Humans have a massive impact on the environment. We have a finite amount of resources available to us on the planet such as oil, coal, and even fresh water. Eventually, these will be depleted, and at our current pace of consumption that day will come sooner rather than later. To combat that problem, sustainability is the idea of finding ways to make finite resources last longer as well as alternative and renewable resources.

Many people want to help the environment, but either don’t know how or aren’t willing to alter their lifestyles. A more realistic and practical approach to sustainability reduces negative effects on the environment without sacrificing money or quality of life.

One simple way to do so is to buy a reusable water bottle, coffee thermos, or grocery bag. This doesn’t cost any more than using disposable cups or bags and helps reduce the huge amount of plastic waste produced every day that is extremely damaging to the oceans.

Cooking meals for large groups of friends or family is a great way not only to conserve resources, but to bring people together. Buying food in bulk saves money, and group meals have the added social opportunity to spend time with those close to you.

Not many people know that the process for making clothes is quite harmful to the environment. Changing your habits with regards to purchasing clothing helps conserve fabric and lessens the production demand for factories. Look for used clothes at thrift shops and give away old clothes or clothes that you never wear. When buying new clothes from the store, try not to purchase an item if you think you’ll wear it less than 50 times.

Biking, walking or taking public transportation has many benefits if those options are available where you live. Not only does this cut back on the chemicals that cars emit into the atmosphere, but biking and walking are great forms of exercise and help save money on gas and automobile maintenance.

Finally, in most houses and apartments, heat escapes through the cracks around the edges of windows. This forces the heating unit to work harder to maintain the set room temperature, which both uses more energy and costs the homeowner more money. Caulking or sealing the edges of windows is a simple and cheap solution to this problem.

A common misconception about helping the environment is that in order to be ‘green,’ we must make drastic changes to our lifestyle. In reality, living sustainably is more about being conscious of our consumption habits and being creative about ways in which we can make those habits more effective, not just for the environment, but for our own financial and social needs as well.

Image from Arnaud Mesureur on Unsplash

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