You’re just one person living in a home with your small family. Can you really make a difference when it comes to the environment? The answer is a resounding YES! It’s amazing how much of an impact you can have with some small changes to your daily routine. If you commit to living sustainably and start with the small steps outlined in this article, you’ll be contributing to improving our environment right now and for generations to come.
What is sustainable living?
The phrase “sustainable living” sounds a bit fancy and new, but it’s actually a straightforward concept that’s been around for a long time. In a report published by the United Nations back in 1987, the authors describe sustainability as “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
That’s a great definition because it frames sustainability as a responsibility to our family, friends, neighbours and humanity as a whole to make decisions today that won’t negatively impact the way they’re able to live tomorrow. Sustainability is a choice. It means you choose to use resources that are renewable and reduce your impact on the environment.
Why is sustainability important?
Living sustainably is important for several reasons. Most urgent is that we can not continue to deplete the environment of its natural resources. The UN Environment Programme says that by 2050, we will need three planets to sustain our current lifestyles. Unless Elon Musk is working to create more than one planet earth, something needs to change.
That’s where you come in. The changes you make to your everyday living, including conserving energy at home and reducing your consumption, play a huge role in how we will be able to reinvigorate our planet’s health.
How can you live sustainably?
These are simple and actionable steps you can take right now to live more sustainably. And although it might not take much effort, if we all live this way, the impact on our environment will be immense, and we leave the world in a better place for tomorrow’s humanity.
5 simple things you can do every day to live more sustainably
1. Avoid single-use plastic
According to National Geographic, “Single-use plastics account for 40 per cent of the plastic produced every year.” Close to 3 million tonnes of plastic end up in Canadian landfills, and we ship more than 10 per cent of that outside of North America. Avoiding single-use plastics and opting for reusable materials instead will make a real difference.
2. Get educated about disposing of garbage
Learn about what’s recyclable, what needs to be composted and what goes into regular garbage bins. The less waste we send to landfills means the less waste that needs to be incinerated. When we incinerate waste, it has a negative impact on the environment. Knowing something simple like that foil paper can be recycled goes a long way to addressing this issue.
GarbageDay can help with this. Our WhichBin? feature, available in Toronto, lets you know what materials go in which bin.
3. Go paperless
With our world being so digital, you really shouldn’t be using paper unless you absolutely have to. To-do lists, notes, calendars and most documents can be managed digitally. In those instances where you prefer to write on physical paper for your mental health, purchase a journal and keep it for as long as possible.
4. Avoid passive electricity
We told you in detail how you can save on energy in your home. Use a power strip for most appliances (aside from your fridge), turn off lights when you’re not in that room, and change your light bulbs to LED or other sustainable options. Conserving energy at home means power plants use less coal and fossil fuels to produce electricity.
5. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth
It seems like a simple thing to do, right? You don’t need to leave the water running when brushing your teeth, but so many of us do it without even recognizing the environmental impact. You can save eight gallons of water by keeping the tap off every time you brush your teeth. That’s about 200 gallons of water-saving a month.
Learn more ways to live sustainably with GarbageDay
We just gave you five simple ways to live more sustainably with relatively little effort. When you download GarbageDay, we give you regular tips on how you can live sustainably, which bin your garbage should be tossed into, along with other sustainability tactics you can incorporate into your daily routine.
Download the GarbageDay app today!
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.