How to live a sustainable, low carbon, low impact lifestyle

If you’re interested in making choices to live a sustainable, low carbon, low impact lifestyle you’ve come to the right place. This blog helps you make the right choices in three steps; stop bargaining, learn the solutions, and don’t look back.

Before we start you need to remember that living sustainably is counter-culture.  Westerners see themselves as consumers, make this their mark of pride and success, and constantly want more stuff.  Living low impact means using what resources are available wisely, with consideration and where possible to reuse.

In taking this journey you will be a pioneer and although it will be hard convincing your friends and family to make the same decisions, they will eventually, and you will have the solutions.  So read on if you dare to lead.

Step 1: Stop bargaining

You hear it everywhere when someone expresses concern about climate change – ‘what about China – they’re not doing enough’, ‘the big corporates need to take the lead’, ‘the government needs to provide more incentive for change’, ‘it has to be easier – products need to be sustainable – that’s the answer’.

This is what I call bargaining.  It’s a way for people to avoid making a difficult decision.  It’s a natural reaction to a traumatic event.  And let’s be realistic, the climate and ecological breakdown is traumatic – it affects everything.  The natural reaction is to feel helpless and to avoid experiencing anxiety or depression by displacing responsibility to others.

Accepting that we must do something is the first step, the next is to not bargain.  Decide now to live as sustainably as affordable.  Make a plan to decarbonise your lifestyle.  Many decisions simply need to be factored into that plan.  We can’t all afford an electric car or a house with a heat pump, but we could all make a plan to transition by 2030.  50% of our impact is from behaviour, so there are plenty of ways to live sustainably now.

Step 2: Learn the solutions

There are so many ways to learn how to live sustainably.  We at Better Century provide an online community where people can learn from each other, we write blogs and we provide a directory of products and services.  There are loads of sites just like ours that can help.

A great starting point is to consider your own environmental impact.  This will help you understand what your footprint is.  At Better Century we have developed the first environmental footprint calculator that tells you your carbon, land, water and waste impact. 

Once you understand your footprint you can think about what causes that impact.  You’ll be surprised about how contrived low impact decisions are, but is actually quite simple.  Here are some principles for you to consider:

  1. Use less: When traveling, walk or cycle, or use shared public transport, as less material is required to create and power these transport forms.  For food, use less processed and animal products, as these require more inputs.  In life, buy well picked quality products that last.
  2. Waste little: Use the stuff you have – see out it’s lifetime – you don’t always need new stuff to be happy.  When you need to throw things away, think about reuse and where they can be remanufactured.  
  3. Enjoy what’s in front of you: The grass is alway greener on the other side right… wrong… What we have in front of us can give us much joy as something complicated.  Enjoy nature, read books, and engage with the people around you.

There’s so much to explore and enjoy and a whole new you to explore.  Enjoy learning how to live sustainably and do it your way!

Step 3: Don’t look back

Living a low impact lifestyle results in us opening a new door for our life.  It’s difficult to close the old door of ourselves especially as when you learn more you discover what you were doing was very impactful.  Most of us find it difficult to forgive the old self but that is exactly what must be done.  

Once you have forgiven yourself you can allow yourself to close the door on your old habits and can begin to live a life you can be proud of.  It’s hard as there’s still friends wanting you to be your old self, but you have chosen your new path and now it’s your job to encourage them to do the same.

Simple things like picking places that do good vegetarian food as meeting places or encouraging holidays to be had locally, and to do activities that don’t demand much stuff, are some of the ways to achieve your new life.  Where possible don’t preach about what we all must live sustainably but sing the praises of your choices, from the great recipes you’ve discovered through to the joys of taking public transport to work.

These things aren’t an impediment to living a joyful life, they are the route to a fulfilling and amazing existence which you can feel contributes to making the world more equitable and better for our children.  There is honor in the choices you make, so don’t look back and think about what you could have had, enjoy what you have in living a low impact lifestyle.

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