Regular readers of my blog know that I actively work on making my life more eco-conscious. Sustainability is an integral part of my self-care routine because let’s face it, if it’s bad for the earth, it’s bad for me and vice versa. I also find that I need the deep connection to nature in order to feel whole as a person in the same way I need my daily writing or yoga practice.
This year, I feel an even greater urgency to fight climate change, especially in the face of threats to our national monuments, renewed fracking and offshore drilling, and other concerning news. If we continue taxing the earth’s resources, the cacao plant will be extinct in 40 years; the ocean will have more plastic in it than marine life by 2050; and, because of rising temperature, plant and animal species, and the delicate ecosystems in which they thrive, will be extinct. Worse still, the United States is the second largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Why? Because we waste a significant amount of resources including energy and water in order to keep up with our mindless consumerism.
However, there is a silver lining in all of this: We have the power to reverse climate change. That is why this year, my goal is to use, waste, and buy less in an effort to promote an actively sustainable lifestyle. And while many people think being sustainable is hard, it really isn’t. All it requires is a mentality shift away from what we consider to be the norm. Plastic bags at the grocery store can easily be reused for future trips or swapped out entirely with reusable produce and grocery bags. Plastic water bottles (one of the most wasteful products out there) can be replaced with a reusable bottle. Even curbing impulse purchases (hello retail therapy!) can become a way for us to save money and consider what we really need in life (hint: it’s not that one use item covered in plastic wrap).
In order to become more sustainable, I’ve had to be incredibly honest with myself about what I need, what I want (which might not always be healthy for me or the environment), and what I can do to more aggressively combat climate change. So far the results have been illuminating. My life is less cluttered, I enjoy what I have more, and I’m more thoughtful about where my money is going.
So how will I measure my success? Here’s my plan:
1. Use Less: Everyday I make about four cups of coffee, but only ever drink two. Sure, I water my plants with the leftovers but soon realized it simply makes sense to just make less coffee. That basic principle behind using less extends to electricity, water, and other resources. A few years ago, I began using power strips for all my electronics and turning them off every time I wasn’t using said electronic. This prevents “vampire energy” or the sapping of energy that continues even when a device is off. It saves energy—and money—as does keep the heater a few degrees lower. These simple changes, among other things, help reduce the overall consumption of valuable resources and take very little time and attention to change. In short, I plan to be more thoughtful about what I can actually consume, from food to electricity and beyond, to limit waste. Which leads me to my second goal...
2. Waste Less: Regular readers of my blog know that I hate one-use items. They are costly to make and often end up in the trash which ends up in the landfill or worse. I also hate plastic. It is one of the primary products that harm the planet, especially the oceans where much of it ends up. My aim here is not just to recycle and compost, but to buy products with little to no packaging to begin with. I’ll also mend, repair and otherwise make-do with what I have rather than throwing things out and buying quickie replacements. This also means using the plastics I do have rather than throwing them out. The better care I take of the things I have, the longer they last and the less I throw out. The less trash and recycling I have, the better.
3. Buy Less: One of the best ways to fight climate change is to not buy products in the first place. Mindless consumerism asks us to buy! buy! buy! often when we don’t really need a specific product. So for this goal, I’m going to reduce impulse purchases by waiting a few days before actually buying something I see and like. I’ve already started on this one and found that I almost never end up buying once coveted items after waiting a few days. When I do have to buy things, I want to strive to keep it local and, if that isn’t possible, as sustainable as possible. (There are, naturally, a few things I'm going to exclude from this buy-less agenda, namely ebooks, which, in themselves are more eco-friendly than their hardcopy counterparts. I can't live without stories!) As I’ve been practicing this buy-less mentality, I find it has transformed my life. I make an effort to go to the farmers market and my local co-op, buy any necessary clothes or furniture at second-hand and vintage stores, and, when I do want to treat myself, I invest in experiences rather than items. This has lead to a richer experience where I’ve gotten to know my community more and truly enjoy and use what I do purchase.
So those are my goals for the year, along with continuing to educate myself and others on ways to fight climate change. How do you fight climate change?
Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.