Whether it is wildfires or tsunamis, we are constantly updated on the detrimental effects our poor living choices are having on our earth. It sometimes seems like changing your personal consumption habits won’t help our ever declining global situation, but if everyone were to take small steps, then together we can make a difference. These 7 ideas will give you a good idea of where to start in doing just that.
A big first step would be to look at your closet. If you want to shop for clothes in a more sustainable way, you need to start looking at charity shops. Not only is this a cheaper option, but it takes the demand away from large companies that yield a massive carbon footprint. An easy option to reduce the number of clothes you have in a sustainable way would be to either donate them to charity or sell them on sites such as eBay or Depop. This way, you can stay away from landfill and instead, let someone else have the opportunity to love your old items. However, if you’re both wanting to get rid of some clothes and repurchase a new closet but in a sustainable way, you could swap your clothes on apps such as Swapabee.
There are little things you can do in your own garden to help out the environment this 2020. For example, a bird feed would not only attract beautiful birds to your garden, but it also makes a world of difference to their lives. Overall, birds have better health in areas where there are feeders over the areas without, as well as stress levels deplete in birds which have the security of a feeder. Another fun way to get creative in your garden is to make ‘bug hotels’. These are man-made habitats for insects made from recycled cartons and sticks. Minibeasts can then use your bug hotel as a safe space to shelter, lay their eggs, raise their young, and seek refuge from predators. If you have space to, then planting native flowers will help your local environment to thrive. Some native British flowers would include lily of the valley, Stinking iris and Golden shield fern, but each local area will grow some plants easier than others.
3. RENEWABLE ENERGAlthough a sustainable option, many of us rule out solar panels as soon as we see the price. So, if this is you, then considering a heat pump might be your next best bet. Heat pumps cost less on average per year, with the average yearly bill being around £560, compared to a bill of £636 on average for natural gas. The energy consumption is much lower with heat pumps, as well as eliminating the need for gas pipes and oil tanks.
4. SUSTAINABLE DIET
Everyone hears all the time to ‘GO VEGAN’ and many of us dismiss it as being silly or a waste of effort, but going vegan is the best thing you can do to personally help the planet. Meat and dairy farming is responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions in the agriculture industry, with the harmful gases being methane from livestock and nitrous oxide from fertilisers. On top of this, so much water is lost during this process. 10910 litres of water is used to make 0.5kg of meat, whereas 114 litres of water is lost when producing 0.5kg of wheat, and there is an obvious way to minimise this. By cutting out small amounts of meat each week and making other small changes, such as trying out plant-based kinds of milk, you’re easily cutting out demand in the meat and dairy industry, with minimal effects to your day-to-day life. If you are still buying meat, however, shop in local butchers. This way, the carbon footprint of the meat you consume will be much lower, as well as the quality of meat being much higher!
5. TRAVEL SMARTLY
Whether you’re going on holiday to Spain, new york or India, you must consider the best mode of transport. For example, if you’re travelling across Europe, the best option would be to drive instead of fly, however, if you’re travelling overseas, a plane would be a smarter option than a cruise ship. The emissions from 47 cruise ships would be the same as that of 100 million cars! It’s easy to overpack on holiday, however the more luggage a plane has to carry, the more fuel it will use up. Packing light is always a more sustainable option.
There are things you can do in preparation for your journey also, like give away perishable foods to friends or family, this way you won’t have any food wastage. Also, it is so important you check you’ve turned off your appliances properly, rather than leave them on standby mode, as sometimes we forget that still uses energy. It’s been found that people spend £50-£86 a year on average just on devices left on standby alone!
6. SUSTAINABLE BUSINESSES
A hard switch for some of us is to support more sustainable businesses. These are companies which have a minimal negative impact or potentially a positive effect on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy. For example, those that use no plastic packaging or those which produce their products using recycled goods. It’s difficult to want to give up products you already know work for you, but this switch is so important in the sustainability of your shopping. However, we have to remember that the best thing to do is always just to consume less in the first place!
7. WATER USE
The first thing to do when being conscious about water is to purchase a reusable water bottle as 91% of all plastic is not recycled. Now you are prepared to really start saving water. A few things you could purchase to upgrade your home are a low- flow showerhead, a shower timer and a toilet buddy. These all regulate the amount of water that is being used in the shower as well as during the flush of a toilet. Sometimes, however, there are times where you have running water that goes down the drain instantly, like for example when you’re waiting for your shower to heat up. A way to make use of this would be to collect the cold water and use it to water plants or mop the floor.
Amidst all the disaster that 2020 has been so far, these tips and tricks will help us to start being a little kinder to our planet.
This article is in association with SWAPABEE. An environmental app company that allows anyone to swap their items for others. Create an account and start swapping today at https://swapabee.co.uk/.