Regardless if you believe in climate change, science is science and the impact of our unsustainable lives is undeniable.
The West Coast wildfires are the latest indication that we are contributing to destroying our Earth; however, our Earth has been trying to tell us that we must make a change for years. Sea levels are rising, the glaciers in Arctic Ocean are melting, our oceans are populated, habitats are dying - what more will it take for you to make a change?
Full disclosure: I am not the most sustainable person. I eat a fair amount of meat; I take long showers and I probably use more electricity than I should.
However, my commitment to live a more sustainable life began after I watched “A Plastic Ocean,” a Netflix documentary. The documentary highlights the harmful impact plastic has on wildlife and communities that are responsible for “disposing” of it.
I emphasize “disposing” because there is not a full-proof method for disposing of plastic. Sure, we can decompose it and reuse it, but more plastic is continually being manufactured. Companies would rather create more plastic than invest in reusing it.
Additionally, the documentary explains that burning plastic is not an option. One tiny, impoverished community featured in the documentary is learning that burning plastic can cause cancer and other generational deformities such as infertility.
I am certain you have seen pictures of our polluted wildlife suffering the effects of plastic: sea turtles choking on plastic straws, birds caught in milk jugs, animals trapped in plastic store bags, and the list continues.
Plastic usage is inevitable. If you go to the store, you will notice that almost everything is packaged in plastic.
So, how can you become more sustainable if companies are responsible for creating and utilizing plastic?
I completely understand that it is easier said than done, but you can start by saying “no.” You can decline to use plastic straws at restaurants, opt out of using plastic bags at the store, choose glass or cardboard packing, and you can refuse single-use plastic.
Additionally, you can invest in reusable objects—K. Cup coffee pods, metal/silicon straws, plastic baggies (yes, there are reusable plastic baggies!) or cloth bags, Brita water filters, and more!
In addition to limiting your plastic usage, you can attempt to become more sustainable in all facets of your life.
You can make an effort to limit your meat consumption by eating a meatless burger instead or by growing your own garden. You can challenge yourself to not use as much electricity by air drying your clothes or bundling up in the winter to avoid turning on your heating system.
Unplugging your appliances when they are not in use will also save energy. Perhaps you can invest in a bicycle or carpool more to limit your gas emissions.
Other tips for living more sustainably include buying clothes second-hand, making an effort to upcycle out-of-style clothes, trying to go paperless by utilizing digital media, reading product labels for harmful chemicals, and more.
While all of these options are minute, you are still making a significant impact. Not to mention, your friends, family and roommates may take notice in your lifestyle changes. Perhaps you will inspire them to live more sustainably too.
You can also use your voice to make a difference. Contact your local politicians and urge them enact environmentally sustainable legislation, which can include mandating businesses invest in plastic alternatives and recycling.
You can vote for politicians who are environmentally aware and understand we are experiencing a climate crisis. Additionally, you can refuse businesses who make no effort to limit their carbon footprint.
The possibilities for living sustainably are honestly endless. I am not a scientist by any means, but I do think we are overdue for taking care of our Earth. It is our duty to protect mother nature.
We can all do our part and make an effort to live more sustainably and encourage others to do so too. Our Earth is beautiful, so let’s take care of her!