From valuing time to learning to use limited resources – pandemic made us realize that sustainability is the only way forward.
Even though sustainability is not a new concept in India, thanks to all the nuskhas our grannies passed on. However, with a faster pace of life and work, these simple hacks were lost to time. There is also a myth around sustainability that sustainable living is time consuming and requires a lot of effort.
To break the illusion of sustainable living being a time-consuming action, here are some easy hacks that will ensure saving, reusing, and recycling becomes a part of our routine!
1. Save energy
Switch off the light/fan before you leave the room, is something every kid has heard while growing up. Actually, saving energy is as simple as putting the switch off.
But is that enough, what if you are at the office the entire day,does that not increase your responsibilities?
- For bigger saving replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, they last longer, consume less energy and are also pocket friendly.
- Instead of drying the clothes in the washing machine, dry them in the sun, this will cut down the power consumption.
- Keep doors and windows open for cross ventilation during the day rather than depending on AC.
- Adding air purifying plants will cut your cost and power for air purifiers at home. These simple swaps make the house not just eco-friendly but give a refreshing feeling too.
2. Reuse almost everything
Our grand moms never disposed of anything, all the jars were used to store spices, big plastic containers of health drinks, were used to store pulses and other dry ingredients. This practice helps cut down on single-use plastic. Instead of getting plastic carry bags at grocery stores, carry your own – this is the ultimate reuse policy!
3. Shop less and re-purpose more
If you really want to turn your lifestyle into a sustainable one, it’s time to forget about random shopping sprees, shop only for things that you really need, reuse your old clothes and if there are clothes that you don’t need, please donate them. Invest in locally made materials. Use your creativity to make something new out of old clothes.
4. Carry your own bottle and cutlery
When we were kids, picnics meant that food was made and carried in utensils from home, plates, cutlery and water was also carried along. That’s exactly what you need to do today as well, carry your own bottle, re-fill it whenever you can. You can carry straws, spoons, forks, wherever you go. Be civilized in terms of disposing of your garbage at public places.
5. Go paperless
Paper manufacturing requires huge amounts of energy and water, which contributes to air pollution and waste problems, and causes deforestation too. Paper accounts for 25% of the waste in our landfills and when it rots it releases methane gas which is 25 times more toxic than CO2.
400 million tonnes of paper is consumed each year. That’s a lot of methane gas ultimately.
Worldwide consumption of paper has grown by 400% in the last 40 years and shows no signs of slowing down. One of the ways you can help reduce paper pollution and waste is by going paperless. Take advantage of the latest technologies like tablet devices and smartphones. There are lots of things you can switch from paper to digital such as bank statements, calendars and tickets.
6. Green cleaning
Get your house smelling fresh and sparkling clean without the plastic and toxic chemicals. Make your own cleaning products with environmental friendly ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, lemon and essential oils. You can find lots of recipes for DIY cleaning products online that will only take a couple of minutes to make.
7. Make Simple Swaps
- Take a walk for shorter distances rather than using a vehicle
- Grow your own herbs and ditch the tiny single-use plastic herb packets
- Carry your reusable water bottle and coffee cup to minimize plastic water bottles and styrofoam cups
- Opt for sustainable clothing brands, pre-loved clothing or fix old clothes. Fast fashion is a massive threat to our planet (read more here) and each one of us must do our bit to reduce its impact.
8. Swap plastic for a reusable water bottle
Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II revealed how discarded plastic items end up in the world’s oceans and are causing the deaths of over a million animals each year.The programme was a real eye opener, and it has kickstarted many initiatives across the globe to reduce plastic pollution.
For example, from 2021 McDonalds has pledged to remove plastic toys from all its Happy Meals and has already reduced the amount of plastic used in its packaging.
We all have a part to play in saving the planet. You too could reduce your plastic footprint. One of the simplest ways you can do this is by swapping single-use plastic water bottles for a reusable water bottle. There are lots of reusable water bottles on the market at reasonable prices. They come in various styles and can be made from a range of different materials such as glass, stainless steel and re-usable plastic. As well as the environmental benefits, stainless steel bottles are also great for insulation – keeping your water cool for longer!
9. Sustainable Kitchen
Maximum domestic waste comes out of the kitchen, on one hand where the percentage of hungry is increasing in the world affecting approximately 10% of the people around the globe, approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food gets wasted every year.
Making a sustainable kitchen is one great hack to build a sustainable world. Following are few simpler hacks which can help you attain your goal of sustainable living:
- Develop a weekly meal plan which enables you to quickly adopt more conscious shopping habits.
- Use your leftovers to make a new dish; you can use leftover fruits to make smoothies and veggies in a soup.
- About half of household garbage is food and garden waste. By composting your food scraps, the amount of greenhouse gasses produced by landfill is drastically reduced.
- Correct storage is the key to keeping food fresh longer. Take fruit and veggies out of bags so they don’t sweat and spoil, and place them in airtight containers to make them last longer.
- There is nothing better than heading out to your garden and picking what you need. It’s fresh, full of flavor, and creates minimal waste. You can grow your own herbs in your kitchen garden or in a pot on the balcony.
10. Use your voice and your vote
One of the best things you can do for the upliftment of the present and future of the planet is to get politically involved in your community and at the national level. Vote for candidates with strong environmental platforms.
- Urge your representatives to pass stronger policies to limit greenhouse gasses, fight climate change, protect public lands from being landfills.
- Better education and access to family-planning services decreases family size and our overall carbon footprint, which helps our children and wildlife thrive.
- Sign and share action alerts, attend events, and talk to your friends about endangered species protection and the need to address human population growth and overconsumption.
Join communities like Earthr.org where like minded people come forward to protect and invest in the planet!!