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Is sustainable living in urban areas a possibility?

It’s no news that urban areas all around the world are one of the major causes of high CO2 emissions. Urbanization has led to irreversible human impacts on the global biosphere. It has led to the loss of highly productive farmland, modified extremely imperative ecosystems, and increased water and energy demands through fossil fuels among other disasters. As urbanization expands, agriculture is largely concentrated on underdeveloped land using intensive methods. While the environmental stress is very high, the economical stress on people is unbearable. Excessive pollution has drastically affected the health condition of urban dwellers.

We are all aware of the toll urban areas take on our environment. This isn’t to say that it is not possible to live sustainably in cities. We are very close to our dream of living in green cities with the latest technology as a catalyst for change. However, some solutions can be applied to existing urban conditions that will help lower dependence on fossil fuels, elevate human lifestyle and curb carbon emissions. Most of these solutions are gathered around making commitments, getting creative, and understanding human consumption.

 At a consumer level, we can start by becoming conscious of how much we actually consume versus how much we need to consume. Urban dwellers tend to consume more food, energy, and durable goods. Energy consumption for electricity, transportation, cooking, and heating is much higher in urban areas than in rural ones. Deliberate shopping is one possible solution to arrest excessive consumption. Every product we purchase has an environmental footprint, from the materials used to create it to the pollution emitted during manufacturing to the packaging that ends up in landfills. So before you buy, ask yourself if you really need it.

 Long-term purchases should be made with environmental advantages. This could be heavier on the pockets, but it leads to long-term savings and reduced impact over time. Consider using solar equipment to eliminate fossil fuel dependence. Finding new ways to reuse what you own and not surrendering to conveniently located stores selling cheap products is another way to embody sustainable living. Water consumption in urban areas is one of the prime reasons agricultural lands do not get enough water. Shorter showers, fixing leaky toilets and choosing low-flow and low-water appliance options are other effective ways to combat water problems in the city. Urban conditions are perfect to avoid using cars. Walking, biking, or using public transport as a means of commuting on regular basis can reduce fossil fuel dependence to a great extent. Combine errands to make fewer trips and share a car if you need one. Practicing urban agriculture, managing food waste responsibly, and joining sustainable communities are a few other practical ways to live sustainably in urban areas.

 At the administration level, cities need to retrofit their infrastructure – for example, to ensure that the city can be easily navigated on foot, by bicycle, or on eco-friendly public transit systems. Incentives should be given to citizens making sustainable efforts. A regenerative approach should be applied to city planning making it easy for people to live sustainably. Upgrading energy use and mandating solar and wind power on new constructions can play a major role in cities turning environmentally friendly over time. Communal partnerships can be made to enhance the quality of living of all urban dwellers.

 While we are on the brink of extreme environmental disasters, immediate efforts can mitigate the level of future (and present) suffering. As consumers, we hold the power to be creative and reduce our carbon footprint. The myth that only rural living can be environmentally friendly can finally be laid to rest. There are aspects of urban life that can support a sustainable lifestyle, if and only if we commit ourselves to make necessary changes.

Sources:

https://www.prb.org/resources/urbanization-an-environmental-force-to-be-reckoned-with/#:~:text=Environmental%20Effects%20of%20Urbanization,life%20of%20the%20urban%20population.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/urban-threats

https://www.fao.org/fao-stories/article/en/c/1260457/

https://ehs.unu.edu/news/news/five-ways-to-make-cities-more-sustainable-and-resilient.html

https://www.digi.com/blog/post/sustainable-city

Blog Image Credit: djedj from Pixabay

Written by Kritika Rao

Sustainable living in urban areas

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