6 Habits to Adopt for a More Sustainable Life

Our daily life choices affect the environment, the climate, and other species. From what we choose to consume to our family size, we can do a lot to « choose nature » and help decrease our footprint’s negative impacts and leave room for a more sustainable life.

1) Think Twice Before You Shop

« Reduce, reuse, recycle » may sound archaic, but it’s just as relevant today as it was when the term was coined. Each product we purchase has an enviromental footprint, from the materials we use to make it to the pollution released when the packaging goes to landfill. So before you buy, ask yourself if the product is necessary. If it is, consider buying a used product rather than a new one, and aim for minimal packaging and transportation.

2) Go Plastic Free

Billions of pounds of plastics are now found in the swirling convergences that make up about 40% of the world’s ocean surfaces. Annually, thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, seals, and other marine mammals are killed after being entangled in plastic. You can begin reducing your plastic waste by following these simple steps: use reusable bags when shopping, avoid single-use water bottles, bags, and straws, and avoid products made or packaged in plastic as much as possible (for example, choose unpackaged products at the grocery store, shop locally, reduce online shopping).

3) Grow Your Own Products

By growing your own fruits and vegetables, you can ensure that no pesticides or other harmful substances that contribute to water and air pollution are utilized. This will also cut down on the quantity of fossil fuels used to move products to supermarkets.

4) Don’t Waste Water

Avoid drinking bottled water. Bottled water companies try to sell tap water, even if it usually be free. Many city water products have won quality and taste tests compared to branded water. The extraction of water and the manufacturing of all these plastic bottles is a known detriment to communities and wildlife. Conserving water is also vital, primarily because our growing population is placing an increasing demands on the country’s water sources, and we are experiencing more droughts than ever before. You can save water by taking shorter showers, repairing leaky toilets, and choosing low-flow, water-efficient appliances. You can also consider xeriscaping your yard, a landscaping technique that uses native plants adapted to drought conditions, require less water and maintenance over time, and provide habitat and food for birds and bees.

5) Choose to Have a Small Family

Now is the time to talk about the rapid increase in the human population, the species extinction crisis, and the type of future we need for wildlife, the planet, and ourselves. With more than 7.5 billion people globally, and more every day, our need for food, water, land, and fossil fuels drives other species to extinction. Thus, having fewer children would be a wise choice. We can achieve an environmentally sustainable population in a way that promotes human rights; reduce poverty and overpopulation; raise our standard of living; and allow plants, animals, and the protected to thrive.

6) Drive Less

By altering your driving habits, you have the power to lower your carbon footprint. Walk, bike, carpool or use public transit whenever possible. Combine classes to make fewer trips. Participate in car-free days or organize car-free days in your neighbourhood. Keeping your car in good condition through regular tune-ups and tire inflation is also crucial. Regular tune-ups can improve your fuel efficiency by 4-40%, and if people keep their tires inflated, fuel consumption can be reduced by 2% across a country.

By following these simple habits, you can make a big difference!

What Are the Key Principles of Sustainable Development?

Everybody talks about sustainable development, but nobody says exactly what it means. The term sustainability is broadly used to indicate programs, initiatives and actions aimed at the preservation of a particular resource. However, it actually refers to four distinct areas: human, social, economic and environmental – known as the four pillars of sustainability.

Human Sustainability

Human sustainability aims to maintain and improve the human capital in society. Investments in the health and education systems, access to services, nutrition, knowledge and skills are all programs under the umbrella of human sustainability. Natural resources and spaces available are limited and there is a need to balance continual growth with improvements to health and achieving economic wellbeing for everyone. In the context of business, an organisation will view itself as a member of society and promote business values that respect human capital. Human sustainability focuses on the importance of anyone directly or indirectly involved in the making of products, or provision of services or broader stakeholders (the human capital of the organisation). Communities around the globe may be positively or negatively affected by business activities or impacted through methods used to source raw materials. Human sustainability encompasses the development of skills and human capacity to support the functions and sustainability of the organisation and to promote the wellbeing of communities and society.

Social Sustainability

Social sustainability aims to preserve social capital by investing and creating services that constitute the framework of our society. The concept accommodates a larger view of the world in relation to communities, cultures and globalisation. It means to preserve future generations and to acknowledge that what we do can have an impact on others and on the world. Social sustainability focuses on maintaining and improving social quality with concepts such as cohesion, reciprocity and honesty and the importance of relationships amongst people. It can be encouraged and supported by laws, information and shared ideas of equality and rights. Social sustainability incorporates the idea of sustainable development as defined by the United Nations sustainable development goals. The principle of sustainable development addresses social and economic improvement that protects the environment and supports equality, and therefore the economy and society and the ecological system are mutually dependent.

Economic Sustainability

Economic sustainability aims to maintain the capital intact. If social sustainability focuses on improving social equality, economic sustainability aims to improve the standard of living. In the context of business, it refers to the efficient use of assets to maintain company profitability over time.

Critics of this model acknowledge that a great gap in modern accounting practices is not to include the cost of damage to the earth in market prices. A more recent approach to economics acknowledges the limited incorporation of the ecological and social components in this model. New economics is inclusive of natural capital (ecological systems) and social capital (relationships amongst people) and challenges the mantra of capital that continual growth is good and bigger is better, if it risks causing harm to the ecological and human system.

Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability aims to improve human welfare through the protection of natural capital (e.g. land, air, water, minerals etc.). Initiatives and programs are defined environmentally sustainable when they ensure that the needs of the population are met without the risk of compromising the needs of future generations. Environmental sustainability places emphasis on how business can achieve positive economic outcomes without doing any harm, in the short- or long-term, to the environment. An environmentally sustainable business seeks to integrate all four sustainability pillars, and to reach this aim each one needs to be treated equally.

The principle of the four pillars of sustainability states that for complete sustainability problems to be solved in relation to all four pillars of sustainability and then need be maintained. Although in some cases these may overlap, it is important to identify the specific type of green business to focus on, as the four types present unique characteristics. Businesses need to make a strategic decision about it to effectively incorporate the chosen approach into their policies and procedures.

Tips in Green Living

Moving towards an environmentally friendly lifestyle can help improve your health and your life in general, and it is also a major asset for the world around you. Eliminating unnecessary chemicals, unhealthy foods, earth-unfriendly practices and bad habits can add up to make you healthier, while at the same time boosting the environment and the ecosystem. Wherever you are in the world, the following 8 tips are all achievable. Some of them are even great fun! Treat yourself, as we all fight for a greener future.

1. Get a high efficiency shower-head A high efficiency shower-head can save up to 3,000 gallons of water per person per year. You will also save $50 in energy costs and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per person per year. Shower-heads are specially designed to conserve resources while providing a luxurious shower. Accessories for sinks and aerators also save large amounts of water and are very inexpensive.

2. Recycle water in your bathroom Use devices that allow you to reuse water from the sink to flush your toilet. You can also keep a bucket near the shower or bathtub and fill it with cold water from the sink before the hot water kicks in. Then take the bucket outside and use it to water your plants.

3. Compost Use a compost bin to turn your food and lawn waste into a rich mulch. It’s a great way to reduce your waste production, and next year you’ll have a rich compost ready to be planted in the spring.

4. Buy green power from your utility Most utilities charge less than $5 per month extra. Not only will your energy come from a renewable source, but you will use your spending control to show utility executives and government officials that we need more investment in renewable energy projects.

5. Improving the efficiency of your tankless and solar water heaters is all well and good, but simple modifications to your existing installation can reduce your energy bills and carbon emissions by 25% or more. Reduce the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees, wrap it in an insulating water heater blanket and insulate the first 3 to 6 feet of hot and cold water piping. These inexpensive changes should take less than an hour.

6. Use high-efficiency outdoor lighting A typical 100-watt spotlight, if used six hours a day, can use up to $40 worth of electricity over a year and produce more than 400 pounds of carbon dioxide, depending on where you live. To get started, replace these projectors with compact fluorescent versions, which are just as bright and consume a quarter of the energy. Next, replace the low-energy halogen landscape bulbs with LED versions. They reduce energy consumption by more than 80% and can last for ten years or more. Finally, install motion detectors on non-essential lights. The new versions screw directly into the socket of your existing luminary.

7. 7. Replace heavy-duty indoor lights with compact fluorescent or LEDs With high-quality light, sizes to fit almost any luminary and dimmable versions, compact fluorescent have it all. They are more expensive than standard light bulbs, but between the energy savings and their much longer service life, they pay for themselves in less than two years. And think about LED bulbs for non-dimmable circuits (especially for vacation lighting). They are real energy wasters and will last as long as you live in your home.

8. Load the washing machines Make sure to run the dishwasher and washing machines only when they are full. Clothes washers consume a lot of energy and water, so be sure to do full loads (or adjust the water setting) whenever possible. And most of us use much more water (and soap) than we need to wash dishes by hand, especially when compared to high-efficiency Energy Star dishwashers. So save your time, water and energy by putting these dishes directly in the dishwasher after a meal.