Small Changes you can Make to Live More Sustainably

Written by Kayley Goodhue
Illustrated by Himanshi Parmar

Sustainable consumption revolves around “doing more and better with less.” Learning to practice sustainable consumption can promote a more sustainable lifestyle for our generation, our environment, and can even help decrease the line of poverty.

We all were told simple tips growing up like turning off the lights when we weren't home, but what can we really do as a generation to take care of our planet and live a more sustainable lifestyle without compromising the everyday luxuries we’ve all become accustomed to?

When it comes to food and diet, small changes can make a larger impact than you’d think. Each year, an estimated 1/3 of all food produced ends up rotting in the garbage uneaten. As consumers, we’ve all gone to the grocery store on an empty stomach and ended up leaving with far more food than we need. Instead of aimlessly purchasing food and snacks that could go to waste at the end of the week, try planning meals out beforehand and buying only the ingredients needed to make those meals to cut down on the products you’re throwing out every week. Another way to fight the $1 trillion in food waste worldwide a year, is to shop sustainably for your food. Grocery stores can be overcrowded and chaotic with everyone always in a hurry. Try starting your weekends on a more peaceful and mindful note by going to  your local farmer's market instead. Buying locally sourced food helps cut down on emissions, as well as increases peace of mind knowing exactly where your products are coming from.

The last tip for sustainable food consumption can be a harder one to face for most of us. Studies show that if we stopped eating meat altogether, we could reduce our water footprint by over 55%! That being said, becoming a full-fledged vegetarian isn’t an easy task for most people.

However, an easy change to make in your household to be more sustainable is to start practicing meatless Mondays. Just by not eating meat one day a week, we could save an estimated 100 billion gallons of water worldwide!

Outside of our food and diet, fast fashion has largely caused damage to our environment. Sure, we all love keeping up with fashion trends and buying cheaper-priced clothing, but what kind of impact is it making on our environment? Fast fashion is responsible for one-tenth of the water used globally, a 50% increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and an additional 92 million tons of clothing in landfills every year. Many of us have grown accustomed to the fast fashion industry due to its affordability and availability, so how can we combat it?

Let’s start with buying less and donating more. With trends coming and going so quickly these days, it’s hard to keep up. Instead of buying 10 items that are in style now, try buying one or two quality pieces that you can pair with several basics. This means that you can still keep up with the trends, without having so much waste. Another large factor in fast fashion is how we get rid of the items once they’re out of style. We’ve all heard the term “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” By donating your clothes rather than throwing them away, you can help landfill reduction, reduce your carbon footprint, and decrease water consumption. Donating your clothes can even change the way our economy works altogether. By donating, you’re creating a circular economy in which we’re able to reduce the amount of consumption and reuse items whenever possible.

Along with changes to our diet and the clothes we wear, small everyday changes in how we live can make all the difference. Unplugging things when they’re not in use, eliminating single-use items from our homes, and even just running a full load of laundry instead of half can make a large impact when you add it up at the end of the year. Maintaining a more sustainable lifestyle doesn’t always have to mean drastic changes in the way we live. By making small changes in our everyday lives, and creating healthier habits, we can make a greater impact than you’d think! Let us know if you implement any of these practices into your day-to-day, or if you have any other sustainable tips to share.