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4 Great Tips to Live a Sustainable Life

4 Great Tips to Live a Sustainable Life

Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 Earth Day favorite. It was originally published on April 30, 2012. Enjoy!

Throughout this April Earth Month, Care2 Causes bloggers have been tackling the myriad issues that make up sustainable living – or a lack thereof. From deforestation to fracking, ocean pollution to the decline of bees, the challenges of living lightly on the earth are everywhere. Most of all, it is the pressure that those of us in the developed world often feel to keep consuming at all costs that is making our lifestyles spiral out of control.

To be truly effective, living sustainably goes beyond measures like avoiding plastic bottles, using less electricity, eating real food produced locally – though all of those things are important — to approaching everything that we do with a long-term, all-embracing, global view. Remembering that our actions matter because all beings are connected helps us to derive certain basic guidelines to a life sustainably lived. They include:

  • Think globally, act locally. One trick to evaluating a green choice is to think of the consequences if everyone “did it like that.”  If six billion people were to eat meat 3 times a day, drive a car, and live in a large, single family home in the suburbs….where would we be?  Out of planet, and pretty quickly. It is tempting to fall into the trap of thinking that my single actions don’t make a difference, yet we see time and again that individual choices and acts, from signing petitions to talking to neighbors to volunteering, are all that can make a difference.
  • Remember what matters. A recent article paints a moving picture of the top regrets of the dying, as gathered by a palliative care nurse.  Few people regret not earning more money, buying  more stuff, or having a fancier car; instead, the dying most often wish they had spent more time with loved ones or not worked so hard. Connecting to people and to nature are  low-impact, high gratification actions that make a difference in the end.
  • Be kind to yourself. Like going on a diet, it’s important not to punish yourself if you fall off the “sustainability wagon.”   The other day I ate some bacon, or drove when I could have walked, or bought something I didn’t need that was made far away by workers who were not paid a living wage. What matters is not that you’re not perfect, but that you keep trying. If you give in to temptation and have a banana split, just try again tomorrow. Just don’t give up and eat a grilled cheese sandwich on top of the ice cream.
  • Get –  and stay — inspired. Keep a journal, write yourself a memo, or find other ways to remind yourself  that we have so much to appreciate on this brief, wild ride.  When I feel myself taking the journey for granted, I watch the film Baraka, and awaken again to the marvels of being human on this fantastic earth. Here’s the trailer:

The Care2 community is a great resource of information and support to everyone who understands that that we’re all in this together. We have the opportunity to make more sustainable decisions every day. If we mess up on one individual choice, there are lots more chances to make it up to ourselves and to the planet….for now.  Living sustainably is a path that extends past Earth Day to every day…and we can enjoy the journey. Happy Earth Year!


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8:38AM PDT on Aug 29, 2012

Lol, what a flick?


5:55PM PDT on May 10, 2012

Noted with thanks.

4:28PM PDT on May 2, 2012

Baraka is an awesome movie! Another great series to watch if you're in need of inspiration is the Planet Earth series.

1:20PM PDT on May 2, 2012

Be Kind, Be Joyful. Remember we share this beautiful planet with so many others and we are ALL part of the WHOLE.

8:13PM PDT on May 1, 2012

We can all do better.

4:11PM PDT on May 1, 2012

Thanks for the article and Baraka looks really good! I'm going to watch it soon :)

2:53PM PDT on May 1, 2012

Cynical the way governments like that of Mallorca in Spain, for example, use the crisis to push through ugly projects on untouched natural beaches. The sheer lack of taste degrading Nature with blocks and concrete in the name of conservatism? Baffling, but logical if you put it in the crisis scenario, where hard and idiotic decisions must be taken by the brave right-wingers.
The long term image of Mallorca not counting at all, turists will opt for Menorca, or Sardinia instead.

11:02AM PDT on May 1, 2012

Thanks Nancy Roberts!
great article. We also ought to be studying older sustainable society forms.
TOO Much destruction is caused when competitiveness rises above cooperation.
The rush to the top assures there'll be those who step up and those who are stepped on.
The good of community must not be replaced by ones own personal success.

10:36AM PDT on May 1, 2012

Enhanced Geothermal Systems have plenty of room to sequester lots of CO2. It would cost about half a trillion dollars to round up and stuff down EGS wells all the CO2 we would need to sequester, but that would go a long way towards savings us from global warming.

10:28AM PDT on May 1, 2012


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