Living Sustainably: Definitions, Geography, and Accountability

When I first learned about global warming in middle school, I was very distressed.  I couldn’t understand why everyone was so chill about it. Scientists were predicting a slow and painful end to life as we know it, yet no one seems to lament their daily use of fossil fuels and single-use plastics. Since then I have been searching for ways to reduce my impact and help reduce climate change, deforestation, and other environmental issues, in any way I can.

Urban Living

My greatest chance to reduce my carbon footprint came when I started my undergrad at DePaul and moved to Chicago. In general, cities can be more energy efficient and sustainable than sprawling suburbs or rural areas. Growing up in the suburbs, I drove an average of eight miles by car every day, and lived in a large house with my family that took a lot of energy to heat in the winter and cool in the summer. In Chicago, I can take energy-efficient public transit everywhere,  live in apartments that use less energy than houses, and have access to more sustainable products and foods.

There are a few drawbacks that come with living in the city. Little to no outdoor space means that I can’t do much gardening or composting. I also have a limited budget, and while living sustainably will save you a lot of money in the long run, there are certain costs I can’t justify yet. That said, I’m doing my best, and getting better as I go.

What is this blog?

There are a lot of buzzwords and lifestyle choices that get mixed up with sustainability, but are actually unrelated. One great example is going “all-natural”. While there is significant overlap between going green and cutting out “chemicals”, I am not interested in being natural for the sake of natural. For example, I am concerned about the silicones in traditional shampoo because they can contaminate clean water sources, not because I think that using them on my head is giving me cancer. I want to adopt practices that are proven (or theorized) by environmental science to reduce my energy consumption and carbon footprint, to put less plastic in the ocean, and to minimize pollution of all sorts.

My approach to this blog  will be a blend of the science behind sustainability practices, and my own experiences trying to be more sustainable.This may be of particular interest to young people  or city dwellers like myself looking for simple, cheap sustainability tips. Coming up, I will make the case for some basic sustainability practices, discuss different single-use plastic products that are especially evil, and maybe even cover some environmental events around Chicago. Thanks for reading, and let me know if there is a topic I should explore!

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