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NASA Satellite data show a significant 30 percent drop in air pollution (atmospheric nitrogen dioxide) over the northeastern United States, and that’s phenomenal. The first image below is average data from March 2015-2019. The second image is recent data for March 2020. The difference is mind blowing.
Now that we are witnessing our planet becoming healthier, will it change the minset of those who previously shunned the very concept of greener living? Will it sway government officials to pass more laws to conserve and protect our land and eco systems? Will it inspire a decline in corporate greed which fuels climate change acceleration? The realistic answer is most likely not, but the answer can be yes, if humanity makes a collective effort to make those desires a reality and not just wishful thinking.
As cities slowly re-open and society returns to normal routine, we will most likely see people make haste to replenish what was lost—money.
People will eventually return to work in order to provide for their families, and with that said, our roads, skies and waterways will once again become major hubs for transportation. Cars, motorcycles, trucks, boats and airplanes will once again return to ejecting harmful fuel emissions that put our planet and air quality in jeopardy in the first place.
Unfortunately, this is our reality.
Although the improved state of the environment may not be sustained in the long run, we can remain hopeful due to the fact that billions of people on a global scale have become a witness to the impressive healing ability of Mother Earth—which in turn may have had a positive shift in mindset on being more eco-conscious.
Take India, for example. New Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world—and now its inhabitants are witnessing a visibility of Himalayan mountain peaks—a view that was practically obsolete prior to the mandate of isolation and social distancing. This phenomenon has awakened apathy in those who were asleep, and will perhaps spark activism in places where priority for environmental rights was non-existent.
The temporary state of a thriving earth reminds me of a famous quote by Alfred Lord Tennyson:
“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
It may not have lasted, but we got to experience it. Even if for a short time—and it was beautiful.
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Going green. Such a simple concept, yet so difficult to master. And why so? The answer is that humanity has grown complacent in a fixed mindset that small changes on their behalf won’t repair a big problem caused by billions of other people. It’s a feeling of defeat.
But, believing that one person can’t spark a big movement toward positive change is the reason that our fragile environment has become a breeding ground for global-scale crises such as pollution, collapse in ecosystems, species endangerment and global warming.
And for our environment to heal and undergo rehabilitation, fundamental change needs to take place—and that starts with a shift in consciousness.
You don’t need to be a specific gender to live a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle. Although, it does seem as if green living is depicted as more of a women’s niche.
Online advertisements, television commercials, and even social media posts—all seem to target the female population as if that specific gender is the only one that cares about the environment. Well, men are interested in a sustainable lifestyle too.
What Is Sustainable Living?
Sustainable living simply means that you’re prioritizing natural and renewable resources over actions and single use items that create waste.
Choosing recycled and ethically manufactured clothing over fast-fashion is one example of sustainable living. Growing an outdoor vegetable garden or an indoor herb garden is yet another example. Even being an eco-conscious traveler falls into the realm of sustainability.
To put it simply, a sustainable lifestyle involves being a good steward of the Earth, buying less, and choosing reusable and renewable products over disposables; and opting for nontoxic and biodegradable products that are healthy for both you and the environment.
With that said, below are 5 tips for sustainable living that any beginner—male and female—can both ease into.
Tips For Sustainable Living
Avoid Plastic And Invest In Reusable Products
Disposable plastic is everywhere. It’s in the form of a toothbrush that’s perched on your bathroom sink, the case of bottled water in your pantry, and in the form of a straw that’s given to you at your favorite drive-thru restaurant.
With that said, one of the best ways that you can be more sustainable everyday is to swap and avoid disposable plastic products. Some easy beginner changes that you can make consist of:
You’d be surprised how many people are ditching fast fashion and opting for sustainably and ethically made clothing brands.
Sustainable fashion consists of organic and recycled fabrics that are ethically and sustainably manufactured in facilities that treat factory workers in the most humane way possible and are void of child labor.
The benefit of buying sustainable clothing over fast fashion is that you’re buying quality fabric—an item that’s going to last. Sustainable clothing is also great for the planet—the manufacturing process uses less chemicals and less water.
Traditional laundry detergent is packed full of synthetic chemicals that can irritate skin, are bad for the environment, and they’re packaged in bulky plastic containers.
With that said, one of the best ways that you can be more sustainable in the laundry room is to ditch the traditional laundry detergent and switch to eco-friendly and non-toxic laundry strips or pods.
There are several benefits to this swap: eco strips and eco pods are zero waste, they’re perfect for travel, college and small apartments, and they’re hypoallergenic and non-toxic because they’re made from plant-based ingredients.
4. Start Composting In Your Kitchen
One of the best ways to lower your carbon footprint in the kitchen is to start composting—which can be accomplished even in the smallest of kitchens.
Food scraps like vegetables, egg shells, hair and paper can all be placed into a countertop compost bin, transforming said items into nutrient rich compost that’s excellent to use on potted plants, herbs and vegetable gardens.
Kitchen compost bins are typically about the same size as croc pots (or coffee pots), and come with liners and charcoal filters that prevent odor and fruit fly infestation. It’s definitely a great way to be more sustainable and zero-waste in the kitchen.
5. Switch To Non-Toxic Cleaning Products
A great way to make your home more eco-friendly and non-toxic is to ditch traditional cleaning products and swap them for non-toxic, plant based brands with recyclable containers.
Traditional cleaning sprays contain harmful chemicals that linger in the air and can be toxic to both humans and pets. Plant based solutions, on the other hand, are gentle yet powerful, and you don’t need to worry about inhaling anything dangerous.
Another alternative to traditional cleaning products is to create your own cleaning solutions using everyday pantry ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, essential oils and certain fruits like lemons and oranges.
Lastly, Create A Shift In Your Mindset
A mindset is a filtered view of the world that’s delicately influenced through a set of experiences. Everyone you’ve encountered, everything you’ve been taught, and everything you’ve seen, has had a part in shaping your mindset.
And although you’ve been “locked” into your current mindset for quite some time, it is possible to modify it. Many people are resistant to change because they fear it, so instead of making of a change, simply look at it as making a modification in thinking.
Simply realizing that you are a part of something greater is the first step in shifting your mindset. Acknowledging that you are a steward of the earth will help you embrace the concept of sustainability and motivate you to make wiser decisions—paving the way to a more sustainable future for you, your family and the environment.
If you’re curious about your carbon footprint and would like to know how to manage your lifestyle better, there’s a cool carbon footprint calculator on The Cool Climate Network, which is a research consortium at the University of California, Berkeley. They research and develop cutting-edge carbon footprint management tools for households, small businesses, schools and communities in the U.S. and Internationally. The estimate is totally free!