How do you make a difference and improve the state of the world? This question chases itself around my head constantly. I've concluded that conservation can't be just a job; it has to be a way of life. It's an intentional and constant process. Conservation practices at home might include:
- Turning out lights when they aren't necessary
- Reducing water use in little ways
- Using renewable energy whenever you have the option
- Starting to compost
- Being intentional when you shop - make it more local, research how it's made, etc.
- Buying used goods (thrift shopping)
- Thinking about whether it's worth it to turn on the heat or air conditioner - if it's cold, it can be nice to put on a sweater or cuddle up under a blanket
- Planting trees
- Volunteering for park/beach clean up or other conservation projects
- Avoiding using single-use plastics
- Decreasing meat consumption
Focus on the 3 R's
Reduce, reuse, and recycle. This can be a life mantra. I think I'm doing okay at reducing and recycling. We end up recycling more than having things in the rubbish bin. And, when the places we stay have it, we separate food waste that is (hopefully) used for compost when it's collected. We've noticed that this is more common in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales than it is in England. At least from the places we've stayed. Since my husband and I are nomading, we've reduced our belongings as much as possible. Everything fits in a backpack and a small suitcase for each of us. We find creative ways to reuse things because we can't carry extra around. So how do we make sure to reuse materials/products? We keep the travel-size containers that are refillable to use for shorter stays.
Methods to reduce water use
How do you track water use? There are monitoring systems that I need to research in more depth before I have a home base. Showers don't have to take a long time. You can turn timing showers into a game. Set a timer for the maximum shower length, and try to be done before it goes off. Also, have a full load in your dishwasher or washing machine before you run it. In the future, I'd also like to have rain barrels to help with water conservation.
Reducing packaging and food waste
I love the concept of zero-waste stores and want them to be more widely available. Too often, goods that don't need to be get wrapped in plastic. Food waste can be a problem if you buy too much at once. Products might go bad before you get around to eating them. It can be tough to buy the right amount if you're trying to limit your shopping outings. Food prep can help. What do you want to eat for the week, and what ingredients do you need to make this happen?
Other shopping habits
Think about how products are made and how far they must travel to be available to you. Shopping locally can reduce the costs inherent to transport. Learn about manufacturing techniques: some companies will be more transparent than others. Buying used goods also reduces the cost of creating something new. This might not be appropriate for some products, but it's something to consider.
I don't drive and don't intend on starting any time soon. It's not always possible to walk (maybe because of distance or timing), and the weather isn't always biking appropriate, so public transportation is the following approach. Granted, current systems don't necessarily have public transportation available (it depends on where in the world you are), or there might be so many transfers that you don't find it worth it.
Cutting down on paper use
As a creative, I struggle with this. There's something to holding a pen and putting it to paper or sketching something by hand. It's a connection that doesn't feel the same when you do it all digitally. My desire to do things by hand and my concerns for the environmental impact sometimes conflict. It's not sustainable to carry around materials when my home switches every month. So while travel is a priority, paper use has all but disappeared. I also need to research more about leaving a digital footprint: is it a better system?
Using less electricity at home
Take the time to get a basic understanding of how you use energy. From here, you can consider the ways you can become more efficient. One of the easiest ways to reduce electricity at home is to turn off the light if you leave a room (and nobody else is there). Think about the efficiency of your appliances: do any of them need an upgrade to improve their energy efficiency? Heat loss through draughts can also impact energy efficiency - look at windows and doors.
Resources you can use to find more ways to turn conservation into a lifestyle:
I'm by no means an expert on this topic. Read widely for ideas on how to turn conservation into a lifestyle. You can gather information by looking into studies. This method can be slow and challenging to slog through if you aren't familiar with terms or how to read academic articles. Environmental organizations sometimes try to write more familiarly, allowing better access for people to explore the topics. You can also talk to people about their conservation practices and adopt the methods that work for you.
Educate yourself and share your findings with others
Take the time to learn about conservation practices and share what you find. Put a personal spin on this by saying what you are doing now and how you intend to improve these practices. How can this be accomplished more effectively? I want to learn and would love to hear what others are doing.