I have had the opportunity to talk to people about why they should embrace sustainability as an integral part of their lives and most people are committed towards financial sustainability. In recent years, we have continued to hear about the threats to our planet: catastrophic climate change, vanishing species, growing mountains of waste, and an ever-expanding gap between the rich and poor. People are beginning to realize that our global economy is environmentally unsustainable. Our prosperity depends on a wide range of resources and services supplied by our planet: land to build, oxygen to breathe, water to drink, trees, minerals for our industries, and crops to feed
Most of these resources and environmental services are over-exploited and under-priced. Often, they are undervalued in today’s economies.
I am a strong believer of long term stuff. Some people say you live for the moment. Yeah, but not at the expense of those still coming. Some of our rich folks have trust fund facilities for their kids. This is why some of us have stakes in companies and some choose to put a part of their money into landed property. Like my dad would always say, “I am doing all I am doing for all of you”. Good thinking, but a second look at the aforementioned investment styles shows that they have focused solely on the economic aspect of the future. Of what use is a lot of wealth with no “safe” haven to enjoy it? As much as we want financial sustainability, we should work towards social and environmental sustainability.
As if that is not bad enough, millions of of people are malnourished, and some with no food at all. This is not because the resources cannot cater to the needs of humans, but because, some humans are greedy, a lot of the produced food are put to waste.We have homeless people and also have families of four to six members occupying acres of land for residential purposes.
For those of us in Lagos, can we flash back to few years ago when the people in some parts of ParkView Estate, Ikoyi had their luxurious homes flooded? Ikoyi is a part of Lagos for the rich class but all the money could not save them from the environmental disaster. The floods are as a result of worldwide lackadaisical attitude towards the environment. We all make our beds before leaving ours homes only for some of us to toss out trash through our car windows.Where do you think it has gone to? Away? There is no such thing as away. It has gone somewhere. I recently posted a video of a sea animal entangled within a plastic bag. What a shame. Why can’t we take care of the environment that has served us so well? If we start to list the things we derive from the environment, we would not finish in a day. We thank people when they give us gifts but are abusive to nature for its endless gifts to us. We still enjoy a small dose of clean air (because our air is really polluted, thanks to US). If we continue at this rate, our kids would have hell on earth as a thriving place.
We need to teach our children to be nice people. We need to teach our children to live lightly on earth. We need to teach our children to #HoldItTillYouCanBinIt. We need to #StareDownOnPollution.
So how can we live sustainably?
This list would exclude financial investments. I got this from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals page and of course added some of my own tips;
Things you can do from your couch
- Save electricity by plugging appliances into a power strip (we call them extension boxes here in Nigeria) and turning them off completely when not in use, including your computer.
- Stop paper bank statements and pay your bills online or via mobile. No paper, no need for forest destruction.
- Share, don’t just like. If you see an interesting social media post about women’s rights or climate change, share it so folks in your network see it too.
- Speak up! Ask your local and national authorities to engage in initiatives that don’t harm people or the planet. Don’t print. See something online you need to remember? Jot it down in a notebook or better yet a digital post-it note and spare the paper.
- Turn off the lights. Your TV or computer screen provides a cosy glow, so turn off other lights if you don’t need them.
- Do a bit of online research and buy only from companies that you know have sustainable practices and don’t harm the environment.
- Report online bullies. If you notice harassment on a message board or in a chat room, flag that person.
- Stay informed. Follow your local news and stay in touch with the Global Goals online or on social media at @GlobalGoalsUN. There are other platforms – this blog, sustyvibes.com, treehugger, and ecosisi. There are tons of resources online
Things you can do at home
- Air dry. Let your hair and clothes dry naturally instead of running a machine. If you do wash your clothes, make sure the load is full.
- Take short showers. Bathtubs require gallons more water than a 5-10 minute shower.
- Eat less meat, poultry, and fish. More resources are used to provide meat than plants. Asides that, too much of red meat isn’t good for our health.
- Freeze fresh produce and leftovers if you don’t have the chance to eat them before they go bad. You can also do this with take-away or delivered food, if you know you will not feel like eating it the next day. You will save food and money. Better still buy less if you are in the parts of Nigeria that have epileptic power supply.
- Compost—composting food scraps can reduce climate impact while also recycling nutrients. You don’t know how to compost? Google is your friend and errrm….we can talk about this soon so watch this space.
- Recycling paper, plastic, glass & aluminium keeps landfills from growing. My people at RecyclePoints and Wecyclers are doing a great job. If you live in Ikorodu, you can contact me for recycling your stuff in exchange for some nice things. To our oldies, it’s similar to the age old “paaro”.
- Buy minimally packaged goods.
- Avoid pre-heating the oven. Unless you need a precise baking temperature, start heating your food right when you turn on the oven.
- Plug air leaks in windows and doors to increase energy efficiency
- Replace old appliances with energy efficient models and light bulbs
- If you have the option, install solar panels in your house. This will also reduce your electricity bill on the long run! It’s expensive at first but worth the investment.
- Don’t rinse. If you use a dishwasher, stop rinsing your plates before you run the machine. Simply wipe off with a towel before popping them in.
- Choose a better diaper option. Swaddle your baby in cloth diapers or a new, environmentally responsible disposable brand. This is hard, I know but the rate at which diapers are even going up, I had to start alternating with cloth diapers. They are messy but worth it. It’s my baby’s poop.
- Use cardboard matches. They don’t require any petroleum, unlike plastic gas-filled lighters.
Things you can do outside your house
- Shop local. Supporting neighbourhood businesses keeps people employed and helps prevent trucks from driving far distances.
- Shop Smart— plan meals, use shopping lists and avoid impulse buys. Don’t succumb to marketing tricks that lead you to buy more food than you need, particularly for perishable items. Though these may be less expensive per ounce, they can be more expensive overall if much of that food is discarded.
- Bike, walk or take public transport. Save the car trips for when you’ve got a big group. Helps you lose weight too.
- Use a refillable water bottle and coffee cup. Cut down on waste and maybe even save money at the coffee shop. Smoothie lovers, I got you covered. We’ll talk about this later
- Bring your own bag when you shop. Pass on the plastic bag and start carrying your own reusable totes.
- Take fewer napkins. You don’t need a handful of napkins to eat your takeout. Take just what you need.
- Shop vintage. Brand-new isn’t necessarily best. See what you can repurpose from second-hand shops.
- Maintain your car. A well-tuned car will emit fewer toxic fumes.
- Donate what you don’t use. Local charities will give your gently used clothes, books and furniture a new life.
- Vaccinate yourself and your kids. Protecting your family from disease also aids public health.
- Take advantage of your right to elect the leaders in your country and local community.
These are only a few of the things you can do. Explore the United Nations website to find out more about the goals you care most about and other ways to engage more actively. Like Jennifer of SustyVibes would say “When you see someone throwing thrash inapproprately, give them a stare down”. Have a fulfilled week ahead.
“See” you again,