Carbon footprint, climate change, and global warming are terms we have all heard, but did you know that it all starts with you and the choices you make? We create the trends and the demand which fuels each industry and their impact on our planet too. Sustainable living can be adopted in an instance, and in the smallest of ways.
Right, should we get started?
We aren’t talking about those resolutions or interventions that last all of a month at most, but rather simple and easy ways that we could make this Earth – our home – a little better for everyone and everything we share it with.
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
It’s nothing that you haven’t heard before, but it really works! It’s all about a shift in mindset. Buy less single use items such as takeaway cups, plastic grocery bags, straws, etc. If you are going to buy plastic, make sure you can use it again. Recycle everything that you can. While we may not all have weekly waste collectors that make recycling a little easier, most suburbs have depots and recycling centers where you can drop your plastic, glass, tins, paper and even polystyrene off to be recycled. No excuses!
2. Plant more trees, shrubs and flowers in your garden
Now doesn’t that sound lovely. Gardening is so good for the soul – get outside, get your fingers in the soil and take your shoes off, you may just be pleasantly surprised by how lovely it feels. Different species of plants attract different bird life, animals and insects. A healthy garden is one with bird songs, butterflies, lizards and happy insects which develop a good ecosystem. Remember, the more greenery the better. Trees and plants breathe in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. Our atmosphere is literally “breaking” due to the amount of harmful chemicals being released by man’s actions every day. Trees are the lungs of our Earth that help to act as a filter that cleans the air.
3. Fly and drive less, and if need be, catch a ride with a friend
As awful as 2020 may have been, one of the good things that it has taught us is the wonders of technology and having virtual meetings/gatherings. Ask yourself, is it necessary for you to fly to another province for a business meeting or could it rather be done online? Besides burning fewer fossil fuels, you may save quite a bit of money too. Now we aren’t saying everyone should lose their [socially distanced] social life, but rather think twice before jumping in your car. Could you kill two birds with one stone by heading to your meeting and getting some groceries on the way back in one trip rather than driving out twice? Could you maybe collect your business partner on the way too?
4. A reusable coffee cup, because who starts their day without a good cuppa
This one goes out to the coffee connoisseurs, most of which also need to drink more water. We are so spoilt for choice in terms of reusable coffee cups and water bottles. Ceramic, stainless steel, glass, recycled plastic, bamboo – you name it – some shop or other has it. Did you know that some coffee shops also offer a discount if you arrive with your reusable cup? You’re welcome! South Africa is blessed with good and clean water in most suburbs that is safe for drinking, you don’t need to buy plastic bottles containing water that is often filtered from a tap anyway. If you are unsure, invest in a filter for your home and fill your bottle before heading out.
5. You can’t forget your grocery bags if they’re in your car
We all know how terrible plastic shopping bags are for the environment, they have even been called South Africa’s national flower as we see them entangled in bushes and trees all over. Quickly stopping at the shops to get dinner and other supplies on your way home from work shouldn’t be an excuse for buying plastic. Get yourself a few good quality reusable bags and make it a habit to put them in your car boot after unpacking your groceries. In the long run, you will be saving both the planet and your wallet – when last did you notice the price of plastic bags?
6. Plant based is delicious!
Eating less meat can be beneficial to your health if it is done right – no one is going to feel fantastic eating just fruit and vegetables. Remember to enjoy legumes, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, seeds and grains too. Plant based diets are known to help regulate body weight, metabolism, enhance your mood and ability to concentrate with a clear mind. Meat production is one of the prime factors contributing to climate change. It pollutes the earth through animal methane, fossil fuel emissions, effluent waste and mass water and land consumption. If you couldn’t imagine giving up animal products completely, start with one day a week and see how you go. Jamie Oliver along with many other chefs and celebrities advocate for Meat Free Mondays, sharing their experiences and incredibly mouthwatering recipes. Go on, give it a try.
Living in a way that is kind – to the planet, people, and animals – is easier than we imagine. It’s about a shift in mindset. There are many more sustainable-living tips which we have not mentioned here, but let’s start with a few to get the momentum going. We can all make a difference, no matter how small it may seem. Remember, we only have one Earth, what will be left for our children, or our grandchildren? Here is to a happy, healthy, and greener you!