by Josh Dixon April 08, 2022
Although the topic of how to live sustainably has arguably become a buzzword in recent years, the inherent qualities that make up a sustainable lifestyle are as meaningful as ever these days. While it may feel difficult to know where to begin when it comes to leading a more sustainable lifestyle, there are many small things you can incorporate into your everyday life that can make a big difference both to your own personal lifestyle and to the community around you.
Perhaps the most recognizable way that we, as a society, have been led towards a collective sustainable lifestyle is through the use of reusable alternatives. In fact, this is perhaps one of the biggest lifestyle changes a person can make in an effort to be more sustainable. This includes using reusable water bottles and snack bags instead of plastic ones. You can even use a reusable safety razor and dishcloths instead of continuously buying disposable ones. You can find more tips on how to lead a sustainable life through reusable products here.
This practice can also be expanded upon to help reduce waste in other ways. As most businesses begin to move away from offering single-use plastic bags, we’re likely all familiar by now with reusable shopping bags and tote bags which not only offer a great alternative to wasteful plastic but can also add a stylish flair. You can also try bringing reusable jars with you when you shop. These work great at local shops such as Urban Bulk and Refill and Bare Market which both offer package free goods and food items.
One of the lesser-known impacts on the environment in this day and age is that of the meat and dairy industries. In order to keep up with the demand from populations around the globe, meat and dairy farms have become one of the biggest contributors of pollutants in the atmosphere. According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, the meat and dairy industries combined are responsible for contributing 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, you don’t need to immediately switch to a vegan lifestyle. However, simply reducing your intake of these products or slowly incorporating meat and dairy alternatives into your lifestyle can make a big difference.
When it comes to energy consumption, our first thought often goes towards the cost it incurs when we leave lights on or turn the thermostat up. However, not only do these actions drive up our electricity bills but, collectively, they are one of the biggest contributors to pollution. Increased electricity consumption has an effect on air pollution, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, and can negatively impact water quality in communities. The good news is that Canada is moving towards the use of clean electricity methods with 66% of our nation’s electricity coming from renewable sources such as hydroelectricity, wind, and solar. As we continue to move towards increased use of these renewable sources, we as individuals can take these small steps in our homes such as using energy-efficient lightbulbs, turning off lights when they’re not in use, and bundling up with layers and cozy blankets instead of constantly raising the heat in an effort to reduce energy consumption.
While this may not be an option for everyone, depending on the area in which you live, growing your own produce is an excellent way to reduce your personal contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and increase sustainability in the process. Frankly, the sheer amount of emissions that are produced just from the transport required to deliver food to grocery stores is overwhelming. There are many things you can do at home, from growing your own produce to homesteading, to start leading a sustainable lifestyle at home.
Leading a more sustainable lifestyle is possible simply by being considerate and conscious of where you buy your clothes. In this sense, choosing ethical fashion brands instead of fast fashion brands is a great place to start. Not only do fast fashion brands have an infamous legacy for mistreating their workers, they also contribute greatly to pollution with the amount of products they produce. These products are typically of a low quality and will likely deteriorate quickly forcing you to buy even more. Instead, ethical fashion brands are likely to last longer allowing you to cut down on waste and your contribution to landfills.
For many, sustainable fashion may not always be an option due to financial restraints. Considering this, it’s possible to avoid overconsumption of fast fashion by learning how to fix and mend things yourself. This is a fantastic way to ensure damaged goods are used to their full potential instead of being thrown away. You can even get creative with it by adding a patch to a torn piece of clothing for example. If you’d like to learn how to do this but don’t know where to start, Bookhou is a studio based here in Toronto that offers virtual workshops that will teach you how to sew.
All in all, there are many ways you can begin to start leading a sustainable lifestyle. Although the question of “how to live sustainably” can be an overwhelming one, there really is no right or wrong way to do it. The important thing is to start somewhere by making small adjustments to your lifestyle to incorporate these tips and habits. In doing so, you will not only be making a difference in your own lives but in that of your communities as well.
We hope these tips help you lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle! Leave a comment below telling us which tips you’ll be implementing in your day-to-day.
Josh Dixon (he/him) is a writer and information specialist based in Toronto. His writing has previously appeared in Feels Magazine, RFD Magazine, Chosen Family, and Queer Toronto. When he's not writing, he's living his best Virgo life enjoying books, music, and terrible reality TV.
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