Do you want to live a more sustainable, more meaningful, zero waste life that reduces your impact on the planet and improves your health and quality of life?
While this is something almost everyone would like to do, actually going about this may seem overwhelming at first but it really doesn’t have to be! In this article I have put together some basic principles to start your journey to sustainable living.
These points form a solid foundation which will leave you able to explore the realm of zero waste and sustainable living in your own way and own time.
The Goal isn’t Perfection
The most important thing to realise that when starting with zero waste lifestyle is that you are not aiming for perfection. Often we can put put off by the difficulty and immensity of perfecting zero waste and because it can seem so unattainable we often end up not trying at all.
In truth, the most important thing is to start anywhere, to act and to do no matter how small it may seem, every small act really does make a difference. When you start with small changes you get a sense of satisfaction and achievement and these small changes start to add up and grow and over time eventually add up to something very significant. Every act you take to improve is making a difference and that’s what matters.
At the core of going zero waste and living sustainably is changing the way in which we consume. Our current mindset is that more is better and the more we buy and the more we own the happier we will be.
Unfortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth, this whole notion that consuming more will make us happier was something created by industries and marketers so they could simply sell us more and generate bigger profits.
Going minimal means seriously reevaluating what you want to keep in your life and what is just adding to the clutter. I find the two most important aspects to consider is the practical function of the object and the joy it brings it brings to my life. If I have no actual use for something or if I never actually take a moment to appreciate its beauty then that would be something I no longer need in my life.
Please remember to be mindful when getting rid of something in your life and only use the bin as a last resort. There are many organisations that will gladly accept your unwanted stuff.
The next important process in going minimal is to be conscious before even purchasing something. You simply need to ask yourself if realistically you will actually use the object or if it will actually add value to your life.
Check out The Minimalists for some great tips on living a more minimal, more meaningful life.
Eat More Plants & Less Meat
The meat and dairy industry is one of the most polluting and resource intensive industries on the planet. If you really want to cut down on your carbon footprint and see significant health improvements start to reduce your meat consumption and include more plant based foods in your diet.
Again this is a gradual process, if you are used to eating meat every day try a few meat free days a week and as you start to get used to and start enjoying plant based meals trying increasing this to a place you feel comfortable with. Another important note is that not all meats have an equal footprint. Beef and other read meats definitely top the list so if you’re not ready to give up meat yet try eating more sustainable options such as chicken and fish.
When choosing plant based foods it is also important to opt for the wholefood option. This means foods that haven’t been processed and made into other products. Wholefoods are essential to healthy living are contain a wide variety of nutrients your body needs to thrive. Processed foods are more often than not also heavily packaged in plastic so by transitioning to a whole foods diet you’ll also get the added bonus of cutting down on your packaging waste.
A large amount of the products you find at the supermarket will have traveled hundreds or thousands of kilometers to get there resulting in huge amounts of carbon emissions needed to get them there.
When food shopping rather opt for your local organic grocery or farmer’s market as these products will more than likely been grown locally. As you also start to incorporate minimalism into your life you’ll also start to find that most of the excess things that you purchase are the things that are most often imported.
By supporting local businesses, industries and initiatives you’ll also be directly benefiting your local community and entrepreneurs.
Usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of zero waste is plastic. Over the past few decades plastic waste has had an enormous and devastating impact on our environment. Millions of tonnes are sent to landfill or end up in our oceans every year, plastic pollution has become a sight almost impossible to get away from.
One of the simplest ways you can cut down on your plastic waste is to shop package-free. This means bringing you own containers or produce bags to a store that offers bulk options and filling up your reusable containers. Here at The Daily Goods Store we also offer an online system where we sell our products in reusable and returnable containers or compostable paper bags.
You can visit Zero Waste Home’s Bulk Finder to find your nearest package-free shop. If do not yet have a store that offers bulk options in your area a great solution is to eco-brick your unavoidable plastic waste.
Reconnect with Nature
Personally I feel this is one of the most if not the most important point when it comes to living sustainably though is often one of the least talked about points.
It is all very good and well to take actionable steps to help reduce your impact and make a positive change on the natural world but if you have no physical connection to nature it can often leave you feeling unmotivated and uninspired to make any changes.
The key in living more sustainably is connecting to the natural world that you are trying to help and you can do this in so many simple ways, taking a walk in the forest or park, swimming in the ocean and just really taking a moment (just a tiny bit every day) to be outside in the natural world.
This will not only increase your motivation when it comes to environmental conservation, as you will feel a direct connection with nature, but also do wonders for your physical and mental well-being.
Now that you know the basics to living more sustainably you can get started on your journey or if you already have, you can look at ways that you can improve and further reduce your impact on the environment.
But most importantly it is the journey that counts, so make it fun, always continue educate yourself about the ways in which you can live with a smaller footprint and take time to reflect and commend yourself on how far you have come.
What are your most basic principles when it comes to living sustainably? Let us know in the comments below.