(3 minute read)
Many people would like to be more sustainable but not everyone wants to, or is prepared to, change their entire lifestyle. The people who do are my heroes, but I am not that disciplined!
So how can ‘ordinary people’ live a more sustainable lifestyle without changing everything that makes them who they are?
Well there are some really interesting ways in which you can do this. You probably know about things like recycling, cutting down your energy bills by switching off lights and plug sockets and turning off the tap so you don’t waste water. You probably also know that you would be doing the environment a favour if you took public transport to work instead of driving. So if you write out your impacts on the environment it would look something like this:
But there is more to it than this. Have a think about the things that make you “you”. I don’t know about you but I don’t define myself entirely by the electricity I use and the way I travel.
So let’s expand that horizon. What else do you do?
Presumably you buy food, clothing and electronics/furniture/decor. If you’re lucky you will be able to take a couple of holidays a year, or maybe even more. What about your hobbies? Personally mine include drinking gin and dancing but that’s just me. You also have a job or a purpose or a mission or something that defines your days (or nights). Whether you are a homemaker (one of the hardest jobs of all as far as I’m concerned) or a student (which has its moments!) or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company this is likely to be the one thing that you do that takes up the majority of your time (after sleeping – I love sleeping).
Let’s take a look at what that expanded horizon looks like:
Ok, so you now have a more complete picture of your activities, which allows us to look at what the impacts of those activities might be and think about ways in which you might be able to make changes.
Some of the questions you can ask yourself include:
Where does my food come from? How much packaging does it come in? Can that packaging be recycled?How much meat do I eat? Are there some substitutes for meat, or can I cut down the proportion of meat in my meals without too much hassle? (Also a great way to save money, fyi) Where do my clothes come from? Do I buy durable clothing or do I frequently throw things away because they fall apart? Where do I get my furniture from? What is it made of? When I get rid of furniture do I send it to a charity shop or do I just throw it out? Could I refurbish it instead of throwing it? Do I really need to buy all that bottled water, or can I make do with tap water? Where do I shop? Are there alternatives that I can use that are more sustainable? What about my job? Do I work for a sustainable company? Do I do everything I can in my job to help my company be more sustainable?
Now you may already have thought about the answers to some of these questions but there may be some that you hadn’t previously thought of. Have a think about your impacts – what can you do differently that you hadn’t thought of before?
The good news is that there is a lot of information out there to help you on your journey. The great news is that many of the changes you can make have the potential not only to save you money but also make you happier and healthier in the process. Positive impacts on the environment are just the icing on the cake!
I am a sustainability coach with 10 years experience in the sustainability sector. I can help you understand how to identify your material impacts on the environment and start mapping out a path to a more sustainable lifestyle. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.