What is Sustainable Living?
Updated: Mar 18, 2021
"It is both our individual and collective responsibility to nurture and protect
the earth we live on."
Sustainability, it's far more than just a trendy buzzword that has recently been thrown around. Why does this word hold so much weight? Well, it is extremely important for a very straightforward reason: our life here on Earth depends on it!
In the last few decades alone we have managed to steer far away from one of our fundamental reasons for existence, to live in harmony with nature! As a result, our planet is wounded, clearly communicating to us that it can't take much more of the destruction. When we recognize this reality, we remember that our mark here should not be one with a detrimental impact. Rather, that it is both our individual and collective responsibility to nurture and protect the earth we live on. But how can we go about that without knowing why and where to start? Let's dive in!
What Does It Mean To Live Sustainably?
Sustainable living describes a lifestyle that encourages people to reduce the demand for the Earth's natural resources. We can do this by minimizing our personal and societal impact on our environment. In other words, reducing our "carbon footprint". You can actually see your current carbon footprint here using the World Wildlife Funds Environmental Footprint Calculator.
Reasons Why You Should Make The Transition Into A More Sustainable Lifestyle
While many may choose to ignore it, the unfortunate truth is that every other living system on the planet is on a fast decline. And though I'm not here to write a novel about it, I want to recognize the importance of looking into the current condition of our planet, no matter how hard it may be to swallow. When we become aware of it, we are able to use it as a catalyst to jump-start changes in our day-to-day life.
With our never-ending want for more "stuff", we are gobbling up the planet's finite resources. Everything from the overuse of fossil fuels, ongoing deforestation, to the demand for more single-use items, and even the processed foods we eat. These habits are just a few factors that play a role in the huge amounts of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, global temperatures rising, extinction of millions of species, loss of fertile topsoil, and increased diseases like cancer, and depression. The list could go on and on... They aren't things we want, for ourselves or for future generations.
Now let's take a look at a few other complex ideas behind sustainable living before we discuss how to start the practical side of this lifestyle!
What is the Goal of Sustainable Living?
Everybody has the right to a healthy, clean, and safe environment. Not only do global environmental threats need to be reduced to protect human and environmental health, but also reducing economic inequality and societal issues. For example, reducing inflation and solving unemployment for a better economy. And reducing poverty and homelessness for a healthy society.
Environmental protection, social equality, and economic development together create the ultimate goal of global sustainability.
The three should live in harmony with one another, though today we find them often contradicting each other. But, we cannot have one without the other. And while what we are mainly discussing here today is environmental sustainability, it is important to keep in mind that without societal and economic means, it is vulnerable to collapse. With that being said, of course, there are decisions being made in this world that are beyond our control, which is why the people we vote into government should prioritize sustainability. On the other hand, we as individuals must remember that we also have tremendous power in the way we choose to live.
What Does Sustainable Living Look Like?
Reducing our impact on the plant and making eco-friendly choices: sounds simple enough... right?
The truth is, there is no "one size fits all" in sustainability. It is a personal interpretation and will be unique to your location and living conditions. However, there ARE many lifestyle tweaks and actions that together create a much more sustainable way of living.
To learn how you can practice sustainable living in your day-to-day life read my post on the "7Rs of Sustainability"! There you will learn the most crucial components of how you can make choices that protect our environment, one step at a time.
You can also check out "Green Choices", a simple guide for introducing eco-friendly changes into your lifestyle.
Sustainable living exists on a spectrum. Individuals can adopt a variety of different practices in their everyday life to help the environment. No change is too small. If everyone does their part, it can make a HUGE impact on the health of our environment and the future of our Earth. Become a leading example in your local community by engaging others to take small steps toward a more sustainable lifestyle! That's exactly what we do at Kids in Nutrition; through empowering youth to make small dietary changes in everyday life, we hope to create and support a more sustainable food system for generations to come. Check out our food sustainability curriculum for more information!