Let’s face it. Going green in a single-use plastic world is challenging. Everywhere you look, there are plastic—iced coffee cups, shampoo sachets, grocery bags, food containers, parcel pouches from online shops, and the list goes on. And it’s not going anywhere soon. Currently, plastic accounts for 85% of marine waste and could double by 2030.
The thing is, plastic isn’t Mother Nature’s only great enemy. There’s also electricity. Electricity not only produces harmful gases outdoors, but it also affects indoor air quality. However, we can’t deny that we need energy for virtually all of our daily activities.
So, what can you do to minimize your carbon footprint? You can start by changing little things and habits for the better. Below are some attainable ways to have a sustainable and guilt-free lifestyle.
Eat less meat for a healthy life and a healthy planet
According to a recent study, global food production accounts for a third of planet-heating gases, with animal-based food agriculture causing twice the pollution of plant-based food. Greenhouse gas emissions from animal meat production are also one reason why vegetarian diets have grown popular drastically over the years.
You can opt to start small by taking part in Meatless Mondays, a movement that encourages people not to eat animal meat at least once a week, or you can also start by replacing meat with plant-based options.
Shop secondhand clothes
Fashion trends change before you know it. Fast fashion is all about manufacturing cheap and trend-specific fashion quickly, which essentially means they’re disposable. Many clothes are worn only seven to ten times before being tossed in the trash.
These discarded (and mostly perfectly good) clothes end up in landfills where they sit for hundreds if not thousands of years. Therefore, thrifting clothes are more sustainable than you think. Consider buying and selling secondhand garments to extend the lifespan of clothes and prevent them from ending up in landfills.
Start living zero waste
A zero-waste lifestyle is a movement that aims to lessen one’s consumption and reduce the things thrown away. Although its simple title already details its simple concept, living zero waste is more complicated than it sounds.
This lifestyle is more than just recycling. It means practicing mindful consumption while avoiding using disposable items every day. It may seem impossible in a single-use plastic world, but it can still be done. Here are some ways to help you get started:
- Bring your shopping bag
A single plastic bag takes hundreds of years to decompose in a landfill. If it ends up in the ocean, it could lead to the death of marine animals.
Use your bottle and cups
are being sold every minute worldwide. Bring your bottle when going out to reduce your plastic bottle consumption.
- Ditch straws and other plastic utensils
Billions of single-use utensils are disposed of each year, making them the most deadly trash to sea turtles, birds, and mammals.
- Wear washable cloth masks when possible
Disposable face masks account for most of the 7,200 tons of daily medical waste since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Consider using a washable cloth mask that has enough layers to protect you from COVID-19 or a filter that can be sterilized for more extended use.
Generating, transporting, and consuming energy is nearly impossible without significant environmental impact on air, water, thermal pollution, and even solid waste disposal.
Another transformative and sustainable change you could make is switching to using solar panels. With solar energy systems, you can generate clean and sustainable electricity directly from the sun. That’s sustainable and renewable energy you don’t have to pay for to your local utility.
Solar energy systems do not emit greenhouse gases and cause air pollution, meaning it has a positive, indirect effect on the environment as it replaces or reduces the use of other harmful energy sources.
Turn your home into a smart home
Do you remember how many times you’ve left your house wondering if you’ve turned off all your appliances? Wouldn’t it be practical if you could control it through your phone? Or switch your lights on and off with just a voice command? All these are now possible with home automation systems.
Now that you’re generating good energy from your solar panels, it’s now time to consider making your home smarter. Home automation does not only reduce energy usage, it also provides the ultimate living convenience.
Transform plastic waste into eco-bricks
You’ve done your best in trying to live a zero-waste lifestyle, but you still see plastic everywhere. Whether it’s your trash or not, you can do something about it.
Plastic can be ripped into small pieces, compressed inside a clean and dry transparent PET plastic bottle, and turned into an ecobrick. With this, plastic can be used in building structures instead of going its thousand-year journey out in the biosphere, harming the Earth.
Change Starts with You
Perhaps you agree that companies should step up and take responsibility for people to see real change. In the meantime, you can do your part in taking better care of the planet with the help of the tips above. You should understand that sustainable living means knowing how our lifestyle choice affects everyone and the world around us.
Author bio: Enrique Hormillo is a Business Development Executive at SolarNRG Philippines. Its parent company, SolarNRG Netherlands is one of the largest suppliers and installers of the solar power systems in Europe. Enrique’s experience stretches beyond business development as he also works as a Marketing Director for a motorsport store — further solidifying his business acumen.