Living A Green Lifestyle Essay

The world is slowly becoming aware and environmentally conscious about the depleting natural resources around us. People are taking efforts to build a place for themselves where sustenance of the resources is the topmost priority before creating newer ideas. There are scientists, researchers, governmental agencies, technical resources who are working at the macro level to mitigate the environmental issues. It becomes necessary that the common citizen puts his/her interest to save the planet in his/her own way that could contribute to the well-being of the natural resources and the society.

Many programmes such as clean up drives, tree plantation, waste segregation etc. have been conducted to generate awareness. It is due to this awareness that consumers are slowly becoming conscious about the products they use. Hence, there is a sense of responsibility that is gradually developing among the users with respect to the consumption of resources. This should further intensify in a way that every individual should initiate and integrate a sustainable life, which will help to serve the purpose of the future generation. Many companies are addressing the environmental needs and incorporating sustainable policies to adhere to the working culture of the employees. Being sustainably conscious had been the way of life during the old civilizations. It is only due to the demand and luxury of the today’s people, that there is exploitation of the natural resources, leading to social issues, misery, unwanted needs etc. Hence it is necessary that requirement of the people should be met but not at the cost of our environment.

Many companies are addressing the environmental needs and incorporating sustainable policies to adhere to the working culture of the employees. Being sustainably conscious had been the way of life during the old civilizations. It is only due to the demand and luxury of the today’s people, that there is exploitation of the natural resources, leading to social issues, misery, unwanted needs etc. Hence it is necessary that requirement of the people should be met but not at the cost of our environment.

HOW WE CAN START WITH ECO-LIFESTYLE

Everyone has their own lifestyle that mainly thrives on social and financial needs. The way we treat ourselves from the very beginning, we tend to stick to the same lifestyles without knowing its consequences. The good and the bad are overlooked and what is sought after is only luxury. This irresponsible way of living leads to an unhealthy life which over a period could hamper the physical and mental health of the person and could have a greater risk to the environment as well. The main concern here is the maximum consumption of the natural resources to meet the needs of the people which further leads to over exploitation and impacts the regeneration of the natural environment. This imbalance creates pressure on the resources to fulfil the requirement at every stage of human life. Hence one should adopt

The main concern here is the maximum consumption of the natural resources to meet the needs of the people which further leads to over exploitation and impacts the regeneration of the natural environment. This imbalance creates pressure on the resources to fulfil the requirement at every stage of human life. Hence one should adopt lifestyle that gives priority to both the needs of the people on one hand, and enhancing the environment which can lead to sustainable living on the other hand. There are many ways that people can bring a change and start setting the trend for a Sustainable Lifestyle.

  1. 3 R’s Principle (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle): The 3R’s principle forms the most basic way of initiating eco -friendly environment within a given space. It comes with lot of innovative ideas and creativity that could be utilised within the interiors as well as in the exterior surroundings. Making your life minimalistic with respect to the products and materials that hold no use could be recycled. There are materials/products that could also be reused and can add to the aesthetics of the given place. Consumers while buying any materials from the market should readily understand the need of buying them. “Is the product purchased from the super market going to solve my purpose efficiently?”, it must constantly provoke everyone to come down to the concept of ‘minimum use of the material and maximum methods to reuse and recycle’. In this way, it will reduce the burden on landfills, lower down the use of electricity, reduce carbon emissions and save money.
  2. Urban Farming: Urban farming is gradually developing a large following in the metro cities.The passion to go green has made people set up individual terrace gardens and community farming. People are joining hands to train themselves for better understanding in this field and conduct programmes on small scale basis to spread the awareness. The main intent of any kind of farming is to grow vegetables that are chemical free and creates less impact on the environment. This will bring in quality food and meet the demands of the people living in the urban areas and reducing the burden on the farmlands.For instance, Bombay Hub – a small non-profit social organization, located in one of the renowned areas of Mumbai, has started growing vegetable and herbs on their terrace. They also conduct workshops and seminars, on how to be a small-scale agriculturalist, which is gaining popularity within the region.

Due to the rapid growth of population and more agricultural land getting converted into residential buildings and real estate investments, it becomes necessary that we enhance the green cover on building structure and optimize the micro climatic factor. Vertical farming is a concept of growing in vertically stacked layers that can be introduced in multi-storeyed buildings/structures. In Bengaluru, Metro pillars are converted into vertical gardens using hydroponics, they absorb pollution and are sight for the sore eyes. There are many products available in the market that can help in growing organic food within individual homes, colonies, institutional buildings, commercial offices etc.

  1. Organic Composting: Organic composting is a way of leading a healthy environment in and around your locality. There are ways we deal with a lot of waste from household, societies and many public areas which produce both wet and dry waste. Waste should be initially segregated before its further treatment which is the most important aspect of waste management. The dry waste produced from the source could be recycled and reused whereas the wet waste which is readily bio-degradable could be used as manure for landscaping. Generally, many of the societies have taken the initiative to do the same that also create a sense of awareness among the people to make efficient use of the waste. The city like Pune has set an example for other metropolitan cities by their approach on Solid Waste Management (SWM) practises. It has developed a well-planned strategy to integrate the SWM efficiently within the city to manage waste and its disposal. The government provides incentives as well as awards and recognition to the residents on adopting innovative solutions and sanitation for SWM practices.Composting of waste does not involve complex methods. It is easy to practice at an individual level with the help of kitchen waste as raw organic material. This would eventually reduce the strain on the local municipalities. Subsequently, collecting dry waste from the local areas will also monetarily benefit the rag pickers and recyclers.
  2. For urban dwellers, it is very important to consider the smallest aspect of their life. Try to live a minimalistic life, that works towards conserving things within our surroundings. From switching off room lights to carpooling, one needs to understand the importance of conserving the natural resources wherever it’s necessary. Avoid using plastic materials, use items that are recycled, avoid wasting food, share or give away stuff that can be used. Small practices should be adopted to improve the behaviour and inculcate in a day to day activity.

DESIGNING GREEN INTERIORS – A LUXURY WITH SIMPLICITY

As it is rightly said “Charity begins at home”, so why not start cultivating the attitude towards respecting the environment, teaching the values to our loved one’s by taking some initiative and contributing in some way that could lead to a simplistic and yet luxurious way of living. We as an individual have always dreamt of having our own living paradise within the prime location of the urban areas giving us the most beautiful scenery of the surrounding, a living space that is filled with good views, excellent ventilation, a better environment for work, for leisure time, our daily activity etc. As these things become our necessity, it is important to know how sensible and beautiful one can design the interiors of the given space by making efficient use of the natural resources. A well-designed space for living areas that brings the occupants in close proximity with

A well-designed space for living areas that brings the occupants in close proximity with nature, having windows with a good opening for daylight and ventilation, use of LED lights, BEE star rated products, efficient water fixtures etc. are some of the things that one can plan to have while designing their interiors. Also, while planning for furniture items, emphasis can be given to use more of salvaged materials that nowadays could be modified to enhance the look. Efficient lighting design with the standard requirement in every given space can be a very sensible at the same time adding to the décor of the room. Having potted plants within the living room or in the window balcony can bring a lot of positivity and further improve the bio-diverse culture within the small area. This results in quality of life, increases the productivity and brings positive impact on one’s health.

AWARENESS: REACHING OUT TO THE MASSES

For the betterment of the environment and to uplift the way of living life, it is necessary to put in some conscious effort to change the overall outlook of the urban lifestyle. It needs dedication and discipline on daily basis to upgrade the standard of living in sustainable fashion. Mandatory activities that encourage eco-living within the societies need to be conducted frequently to generate more awareness.

Natives of the local areas should contribute to the well-being of the locality, by monitoring its condition, conducting social programmes, involving all aged group people to participate in activities that strengthen the local environment. The young generation that has access to social media can take charge by posting their opinions about following a sustainable lifestyle over the conventional one’s and how it can bring about a positive change and a different attitude towards the style of living. A minor change can have a huge impact on people towards eco-friendly living and understanding and accepting the need for it. Such efforts can lower the burden on our ecosystems, enrich our biodiversity, and nurture a healthy environment for our future generation. This in return can also help the local authorities to run in smoothly with the support of the people.

TO SET THE SUSTAINABLE TREND:

The conventional living lifestyle has made people dysfunctional. It has reduced our proximity and interaction with nature. The kind of social acceptance in various forms that involves adverse impact on the environment, biodiversity of the region has a profound effect on the health and mental well-being. We need a better upliftment of our society in terms of accepting social changes that do not hamper the environment but to find an alternative to it. In such scenarios, education and awareness are the best tools to communicate the masses. Gradually, it will boost the thought process and help the masses to consciously act towards the better cause of the environment. Together, we can build a healthier lifestyle that has a lot to offer. Hence live a life that is more sustainable, trendy, luxurious and yet simple that costs less and contributes more to the environment.

 

Author’s bio: Sneha Chavan is founder & partner at ARDRA Green Building Studio.

 

References: 

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/education/story/vertical-garden-bengaluru/1/909883.html

http://www.moneylife.in/article/4-reasons-why-pune-scores-in-waste-management/47515.html

2015 Winning PlushBeds Green Scholarship Essay

By Sanaz Arjomand  MS ’16 Candidate Bard Center for Environmental Policy originally published by PlushBeds.

Just as no shade of green is better than another, there is no best hue to a green lifestyle.Some may consider it greener to live in a rural area that affords the opportunity to grow and raise the necessities for life; others may contend that living in a walkable city preserves undeveloped land and allows for resource sharing like public transit. Some may tout the benefits of solar energy while others might be critical of the mining practices through which many of the panel components are obtained. The common thread in all of these viewpoints is an understanding that, whichever type of environment one chooses to inhabit, there is no getting out of our shared environment. It is in the city just as in the country, and people are equally dependent upon ecosystem services and natural resources in both places. If we use less of these natural resources, buy fewer products made with them, and support companies with good environmental stewardship, we can move toward a greener lifestyle no matter where we are.

Modern society is highly consumptive of these natural resources, especially energy from carbon sources such as coal and oil. Seemingly simple, everyday actions such as turning on a light, heating water for a shower, and getting to and from work require carbon inputs and therefore lead to carbon emissions. The increase in carbon emissions in recent history has already started changing our climate system, as stores of carbon are being removed from the ground and released into the atmosphere at a much higher rate than would ever naturally occur.

It is important to note that carbon emissions are not a purely modern phenomenon. Even in a completely unindustrialized scenario —in which everyone draws water from a well by hand, rides a horse, and uses candles made of tallow—burning firewood would release carbon into the atmosphere. Because all living things are made of carbon, they will release carbon when they die and decompose; that carbon is recycled through the ecosystem as more living things grow. More important than trying to zero our emissions, therefore, is trying to balance our lifestyles with the resources available and the natural cycles for replenishing them.

Keeping track of one’s carbon footprint is a way to ensure that, on the net, one is capturing as much carbon as one is emitting. To move closer to a net zero carbon footprint, there are many ways to decrease carbon emissions, from driving an electric car to using a metal water bottle. The other half of the carbon footprint equation involves activities to offset one’s inevitable emissions, perhaps by planting trees, growing a garden, or purchasing a certificate from a capand trade system such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the northeast.

Given our inescapable dependence on the environment, a small carbon footprint and greener lifestyle have obvious long-term environmental benefits. Taking less water out of rivers and lakes now means less fresh water will be dirtied and pumped out into oceans, where it becomes unusable for future generations. Driving less now means averting some climate change impacts in the future. Buying organic now means less pesticides traveling through and accumulating in the environment throughout one’s lifetime.

These benefits, though important, are not always a good fit for the American culture of instant gratification. Not only do we not immediately see an environmental response (if a response can be visually characterized at all), many consider individual actions too minuscule to make a difference in global-scale problems. When the long-term, small-scale benefits of individual action do not give people enough impetus to change, the personal economic and health benefits of living a greener lifestyle might be more persuasive.

If natural resource consumption causes environmental degradation and also costs money, then using less will result in the win-win situation of improving the environment and saving money. Keeping temperatures down in the home means less use of coal-fired utilities and less money spent on utility bills. Carpooling or taking mass transit will not only mean reduced carbon emissions but will also lead to less money spent on gasoline and car maintenance. Whether or not natural resources are priced to reflect their true value, the incentive of saving money by using less of them is still a persuasive argument for a green lifestyle. The health benefits of less consumption go hand-in-hand with the economic benefits discussed above. If you walk to the bus stop, you burn the type of caloric energy that can sustainably be replaced on a human time scale.

These examples have thus far pertained to the purchase and use of natural resources such as coal, oil, and water. The issue is less straightforward when it comes to manufactured goods. Because of the market factors driving the ideal of planned obsolescence, it is easy to spend less money on a product that is not of high quality and was not made with care for the environment. One step in the solution, then, is to simply avoid buying “stuff.” Buying less is better for the environment and one’s pocket book.

If individuals save money by using fewer resources and buying fewer unnecessary manufactured goods, they have more financial flexibility in buying necessity items of higher quality. Since environmentally-conscious manufacturers tend to take on the true costs of their products, green may indeed be more expensive on the surface. However, these products have a list of farther ranging benefits, from being longer-lasting to avoiding health impacts associated with certain chemicals to helping shift the global economy out of its carbon dependency. Taking the time to research a company’s environmental policy means that consumers can rest assured that they are getting benefits that more than make up for the cost difference between green and conventional goods.

The above advice can be distilled into three simple steps for leading a sustainable lifestyle: use less, buy less, and do your research when buying something you need. Of course, this is often easier said than done. I recently recruited my classmates to take the 13 Gallon Challenge to use only 13 gallons of water in one day. Even though we are all environmental policy master’s students, it was extremely difficult. Still, it was a good reminder that being cognizant of resource use is the best place to start. Once you have figured out how to use only as much as you need, it should be easier to buy less stuff. The key is then to focus on quality over quantity. When purchasing items of necessity, the internet makes it easier than ever to research companies’ environmental policies.

The best way to encourage others to make the change is to share what you learn. Tell your friends, family, and coworkers. Make suggestions without being judgemental. Those little things add up, and often have ripple effects that encourage others to also take action in their social circles. We each have countless chances every day to make choices that will lead us to our own shade of green lifestyle.

Tags:green business, students, sustainability, Youth Voices on Sustainability

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