5 Ways to Live More Sustainably in the U.S.
This article is part of series called living sustainably for 30 days.
A person who has health has a hundred goals. A person who does not have health has but one goal. ~Ancient proverb
Living sustainably has been in the media in and out for quite some time. Awareness is key but how can we as a culture come to a better understanding of it with lifestyle action? Let’s face it. Sometimes it’s not simple to live sustainably. Why? Well, we live in the U.S. which sometimes means the epitome of consumption. Truth be told. But I have to ask at what cost? So this brings me to the purpose of this post.
What is living sustainably anyway and why should you care?
Frankly, sustainable living is really about where your dollars and where they going with the people, planet and your community in mind. It can be challenging living sustainably all the time and there is no perfect scenario. I have been living sustainably for about 8 years and it’s still challenging. For example, one of my goals is to eat well so I buy mostly at local grocers and farmer’s markets. Am I perfect? No. But what helps is my strategy. So, I am going to really discuss money and sustainability and how they really go hand in hand.
1. Budget: I know, it’s the B word. Don’t cringe. It’s inevitable thing. Your funds are the most important aspect of adulthood and wasting them away is no fun especially as you consider your retirement goals. But I digress. I am not a financial advisor. However, it’s imperative to have budget in life and having a small budget for this even at the most basic level is a good start. It can begin with the basics like soap or personal items like grocery bags. Things don’t have to be so expensive. IT really can begin with small steps that over time make huge progress. Hey and having a bag for groceries is good because a lot of local counties are now banning plastic bags because they are so terrible for the environment. Did you know the city of San Diego council banned the plastic bags making San Diego one of the last cities in California to adopt the ban on plastic check out bags at large grocery stores, pharmacies, and corner stores? Plastic bags end up in land fills and pollute canyons, rivers and other beautiful places, so NO BUENO.
Action tip: So what’s next? Complete your budget you have going (or begin it asap) then set one expense for a sustainable one. This sustainable expense can be for one sole product or it can be for several products can be for daily products such as soap or lunch products that can be a money saver and add up over time. Also, if you are active person and eat outdoors buying compostable silverware or reusable picnic items are good to have on your next adventure. You can even indulge for beautiful toiletries products for everyday usage. It really is about budgeting, starting small, and enjoying your product. Same goes for socks, handbags, and hats. So go ahead indulge and know you are buying quality that will last and help people. Sustainable living is about people and the planet with your budget in mind after all.
2. Start Small: Sustainable living covers a lot of industries: food (organic), housing, clothing/textiles, energy and transportation to name a few. So, it’s important to think small at first but with long term goals in mind. Did you know the clothing industry is the number 2 pollutant in the world next to oil industry? Yes, number 2. Let’s take action. We can make small steps toward a bigger impact. And that will be very sustainable in the long run. Often, we overestimate what we need and underestimate the quality for the price of a product. I ask you to look closely at what you need whether it’s food or a product. How much do I really need of that produce versus how much will be thrown out? Will I wear this as a staple to my wardrobe or do I really need this? Begin with those questions in mind and you will see the way you begin to really start saving.
Action Step: Sort your clothes into frequently used, not all, and somewhat. Now make note of what you like. Donate clothes to a women’s or homeless shelter. Next, really begin to tracking what you wear and buy based on those usage habits. One trick to track is to hang the clothes you wear in your closet so hanger is facing the other direction so weekly, monthly or over a year you can track what you wearing and what you are hanging on to literally.
3. Goal oriented: Begin with one goal. Again, it’s really important to consider your budget with you goal. The most important lesson is in incremental progress and goals. Grab a buddy or stay in a group and meet face to face on your goals. You make decisions all the time. Sustainable living can be simple but be purposeful and as you keep progressing with your goals you should be good to go. Start with a goal and align it with your bottom line goal. How much am I spending and how much can I save knowing my spending. I know you thought this was about sustainability but what you can’t track, you can’t improve, right? So please take the time to track your savings and spending. I really think it’s about creating a tracking budget where you see your savings on what you need the most wherever you shop and then gradually create a smaller sustainable fund.
Action Step: Integrate a tracking device: Dollar Bird
4. Eat LOCAL & organic eat well. It’s that simple. Where to locate some savings? Well if you are tired just look up some of the sustainable restaurants in town or even better go to a chef owned restaurants in your area. There you are supporting the local economy and eating quite fresh. Farm to table resource is a new app assisting in distribution for farmers to restaurants, school and local businesses. There an app called Farmstand that can locate local farmer’s markets, share what you find with photos, and encourage others to discover your finds. Now if that’s not a win/win for you, your family and your community then I don’t know what else to say but that I am hungry.
Action Step: Location tip on restaurants: Eat Well
Farmer’s Market locator: Farmstand
5. Buy less, buy high quality, and have more time: The question remains is how much can I really save buying more high quality items? These items would be ethically sound products made well versus numerous inexpensive clothing items which I wear infrequently with unknown ethical practices or known traceability of the product. When you know what you buy or what you like to wear frequently then you know what you really need and worry less about what you don’t have and tend to what really matters in life like your health and people that matter. And that is priceless.
Questions? Tell me how you process is going and what made you decide to live more sustainably? Cheers to your health!