Exciting times ahead. Climate change is now a part of the mainstream media. Environmental groups agree, it’s now or never! And there’s thousands of people ready to change their mindset to become more sustainable. The question that we are often asked is “where do I start?” So here are a few guidelines to get you started on your journey – The 10 R’s of Sustainable Living.
Before buying new objects run the 10 R’s through your head. If you can’t remember them off hand, write a little note to yourself on your telephone or put them on your fridge. The 10 R’s remind us to reflect on our actions, helping us to walk our talk.
Respect, Responsibility, Refuse, Reduce, Rethink, Repurpose, Reuse, Repair, Recycle and Restore.
We belong to the Earth. And as Earthlings, we can learn something from our source and the support – Planet Earth. Nature is the source of the creativity called “life.” We are not separated from the earth. This philosophy is based on the first ethic of ‘care for the earth’, followed by ‘care for people’, challenging the foundation principles and current ethics of society.
An Earth Ethic will ensure steady improvement in the quality of life for this and future generations that respects our common heritage – the planet on which we live. The challenge lies in a willingness to do things differently than we have in the past. So before you buy anything new ask yourself, “am I respecting life?”
What do we do with the 27 million wrecked cars every year, or the 25 million television sets which are discarded annually? Is there room for this garbage? And the refrigerators, blenders, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, microwave ovens etc? Have you stopped to think?
With a little imagination it’s possible to have an idea of what could happen if this trend continues. Bunyard and Morgan-Grenville have suggested that if we continue to use the planet’s nonrenewable resources, such as oil, coal and other minerals at current rates of use, and continue to misuse renewable resources such as fertile soil and forests, sometime in the future the entire ecological system may fall apart.
But we’re not going there! Take responsibility for your shopping desires. Control it and we won’t have to go down the road of destruction. Take it personally!
Today, here and now, there are certain things that we should automatically refuse.
Plastic bags – An estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year damaging waterways and harming ocean creatures. Refuse single use plastics. Go shopping with cloth bags and promote the green.
Straws – Over 182.5 billion plastic straws are used per year. Once again hard to dispose of and choking wildlife. Refuse straws.
Disposable coffee cups and lids – In Australia, 1 billion takeaway hot drink cups are thrown away every year. Refuse coffee cups and take your own. The list can go on!
With China and other countries refusing to take our recycling we need to reduce the amount of single use plastic.
Reducing the amount of purchased goods is an efficient and sensible measure to save energy and money. For example, do you really need to buy a clothes dryer or can you dry your clothes in the sun?
Fast fashion is becoming a huge problem. Australians buy an average of 27 kilograms of new textiles each year and then discard about 23 kilograms. Milburn states that “Most of our textiles are just buried in landfill, so we can continue consuming without guilt. In a finite world, we can’t keep pretending this doesn’t matter. We all have to be accountable for our waste.”
Think about what you buy as this will help the environment and save you money in the long run. Look for better information on durability of products, if replacement parts can be obtained, and how much energy you consume.
Ask yourself if you really need that new item of clothing. Can you buy it second hand, swap or trade it on eBay or facebook groups? Or can you go without it? Search for sustainable fashion.
Try to buy products with as little packaging as possible. Buying in bulk or in large boxes, rather than individually wrapped products means less garbage. Buy items that can be used repeatedly (non-disposable).
Upcycling is the new buzz word. It’s the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value. This toaster was rubbish and now turned into a funky little plant holder.
Reusing objects makes sense. There is no reason to succumb to the pressure of buying the latest model, even if it’s faster or brighter. Generally, the longer the product lasts, the less impact it causes environmentally.
If an object has broken, try to fix it before you think about buying another.
In the book ‘From Mangle to Microwave’, Christina Hardymeny describes that “in 1922, an enthusiast of new domestic machines estimated that a washing machine could last for 20 years. Today, with all the improvements in washing and rinsing, its average durability is about 5 to 7 years “.
Durable goods such as kitchen equipment, sound equipment, furniture, automobiles and washing machines play an important role in our lives. Our expectation is always that they last many years, but today, if they work for 10 years will be very lucky. That means more junk. The production and disposal of these products are causing major impacts on the environment.
The main raw materials used to make durable goods are oil and copper, two scarce resources on the planet. To get an idea, only durable electronics discard approximately 65,000 tons of hazardous waste per year!
Once the life of the object has ended, it is time to recycle. Swap/trade it as part of paying for a new one. Or sell/swap/trade it to a person who is looking for replacement parts. You can also use creativity and transform one object into another.
Working with nature is an exciting challenge and we can have a positive impact on our loved ones and the planet.
Take it personally! The ethics of care for the earth, care for people and share surplus are the guiding ethics of permaculture. As earthlings, we can work towards restoring the planet to beautiful forms.
Start small. Your backyard can become a habitat. It involves becoming aware of the nature of your place and take some action, however small, to create a special place for the abode of mother nature. Plant a garden for pollinators such as butterflies, bees even bats.
As Earthlings we need to be in a supportive partnership with nature creating the possibility of a mutually beneficial situation. This ethical partnership will support a sustainable future for all species.
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