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Sustainable Living: Simple Steps to Reduce Your Environmental Footprint

Simple steps for greener choices in preserving our planet for future generations.

By Aevan John NamangPublished about a month ago 5 min read
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Sustainable Living: Simple Steps to Reduce Your Environmental Footprint
Photo by Mert Guller on Unsplash

Almost everything we do in our lives has an impact on our environment. It might not be direct, but it affects our environment in so many ways. For instance, when we go to work and commute, the carbon dioxide that is released into the earth's atmosphere by most transportation vehicles actually warms our planet and, in turn, causes climate change, which is an issue that has long been present since before. Another example would be consuming products that are packaged in plastic. There are already a lot of news stories and articles that cover this, such as how some of the plastics we use end up in the ocean, which is why there are people who advocate for more environmentally friendly product packaging.

When we think of sustainable living, we tend to think of going green but what does sustainable living really mean? Sustainable living refers to the ways in which we try to make our planet's resources last as long as possible by effectively managing our needs. One example of sustainable living is limiting our water consumption only to the amount that is necessary. In this example, we could lessen the amount of water that goes to waste, which in turn would make our water resources available for a long time and possibly help future generations. Not only does sustainable living have an impact on our economy, but it also has a positive impact on our environment. Referring back to our example, if we effectively regulate our water consumption, we could also lower the consumption of energy that is used in processes such as water treatment.

Now, what is environmental footprint? Environmental footprint, in its broadest definition, would be the impact we leave on our environment through our activities and such—just like when we walk, we leave a footprint on the ground. However, unlike the usual footprints we make, the footprints we make on our environment typically last a long time and can be seen for much longer. In this article, we are going to be discussing how we can reduce our environmental footprints as well as some practical tips on how we can achieve this as individuals.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

By Łukasz Rawa on Unsplash

The reduce, reuse, recycle, or the three Rs, as most of us know them, is a waste management principle that we can choose to incorporate in order to effectively manage our waste. Someone who incorporates this principle would use fewer plastic bags and would opt for environmentally friendly ones such as paper. There has been a thing called "biodegradable plastic," which means that it can be broken down by living things such as bacteria. Unlike the normal plastics that we are accustomed to, biodegradable plastic can be decomposed in a much shorter time, spanning around months. In recent years, there have been a lot of companies around the world that have utilized this, and there are already companies that sell biodegradable plastic bags.

Aside from refraining from using environmentally harmful materials, someone who incorporates the three Rs principle would prefer to recycle things rather than replace them with new ones. Recycling is often confused with repurposing, and some people have actually used these two words interchangeably, but if we define it, recycling actually refers to converting things in order for them to be used again, while repurposing, on the other hand, refers to using the same thing or object for a different purpose, such as using plastic drums as compost bins.

Conserve Energy

By Ian Talmacs on Unsplash

As we have already discussed earlier, carbon emissions are one of the most prominent problems that we face when it comes to our environment. The carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere stays there for a long time, and during this time it absorbs the heat from the earth and releases it in all directions, which includes releasing it back to the earth. This is the main reason why we have the issue of global warming.

And now we might ask ourselves, What are the ways in which we could reduce carbon emissions? One way we could reduce carbon emissions is through energy conservation. Energy conservation refers to the act of minimizing energy consumption to avoid energy waste. Conserving energy can be as simple as turning the lights off in your house when they are not in use or by using appliances that are energy friendly—those that consume less energy.

When we start to take proactive measures pertaining to our consumption of energy, such as opting to use energy-friendly appliances, using LED light bulbs, etc., we use less electricity, and this decrease in the demand for electricity would make the power plant burn less fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas, therefore reducing carbon emissions.

Minimize Water Usage

By Sasikan Ulevik on Unsplash

Just like energy conservation, conserving water is also very important. As we reflect on the example that I've provided at the very beginning of this article, we can see how our consumption can significantly impact our environment, whether negatively, such as by wasting water, or positively, by reducing our consumption of it.

There are various ways in which we can reduce our water usage, such as by taking shorter showers. On average, shower heads have a water flow of about two gallons per minute, and when you take—let's say five or more minutes of showering—you have already consumed a number of gallons in a single shower session, which is a huge amount of water wasted.

Choose Sustainable Transportation

By Carl Nenzen Loven on Unsplash

Transportation also has a significant impact on our environment and the way we transport everyday from our home to our work and back, specifically if we are using our cars. As we have discussed in the "Conserve Energy" section, just like power plants, most cars that are used today (with an exemption for electric vehicles) still consume fossil fuel, and we already know that when it gets burned, it turns into carbon dioxide, further contributing to global warming.

Considering this, there are other various alternative ways of transportation that we can use, such as using public transportation. Though most public transportation vehicles still emit carbon, the amount of carbon emitted would be significantly less than when we each travel in our personal cars. Another option is to use a bicycle or walk. Not only are they good exercise that will benefit your health, but they are also the most sustainable method of transportation.

In conclusion, it is important for us as individuals to take the necessary steps to reduce our environmental footprint because, as we reflect on our discussion, we can see that there is indeed a need for us to regulate our consumption of resources as it would significantly affect our environment, either positively or negatively. Moreover, the steps that are provided in this article are just some of the effective steps that we can start to implement in our daily routines. It doesn't matter if you took small steps; what matters is that you took a step and made an effort to contribute to the preservation of our planet.

Sustainability
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About the Creator

Aevan John Namang

Just a writer who loves writing about anything.

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  • Ameer Bibiabout a month ago

    Excellent story

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