5 Habits for a Sustainable Lifestyle

As more and more people become aware of the environmental crises that plague our Earth, many choose to tweak their lifestyle to lead more sustainable lives. Just a simple Google search can give you hundreds of easy ways to become more environmentally friendly, including walking to work, eating less meat, and limiting single-use plastics. Despite the easily searchable methods, revamping your lifestyle can be daunting and confusing! Here are five important habits to help you achieve an environmentally conscious lifestyle:

#1: Research, Research, and More Research

Knowledge is power, and luckily there is a plethora of information right at your fingertips. Becoming informed about how your actions impact the Earth is crucial in making environmentally-friendly lifestyle choices. This will help you develop a deeper and more meaningful understanding of what it means to live sustainably. Whether it’s researching different corporations’ environmental practices or simply Googling the best reusable water bottle, the more knowledge you have, the better equipped you will be to make eco-friendly choices.

#2: Pay Attention to Your Food Waste

About one-third of all the food in the world is wasted. This statistic reflects both wasted resources as well as a growing contribution to climate change. The food production system accounts for a substantial amount of climate-change driving greenhouse gas emissions. This impact starts from the early growing stages and continues all the way through disposal in landfills. Composting, using proper storage, and getting creative with the miscellaneous items in your fridge can help reduce your food waste and subsequently lower your carbon footprint. Not to mention, this practice will help you save money at the same time!

Woman grocery shopping, opening her fridge

#3: Proper Recycling

Reduce, reuse, recycle — most of us have heard it, be it from an elementary school assembly or an eye-catching billboard, but a surprising amount of Americans don’t actually know how to properly recycle. When at-home recycling is done incorrectly, it ends up in landfills, even if some of the items were able to be recycled. Often contaminated by food products or incorrectly sorted, much of people’s recycling does not actually get recycled. Taking time to learn correct protocols and techniques when recycling at home will reduce the chances of your weekly round-up of recyclables ending up in landfills. 

#4: Support Local Businesses

Shopping at local businesses rather than large chain corporations has extensive benefits. With regard to sustainability, local businesses have a smaller carbon footprint, as they do not use mass transportation or large packaging facilities. Farmers' markets, for example, not only are lower in emissions from food production, but promote sustainable farming practices that provide healthier food. Through buying local produce, you are also supporting the farmer economically. So the next time you need fresh produce, I recommend checking out one of the various farmers’ markets in Berkeley.

#5: Acknowledge Your Impact

We often are held back by the misconception that as one person, our actions are not enough to make any sort of real change. With large corporations generating a seemingly unfathomable amount of climate change-driving emissions, it's easy to feel that all of your meatless Mondays are for nothing. But the effects of your actions have the ability to both help the environment and influence the people around you. When I started to change my lifestyle, I struggled with the belief that I could never do enough, until I noticed my friends and family developing similar habits. My mom started composting in our backyard, my dad had stopped bringing single-use plastics to work, and suddenly the impact of my actions multiplied. In moments of doubt, it is important to reflect on the power of your choices in order to stay motivated.