How to Grow Small For The Environment

Guest post by: Ben Hardman, creator of  Tiny Eco Home Life

Modern life is all set up for rapid, excessive, and more often than not, wasteful living.

If you want to be successful, grow big and expand at all costs is the mainstream message. This may work in the short term but at the expense of what?

The environment? An overused workforce? Personal health?

We’re seeing the environment suffer more and more each day. Whether it’s the continuing elevation of carbon emissions, soil erosion, mass species extinction or more extreme weather events. It’s clear that things have been deteriorating rapidly for a while on the modern human watch.  

If every country lived in the same way as the UK does, it’d take 3 whole Earths to cover the environmental cost. This big way of living, both individually and as a society, just isn’t sustainable.

Thankfully, it’s not the only way. The alternative on offer today is to think and grow small.

No, this isn’t an oxymoron – it’s a more simple and sustainable way of living that will benefit the environment and reduce your impact.

What Does Growing Small Involve?

Growing small handily combines two of my favourite notions – keep things simple and sustainable.

The good thing about reducing the way you live is that it can come in many flexible forms for you to adjust to your life.

Small changes can involve everything from the products you buy, to how you heat your home or reducing your carbon emissions through food choice.

Growing small is not necessarily about restricting yourself and your ambition. It’s thinking more astutely about subjects. It’s questioning your choices, being more resourceful, minimising your extravagance and opting out of short-lived fads and fashions.

Rather than chasing the latest trends and the next best thing at the whim of big business, you’re choosing to enjoy the journey and make your life simpler. At the same time, you won’t be creating excess waste when the trend goes out of fashion again, as it will by definition.

To me, simplicity is a superpower. Making small changes will have positive benefits for you and the environment.

Grow Small for the Environment

A recent study by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has shown that many of the key indicators of global climate changes worsened in 2020.

Greenhouse gas concentrations, land and ocean temperatures, melting ice, glacial retreat and extreme weather all continued to get worse. The WMO have been publishing an annual climate report since 1993 and they describe the negative change since then as ‘relentless’.

This isn’t even to mention the impact on nature.

The UN reports that more animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction than ever before. Three quarters of the land-based environment and over 60% of the marine environment have been significantly impacted by human actions.

The long and short of it is that nature and the environment are suffering at the hands of humans. Our current way of living needs to be adapted and made sustainable.

Growing small may be one of the best ways to help us shift the momentum to climate positive actions.

How Can Growing Small Help Reduce Your Impact?

By making a few small adaptations, you can tremendously reduce your impact in a variety of ways.  

Growing small means that you will:

  •       Be more resourceful with what you have
  •       Make more ethical and environmentally-friendly choices
  •       Understand where your products come from and how they’re manufactured
  •       Reduce single use items
  •       Produce less waste
  •       Use less energy and lower your carbon footprint
  •       Recycle what you cannot reuse
  •       Shop local where possible
  •       Take up less space for living – is it possible to ‘rewild’ any land you may have?

Can growing small really achieve all this?

Yes, it can. Growing small is a new concept that requires a mindset change. The result is that it can help you and I live a more sustainable life.

If you think about it carefully enough, it makes sense – growing small becomes a way of life where each part has a positive impact on the next. If you’re a little more resourceful with what you have, you’ll end up buying less, which gives you more time to make an informed choice, and you’ll use less energy and produce less waste as you do it.

The Benefits of Growing Small to You

It’s clear that growing small will positively impact nature and the environment, but what about you personally?

Making more eco-friendly choices often benefits you too. For example, less chemical-laden products are better for your health. From reducing plastics, chemical heavy paints and carpets, you’ll improve your internal environment. You’ll also be eating local food that has been sprayed and sprayed with artificial chemicals.

Aligning yourself closer to nature will bring greater feelings of wellbeing and satisfaction. It’ll help you to realise and focus on the important things in life – relationships, the natural world, being part of a community and having a positive influence.

A more sustainable life is also likely to help you spend less money. Reduced house bills and unnecessary consumption will leave a bit more money in your pocket for the more important things.

10 Small Changes to Reduce Your Environmental Impact

You know the benefits of growing small, so how can you achieve it?

You don’t have to sell all your possessions and move to a cabin in the woods (although that does sound quite appealing!) – here are 10 simple changes you can make gradually in your life to reduce your environmental impact.

1)  Choose a more ethical banking provider – Banks have a huge power at their disposal. Investments in new projects and businesses really does shape the way society moves. Choosing a more ethical bank account will mean you’ll be supporting more sustainable causes.   

2)  Always carry a refillable water bottle and/or reusable coffee cup – Billions and billions of plastic water bottles and hard to recycle coffee cups litter the environment and oceans every year. Carrying a reusable bottle and cup around can potentially save significant amounts of resources and waste.

3)  Switch to a green energy provider – If your current supplier is still focussed on non-renewable energy channels, it’s time to switch to a provider who sources clean, renewable energy.

4)  Eat organic in-season food – Organic is the way to go to reduce synthetic chemical use. This will benefit a number of aspects – the soil, nearby waterways, local habitats and your health. In season food is also a more natural way to limit buying products from half way across the world.

5)  Compost your food waste – Food waste accounts for a huge amount of carbon emissions, not to mention the wasted energy that goes into producing the food in the first place. Composting your food waste ensures that it will return to the Earth to re-nourish the soil and go back into our natural systems.

6)  Reduce your meat consumption – There’s no doubt that meat production significantly contributes to carbon emissions. It’s also associated with tropical rainforest deforestation and desertification. If you do buy meat, choose high quality produce that’s been created in a organic where the animals have freedom to roam their pasture and eat as they please.

7)  Recycle everything you can – If it can be recycled, ensure it makes its way to the correct place to be processed.

8)  Shop local and buy second-hand where possible – Keep it local to reduce transport emissions. Buying second hand is a great way to reuse an existing resource and also support smaller, independent businesses.

9)  Buy refillable eco-friendly cleaning products – Traditional household cleaning items are packed full of synthetical chemicals and are heavy to transport thanks to the high water content. Refillable natural-based cleaning products are much better for the environment. You can buy biodegradable multipurpose cleaners and laundry sheets that are dehydrated. This significantly reduces emissions.

10) Nature-filled and habitat rich gardens – Adding plants, flowers, trees, log piles and ponds to your garden is a positive climate action that will create natural habitats to benefit nearby animals. No matter what the size of your garden, yard or window box may be, you’ll always be able to do something.

Growing small is the next biggest thing for the environment, and as you can see from the list above, it doesn’t have to be difficult.

All you need to do is to take a more considered approach and focus on the simple and sustainable.

By doing this, you’ll reduce your impact on the environment, help nature and lead a more fulfilled life! 

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