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Top tips to a #sustainable life

How everyday choices can affect the quality of life and support green efforts

From what we eat to our shopping habits, there is a lot we can do to reduce our environmental footprint and ensure a more liveable society.

No doubt you’ve encountered the terms “global warming”, “climate change”, “ozone depletion”, and a host of others that point to the deterioration of Earth’s natural environment. With that, you’re likely to have also become privy to the research and predictions around the devastating impact environmental degradation subsequently has on the lives of human beings and animals, painting a bleak future for future generations who haven’t yet made the bold move to Mars.

In response to this, the global noise around sustainable living has increased in recent years, and is a movement that sees us rethinking and readjusting our practices and habits as both individuals and organisations, with the goal of consuming as few non-renewable natural resources as possible and minimising our carbon footprint and environmental impact. This type of living involves leaving the earth relatively untouched by our actions; in other words — how we received it, is how we should leave it.

Switzerland’s Sustainable Management School recently reported that the 3.6 billion people who live in water-stressed areas globally is expected to increase to up to 7.5 billion people by 2050. Within the current climate change scenario and our water withdrawal actions, between 24 million to 700 million people will be displaced by 2030 due to water scarcity. The report goes on to state that only 9% of plastic is recycled, and 79% of that plastic ends up in landfills, with the remaining 12% being incinerated and adding to carbon emissions. Despite the fact greenhouse emissions decreased by 22% between 1990 to 2016, it’s estimated that around seven million people still die every year from air pollution, as nine out of ten people breathe in polluted air worldwide.

When it comes to the subject of sustainability and sustainable development, I believe it is vital that we as individual consumers, not just communities, understand how our actions affect the quality of life on earth. From what we eat to our shopping habits, there is a lot we can do to reduce our environmental footprint and ensure a more liveable society, here’s how.

Go green

Implementing small changes in the household and our daily lifestyles can truly make a big difference. Think simple tactics such as using energy-saving light bulbs or adding a programmable thermostat for efficient heating and cooling, each of which can go a long way in reducing your ecological footprint. Another opportunity to go green is to drive green — walking more, biking, carpooling or using public transport systems, which can decrease carbon emissions. Hybrid and electric vehicles are also becoming more mainstream, adding to reduces carbon footprints.

Say no to plastics

More than 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced globally each year, with plastic packaging (single-use material designed for immediate disposal) making up 50% of plastic waste. Thousands of marine animals such as fish, seabirds, sea turtles and other water mammals are killed on a daily basis due to either ingesting plastic or become entangled. Fight for our oceans by opting for reusable grocery bags and ditching single-use straws, bags and bottles, to help cut back on plastic pollution.

Become a conscious shopper: Recycle, stitch or donate

There are many local recycling banks where you can take your bags of used clothing and effectively have the pieces recycled. This simple and easy action can make the world a better place by reducing your carbon footprint, freeing up land previously used for landfills and conserving energy. Another way to keep money in the bank and save the environment at the same time is to learn the basics of “survival” sewing. A skill that was carried over from generation to generation to preserve clothing during times of ration is no longer considered an issue for millennials who can easily access cheap throwaway fashion at a click of a button.

While helping to protect the environment you can also help others in need with regular donations. If you have items of clothing that are in good condition, consider taking them to a local charity. While we may enjoy the financial luxury of keeping up with seasonal trends, others do not even have the means to afford the basics.

Eat better and cleaner

Approximately 1.3 tonnes of edible food is wasted annually, which means the natural resources that went into producing the food are also effectively wasted. One way to reduce food wastage is to engage in planned grocery shopping; that is, buy only what you need and think of creative ways to consume what you purchase. Also, as difficult as it may sound, cutting down on meat consumption can also have a drastically positive impact. The agricultural meat industry is among the top most environmentally damaging industries, responsible for vast levels of pollution, water use, habitat destruction and greenhouse gas emissions. The Meat Free Monday movement is a simple way to start.

The writer is the founder of Joseph & Alexander

From what we eat to our shopping habits, there is a lot we can do to reduce our environmental footprint and ensure a more liveable society.

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