Sustainable living describes a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources, and one’s personal resources.
Yay, it’s Earth Day! The one day of the year that celebrates Mother Nature by acknowledging the environmental movement and raising global awareness about pollution and preservation of our natural habitat.
While you won’t find me joining PETA and hugging trees anytime soon, I do however, believe that as living creatures on Earth, we have the collective responsibility to protect, preserve and even better the environment we live in. In regards to this, there are a multitude of ways that I can contribute towards helping our environment through simple changes in my daily habits.
I am not by any means an expert on this subject but I do love researching new creative ways to practice sustainable living that I can personally incorporate into my daily life. That’s why in the spirit of Earth Day today, I would like to share with you some of the simple ways that you can practice in your everyday life that can bring you one step closer towards a sustainable living.
Discover thrift shopping
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” While I wouldn’t exactly call second hand items trash, I completely agree with the treasure part. Everyone in my life knows I adore thrift shopping. The anticipation of arriving at a treasure trove of pre-loved items, taking the time to rummage through them, the joy of finding an item you can add towards your home or wardrobe, and the satisfaction of earning a bargain. As you can see, I can write a whole post worth on thrift shopping alone.
But how does this help the environment? Fast fashion is hurting our environment. Mass production, rapid consumption and the amount of pollution that the fashion industry is producing all contribute towards environmental degradation. By buying pre-loved clothing items, we can help keep them away from landfills and put them on the backs of someone who would really love them. Of course thrift shopping does not only include clothing, but also houseware, books, furniture, and anything you can think of. Who knows? You might even discover the thrill and satisfaction of restoring an item you find and make it into your very own. Careful, it’s addictive.
Bring your own grocery bags
This is something that everyone is very familiar with by now, but unfortunately, not everyone practises it.
Nowadays, there are many supermarkets that don’t offer free plastic bags anymore and a lot of them charge a small fee if you do want one. Even if you have no clue about how you can practice sustainable living, I would say to start by replacing plastic bag usage with reusable grocery bags. There are so many choices in the market that you can choose from that you will definitely be able to find one that fits your aesthetic.
I would say to start off with two grocery bags: an insulated bag and a canvas bag. You can store cold food items such as meat and dairy in an insulated bag. This keeps the food fresh longer and normally you can just wipe any spillage and air dry the bag. With a canvas bag, it’s a more eco-friendly alternative to a nylon bag and you can rewash it in case it gets dirty.
Make your own
No, not just sundae. I am a pro advocate for making and building things yourself. There is an immense satisfaction of working with your bare hands and producing something that you and possibly your whole family can enjoy.
When it comes to living a sustainable lifestyle, there are many things that you can make yourself. Start by taking a hard look at everything that you consume in your daily life. Is there something that you can stop buying and instead make yourself?
For example, if you love eating bread often, you can invest in a bread maker and make your own fresh bread. This is not only wallet-friendly, but you can help save the environment by reducing waste from the packaging.
Another example is replacing some beauty products with your own DIY product such as sheet masks. While I love my korean sheet masks, I have to admit that frequent usage of one-use sheet masks is not great for the environment. That’s why it’s a great idea to learn how to make your own. Invite a few girl friends over, throw on some lively music, break open a bottle of wine and create your own face masks in the kitchen!
If you want some creative ideas of face masks that you can make yourself using simple ingredients, you can read HERE.
From homemade soap to cleaning products, there are so many things that you can make yourself at home.
Store food and drinks without plastic
If you’re stumped for ideas on how you can practice sustainable living, look to your kitchen. There are many ways that you can reduce waste by changing some of your kitchen habits.
For starters, I would say to reduce plastic use in the storage of your food and drinks. Storing food in a plastic container is a potential health hazard to you and your family due to a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA). By ingesting food and drink stored in plastic, you are dosing yourself with small amounts of BPA that has the potential to disrupt your normal hormone functions. Yikes!
Switch over to the bright side and invest in containers and jars made of glass, wood, metal and even bamboo. Not only are they more eco-friendly, you can display them proudly in your pantry for that Pinterest-worthy kitchen that many of us have envied after. A win-win, if you ask me.
Reusable bottles and coffee cups
Or tea cups, if you prefer. I’m sure you’re starting to see a pattern by now. One of the major keys to sustainable living is replacing disposable items such as paper cups, plastic bags and cutleries, with reusable items made of eco-friendly materials.
If like me, you love your daily dose of fresh ground coffee from your favourite local coffee spot, then this is for you. Some coffee shops do use their own mugs and drinking glasses, but there are some that still use paper cups for takeout coffee or tap water. Invest in a cute steel coffee cup or a bottle and bring it wherever you go. This will not only be friendly to the environment, but it will also be a great way for you to drink more water since you’ll always have the bottle with you.
When I moved to Europe, I started to appreciate the simple joy of walking. I can spend hours exploring a city on foot, granted the weather is nice. I understand that not everyone can do this, especially if you live somewhere where either the weather is not favourable to walk in, or everything is only accessible by car.
The main point is that walking is a wonderful alternative to vehicles that contribute to carbon emissions, global warming and air pollution to name a few. Try to walk instead of taking the car whenever and wherever you can. This is also an amazing way to stay active and get that extra cardiovascular exercise in without you even making a trip to the gym.
Take shorter showers
I count myself extremely lucky. Growing up in a tropical country that has between 2000mm to 4000mm of rainfall annually, I never had to worry about fresh water supply. But as I grow older and travel more, I realise that not everyone can waltz to a tap and turn it on for a continuous flow of clean water.
While there are many ways that we can help conserve water, I would start with an easy one: take shorter showers. Personally, this is a difficult one for me since A, I love taking bubble baths, and B, I spend quite some time in the shower just on my long hair alone. However, practice makes perfect and you can also enlist the help of your partner by showering together.
Who says sustainable living can’t be sexy?