How to live a green lifestyle
Living a green lifestyle is about truly embracing sustainability and making real differences for planet and people. Here’s how you get started
Nowadays, everyone wants to do their bit for the environment. But knowing how to go about it is hard. Recent UK news might make you think plastic is the top priority.
Then again, you may have read that CO2 emissions from planes or ships need to fall, so maybe finding better ways to travel is key.
The challenge is; our planet and environment are complicated. Every day, we see new articles or news stories urging us to be sustainable. This means it’s complicated to work out, as someone who wants to help, exactly what you should do first. And in the worst-case scenario, the whole issue can be so daunting and confusing that you end up doing nothing at all.
How do I start living a green lifestyle?
First off, you need to find a realistic balance between sustainability and the needs of your life. There is little point is setting up a tough regime, where you can’t travel in planes, use plastic, have more than a certain number of children or never eat a takeaway.
For most of us, this won’t fit in with busy lifestyles, and you’re likely to become unhappy, and even give up any attempts to be sustainable completely.
Remember, sustainability is a core process. To begin, have a think about your life; about what you enjoy, what you need and cherish, what you could do without and what would make you happier. What, fundamentally, is most important to you?
You will be astonished at how this process can show you ways to be sustainable that won’t show up in simple lists telling you not to do this or that, or just to save energy by using LED lights.
Here are our tips on greener living. They aren’t about filling the kettle up less; rather, they are about fundamentally learning where and how you can become sustainable and happier for lifelong benefit.
Tip No.1: Investigate what you can achieve easily
Perhaps you live close to your children’s school, or your work. In that case, a really simple step you can take is to walk rather than drive. This won’t just cut emissions and save money on fuel, it will make you and your children healthier.
But of course, if you live miles from the nearest school, walking is impractical. That’s why the first thing you should do is look at easy and obvious ways you can become greener which match up with the particular life you lead.
You might need to drive, but that’s ok. If you do, perhaps you can pick up the shopping and the kids in one journey, saving CO2 and the effort to go out again.
A greener life is about simple, long term changes like these. Each person’s changes should be individual; chosen for longevity and practicality.
Tip No.2: Look at where you might save money
This might not sound environmental. But every single time you spend money, you are buying something. The product you buy might be wrapped in non-recyclable plastic, or it might be made with lots of expensive metals and minerals, that use huge amounts of energy in mining and manufacture.
Every time you save money by not buying, you also minimise the environmental impacts of the product. Simply by looking at your monthly spend, and thinking twice about your purchasing habits, you deliver immediate benefits for yourself and the planet.
You may be surprised by how much you buy that you don’t need, or actually use. And cash savings are always welcome, so what’s not to like? We aren’t saying buy nothing; rather, buy smarter.
Tip No.3: Love your local community
Again, this might not seem to have immediate green benefits. But if you embrace your community and your neighbours, you might find you have a ready-made childminder, or second-hand lawnmower on offer.
That will save you paying an agency to offer childcare, and save the CO2 impacts of a carer travelling to your house, rather than walking from next door. And it could save you cash on useful hand me downs for the garden.
If you shop locally, from independent shops selling local produce, you cut down driving emissions to the nearest hypermarket, and you save air miles on meat or vegetables flown in from the other side of the world, where they are farmed intensively in poor conditions, using both antibiotics and damaging chemicals.
This fascinating article from The Ecologist argues that sustainability is not an individual property, but a property of an entire web of relationships. ‘It always involves a whole community. This is the profound lesson we need to learn from nature. The way to sustain life is to build and nurture community.’
Tip No.4: Be kind to yourself
Another unexpected route to sustainability simply involves treating yourself and others kindly.
This great article notes that a kinder workplace means treating the wellbeing of employees, mental as well as physical, as a key part of productivity and sustainability.
A kind workplace is a workplace where everyone has their own mug, with their name on it, where coffee is made in a cafetière and workers take a minute to stop and chat together over a drink. Intriguingly, this is also far kinder on the planet than workers using disposable, non-recyclable coffee cups, and pouring unpleasant coffee into them from an automated machine which constantly boils water, burning energy and creating CO2 every day.
Jaclyn Lindsey, Co-Founder and CEO of kindness.org, writes that, “Our big vision is a kinder world, and we are focusing on one pillar at a time to begin turning our ripples of kindness into a positive wave of global change.”
A terrific thing happens when we focus on kindness; we develop changes towards sustainability and a greener planet almost automatically.
One thought to take away…
We haven’t provided a long list of sustainable steps you should take, like changing to more efficient lightbulbs, because thousands of articles like these already exist, and we believe in a personal approach. Rather, our aim is to encourage you to find deeper, more profound ways in which discovering sustainability can contribute to your health, happiness, wallet and prosperity in the long term.