We live in a time when the word "sustainability" is thrown around quite a bit. While this awareness is a great thing, it means that the true message behind this word can get lost. I think most people think recycling, buying less plastic, and taking shorter showers are the building blocks of a sustainable lifestyle. Which is true! But in my opinion, it's so much more than that.
I had a huge "a-ha" moment while shopping at Whole Foods a few years ago. My eyes happened to land on the label of one of the organic avocados, which read, "New Zealand." My brain immediately went to, "Wow! The amount of energy it took to get this avocado from New Zealand all the way to New York City surely outweighs its health benefits." While it may seem like a simple thought, it was a big wakeup call that led me to expand my definition of sustainability and what it really means to consume in a way that is beneficial for your body and the planet.
Here are a few green habits I've since developed that have helped me feel like I'm making a real difference.
1. I unplug all my appliances when I'm not using them.
I am extremely conscious of the household energy I go through, as energy conservation is a huge part of living sustainably. Instead of blasting the heat, I set my thermostat lower and bundle up. I make sure to buy energy-efficient light bulbs for all of the fixtures in my house. I not only turn off all appliances and lights when they’re not in use, but I unplug them as well. Just because an appliance is not turned on doesn’t mean it’s not using electricity! (Bonus: This shaves money off my electricity bills in the end too.)
2. Ban anything that's single-use.
I have completely removed all forms of disposables from my life. So many of the environmental issues we are experiencing today can be traced back to our excessive use of single-use convenience items. When buying your next plastic container of lettuce or set of disposable razors, really think about their life expectancy. Is it worth buying them if you're just going to immediately throw them away?
3. Go totally paperless and donate everything.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but a super-simple way my partner and I have taken to a more sustainable way of living is by going totally paperless. We have made all of our household bills and bank statements electronic. We now read our favorite newspapers and publications in PDF or electronic form, and any newspapers or pamphlets that come into our home are used for wrapping gifts or cleaning glass.
Anything I'm no longer using, I donate: clothes, furniture, old movies, electronics, you name it. If everyone extended the life of things that are already in existence, we would slow down the overwhelming production of disposable, single-use products.
If everyone were to make a conscious effort DAILY to take seemingly small steps, it would make a huge difference. It’s so important to remember that no act is too small when you strive to live a cleaner and more sustainable day-to-day life.
Bonus: Going green saves you some major money. Learn how to save $2,611 this year with these small tweaks.