The need to live sustainably and not use earth’s resources unnecessarily and cut down pollution of all kinds has never been so great. Given the rate at which garbage is pilling up in the landfills and we are using up natural resources (like there’s an endless supply), the future generations might not be able to enjoy many things that we do now. And that’s a scary thought. After all, why should someone else have to suffer the consequences of our choices? As someone who has only recently become a mother, I’m worried about my daughter’s future, which is why I decided to live sustainably, or at least try to do so.
I read somewhere that it would be a sin not to do the little that you can thinking it’s not going to make an impact. Often times, we have the need to adopt the all or nothing concept – either do everything that you absolutely have to (to save planet earth) or do nothing at all. Let someone else deal with it. How’s using or not using a few disposable plastic bottles going to make a difference anyway? But that’s where we all go wrong. As far as conserving the environment is concerned, every little bit helps.
In the past two months, I have started to carry a glass water bottle to work and I refill it wherever I can. I have not bought a single use plastic water bottle in so long now and it makes me feel so good about myself that I push myself even more to opt out of using single use items wherever and whenever I can. That means no plastic cutlery or napkins, no straws, and no takeaway containers. On a daily basis, whether I’m out running errands or at work, I don’t generate a lot of waste anymore.
And it’s not been difficult either. Yes, my bag has been a little heavier, with all the extra items that are now in it – water bottle, fork and spoon, hankies, canvas tote bag (for grocery shopping purposes), and lunch box – but that’s a small price to pay for the good feeling I get when I say no to single use items. I might forget to carry my steel cutlery sometimes and have to use disposable ones but a slip up doesn’t mean I have failed. It just reminds me to more mindful of my actions from then on. There are times when I have not had my reusable bamboo straw with me and simply opted to not get my favorite smoothie that day. It’s all about what you choose to do to generate less waste behind you.
Learning to live sustainably has also saved me quite a bit of money. A more sustainable mindset causes you to reconsider purchasing certain products or services that you once thought were absolutely necessary. Since I’ve also started making my own household cleaning products – it amazing how vinegar with a few drops of essential oil, or baking soda can be used for just about anything – I don’t have to buy the different kinds of cleaners that I did before. I no longer buy stain removers, carpet cleaners, glass cleaners, and furniture polishes. In hindsight, it’s incredible how much I was spending on these chemical laden products.
Another good aspect of this is that when you begin going green or learning how to make more of your own products at home, you are also reducing the chances that harmful chemicals will be present in things you and your family use on a daily basis. You and your family member’s health are no longer compromised and you also don’t have to dispose plastic bottles week after week. It’s a win-win situation.
Another area where I’m trying to live sustainably is in the kitchen. A lot of waste is generated in the kitchen and I’m trying (trying is the word here) to keep it as less as possible. Now, I only buy just the right amount of fresh vegetables that I need and I don’t toss leftover food in the bin anymore, choosing either to reuse it for lunch with a few tweaks or put it in the compost bin with other food scraps. This I don’t toss out but I use it to make natural fertilizer for my plants.
I also used to go through enormous packages of paper towels in the kitchen. I used it for just about everything – from drying plates to cleaning up small spills. I have now made a switch to reusable cloths. These might be microfiber towels or old t-shirts cut into little squares. I keep a stack of these in a box next to the kitchen counter and use them instead of paper towels. These need to be washed and sometimes I’m a bit lazy or in a hurry and I end up using a paper towel but that’s few and far between. I have hidden the few paper towel rolls that we still have left from our last ‘wasteful’ shopping trip to make sure I don’t reach for them unless absolutely necessary.
We all know that climate change, global warming, depletion of the ozone layer and resources are real and that their impact on human and animal lives can be devastating in the long run. The time to take action is now. Sustainable living can help reduce your carbon footprint and environmental impact. And it’s not that difficult either. You might have to alter your lifestyle a bit but step-by-step you will eventually get there. I recommend you start by taking simple measures like using the public transportation more often, turning off lights and gadgets when you don’t need them, and cutting down on single use plastic.
Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps people become a part of the solution to the problem that plastic pollution poses. So far, there are 120 million participants in 177 countries. You too can become a part of Plastic Free July by choosing to refuse single use plastics. To keep track of your progress and see how others are going about it as well as get some help and motivation, you can log onto their website and register before you begin. The challenge will help you find great alternatives to using plastic that can go on to become new habits.
There are some friends and colleagues who scoff at what I’m doing saying it’s impractical and that I look like a fool when I whip out my own cutlery at the office canteen that gives us disposable forks and spoons during lunch. I’ve recently started taking my own plate and bowl and that gets me smirks and stares but I can live with that. What I can’t and won’t live with anymore is being wasteful.
The writer loves books, movies, pizza, and the weekend and believes there is nothing a cup of tea can’t solve. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.