The importance of sustainable living has increased with growing industrialisation and modernisation. However, the concept of sustainability and its importance has been known since ancient times. In recent years, it has become common for families to own more than one car, buy excess products, foods and imported produce; and various other habits emphasising the importance of living a sustainable life.
So what is sustainable living?
The basic principle behind sustainable living is to incorporate sustainability into our daily lives. Sustainability aims at using minimum resources from the earth and saving for the future generations. Over the recent years, human population has exploited resources from the earth without thinking much about the future consequences. As a result, the natural balance of earth has been disturbed leading to a depletion of many non-renewable sources and a rise in atmospheric greenhouse gases. Moreover, there has been a rapid increase in the global carbon footprint. To continue making earth habitable, it is essential to understand the importance of sustainable living and to actively practice it.
How can we live a sustainable life?
Certain changes in lifestyle would ensure sustainable living in the daily life of an individual. Sustainable living also leads to a reduced carbon footprint, which refers to the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by an organisation or individual or a group of individuals.
Conserving energy by replacing energy produced by burning of fossil fuels with that generated from solar, wind and hydro energy:
The overall energy consumption has increased globally during the recent years. Energy produced by burning fossil fuels can be substituted by renewable forms such as solar energy, hydroelectricity and wind energy. Using solar panels, solar heaters and wind turbines where there is sufficient wind velocity, helps conserving energy, fossil fuels and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Other measures such as switching off lights when not in use, turning off taps to prevent water being wasted are simple steps that can be incorporated in daily lives of every individual. In places which receive heavy rainfall, rainwater harvesting systems can be installed to capture, store and use rain water. This also saves energy invested in transporting water from one source to the other by means of tanks and pipes.
Reuse and recycle: One of the ways in which earth’s resources can be used wisely is to apply the principle of reuse and recycle. Reuse refers to using a raw or finished product in the same form. Whereas, recycle means modifying a raw or finished product into a different form making it useable. A simple step we all can use in our households is to segregate wastes into bio-waste, recyclable waste and general waste. Bio-waste can be as compost or organic fertiliser. Segregating wastes makes it easy to reuse or recycle them which also helps in reducing one’s carbon footprint. Buying only what we need reduces the quantity of waste generated, which further lowers the carbon footprint.
Transportation: These days, many families have more than one car and not everyone prefers walking or using public transport. By choosing public transport over private vehicles as much as possible, we can contribute to reduced exhaust emissions. This measure also supports the decrease in carbon footprint.
Use local food: Choosing locally grown and seasonally available food over exported food helps lower one’s carbon footprint. When transported miles to reach supermarkets, fruits and vegetables undergo artificial packaging lowering their nutritive value. Consuming local food also supports the local farmers and improves the economy in the community level.
Prefer vegetarian food: For the production of meat, large acres of land and massive quantities of water are utilised. High consumption of animal meat may lead to cardiovascular diseases. Incorporating more vegetarian food in one’s diet helps reducing carbon footprint and also enables in living a healthier life. To live a sustainable life, it is not necessary to completely cut off meat from one’s diet, but to reduce the quantity of meat consumed. Flexitarian is a new concept which means preferring a diet with lots of vegetable over a meaty diet. It is a relatively healthier and more eco friendly lifestyle. It also helps support a person’s lifestyle who is used to a meaty diet, because it does not involve giving up any meat but eating in moderation.
Sustainable agricultural practices such as crop rotation: Crops grown in one location tend may lead to the infestation of that location by pests specific for that crop. To prevent crop damage when grown next, and to maintain a healthy soil, it is advised to practice crop rotation. In crop rotation, the location of the crops grown are changed and switched with other crops. This helps produce disease free and nutritious crops.
Sustainable organic farming can be preferred over conventional agricultural practices. Sustainable organic farming has been known to increase biodiversity and minimise environmental impacts. In sustainable organic farming, small mixed plots are usually grown with minimum or no use of chemical fertilisers. Such a practice also promotes locally grown crops. Clover may be added to the plots as a source of nutrients.
Plant more trees:
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas contributing to climate changes. Trees absorb CO2 and release oxygen (O2), a process which helps in reducing excess carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere. Planting more trees helps to combat the increased level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and maintain a cooler climate.
This article highlights some of the steps we can include in our daily lives to practice sustainability. Adopting any or all of the various steps mentioned above, would enable us to live a sustainable or green life with ease. Sustainable living is a lifestyle which also supports a better living for the generations to come.