Reduce, reuse and recycle: here are 12 good habits to put into practice for a sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle
Everything we do in daily life has an impact on the planet, from the food we consume to the car we use to travel to the workplace.
To protect the Earth and preserve it in an optimal way also for future generations, however, today more than ever it is necessary to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, reducing consumption and carefully preserving the resources made available by our beautiful planet.
But let's start from the beginning.
What is environmental sustainability?
Environmental sustainability can be defined as a responsible and conscious relationship of man with the surrounding environment, useful for preventing and avoiding the exhaustion or degradation of the Earth's natural resources and thus preserving the quality of the environment in the long term.
If nature has a truly remarkable ability to renew itself (just think for example that, when a tree falls, it decomposes and adds nutrients to the soil useful for allowing the growth of future saplings), when man enters the scene and uses the resources provided by the environment without the application of environmental sustainability methods and behaviors, can compromise the access and long-term conservation of natural resources.
But what does this mean in practice? Here is an example: Paul wants to pick apples from his tree. Instead of resorting to a ladder and climbing the tree to collect the fruit, Paolo grabs an ax and cuts the apple tree, so as to bring the apples to ground level, where he can easily pick them. Paul has thus satisfied his needs immediately but not for the year to come, since there will be no tree that will bear fruit. Paul, therefore, did not support his natural resource and it will no longer be available to him.
What are the benefits related to environmental sustainability?
At the moment we draw on natural resources, use energy and produce waste at an unsustainable pace. This has led to the emergence of major problems such as pollution and climate change, with negative consequences on the environment, wildlife and humans themselves.
By making small changes to our lifestyle and putting into practice behaviors that support environmental sustainability, however, we can help guarantee the satisfaction of all the needs of the population living on our planet today, without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet your needs.
What good habits to live sustainably?
- Save electricity by plugging appliances into a power strip and turning them off completely when not in use
- Reduce the use of paper formats for bank statements and bills
- Turn off the lights, even when you can take advantage of the lighting provided by the glare of TV or computer screens
- Replace light bulbs and old appliances with energy-efficient models, start the washing machine at full load, and prefer showering over the bathroom (which requires much more water than a 5 or 10 minute shower)
- Do not overdo the consumption of meat, poultry and fish, the production of which requires the use of more resources than those needed to produce plants and vegetables
- Separate waste collection: wet waste can be transformed into compost, while the recycling of paper, plastic, glass and aluminum prevents the growth of landfills
- Adjust the thermostat to keep it a little lower in winter and a little higher in summer, also taking care to resolve any air leaks in windows and doors so as to increase their energy efficiency
Purchases and consumption
- Support neighborhood businesses to help drive economic growth in your area and limit the need for trucks to travel long distances
- Use the shopping list: it will help you not to buy more food than necessary and avoid impulse purchases
- Buy consciously, choosing items with little packaging and products from companies that adopt sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. For example, do you know that there is a new range of cosmetics for babies and mothers whose packaging is made with renewable raw materials obtained from sugar cane from sustainable sources?
- Buy vintage and donate what you don't use: you can give life to used clothes, books and furniture
- Prefer green travel, by bicycle, on foot or by public transport
Environmental, economic and social sustainability
Alongside environmental sustainability, the implementation of the so-called "sustainable development" – in which the international community has been committed for some time – also has two other fundamental pillars:
- economic sustainability, i.e. the ability to generate income and work and support populations over time, enhancing territorial specificities and effectively distributing resources;
- social sustainability, understood as the ability to guarantee, both now and for future generations, an adequate level of safety, health and education.
The set of these three elements (environmental, social and economic sustainability) is the basis of the change process which aims to guide the exploitation of resources, investments, technological development and institutional changes on current and future needs.
With the intention of pursuing this goal, in September 2015, the governments of 193 UN member countries signed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an action program for people, the planet and prosperity that encompasses 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Goals will have to be achieved by 2030 globally by all UN member countries and include important goals including the elimination of socio-economic disparities in the world through the eradication of poverty in all its forms, access to inclusive and equitable quality education, the achievement of gender equality and the promotion of lasting, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, the implementation of sustainable consumption and production models.
Great importance is also given to access and conservation of natural resources, so that the availability of water and sanitation for all is guaranteed, as well as access to energy at an affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern price.
The need to:
- take urgent measures to combat climate change and its consequences;
- conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources;
- protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, manage forests in a sustainable way, stop desertification and the loss of biodiversity.
In order to effectively pursue these Goals, however, it is necessary that every human being actively contributes. Where to start? By making the small changes we saw together earlier in our routine – they can make a big difference!