The simple changes you can make at home that contribute to a greater conversation surrounding sustainability
By Rachel Lee
Although our fight for a more eco-friendly world may seem disheartening at times, finding more ways to go green may not be as difficult as it seems. In other words, there are small changes we can make as individuals that can have a significant impact on the world around us. With Arizonans in mind, here are are six ways in which residents can avoid temporary solutions and engage in real change.
Opt for natural sunlight
Arizona is known to be one of the sunniest states, meaning that its sunshine can be used to brighten the inside of your home. Instead of turning on the lights, try opening the blinds instead. Not only will this reduce energy use and lower the electricity bill, but natural light has proven to be beneficial to our health, too. However, this may end up heating up homes and prompt residents to overuse their air conditioning, especially in the summer. Since turning up the AC would be counterproductive, try finding a balance between the use of natural and artificial light that deters the excessive use of your cooling system.
Wash laundry in cold water and hang dry
Around 90% of the energy used in washing machines goes towards heating water. Therefore, choosing to run your clothes in cold water helps conserve power. This method is just as effective, and even contributes to the longevity of your clothing. In addition, drying your clothes outside enables you to conserve energy and save money again, but also free your clothing of odors, wrinkles, the harsh chemicals from dryer sheets. This is another great way to make use of Arizona’s sunny and dry weather. That being said, it is important to check what kind of fabric you are working with.
Grow your own food
Industrial agriculture results in a variety of environmental challenges, such as greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion, depletion of groundwater, and so on. Likewise, local and organic produce can get pricey. As a result, many have taken the initiative to grow their own food in their backyard. It is recommended that beginners start off with zucchini, eggplant, beans, hot peppers, basil, and oregano. According to The Micro Farm Project, these plants do well in the Arizona heat, harvesting quickly in comparison to other crops. For more information on how to properly start and maintain a garden, visit https://cals.arizona.edu/maricopa/garden/publications.php.
The production, shipment, and disposal of goods deplete many important resources, resulting in a number of negative impacts on the environment, economy, and equity. This trend is especially prevalent today, as the population grows and becomes more connected each day. However, being mindful about how much is purchased and consumed can change things.
According to the United Nations, sustainable consumption can contribute to a reduction in poverty and an increase in eco-friendly economies. This can be applied to almost anything: energy, food, clothing, and so on. Therefore, it is imperative that families create a habit in purchasing, consuming, and disposing less. So the next time you purchase something, ask yourself, “Do I really need this right now?” “Do we already have this at home?” “Are there any sustainable alternatives?”
Support sustainable brands
Another important factor to consider when purchasing goods is the seller. For example, many large corporations are known to be top contributors to pollution due to its scale and emphasis on convenience. On the other hand, local brands revolve around a smaller community, making them the more sustainable option as less transportation is required. These are the brands to support. That being said, there has been a rise in eco-friendly initiatives among the private sector.
Companies who have named sustainability as a top priority are also the ones to buy from, because in the end, money translates to support; where you spend it may contribute to causes you do not believe in. A helpful tip is to do some research on the product you plan on purchasing, as well as the company itself. You should be looking at several factors, including the ingredients and material being used, where manufacturing takes place, and so on. It is important to avoid companies who use as buzzwords and do not act accordingly.
Engage in conversations surrounding sustainability
One of the most significant contributions you can make to this movement is educating yourself and others, as having a comprehensive understanding of sustainability is crucial. A great way to stay in the loop is to seek information from all over, whether it is through an article, book, presentation, or documentary.
Perhaps you could even encourage family and friends to volunteer with you at your local farmer’s market. There is a chance you could encounter a side of sustainability you have never seen before. Another recommendation is following up on what state officials and representatives are working towards. If there is an eco-friendly initiative that you strongly believe in, your support could change the future of Arizona.
While there are many simple changes we can make to our day-to-day routines, it is important to recognize that there is no easy solution to dilemmas like pollution and climate change; difficulties like these necessitate a collective effort that may be aggressive at times. As a result, we can no longer passive in our efforts. That being said, every individual is capable of making change, and it has to start somewhere.
Rachel Lee is an editorial intern at Green Living Magazine who is pursuing a degree in global studies and sustainability at Arizona State University. Born and raised in Arizona, she has always been in awe of its unique landscape and hopes to engage in ways to preserve its beauty.