Fifteen Ways to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle

San Po Beach, Northern Taiwan. A shoe, cigarette buts and a glass bottle are some of the thousands of pieces of marine debris that can be found on San Po Beach. TEIA, an Environmental NGO in Taiwan, does regular beach cleanups and beach actions to educate people on marine debris and environmental issues facing the ocean. Photo Lizane Louw

Live eco-conscious, think eco-friendly!

Living sustainably is not a trend, it is a lifestyle. A balanced lifestyle, putting nature first, is not something I have to consciously think about every day. I am grateful for my upbringing close to nature in South Africa. My style of living and life choices are inspired by my upbringing in the vineyards in Paarl. My education and experiences in the Western Cape set the framework for a lifetime of eco-conscious and sustainable living. I grew up respecting nature, nurturing the environment and enjoying the outdoors.

I spent most of the past 25 years travelling and exploring the world. I learned a lot from other cultures and traditions. Living in Asia for a decade also shaped my mindset and made me more aware of the impact we have on the environment. I learned from observation, I learned about things in my everyday life I can change and Iearned to have a solution based mindset. My adventures in Asia also inspired me to live a simple balanced life, in harmony with nature.

The most important thing I learned in a career in journalism is that I can make small changes with my camera. In 2016, after a story I did on marine debris in Taiwan, my whole focus in my career changed. I decided to start focusing more on environmental stories and solutions journalism. This shift in my work aligned with this fire in me to fight for the environment and the health of our planet.

How do you start to live sustainably? For me personally, my work towards the health of the environment starts at home, in my immediate environment and in how I live every day. It all starts with your lifestyle.

I can write a book on my thoughts on sustainable living, and I probably will, but for now, I would like to share my fifteen ways to live a sustainable lifestyle. These actions are tried and tested by me and work. It is easy to implement and will put you well on your way to be an environmental activist.

We can all learn from each other, stand together to advocate and collectively work to protect the environment against climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, destruction and pollution.

#OnlyOneEarth Practical Guide, published by UNEP

#OnlyOneEarth Practical Guide

A Practical Guide to living sustainably in harmony with nature developed for World Environment Day 2022.

If you don’t know where to start and feel a bit lost in the sea of information on the internet, UNEP published a practical guide that you can use as a resource to learn what actions you can take to start living more sustainably and to learn to protect and restore our planet.

This guide inspired my listicle and I am happy to share my ways of living sustainably with you!

Learn to make sustainable living the only option!

My fifteen ways to live a sustainable lifestyle

1. ADVOCATE FOR CHANGE

First and foremost, I will continue writing stories and doing photo projects on environmental emergencies, including climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. Slow multimedia journalism and photography projects that advocate change, my focus, and I will continue to advocate against climate change and pollution.

You don’t have to be a journalist to write stories or take photographs…

2. SPREAD KNOWLEDGE

We live for nature and will continue to spread our knowledge, research, experience and actions we are taking with friends, family and our wider community and networks via social media.

All of us have access to social media, use the tools to advocate for the causes you personally support.

3. GET INVOLVED

I join and support local organizations in Berlin and the countries we travel to. I work with organizations that support sustainability and that focus on environmental projects. Solutions-based thinking by campaigning for systemic change is crucial for me.

There are so many actions organisations, governments and people can take, research a cause you want to get involved with, take the initiative and join the conversations, and be an environmental activist.

4. ETHICAL INVESTING

My husband and I will continue banking with a sustainable bank. GLS was the first sustainable bank in Germany, founded in 1974.

Research and choose financial institutions that are socially and environmentally responsible.

Photo GLS Bank Germany.

5. LIVING IN ENERGY-POSITIVE HOMES

Our living space is green. We live in an energy-positive apartment in Berlin with Photovoltaic systems on our roof that generate electricity from the sun’s rays.

You don’t have to fork out money and invest in solar panels; there are numerous other ways that you can make your living space green. Sustainable energy and clean energy are the future; with a little bit of research, you can start by making small changes.

Solar Power from roof panels in Berlin. Source: Der Taggesspielgel

6. CONSERVE ENERGY

Living energy conscious- are always thinking about saving energy, turning off lights and electrical appliances when not in use, and using only high-quality appliances with high energy-efficiency ratings in our space.

It is essential to research electrical appliances before you buy them. Make sure your investments are of good quality, and also, in the end, this does not only save you money but will also cut your energy consumption.

It is cool to know that our fridge, dishwasher, washing machine, oven, induction stove and all the lights in the house run on clean energy.

7. EATING A BALANCED PLANT-BASED DIET

We will continue following a plant-based diet, experimenting with local ingredients at home and in the places we visit and sharing recipes with friends and family.

Following a plant-based diet is not only healthy, but it reduces the reliance on foods that use more natural resources to produce.

8. USING ALL OUR FOOD

Plant-based living makes us focus on bying green. We will continue buying only the food we need. Less for me is always more.

9. GROWING YOUR OWN FOOD

We have been getting our hands dirty in our urban garden here in Berlin.

We have been growing our own herb and tea garden here in Germany for two and a half years. We grow avo trees, lemon Bonzai, tomatoes, and sunflowers. We have a selection of herbs we grow to cook with too. We experiment a lot.

Get your hands dirty, plant some seeds.

10. CHOOSE NATURAL, CHOOSE NATURE

We buy products supporting ecosystems and local communities, such as wood, bamboo, metal, and clay. We use organic textiles and fibres and no plastic and one-time-use products.

When I travel, I like to attend textile workshops. I enjoy printing my own textiles.

I look at clothing labels and choose quality over quantity. Check the labels of clothing, fast and cheap textiles and fashion will cost you in the long run.

11. SLOW FASHION

We will continue to buy fewer and better clothes; we invest in high-quality textiles, primarily organic textiles, not fast fashion. We are big fans of the brands Armed Angels and Vaude and prefer eco-friendly and eco-conscious brands to anything else. Living a sustainable lifestyle is not just a trend for us, it is a lifestyle.

12. DITCH DISPOSABLES

We don’t use products that can’t be reused in our homes. We are always looking for sustainable options. We limit single-use plastic and avoid it where possible.

13. BEING ACTIVE

We enjoy walking and exploring, other than using a car.

Berlin is a photographer’s dream. So naturally, with me having a passion for street photography, we are out and about on weekends, exploring the streets, markets, museums, exhibitions and all the magic this vibey city has to offer. We travel by tram, train, or the underground metro system, this very convenient public transport system takes us where we need to go.

14. DITCHING FLIGHTS

We explore holiday destinations close to us in Berlin and explore by train, bus, and bike. We use slow travel, when possible, by train. We are especially keen to use the 9 Euro train ticket that was implemented by the German government this month.

This low-cost ticket lets you use public transport and regional trains nationwide in Germany this summer!

This initiative is part of a larger package offered by the German government to support residents, citizens, and visitors with the rising fuel prices resulting from the war in Ukraine.

Not only does the ticket help with financial relief by offering low-cost travel, but it is an attempt by the German government to reduce oil and gas consumption, and it will also promote climate-neutral travel with the use of public transport.

15. GO CLEANER WITH TRANSPORT

We use electric vehicles with car-sharing options. We do weekend breaks always close to home and around Brandenburg, visiting lakes, parks and thermal spas. We book our rental cars from we-share.io here in Berlin, they offer 100% electrical carsharing. We avoid air travel when possible. If we do fly for a holiday, work or visit family, we try to make choices that support our efforts in living a sustainable life.

“We must shift from harming the planet to healing it. ” A practical guide to living sustainably in harmony with nature. UN Environment Programme #OnlyOneEarth

#WorldEnvironmentDay #OnlyOneEarth

What actions do you take to live a sustainable lifestyle? Freel free to add your thoughts in the comments below the listicle.

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Created with love in Berlin!

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