Living more sustainably can be a daunting concept if it’s totally new to you, especially when everyone around you seems to be carrying on without a care in the world.
Sustainable living isn’t just something you do--it’s a lifestyle and philosophy. It’s something that’s encouraged by renowned activists, NGOs, lifestyle bloggers, and marketing and advertising companies. But what does “living sustainably” really mean?
Broadly speaking, living sustainably comes down to the choices and behaviours that focus on living within our means to reduce human impact on the planet and encourage both human and environmental health. It means practicing sustainability in the home and community and ensuring we prioritize the use of renewable resources.
But sustainable living isn’t just about us as an individual. It’s also about how we as a community come together to support the health of our planet.
What does it mean to live more sustainably?
Living sustainably means making a conscious effort to reduce your impact on the environment. It addresses sustainability challenges related to climate change and environmental degradation, but also addresses the issue that individual choices don’t make a difference--because they do.
Individual actions may be small, but they are part of a larger collective that contributes to a movement aimed at reducing human impact on the earth. But living sustainably extends beyond just your household--it’s part of your life inside and outside the home.
There are endless ways you can get involved to reduce your impact on the environment and live more sustainably: reduce consumption of resources, compost, plant a garden, use clean energy, eliminate single-use plastic, eat more plants, and the list goes on. It’s about making the most out of what you have.
Sustainable living vs. zero waste
You’ll often hear the words sustainable living and zero-waste used interchangeably and it’s easy to see why. At the core, they both have one common goal: reduce human impact on and preserve the planet. While they have many of the same practices, sustainable living and zero-waste are not the same. People trying to lead a more sustainable life aim to reduce their overall environmental impact in many ways, whereas the focus of the zero-waste movement is to reduce the amount of trash they produce, especially with respect to single-use plastic.
Here’s an example for you. Someone following the zero-waste movement and trying to eliminate the amount of trash they produce may still be totally fine eating meat; it was purchased directly from a butcher and put into a glass container for the ride home. No waste produced. But someone looking to live more sustainably looks at the larger picture; they see the environmental impact and ethical concerns of large-scale animal agriculture and choose to reduce their impact on the environment by consuming less meat and adopting a plant-based diet, even if it does come with small amounts of plastic.
Regardless of which you choose to follow, both have a common goal of helping the planet. A sustainable lifestyle will look different for everyone and there’s no judgement on which way you choose to live it.