Right now, as you read this, there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 7.6 billion people sharing this beautiful, resilient, but not infinite earth: All of its resources, all of its space.
While we can’t truly walk through life leaving no trace the same way we ought to traipse every trail (we are, after all, humans who have to consume and produce waste to survive), our planet, local communities, and especially our wild places would all be better off if we could learn to live with a lighter carbon footprint, just as our natural world benefits each and every time we leave only the lightest physical footprints.
Here are some day-to-day tips and tricks for living lighter:
In Your Home
1. Let as much natural light in as you can throughout the day (especially in the summer months!), thereby minimizing how often you need to use electricity for light.
2. Try your hand at gardening, growing some vegetables in small pots, or even just a handful of herbs to start.
3. Turn off as many electricity-using appliances and lights as you can when you’re not home/in the room/actively using them, including personal electronic devices.
4. Invest in a water-saving showerhead.
5. Whenever your closet needs some refreshing, try hitting up a local thrift store for new threads, or swapping clothes with friends. When you do buy something new, make sure you’re shopping via ethical and environmentally responsible sources.
1. Go as paperless as possible. When you need to use paper, always try to reuse/recycle it.
2. Commute by bike, walk, run, and/or take public transportation to work as often as you can.
3. Encourage your company to donate any still usable electronic devices to schools and other local organizations who might be able to reuse them.
4. Stop using paper plates and plastic silverware for in-office birthday celebrations. Suggest the company spring for reusable/washable dishware and cutlery, or have employees bring their own from home!
5. Bring your own reusable cup (and reusable straw, as needed) when you hit your local coffee stand for that afternoon pick-me-up.
In Your Community
1. Bring your own reusable bags whenever you’re grocery shopping. If you’re out without your own bags, opt for paper instead of plastic.
2. Shop as local as you can as often as you can. Bonus points for eating locally-sourced whole foods and supporting local growers, farmers markets, and/or co-ops.
3. Don’t create demand for single-use plastic! This means: Stop buying plastic water bottles (right now; you can do it!), don’t ask for plastic bags or straws, and try to limit how much of anything you buy that’s covered in single-use plastic.
4. Volunteer at your local community garden, or if you don’t yet have one, help start one!
5. Support local companies and individuals seeking to protect and conserve wild places. Better yet, get outside and start volunteering with them!
Every day we make countless choices without hardly stopping to think about them: When and what to eat, drink; when and how to move, swim, hike, sleep; what to wear and the most efficient way to get to work on time; how best to take care of our children, our pets, our homes, our communities. We hope today, this week, this month, and as often as you can, you’ll stop to think about the ways in which you can realistically and consistently live lighter, greener, and more sustainably.
If everyone who had the ability to live more sustainably made the conscious choice to lighten their daily footprint, the positive effects on our wild places and within our local, regional, national, and global communities would be staggering.
Have some of your own favorite sustainable living how-tos you’d like to share in the comments? We’d love to hear them!
Narrator: This blog was thoughtfully written by Kerri Anne Stebbins. You can find her on Instagram @kerri_anne.