'Sustainability' is the new buzzword everywhere on social media, from individuals to brands everyone wants to now be seen as sustainable, eco-friendly, green, zero waste, and more such terms that may feel overwhelming while scrolling through your Instagram feed. If this resonates with you and confuses you on how and where to get started - breathe. I was at that place a couple of years ago and constantly worried about where to start, what to do first, and what if I'm not able to do everything! This is a good place to be if you're serious about doing what's needed for our own environment.
Even if each of us follows sustainability goals imperfectly, we'll still make a large enough impact than a majority of people doing nothing.
So don't worry, let's get you started with five simple things you can do at home without taking away too much of your everyday time. Before that, let's remember a few things about being sustainable:
Yes, it takes some amount of time and extra effort to identify, accept, adapt, and change our current habits.
Yes, it may feel cumbersome at first, but once it becomes a way of life, you'll find it coming to you far more naturally.
Yes, it can be difficult to be sustainable in a household where other members may not fully understand the journey you're on, the changes you are making to the existing systems of your household. Dependencies can be frustrating at times to keep up with your sustainability plans, however, don't fret about it, do what you can.
Yes, it may feel it's expensive to be sustainable, but in the long run, it's really not. Sustainability is about investing in the right things that don't outrun your needs quickly.
Yes, the world around us is not yet sustainable friendly completely, so it may feel like your efforts are not creating any impact, but just like charity sustainability has to begin at home so we can eventually be a sustainable society.
Lastly, sustainability is about reusing, repurposing, recycling, doing it yourself, and over time consciously reducing our negative impact. Of course, we're not going by the textbook definitions but sharing some wisdom from our experiences.
Getting started with sustainability at home:
Ditch the plastic bags from local vendors for good quality cloth grocery shopping bags - you can even make your own from old bedsheets or clothes.
Repurpose anything plastic that comes into your house. Sometimes, it's not easy to control how plastic enters your home, so if it does, try to find more uses for it like storing delicate fabrics in thick plastic bags, making planters out of plastic bottles, bubble wrap from e-commerce orders for packing/ storing glassware and cutlery and so on. If you have no purpose for it, depending on its condition, give it to your friends, family, or neighbours who might need it.
If you soak almonds or nuts every day, use that water for your plants to provide them with extra nutrition. You can even use vegetable washing water for plants.
If you always have food leftover that no one eats the next day, reduce the amount of food cooked for a few days to understand how much quantity is really required. This might require more intervention in case your cooking is done by a hired help.
Be sure before placing that order in this day and age of online shopping, order only what you need. Avoid buying multiple things with the comfort of returning whatever you don't like, all the effort required to process your order and deliver it to you, has to be repeated to take it back to the seller. Depending on the type of product, it may end up in waste at the seller's end as they may not be able to resell it to another potential customer. Sometimes, even if the product is not perfect, I keep it as long as it serves its purpose well.
These were some of the things I got started with, and it helped me embark on this journey where now all daily decisions are driven by instinct towards sustainability, sometimes I felt like a hoarder for saving everything, but once I had my repurposing and reusing strategies in place it became easier to be productively sustainable.
Let me know in the comments below what you think about these tips, if you tried any of them, or if you have your own starter tips to share with the community!