6 decisions that will make your life greener
You. Yes, you. You’re ignorantly and selfishly wrecking the world with your excessive consumption. Cut it out.
Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh. It’s not just you. There are, after all, seven billion of us on Earth – and we have a voracious appetite for energy, food, travel, luxury and the finer things in life. It’s a shared responsibility.
As a species, we’re constantly playing catch-up; continually trying to satisfy the relentless surge in population and demand for shiny and tasty things that are damaging the planet with climate-changing greenhouse gases.
So, what can we do about it? What can each of us do to limit our personal impact on the environment? How can we become a force for eco excellence? I’m not talking about becoming a full-time paragon of greenness – just life choices that can make a difference.
Here are a few choices – some classic ideas; some left-field suggestions – that anyone with a middle-income, western-style lifestyle can make to walk the path to a metaphor for better, greener environmental living….
1. Become a hipster
Vintage and retro is in. It’s so in it’s almost out. It’s also very good for the environment. Clothing consumption amongst affluent westerners and aspirational consumers around the world isn’t healthy. But by thriftily buying vintage, as well as getting threads that will last, recycling your existing clothes, and actually mending stuff when it breaks, you’re cutting down on this excessive cycle of production and waste. Why spend $70 on a new jacket when you can buy one second-hand that earns you cool points?
2. Get a mushroom death suit
Let’s talk about death. Your death. It’s hard to imagine that dying could harm the environment, isn’t it? But it does. Or rather, what we do with our bodies after death harms it: cremation releases poisonous toxins into the atmosphere – especially if you have fillings or implants; traditional coffin burials release bad toxins into the ground, and are obviously unsustainable considering our population explosion.
So, what’s the answer? It might be the mushroom death suit. It’s full of fungi that decomposes and remediates the bad stuff in our bodies, meaning our physiological leftovers are organically recycled and quite literally have a positive effect on the earth. It sounds lack a wacky idea, but the concept of being absorbed into the ground and fuelling the growth of new life is actually a pretty nice one.
3. Wake up and see the light
Most of us are guilty of ridiculous energy consumption to heat and light our homes. We do it for a reason, of course; the world can be a cold, dark place. But all that power generates and releases tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Thankfully, there’s a part-solution to this: flat roof skylights allow loads more heat and light into your home, meaning you don’t need to, well, spend so much on heating and lighting.
It’s kind of obvious when you think about it: skylights save money, benefit the environment, and all that extra sunlight means more Vitamin D, which makes you less SAD. Win win.
4. Become a weekday veggie
Meat is murder. But it’s such tasty, tasty murder that most of us crave juicy, succulent slices of the stuff every day. Some of us eat it every meal. I’m personally guilty of bacon addiction. I believe it improves everything. Except Bar Mitzvahs, obviously. And Ramadan.
Anyway, this insatiable desire for meat is bad. Really bad. The world’s livestock collectively emits more CO2 than the planet’s entire transport network, contributing to global warming and the acidification of the ecosystem. And in an age when feeding the human population is also getting increasingly difficult, the amount of food and water consumed by livestock is arguably ridiculous.
The solution for eco-conscious meat lovers? Become a weekday vegetarian, which is healthier for you and the environment. We don’t need to eat all the meat we’ve become accustomed to consuming, and if everyone went part-time veggie that would be as good as about half the world going full veggie. Which would be great for Planet Earth.
5. Eat from your back garden
Don’t literally eat from your back garden; it’s full of grass and dirt and next door’s football. Instead, concentrate on shopping for local, seasonal and sustainable produce. The idea of being a ‘locavore’ has been around for a few years now, and it’s not practical for everyone to spend their time browsing quaint country shops and farmers’ markets; but most of us can make an effort to buy food and materials that have been produced or sourced locally.
Food that we could easily buy locally is shipped thousands of miles to reach our shopping baskets. This is a poor use of energy and produces significantly harmful greenhouse gases that we could do without. So next time you’re in a store, think about whether you need everyday items that have been shipped from other continents. Why not buy the domestic variant? (Of course, you can also pick up gardening and grow your own.)
6. Don’t be a one-person eco warrior
While making a few changes to how you live (and die) is undoubtedly a good thing, on its own it won’t make much of an impact. Without being an annoying and smug environmental evangelical, try to spread the word about changes people can make to benefit their lives, the local environment and the wider world around them. Start an eco blog about the changes you’ve made. Share links and content on greener living with people you’re connected to. Support green charities. Talk to people.
Most people avoid making these kinds of changes because they don’t think it will make any difference in The Grand Scheme of Things. But if you do it and influence just one person, and they influence one person.… Well, you can see where we go from there.
About the author: Andrew Tipp is a writer, blogger, and editor. He’s spent more than a year volunteering and backpacking around the world, and has worked as a travel editor for gapyear.com. His favourite continents are South America and Africa, and he cites Bolivia and Sri Lanka as the most interesting countries he’s ever visited. Outside travel Andy is also a film geek, news junkie, pop culture noodler and social media dabbler.