Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Small changes in daily living can create major impact in environmental stewardship — and leave you feeling happier and healthier in the process.
By choosing to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, you are benefiting yourself and everyone in the world around you. Not only are you doing your part to help the environment, but you are also improving your own body and mind. It’s true. The long-term changes that you decide to make today will reduce the negative triggers that hamper our world, and they will also cleanse you as a person, making you healthier and avoiding the toxins that can bog you down.
The greatest part is that you don’t always have to make radical changes to help yourself and the environment. Sometimes, something as simple as shopping locally or changing how you get to work can make a world of difference. Let’s talk about some changes you can start today that will make you a happier and healthier person overall.
Reduce Your Consumption
One of the main components of living more sustainably is learning to avoid waste and reduce your consumption as you go through your everyday life. Think about how you can avoid temporary solutions like drinking out of plastic cups and water bottles and make a more permanent resolution like buying a reusable water bottle that you can use every day to eliminate waste. Also, think about the paper you print at work. Is there a way to email the information to your coworkers so you don’t create more paper that will eventually be thrown away? These simple changes can make a big difference over time.
The vast amount of manufacturing and factories that make the things we use every day have a major negative impact on our environment, so think about how you buy and use less unnecessary goods. The easiest way to do this is by donating the stuff you no longer use so other people can use what already exists instead of buying newly made items.
Once you grow out of your clothes, donate them so someone else can wear them. If you grow tired of lamps and home decor, you can donate that as well. Not only will these actions reduce the manufacturing process, but cleaning the house and reducing clutter have also been found to improve mental health.
The way you clean also impacts the environment and your own health. Many cleaning products contain harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and ammonia, which can hurt living creatures (like humans) and maybe cause major health problems down the road… not to mention that they fill the air with these same dangerous chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Instead, use eco-friendly products that reduce pollution, are non-allergenic, and may even save you a few dollars.
Improve the Home Around You
When you include long-term sustainability changes into your home, you can wake up every day knowing that you have done your part to make the world a better, healthier place. The positive changes that you make can start small, from installing low-flow showerheads to changing all of your lighting to LED bulbs. These changes will save wasted electricity and even add value to your home if you decide to sell.
A major component of sustainability is increasing our energy independence through alternative power sources around the home. One of the easiest and most popular installing solar panels. These rooftop accessories can provide all the energy you need to light and power your home while using very little from the electric company. Although there are initial costs upfront, once the panels are operational, you will see a great reduction in your monthly energy costs. Further, there may well be government subsidized incentives or tax credits that substantially reduce your investment. When you are using the sun to power your home, you save valuable energy and reduce air and water pollution.
Even if alternative energy solutions are not possible in your home, there are other new habits that you and your family can begin today to cut down on unnecessary energy waste. For instance, you can use lights less often by moving your desk and office equipment closer to the window so you can utilize natural daylight instead. Turn off all electronics when you leave the room and unplug any that you don’t need when not in use. And please, teach your kids these lessons and they will carry them forward as they grow, saving the earth one generation at a time.
Change How You Travel
You can be a part of major environmental change by thinking differently about how you travel. When it comes to vacations, try to avoid flying whenever possible as planes create more negative carbon than any other mode of transportation. Instead, consider traveling by train or carpooling so fewer vehicles are involved. If you must fly, pack lightly as less weight on the plane equals fewer carbon emissions.
How about saving energy in your everyday life? Is it possible to ditch your car altogether? If your job is close enough, consider riding your bike each day. Doing so will avoid pollution and cycling is also great for stimulating your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Riding your bike (like all exercise) is good for your mental health, as well as your physical, so do it as much as you can!
If you do not have the option to bike to work, you can cut down on your vehicle emissions in other ways, especially when you go shopping. When you need to buy food, clothing, or anything else, consider shopping locally. Visiting local establishments will not only cut down on your travel time, but these smaller organizations typically also use local ingredients and parts so they don’t require large truck shipments from across the country, and thus, they create a smaller carbon footprint.
If you are looking to start a new sustainable lifestyle, there is no time like the present. Try some of the tips above and you will feel good knowing you are helping the planet while staying in shape physically and mentally at the same time.
You may also enjoy reading The Extraordinary Physical and Mental Benefits of Spending Time in Nature by Jori Hamilton