As you celebrate Earth Day, you may be inspired to start thinking about your relationship with the world — and, more specifically, how your lifestyle — impacts the Earth’s future. Sustainability is key to protecting the Earth’s future, and by making small lifestyle changes now, you can make a positive environmental impact that allows future generations to thrive.
What is Sustainability?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines sustainability as the ability to maintain and preserve the natural environment, ensuring that it remains healthy and capable of supporting human survival.
Those who support sustainability acknowledge that all the resources humans need to sustain life are derived from the natural environment, and we must maintain a delicate balance in terms of our use of resources within our ecosystem.
Therefore, a sustainable lifestyle involves using resources responsibly, without depleting them, so that future generations can utilize them. We can achieve this sustainability by reducing waste, conserving resources, using renewable energy, and minimizing our carbon footprints.
Why is Sustainability Important?
Sustainability is not only crucial for the preservation of the environment, but it’s also essential for the continued growth of humanity.
According to the United Nations, the status of the Earth’s sustainability is harrowing. Here are some notable stats:
- 17% of total food is wasted at the consumer level.
- 3% of the world’s food is lost after harvesting and before reaching markets.
- Nearly 1 in 3 people lack regular access to adequate food.
- Global carbon emissions continued to rise in 2022, exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
- To stave off the worst climate-related impacts, global greenhouse gas emissions will need to peak before 2025 and then decline by 43% by 2030.
- The ocean absorbs around 1/4 of global annual CO2 emissions.
- The food sector accounts for around 30% of the world’s total energy consumption and accounts for around 25-30% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
- Over the past 300 years, over 85% of the planet’s wetlands have been lost.
- 4 billion people still use inefficient and polluting cooking systems.
- 99% of the world’s urban population breathes 55% polluted air.
It’s easy to see that we aren’t heading in a good direction with regard to the sustainability of our planet. However, we can make small lifestyle changes that add up to a big impact.
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5 Sustainable Lifestyle Swaps
By adopting sustainable habits, you can ensure that future generations inherit a healthy and thriving Earth. Here are five simple changes you can implement this Earth Day and beyond.
1. Switch to Organic Produce
As you do your grocery shopping this week, make an effort to reach for only organic produce. Organic farmers use fewer pesticides, better protect the soil, reduce pollution, and work to increase plant biodiversity. Overall, these differences in farming practices ensure you still get the fresh veggies and fruits you love while supporting the environment.
2. Choose Sustainable and Local Foods
Certain foods require more resources to produce and cause more significant damage to the environment. However, sustainable foods are those that “satisfy human nutritional needs while limiting impacts on the environment,” according to Virginia Wesleyan University.
You can start by purchasing locally-sourced food from farmers’ markets to reduce your carbon footprint and include more sustainable foods in your diet. These foods may include beans and lentils, which require little water and have a low carbon footprint. Other sustainable foods include broccoli which naturally repels pests, reducing the need for pesticide use, and potatoes, which don’t require much water or fertilizer and can be stored for extended amounts of time without spoiling.
If you’re looking for a sustainable meat option, organic chicken is less harmful to the planet than beef or lamb. Additionally, mussels are an excellent seafood dinner option because harvesting them doesn’t damage coral reefs.
3. Try Cycling
While biking isn’t always an option for everyone, if you live somewhere with a bike-friendly commute, cycling can be an effective way to reduce your environmental impact while improving your health.
Cycling reduces the amount of harmful CO2 emissions in the atmosphere, lowers noise pollution, and limits the need for road work, which causes additional water and air pollution.
Try renting or purchasing a bike and take advantage of the warmer weather. If biking isn’t an option for you, consider taking public transportation or carpooling rather than driving to reduce your carbon footprint.
4. Revamp Your Skincare
Your skincare routine is another area of your life in which you can improve sustainability. Make sure to research clean brands with transparent ingredients and environmentally-friendly practices. Some brands even contribute a portion of sales to different sustainability initiatives.
Additionally, choose products that have recyclable packaging or are refillable to cut down on your plastic use and check labels to ensure products are as harm-free and cruelty-free as possible.
5. Invest in Sustainable Clothing
Fast fashion is terrible for the environment, and many fast fashion companies exploit their workers. If you have a habit of shopping at fast fashion stores, consider switching to sustainable clothing brands to reduce waste and environmental damage.
However, be sure to do your homework before making a purchase. The fashion industry still suffers from a lack of transparency, which makes doing your research about each company you support even more important. As Harvard Business Review details, most “sustainable” clothing brands aren’t necessarily sustainable; they’re just less unsustainable than the other ones.
Another excellent way to be more sustainable when it comes to clothing is to wear what you love for longer to cut down on clothes-related waste in landfills. Invest in high-quality clothing that will last you a long time. This could mean buying more neutral pieces that you can wear many ways and opting for classics over trendy pieces.
Lastly, when you do decide to part with your clothing, don’t throw it away. This will only contribute to landfills. Instead, try selling your clothing on a resale website to extend its lifecycle or donating it.
The Bottom Line
Sustainability is key to protecting the Earth’s future, and by making small lifestyle changes now, you can make a positive environmental impact that allows future generations to thrive.
To further optimize your well-being, take our free health and wellness assessment. This tool can give you insight into the progress you’re making toward living a more sustainable, productive, and fulfilling life.