For those of us who are not very familiar with the concept of a ‘sustainable lifestyle’, the moment someone suggests it, our immediate reaction is to think “Oh, that’s for the rich!”. Often people feel that to lead a sustainable lifestyle, one needs to have lots of money to buy ‘fancy’ eco-friendly gadgets and brands. Another common myth is that only when we change everything in our house to eco-friendly stuff will we be ‘a conscious consumer’.
So we decided to #BustTheMyth and learn how leading a sustainable lifestyle can actually SAVE us money! Like everything else, a lifestyle change cannot happen overnight; it takes time and patience. Let’s start by busting 2 myths here!
#1. Leading a sustainable lifestyle is not about being fancy; it is the NEED OF THE HOUR! With all the environmental degradation that is happening around us, it is up to us to choose to be more conscious about how we utilise our resources because the unfortunate truth is that we only have one Planet Earth! The least we can do is make small changes that will help preserve what we have left.
#2. Sustainability is not about BUYING. It is about being conscious and making small changes to your everyday routine. You don’t have to become the ‘Sustainable King or Queen’ overnight. All you need is to be more eco-friendly in your ways and before you know it, you will start you on a journey that you will not regret. Moreover, you will realise that a sustainable lifestyle actually saves money!
The To Do List
If you’re just starting off on your sustainable journey, the number of changes that need to be incorporated may seem a bit daunting. So, I decided to devise a To Do List which makes the task at hand a lot easier. The main concept behind it is baby steps – one at a time! The list of changes are categorised under 4 headings depending on how easy or difficult the change is and whether it needs any investment or not. The task at hand may vary from person to person, so you could add it to a different box in your personal list. But, this is a ready reckoner to get you started on your journey to sustainable living!
Do One Today
* Shut off lights and equipment when not in use. It saves energy and reduces the heat emitted by these devices. Unplug your phone once it is completely charged. Shut your computer down when done for the day. Shut off the water heater in 20 minutes or less. You get the idea!
* Shower mindfully. An average bucket bath takes 1 to 2 buckets of water (say 25 – 50 litres) – which makes it superior to any shower that lasts beyond 7 minutes. (Even an “efficient” shower-head runs through 7 litres a minute.) That’s why many sources recommend bucket use to showers. But if you prefer showers to bucket – that’s no problem, as long as you limit your shower running time to 5 minutes or so.
* Likewise, turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth or shaving because #EveryDropCounts. Moreover, you will be saving more than 5500 litres of water per year!
* Reuse water from the kitchen – vegetables wash-off or water filters run-off – for watering your plants and cleaning purposes.
* Choose to air dry your clothes on a line or stand instead of using a dryer.
* Start using (and carrying with you) reusable items – shopping bags, water bottle, a straw, a cloth napkin. A “zero waste toolkit” can help you a long way!
* You don’t need to buy a whole bunch of mason jars to set up an eco friendly kitchen. Start off by reusing glass (and plastic) jars in which some of your kitchen items come.
* Print only when absolutely necessary. Use both sides of the paper to print. If you have one side printed paper lying around; make a notebook to use or give it to kids to draw on the blank side.
Do One This Week
* To ensure there is no water wastage, check for leaks and get them fixed immediately.
* Run your dishwasher and washing machine only when you have a full load. This way you will be saving water and energy. It’s estimated that about 22% of your home water usage is from doing laundry.
* Get rid of the paper towel in your kitchen and start using reusable cloth rags.
* Invest time in planning and preparing your meals from scratch. The food choices that you make ensure a healthier you and are good for the environment too.
* When buying food stuff, keep a few of these points in mind – Less packaging used for the goods (Here’s a list of places in Singapore!). Opt to buy local produce from farmers market.
* Set up a ‘carpool’ option for going to work instead of taking your car every day. Over all, try and drive less; walk or cycle more.
Do One This Month
* Invest in LED or CFL bulbs as they save 75% energy as compared to the traditional bulbs. The bulbs may be slightly more expensive but they last longer and save you money when paying the electricity bill. Start replacing one at a time and before you know it, you’ll be done!
* When shopping for groceries and household items, make a list of what is needed and buy only that. Don’t get influence by special offers and deals! Over time, you will realise you save much more money by limited purchases instead of hoarding.
* When it comes to clothes and fashion accessories, enjoy the ‘swapping and sharing’ wardrobe instead of ‘buying’. If you must buy something, take a look at this quick guide that will help you make the right choice.
* A mindset change is needed – buy less but ensure that you buy good quality products that will last you longer.
* You can make your own cleaning agents at home – they are definitely safer than the ones available in the market and it also helps save money. Here is a guide on how to make an eco cleaning agent at home using tea seed powder.
* Start composting your food scraps and use it to grow your own garden. Here’s a quick guide to composting.
* Invest in rechargeable batteries. This way you will be saving money and sending lesser disposable batteries into the landfill.
* Start reading your newspapers and magazines online. InUSA , it is estimated that to produce the weekly Sunday newspapers, around 500,000 trees must be cut down.
Do One This Year
* Buy low-flow shower heads as they use about 35 litres for a 10 minute bath; drastically cutting down on your water consumption.
* Get low-flow flushes installed for your toilet cisterns. It is estimated that a full flush is 6 litres as opposed to low flow flush which uses only 4.8 litres of water!
* If you stay in a house, start rain water harvesting and use that water for your garden and cleaning purposes. There are many DIY projects available online to help you set it up.
* When buying, choose to get gently used second hand goods instead of brand new ones.
* Go Green – Start an organic garden. Get some potted plants for your balcony. Plant trees if you have open space.
* If you have outdoor lighting, opt for solar lighting fixtures. In fact, solar heating options are also a great if you live in a sunny country!
* When buying new appliances, look out for the Energy Stars. In simple language, the more energy saved by the appliance to provide a service; the more money saved and better for the environment.
These are just some pointers to start you off. You can choose to add others that you feel may be more important for you. If we’ve managed to get you hooked on, here are a few more changes that you can incorporate to lead an eco friendly lifestyle.
So, what are you waiting for? Get started right away!