Why Go Green?
Embarking on a sustainability journey can feel daunting, especially when faced with the question of where to start. Should it be with the products lining your bathroom shelves? Or perhaps your makeup bag warrants attention? And what about the assortment of cleaning products tucked away beneath your kitchen sink?
Embarking on your sustainability journey holds no rigid rules or predetermined paths. What truly matters is taking that first step. The delicate equilibrium of nature has been disrupted, leading to unprecedented shifts in weather patterns and an upsurge in natural calamities. However, it is now widely acknowledged that adopting a greener lifestyle holds the key to shaping a transformative future.
Going Green for the Future
As the specter of climate change looms ever closer, the present moment presents a prime opportunity to reshape our lifestyles and diminish our carbon footprint. Deep down, we all yearn for our children and grandchildren to inherit a world as wondrous as the one we cherished in our youth. However, the stark reality is that unless we alter our course, future generations may never experience Earth in the same way we do today.
Embracing a green lifestyle entails a conscientious selection of sustainably sourced, manufactured, or upcycled products. It involves a mindful consideration of our actions and a concerted effort to minimize our impact on the planet, often adopting a zero-waste approach. Rather than continually acquiring new goods, we make use of existing resources already in circulation.
By collectively adopting this model, we can alleviate the strain we currently impose upon our planet, forging a path toward a brighter and more sustainable future.
As inhabitants of this planet, it is our inherent responsibility to safeguard its well-being and ensure its continued health. The unbalanced taking without replenishing has resulted in irreversible harm. The repercussions of our industrialized world have manifested in various forms, both direct and indirect, including:
Loss of biodiversity
Extinction of animal species
Biodiversity loss and animal extinction disrupt the delicate equilibrium of natural ecosystems, creating a phenomenon known as "defaunation." We find ourselves amidst the Sixth Mass Extinction, where human activities have caused a staggering 52% decline in wildlife populations in just four decades.
Global warming, predominantly driven by emissions from manufacturing plants, mining operations, and large-scale factories, has led to the Earth's gradual heating. This, in turn, triggers alarming consequences such as melting ice caps and an upsurge in extreme weather events, encompassing heatwaves, wildfires, snowstorms, hurricanes, and tidal waves.
In November 2022, the global population reached 8 billion. While concerns about declining populations may be raised by some, experts caution that with current population projections, we face even greater challenges ahead.
Overconsumption already looms as a significant predicament, with no definitive solution in sight. As our population continues to grow, the resources necessary for our sustenance and existence face depletion. To avert an impending resource shortage, proactive measures must be implemented now.
Yet, embracing a green lifestyle transcends the mere preservation of life on Earth. It also directly intersects with health and financial advantages for those who incorporate these changes into their lives.
Embracing a green lifestyle entails eliminating excess "junk" from your life. Adopting a more minimalistic approach, such as decluttering, can have a positive impact on your mental well-being.
Reducing animal byproduct consumption is another aspect of going green. While there has been a call to completely eliminate meat and dairy from our diets to mitigate carbon emissions, experts caution that this may not be a sustainable solution for everyone. Instead, the focus should be on the mindful reduction of meat and dairy intake.
Numerous health experts, including renowned nutritional scientist and dietician Dr. Joanna McMillan, advocate for plant-based diets due to their associated health benefits. Dr. Joanna takes a pragmatic view, recognizing that even plant farming can have environmental consequences. She recommends a Mediterranean diet, emphasizing natural, whole foods, vegetables, seafood, olive oil, whole grains, and high-quality, minimally-processed meat and poultry.
A diet high in animal byproducts is linked to an increased risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers, particularly colorectal cancer.
Furthermore, adopting a green lifestyle can bring about a sense of moral well-being, knowing that you are making choices aligned with your values by reducing your consumption of animal byproducts. This moral alignment is likely to enhance your emotional health.
One of the misconceptions about transitioning to a sustainable lifestyle is that it is expensive and inaccessible to everyone. However, this is simply not true.
Sustainable products are not always more expensive than conventional products, especially in today's market. While there may be instances where sustainable options have a higher price tag, they often offer cleaner ingredients, making them safer and potentially preventing health issues in the long run.
For example, let's consider toothpaste. Bite toothpaste tablets, a sustainable brand, use a handful of ethically sourced ingredients and a fluoride alternative. While fluoride is effective in preventing cavities, concerns have been raised about its safety. In comparison, Colgate toothpaste contains Triclosan, an antibacterial agent and a known possible carcinogen. It's evident that Bite prioritizes our overall health and wellness.
While it's not guaranteed that you will develop cancer from using toothpaste, there is evidence suggesting that the chemicals found in everyday household products can bioaccumulate over time. Even small daily exposures can have long-term effects on our health. This applies to other products as well, such as cheap shampoos containing sodium lauryl and laurel sulfates (SLS and SLES), which are skin irritants linked to potential hair loss and other health implications. Investing a few more dollars in a non-sulfate shampoo can potentially save you from relying on hair regrowth remedies later in life.
In the long run, opting for the cheaper alternative may end up costing you more in terms of health and well-being. As more brands join the sustainability movement, prices become more competitive. Advancements in technology have also made sustainable skincare products just as effective, if not better, than conventional options. Therefore, investing in sustainable choices across your entire life is truly worthwhile.
It's important to recognize that sustainable living is not only about cost but also about making choices that prioritize our health, well-being, and the long-term sustainability of our planet.
How to Avoid Overwhelm
Making the switch to a sustainable lifestyle can feel overwhelming, especially considering the urgency of climate change. However, it's crucial that we face this challenge head-on instead of ignoring it any longer.
To begin, I recommend reading helpful resources that address specific areas of interest. First, read "How to Reduce Environmental Anxiety." If you identify as a woman, the article "Women's Guide to Sustainability" can provide valuable insights. Parents can start with "How to be a Sustainable Influence On Children" to learn how to incorporate sustainability into family life. For those curious about sustainability, particularly in the beauty industry, "What Does Sustainable Beauty Mean?" offers informative perspectives.
Taking small steps and approaching sustainability gradually is the easiest way to make a lasting change. Begin by compartmentalizing your home and focusing on one room at a time. Start with the kitchen, where you can set up designated recycling and trash bins. As you go about your daily routine, replace one item in the kitchen with a sustainable alternative whenever needed. Once you've made sustainable choices in the kitchen, move on to the bathroom, the bedroom, and so forth. By embracing this slow and deliberate approach, you can develop a habit that will endure.
Remember, the key is to start somewhere and take it one step at a time. Every small action adds up, and by making sustainability a conscious part of your life, you can make a meaningful impact.
Wondering how to embrace a green lifestyle? One effective approach is to strive for a circular economy, though achieving 100% circularity can be challenging. Alongside supporting a circular economy whenever possible, here are some guidelines for choosing environmentally-friendly products:
Opt for items made from sustainably-sourced materials, components, or ingredients.
Look for products that are manufactured and distributed sustainably, including eco-friendly packaging and shipping practices.
Support environmentally-conscious companies that prioritize sustainability.
Prioritize high-quality products that are durable and have a minimal environmental impact during manufacturing. Choose sustainable fashion brands over fast fashion, invest in quality bedding instead of cheap alternatives, and opt for zero-waste or recyclable packaging. Remember to recycle your beauty packaging through programs like PACT.
Engaging in green initiatives involves more than just consumer choices. You can also contribute by donating your time, money, or resources to foundations and causes that work toward environmental preservation. Planting trees and participating in carbon offset programs are effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Implementing small changes in your daily routine can have a lasting impact. Remember to turn off the tap when washing dishes or brushing your teeth, unplug electrical appliances when not in use, choose walking over driving whenever possible, and avoid using the clothes dryer unnecessarily. By evaluating each action and seeking ways to minimize environmental impact, you can make a difference.
It's important to acknowledge that striving for perfection as an environmentalist isn't the goal. The key is to make an effort and continuously improve. Even the smallest changes contribute to your well-being, financial savings, and the health of the planet. Don't be discouraged if you encounter setbacks along the way; the most crucial aspect is to keep trying.
"We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly." Anne Marie Bonneau, Zero Waste Chef.