Easy changes you can make to live
Sometimes, making a difference can seem more daunting than it actually is. When looking at all of the world’s problems, you can wonder where to even begin to start affecting change.
So we’ve made it simpler for you, by laying out some very small changes you can make to your lifestyle that would reduce your carbon footprint and help you live more sustainably. And remember, change is a ripple effect. Whilst small at first, your actions will inspire others: if we all did a little, a lot would change.
Okay, so it doesn’t have to be Monday, but switching to a plant-based diet for a few days a week can have a serious influence on your carbon footprint.
Consumption of meat and dairy is responsible for almost 15% of global greenhouse gases caused by humans, so cutting down will be extremely beneficial in lowering your personal impact on the world. According to Columbia University, “every day that you forgo meat and dairy, you can reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds – that’s 2,920 pounds a year”. Not bad for one day laying off the steak.
Forget Fast Food, it’s all about Farm to Fork
A lot of our carbon footprint is created simply because sometimes we don’t put a little bit more thought into where we buy the products we use, especially where the food we eat comes from. To combat this, shop locally and organically from nearby farmers, lessening your food miles, and supporting local business.
Additionally, if you take a little time to research when different fruit and veg is in season, then you will also lessen these miles and learn to respect the seasonal aspect of food.
Our current way of life is instantaneous and disconnected from the natural world – if you’re eating strawberries in the middle of winter, they’ve probably been shipped from over 1000 miles away. If something hasn’t been harvested or grown in your local area, maybe think twice about whether you really need it, or at least try and eat less of it.
Ditch the Plastic
You’ve probably made lots of excuses as to why you haven’t yet ditched the single-use plastic, but let’s get real, you’re picking ease over the environment.
Plastic water bottles, cotton buds, coffee cups, straws…
? YOU ? DO ? NOT ? NEED ? THEM
Invest in a reusable water bottle and coffee cup, and switch to using paper or bamboo alternatives to straws and cotton buds. Swap cling film for beeswax wraps, and plastic bags for a reusable shopping bag.
There are also more and more refill shops popping up around the UK, so have a look and see if there are any near you that you can try out, or see if your local shops stock the products you need in recyclable packaging instead.
If you need more of an incentive, reusables save you money – think about how much you spend on water bottles, plastic bags, etc. Plus, most coffee shops offer a discount when you bring your own cup.
The fashion industry has a lot to answer for when it comes to its environmental impact, but there are ways to right their wrongs. eBay, Depop, Vinted and other sites/apps allow you to sustainably get rid of the clothes you no longer wear.
Remember, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. And don’t just sell… buy! Second-hand clothing is often the same quality as brand new, and there are so many great sellers that cater for all styles, giving you the look you’re aiming for at a fraction of the price. Plus, you save perfectly good clothes from being thrown away.
Another important thing to do is take the time to research your favourite brands to see if they are ethically operated: if not, find a new fave. The Australian app Good On You gives many of the brands you know and love a score based on factors including labour, the environment, and animals.
But here’s a hint: if you can buy new jeans or a dress for under a tenner, odds are it has been produced by underpaid workers, using cheap materials and unsustainable methods.
How Green is your House?
When thinking about making a difference, a lot of the changes we think about making are ones outside the house, when in reality the way we use energy at home is actually one of the biggest culprits in contributing to our carbon footprints, especially as renters.
We can’t exactly stick solar panels on a house that isn’t ours, but there are some great ways to make your home energy a little bit greener. Have a look at switching your energy provider to a 100% renewable one. These green companies only use solar, water, and wind energy power, and are just as affordable as some of the more mainstream brands.
If you are in charge of sorting your energy contract in your rental it’s easier than you think to make this switch. If your landlord deals with that side of things, they may be open to switching if you just ask them, and always check your tenancy agreement if you are not sure who deals with what.
Getting a smart meter installed will also transform your energy consumption. These bad boys are revolutionising gas and electricity usage in the UK, and are being offered to all homes in the UK as part of a nationwide roll out.
No longer will you have to track your old meter and submit readings to the supplier; the meter does all these boring bits for you! This also allows readings to be far more accurate, quite often meaning a reduction in your monthly bill. The smart meter’s display also lets you see how much energy you use throughout the day- plus some meters actually come with budgeting capabilities, to help cut down your energy and your spending.
The current pandemic has made many people reassess their ways of life, and many more people have taken to more traditional ways of transportation. Bike sales have reportedly gone up by almost 60% during the lockdown, and those months when we could only go out for outdoor exercise has certainly encouraged more of us to get active by walking and running.
And the environment is thanking us for this. The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air has estimated that 11,000 fewer people have died from pollution-related illnesses due to the decrease in traffic and industrial emissions. If that’s the positive effect for humans, imagine the effects on the environment! So, don’t let the lockdown easing get the better of you and slip back into old habits.
If and when you do travel in less environmentally friendly ways, there are ways to lessen the impact of these journeys. Try out a carbon offsetting scheme next time you fly, either via your airline or an independent organisation. These schemes involve you paying a little extra on top of your flight costs to donate to environmental projects worldwide (usually tree planting initiatives). Contributions like these lessen your overall negative impact on the world, so it’s worth the few extra pounds.
Lend a hand
Group organised beach cleans and litter picks may be on pause right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tidy up your local area under your own steam or those in your bubble for extra help. Yes, we know, we all have very busy lives, but if you have a spare hour or two each week, one of the best ways you can give back to the environment is to dedicate time to it.
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