Sustainability happens when we reduce our ecological footprint below the biocapacity of the earth.
Following these tips will help you do that.
Basic Sustainability Tips
Know your footprint
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. All of the tips below will help you reduce your ecological footprint, but first you need to know where you are now, set a goal and plan for reducing your footprint, then measure again to see how you have done. Click here for footprint calculators»
Making stuff uses a lot of resources and that impacts the environment. Think about ‘enough’ i.e. what you need for a sufficient life. Buy products that are well-made and durable, ideally second-hand. Consider renting or borrowing what you need. If you can, make your own.
Buying local supports your community and reduces freight. Buying fresh and seasonal reduces processing and packaging. Buying organic promotes sustainable soil and land use. Grow your own. Eat less meat – which has a bigger footprint than plants.
Ideally you live close to work, schools and shops so that you can walk everywhere. Otherwise you could ride a bike or take public transport. Getting a lift to work with a neighbour will halve both of your emissions. You’ll help slow climate change and help stave off our date with peak oil.
Reduce electricity use by having good insulation, buying high efficiency appliances, installing solar or heat pump water heating and using compact fluorescent bulbs. Use renewable energy where possible e.g. an efficient wood-burner for heat. Better still – generate your own clean electricity.
Use natural products
Use natural products and avoid products that have hazardous, synthetic chemicals which don’t break down and can build up to toxic levels. Choose goods made from eco-friendly and renewable materials, such as sustainably harvested wood and organic cotton or choose recycled materials.
Nothing is ever really thrown “away” – it always goes somewhere. By buying less, recycling and reusing, we reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills where even biodegradable products don’t break down due to lack of oxygen or sunlight.
Clean water is a precious resource. Water is also not renewable. Being water conscious helps reduce strain on municipal treatment systems and ensures there’s enough to go around. You can collect rainwater to water your gardens in summer and recycle your greywater to the garden as well.
Invest in natural capital
We also need to restore the environment, reinvigorating it for the long term. We need to renew the soil, clean waterways, clear contaminated sites, restore habitats, create wildlife reserves, control noxious animals and plant trees. Support any organisation that will help do this.
Whether you share a ride, share things with family and friends, or share your knowledge you are creating a more sustainable world. We don’t all need to own everything. Give what you don’t use to someone who will use it – sharing feels good because it is good.