Every weekday, I share a sustainable lifestyle tip through a community newsletter. This didn’t start because I had hundreds of tips up my sleeve, waiting to be shared. I started the newsletter knowing about 50 tips. Over the course of a year, I had to come up with new, creative ways to enable people to help the planet or at least reduce their impact. The process was eye-opening in many ways.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways I have after sharing one year’s worth of tips.
Before long, I had to start monitoring every little decision I made and action I took throughout the day to find opportunities for better environmental choices that weren’t already on every eco blog. As I’m writing this, right now, for example, I can think about if my laptop is 100% charged and therefore I can unplug my charger. I can consider the screen brightness to optimize battery life. I can think about where this laptop came from and if there was a used laptop or one made with components more local to my location. I can look at the table it’s resting on and ask what finish it has on it, what woods it’s made from, and where the vendor is located. I could go on.
Be Realistic, but Creative
You can’t ask too much from people. Once they start to feel like a sustainability tip is beyond them, they can’t connect to it. They feel like it’s something only extreme activists or “sustainability people” do. I have found that people get most excited about tips that they would have never thought of, but are so damn easy they can’t believe they’ve never thought of them before. “Choose the Lonely Banana”, “Turn the Lights of When Leaving a Restaurant Bathroom”, “Only Use a Pea-Size Amount of Toothpaste”….
There a Million Ways to Tackle One Environmental Problem
From plastic waste to CO2 emissions, each daunting threat to the environment caused by humans can be broken down into itty bitty decisions we make throughout the day, each different from the next. For example, there is an opportunity to reduce your contribution to methane emissions in the packaging of the product you decide to purchase, in how much food you make, in how much food you eat, in the way you dispose of your tea, in how you prepare your tea...and that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. It’s better to pick a big environmental issue and master one approach to ending it at a time. Otherwise, you end doing things like forgetting your reusable mug.
People Pick and Choose
There are a few eco all-stars who take an exhaustive approach to sustainable living and incorporate nearly every tip I’ve shared over the past year or so. I practice nearly everything I suggest and even I slip up or need to work harder at following my own sustainability tip advice. For the most part, though, there are a few tips that stand out to a person, and those are the ones they will adopt. Each person might take to different tips, but there are always a few ideas that really speak to each individual.
People are Really Curious About This Stuff
It’s not that people don’t care, it’s that they don’t know where to start. Hearing about climate change and rising sea levels and the rise in the endangerment of species is really overwhelming, but it can be hard to know how to help if you aren’t a marine biologist or don’t study sustainability in depth. By offering simple ways to help, people feel more connected to the cause and start to feel comfortable asking more questions. One of my favorite things about writing the newsletter is when people reply wanting to know more, or wondering, “but, what about this…?”. If they have a good questions about choosing bar soap over body wash, I bet they have even greater ones about the climate change news they read every day.
You Can Make a Difference With Us
I get asked a lot whether or not the small individual tips I recommend really can make a difference. Ironically, the only thing that could stand in the way of the answer to this question being “heck, yes, you can make a difference!”, is the willingness of each individual to participate. It’s also not just about your direct impact. Each of us can act as a model to other people, showing them a more sustainable way of making everyday choices, and hopefully inspiring them to do the same.