9 ways to be more sustainable in your everyday life
28 May 2018
How would you like to make a difference to our planet and start living more sustainably? Well the good news is we've got some suggestions for how to make your everyday life more sustainable. From buying locally to saying goodbye to plastic bottles for good, here are our best sustainable living tips.
Want to be more sustainable in your everyday life, but aren't quite sure where to begin? Well, you're not alone! According to an IKEA report, almost half of us Aussies don't know where to start when it comes to living in a more eco-friendly way.
But we're here to help, with some great tips for how to be more socially and environmentally aware in the way you live your life. Starting small is the key. By taking little actions at home, at work, when shopping, on your daily commute and even through making more sustainable investment choices, you can contribute to a cleaner planet for us all.
1. Eat more plant-based meals
Reducing your meat and dairy intake is one way of leading a more sustainable life.
We Aussies love our meat. Whether it's thrown on to the BBQ, sliced up in our sandwiches, or served with gravy for Sunday roasts at mum's place, meat is a key component of our diets. And we also love our animal products—from yoghurt on our WeetBix to some cheeky cheese on crackers.
However, it might be wise to rethink your consumption of meat and dairy, as farming livestock has a severe impact on our environment. Deforestation from cattle farming releases 340 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each year, Greenpeace estimates.
Simply eating less meat and dairy and choosing more plant-based and dairy-free meals will have a positive impact on our environment.
2. Buy locally
When you buy your groceries from the supermarket, there's a good chance you're buying a lot of imported products that have travelled a long way to get to the shelves. This obviously involves a lot of energy that could be reduced by buying food produced in your local area.
Buying local produce means less carbon has been emitted to get the food to you, making it better for the environment. Plus, it helps local farmers and businesses, which is a win for your community.
Buying local produce is more sustainable than buying imported goods, as it hasn't been transported so far.
3. Use those leftovers
Did you know that we waste a third of the food we buy? That's right, Aussies chuck out $8 billion worth of food every single year, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Consider all the resources that went into growing, transporting, packaging, marketing and selling that food. Probably a lot, right?
But you can avoid wasting so much food by making the most of your leftovers. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Use leftover vegetables to make veggie soup. You can freeze it and take it out on those chillier winter evenings.
- Use leftover fruit to make jams and preserves. You can use these yourself or give to family and friends as gifts.
- Create a compost bin so that your waste gives back to the earth, instead of rotting in landfills where it creates greenhouse gases like methane.
4. Build a worm farm
Another great way to deal with your food waste responsibly is to build a worm farm, an alternative to a standard compost heap. Once you set them up, worm farms don't take much time or effort to manage, and as Clean Up Australia points out, can greatly reduce toxic landfill waste. The worms will eat your food scraps and turn them into a fertiliser for your garden.
5. Stop using plastic bottles and bags
Every day, 10 million plastic bags are used in Australia, according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS). Because they don't break down (plastic lasts for between 20-1,000 years, says the WWF), plastic bags are one of the most harmful materials for our planet, in particular marine wildlife. The ACMS estimates that plastics kill around 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year.
Plastics kill around one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year.
Plastic bottles are also incredibly harmful. Most bottled water is packaged using PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles, which are derived from crude oil, and fossil fuels are used to transport the bottles around the world. Like plastic bags, a lot of plastic bottles also end up in landfill, where they can remain for hundreds of years, or end up in the sea endangering marine animals.
By swapping your single-use plastic bottles for refillable bottles, you'll be helping to ensure that our beautiful marine wildlife is still around for generations to come.
6. Install LED lighting
Energy use is another area that you can focus on if you'd like to live in a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly way. We Aussies produce more than a third of our harmful emissions from electricity consumption, the WWF points out. By switching to more energy efficient solutions, you can reduce your carbon footprint—and as a bonus save some money in the process!
Switching your incandescent or halogen light bulbs for LEDs saves electricity, helping conserve energy and save money!
The Australian Government recommends using LED light bulbs, which are four to seven times more efficient than incandescents or halogens. They are a bit more expensive to buy, but they'll last longer and save you money on your electricity bill over time, so they're worth the investment.
7. Try making your own soap
Many liquid soaps contain parabens, detergents and emulsifiers like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and ammonium lauryl sulfate—all chemicals we'd like to keep away from our waterways! You can make your own soap that is free from these chemicals at home, with just a few basic ingredients like distilled water, caustic soda, olive oil and essential oils for fragrance.
And why stop there? Bath bombs, shower gels, and other face and body products can all be made by hand.
8. Walk or bike to work more often
Do your bit to help the environment by cycling to work.
Another great way to be sustainable in your everyday life is to change the way you commute. You can start small: Cycle to work a few days a week instead of driving or catching public transport.
It also helps to have some company, so get your work mates, family or friends involved and turn your daily commute into a social activity!
9. Switch your super fund
Many Australian super funds invest in companies that contribute to environmental degradation and poor health. That's why it's vital you find out where your super fund is investing your money. Or, simply make the switch to Local Government Super to be safe in the knowledge that we make socially responsible investment choices.
We hope these sustainability tips have inspired you to jump on board the growing sustainable investment movement! Get started by joining Local Government Super today.
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