Living sustainably has become a part of many people’s everyday life. You can’t go anywhere without hearing about eco-friendly practices and reduce, reuse, recycle slogans.
But it can be confusing seeing all of this information and wondering how you can make a difference. In its essence, sustainable living can be quite simple.
In fact, you can make small, daily lifestyle changes that can contribute to the whole movement by making you more aware and making better decisions toward reducing your own environmental footprint.
Let’s look at some of the ways you can embrace sustainability in your life and how those can make an impact.
What Is Sustainability
First, understanding what sustainability is can help you make the right choices toward a more sustainable lifestyle.
Simply put, sustainable living is avoiding making choices that deplete natural resources or disrupt an ecological balance in order to have things like cleaner air and live in a nontoxic environment.
What Does It Mean To Be Sustainable?
Being sustainable doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, you can do some easy things on a daily basis that promote sustainable living.
People who practice this approach do so by altering their methods of transportation, energy consumption, and waste collection to make positive change.
Here are some sustainable living ideas you can try.
1. Grow Your Own Food
When people suggest growing your own food, it sounds daunting like you have to turn your backyard into a full garden. But that’s not the case.
Start living sustainably by growing some herbs in pots, such as rosemary, thyme, chives, cilantro, basil, or parsley. These are easy to grow in containers on your patio that can be brought in during winter months in some cases to continue providing you with fresh herbs for your meals.
There are some salad seed mixes that can also be grown in containers that continue to grow after you snip the lettuce all season long, providing you with regular fresh salads for little effort.
In 2018, the rate of food being composted was only 4.1%, and food scraps and yard waste make up more than 30% of what we throw away, according to the EPA. This means there is room for improvement when it comes to sustainable living.
Composting wasted food reduces the amount that ends up in landfills and can generate harmful greenhouse gases like methane.
To compost, you can buy a compost bin at your local hardware store and place it in the back of your yard in a dry, shady spot. Add food waste like orange peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, tea bags, and other materials, in addition to yard trimmings, as you collect them. Over time, the materials will break down with regular mixing or turning. When the material at the bottom is dark in color, it’s ready to use in your garden to improve the soil.
3. Buy Local
Maybe gardening or a compost bin require more time or space than you have available. You have another option for sustainable living: Shop for fruits and veggies at your local farmer’s market or community food cooperative.
Supporting small-scale, local farmers reduces emissions used to transport food great distances, minimizing pollution and energy usage. Also, many local farmers use sustainable practices that conserves water and reduces soil erosion, so you’re supporting their efforts.
Through recycling, you collect materials that would otherwise be thrown in the trash and turn them into new products.
As part of your efforts on how to live more sustainably, you can recycle several ways. Start by separating recyclable materials, such as plastic water bottles, metal cans, glass, and paper, from your other trash. Then, use a trash service that provides a recycling bin or take your recyclables to a local drop-off center.
You can also make an effort to buy new products that are made from recycled materials.
5. Invest In Reusable Items
While recycling is a great practice for living sustainably, some materials like plastics can only be recycled a couple times, while others like glass and metal can be recycled many times.
You can also cut down on your overall trash by using a product that can be reused. Instead of a plastic water bottle, for instance, use a steel one that you can refill over and over. Instead of paper napkins, use cloth ones you can wash and reuse. When shopping, use reusable bags and buy in bulk when you can to reduce waste.
6. Reduce Energy Consumption
Another way you can easily embrace sustainability is by using less energy overall.
This is simply done by turning off lights when you’re not using them and adjusting your thermostat by a couple degrees to avoid overusing your HVAC system.
7. Plant More Perennials And Native Plants
Enjoy the color of annual flowers but hate that they require yearly planting and extra water? Try perennials instead.
While annuals have a one-year lifecycle, perennials grow back each year, being a more sustainable living option in the long run. Annuals may provide season-long blooms, but there are quite a few perennials that can stand proud among annuals, adding some great texture and color to the landscape.
In addition to perennials, sustainable living can be done by adding native plants to your garden that attract wildlife, particularly pollinators like bees, butterflies, and birds.
Since native plants fit your region best, they are also easier to grow and maintain, as well as being more resistant to pests.
Trees are sustainable, too. Trees and shrubs can be used as landscape hedges for privacy instead of fences, adding oxygen. And planting trees on the south and west sides of your home so they provide shade in summer and warmth in winter are natural solutions to reduce your air conditioning and heating bills.
How To Be More Sustainable: Next Steps
As you hear about climate change and its impact on the planet, you likely want to do something to be more sustainable. But overhauling your entire daily routine can feel overwhelming.
Luckily, small steps can make a big impact.
Now that you have some sustainable living ideas, give one a try. Reducing the waste you create and dealing with the waste you do have can help contribute to overall sustainability initiatives that help preserve our natural environment for years to come.
Davey’s Commitment To Sustainability
Davey has been focused on sustainability efforts for more than 10 years.
We pride ourselves on adhering to the Global Reporting Initiative framework through this time. This means we’re using the global best practices for sustainability impact reporting so we are transparent in our greener practices as an organization.
In 2016, we completed a robust materiality assessment to identify, prioritize and validate the most significant environmental, social and governance topics to the business. Through that assessment, we decided to focus on fuel usage, water management, and wood waste.
With fuel usage, we ensure each vehicle or piece of equipment is properly used, as well as serviced regularly and maintained to decrease our emissions and energy use.
In 2017, we expanded our chemical management processes to include water use, setting an audacious goal to reduce our water consumption per labor hour by 35 percent by 2023.
While Davey strives to reuse or recycle 100 percent of generated wood waste, not all wood waste is recyclable. Due to regulations and health concerns with disease or insect-infested wood, we can only recycle approximately 93 percent of our wood waste.