By Leah Zerbe
Examples of sustainability run the gamut and include projects big and small. From large-scale corporate sustainability initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the tree and shrub species you plant in your garden, all of it makes a difference and matters.
If you’re ready to adopt a sustainable lifestyle (or build upon your current work), the good news is there are relatively low-effort changes you can make that go a long way.
But first, let’s take a look at what “sustainability” actually means in the first place …
What Is Sustainability?
What is meant by a sustainable lifestyle? Well, it varies from person to person, and the definition of sustainability even differs, depending on where you’re looking.
According to the United States' Environmental Protection Agency,
Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.
The United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development calls sustainable development “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Sustainability was central to indigenous tribe culture, but for the rest of us, it’s something that’s been largely lost over the last several centuries.
That means living a sustainable lifestyle is more important than ever. We owe it to ourselves and our children to do better.
Sustainability at Ancient Nutrition
Unfortunately, sustainability is often a concept that’s greenwashed, meaning companies or organizations market to environmentally and health-conscious people, but don’t really deliver on their sustainability claims in a way that makes a big positive difference.
Here are a few examples of greenwashing:
- A cleaning company that calls its products “green” even though certain ingredients are linked to pollution and health issues.
- “Eco” clothing lines that use harmful dyes and production practices that pollute water.
- Calling fossil fuel energy “clean burning” even though it creates an enormous amount of greenhouse gas pollution from extraction through the burning process.
- Furniture companies that build “sustainable” products out of illegally logged timber that compromises endangered species.
One company that is truly walking the talk when it comes to sustainability is our own Ancient Nutrition.
Here are some highlights of our regenerative goals …
Advancing the cutting-edge science of organics
A senior UN official recently came out and said if we sustain our current level of farming, we only have 60 years of farmable land left.
With pollution in the air and fewer nutrients in our soil, the healthy food we rely on is in grave danger.
As a superfood supplement company, Ancient Nutrition is now part of the cutting-edge solution.
The company entered into a scientific research partnership with the Rodale Institute, a purpose driven non-profit and a founder of the modern regenerative organic movement.
Ancient Nutrition will be directing the transition to regenerative agricultural efforts on 4,000+ certified organic acres across two farms in Tennessee and Missouri through our R.A.N.C.H. Project and will collaborate with the research scientists at Rodale Institute on data collection and analysis.
Ancient Nutrition will dedicate 1 percent of its annual revenue and begin the first stage of a 14-year project to objectively study methods to revolutionize environmental regeneration and healthy food production through:
- Carbon sequestration
- Water conservation
- Soil microbiome diversity and viability
Aiming for a carbon negative footprint
Switching to remote work in 2020 cut the company’s carbon emissions by 80 percent, helping it achieve a Certified Climate Neutral® company status. That means it offsets all its carbon emissions. By 2024, Ancient Nutrition plans to be carbon negative, meaning its processes actually remove carbon from the atmosphere, where it throws off the natural climate balance we’ve enjoyed for so long.
7 Easy Ways for You to Live a More Sustainable Lifestyle
So, how do you live a sustainable lifestyle on a more personal level? Here are seven suggestions on how to get started. Try getting comfortable with committing to one or two, and once you’ve got those down pat, add another to your life.
1. Go native!
Planting flowers, grasses, trees and shrubs indigenous to your area supports biodiversity. You’ll be surprised by the new species of birds that show up once you plant things like native oaks.
Oaks support 557 different species of moth and butterfly caterpillars. That’s a lot of bird food (or pollinators, if they make it to the adult stage)!
Remember, an adult pair of chickadees, a beloved bird species, need to find 6,000 to 10,000 caterpillars nearby to feed their young before the fledglings are strong and big enough to leave the nest. Exotic species imported from other parts of the world simply do not provide this type of sustenance for birds.
Look for your state’s native plant society for suggestions. A great book for plant lists and inspiration is The Living Landscape by Rick Darke and Douglas Tallamy.
You can also explore plant lists for your area here: https://xerces.org/publications/plant-lists
2. Embrace invertebrates
People tend to spray, set off toxic fogger bombs and smash any insect or spider they see. But in reality, these critters play an important role in the food chain. Famous biologist E.O. Wilson called insects the “little things that run the world.”
The more diverse the plantings in your community and the smarter the development, green infrastructure and preservation measures, natural predators will emerge to deal with pests and keep things in balance.
3. Create more walkable, bikeable cities
Of course, walking or taking a bike or electric scooter somewhere is a great way to live a more sustainable life. But if you want to take it a step further, become an advocate for better “urban mobility.”
In Paul Hawken’s book, Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation, the author points out that cities and urban areas generate 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. And one-third of that comes from transportation.
By joining up with like-minded people and community planners, you can help bring more bike lanes and walking paths to your neighborhood, which doesn’t just cut back on pollution, but it improves everyone’s quality of life, too.
4. Support companies that “walk the talk”
Avoid supporting companies that greenwash and instead invest your hard-earned dollars in products and services offered by truly sustainable companies that improve your well-being.
Aside from the big investment in regenerative agriculture outlined above, Ancient Nutrition is also committed to planting 10 million superfood-bearing trees, plants, vines and bushes in the next decade. This regenerative food forest will help improve soil health and protect biodiversity.
For instance, its Organic SuperGreens tablets are made with 10 superfood ingredients grown at the company’s headquarters, which is a farm in Summertown, Tennessee.
Ancient Nutrition also composts all byproducts of its proprietary fermented eggshell membrane ingredient used in collagen products. That compost is then returned to farmland to improve soil health. In 2021, the company composted more than 6,000 tons that would have otherwise wound up in a landfill.
Compost is incredible. It improves not only plant health, but it also helps the soil act more like a sponge, storing water that can be used in times of drought. Compost also creates healthier soil that traps atmospheric carbon down in the soil, promoting a more stable climate.
5. Protect (and restore) wetlands
Chemical agriculture, unsustainable cattle ranching methods and overdevelopment threaten wetlands, also known as the “kidneys” of the planet, thanks to their water filtration properties.
People who complain about “swamps” and mosquitoes may be humbly surprised to learn that keeping wetlands healthy and preserving them actually reduces water pollution and mosquitoes.
Wetlands support the most diverse habitat on earth, and store six times more carbon per acre than grasslands.
Get involved in local conservation efforts to restore and protect wetlands, and when you garden, avoid any soil mixes or pots that contain peat. Companies harvest the peat by draining wetlands, which is extremely damaging.
6. Ditch your junk food habit
If you find it hard to give up on unhealthy foods, consider using this for inspiration: Big Food has hijacked your taste buds to crave ultra-processed foods that release feel-good dopamine and serotonin.
And creating all of those ingredients is hammering not only our health, but the environment, too.
Precious rainforests are being cleared for fast-food beef and soybean production. Glyphosate, a systemic herbicide, is used on genetically modified (GM) crops with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and actually taken up inside of the plant. The final junk food products commonly test positive for glyphosate residues.
7. Look, listen, connect
It’s hard to want to save something if you don’t even know it’s there! Reconnect with humans’ primal link to the natural world and you’ll also enjoy a boost to your health. People who spend time outside report much better moods and overall health.
Explore your own neighborhood using apps like the plant and animal identifier Seek by iNaturalist, bird identifier Merlin Bird ID and plant identifier Picture This to learn about the birds, trees and other critters around your home. You’re never too old to explore. Reignite that curiosity that’s inside of you and you’ll open up a whole new fantastic world.
For more ideas, big and small, check out Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation.
With a B.A. in journalism from Temple University and a M.S. in exercise science from California University of Pennsylvania, Leah Zerbe covers health news and functional fitness topics. She’s also a certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and is a certified yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance. Leah resides on her family’s organic farm in Pennsylvania.