Why is Sustainable Living so Important?

The term "sustainable living" has been around for a long time, but we're hearing it used more often these days as the effects of the climate crisis really start to bite.

People are beginning to realise that we need to change the way we live, so that future generations can enjoy the same quality of life we have today. It's not being melodramatic to state that the future of our planet depends on it.

But what does sustainable living actually mean? What are its benefits, and is it really even possible? Let's find out.

What does Sustainable Living Mean?

Before we answer the question of "why is sustainable living important," we need to make sure that we fully understand what it means.

the meaning of sustainable living

Sustainable living means that we live with the Earth's resources in mind, and that we use them responsibly so that future generations have the chance to live a healthy and prosperous life.

It means that we should reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and minimize our carbon footprint. We should use less energy, water, gas, electricity, or any other resource to keep our home in balance.

Sustainable living also means both individuals and businesses not over-using these resources for selfish goals such as economic gains.

So essentially, the term "sustainable living" is an idea or belief about how to live more responsibly on this planet. It is often used interchangeably with "zero waste" although the meaning is slightly different.

What's the Difference Between Sustainable and Zero Waste Living

There's quite a lot of overlap between sustainable living and zero waste.

When people talk about zero waste they are focusing mainly on he problem of trash - particularly plastic waste, food waste or e-waste. The zero waste movement is about using sustainable products made from biodegradable materials, and about re-using what we already have instead of throwing it away.

Our easy tips on zero waste living will show you how this could work for you.

Sustainable living is a much broader concept that also incorporates energy use, carbon emissions and climate change.

At the end of the day, the goal is the same - making positive lifestyle choices that help protect the earth.

What are the Benefits of a Sustainable Lifestyle?

There are many reasons why living sustainably is important, and why we should continue to work towards a sustainable lifestyle.

benefits of sustainable lifestyle

 

Saves Money

Even if some people (rather selfishly) don't care about environmental sustainability, we all surely care about our bank balance. So the good news is that leading a more sustainable lifestyle is good for your wallet as well as for the planet.

Here are some ways in which sustainable habits can save you money.

  • You'll get permanently lower utility bills when you reduce your energy consumption and water usage.
  • Or, you could eliminate your bills entirely by using renewable energy sources such as solar panels in your home.
  • Pay less for groceries when you eliminate food waste and only buy what you need. Shop at local farmers markets to buy cheaper, healthier food without disposable packaging,
  • You'll also pay less at the fuel pump by switching to more fuel efficient or even electric cars, or using public transportation.
  • The many health benefits of sustainable living (see below) will result in lower medical costs for you and your family.
  • Climate change will result in huge additional costs for everybody. This can still be avoided if we cut greenhouse gas emissions in time.

Although money shouldn't be the main motivator here, it does make great financial sense to live sustainably. With just a few changes, the savings can really add up.

Improves Your Health

Many people experience improved health after making the transition to sustainable living. A cleaner home with low expenses is good for your wallet, and a cleaner planet is also good for your body in several ways:

  • Air pollution kills millions of people every year. Better air quality in our towns and cities mean you breathe in less toxic pollutants.
  • You'll improve your diet by cutting down on red meats and processed foods, and eating more sustainable food.
  • Get more exercise, lose weight and help your heart by walking or cycling more often.
  • Plastic waste gets into our food chain and drinking water. Switch to reusable bottles and reusable bags, and there's less chance of your plastic waste ending up in your dinner.

So if you truly value your health, it's pretty obvious that a sustainable lifestyle has many health benefits both now and in the future.

Saves the Environment

The lifestyle we live today, and have been living for the past half century, has had a catastrophic environmental impact. This needs to be stopped now if they planet is to have any chance to recover.

Sustainable living means that future generations can continue to enjoy nature and all of its benefits.

  • Reduce the environmental damage caused by plastic pollution by saying no to plastic bags and bottles.
  • Fight climate change by reducing our carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduce the impact on our lakes, rivers and oceans by consuming less water and releasing fewer harmful chemicals into the water you do use.
  • Stop destruction of natural habitats

Put simply, living sustainably is the only way that we can give our planet and our species a chance to survive in the long term.

Conserves Natural Resources

It is important to conserve and use natural resources responsibly and carefully, and not put our own needs ahead of our children's and grandchildren's futures.

If we continue to take and not replace, we're going to compromise the ability of future generations to achieve a healthy, comfortable life.

Creates a More Sustainable Economy

Sustainable living provides an opportunity for economic development. Investment in sustainability creates green jobs, which can have a positive economic impact for local communities as well as the environment.

Sustainable practices build community. If I purchase recycled materials, then my local small business owner benefits. The more materials that are recycled, the less need there is for harvesting new materials. Local people all over the world can benefit.

The Goal of Sustainable Living

sustainability goals

The goal of sustainable living is to meet the present needs of humans, without compromising the ability of future generations to enjoy an equal quality of life.

This means using less energy and natural resources, and producing less waste and pollution. This method minimizes negative impacts on the environment while improving our lives.

Are Sustainable Practices More Expensive?

Sustainable living is not more expensive it just requires some changes in the way we live.

Some people will say that sustainable lifestyles will result in higher costs, but in many cases the opposite is true.

Often, when you buy "green" products, even if the up front cost is higher, you save money in the long term.

  • For example, LED light bulbs use up to 90% less energy than traditional bulbs and last up to 25 times longer. This means you don't have to buy replacement light bulbs so often. And because LED light bulbs use less energy, your monthly energy bills are reduced.
  • Another example of how sustainable living can reduce your expenses is seen in heating and cooling your home. When you invest in insulation for your home, this will result in lower heat and air conditioning costs during the summer and winter months which can reduce heating and cooling bills by 20%-50%.
  • Also living a sustainable life means that you save money because of reduced car maintenance. You do not have to replace air filters as often or buy gasoline or oil as frequently. You also need to replace your car's brakes and transmission less so you save money on major car repairs.

It is true that some eco-friendly products such as clothing or cosmetics can appear more expensive.

This is because they aren't mass produced, so they cost more to make. But mass production by big brands often causes the most damage to the environment.

Also, the more people switch to eco-friendly brands that promote sustainability, the cheaper they'll get.

Is it Really Possible to Live Sustainably in 2021?

Yes, it is possible. We can all do our little bit to make this a sustainable planet. What you can do to live a more sustainable life does not mean your quality of life needs to get worse. It just requires some changes in our daily routine.

What one person does has a ripple effect throughout society. If you set a good example, others will notice and they will follow suit.

It is important to be an eco-friendly consumer, which means shopping for products with minimal environmental impact.

You'll find many examples of eco-friendly products when you browse this website. In most cases they're cleaner, greener, healthier and better quality than the brands you're using now.

People all around the world are waking up and beginning to take steps towards sustainability, and reaping the benefits. Cleaner air, less waste and less pollution helps improve a healthier environment for our local community.

Social activity also helps by promoting policy development within government. Simply put, a sustainably conscious community can directly affect a community’s health.

What Does Sustainable Living Look Like?

how to live sustainably

So we've established that we need to live sustainably, we know the benefits of doing so and the consequences if we don't.

But exactly how can sustainable living be achieved? What lifestyle changes do we need to make?

The good news is that it's not as drastic as most people think. Just making a few positive changes can make a real difference, and sustainability doesn't need to impact your quality of life. In fact, it'll probably improve.

How To Start Your Sustainable Lifestyle Today

  • Stop using fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy sources instead.
  • Drive less. Walk, cycle or take public transport whenever possible.
  • Shop local. Goods and foods carry a carbon footprint whenever they are transported.
  • Buy less stuff! Don't be wasteful, only buy what you actually need.
  • Stop buying single use products. Reuse whenever possible, and buy compostable or recyclable products if they can't be reused.
  • Don't skimp on the recycling! Always put your trash in the right bins.
  • Eat less meat, particularly red meat. You don't need to stop eating it entirely, just cut down!

These are the steps we need to take to live sustainably, and it doesn't need to be hard. When future generations look back at our time, they will either see us as the generation that ruined the planet, or saved it.

Now is the time to decide what we want our legacy to be.

With her Master of Science in Renewable Energy Engineering (MSREE) from Oregon Tech, Steph is supremely well qualified to write on all aspects of renewable energy. She has already achieved a zero carbon footprint and her goal is to help as many other people as possible do the same. Her other hobbies include music, yoga, swimming and horror movies.
Stephanie Cole
With her Master of Science in Renewable Energy Engineering (MSREE) from Oregon Tech, Steph is supremely well qualified to write on all aspects of renewable energy. She has already achieved a zero carbon footprint and her goal is to help as many other people as possible do the same. Her other hobbies include music, yoga, swimming and horror movies.

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