As we move ahead in this century, new words are being coined, and of all those, the buzzword is Sustainability. The dictionary defines it as “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.” The word is used excessively, in every sense, and is seen trending on the internet very frequently too. Companies work towards sustainable functioning, and businesses make it a point to state in their annual targets and reports, about what they aim to do sustainably. But the question which most of us do not think about, or if we do, are not able to answer, is what can be done at an individual level. If we analyze, individual actions, taken together become a major world-changing force and it is the same in the case of sustainability. Along my sustainability journey, I have seen many get inspired by the ongoing talk, start with an accelerated speed, and then crash with an equal speed to return to their previous lifestyle. Then comes the famous adage, ‘Sustainable lifestyle is HARD!’
Trust me, it is not hard. Yes, the adjustments are different, but not hard. It becomes difficult when people think to try to revamp their lifestyle all at once which ironically is often not sustainable. However, implementing small changes incrementally yields far more success. It is important to remember that one person is never solely responsible but is a contributor to sustainability efforts. Even a small effort makes a difference. Hence, I am going to list a few very simple and easy-to-follow steps that helped me on the sustainable journey a lot!
Carry a cloth bag
I am sure you have heard of this a lot because it works! Plastic bags are one of the major contributors to plastic waste because not many are in the habit of reusing those bags. A cloth bag, on the other hand, is reusable, sturdy, and reminds you every time, you are doing it for the planet! Keep a cloth bag in your car, in your handbag or backpack, or in whichever bag you carry. Keep it at a place near the door, so that you see it every time you go out, and do not forget to carry it. Although, if you do forget to carry it, and must get a plastic bag, fret not! Reuse that plastic bag, as many times as you can!
Carry your reusable water bottle
As sustainable warriors, you can fight the menace of single-use plastic bottles by carrying your own bottle, whenever you go out. Those bottles are smart, hygienic, and environmentally friendly. Carry your bottle, save the planet!
Let’s go a little back in time and start using the beautiful handkerchiefs and hand towels from the times gone by! Disposable wipes / wet wipes are mostly non-biodegradable and stay in the dump for long periods of time, nearly 100 years. Ummm… Could you think how many have you used in the last week?
Carry a compact glass and cutlery set
There are many options available in this section these days. Beautiful reusable cutlery sets and compact glasses can be carried easily in your bags and can be used anywhere. This way, you say no to using a plastic spoon, fork and knife every day (they are useless anyway). The feeling of eating food with nice, solid cutlery is blissful!
Get reusable straws
Do you know there are bamboo, steel and even glass straws available easily these days? And they look so classy! The paper straws we get are not recyclable, so they end up in landfills or oceans till they degrade. The plastic straws, well, are a whole story altogether. They are known as one of the biggest enemies of sea life. There are ample examples and videos of sea animals suffering by getting those awful straws stuck in their mouths, noses, eyes and other body parts because that is where all these are disposed of. The sea. Become a guardian of sea life and start using reusable straws.
Use reusable make-up remover pads
This gives you better skin than wet wipes! The removal is good, safe for your skin, saves money, and is environment friendly! What is not to like in this!
Becoming a plant parent is a bonus in your sustainable journey. They brighten your house, give you a reason to be responsible, and give you good air to breathe in too! And if you decide to grow herbs, then your food is going to be fresh and exquisite. Just some ‘food’ for thought!
Use sustainable menstrual products
Now, this is not talked about enough. Using sustainable menstrual products is not only environmentally friendly, but they also save you a ton of money too! A $10-15 menstrual cup can be used for around FIVE years! Imagine how much you would be saving on your sanitary pads! If that seems uncomfortable, the choice of using reusable pads or period underwear is always available.
There are so many ways we can contribute to the whole project of living a sustainable life, which is our duty. We owe this earth to our future generations. How we treat it today will determine how we would hand it over to them tomorrow. Let’s start by making only one change and that is of carrying a small reusable bag. We can do that for our planet. The options and choices are unlimited. The question is, would we choose them?
About the Author
Ravijot Kaur is a full-time MBA candidate and the Director of Communications & Media for SFU Beedie’s Net Impact Chapter.