Understand the scale of your daily decisions
Some decisions seem small and have big impacts, some seem big but aren't as huge as you think. The difficulty comes in identifying which decisions fall into which category. For instance, recycling seems like a big deal, and it helps to diminish the waste stream going to landfills. However, purchasing a product that has zero waste in the first place is actually the more imperative decision.
Remember “Everything” is connected
It can be difficult to grasp how vastly interconnected everything is. With how specialized we are and our lives have become, we can forget that everything we do affects something else. But taking our thinking at least four or five steps down the chain of cause and effect helps us understand the impacts of our actions and choices.
We need to remember to think about things in terms of their wide-ranging effects. For example, looking at a food product on a store shelf not just in terms of what ingredients it contains, but also how the ingredient choices impact the health of both the consumer of the final product as well as the people working harvesting the ingredients (the poor remunerations and living conditions of workers in various coffee and cocoa farms in Africa and South America) and their exposure to any chemicals, and the health and longevity of the ecosystems impacted by gathering the ingredients used in the product, and how our political systems impact and are impacted by raising, importing, and exporting the ingredients...and the chain can keep going. So, we can see how one food product on a shelf is actually connected with much broader parts of our lives. Hence, keeping this in mind will guide us towards more sustainable living choices.
Consider the True Cost
Sometimes buying green seems expensive, and it's difficult to bring ourselves to spend more money for organic or locally made products. However, one thing that helps us understand that greener is cheaper is considering true cost. While something like a factory farmed steak may have a lower price tag than a locally raised grass-fed steak, the true cost is actually far higher, because it takes into account things like increased health-care costs because the factory farmed steak is actually less nutritious than the other to your health, the higher amounts of water used to raise factory farmed steak thanks to the vast amounts of corn raised to feed the cattle, the higher cost of pollution emitted into the atmosphere and water systems, and so on. In the long run, our unsustainable choices have a far higher true cost than our sustainable choices. Eventually the market will adjust to true costs as people more and more value making sustainable purchases. For now, you can invest a bit more for your health and the planet's on sustainable products and save money by buying less stuff you don't need and reading tips on going green and saving green.
Remember your two Footprints – Water and Carbon
While many aspects of our lives leave footprints, these are the two big ones. We use water heavily in everything from manufacturing and processing goods to running buildings, from growing food and livestock to landscaping. Our water consumption in our home lives, like showering and washing the dishes, is just a tiny fraction compared to the amount of embodied water we consume throughout the day. In the same way that our water consumption is embodied in the goods and services we access all day long, so too is carbon. We might not think of the computers we use or books we read as having a carbon footprint, but just like the methods of transportation we choose, most of everything we use and consume during the day has a carbon footprint. Learning more about water footprints and carbon footprints, and working to minimize both our own and that of everything we produce and use, will get us much closer to sustainable living.
Don't get discouraged or overwhelmed
Easier said than done, right? But the key to achieving success here is not letting yourself overwhelmed by the amount work to be done ahead of us, rather focusing on the many ways we can tackle the challenges and make progress. Simply sit down in the evening, look back on your day, and ask yourself, "Did I go through my day in a way that moved us all closer towards living sustainably?" If you can say yes, consider yourself successful.
Live sustainably by staying informed, thinking logically and connecting dots as you interact with your world during the day.
Adapted from http://planetgreen.discovery.com