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How to Live Sustainably?

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How to Live Sustainably?

By Aditi Subba

According to science writer Tim De Chant’s infographic (2012), it was illustrated that if seven billion people living on Earth were to live like an average Nepali, the world would need 1.9 more Earth to sustain everyone. Acknowledging that not all resources are infinite, sustainable living is generally adopted in order to improve the existing environment and conserve it for the future generation. Many might identify it as living meagerly and giving up all the material luxuries the world has to offer. But, sustainable living isn’t just to live without luxuries, but to be self-aware of your own resource consumption and reduce unnecessary waste. Rather, it describes a lifestyle that strives to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of Earth’s natural resources and practice a way of life that can be sustainable for both the Earth and the person. 

While it can be overwhelming to think that an individual’s choice of living might not be enough to tackle all the global environmental issues, it is extremely important to remember that an individual’s choice doesn’t always restrict within the single person. Instead, by practicing sustainability in their household, work and community, individuals prioritize use of renewable resources in a broader prospect and encourage more people to do so for the future generations. And although sustainable choices aren’t always feasible to every individual, one could always reduce their impact in the environment as much as possible with small choices everyday to eventually bring a global impact. Below are few ways to start living sustainably and help Earth from degrading further.

1. Reducing Waste

The less we consume, the less we waste. So buying less actually helps a lot in conserving the resources and living a much more sustainable lifestyle overall. And although it isn’t easy to create a zero-waste lifestyle, you could always practice reducing waste from your household as much as possible. Practicing recycling with less consumption helps in reducing your waste. Similarly, composting your kitchen waste for the garden also is a great alternative to contribute to minimizing your waste in the landfill.

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2. Reducing Single-Use Plastic Products 

If you look through your inorganic waste from your household, you might realize most of them are plastic. This isn’t always because you are using too much plastic, but most of the products we buy comes in single-use plastic wrappers. This is the most difficult challenge to tackle against environmental degradation. Hence, while you cannot always opt out of buying products that come in plastic wrappings, you can choose to not add your plastic intakes. Alternatives such as reusable shopping bags, water tumbler and stainless coffee mugs are always a good option if you would like to live sustainably and cut off your plastic intake everyday.

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3. Shopping Smart 

Instead of shopping on impulse, always choose to shop with intention. Thrifting clothes, bags and books are always a better alternative instead of buying completely new products. If you have too many clothes to spare, you can always resell them in the thrift store or simply donate them for a cause. And although it might be quite difficult, you can always look for fair trade certifications in your clothes to ensure you are wearing pieces made with sustainable products and support environmentally aware organizations. While fair trade clothes are often considered too expensive, in reality, these products choose a sustainable trading system that seeks a greater equity in international trade. They work with marginalized producers to help uplift them from a position of vulnerability to economic self-sufficiency. Plus, fairtrade products are often chemical free and farmers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to protect biodiversity. Hence, when you decide to shop fairtrade products, you are indirectly playing your part in environmental conservation.   

4. Traveling Alternatives 

It is always a good choice to travel via public transportation to reduce your own carbon footprints in day-to-day life. These are accessible for short and long routes as well. Surely, the pandemic has made us self-aware about using public transports and avoiding crowded cubicles. So, if your city doesn’t have crowdless local transportations, try using bicycles instead, which has various other benefits in your health as well. And for shorter distances, try walking instead of driving your vehicle. It really helps the environment even if you don’t feel like it is anything at all.

5. Eating a Plant-Rich Diet

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According to a 2016 study, eating a plant rich diet helps in reducing emissions as much as 70% through a vegan diet and around 63% for a vegetarian diet. Because the meat and dairy industry takes upto 83% of all farmland and bears responsibility for almost 13.7 billion tons of yearly greenhouse emissions, many climate activists and scientists have suggested adopting a plant-rich diet. This helps in saving plenty of global water, forest and carbon emission each year. It might not be easy to switch your diet completely to vegan or vegetarian, but the message here is to consume less meat as possible. And to encourage that, you can simply adopt routines like meatless Mondays or weekend vegan.

Choosing to live sustainably encourages many people in minimizing their use of Earth’s resources and reduces human-induced environmental degradation in a larger context. While it might not be an easy start, ultimately, your pursuit of options listed above will help you realize how simple it is to play your part in making a sustainable, global-environment.

Aditi Subba is a conservationist, interested in human-nature dynamics and the global practices of nature conservation by different communities.