Sustainability is a relatively new term and concept. Our great-great grandparents surely never used the word although they lived in a world free of plastics and without a throw-away lifestyle. In fact, reverting back to some of their habits is what we can do to live more sustainably today.
What exactly is sustainability then? It can be a complex concept with definitions encompassing three pillars: economic, environmental, and social—also known informally as profits, planet, and people. The most often quoted definitions come from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development: “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” and the EPA’s policy, “to create and maintain conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.” Essentially, let’s protect our planet and make it a beautiful, thriving place for our own great-great grandchildren.
Here are some simple ways you can start living more sustainably and much of it goes back to living as our ancestors did:
- Donate gently used clothing, furniture and household goods to local shelters or organizations such as Goodwill and Salvation Army. Just because an item no longer suits your needs doesn’t mean it has to go to a landfill. Remember the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” It’s true.
- Switch from paper products at home to reusable items such as cloth napkins, glasses and ceramic dinnerware in place of disposable ones.
Water - one of the world’s most precious and fought-over resources, getting in the habit of conserving our fresh water helps everyone.
- At home, we can use less water inexpensively by switching out shower heads to ones with less volume. Some areas even provide these for free. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth.
- When an older water-using appliance needs to be replaced, try to purchase not only an energy efficient but a water efficient model of dishwasher or clothes washer.
- As with appliances, there are now toilets that not only use fewer gallons per flush, but also feature the option of liquid and solid waste flushes for conserving even more water.
- Bottled water - by now, most everyone is aware of the pollution from plastic bottles. If you must use one, please make sure you recycle your bottle so that it can be reused. Bottled water is often just municipal tap water anyway. If you are concerned with the quality of your local water or simply do not like its taste, there are several filtering options available in pitchers, reverse osmosis systems, under sink filters, refrigerator filters and even reusable bottles with replaceable filters.
- Recycle, recycle, recycle.
- While recycling may not be available in all areas, if it’s not an option in yours, try switching to as many reusable products as possible.
- Don’t forget about your food scraps! Many are recyclable by being composted which brings us to our next item:
- Try your hand at a little farming and grow some of your own food. You don’t need a big space - a window box, a pot on the patio; reuse or repurpose a plastic container, add some soil, sun and water and voila! You’ve grown your own food! Once you’ve had success, you’ll be sure to want to try other plants. If you live in a cooler climate, many food plants can be grown indoors. Not only will your plants provide nourishment, but they clean the air as well.
- Try to shop farmers markets and look for foods grown locally while shopping. Transporting food across the globe uses tons of fuel and is not sustainable. Your food will be fresher locally too.
- Community gardens are available in many locales and provide not only lots of goodies, but a social and educational environment as well. If you’re up for a great project, look into starting one in your area.
Sustainability can seem daunting but by starting small, we can all do our part to help our communities and our planet to become closer to achieving it. With the global pandemic, now is a good time to begin. We at Aktibo Athletics are proud of our commitment to using sustainable, recycled and eco-friendly materials in our clothing and taking our place to change our planet and way of thinking for the better. Take your place.
By Sheila Hecox, Aktibo Athletics