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From fast fashion (the second dirtiest industry in the world, behind oil), to the 12.3 million tons of plastic in our oceans, to the airline fuel miles we have all racked up. Our generation is slowly waking up to the consequences.

Today it’s impossible to ignore: we are failing our planet, with a catastrophic forecast for the future if we don’t transform the way we live.

Caring about the environment is no longer on the fringe: green is the new black. And it’s not a nice-to-have; it’s an urgent race to minimise our impact. Now we’ve flicked the switch, that consciousness is hard to turn off. It’s an open challenge to minimise consumption, downsize, reuse, and reconnect with our environment. 

We’ve written a practical guide to show you how to live a more sustainable life (that doesn’t suck).

When you travel

The number of people considering a form of sustainable travel as an alternative to their traditional getaway has exploded over the past few years. We are becoming far more aware of the personal and environmental benefits of eco-travel, and the impact traditional travel has on our environment.

According to a Booking.com survey, 86% of global travellers would take part in activities that counteract the environmental impact of their trip. Whether you are actively taking part in forest regeneration or ocean cleaning projects, or simply reconnecting with the local environment by booking eco-friendly accommodation – you can play a small part in shaping our future.

Minimising your footprint through private wilderness experiences is another growing trend among those looking to reconnect with their environment. UnYoked believe that there’s too much concrete and too many commitments in the world already, so we should all go wander in the woods. We totally dig that philosophy. They offer minimalist cabins that are architecturally designed to feel part of the landscape, allowing you to be in the environment, not on it.

Jaunt is a bespoke car rental company, offering unique journeys to explore regional Australia in iconic cars up-cycled into electric vehicles. They believe in creating ‘beautiful adventures’, catering to the growing demand for tourism services that are more adventurous, sustainable and more attuned to local culture.

If getting lost in the wilderness isn’t quite your thing, there are plenty of luxe hotels and resorts that satisfy sustainable living criteria.  A weekend here will leave you feeling satisfied you’re doing no harm, and probably some good too.  Check out these 7 Stunning eco hotels you need to visit.

Go slow

The philosophy of going slow is all about shifting our awareness from mass-production, to sustainably crafted brands that are manufactured responsibly and with care. With the realisation of how much damage the fashion Industry is contributing to mass waste and landfills, one Australian fashion label embraces this philosophy with their sustainable swimwear line. Cleonie Swim believes in the idea of Slow Fashion, creating each order from scratch in Australia as it is placed, lowering the amount of waste in materials, and any excess stock.

Patagonia, Outland Denim and Will & Bear are other online retailers committed to supplying a range of ethical and sustainable clothing and accessories (that are actually cool). Thread Harvest also gives you the option you to shop according to the values that matter to you most, with a portion of the proceeds from each sale supporting worthy causes.

You can implement the go slow philosophy in your day-to-day living in other small ways: always read the label on products you buy, what is the story behind the brand? What packaging do they use? How about the ingredients? Try to support independent brands for your must-have items, go ahead and plant that herb garden and tend to it daily; or grow your own vegetables if you have space. Urban Growers design, create and maintain edible gardens and urban rooftop farms. They wrote a blueprint for living the good life in the city – how to grow the easiest food plants in small spaces and recipes to make the most of them.

Go local

Farm to table isn’t a new concept, but it’s never been more in demand, and that trend isn’t about to disappear. The benefit of the Farm to Table movement is twofold: the concept focuses on producing food locally and organically which is not only good for you, but good for the environment.

Check out our list of 15 farm to table dining experiences you have to try.

Aside from the obvious facts that locally produced food reduces the use of fossil fuels by eliminating lengthy supply chains (meaning the food has less distance to travel), and that fresher food tastes better – there is another element to consider.

According to Food Revolution, with the growing consumer demand for local produce, inspired chefs and food producers are increasingly likely to enter the marketplace by developing unused space. This might include turning empty lots into thriving urban gardens — many of which are grown organically.

Rather than hitting a supermarket for your shopping, grab your canvas bag, and hit your local markets. You’re not only getting incidental exercise, you’re also building strong links that will support and sustain your community.

If you don’t have markets nearby, see if there’s a local butcher, baker and small grocer you can befriend. Look for independent owners in your neighbourhood (not just food, but gift and lifestyle stores too) and ask about how their products are produced – and where.

Reducing your impact

The next step? Re-equip without plastics. Check out these simple hacks for going plastic free. If grabbing a takeaway in the morning is part of your routine, make sure you’re toting around your own coffee mug or cup. Buy bamboo or metal straws for your juices and smoothies. Invest in a BPA-free water bottle that is the right size to carry around with you all day. Pathwater is one company leading the plastic-free movement with it’s reusable, aluminium water bottles with water from a 7 step reverse osmosis filtration process. As the company grows, they aim to maintain a sustainable model by sourcing all water locally to minimise the impact of CO2 emissions from transporting water.

Join the movement

The good news is that eco-consciousness isn’t an ideal that requires a radical lifestyle change. We’re here to tell you that it’s about the small steps, each one shifting our awareness one inch at a time.

When you combine your awareness with the collective efforts of 10, 100 or 1000 other changemakers, that’s when our sustainable action starts to accelerate.

If you have the opportunity, get out and support one of the sustainability festivals that are popping up in cities around Australia, and the world. Off The Grid was Australia’s first solar powered, zero-waste, music and arts festival that hosted 14 hours of talks, dancing, eating and drinking, without sending a single piece of material to landfill. Pretty cool, right?

These events showcase modern solutions to ecological and social challenges, empowering everyone to be part of changing the planet for the better. All it takes is your attendance for the movement to spread.

Shifting your awareness

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the idea of living a more sustainable life, and either not know where to start, or not feel like we can make a difference. There’s no need to feel like you have to forgo modern conveniences. Rather, It’s the little things that count. Each one shifting our awareness, inch by inch, towards a greener future.

But living with a smaller environmental footprint doesn’t mean you have to buy a Tesla – although that would help, or give up beef (completely). But it does mean making some choices about the kind of world you want to leave behind.

Spending more time connecting with the environment, and the people around you will give you time to appreciate the contribution you’re making to make our planet a better place, which is actually a pretty cool thing.

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Athanae Lucev

Writer

Athanae Lucev is a writer and editor who divides her time between the west coast of Tuscany and the west coast of Australia, where she was born and raised. A former journalist and political staffer, she now teaches yoga and pilates, leads retreats and if not doing that will be found exploring coastlines or little towns in her native or adopted home.

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