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  • Lasya GP

What Is Sustainability? 12 Quick and Easy Ways to Get Started.

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

Illustration by Lasya GP

When I realized the effect of my activities on nature, I began researching ways to change my lifestyle. Eventually, extreme guilt began to take over me, and I got anxious whenever something I used was not environment-friendly.

Now I understand that we must measure sustainability in terms of holistic improvement—a sum of small changes that everyone tries to make in their lives. They must fit within our existing lifestyles easily without risking our mental health in the process.

So, keeping all the confusing explanations aside, let's define sustainability in a single term—Equality. Here's what I mean.

  • Conserving resources so that the future generations get an equal share of them.

  • Considering other beings of the planet at the same level as that of humans.

  • Ensuring that the underprivileged sections of the society get an equal share of resources and welfare, currently available only to the privileged.

Sustainability is more than being just eco-friendly. Additionally, when you buy eco-friendly items limitlessly, it further destroys the purpose of adding lesser to the landfills.

Sustainability involves a holistic approach, including social, ecological, and economic dimensions.

Despite the promises of raising the living standards through industrialization and mass-production, the larger section of our society still dwells in poverty. Thus, along with finding ecological balance, earthlings must start doing their bit to improve the lifestyles of the marginalized population.

So, minimize, reuse, and buy local.

The mistake that people often make is making unrealistic promises of changing their lifestyle in one shot. Sustainability is a continuous practice and not a one-time goal. Hence, we must start with small actions that will add up to a larger impact.

Here are some easier ways you can start with:

  • Carry your own shopping bags and reusable bottles.

  • Buy from local producers and craftsmen. These items are made of more eco-friendly materials than any of the mass-produced goods. The raw materials are sourced locally and intentionally produced with less wastage. They could also be a source of a day's meal for a family.

  • Restyle and repurpose your existing clothes and thrift for your future needs. Thrifting and exchanging items is big these days. Upon little research, you can easily find apps, offline and online thrift stores to help you with it.

  • Donate what you don't often wear. If you have always been waiting for the right occasion to wear a "more-than-perfect" outfit, chances are you will never take it out. Instead, resell, exchange or donate it to someone who can give it the love it deserves.

  • Purchase food items only as much as you need. You know your appetite and how much you consume per meal. Keep it in mind while buying your edibles. Research suggests that about 799 million people in the world are currently facing moderate and severe food insecurity.

  • Reduce meat intake to once a week.

  • Avoid products in plastic containers or bags as much as possible.

Look for reusable alternatives for as many of your belongings as possible. Here's what you can start with.

  • Get bamboo toothbrushes and bamboo, glass, or metal straws instead of plastic ones.

  • Use reusable cloth instead of paper towels.

  • Walk or take a bicycle to nearby destinations instead of driving or taking a cab. It not only benefits the environment but your health too.

  • Use natural sunlight as much as possible.

  • Find organizations that support the education and overall wellbeing of the marginalized. Try contributing—even as low as $10-15 for a cause—whenever possible. You may also volunteer in some of these organizations. The satisfaction will only motivate you to help more in your free time and find the much sought-after joy of life.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch

Lastly, be intentional about your decisions.

Do you really need another pair of blue denim pants when you already have two in your closet? Have you used items to their fullest (and even repurposed and repaired if possible) before releasing them into the bin? When making a purchase, are you considering a high-quality product that will last you years and not just once?

To start easy, you can also pick one of the 17 sustainable development goals on the UNDP website and determine small tasks for yourself towards the aim.

There could be more of such effortless ways to be just a little more sustainable each day, each moment. And when you do, reward yourself in your own way. Remember to not stress over it!

Make small moves to make sure there is enough for everyone without decreasing your quality of life.

If you don't start now, the right time to start will never arrive. All that matters is the first step you take, no matter how insignificant it may seem!

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