As we are starting to see the very real effects of global warming and the disruptions to ecosystems that extinction causes, sustainability is becoming a priority for many people and companies. Companies and people alike are looking for ways they can reduce their carbon footprint, recycle, reuse, and generally leave the world better than they found it.
What Is Sustainability
Sustainability can take many forms, but it is essentially all about ensuring that flora, fauna, and natural resources are cared for in order to ensure their survival. Many actions are included under the umbrella of sustainability, including:
- Removing litter
- Protecting green corridors and natural habitats of animals
- Reducing packaging
- Reducing transport of goods
- Offsetting carbon footprint
- Switching to sustainable energy sources like solar power or wind power
- Reducing wastage
At the heart of sustainability is recognising that there are a finite number of resources, and the loss of these resources does not only affect humans but extremely delicate local ecosystems.
Who Is Responsible For Sustainability?
This is a hotly contested topic. Most sustainability information and efforts have happened on a personal and community level so far. People have switched to using fabric bags instead of plastic bags at supermarkets, reducing their electricity usage, and have become better at recycling. Communities have rallied to pick up litter or plant trees and gardens to improve the environment around them. However, it is companies that are the greatest polluters. It is the offices that are lit 24/7 for security purposes, the goods transported vast distances, and the excessive packaging they use that make the biggest impact on the environment.
At the end of the day, most of us cannot change the policy of companies, but we should not underestimate the power we hold as consumers. Spending money in a way that aligns with our values is the best way to create widespread change in the world. Companies may not pay attention to a handful of people asking for change, but they do pay attention to market trends. By spending your money with companies that focus on sustainability and care about the world around them, you can make companies sit up and pay attention.
So the answer to this question is that we can only be responsible for our own sustainability efforts; we cannot force even the people around us to live life in a more sustainable manner. Sometimes choosing recyclable packaging or cruelty-free products may seem like it's too small to make a difference. But when enough people make those changes, it causes widespread change. Just look at the difference Veganuary made in the UK. By making veganism more mainstream and encouraging people to try veganism for a month, more people adopted a vegetarian or vegan diet. Even those who go back to eating meat and animal products after trying Veganuary are more likely to eat vegan products on occasion or have a regular meat-free meal. In response to this increase in consumer behaviour, mainstream brands started vegan lines, and vegan and vegetarian companies increased the products they had on the market. This type of change can happen with other sustainability initiatives too.
How Can I Live More Sustainably?
If you want to reduce your environmental impact, then here are some tips for living in a more sustainable fashion. We have included a number of tips, both big and small, so you can choose the things that work best for your lifestyle. Not all of these will be possible or affordable for everyone, but you would be surprised at the impact that even one of these tips would make when done for a long time.
- Walk instead of taking the car or public transport for short trips
- Buy products with recyclable packaging
- Buy from companies that support environmental charities
- Use bins with lids for your rubbish and recycling to stop animals from spreading litter
- Turn off lights when you do not need them
- Set your air conditioning or heating to a schedule so that you don’t use it when it’s not needed
- Try a meat-free meal or day per week
- Only buy the food you need/know you will use
- Bring fabric bags to the supermarket instead of using plastic bags for life
- Catch public transport or carpool instead of driving alone
- Consider an electric vehicle when purchasing or leasing your next car
- Practise sustainable investing
- Donate clothes or furniture you no longer use rather than just sending them to the tip
- Join local groups to pick up rubbish on occasion
- Take a plastic bag and gloves and pick up some rubbish from time to time when you are walking
- Planting bee-friendly plants in your garden