Sustainable living is defined by The Good Trade as “prioritising the use of natural and renewable resources instead of creating excess waste and depleting resources for future generations”. This predominantly means reducing our carbon footprint and plastic pollution.
In recent years global emissions are increasing exponentially and more research is proving that climate change needs to be addressed as soon as possible. The Climate Clock was developed by scientists based on the global emissions and climate warming rates to track climate change mitigation progress. As of 17th May 2021, the Climate Clock displays 6 years, and 228 days: fewer than 7 years until some effects of global warming become irreversible.
New York’s Climate Clock launched on 17th September 2020 with 7 years, 103 days, 15 hours, 40 minutes, and 7 seconds. Source: MIT Climate Portal.
Social media has helped people spread their concerns about climate change and introduce a new way of living eco-consciously to the masses. Most people are on social media nowadays, so promoting eco-friendly ideals will reach and influence a large audience, which can inform more people about the problems of our current wasteful lifestyle and how to positively change our lives for the better. Personally, I discovered zero waste living and sustainability quite recently through TikTok and found it very inspiring.
In terms of actually living sustainably, it’s easier than it sounds. Firstly, try and minimise your plastic usage. Plastic can take somewhere between 20 and 500 years to decompose, depending on its material and structure. There are easy alternatives for some of our plastic everyday items such as: bamboo toothbrushes, cloth shopping bags, shampoo and conditioner bars, cloth sanitary pads, and reusable water bottles. England only recycles about 44% of its waste, the rest usually ends up being burnt or in landfills. This emphasises the importance of generating as little waste as possible, since most of it is not recycled.
To the disappointment of all my fashion loving-friends, the fashion industry produces about 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions every year and uses an estimated 1.5 trillion litres of water annually. Fast fashion is cheap and often cast aside quickly as trends change, which is extremely wasteful. Shopping second-hand is much more sustainable as it means clothing can completely live out its full life cycle. If you don’t like second-hand clothing or can’t ditch the fast fashion industry, just be mindful of how often and where you make your purchases and don’t buy any items you are not prepared to wear many times.
Switching entirely or partially to a plant-based diet is best for the environment, as the meat industry is to blame for a large portion of global emissions annually. But this isn’t an attainable goal for many due to different reasons, such as health issues like protein deficiency or simply the inability to afford a vegan lifestyle. Again, sustainability is about progress not perfection, so substituting beef with chicken, fish, or a few plant-based meals instead may be a better alternative.
The sustainability movement does not ask you to spend more than you can afford or to go vegan – they simply ask that you try. It is better for 10 people to live an imperfect eco-friendly lifestyle, than a single individual doing it perfectly. In the long run, it is more impactful for a family of four to bulk-buy in order to cut down on plastic packaging, than just a single individual living an entirely plastic-free vegan lifestyle. In a world populated by nearly 8 billion people, quantity over quality will always be the best approach.
All around the world, people are doing their best to make a difference and stop this climate crisis. This is a collaborative effort to save our planet and humankind, so come and join us.