A Push For A Sustainable Future
- Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Environmental sustainability is all about making sure there is a healthy environment for future generations.
The David Suzuki Foundation describes sustainability as "living within the Earth’s limits—improving our health and well-being by reducing and eliminating pollution and waste. It means tackling the root causes of health and environmental problems before they occur."
A 2005 study shows just how serious the situation is. Of the 30 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United States ranked 30th in progress toward sustainability based on 29 environmental indicators; Canada ranked 28th, proving North Americans lead an altogether unsustainable way of life.
It is time to take tangible steps to halt climate change and move toward a more natural way of living that works with the environment instead of against it. While it may seem like environmental sustainability is an insurmountable issue for the average person to tackle, the little things we do as individuals add up to a whole lot of change.
Here, Naturally Savvy offers tips for living a more sustainable life.
Buying local foods and products significantly cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions associated with shipping. Head to your local farmer's market for fresh local produce, meat, fish, eggs and other items produced by local artisans. When shopping at the supermarket, pay attention to where foods come from. Local produce is always fresher, since it has spent more time ripening in sunshine than getting tossed around in a truck.
More than half of the energy generated in the U.S. is produced by burning coal, so cutting energy use will minimize your impact on the environment in a big way. It can be as simple as turning down the thermostat a few degrees in the winter, or turning off lights when you leave a room. Also consider switching to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which are so energy-efficient that if every American replaced an incandescent bulb with a CFL bulb, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing two million cars from the road. Another great way to cut down on energy use is to replace old appliances with energy efficient appliances, and add extra insulation in your roof to minimize heat loss.
Cut Out Carbon
There are countless ways you can reduce your carbon footprint, the simplest being walking, biking or making use of public transit whenever possible. While public transit may seem like a heavy polluter, many transit companies use hybrid busses and light rail systems that are far softer on the environment than most gas-powered vehicles. If you're shopping for a new vehicle, consider a hybrid or electric model. Another little way to make a big different is by switching to green energy. Solar and wind power eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with coal, oil and natural gas.
Reusable is Best
Recycling is great, but it requires energy. Instead, take some time to think about the ways you can reuse things rather than automatically recycling. A primary example is plastic shopping bags. While many communities and companies now recycle plastic bags, the bags are made from petrochemicals, and the pollution created by producing and later recycling the bags is significant. Bins and cloth bags are a great alternative that can be used for years. You can also reuse plastic and glass containers and jars for storage of bulk foods and leftovers.
Opt for Organic
Whether you're buying food or clothing, organic is better for you and the environment. Many pesticides are known or suspected carcinogens, eye and skin irritants, endocrine disruptors or cholinesterase inhibitors (affecting neuromuscular function). Not only does choosing organic minimize the amount of trace pesticides that end up in your body, organic farming prevents pesticides from ending up in the water table or lingering in the air.
It may sound simple, but get back to basics. Leave chemical cleaners on the shelves, opting instead for all-natural cleaners or natural homemade alternatives. The chemicals you use in your home will eventually end up on little hands, which inevitably end up in little mouths. Plus, cleaners usually get poured down drains, ending up in lakes and rivers. As a general rule, if you can't eat it, you shouldn't be cleaning with it.
These simple changes can be easily incorporated into everyday living, and they will result in big advancements toward creating a more sustainable way of life.