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10 good habits to contribute to environmental sustainability

Global warming, air and sea pollution, deforestation, drastic reduction of energy resources: the list of environmental issues to be addressed urgently is frighteningly long. By now, not even the most sceptical person (or the most distracted one) can deny the reality of the facts: we have made our planet less and less hospitable, both for us and (especially) for who will come after us. The situation is dire, but it seems that finally something is changing. For some years now, the issue of sustainability has been raising unprecedented awareness, revealing a widespread and in some ways surprising sensitivity. It is the younger generations who lead this movement, with the Millennials already being labelled as the "green generation".
However, as often happens in these cases, good habits have had a "contagious effect", and today the theme of sustainability is perceived as important by many, with obvious consequences on their choices, mobility, nutrition: in one word, on their lifestyle. Above all, what probably has made all this possible is the fact that today adopting a lifestyle inspired by sustainability is much simpler than in the past. If you pay a little attention to it, it is often even simpler than you can imagine. What better opportunity, then, to share some advice on how to help save the environment every day?

Sustainability from consumption to food

Perhaps more than anything else, our eating habits have a direct influence on the quality of the environment. What we choose to put on the table, of course, has a very significant weight, but the relationship between consumption and pollution (or, in the most desirable of hypotheses, between consumption and saving of the environment) is not limited to food, nor to the simple selection of products.

Nonetheless, it is useful to take this as a starting point, and then broaden the field to include all that is good for the environment, through our behaviour as consumers.

1. Limit meat consumption

Given the increasing level of awareness mentioned above, this indication will certainly not sound new: limiting meat consumption, in addition to being able to generate a great benefit for health, is an excellent way to protect the environment. That a greater spread of diets completely or predominantly vegetable-based would improve, and not by a small margin, the health of our environment. However, this does not mean that it is necessary to become all vegans or vegetarians. An alternative route could be meat reduction, which sometimes results in so-called flexitarian diets, that is, those diets followed by people who have chosen to eat exclusively vegetable-based foods only for a few days of the week, or perhaps for a single week in a month.
Another option is to avoid certain types of meat: the production of beef and lamb, for example, emits very large amounts of methane gas, and even the agricultural production necessary to raise these animals has a negative environmental impact. Just one number to measure how even small changes in diet can have an extraordinarily significant effect: by eliminating even just beef from one's diet, a person can reduce their carbon emissions by 20%.

2. Support local producers

Perhaps a less obvious way of contributing to environmental protection is to support local producers in their weekly food purchases. Buying fruit and vegetables from local retailers, linked to the territory or, even better, directly to the producer, is an excellent way of doing good to the planet and to themselves.
In fact, these farmers, having much lower production volumes than those of large industrial groups, use tools and practices that are more sustainable for the environment and have a better impact on health. Buying locally often means not having to use the car, or using it for shorter journeys, with a clear benefit for air quality. Finally, supporting these types of companies and their way of producing can also encourage large companies to imitate their practices, achieving a positive knock-on effect.

3. Choose brands with a mission

Riding the wave of this new attention to the dimension of sustainability, several companies in all sectors of the market have been the subject of a real "green revolution", and many others were born with sustainability among their founding principles. Preferring these brands to others means feeding a system that makes the generation of a positive impact on the environment its first and last goal. It is not a question of leaving as few negative traces as possible on the planet, but of creating a structure that will have a positive influence: in short, even beyond the "zero impact" objective.

4. Repackaging

The previous point already moved quite considerably from the mere concept of food intake. Here, we come out of it for good. If, in fact, there are many brands with a mission linked to sustainability in the food sector, it is rather difficult to imagine food repackaging.

Repackaging is instead one of the most significant gestures that can be made to translate into action the purpose of living in a more sustainable way.

Just think about the issue that waste management represents worldwide, which, if associated with the tendency just recently declining, to produce with materials that are difficult to decompose, clearly gives an idea of how much repackaging is a fundamental and often forgotten task. Getting out of the logic of the new is always better can be the key to making your lifestyle simpler and lighter, which also means more balanced and more sustainable.

5. Avoid plastic

From coffee cups to water bottles, plastic continues to be a widely used material despite the environmental hazard it represents. Of course, differentiating waste for recycling is an essential action, but if you really want to combat plastic pollution, you cannot help but to seek alternatives. An example? Instead of using plastic bottles, you can choose a metal water bottle, which perfectly meets the same need, are refillable and do not pollute.

6. Choose alternative means of transportation

Another issue that is hotter than ever today is that of sustainable mobility. With the unstoppable growth of urban areas, the problem of air pollution and congestion in cities is increasingly felt, and even here it is not difficult to make one's own personal contribution to achieving effective solutions.

With the emergence of new problems on a global scale, the technology designed to solve them is also evolving: for example, low-impact vehicles are already becoming cheaper and more available with each passing day. In any case, there is nothing in this respect that can compete with a bicycle, or with one's own legs, which in addition to emissions solve the age-old issue of traffic in cities. Travelling at least part of the daily journeys with one's own strengths can be a good habit to be included in one's daily routine of well-being, combining once again personal well-being and environmental well-being.

7. Consider sharing

As we have just seen, technology is a fundamental tool to build innovative solutions, but it can also work to connect people in a new ways (in this regard, social networks clearly lead the way). The creation of online communities can be an excellent enabler of virtuous behaviour, of which sharing mobility is an exemplary case. Choosing to share your car for an otherwise lonely trip, for example, means not only saving on costs, but also reducing the number of vehicles in circulation and, consequently, the levels of pollution. The same applies to shared vehicles, from bicycles to scooters, which are increasingly available in cities and which, in full agreement with the new green sensitivity, are enjoying extraordinary success.
Environmental sustainability at work
We rarely think about it, but given how much time we spend on work in a day, it would be rather strange if you couldn't bring your sustainability skills to the office as well. Of course, these are not universally applicable solutions, but already knowing and considering them could be a first step to change things.

8. Flexible working hours

Many of the most innovative organisations have long since abandoned traditional working hours, leaving their resources free to opt for a more flexible one. Beyond the benefits to work performance, such working hours avoid moving at peak times, while avoiding contributing to urban traffic and all the pollution that results from it. Could your work be carried out at different times from those you currently respect? If so, this could be an excellent proposal to suggest, if not a choice to be taken immediately.

9. Move on to smart working

However, bringing sustainability to the office may not help if your office is, even for just a few days, your home. Many have already pointed this out: the environmental benefit of smart working is considerable. Just as with hourly flexibility, working remotely reduces traffic and polluting gas emissions, also translating into better working performance. On the other hand, things are linked: less stress from traffic can only mean better performance at work.
Sustainability on holiday
When you unplug, the temptation to stop paying attention to anything is strong. "At least on holiday" resonates as a tolerable justification also, and perhaps above all, for those who in all the other days of the year do everything to protect the environment with their daily actions. When this sweet temptation arises, you must always remember the impact that your life has on the Earth: in short, go on holiday with sustainability, do not send sustainability on holiday.

10. Transports, hotels, tour operators for sustainability

One way to take sustainability on holiday is, as you can easily guess, to choose a means of transport with reduced impact: when distances allow it, the train is certainly to be preferred to the plane, which involves exponentially higher production of pollution. However, making your holiday more sustainable does not just mean travelling on less polluting vehicles: the choice of accommodation can also make a difference. For example, there are hotels certified by sustainable tourism organisations, and even in selecting a tour operator, you cannot help but consider the green factor: those who support the development of local communities deserve without a doubt a special attention, as well as our support of conscious tourists.

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