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5 simple tips to live more sustainably: Less is More

As we witness the already increasing effects of climate change around us, it’s becoming increasingly clear that every choice we make affects our environment. In turn, that affects us. Slowly but steadily, consumers are becoming more and more aware, and are choosing brands that are ethical and environment-friendly.

However, it’s not just about what brands you choose: what you do in your everyday life can also make a huge difference. There is still a lot of work to be done by all of us, working together, to create a healthier future for everyone.

One of the best ways to go about it is adopting a ‘less-is-more’ policy. If we all embrace a sustainable lifestyle, we can ensure economic development and comfortable living, without compromising on the environment.

Some may wonder if this means we immediately need to start reducing everything we do, buy and consume. The answer? Not necessarily. Often, the solution lies in rethinking the way we do things.

We probably waste a lot of items, devices and products that have a lot more life left in them – either in their original form or in some alternative ways. Just getting that extra mileage from everything we already own can itself go a long way to reduce our negative environmental impact.

To understand more, we need to take a closer look into how literally everything we do has some kind of measurable impact on the world around us – often for the negative.

How do our choices impact the environment?

It’s a fact that nearly every kind of production or manufacturing of day-to-day consumables will result in some amount of wastage. This is usually dumped into either water bodies or landfills, where they decompose and often become toxic, adding to the climate change crisis.

Chemical plants, electrical power plants, automobile factories and real estate also add to air pollution and environmental damage due to green lands being cleared for these plants or edifices to be built.
However, these are large-scale polluters. Surprisingly, a lot of harm is also caused due to the habits of individuals, which all add up to some truly mind-boggling numbers. These can be roughly divided into 4 categories:

  • Food wastage: According to the UN, roughly one-third of food produced worldwide for human consumption is wasted. This is roughly 1.3 billion tonnes of food wasted every year, an economic loss of approximately US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries.1
  • Wastage from fast fashion: All those clothes we buy at a cheap discount and throw away after few uses? Most of those are not recycled but actually end up in landfills. Data shows that, out of the roughly 100 billion pieces of clothing produced annually, more than 90 million tonnes end up in landfills.2That means one garbage truck’s worth of clothes ends up in landfill sites every single second of every single day. Needless to say, the more we buy, the more gets produced, and the more gets wasted.
  • Electronic waste: Another huge segment of waste is all the electronics that people purchase, only to discard as soon as the next shiny new model is released. In 2021 alone, studies showed that more than 55 million tonnes of electronic waste was produced – in weight, that’s more than the Great Wall of China! This amount is growing by 3 or 4 % every year – spurred by marketing that encourages us to dump older models of phones and laptops for newer ones.3
  • Plastic waste: We saved the most common for last – yes, plastic waste is terrible, but the above forms of waste have not got enough attention compared to this one. The state of plastic pollution is dire –globally, plastic production doubled from 2000 to 2019, crossing 450 million tonnes. You know what else doubled in the same period? Plastic waste generation – crossing 350 million tonnes. Shockingly, only 9% of this was recycled.4

So, every time we throw away something that we could have used for longer – or should never have bought in the first place, let’s be honest – we are harming the planet.

This is why sustainable living is the need of the hour. Encouraging the consumption of wasteful products only harms all of us. Instead, adopting a sustainable lifestyle will drive companies to create healthy work environments, utilize natural resources responsibly and adopt careful waste management practices.

How can I develop a sustainable lifestyle?

It’s not hard. Simple modifications in our daily consumption habits will make a massive difference. Some of the basic changes we can make include:

  • saying no to single-use plastic bags
  • buy only what fruits, vegetables and meat you need so you don’t waste excess
  • reuse leftover food to make more innovative dishes
  • try to buy more organic and sustainably produced items for everything from consumables to clothes
  • using recyclable alternatives wherever possible, including containers, eco-friendly bags, clothes, etc.
  • carrying our own reusable bags every time to the grocery store or even for other kinds of shopping
  • having LEDs or compact fluorescent bulbs at home instead of incandescent bulbs to reduce energy consumption
  • not buying more electronic items than we need (most electronics, with good care, last for years, and newer models are often only slight improvements over existing ones)
  • purchasing eco-friendly clothes only when needed instead of splurging on fast fashion
  • choosing to walk or cycle at every possible opportunity, thus minimizing fuel utilization

Remember: Less is More. You don’t need to give in to every fad, buy the latest iteration of every product, own every new model that’s out in the market.

Every small change you make will have a big impact: on your life, on the lives of others, and in the long run, on the lifecycle of this planet itself.

Is it difficult to live a sustainable life?

Being sustainable in everything we do is a commitment and a promise we make to ourselves and our future. But we will not become perfect at it overnight. Start with small steps to become more comfortable. Patience and motivation are key factors for beginners.

You may forget your reusable cup once – but it is not a failure if you remember to put it in your backpack the next time. So, don’t beat yourself too much and always remember that you are making an impact globally, even if it is slowly.

5 simple yet significant tips for a sustainable lifestyle

  • Reduce, Recycle and Reuse: Buying fewer products overall, renting items we do not use frequently, repairing damaged electronic devices or objects instead of replacing them, and repurposing leftover food will help save energy and reduce greenhouse emissions. The key is to use and reuse every single item in our household and in our daily life as much as possible. With a little thought and creativity, it’s amazing how much use you can still get out of products that you thought had reached the end of their journey.
  • Save water, food and energy at home: As much as possible, switch to eco-friendly modes of electricity like solar. If that’s not possible, try to keep electricity and water usage to a minimum: switch off the AC when you’re not home, ensure to close all taps tightly, monitor your water usage for washing, bathing, etc. Rainwater harvesting, using toilets with dual flush, and water-saving shower heads also help save a good amount of water. When it comes to food, try not to waste anything – more importantly, try not to buy more than you need. Just limiting your purchases will go a long way to limiting your usage, and hence, your wastage.
  • Buy eco-friendly, sustainable products and produce: Toothpaste, soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners and perfumes all come in eco-friendly variations without plastic packaging. Wherever possible, use those instead – if that’s not possible, try to get toiletries in bulk. Toothpaste or shampoo doesn’t go bad even if you leave it on a shelf for a year. Similarly, while organic fruits and vegetables may be more expensive, they are often far better in quality. So, you may need to buy fewer of them to enjoy, thus making an overall positive.
  • Walk, cycle, use public transport or car-pool: Changing up your ways of commuting instead of using an individual car every day helps reduce a huge amount of energy consumption and toxic carbon emissions. Walking and cycling, of course, have the added benefit of helping you stay fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Buy brands with sustainable certifications: Do a bit of research and find out about the brand before you buy their product. This goes for everything from electronics to food to clothes to furniture – you name it, there is possibly an earth-friendly brand for it. Choosing brands whose products have a limited effect on the environment, which take care of the local communities, and encourage sustainable practices with their producers, vendors and manufacturers, can ensure you not only do your bit, but also push them to do theirs by patronizing them instead of other competitors.

If you follow all these simple steps, and if every person you know also does the same, the power of collective action will bring about benefits in the long run. So let us all commit today to doing our bit for the planet. Remember: Small acts, big impacts.