Adopting a fully sustainable way of life can be difficult, if not impossible. After all, we are all living creatures, and living creatures inherently make their impact in the world. It is the nature of life. The goal is to have the least impact, or at least the impact you desire. When you begin the effort to live sustainably, start with things you can do that provide little to zero inconvenience to you. Some things just require knowledge and forethought and are very easy to do. Other changes require you to spend more money or time. Obviously, you should start with changes that only cost a little more, and work your way up as best you can for what you can afford in money and time. When you struggle to accept something at a higher cost, remember that prices of the things we buy are not reflecting their true cost if they are not produced, distributed, consumed, and recycled in sustainable methods. With this knowledge in mind, you can choose to pay closer to the real price. Hopefully, one day, government regulations will force all prices to reflect their true cost, or we eventually will be forced to accept this cost due to exhaustion, depletion, or damage of our natural resources. The next step is to make some sacrifices in what you are used to. Some changes are of little inconvenience such as using reusable shopping bags. And other things are big sacrifices that may be hard to accept that your life can no longer have.
You do not have to save the world tomorrow. The idea is to do what you can now, however little or big the effects are. Any change made by individuals helps. Some may want to do more but feel they can’t with the current conditions. It’s true: with our modern culture, economy and manufacturing processes, it is nearly impossible to live completely sustainably. However, the more demand and awareness we create, the more we influence government and businesses to provide the solutions we need and want, which will create more options for choosing sustainability.
When considering options for living sustainably, we can score those options in the following categories:
“What is the impact for helping the world live more sustainably by adopting this sustainable option?” Some things make little impact and others make huge impact. The biggest impact you can make is to support government policy and candidates that help achieve sustainable living. The next is doing anything that stops emitting CO2 emissions which is burning fossil fuels and eating meat. And third is reducing energy consumption by doing less transportation and getting energy efficient appliances and lights.
“How much more do I need to pay compared to non-sustainable options?” If it doesn’t cost that much more we can more easily adopt it. Opting in for clean energy with your energy provider for example costs very little and immediately stops supporting fossil fuels for your home energy. But buying an electric car might be more expensive. Eating all organic or sustainably grown food or sustainably produced clothing might also cost too much now, but hopefully that will change with demand.
“How much effort must I make?” Some things require little effort like using reusable shopping bags while others take more effort such as composting your food waste when you have no city composting services. Not wasting your food also requires little effort but makes a major impact on conserving resources. Using anything reusable takes some effort and also repairing your stuff but helps conserve resources.
“How much extra time will this take to do?” Some things take little time such as calling your energy provider to opt in for clean energy. But taking public transportation to work or biking might take more time than driving but would save CO2 emissions.
“How much of a sacrifice in my quality of life will this be?” You might love eating meat, for example, but eating meat consumes a great deal of resources and causes climate change. So, eat meat as little as possible. Also, just buy less clothes and stuff in general.
When making sustainable choices, often you are prioritizing different principles of the sustainable mindset. Do your best to find an option that balances what you can pay or sacrifice with sustainability.