Recently, the UN released a grim report on the future of our planet’s climate; the report mentions that just a 1.5°C (2.7°F) rise in global warming could have catastrophic effects on the weather, sea levels, and agriculture across the world. It is a dire forecast, but not a completely hopeless one, while many of the changes needed to forestall that event must be made by the international governments of the world, there are changes you can make that can have an effect.
You may be thinking that any changes you implement may not make much of a difference, and on some level that is true; nonetheless, doing something is better than doing nothing at all, especially when the changes you make can have a positive impact on your life as well as the life of the planet.
How to Lead a More Sustainable Life
Sustainability means the ability to maintain something at a certain level or rate, in environmental terms, that means being able to maintain valuable resources without stripping them bare and endangering the planet. There are many simple steps you can take to start leading a more sustainable lifestyle.
Specifically, xeriscaping; this means the planting of drought-tolerant plants in your garden instead of thirstier species. This lowers water use, which is good for the environment and your utility bill. You can also start a compost heap by tossing trash like dead leaves, coffee grounds, egg shells, and other organic waste into a pile and turning it over occasionally.
This helps to create rich soil that is great for planting vegetables and other edible plants, which can lower grocery bills and lead to a healthier lifestyle. You can also plant deciduous shade trees to help cool down the house and reduce cooling costs during the summer.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
This is an old maxim, but a still trenchant one; the “re” triangle helps to drastically lower the amount of waste produced by each person. The recycle point of the triangle is obvious, chances are you are already doing it. The reduce and reuse points are closely related because reusing items like plastic bags, envelopes, and paper helps to reduce the amount of waste produced.
Lowering Electricity Consumption
This is great for your utility bill of course, but they can help the environment as well because most power grids use fossil fuels, which have a notoriously detrimental effect on the environment. One of the best ways to do so is by installing solar panels; a solar panel installation in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, and other sun-drenched cities can lower utility bills and help the environment.
The reason is that solar energy is a safe, renewable resource that does not draw energy from the power grid, in fact, if the installation is efficient enough, it can actually give energy to the grid! Other methods of lowering the utility bill include:
- Using fluorescent light bulbs
- Installing programmable thermostats
- Weather stripping windows
- Using energy-efficient paint
- Buying energy-efficient appliances
You can also lower the use of other utilities, like water, by installing low-flow toilets and showerheads.
Purchasing sustainably made products can help the environment since, in some sense, the manufacturer has already done all the work for you. These can include items like rechargeable batteries and goods packaged in boxes made from recycled content. Also, biodegradable items like cups, diapers, and trash bags, help to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
Also, pay careful attention to the labels of items you purchase, coffee with the shade-grown label is cultivated under forest canopies; this keeps the trees intact for migrating birds and other forest creatures, it also provides natural pest-control and helps in pollination. Goods with the fair trade label are made using sustainable production methods by laborers who are fairly paid.
Use Non-Toxic Cleaners
Many cleaners use toxic materials that eventually end up in the water supply. However, there are safe, environmentally friendly cleaners that you may already have in your home. Borax (sodium borate) is a natural liquid that can be used to clean walls and floors. Lemon juice is great for killing bacteria and baking soda is a good deodorizer. White vinegar can be used to kill mold and bacteria in places where they proliferate.
Sustainability Starts With You
It is clear that even the simplest attempt at sustainability has huge benefits to the individual as well as the environment. The benefits to the latter might not be as significant as they are to the former but every little bit helps. Reversing the trend of global warming might seem like a futile effort but it is not, as long as enough people take up the fight.