In recent years, the importance of changing lifestyles to become more sustainable has become ever more apparent.
Studies now indicate that Australia needs to reduce its emissions by at least 50% by 2030 to limit global heating to 2 degrees celsius, meaning urgent action is needed to protect our planet’s environment.
Much of the change necessary is systemic, but individuals can also play their part by making changes in their everyday lives to reduce their environmental impact. Here are just a few of the ways you can live more sustainably.
Switch to an electric vehicle
The third-largest source of greenhouse gases in Australia is the transport industry, accounting for 17% of the country’s total emissions. However, new technology can help to reduce that figure — namely, electric vehicles. Electric car sales have been fairly slow to start, but as their technology progresses and they become more affordable, electric vehicles offer a real opportunity to reduce drivers’ carbon footprints.
The good news is that electric cars have a whole host of other benefits as well as being eco-friendly, such as lower maintenance costs, being cheaper to run thanks to relying on electricity rather than petrol, and not producing any air pollutants.
Electric vehicles are by no means a perfect solution. That’s because the varying ‘power efficiency’ across different models, the emissions produced and materials used in the manufacturing process can still have an environmental impact.
On top of that, much of the electricity produced in the national grid still comes from fossil fuel-based sources, meaning charging up your car still indirectly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. This leads on to the next sustainability measure — renewable energy
Switch to green energy sources
Renewable energy is produced using resources that won’t run out — think solar power, wind turbines, geothermal energy, and hydropower — as opposed to the finite, polluting resource of fossil fuels. By installing your own solar panels or even a small wind turbine if you have the space, you can switch your home to a green energy source and bypass the environmental impact of fossil fuel power in the national grid.
Investing in your own green power source isn’t affordable or practical enough for many people, however. You can still contribute to green power even if this is the case, though. Many energy providers now have green energy plans, which re-invest your energy bill payments into large-scale renewable energy projects.
Avoid fast fashion
The clothes we buy are a less obvious sustainability issue than our cars or power sources, but it’s no less serious. Fast fashion produces over 92 million tonnes of waste and uses up 1.5 trillion tonnes of water every single year, destroying ecosystems and littering the environment with non-degradable landfill.
What’s more, the brunt of this is felt by developing nations, many of whom are already more susceptible to the effects of climate change. As well as the environmental impact, there are social impacts too — many fast fashion brands exploit developing nations for cheap labour in poor, under-regulated working conditions to make their products.
To counter this, you can make a commitment to avoiding fast fashion. Buy second hand where possible, and if you need to buy brand-new clothes, look for retailers with robust environmental and ethical policies. If you don’t want clothes anymore, don’t throw them out. Sell them on the various second-hand clothing apps available, or donate them to a charity or clothing bank.
Eat more sustainably
Much of the conversation around eating sustainably involves moving to vegetarian or vegan diets to avoid the greenhouse gases produced by intensively-farmed livestock. However, if you aren’t ready to take the plunge and stop eating meat entirely, you can still make a huge reduction to your carbon footprint just by reducing the amount of meat you eat, even by a few meals a week.
The types of food you eat aren’t the only thing that’s important — you should also think about where you get it from. Much of the environmental impact of food comes from transportation, so wherever possible you should look for locally-sourced food to alleviate this impact.