Little Lifestyle Changes You Can Make To Live More Sustainably

Little Lifestyle Changes You Can Make To Live More Sustainably

The small changes you make now can have a big impact on the future.
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It's no secret that sustainable living is important, but the idea of a sustainable lifestyle is intimidating, to say the least. You may want to start making changes in your life but may not know how. Or, you may not even know what sustainability really is.

Essentially, sustainability is how we meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. Little changes that you implement in your daily routine can make big waves in the grand scheme of things. What you do now matters in the long run.

Chances are, you've heard R3 (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) time and time again. I will tell you not only how to effectively follow R3, but also how to Be Mindful while you do it.

Reduce

Taking time to consider the impact of the resources you use every day on the earth. 72% of our earth is made of water. While that sounds great, once you factor in the water that makes up our oceans, icecaps, and salt lakes, less than 1% of that is drinkable. While the water coming out of your sink faucet won't run out anytime soon, eventually it could. Take the time now to reduce your water usage (and, in turn, it'll reduce your utility bill at the end of the month!).

You can also take steps to reduce your carbon emissions into the atmosphere without making a drastic change to your lifestyle. Try to reduce the time you spend driving your car alone. You can carpool with a friend or two or get healthy and ride your bike or walk where you need to go! You can also take measures in your home to reduce carbon emission by turning off the lights when you leave a room, don't turn your thermostat up too high or down too low and make it overwork, and you can insulate your home to reduce drafts and air leaks!

Reuse

Plastic bags fall through our fingers faster than we realize. The last time you went the grocery store and left your cloths bags in your car, you probably walked out with 20 or more plastic, single-use grocery bags in your hands - especially if you asked the cashier to double bag your milk. Many counties are taking initiative and banning plastic bags in order to promote reusable bags in everyday life!

It is also important to abstain from using single-use water bottles, zip lock bags, and styrofoam food containers. Instead, invest in reusable water bottles and Tupperware containers! Not only will you be treating the earth well, you won't have to take your trash our nearly as often as you do now! Reusable containers are convenient for travel and if you take your own cup to Starbucks, you save 10 cents on your order!

Recycle

Obviously, recycling is an important factor in sustainability, but many of us don't know proper recycling techniques! One of the most important things to know is that not everything that has a recycling symbol on it can be recycled in your county. That number inside of the three arrows means something! Check on your county's website and see what you can recycle and what you can't.

You can't recycle anything that has any food or chemical waste on it. So that cardboard pizza box with the grease and cheese stuck to the bottom is a no-go. So is your milk carton until you've rinsed it out completely and there is no food waste. Fun fact: you can recycle the container that holds Lysol wipes - but not until after you've rinsed it out.

You also cannot recycle staples, paper cups, or straws.

Be Mindful

In addition to educating yourself on the R3 system, educate yourself on products that are simply good or bad for the earth. One of the most detrimental substances is plastic. Most of the time when we use plastic, we know it, but recently something has popped up called a microbead. Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic that can be used in toothpaste or facewash. Microbeads also fully compose containers of glitter. Since they can be found in products that are often just washed down a drain, microbeads are sent directly to waterways that contain marine life that mistake the beads for food. Then we eat the marine life that ate the plastics, and you get the picture. Not only does our misuse of plastics affect other life, in the grand scheme of things, it affects us too.

There are many things to be mindful of when it comes to sustainability, and if we don't research them, chances are we'll never know. Implement small changes in your life now and you will make a big impact on the future.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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