TEN LITTLE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO BE MORE SUSTAINABLE
Nowadays when people talk about living more sustainable lives it is often followed by big lifestyle changes, which for many of us are unrealistic, unachievable or simply unappealing. Instead of making massive changes like taking on a meat-free diet, giving up your car, and no longer flying to exotic holiday destinations, here are ten little things you can do to make your everyday living more sustainable and environmentally-friendly:
Say no to plastic water bottles
80% of the plastic water bottles that are bought end up in landfill. In the US alone, there are over 2 million tons of discarded water bottles, each one taking an estimated 1000 years to decompose. So why not try using and carrying a glass or stainless steel reusable bottle with you instead? If your beverage of choice is coffee, you can cut down on your use of single-use coffee cups, which are lined with plastic and are difficult to recycle, and instead get a cup to keep.
Cut down on cling film
Becoming more and more common are the food covers and wraps made from beeswax. They are sustainable, reusable and pretty to look at. These, along with sandwich pockets or Pyrex/Tupperware storage containers, are perfect for packed lunches and keeping your food fresh. This eradicates the need for cling film, which is difficult to recycle, and instead breaks down into to smaller and smaller particles that are then ingested by the world’s marine life and birds.
Sip from re-usable straws
You may have seen it, the craze that has been taking over parts of the world - Re-usable straws made from bamboo or stainless steel. They can be collapsible, and all you have to do is wash them and use them again. It is estimated that 437 million to 8.3 billion plastic straws are on the entire world’s coastline, and it takes them about 500 years to decompose. 8% of the weight of a seabird is the plastic that it has consumed - the weight for them is the equivalent of a woman having two babies in her stomach. If that’s not enough incentive, then I don’t know what is.
Walk, walk, walk
Instead of doing the two-minute drive to the supermarket, or the five-minute drive to pick the kids up from school, walk. It gets in your steps for the day and significantly cuts down your carbon footprint.
Wash your hands with plant-based soap bars
If you look on the back of your soap bottle you’ll probably see a list of ingredients that are hard to pronounce and confusing to research. These are what companies claim makes the soaps antibacterial. These chemicals are harmful for both you and the world’s marine creatures. Instead, try and opt for more natural plant-based soap products, which will be advertised as eco-friendly and cruelty-free. A bar of soap, or a shampoo bar is even better, completely reducing the need for plastic bottles and minimizing packaging.
Monitor your food purchases
Look on the sticky label stuck to the bananas or the box of strawberries. If it’s been flown halfway across the world, maybe think about putting it back on the shelf. Instead, try to buy locally and seasonally. It keeps the local economy boosted, the carbon-footprint down and you might make some great friends in the community.
Avoid palm oil
Try and forgo anything with palm oil in it, sometimes that is easier said than done, but cutting unnecessary things out of our diet - like Nutella, could make a huge positive impact on the survival of species and the environment. If you can’t go without a Nutella fix, an excellent palm oil free and sustainable alternative is Nocciolata.
Resell and donate
You have a drawer full of old phones, or a cupboard full of shoes and clothes that haven’t seen sunlight for eons. Instead of throwing them away, look up local charities that you can donate them to, or stores and companies that buy second-hand things. There are plenty on online sites now, like eBay or gumtree, where you can sell your things, remember one (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure.
Use re-usable produce bags
Another great way to cut down on the amount of plastic you use is by no longer using the flimsy plastic produce bags from supermarkets. Instead, pack inside your reusable shopping bags some mesh or cloth bags for your fruit and veg.
Consider menstrual cups and period underwear
Sorry boys, this one’s not for you! The average woman uses between 11,000 and 16,000 tampons in her lifetime, that isn’t including sanitary pads. Although it is mostly cotton, many tampons and pads contain plastic, and therefore take years to bio-degrade. One single menstrual cup can replace up to 10 years’ worth of tampons and pads. All you have to do is wash it out, saving a massive amount of waste!
We all have the power to make a difference, even if it occurs one small step at a time. Changing your daily routines and habits can be a great way to kickstart a positive change, and to join the movement of environmentally conscious people popping up all over the world. Not only will you feel great about your own development, future generations to come might just thank you too!
Written by Victoria Powell