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5 simple tips to living a more sustainable life

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Sustainability is more than just a buzzword. It’s a way of life that minimises the impact on the environment, and looks at creating the least amount of waste from whatever is consumed or used. Sustainable living creates a cycle that can be repeated without cumulative damage or harm to the world around us. For example, a sustainable material is one that is created or gathered in a way that doesn’t damage its environment, pollute the air or reduce the supply of resources permanently.

Being green is understandably often confused with sustainability. Being green is to be environmentally friendly, but it may not always be sustainable. For example, a digital music player may be green compared to buying CDs, but they can still be made from materials like non-biodegradable plastic and use manufacturing processes that are harmful to the environment.

It may not always be possible for city dwellers to live a lifestyle that is 100 percent sustainable, but steps can be made towards living in a way that will help to preserve the earth for future generations. Below are 10 suggestions for some simple lifestyle changes:

Sort your waste into three different bins

Recycling bin

Credits: Kongsky

Set aside different containers for waste. One for recycling materials, one for organic waste like leftover food and one more for the landfill. Organic waste in landfills produces landfill biogas that is harmful to the air and water. It can, for instance,  be used to make compost to fertilise a garden, and even electricity with the right technology.

If your local recycling centre doesn’t offer single bin recycling or have the technology to sort recycled trash automatically, sort your recyclables into different categories like plastics, glass, metals and paper.

Buy and use recycled or organic products

Buy Organic

Credits: digitalart

Buying recycled products or products that use recycled materials is more sustainable than buying products that use new resources to create. Organic foods use less water and no pesticides, making it more sustainable than conventional commercial farming. Buying organic cotton is also preferable to buying clothes that use plastic or plastic fibres.

Sustainable products such as Electrolux’s Eco range of appliances, in which over 80% of a large appliance like a washing machine can be recycled is a great example of how companies can contribute to this movement.  The company has also cut its energy use by 25% since 2006 according to its 2010 Sustainability Performance Review.

Pay attention to packaging

Even if the product claims to be eco-friendly, do pay attention to its packaging. For example, Styrofoam is a popular material used for packaging. However, it is not only non-biodegradable, it uses chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in its production, which has been shown to deplete the ozone layer.

Use cloth bags for shopping

Cloth Bag

Credits: Ponsulak

When going grocery shopping, bring along a cloth or canvas bag to hold your purchases rather than getting new plastic bags from the shop. Plastic bags are not only not biodegradable, they use up oil resources to be produced and are economically unviable to recycle. Improperly disposed plastic bags have also wound up in the sea and areas where wildlife are present. They have been found in the stomachs of animals and can cause blockages, infections, starvation and death.

Compact your rubbish

Before throwing empty cans, boxes, milk cartons or plastic bottles in the trash, do flatten or crush them before doing so. This ensures more trash can be thrown out in one plastic bag, making it more efficient, and reduces its volume in waste disposal.

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