Opinion: 3 steps towards sustainable living

The media thrives on fear mongering statements in order to insight guilt into its consumers — especially regarding the current state of our planet. Images and headlines are everywhere about microplastics in the ocean, rising carbon dioxide levels, and depleted water sources. These depictions — as informative as they may be — do nothing to combat such issues.

I know firsthand the guilt that ensues from these visuals, and the dreaded feeling of “I am to blame for this.” This feeling is destructive and, at the end of the day, solves nothing. Personally, I know I fall-short of sustainable living — I am human after all. However, there are some things we can all do to be more sustainable. Here are three ways to live a more sustainable life: 

Develop a personalized garden

Maintaining and caring for your own garden is the best — and most rewarding — step towards sustainable living. While large garden space may not be available here in the city, it is entirely possible to look after a few plants in your own home. For instance, start an herb garden in small pots along a windowsill — full of thyme, parsley, mint, and oregano. What’s not to like about a homegrown “spice” cabinet?

If you’re feeling adventurous with your green-space, consider growing both tomato and zucchini plants. They grow beautifully in Washington weather and are a lovely addition to almost any recipe. For instance, spaghetti noodles with diced zucchini and tomato — atop with fresh thyme — is always a delicious hit in any household.

Utilize reusable products

Hydro-Flasks and reusable grocery bags are seemingly everywhere as it is a new trend amongst this generation. The presence of these sustainable products serves as both an advertisement and an example of simple, sustainable practice. Not only are they convenient, but they cut down on destructive single use plastics.

Unlike traditional water bottles, Hydro-Flasks are also free of Bisphenol A (BPAs) — an organic synthetic compound that poses several health risks such as reproductive disorders and heart disease. Not only do these containers limit the use of plastic — thereby reducing environmental plastic incidence — is also healthier for the consumer.

Purchase second hand

Stores such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army provide second hand clothes and products. These thrift style stores are a perfect example of community reuse — instead of throwing away clothes, they can simply be repurposed to someone else.

Rather than purchasing new clothes — thus perpetuating the cycle of environmental degradation — you can utilize clothes already in the system. In other words, one secondhand purchase is one less new product produced — essentially, thrift stores stall the system and limit excessive energy usage. 

Transitioning into sustainable practices does not have to be time consuming or restrictive. Instead of feeling guilty about anthropogenic climate change, use your knowledge and resources to create change within your lifestyle. While it is impossible to change others around you, it is possible to change personal habits — remember, sustainable communities begin with individual action.