THE word 'sustainable' is often used to describe things which one thinks aren’t in the slightest sustainable. So what does it mean?

According to one dictionary, it means the following options:

1. Able to be maintained at a certain rate or level, such as ‘sustainable economic growth’

2. Conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources, e.g. ‘our fundamental commitment to sustainable development’

3. Able to be upheld or defended, e.g. ‘sustainable definitions of good educational practice’

Easy to get confused, when you read or hear ‘sustainable’ isn’t it?

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Living sustainably includes principles such as eco–friendly homes, clean energy, sustainable and healthy food, clean transportation, proper usage of water and proper disposal of waste.

An eco–friendly home is one where you don’t have vastly more space than you and your family need. Why? Because then you are wasting resources by needing more furniture and furnishings, therefore using more resources (unless, of course, you get second hand).

A larger house also needs more heating and lighting, which means more energy and water to maintain it. Always start with good insulation and draught-proofing.

Clean energy is, I think, self-explanatory: energy made by renewable resources, e.g. wind or wave power, solar panels, hydro electric generating plants.

Sustainable food is food that has been grown as locally as possible using methods that do not harm the land. This includes using natural fertilisers, and eating less meat.

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It’s good to avoid cars and aeroplanes when possible, but clean transportation needn’t just be public transport and bikes. Or even hybrid cars. Getting a car with a smaller engine and using it less would help.

Proper usage of water; is it strictly necessary to wash every single piece of clothing you wore today? A good airing often is all that is needed. If you have one, fill the dishwasher to capacity before turning it on. Install as many rainwater butts as you can. Use the water for the garden, cleaning the windows and washing the car.

Waste: if you have done many of the things above, you will have much less waste to dispose of. Remember, there is no ‘away’ when you get rid of something. Someone, somewhere has to deal with it.

One step at a time leads to success in changing habits. So there you have it – welcome to sustainable living.