Becoming an eco-warrior is as easy as ABC…
Avoid single-use plastic
And, where possible, avoid plastic altogether (you’d be surprised at how much ‘100% recyclable’ plastic doesn’t end up fulfilling its optimistic fate). As a replacement for single-use plastic, try to purchase items in biodegradable packaging or, ideally, with no packaging at all. However, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t avoid plastic in every situation. Remember: it’s impossible to be perfect in a world dominated by industries that aren’t yet willing to mirror the public’s desire for progress.
Bamboo is your best friend
If Bamboo had a middle name, I’d put all my money on it being ‘sustainable’. If you’re considering making some plastic-free product swaps then say hello to bamboo – the perfect material for toothbrushes, dish brushes and much more. Growing 1-4 inches per day, bamboo is about as renewable as it gets.
Cow’s milk alternatives
Plant-based milk has a lighter environmental impact than dairy in terms of land and water use, as well as greenhouse emissions (cow’s milk is aproximately 3x more emissions-intensive than plant-based varieties of milk). Fortunately, there are a plethora of excellent substitutes for regular cow’s milk, available in pretty much every supermarket.
The two most popular and versatile cow’s milk alternatives:
|Image source: shutterstock.com/Julia Metkalova|
Ditch fast fashion
The fast fashion industry is probably more synonymous with climate change and ethical issues than any other industry. The very word ‘fast’ mirrors the willingness of these retailers to flippantly discard materials; their chief objective is to continuously churn out cheaply manufactured clothing in order to keep up with weekly fashion trends. Ditching fast fashion is possibly one of the best decisions that you can make for the environment, and – thanks to the abundance of affordable second hand and vintage retailers – it’s a decision that also doesn’t entail that your future fashion purchases have to come at a high economic cost.
Efficiency is key
Aside from the more costly green energy schemes, there are many low-cost investments that can improve the efficiency of your home and, in turn, improve the sustainability of your household. This can simply be done by switching to LED light bulbs, conserving water by turning the tap off when brushing your teeth, installing a water-saving showerhead, washing only at full load and buying more energy-efficient appliances.
Follow ‘sustainability’ bloggers and social platforms
This guide will give you a basic outline of the steps you should consider in order to live more sustainably. However, for more in-depth information on environmentalism and for a regular supply of innovative sustainability tips, there are myriad sustainability bloggers and pages on social media to follow.
What better time than spring to throw on your gardening gloves and get digging. With the average mature tree absorbing around 48 pounds of carbon each year, we could all do with spreading a little bit more greenery around.
How about a plant-based diet?
Going plant-based is arguably one of the best things that you can do for the planet. This doesn’t have to mean cutting out meat from your diet altogether, but perhaps limiting your consumption of it to once a week.
Why is the agricultural industry contributing towards climate change? Why go plant based? Check out: 10 reasons to go plant based
Invest in eco-friendly technology
How about investing in eco friendly technology? I’m talking green energy (e.g renewable electricity), electric cars and even solar-powered phone chargers. None of this is cheap, but if you’re in the financial situation to afford more eco-friendly tecnhnology, it is worth considering.
Join a local environmental club or discussion page
Maybe your town or city has a local ‘clean up’ project or perhaps a discussion forum on Facebook? Do some research and see if there’s anything you can do for your local community. If there are not currently any environmental groups in your local neighbourhood, why not create one? Alternatively, there are more generic ways that you can get virtually involved in environmental discussions and discover new sustainability tips (Brightly, available on the App Store, is a great example of this).
Keep an eye out for greenwashing
When making a conscious effort to live more sustainably, it can be easy to fall into the trap of greenwashing (where companies project vague and misleading information or design their packaging in earthy hues to paint a greener picture). For more information on the problem of greenwashing and how to avoid it, you can check out my blog post on it here.
Less is more
As a general rule, buying less and cutting out unnecessary purchases is good; conscious consumption is paramount for a sustainable lifestyle. This isn’t to say that you should go full-on Marie Kondo and discard everything that’s not sparking joy, but instead to reflect on how much you want or need something and whether this justifies its environmental impact.
Make product swaps
If you haven’t previously paid much attention to whether the items you use most often throughout your daily life are sustainable, then now is the perfect time to question ‘is it reusable?’ when deciding whether to buy a product. When I say products that are not reusable, I am typically referring to commonly disposable things: face wipes, plastic toothbrushes, plastic bottles and straws, etc.
Fortunately in this eco-age, there’s a generous choice of sustainable products beginning to emerge onto the marke to challenge some of the less planet-friendly alternatives that currently dominate shop shelves.
No to silence
Disappointed in the efforts towards sustainability that your local council or supermarket is currently making? Use your voice. Reach out by sending an email or letter to outline the issues you’ve identified and suggest methods that they could take to improve them. Nothing could result from it, but then again, so might everything.
Order from local businesses
The reduction in waste and product miles is at the heart of local businesses. They also tend to use more locally input materials which are often sustainable and renewable. Offering more support to local businesses is undoubtedly a step in the right direction with regards to sustainability. Besides, in these times, local businesses need our help more than ever.
Pack light when flying
When the travel industry springs back to life and our passports have finished gathering dust, the message for sustainable travel is simple: pack light. The more luggage you bring means the more fuel that the aircraft requires, therefore, the most sustainable way to fly is to pack light. Plus, how often do you end up wearing that ‘what about if I suddenly get invited to a movie premier?’ outfit anyway?
For those of us that are still in lockdown, now is a great time to read up on sustainability, climate change and the environment. In 2021, we are spoilt for choice with books, articles, podcasts, films and documentaries surrounding the topic of sustainability, and there are even a number of free and paid courses that you can register for if you’d like to learn about a specific area of sustainability (e.g fashion or sustainable management).
For more on how you can devote time to learning about sustainability in quarantine, check out this post.
You’ve heard of the three r’s: reduce, reuse and recycle. So far in this guide, we’ve covered ‘reduce’ and ‘reuse’ with the ideas of conscious consumption and switching to renewables, but what about recycling? Well, I’d suggest giving the recycling guide for your local council a read since, although rules generally remain the same, the district that you live in could have varying recycling rules to elsewhere.
For extra information, visit: 7 tips to recycle better
|Source: Getty Images|
Shop for local and seasonal produce
Cutting down on food miles is key for a more sustainable future. To achieve this, we should aim to buy more locally sourced produce that hasn’t been on a tour of all seven continents just to make it on our plate. Additionally, ensuring that the produce we are choosing to buy is in season is equally important; it takes vast amount of energy and resources to create the conditions needed for out of season produce to grow. Unfortunately, in some cities, it can be a challenging task to find locally sourced and seaonal food, so it is worth doing a little bit more research into how you might be able to achieve this.
For extra info, visit: How to eat more seasonal and local food
Try meal prepping
Meal prepping is a great sustainable lifestyle tip if you often gravitate for meal deals or shop-bought lunches when on the go. Meal prepping puts emphasis on preparing homemade meals in advance, and in bulk. Meal prepping is a great solution if time is an obstacle in allowing you to consume home-cooked, nutritional meals and it also prevents unnecessary packaging being wasted.
Use natural cleaning products
One thing we’ve all been using a lot of this past year (and hopefully also before!) is soap. The soap and body wash market has seen a 194% growth in sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The problem, however, is that the majority of soaps, detergents and cleaning products come armoured in single-use plastic packaging, and so the question of how we can keep clean whilst conforming to our environmental morals naturally arises. The answer is simple: plastic-free cleaning products. To make a start, you can find a selection of eco-friendly dishwashing soaps, dish brushes, cleaning chemicals and dishwasher tablets on Friendly Turtle, and browse through the incredible scents of The Washclub’s handmade and plastic-free soaps and shampoo bars.
Going vegan can be a major lifestyle swap, especially if you’re not already vegetarian. Therefore, veganism is definitely something that, if you choose to pursue, you should do a significant amount of research on to ensure that you are getting all of the sufficient nutrients your body needs (something that veganism is entirely capable of achieving, but may require more careful meal planning and preparation in doing so). For a comprehensive guide on veganism, check out this link.
Of course, there will inevitably be some places too far away to walk to, however, if you find yourself regularly opting for your car in situations where it isn’t needed then consider only using your car/public transport for destinations that are outside of walking distance.
X… turns out that finding a relevant link to sustainability that begins with ‘x’ is harder than I initially ‘x’pected.
How does yoga relate to sustainability, you ask? At the beginning of your transition into a more sustainable lifestyle, you may find yourself vulnerable to caving into retail therapy compulsions. Yoga is a great remedy for this – reminding you of what values are really important in life (which hopefully includes the health and happiness of yourself and the planet you live on over the new Spring 2020 Zara collection). Furthermore, in an age where we are seeing the devastating effects of climate change more than ever before, yoga can act as a calming retreat from those dealing with eco-anxiety.
Hopefully, you are feeling a little bit more zen after reading this A-Z guide (and maybe from implementing the yoga from the last step!). Feeling a moral duty towards sustainability can certainly be stressful, especially when it feels as though sometimes you are fighting this eco-war alone. However, if there’s anything that you take from this guide, it should be that what matters the most (more than whether you can tick off 1 of these ideas or all 25) is that you are making an effort towards living more sustainably. That you should be proud of.