This is a guest blog post written by ENV student, Harman Brar.
What is sustainable living?
Does it bug you when people keep the lights on during the day? It could be a perfectly sunny day, and some people will still keep the lights on! Well, if this gets to you, then you are probably an advocate for sustainable living. Sustainable living is about making choices/decisions in our own living space, that’ll reduce our individual carbon footprint. The goal of sustainable living is to live as environmentally friendly as we can, so we can protect our beautiful planet and have a positive impact. It can be hard to live sustainably all the time, especially while living in residence. Sometimes, you may not even be aware of your harmful actions, and that’s ok, because in this blog, you’ll learn about ways to live sustainably, in residence.
How can I live sustainably in residence?
There are many things you can do to not only live sustainably in residence, but also back at home! A very easy step is to use local materials. Using locally available materials, will reduce the degradation of the environment, in terms of transportation. Replacing incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent lamps or LED bulbs, is a great way to save energy! If possible, cut down on meat consumption. I know it is difficult, unless your vegan or a vegetarian, but the production of meat is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Meat consumption releases greenhouse gases, such as methane, and CO2, and these gases all warm the planet, rapidly increasing the effect of climate change. This next one shouldn’t be too difficult, go paperless. Because of the pandemic, online learning was our new norm for close to two years, so we’ve adapted to a life without paper. Cutting down on our paper usage, will help save trees from being cut down, and we all know how beneficial trees are. By saving water, you would do the planet a huge favour. Sometimes we tend to waste water for no reason. Whether it’s letting the tap run while we brush our teeth, or letting the shower run for a couple of minutes, this goes a long way when it comes to wasting water. Recycle and Reuse. By simply putting your trash in the correct bins, you can reduce your carbon footprint and reduce the need for harvesting raw materials, prevent pollution, reduce greenhouse gases, and much more. By simply applying these new rules into your lifestyle, you could reduce your carbon footprint drastically, and really impact the planet, in a positive way.
Why is living sustainably important?
Currently, we are producing waste at an uncontrollable level. In an article published by The World Counts, they stated that “Every year we dump a massive 2.12 billion tons of waste. If all this waste was put on trucks they would go around the world 24 times” (The World Counts, 2022, para. 1). Just thinking about that fact is scary. They also mention in the article that 99 percent of the stuff we buy, is trashed within 6 months (The World Counts, 2022). Most of the waste isn’t even recycled properly, in fact, in an article published by National Geographic, they stated that “The vast majority—79 percent—is accumulating in landfills or sloughing off in the natural environment as litter” (Parker, 2018, Pg. 2). This is the complete opposite of sustainable living. Living like this, leads to a variety of environmental issues, such as climate change, deforestation, pollution, extinction of animals, destruction of entire ecosystems, and much more. By simply making small changes to our daily lifestyle, we can reduce our carbon footprint, and help save the planet.
We still have time to save our planet. We are the future generation; it is up to us to act against climate change and prevent it from destroying our home. Obviously, just changing our living style won’t put a stop to climate change entirely, there is still much else to do, but we can start there. If we all reduce our carbon footprint, as students at the University of Waterloo, we are doing our part, and now, the rest of the world must follow.
Parker, L. (2021, May 3). A whopping 91% of plastic isn't recycled. Science. Retrieved February 28, 2022, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trash-debris-environment
Rinkesh. (2020, August 9). 35+ innovative ways to build a sustainable living house. Conserve Energy Future. Retrieved February 28, 2022, from https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/innovative-ways-to-build-sustainable-house.php
Thomson, T. (n.d.). 14 ways to live more sustainably. Wessex Water - For You, For Life. Retrieved February 28, 2022, from https://www.wessexwater.co.uk/community/blog/14-ways-to-live-a-more-sustainable-lifestyle
The world counts. (2022). Retrieved February 28, 2022, from https://www.theworldcounts.com/challenges/planet-earth/state-of-the-planet/world-waste-facts/story