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What Does It Mean to Live Sustainably?

Find out how living sustainably involves limiting consumption of resources and saving water, energy, and gas while focusing on reusing items when possible.

January 1, 2018

“Sustainability” is a big buzzword these days, but what does it actually mean, and why is it important? Furthermore, what are some ways to practice this type of lifestyle? These are all topics that we are going to cover about living a sustainable and green lifestyle that reduces carbon footprints. So, whether one chooses to build an ADU unit or switch up the little choices during the day, there are a lot of ways to practice sustainability, big and small.

What Does It Mean to Live Sustainably?

The idea behind sustainable living is simple: It involves reducing the consumption of resources to better local communities and the world around us. Though it is nearly impossible not to consume anything at all, we can try to be more mindful of replacing the resources we use. Green living not only enhances our lives but also the world of future generations.

Why Should We Live Sustainably?

Living sustainably does require some work, but it also comes with a lot of rewards. Here are some of the reasons why one should consider transitioning to a more sustainable lifestyle:

1. Protect Natural Resources

Unfortunately, we live in a world where there are not enough resources for everyone on the planet. For this reason, it’s important to conserve resources so that what we do have can go further and last longer. Whether it’s nonrenewable resources like fossil fuels or renewable resources like trees and water—conservation and sustainability are key.

2. Mitigate Climate Change

With a new climate crisis seemingly every week, it’s only a matter of time before the oncoming storm affects all of our lives. It’s up to individuals to take action to avoid more frequent and more volatile climate disasters like fires, hurricanes, floods, droughts, earthquakes, etc. When one practices sustainable living, they are able to do their part to mitigate climate change and protect the planet.

3. Improve Air Quality

Air quality issues have been getting worse lately, and one way to address this is to embrace sustainable living. Although one may not be able to personally have a large impact on air quality on their own, if we all work together, we can make a big difference. As a result, the whole community will be able to better enjoy the great outdoors.

4. Promote Economic Development

Sustainable living also helps promote economic development. For starters, donating items that are no longer needed or used can help local people in need while supporting sustainable fashion.

Sustainable development industries and companies can hire more employees for a fair wage and experience growth thanks to a community’s support. Furthermore, sustainable energy alternatives like solar panels can lower energy costs that allow people to spend their money elsewhere to promote financial growth, both for the individual and the greater community.

5. Save Money

One of the best things about sustainable living is that it actually helps save money. This happens in a variety of ways.

For instance, cutting down on energy consumption can save a substantial amount of money on power bills. Reusing products instead of throwing them away saves people from having to buy replacements. Finally, downsizing and simplifying lifestyles will save money on housing costs in more ways than one.

Steps To Living More Sustainably

While sustainable living might seem difficult, it’s important to remember that it’s not an “all or nothing” concept. There are a number of steps that can help, ranging from simple to more complex.

And the pace can be slower. Try implementing one step at a time to make this lifestyle change more manageable. At the end of the day, anything that one does to live more sustainably is a positive change that’s going to make a real difference.

Here are some steps that one can take to live more sustainably:

1. Avoid Single-Use Items in Favor of Reusable Items

The first thing to do to live more sustainably is to avoid single-use items in favor of reusable items. There are so many different ways to implement this! For instance, one could stop using plastic water bottles in favor of metal or plastic reusable water bottles. Another alternative would be to stop using single-use plastic grocery bags and bring reusable bags to the store instead.

There are even reusable ziplock bags that can be simply washed out and reused instead of throwing away more plastic bags. Using reusable dish towels and rags instead of paper towels is a great way to reduce one’s environmental footprint, as is replacing plastic straws with metal ones.

2. Recycle and Reuse Products When Possible

Since it would be nearly impossible to switch out all products for reusable alternatives, recycling can be the best option when in doubt. Many communities have recycling services that collect these items once a week in bulk.

However, if that’s not an option, people could drop their recyclable goods off at recycling centers themselves. Generally, many items are capable of being recycled, including paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, glass containers, rigid plastic containers, and metal containers.

3. Eat Meat Less Often

One somewhat surprising thing that is part of living more sustainably is to eat less meat. This doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone has to become a vegetarian overnight. Instead, just try to be more mindful about meat purchases.

For instance, a person could hypothetically limit themself to eating meat twice a week instead of daily. This helps to mitigate some of the damage that is done to the planet by the meat industries across the world.

4. Growing Gardens and Produce

Another change one can make to their diet and eating habits to live more sustainably involves growing their own produce. Oftentimes, produce is grown using pesticides and chemicals that harm the environment. When one grows vegetables on their own, food is produced in a more environmentally friendly manner. This also eliminates the transportation process involved in bringing food from the fields to the grocery store.

If growing personal food isn't an option, consider supporting local farmers at nearby farmers’ markets. Additionally, composting food scraps (and even yard waste) can keep food waste and other organic matter out of the bin and out of the landfills.

5. Save Water

Saving water is one of the most basic ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Again, this doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. It can be as simple as turning off the sink while one brushes their teeth. Taking shorter showers is also a great way to reduce water consumption.

For those who want to go a step further, perhaps purchase different energy-efficient water appliances like dishwashers and washing machines. One can even buy rainwater collecting devices to save untold gallons of water a year.

6. Save Energy

On a similar note, there are some simple steps to use less energy. Turn off light bulbs and electronics when they’re not in use. Avoid cranking the heat or air conditioning too much. Install energy-efficient appliances or switch out windows to prevent air and heat loss.

7. Downsize and Minimize

One way to make a huge environmental impact is to downsize and minimize lifestyles. Many people are embracing the tiny home movement these days as it’s more environmentally friendly. These ADU structures can be built to be totally energy-efficient or even self-sustaining. Just make sure to reach out to an experienced and professional builder and designer like Cottage to get the best sustainable features that support a new green home.

8. Change Daily Commutes

The last thing to help live more sustainably is to change commute patterns. Consider using public transportation whenever possible. Limit driving time. Perhaps investing in an electric or hybrid vehicle to limit gas consumption would be a fun green change. Riding a bike is a great way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and carbon emissions while also getting some fun exercise.

Final Thoughts To Sustain

At the end of the day, sustainable living is possible and practical with the right approach and dedication. Whereas small changes can be beneficial to a certain extent, more meaningful changes like downsizing to a tiny home are certainly warranted. While changes like downsizing may seem like a big step, it doesn’t have to be with the help of the ADU experts at Cottage.


What Is Sustainable Living? | The Good Trade

Effects of Climate Change | World Wildlife Fund

12 Ways to Live More Sustainably | Center for Biological Diversity