Lina Chan

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Sustainable Living: What Does It Actually Mean?

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Sustainable living is quickly becoming a trendy lifestyle topic.  With ongoing calls for climate change, supply chain transparency for consumers and mass media, many people are discussing it …but what exactly is the meaning of sustainable living? 

Simply put, it means that we prioritize the use of natural and renewable resources instead of creating excess waste and depleting environmental resources for future generations. I believe that it means to acknowledge and understand that by the way we live, we must be conscious of the environment for the sake of all those living in it.  Essentially, sustainable living requires challenging what we already know and adapting to something new.

We are taught at a young age to reduce, reuse, recycle and use less water.  These are great steps, but there is so much more to do. When you pursue a sustainable lifestyle, you are committing to change the way you think and thus the way you live.

For me, sustainable living begins with how you view the world.  You acknowledge that everything on this planet has a purpose and that one move intrinsically affects another; you understand the enormity of our lives and that we would be nothing without our planet and every living thing that exists on it.  More importantly, it means that you have adopted the mentality that the things that need to change for the better, can and will!  Such change is not for your own benefit, per se, but for the benefit of society and life as a whole.

Although this movement emphasizes that living more sustainably is easy; making way for a sustainable lifestyle, actually takes a lot of time and energy.  Remember that Rome wasn't built in a day.  But the work that goes into changing how you think, how one consumes and the way we interact with our earth, is well worth the effort.

My personal journey to make sustainable living a priority began with some research.  In order to change my perspective, I needed more information. I read about the experiences of others; both their successes and failures, to better plan what I could do to make these changes compatible and suited to my life.  It is an ongoing process that will consist of lots of trial and error.  But without trying, I won't know what works best for me; and the same goes for you!

One way I regularly practice sustainable living is by actively trying to produce less waste and by doing so, I am now more cognizant of unnecessary excess in my life. For instance, I drink only from reusable water bottles and straws. I try my best to avoid single-use plastics (like non-reusable cutlery or plastic bags when shopping). I am also committed to switching to more environmentally conscious alternatives including beeswax wrapping and reusable zip lock bags for leftovers.  I also use natural beauty products (such as natural soap bars and reusable cotton rounds) which have very limited or recyclable packaging. A great natural beauty brand to check out is Cocokind which promises plant-derived packaging that can either be repurposed, recycled or composted.

Similarly, I try to shop infrequently, but when I do, I try to shop "slow", local or second hand.  In this way I'm not creating excess waste and I am supporting my local community. Another easy, simple thing to do, is to eat in season!  This is super attainable especially during the summer.  It's almost guaranteed that you can find and support a local farmers market in your community.

As previously stated, the pursuit of "sustainable living" requires both research and commitment to change your ‘modus operandi’.  Speaking from experience, it's worth the effort, to adjust your perspective to benefit both you and the world in which we live.  So with that being said, take this as a sign to start your journey, look for books, blogs and podcasts that will help you kick-start those new habits.  Be a trend setter, live a more sustainable life!

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