5 Tips To Live A More Sustainable Life
You’ve heard it a thousand times before, but there’s only one earth and (currently) one planet that’s a livable option for us and our posterity. It’s imperative that we take care of the Earth the same way we would take care of any home that we live in. Here are five tips that have helped me on my own personal journey towards a more sustainable life.
Tip One: Use What You Already Have
My biggest temptation when starting my sustainability journey was to buy a mountain of stuff and throw away what I already had because it was “so unsustainable”. Instead, I had to take a step back and realize that it’s best to use and finish what you currently own so that you can make space ethically for the reusable items that you might purchase in the future.
If you have a space for it, you can try starting a compost bin to reduce your food scraps. If you’re like my family, you might finally end up using the extra wood you’ve had in your garage for the last few years! It may be tempting to go out and get all the latest gadgets and gizmos, but you’re doing yourself and your journey a disservice by not using what you already have.
Tip Two: Aim for Progress, Not Perfection
It is so easy to get bogged down and say, “I’m not perfect; why should I even try?” Discouragement is inevitable, and progress ebbs and flows. There are some weeks where I come out of it feeling like I’ve made a huge impact in the way that I treat waste, recycling, and reusability. Other times, it feels like sustainability falls by the wayside as I revert back to my past habits. Seeing things fall apart can be discouraging, but it’s important to understand that there is no perfection in living a sustainable life. You’ll always find an area where you could do more, but when it comes down to it, we have to try.
Our friends and the people that we see on social media will look like they’re doing “so much better than us.” (Spoiler alert: they’re probably not, but we will get more into that in the next tip.) Focus on creating a life that moves towards being better and forget about being perfect. It’ll make the process more enjoyable, less guilt-ridden, and a million times more productive.
Tip Three: Use Social Media as Encouragement not Discouragement
Social media is an important tool that provides us with inspiration and guidance, particularly as we move through our sustainability journey. With everything at our fingertips, fear of FOMO, and curated feeds from every person, it’s easy to look at other people’s lives and compare. You might see how ‘perfect’ they are and how much less waste they’re using and feel as though it’s not even worth beginning because of how far behind you feel.
Literally everyone online is showing their highlight reel, so don’t think too hard about how a famous influencer is going through their sustainability journey and compare it to your own. They likely have more wealth, more time, and aren’t even showing you what they actually do 99% of the time. It’s very possible that they have much more waste than they let on.
Tip Four: Pursue Sustainability Within Your Means
A lot of sustainable brands are incredibly expensive, and not everyone can afford to purchase from them; I know I can’t. Personally, I’ve been looking at sustainability through my clothing a lot, and I’ve learned that the best thing you can do is not let the clothes you already own go to waste. When you do buy, buy pieces you love and will wear consistently.
I often find myself scrolling on sites which preach sustainability only to find that months later they’re being called out for misleading marketing information. It’s best to follow tip two in this scenario and aim for progress, not perfection. If you’re using the clothes you wear enough, you’re already doing so much better than the average person.
Tip Five: Celebrate Your Wins
It’s important to celebrate your wins in any journey. There is no finish line in a journey of sustainability. Instead, it’s important to identify benchmarks, and when we hit those goals that we have, we deserve to celebrate!
So, when you do something sustainable like finishing a box of Ziploc bags and switching over to reusable, pat yourself on the back, make yourself a nice cake because any step closer to reducing your waste is a step closer to a cleaner, brighter, planet.
It’s easier than ever to see the terrible pollution that so many corporations produce, and give up your own personal sustainability. Fighting for legislation is helpful, but it’s not a good enough excuse to not do anything to support sustainability in your own home. If nothing else, it’s a fun challenge that has real world impact, and it’ll make you feel better about your shrinking carbon footprint, and the legacy you leave on this earth.
Today, I have a challenge for you. Take the first step. There’s no better time to start than now.
Teresa Michael is a visual designer in print and digital materials. Going on her 5th year of working as a graphic designer, she’s cultivated relationships with several different brands to develop marketing strategies and create content ranging from social media to websites. Visit: Website | Instagram | LinkedIn