Start Eco Friendly Lifestyle Today
Does an environmentally friendly lifestyle require more effort and money? Why does it sound so difficult to achieve? The answers are in your unconscious everyday routine. If you have been already trying to be more eco conscious, you know it.
It is not that eco-friendly products are more expensive. Reusable products are cheaper in a long run. It is also not that being more eco-friendly is boring. Having less of high-quality items increases your happiness than living in clutter. What is blocking the move to a more eco-friendly lifestyle is your willingness to change. Unfortunately, we all don't like changing and are very good at finding rational reasons not to change.
If you feel it is time to do something about it though, you need to stop looking at people not doing anything. Same as eating too much sugary food, you feel ok to do it when everyone around you is doing it. But you know it is bad for your health.
What is eco-friendly lifestyle?
Simply, "eco-friendly" means not environmentally harmful. Using eco-friendly products by themselves will certainly not make your lifestyle eco-friendly. The truth is that when it comes to making products, everything has a negative impact on the environment. Even vegetables will need water, energy, transportation, packages, and waste management. This means there isn't anything that fit the definition of "eco-friendly".
However, nature has the ability to regenerate. Rather than try to save the planet, the better way is to let nature restores itself. For example, restoring deforested land could be done by planting trees. But in many cases, it's better to let trees grow themselves with very little human assistance if needed.
To keep the balance between what we take from nature and the speed of regeneration, we need to understand what, how much, and how often we can take. If we can manage our lifestyle within nature's limits, our life will be sustainable.
Why eco-friendly lifestyle is important?
There are many good reasons to have natural ecosystems working well for us. But the most fundamental level, no one can live well without clean water, air, and enough food. Most of us in developed countries currently have access to them and cannot imagine the situation in which we don't have them. Well, we need to acknowledge that nature has been doing a great job to make those resources available to us.
- Sunshine oxidizes and degrades toxic chemicals in the air, water, and soil. It also gives energy to all living.
- Microorganisms also help degrade a wide range of toxic chemicals and make them back to nutrients for plants to grow.
- Plants both in the ocean and on the land absorb carbon dioxide and generate oxygen. They are also the food for animals including us.
- The temperature and flow of the air create clouds to bring water to lands.
- Tree roots, microorganisms, layers of different types of soil, and sand work together to purify water.
- Fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas are made from decomposed plants and animals. They are super concentrated carbon energy.
If nature didn't do these things, we have not been able to live as we do or we may not exist at all. Imagine if we had to build oxygen-making machines everywhere and keep pumping 24/7… Or, we had to pump up and filter sea water to make clean water for all of us… It is simply not achievable.
If you want to live well (believe you do), we must ensure the health of nature.
How can I live an eco-friendly life?
The first step is to be aware that having access to products and resources doesn't mean you should use them as much as you want. You don't need to limit your dreams and achievements but should limit consumption and the negative impact on the environment.
An eco-friendly lifestyle is not about what products you use or where you live. Every person has different needs and abilities. What you need is a willingness to change for a better future and a curiosity to re-learn things you currently consume unconsciously.
Here're things you can and should do wherever possible:
Recognize the value of items you see unconsciously. For example, water goes into a drain, expired foods, unused clothes, a TV turned on all day… Having an awareness will make you notice what it means to the environment.
Learn about items you use: It may be a bit overwhelming at the beginning because you don't see the process before the product gets in your hand. However, this is one of the reasons that it is so hard to see the value of many items. Even $10 T-shirts, there is so much to go into. Growing cotton involves issues such as petroleum chemical pollution, water conservation, labor conditions, fair trading, transportation, etc. Waste management involves off-cut fabrics, unsold stocks, packaging, wastewater treatment, chemical disposal, etc.
Reduce food waste: Plan meals ahead and buy as little and often as possible. If you cannot use fresh food quickly, cook and freeze them. If you still have expired foods that you can no longer use, compost them. Did you know that to grow a banana you bought for $1, it takes 9 months for the farmer to look after, watering, weeding, pest controlling, and much more? The chicken you ate last time was once alive. Chickens can live 5 to 10 years, but broiler chickens become meat at 12 to 20 weeks of age.
Reduce your washing: The majority of the environmental burden from clothes happens after we purchased, washing and drying. Run a washing machine when you have enough clothes for a full load, use cold water and non-toxic cleanser, and dry clothes under sunlight or air drying.
Avoid single-use plastics: Not only plastic bags and straws, but you will also find so many single-use items are still made from plastic. Meat trays, cling wrap, shampoo bottles, refill pouches, make-ups, snack bags, disposable nappies/sanitary pads, and more. Purchase items without plastic packaging and swap them for reusable items. Make sure to use the reusables for a long time.
Recycle as much as you can: Paper, Metal, and clean PET are the materials we recycle well. Some others like batteries, glass, and electronics depend on the facilities available locally.
Create clean air: Have some natural plants both inside and outside your home. Some plants are good for certain rooms. "Mother in Laws Tongue" releases oxygen at night and is good for bedrooms. "Peace Lily" and "Boston Fern" like high humidity and can reduce mold spores in the air. They are good for bathrooms. "Weeping Fig" is good for removing formaldehyde released from carpets and furniture.
Shop around energy suppliers: About 50% of your carbon emissions come from energy consumption. You should turn off electric devices often and change the energy supplier to one that supplies green energy. You could also install solar panels on your roof.
Be a handyman/woman: Have you ever felt frustrated because you can't find exactly what you are looking for? Making your own from recycled materials or upcycling old items is a fan and eco-friendly project.
Go to quality over quantity: We are attracted to "bulk discount" "on-sale" or cheap and convenient products. However, having high-quality and well-made products will solve cluttering problems in your home. It also gives a richer feeling in your lifestyle and is better for the environment.
Save money: You can save money by reducing waste, water, energy, and unnecessary items. The money you saved can be invested to improve energy efficiency in your home.
Get more exercises: Cars on roads are the second largest source of carbon emissions. You can reduce driving your car by using public transport, riding a bicycle, or walking. You don't need a gym membership to hop on a treadmill. Just get your body moving more often during the day.
Track your progress: Find your climate footprint in 4 categories, transport, waste, energy, and lifestyle by using UN Carbon Footprint Calculator.
There is much more you can do. Keep learning and changing bit by bit.
It is hard to accept that every item we consume has a negative impact on the environment, even "eco-friendly products". But we need to acknowledge and start from here. Because eco-friendly products made sustainably are still wasted if they are not used. Seeking technology and alternative solutions cannot solve the environmental issues without all of us consuming natural resources within what nature can offer. Reducing our consumption in all ways we can and giving nature more time to regenerate is the best and cheapest way to improve. The question is how much action we actually take.
A model for understanding how sunlight breaks down contaminants in water - https://phys.org/news/2021-08-sunlight-contaminants.html
The Power of One Tree - https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2015/03/17/power-one-tree-very-air-we-breathe
50 Simple ways to make your life greener - https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/29/50-ways-to-green-up-your-life-save-the-planet