TED Talks To Inspire You to Live More Sustainably

Whether you are making zero waste bathroom swaps or gearing up to have the most sustainable travel experience you’ve ever had before, we are all looking for small ways to make a big difference.

Hopefully, these TED talks inspire you to live more sustainably. 🌱

If you’re not already familiar with TED Talks, allow me to introduce you to TED: a non-profit dedicated to spreading ideas in the form of short, powerful talks.

TED Talk videos are educational, inspiring, and entertaining; think of them like the quick, concise Netflix of inspirational and innovative ideas.

Ted is a pretty popular guy, I mean how could he not be? These talks are “ideas worth spreading.”

Here are some inspiring quotes and perspectives from these TED talks that will inspire you to live more sustainably, whether that’s directly or indirectly.

ted talks to inspire you to live more sustainably

Why I Live a Zero Waste Life | Lauren Singer

Lauren Singer from Trash Is For Tossers shares her journey quitting plastic, discovering the Zero-Waste movement, and learning how to make her products (plastic-free) herself.

YouTube video

Lauren discloses her hypocritical experience as an environmental studies student at NYU shook her into

Class after class, Lauren was constantly outraged by a girl in class who would come into their environmental studies class everyday with her single-use plastic extravaganza of a lunch- plastic bag, fork, clamshell container, the whole shebang.

It wasn’t long until Laura opened up her own fridge and realized everything in her fridge was, in one way or another, packaged in plastic. Whoops!

“I was getting so mad at this girl for making so much plastic trash, and it turns out that I was just as bad; I was that girl.

So I made a decision in that moment: I was going to stop using plastic

Laura Singer

When Lauren decided to embrace a zero waste lifestyle she:

  1. Stopped buying packaged food
  2. Started making her own products starting with a DIY toothpaste
  3. Began shopping second-hand
  4. Downsized

“I’m just an average lazy person and I wouldn’t live this lifestyle if it was difficult. In fact, the benefits of living this lifestyle far out way any of the negatives that you could imagine.

Lauren Singer

Benefits: save money, eats healthier, feels better, and is happier living in direct alignment with her values.

“The average American person produces approximately 4.4 lbs of trash per person, per day. “

Lauren suggests 3 simple steps to reduce your waste:

  1. Look at your trash so you can identify where the bulk of your waste is coming from.
  2. Pick at the low hanging fruit.
    • What little changes can you make in your life that will have a big, long lasting impact?
  3. Embrace the DIY life: learn how some or all of your own products to climate packaging and customize your goods to be exactly how you want them to be.

School Strike for Climate Change- Change the World by Changing the Rules | Greta Thunberg

YouTube video

We can’t save the world by playing by the rules, because the world has to change; everything needs to change. And it has to start today.

Greta Thunberg

“I only speak when I think it’s necessary and know is one of those moments….We have to change…Furthermore, there’s hardly anyone speaking about the fact that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction with up to 200 species going extinct every single day…. that the extinction rate today between 1,000-10,000x higher than what is seen as normal.”

Greta Thunberg

Notably, Greta calls out green politicians and climate scientists for flying around the world and eating meat and dairy.

“If burning fossil fuels were so bad that it threatened our very existence, how could we just continue like before? Why were there no restrictions? Why wasn’t it made illegal?”

Greta Thunberg

“They will ask why we didn’t do anything while there was still time to act. “

“What we do or don’t do right now, me and my generation can’t undo in the future. “

“The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. What we have to do is wake up and change. Why should I study for a future that soon will be no more? When no one is doing anything whatsoever to save that future.”

“But the one thing we need more than hope is action…Oce we start to act, hope is everywhere. So instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then, and only then, hope will come.”

Protect Our Oceans | Sylvia Earle

YouTube video

Legendary oceanographer, biologist, and author Sylvia Earle shares why you should care that:

  • Over 90% of the ocean’s large fish have been consumed by us
  • Nearly half of the world’s coral reef has disappeared
  • There’s large and mysterious depletion of oxygen in the ocean
  • The next 10 years may be the most important

In this powerful TED talk, Sylvia asks for our help in exploring and protecting our wild ocean.

She points out, that a healthy oceans means a healthy “us”.

With this point often overlooked, she reminds us that no matter where on the Earth we live, we are connected to the ocean.

WARNING: There is graphic footage on this video of ocean life being cut by fisherman, trapped in nets and plastic, and eating garbage. Between that footage and the grim facts she is reciting, you may not ever want to eat seafood again.

“The next time you dine on sushi, or sashimi, or swordfish steak or shrimp cocktail, or whatever wildlife you happen to enjoy from the ocean, think of the real cost.”

Sylvia Earle

Another key point Sylvia brings up: we have created systems like National Parks to preserve the health and biodiversity of our land and it’s wildlife, why wouldn’t we do the same for our ocean?

In 1972, the United States established a comparable system in the sea: National Marine Sanctuaries.

Sylvia proclaims her call to action to her audience:

“I wish you would use all means at your disposal— film, expeditions, the web, new submarines, to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.

Sylvia Earle

You decide: how much of your heart do you want to protect?

Sylvia Earle

A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA | Ron Finley

YouTube video

Ron speaks about how his home of South Central Los Angeles is a food desert.

Unfortunately he’s not alone, 26.5 million other Americans live in areas where access to fresh food is extremely scarce.

Shockingly, Ron points out that the drive-thru’s are taking more lives than the drive-by’s.

“Food is the problem and food is the solution”, Finley proclaims as he confesses that he was fed up with driving 45 minutes each way to buy an organic apple.

For this reason, Ron planted a food forest in from of his house and was awarded a warrant by the city.

As a result, he explains how he gathered signatures for a Change.org petition to legalize growing food in front of houses in South Central, Los Angeles.

Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do.

Ron Finley

Finley urges you to make use of vacant lots, grow gardens, and to let shovels be your weapon of choice.

Don’t call me if you want to sit around in cushy chairs and have meetings where you talk about doing some shit— where you talk about doing some shit. If you want to meet with me, come to the garden with your shovel so we can plant some shit. PEACE!

Ron Finley

Change Your Closet, Change Your Life | Gillian Dunn

YouTube video

Gillian goes on to tell a story about how she found an unused candle melted in her closet.

She explores why we stockpile things and never use them.

“We wear 20% of our clothing, 80% of the time.”

Why do we not use the things we perceive to be special? Why do we tuck them away in our closet and… well, forget about them? You know, the “good” suit, the special Chinaware, or that jewelry that’s “too nice”.

She identifies two common mindsets that land us in this predicament:

  1. I don’t have enough
  2. I’m not enough

“When we’re shopping, we’re looking to fill our lives with the things that are missing. We stand in the store, and we convince ourselves: I can become enough for these items”

Gillian Dunn

Notably, her experience working with life and death is, “Life is what you make it, so make it one you enjoy.”

As an example, Gillian shares a brilliant party idea she embraced with her friends: she hosted a party where the dress code was to “wear that dress you have nowhere else to wear it”.

Basically, if you got, use it!

“It’s a mindset shift of viewing yourself as enough to have and use your things.”

“No more excuses, today is the day.”

Gillian Dunn

All things considered, there are many small changes we can make that can create a big difference.

Did any of these videos spark any inspiration inside of you to try approaching something in your life differently?

Good! Then our work here is done. 🌻😉

P.S. Do you know of a heart grabbing sustainability TED talk that should be on this list? Please let me know in the comments down below!

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