5 steps to build more sustainable habits

We humans are without a doubt creatures of habits. Wendy Wood is a researcher at the University of Southern California and found that 40-45% of our daily behaviour are habits. That is a lot if you think about it. It means that almost half of the things you do on a daily basis are habits. Some of these habits are good for you like exercising, eating healthy or mindful practices. On the other hand, some of them harm not only you but also the people in your surroundings and the planet. 

 

Now, before we look at how our habits effect the environment, let’s see what habits actually are. Habits are something that we do often and regularly, sometimes without knowing that we are doing it.

I would like to give you 10 examples of common habits which harm the environment:

  • Leaving the light on, your electronic devises on standby and your chargers plugged in even if your phone is not charging
  • Wasting paper
  • Filling up the kettle when you only need one cup of boiled water
  • Eating meat daily
  • The way you travel to work
  • Sending biodegradables to landfill
  • Ignoring plastic packaging
  • Using plastic bags and single use plastic in general
  • The temperature which you set when you do your laundry
  • 'Buying stuff' to make yourself happy 
  • etc. 

5 STEPS TO BUILD MORE SUSTAINABLE HABITS:

1. Problem analysis

In the first step, find the habits which are problematic and contradict a sustainable way of living. Become clear on what you want to change in your daily life. If you need some inspiration, look at the list up top. How often do you consume animal products? How much rubbish do you produce a week? Be honest with yourself. Maybe even write it all down. Then look at your own list and reflect if you want to be that person.

2. Focus on one problem at the time

In your problem analysis you might have found a few things you want to work on. Here at Light and Air, we preach for you to become an imperfect environmentalist. This is very important! You can’t change everything at the same time, and no one expects you to. Pick one habit and focus on that to start with. One step at a time. Your impact might seem little at the beginning, but it can turn into something huge over time. You will need to be patient.
 

3. Research the topic 

After you have picked one habit, start researching and think about more sustainable alternatives.

4. Commit to a solution

Now you have to commit to a solution. Make sure you chose a maintainable solution which works for you in your daily life.

5. Develop a routine

As soon as you start putting this new solution into reality and repeat it over and over again, your brain will soon see it as the new normal and it won’t feel strange anymore. It won’t require much effort and becomes a new, earth-friendly habit.

 

One final fact: When it comes to habits, your brain actually can’t differentiate between what’s good for you and the planet and what not. It only sees repetition in combination with the “treat hormone” dopamine and thinks: “this must be good, let’s repeat this over and over again. Many of your habits happen subconsciously so, be mindful and create awareness.

Last but not least, you are a creature of habits and if you cultivate the ones that are good for you and the environment, you’ll do an amazing job in making the world a better place for everyone.

Let us know in the comments, the one habit you would like to work on.

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