Shedding light on sustainable living

You’ve probably heard the word sustainable being thrown around. From ethical clothing to reusable coffee cups, there’s a whole range of ‘sustainable’ products out there.

But what is sustainable living?

Living sustainably aims towards living in harmony with the environment, rather than against it.

It’s a lifestyle that focuses on protecting our environment, society and economy. It promotes ethical interactions with the natural world, reducing harm to wildlife and demand on the earth’s resources .

Single use plastic is a big problem for the environment. It is not recycled and has nowhere to go, causing drastic amounts of waste. Plastic wrapping, straws and water bottles are the main culprits. 32% of the 78 million tonnes of plastic produced each year flows into the oceans. Landfill sites are also overflowing and leak harmful pollutants.

But good news – living sustainably can alleviate this problem!

It requires replacing single use plastics with sustainable alternatives. This is a simple change we can all make. We can start by purchasing a reusable water bottle or coffee cup – Starbucks or Costa will happily make your coffee in a reusable cup instead of their plastic cups.

Photo by Catherine Sheila on

How can we live sustainably in a world where we have little control over the production and disposal of our resources, you might ask. Most of us purchase our food, toiletries and household items from the supermarket. The bin-men come and collect our rubbish. This cycle of consuming and disposing continues throughout our life.

However, you actually have more say in this than you might think.

Instead of sitting back and allowing this to unfold, we should wake up and start asking questions like where do our products come from? What affect is this having on the planet? What can we do to reduce harm to the environment?

After all, where there is supply, there is demand and vice-versa. If more of us reduce our demand for non-sustainable products, like plastic water bottles, it will force large corporations to produce less of them.

Now you know what sustainable living is, here’s where it gets more complex…

It’s brilliant to see a rise in sustainable brands. If they are a making a conscious effort to go green, they should be promoting this.

Here’s the problem: companies might say they are ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘green’. Yet, in reality they are far from it.

Impressing people with ethical jargon and imagery is a marketing tactic to increase sales. They lure them into buying their products by playing on their conscience.

This is known as greenwashing.

You might have seen brands using green plastic packaging or claiming to be ‘100 % organic’ or using ‘natural ingredients’.

Firstly, these terms are amorphous and wishy-washy. They mean nothing without supporting evidence. Secondly, sustainable packaging tends to be simple, non-coloured and recyclable, rather than green or plastic.

Nestlé claim to be ‘green’ and use ‘sustainably sourced cocoa beans’. Yet they recently faced a law suit from Greenpeace, who exposed their use of palm oil. Palm oil is a key ingredient in most Nestlé products, including the famous Kit Kat. Palm oil companies are responsible for tearing down the rainforests in order to meet this high demand. Deforestation kills wildlife by destroying their habitat, including thousands of orang-utans each year. It also disrupts the planet’s natural ecosystem and emissions.

Image courtesy of Greenpeace

So it’s worth scanning the fine print to discover whether brands are doing what they say they are! Beneath their false advertising can lie the reality of pollution, waste and unethical production.

On a lighter note, we are more concerned than ever with our effect on the environment. Our actions might seem small in comparison to the colossal oil spills and landfill sites that continue to devastate our beautiful natural world. However, we’ve realised that humans can collectively improve the wellbeing of our planet.

This is why I’ve started making little changes to live more sustainably and I think you should too…

Reasons to practice sustainable living:

Reduce environmental harm. If we all make changes to become more sustainable, it will improve the world around us.

Save money! Living sustainably tends to be cheaper, as it involves purchasing less products and reusing things. Things such as face wipes and plastic bags might seem cheap but they all add up. Replacing them for reusable items will certainly save money and means less waste. Sustainable homes are also on the rise. But you don’t have to sell up and buy a house on wheels. Little changes can make your home more sustainable and affordable. For example, solar panels or reusing water can reduce your bills. I’ll give you some penny-pinching tips in my next sustainability post.

Karma. Being compassionate to the world increases your karmic vibration. Living sustainably is a way of showing your appreciation to the universe. Complex and intelligent systems strive to keep us alive each day. So it is important to thank Mother Nature for her kind hospitality! I believe in the process of karma, where our actions come back to us in some way. You get what you give, as the New Radicals sang. Whether or not you’re ‘saving the world’, spreading kindness and generosity is always worth something. Little acts of compassion to the environment, such as planting a tree are never pointless.

Health and wellbeing. Living green can be better for us in many ways. Sustainable cultures tend to be healthier and happier. For instance, Canada have taken sustainable living seriously. They promote eco-friendly practices within the community and many individuals have adopted sustainable living. They eat more locally sourced, healthy foods, rather than unhealthy, processed foods (usually mass produced, releasing enormous amounts of pollution). They spend more time outdoors, often walking rather than driving. They might live closer to nature, where there is less air pollution and more healing benefits. This leads onto my next point.

Mindfulness. We know mindfulness can improve the individual’s wellbeing. But did you know it can also improve our planet’s wellbeing? Let me explain. Mindfulness brings us to the present moment and helps us see more clearly. I believe meditative practices also reduce our separatedness with the world, through contemplating the connectedness of the universe. This increases our compassion and consideration for the environment. If more people practice mindfulness and realise their impact on the world, they may live more sustainably and react better to global crises.

So, there you have it – sustainable living has countless benefits for the planet and ourselves!

If you’re interested in learning more about how to put these ideas into practice, I’ll be giving some tips in my next sustainable living post.

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