protocols, or try your hand at e-commerce by reselling them to people who share your style.
When it comes down to it, the choices we make each day have a direct impact on our planet. Sustainable living is about consciously making the greener choice. That is part of our mission at Good Earth Gifting - to help Canadians find eco-friendly products and ethical brands and businesses to support. We want to make it easier for you to shop locally and sustainably.
Were these tips helpful for you? Tell us your simple ways for sustainable living and what your first steps were. We would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with any of the products that have been mentioned in this post.