Simple Ways to Live Sustainably


Jay Denty, Staff Writer

We as human beings are wasteful creatures. From the food we eat to the clothes we wear, most of, if not all, will inevitably end up as trash. The EPA estimates that the U.S. alone produces nearly 300 million tons of waste a year. 

So what is there to do? It may be easy to accept this reality as an inevitability, a spiral we are unable to free ourselves from. Maybe some view this influx of waste as an issue for later generations, a problem with a timestamp that doesn’t concern current offenders. 

However, one does not need to completely reshape their entire life in order to contribute positive change to this situation. In fact, incorporating sustainable living practices into everyday life can be a relatively mindless affair. Slightly altering even the most mundane happenings of a daily routine can work wonders in lessening the weight of the problem at hand. 

Sustainable living, a net-zero lifestyle, or one of the countless other monikers the philosophy assumes is the conscious effort to reduce any negative impact on the globe. The goal is to counteract climate change and resource depletion and can implore personal, societal, and even governmental effort as a force for change. 

Although it is important to spread the practice of sustainability as wide as possible, it is more than possible to make a real change within your personal life. Utilizing an awareness of waste and detrimental environmental issues and coupling this with some degree of concern for the planet, anyone can make an impact. 

American’s alone account for nearly 30 percent of waste for all human beings, according to the Frontier Group. It is obvious that this country needs to reevaluate how we are living.

There are some easy ways to incorporate sustainability into daily life. The most glaring area to tackle is what and how we eat and drink. An obvious, and much scrutinized, culprit of waste are plastic bottles. According to Healthy Human, about 80 percent of single use water bottles in the U.S. end up in landfills. This is a major problem since it can take upwards of 1,000 years to completely decompose. The simple solution: utilize reusable water bottles. Single use plastic makes up a large percentage of landfills, and it is a largely avoidable issue without creating too much hassle in people’s eating and drinking routines. This single use plastic doesn’t stop at just water bottles. Fast food packaging, over packaged retail foodstuff, and obviously plastic bags are all products that scourge the earth. Scaling back the amount of these products and services we consume can vastly help with the amount of waste going into landfills. 

Limiting the number of plastics you purchase and dispose of is an obvious solution, but it is far from the only way to help the planet. A major component of those harmful landfills is clothing. Fast fashion is an industry that does nothing but harm the earth. From the factories that churn out the clothing to the short life-span of the products themselves, it’s a problem that also needs to be addressed. 

A combatant of this problem is to just buy quality products. With a product designed with resilience in mind, consumers will find themselves holding onto it longer and contributing less to the landfills. Forking out the money that quality demands is worth it in the long run, as it will require you to buy less in the future which is always good for the planet. 

In addition to purchasing quality items, some brands make their products out of sustainable materials. This is also a factor to consider before making purchases, as these products are not creating new materials that will just add to the waste issue. Sustainable products are defined as items that are produced from materials that are sourced naturally and will decompose in an organic, environmentally friendly way. There are products that meet these standards within every facet of consumerism. From eating utensils to clothing, the concept of making a product sustainable is gaining momentum within nearly every industry. 

An example of a quality, sustainable product is Allbirds footwear. The Silicon Valley startup has made the claim that they produce “the most comfortable shoe in the world” since the company’s very beginning. They produce a range of footwear capable of meeting anyone’s needs, from action-oriented running shoes to casual, everyday sneakers. They produce their products from a myriad of different materials, ranging from merino wool to tree fiber. They claim their methods result in the use of 95% less water than traditional processes and that they have cut their carbon footprint in half using such procedures. 

Even companies who haven’t dedicated their entire business practice to the concept of sustainability are altering their practices in an effort to be better towards mother earth. Nike and Adidas are two powerhouse companies that have begun offering products made with sustainable materials and practices. This will hopefully continue to be a trend moving forward. 

It is easy to verify if a company is being truthful about its claims by checking its certifications. Arguably, the most well known and prestigious label for consumer-based product companies to attain is becoming a B Certified Corporation. Taken directly from, the organization’s official website, is the definition they give of companies that meet their standards: “Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.”

For foodstuff, Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), Global Animal Partnership, and USDA Organic are just a handful of certifications you can look out for. All these organizations require a rigorous application process and a set list of mandates that a company’s products and business practices must meet. 

Another major way you can easily promote sustainability is simply shopping locally. 

There are a number of ways that shopping at local businesses and organizations can result in a smaller environmental footprint on your part. For one, there are fewer automotive miles that get logged in this process. According to Sustainable Connections, shopping locally can result in up to 26 percent fewer automobile miles taking place. This is because when you buy something online, it has to be shipped via plane, ship, truck, or a combination of all three to eventually arrive at the designated doorstep. Cutting out the bulk of this transport results in fewer automotive emissions in the air. 

Shopping locally is obviously good for a city’s economy. It can help increase jobs and spending, resulting in more money to again be distributed to benefit the local economy. This can also result in an influx of money for both businesses and people to try and pursue more sustainable practices, which can often be more costly than their environmentally damaging counterparts. A Michigan State study even posited that the more money that stays within a community can play a direct role in the number of charitable contributions that occur. This could result in economic awareness being more prevalent within a cities practices, due to an increased budget. 

Even though it can be easy to see some of the high prices sustainable products command and assume that it is too expensive of a lifestyle, this doesn’t have to be the case. One of the most popular and effective ways to shop sustainably is by buying second hand. 

Thrift stores have become an increasingly popular method for those trying to save money and also reduce the number of products being manufactured. Clothing is plentiful here, as well as many other types of products such as electronics, home décor, furniture, and more. Vintage clothing stores, antique shops, and pawn shops are other options for those looking to buy used in their local area. 

Though trying to stay local when buying secondhand is commendable, buying from used marketplaces on the internet such as Depop and eBay are good options as well. The previously mentioned issues with transit are still at play, but you at least are repurposing an old product instead of creating the demand for something brand new. 

When it comes to sustainability, it is important to keep in mind that no one is perfect. Making a conscious effort to reduce your impact on the planet is what matters in the long run. Taking small steps and attempting to do one’s part is really all mother nature is asking. Afterall, this is the only Earth, and only shot, we get. 

There are a number of organizations promoted to keeping Pensacola and the surrounding areas clean and as environmentally friendly as possible. Listed below are a few of their websites: