As professionals in the design and technology world we understand how easy it is to get caught up in the wizardry of gadgets and devices and the fast-paced world we live in. We constantly struggle to find a balance between the ways of modern technology and our belief in living simply and sustainably. Although we certainly don’t have all of the answers, here are a few simple guidelines that we try to follow and that remind us of how to be conscious in our daily actions and decisions.
1. Disconnect and Reconnect
There are a lot of articles circulating, a little ironically, on the Internet about the importance of disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature. There is ample research that illustrates how crucial time in nature is for all ages. Nature connection has been shown to reduce stress and to improve our overall mental and physical health.
So what does this mean for you? Put down the remote, leave your cell phone behind, turn off your iPod and get outside. Go for an evening stroll, take your kids to the park, ride your bicycle, just take at least a half hour every day to get some fresh air and you’ll be amazed at how incredible being “disconnected” will make you feel. Eventually you may be ready to step it up and disconnect for a whole day or even – gasp – a weekend.
2. Unplug Devices that You Aren’t Using
Living simply means thinking about sustainability and our energy use. A very simple act, which many of us forget to do in our busy lives, is to unplug devices when you leave the house or go away. Devices that are left plugged in are often still using power, even when they’re fully charged. You might be surprised by the energy savings you gain by unplugging your devices on a daily basis.
3. Lights Out
Studies show that our sleep is highly affected by artificial lights, including lights that come from your phone, laptop, or e-reader. It’s suggested that you keep yourself away from any screens for at least a half-hour before you plan to hit the hay to get the best rest that you can. Check out this very informative episode of The Nature of Things, Lights Out, that goes into detail about how our lives are affected by artificial light.
4. Be a Positive Force Online
Chances are you or someone in your household uses Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest on a daily basis. When you’re spending time on social media, make sure to Tweet, post, and share stories, photos, and videos that inspire people to promote positive environmental and social change. One of the things we love most about social media is that we can get easy access to worldwide updates about what people are doing to better the world they live in.
And remember, showcasing positive stories is always more empowering than focusing on the negative ones and more likely to get people listening to what you have to say.
5. Green Up Your Apps
We know that asking you to ditch your phone, tablet, or laptop and run away to a cabin in the woods is probably too much to ask. But, when you’re using technology, use it wisely. Here are a few of our favourite apps that promote sustainability:
- Recycling Apps help you find out where and what you can recycle in your area: check out WeRecycle for Metro Vancouver and iRecyle which also provides news and tips from Earth911.
- Take one quick look at our Facebook page and you’ll notice that we have a serious love for local food. Luckily for us there are apps you can use to find local food options in your area. Check out Locavore for just one of many apps dedicated to promoting local food.
- Ever wonder what’s really in your beauty products? Use Think Dirty to learn about ingredients and to find safer, cleaner alternatives.
6. Don’t Get Caught Up in the Hype
As professionals who are involved in the online and media communications world, we understand how easy it is to get excited about the newest tablet or cell phone. But it’s heaps better for the environment (and your wallet) if you take some time to think about how much you really need that new gadget before discarding your old one and upgrading to something shiny and new. Before you run out to purchase the next big thing, take the time to get an understanding of the e-waste problems that our world is currently facing.
7. Research Your Products and Services
Following a similar note as the tip above, take the time to research the products and services that you are purchasing. Companies are increasingly offering sustainable options to meet the demands of consumers who want to make sure their money is going to a company that is environmentally and socially conscious. But do your research to make sure this isn’t just a marketing ploy, and that the company is honest in their dedication to sustainability.
We also believe in going local; you can have a face-to-face conversation with the person who’s selling you their product or service and encourage local economic development. And don’t “cheap out” just to save a few bucks. Spending the money on a well-developed and well-sourced product or service will almost always guarantee a better return on your money.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but we hope that it might provide some inspiration.
Do you have any tips or guidelines for living simply that you’d like to share? Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll share them on our Facebook and Twitter pages! We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!