Sustainability is a word we hear often… but what does it really mean? To put it simply, sustainability is the process of meeting our current needs without compromising the needs of the future. We only have so many resources available to us here on Earth, so it’s important to be wise about how we use them so that future generations have the resources they need to be happy and healthy. Many of the products we use every day have the potential for a second life. All it takes is a little resourcefulness to make sure that they reach their full potential. Below are three simple changes that anyone can make to live a more sustainable life.
Shopping for secondhand clothing, furniture, and home décor is a great way to reduce waste and, in turn, our environmental impact. The processes involved in making and transporting our clothes uses a lot of natural resources and releases pollutants into our air, water, and soil. In the past, it was common for fashion companies to make up to two seasons of clothing in a year. With the rise of fast fashion, some companies are making up to 52 micro-seasons in a year. Oftentimes the clothing is cheaper and makes its trip from the wardrobe to the trash much sooner. Instead of driving up the demand for new clothes, shopping secondhand allows us to save clothes from the landfill and avoid any more unnecessary production.
Avoid Single-Use Plastics
Single-use plastics like grocery bags, plastic utensils, and water bottles are products that can only be used once and then end up in the trash. These products have a major impact on our environment because they can take hundreds of years to break down, and often end up in our oceans and rivers. When plastics do break down, they typically become smaller undetectable pieces called microplastics, which can be ingested by wildlife. In fact, a recent study found that 17 out of 22 people studied had microplastics in their bloodstream. Don’t stress out yet though – avoiding single-use plastics can be very easy. You can switch out your single-use plastics for items that have much less impact on the environment, such as reusable water bottles, grocery bags, food containers, and utensils. If you must use single-use plastics, you can try giving them a second life by reusing your plastic wherever you can.
It’s understandable that many people believe their food waste will naturally break down when it goes to a landfill, but that simply isn’t the case. In order to break down properly, organic material such as food needs the right amount of oxygen and heat – two things a landfill does not have. Landfills are airtight, meaning bacteria are primarily breaking down the waste and releasing harmful gasses in the process. Composting allows the food to break down more naturally and rapidly without releasing harmful gasses into our air, and it becomes a natural fertilizer that can be used for gardening. It doesn’t require much to get started. All you need is a scoop of dirt, greens (i.e., vegetable and fruit scraps), and browns (i.e., paper, dead leaves, or lawn clippings). Once you have a good pile of organic material, you just need to give it the occasional mix. In about month you should have a perfectly natural fertilizer for all your gardening needs. Learn more about at-home composting here.