The number of people who believe sustainability is crucial for our climate is far from a minority. In fact, surveys show that 64% of Americans believe protecting the environment should be a top priority. But why is sustainable living important—and what does it mean for you on a day-to-day basis?
The truth is that incorporating environmentally-friendly choices every day has the potential to improve your life on a personal level. At the same time, you can help build the kind of culture that leads to massive, effective, structural change for a healthier, greener planet for future generations.
Understanding the benefits of sustainable living can help keep you motivated to incorporate green choices into your lifestyle—and help you explain to your friends exactly why sustainability matters.
#1 Repairing the Environment is Time Sensitive
If you watch the news, you might know that rising global temperatures have already contributed to a rise in dangerous weather events like heat waves, heavy rains, floods, droughts, and cyclones. These extreme weather events, in turn, can lead to environmental damage, economic loss, and even human death.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, climate change has caused heat waves to occur more frequently in major cities across the United States. In addition, the agency also reported the threats to health and well-being as it affects every facet of life—food, air, water, and shelter.
However, we can still turn things around by adopting an environmental sustainability mindset to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Here’s the hopeful news:
- We can stabilize temperatures by shifting to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
- There’s reason to believe we can make that goal if we halve global emissions by 2030.
- Climate scientists say that we have the necessary technology in multiple industries to make that 2030 goal happen.
However, to meet these milestones, we must start reducing and neutralizing our carbon footprint now, both as nations and as individuals.
#2 Sustainable Living Can Create Real Change
When facing a challenge as daunting as climate change, believing that our cumulative actions can make a difference can be difficult. That’s why it’s important to remember that we have already faced a major environmental crisis in our atmosphere—and won.
In the 1980s, scientists discovered that Chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs, a greenhouse gas (chemicals once common in refrigerators and air conditioners), were destroying the ozone layer. The world responded by banning CFCs.
Today, not only has the ozone layer nearly healed, but a recent study suggests the ban on CFCs actually helped fight global warming by a few degrees.
Even if you might not see the impact immediately, making the products we use every day more environmentally friendly can have a real and dramatic effect on the environment.
#3 Changes in Your Personal Life Can Contribute to Bigger Change
Some people have argued that since most emissions come from major corporations, encouraging individuals to live sustainably doesn’t matter.
The evidence we have suggests the exact opposite. When people focus on living sustainably in their own lives, it can encourage others to live sustainably. That, in turn, can increase the odds of corporations and governments making environmentally-friendly changes on a structural level.
Living a more sustainable life not only limits your own carbon footprint, but it can also help contribute to the kind of major industry and government changes that we need.
The Push for Sustainable Product Packaging
Stateside and worldwide, the zero waste movement is gaining steam, and large and small businesses are responding. According to a study by McKinsey & Company, 55% of U.S. consumers described themselves as highly concerned or very concerned about the environmental impact of product packaging. By insisting on more sustainable product packaging, consumers drive the growth of social sustainability from individuals to a larger scope.
Positive change starts in a sustainable home and by adopting practices that create zero waste, minimal food waste, and decreased reliance on fossil fuel.
#4 Sustainable Lifestyle Choices Can Improve Your Physical Health
You might already associate sustainable living with a healthier Earth. But some of the recommended ways to lower your carbon footprint can also make you healthier.
For example, consider the positive impact of these sustainable practices:
- Using walking and bicycling as a form of transportation – Walking or biking instead of driving can help reduce carbon emissions. At the same time, both walking and biking can help you maintain a healthy weight and strengthen your muscles.
- Choosing a more plant-based diet – Shifting to a plant-based diet can help fight global warming by reducing the emissions created by animal farming. It could also improve your health. Studies suggest plant-focused diets can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and depression.
Sustainability is important in its own right, but it’s even better when it can improve your health.
#5 Sustainable Products Can Save You Money
You may be used to how your current comforts and resource usage impact your wallet. But sometimes, going green could help the planet and save you money. So how does going green save money? Well, it can be as small as changing a lightbulb to a more efficient one.
On average, you could save about $1,560 in utilities and natural gas over the next fifty years by:
- Using LED light bulbs
- Unplugging devices when they’re not in use
- Lowering the heat during the winter
- Using less air conditioning during the summer
- Using cold water for your dishwasher and washing machine
- Using reusable containers instead of single-use plastics
- Purchasing more energy-efficient appliances
Those projected savings could grow even more as gas prices rise.
#6 Actions Like Planting Trees Can Reduce Carbon in Our Atmosphere
Because trees absorb carbon dioxide, scientists have proposed planting trees as a way to neutralize some of the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.
While planting trees alone can’t completely offset global warming, reforestation offers a simple, effective way to reduce carbon emissions. If combined with a strategy to reduce fossil fuels, planting trees can be a crucial part of a well-rounded plan to live sustainably and eventually halt global climate change.
#7 The Way You Spend Money Can Make a Difference
Every year, major financial institutions make hundreds of billions of dollars from their customers. They often turn around and invest that money in extreme oil drilling and pipeline projects that hurt our environment.
But now, clean finance companies are making it possible to make smart money decisions and help protect the environment.
By changing how you manage your money, you could make a difference toward a more sustainable future with every cent you spend. For more guidance, check out our tips on how to shop sustainably.
Live Sustainably and Get Cash Back with Aspiration
As you’ve seen, sustainable living can make a substantial, positive difference for our planet and all who live here. Fortunately, there are many easy ways to start living sustainably today.
At Aspiration, we promise your deposits won’t fund fossil fuel projects. Every time you swipe your green credit card with Aspiration, we plant a tree. Plus, we offer up to 10% cash back on purchases through our Conscience Coalition program.
We think living sustainably is more important than ever. But the good news is that there are plenty of accessible, effective ways you can make a difference. Starting with the credit card you keep in your wallet. For more on sustainable living, discover simple examples of sustainable living you can implement in your own lifestyle today.
BBC. Plant-based diet can fight climate change – UN. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49238749
CNBC. Here are 8 easy ways to save money by going green. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/26/here-are-8-easy-ways-to-save-money-by-going-green.html
CNN. A 1980s ban on CFCs to heal the ozone layer is also shaving degrees off global warming, study says. https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/19/world/cfcs-ozone-montreal-protocol-climate-study-intl-scn/index.html
EPA. Climate Change Indicators: Weather and Climate. https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/weather-climate
EPA. Climate Change Indicators: Heat Waves. https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-heat-waves
Harvard Health Publishing. What is a plant-based diet and why should you try it? https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-a-plant-based-diet-and-why-should-you-try-it-2018092614760
Healthline. Cycling vs. Walking: Which Is the Better Workout for You? https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness/cycling-vs-walking#bottom-line
NASA. Examining the Viability of Planting Trees to Help Mitigate Climate Change. https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2927/examining-the-viability-of-planting-trees-to-help-mitigate-climate-change/
Pew Research. As Economic Concerns Recede, Environmental Protection Rises on the Public’s Policy Agenda. https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2020/02/13/as-economic-concerns-recede-environmental-protection-rises-on-the-publics-policy-agenda/
The Washington Post. Six steps the world can take to halt climate change. https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/04/04/ipcc-climate-change-solutions/
Reuters. World’s Top Banks Pumped $742 Bln into Fossil Fuels in 2021 – Report. https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/worlds-top-banks-pumped-742-bln-into-fossil-fuels-2021-report-2022-03-30/