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5 Easy Ways to Live a More Sustainable Life, this Earth Day, and Beyond

by Jamie Trufin
Community Travel, Shopping & Leisure Uncategorized Jamie Trufin April 20, 2023

We all have a responsibility to ensure that our actions do not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This is the fundamental concept of Sustainability, which stresses the importance of satisfying our present needs, while at the same time, safeguarding resources for our community’s future needs.

To achieve this, Sustainability is grounded in three pillars:

  • Social: The well-being of people, communities, and societies.
  • Environmental: The preservation and protection of natural resources and ecosystems.
  • Economic: The management of resources and finances in a way that supports long-term sustainability.

Here are five easy ways to incorporate the three pillars of sustainability into your everyday life.

Shop Local

Shopping locally is a great way to promote Sustainability. When you buy products from local businesses, you’re supporting the local economy and reducing the carbon footprint associated with long-distance transportation. This concept is referred to as “Food Miles,” which measures how far food has traveled before it reaches the consumer. Local products are often produced using Sustainable methods, such as locally sourced materials and often require less packaging in addition to having a shorter supply chain. Shopping locally also fosters a sense of community, oftentimes being able to connect with the people making your products. By choosing to shop locally, you are not only supporting your community but also reducing your impact on the environment.

Here are a few shopping local tips:

  • Find a local Farmers Market, such as Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market to support.
  • Find an organization in your community that provides local businesses with the resources and tools they need, like Local First Arizona.
  • Once you found a local spot you like, support them via word of mouth or leave a positive online review on Yelp or Google.

(Photo by Zee Peralta: Evelia Davis, Owner of The Diaspora Collective and Latha posing with her store merchandise)

Use Alternative Transit

Using alternative transit and walking are great ways to promote sustainability. Walking, biking, scootering, or using public transportation instead of solely driving, can significantly reduce your carbon footprint, as cars are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Alternative modes of transportation also promote physical activity and can improve your overall health. Additionally, walking and biking are emission-free and help reduce traffic congestion. By choosing to walk or use alternative transit, you are positively impacting the environment as well as your well-being, while making a positive change in your community.

Here are a few alternative transit tips within Downtown Phoenix:

  • Headed to an event at Footprint Center?! Your event ticket is available to be used as a light rail pass, to and from the event.
  • Be micro-mobile! Be sure to try out the Spin & Lime app to rent a scooter or bike to get around Downtown without a car (Don’t want to download another app?! Spin scooters are rentable via the Lyft app and Lime scooters are rentable via the Uber app).
  • Looking for a more affordable transit option? Check to see if your employer is a part of the Employee Platinum Pass program to save on public transit.
  • Work Downtown? There are over 20 direct Express/RAPID bus line routes around the Valley connecting to Downtown Phoenix. Learn more: here!
  • Lace up those sneakers because Downtown Phoenix has been called one of the most walkable places in Arizona. Check out the Downtown Phoenix event calendar to see tons of fun things to check out by foot!

Valley Metro Light Rail and Bus traveling through Civic Space Park and the ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus. (Photo by Taylor Costello)

Use a reusable bag

Using reusable bags is an excellent way to promote Sustainability. Single-use plastic bags are a significant source of pollution, with millions ending up in landfills and oceans yearly. Did you know that plastic bags cannot be recycled in a standard recycling bin? In fact, plastic bags often jam machines in sorting facilities, causing the facility to need to close down for an extended period of time and inadvertently forcing workers to need to take time to cut said bags out of the machinery, reducing the facility’s effectiveness at recycling. Reusable bags are made from durable materials such as canvas, cloth, or mesh and can be used repeatedly. They also come in various sizes and designs, making them versatile for all shopping trips and the more Sustainable option.

Here are a few tips regarding reusable bags as well as about recycling those plastic bags:

  • Make using a reusable bag convenient and accessible by storing it in a memorable spot, by the door, in your office cubicle, etc. This way it’s less likely to forget!
  • Create a second life for plastic bags by using them as small trash bags or doggie poop bags.
  • Start a “soft plastic” recycling bin for your home or office, for plastic bags and more! Learn more about what “soft plastic” recycling is and how to start doing your part, here.
  • Drop off your “soft plastics” at your local grocery store to really take your Sustainability to the next level.

(Photo by Zee Peralta: Reusable DTPHX bird tote bag at a local event)

Participate in Sustainable community events

Community events, like neighborhood clean-ups, promote environmental responsibility by removing litter and debris, protecting wildlife, and increasing awareness about proper waste management as well as recycling. These activities inspire attendees to adopt Sustainable behaviors, foster community pride, and encourage shared responsibility, in caring for our environment. Participating in, or organizing, these events can contribute to building a more Sustainable future and positively impact our communities.

Here are a few tips to get more involved in Sustainability-related events:

  • Join in on a clean-up! Downtown Phoenix Inc. will be hosting a neighborhood clean-up on Saturday, May 6, from 8 to 11 a.m. with its Flock Volunteer Program; sign up here if you would like to participate—breakfast burritos will be served!
  • Find additional Sustainability-related events to attend, by clicking here.
  • Go one step further by attending a Zero Waste event! A Zero Waste Event is an event where 90 percent of the waste produced from the event, gets diverted from a landfill. Want to learn more about hosting a Zero Waste event? Click here for tips and tricks.
  • Are you a local business in Phoenix working on being more Sustainable? Check out the City of Phoenix’s Green Business Program to get recognized for your Sustainability efforts.

Volunteers participate in a neighborhood cleanup for the Evans Churchill Community Association on National Clean Up Day in September 2022. (Photo by Taylor Costello)

Reduce water waste

Reducing water waste is an essential part of Sustainability. As a desert community, reducing water usage is a critical foundation for building our cities. Simple changes to our daily habits, such as turning off the faucet while brushing our teeth or taking shorter showers, can significantly reduce water consumption. Installing low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets can also help conserve water. Additionally, planting native, drought-resistant plants in our gardens and landscaping can reduce the amount of water needed for irrigation. Reducing water waste can help preserve this vital resource for future generations and promote a more Sustainable future.

Here are a few tips to reduce water waste:

  • Use a reusable water bottle. Avoid buying single-use plastic water bottles that require additional water to produce, and oftentimes, end up in landfills or oceans, contributing to water pollution.
  • Use less water by utilizing a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand.
  • Use a compost bin to reduce food waste and save water in the process.
  • Water your plants early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce the likeliness of evaporation and use less water.
  • Be aware of leaks in your home. Make sure to fix them promptly to prevent water waste.

Incorporating the pillars of Sustainability in our daily lives is vital for the future of our planet. By shopping locally, using alternative transit, using reusable bags, participating in Sustainable community events, and reducing water waste, we can all positively impact the environment and our communities. It’s important to remember that Sustainability is not just an individual responsibility, but a collective one. By working together, we can create a more sustainable future for ourselves as well as for future generations. Together, we can all make small changes in our daily lives to promote a healthier, more Sustainable planet.

What changes will you start making today to create a more Sustainable future?