Concerns about the environment are reaching an all-time high. Movements such as Extinction Rebellion, musicians including The 1975 and activists of the likes of Greta Thunberg are bringing our current ecological crisis to the forefront of mainstream media. It is more important now than ever to be aware of the environmental impact of our actions and how we can make changes to become more sustainable.
Whether you make some simple swaps of everyday household goods for more sustainable options, make a change to your diet, or become a fully-fledged green queen, everybody should aim to make at least one environmentally friendly swap.
So what can you do to help the environment and live more sustainable?
Cut Out Single-Use Plastic
One of the most damaging everyday habits that needs to be addressed is the problem of single-use plastics. One easy way to reduce your consumption of single-use plastics is to buy loose fruit and veg in your weekly shop. Not only is the plastic that packages many of our foods often completely unnecessary, it also has a hugely negative impact on the environment as much of it cannot be recycled and can take hundreds of years to decompose. Another thing to bear in mind is the popping up of zero waste stores, which encourage you to bring your own containers and stock up on all kinds of items from cleaning supplies to dry foods. Of course, wherever you shop, be sure to bring your own reusable bags to put your items in. Plastic can also be reduced with cosmetic and haircare items, for example by swapping bottles of shampoo and conditioner for bars and trading your make up wipes for a re-useable flannel.
Swap Out One Off Take-Away Items Such as Straws, Cutlery and Coffee Cups
Another easy substitute is swapping take-away items such as straws, cutlery and coffee cups for reusables. Bamboo cutlery and straw sets are becoming more and more easily available, with extremely affordable sets accessible on sites such as Amazon and Ebay as well as in department stores such as TK Maxx. These are particularly beneficial at places like festivals, where you are likely to be having a lot of street food at stalls where vendors offer disposable plastic cutlery, as well as being especially likely to drink more than usual and make your way through a tonne of straws. Along with my metal straw that comes everywhere with me, one of my personal re-usable favourites is my Stojo coffee cup. This portable coffee cup collapses down so it can even fit in small bags, meaning it’s perfect for taking around with you when you’re on the move.
Consider Your Fashion
Moving on to fashion, it is so easy to make more sustainable choices and a lot of the time they can be just as low-cost or even cheaper. Fast fashion centres around speed and frequently delivering new collections at low costs, with negative environmental impacts including water pollution, the mass use of toxic chemicals (that are often not properly disposed of) and increasing levels of waste. So, instead of automatically heading to low-cost fast fashion sites such as Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing when you fancy a bit of retail therapy or need to revamp your wardrobe for the new season, why not try something else. Sites such as Ebay and Depop offer a range of pre-loved items at low prices that would otherwise be going straight to landfill, and charity shops offer the same service that can be experienced in-store and can be very fun.
Food For Thought
In terms of what you eat, is important to be aware of the carbon footprint that goes hand in hand with your dietary choices. An easy google search can provide you with a wealth of knowledge in this particular area and truly shed light upon how harmful meats such as beef are to the environment, with beef in particular using 20 times the emissions as growing beans per gram of protein. So, perhaps if you’re not quite ready for committing to a plant-based lifestyle, make a difference by opting for a plat-based option every once in a while, because every small change helps. There is such a huge range of plant-based options in supermarkets which don’t at all compromise taste and quality, so there’s no excuse for not (at least) giving it a go.
Be Done With The Tampon
Whilst the list of substitutes could go on and on, I want to finish with a substitute in the female health department. Menstrual products such as sanitary towels and tampons, as well as their packaging, create such a huge amount of waste, which could be easily eliminated by the purchase of a menstrual cup. Whilst the menstrual cup can feel intimidating and comes at a higher initial cost, it is so much more cost-effective in the long run and massively beneficial in its minimising of waste.
So, whether you’re looking to save a bit of money, make more environmentally conscious decisions or simply try something new, go ahead and try some of these substitutes and see for yourself how easy it is or let us know your favourite tip on how to be more sustainable.