Our world is rapidly changing and not necessarily in a good way. The impact of climate change surrounds us and it’s more important than ever to do what we can to protect our planet.
Reducing our environmental impact can seem a daunting task and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Living more sustainably is about doing what we can — even a few small changes can make a big difference.
Here are a few ideas to get you inspired…
Reduce, re-use, recycle
We are conditioned into thinking that having more will lead to a healthier and happier life. Our fast-paced, consumer lifestyle makes buying into the latest trends as easy as clicking a button. However, we are increasingly realizing, it doesn’t make us happier and the impact on our environment is devastating.
These three small words can help us transform our mindset. Whether food, energy or clothes, taking a step back and making conscious choices can be very powerful. Do we really need it? Is there an eco-friendly alternative? Can it be repaired? These are all questions we can explore.
It’s worth remembering: the most sustainable item is the one you already own.
Build a sustainable wardrobe
It’s a misconception that building a sustainable wardrobe means dressing only in white and spending half your month’s salary on a basic T-shirt. Fortunately, this is no longer true and with a small change in perspective, you’ll find building a sustainable wardrobe an exciting challenge!
Fabric choice is fundamental to making eco-friendly fashion choices. Look for natural fibres like linen and organic cotton or opt for recycled fabrics. If you’re unsure, do some research and select brands that are transparent about their fabrics and manufacturing processes.
Buying new isn’t the only option — shopping second hand is a great and affordable way to add stylish pieces to your wardrobe. Go thrift shopping, shop second-hand online or organise a clothes swap.
It’s also important to look after your clothes to ensure they last as long as possible. If a button falls off, find your sewing kit and have a go at sewing it back on yourself. If it’s something beyond your skill set, take it to your local tailors.
Clothes you no longer wear and that are still in good condition can be passed on to a friend or donated to charity.
Eat less dairy and meat
Meat and dairy farming contributes to a staggering amount of global greenhouse gas emissions. Not only has this, factoring in animal welfare, deforestation and human rights abused makes eating meat all the less desirable. Making a significant difference doesn’t mean having to switch to a strict plant-based diet. To reduce our carbon footprint, it’s enough to dedicate one or two days a week to meat-free eating.
Compared to a few years ago, vegetarian and vegan options are increasingly readily available, so adapting you’re eating and cooking habits couldn’t be easier. From vegan cheese, plant-based milks and even steaks, living a sustainable lifestyle is a realistic goal.
Just be careful — some plant-based substitutes may cause more harm to the environment than you think so it’s worth double checking before you make the switch.
Avoid single-use plastic
Throughout society, we are becoming increasingly aware of the harmful effect plastic has on the environment, particularly on our oceans. Although cutting back on single-use plastic is becoming easier, there is still a long way to go. Invest in a few eco-friendly alternatives and reject unnecessary plastic such as supermarket bags.
Get into the habit of carrying a BPA-free refillable water bottle, a reusable tote bag and eating utensils. When it comes to straws — bring your own or just say no.
Use more public transport
Instead of reaching straight for the car keys, consider alternative methods of transport wherever possible. We have long been aware of the enormity of the impact cars have on the environment and with cars being a major cause of global warming, it’s time to change the way we move around. Familiarize yourself with the public transport in your area and for short distances, simply walk or go by bike.
If you really can’t avoid the car, try carpooling with colleagues or sharing the school drop-off to reduce your overall environmental impact.
Make your home more energy efficient
An easy way to reduce your energy consumption is to change your light bulbs to a more energy-efficient model. Look for LED bulbs which are 90% more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs. Not only do they use less energy, they also last a lot longer, therefore saving you money.
Check that your energy supplier uses renewable energy, and if they don’t, switch. Running your home from renewable sources rather than fossil fuels is the main objective, and it doesn’t produce greenhouse gas emissions. Green energy can be slightly more expensive but the positives outweigh the negatives.
Don’t forget to unplug your electronics before you go to bed. Phone chargers and TVs left on standby will continue to consume electricity.
Switch to eco-friendly household products
Switching to all-natural household products is not only healthier and safer; it’s also kinder to the environment.
Standard cleaning products such as laundry detergent, washing up liquid and surface cleaners contain harmful toxins which can be especially dangerous for children. If you suffer from symptoms such as coughing, irritated skin or and headaches, see if making a few changes to your cleaning cupboard helps.
Even after being washed away, conventional cleaning products continue to harm our environment. Over time, chemicals build up in our waterways posing a significant threat to animal and plant life, contaminating the whole of our ecosystem.
Many companies now offer a refill service so you’ll be cutting down on plastic too.
Plant a tree
When making eco-friendly choices, we often look first at what to stop doing or replace. Offsetting our carbon footprint allows us to give something back — think of it as a birthday gift for the environment.
Planting a tree is an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. Trees act as the earth’s natural filtration system, absorbing excess CO² and converting it into fresh, clean air for us to breathe. You can donate or get involved with many tree planting organisations worldwide, ensuring our trees continue to grow and take in carbon without the risk of being cut down.
Support local businesses
Shopping locally can make a big difference when committing to a more sustainable lifestyle. Smaller, independent and local businesses are often more sustainable than larger corporations. They help the local economy thrive and you are supporting real people who are passionate about their industry, skill or product.
They often have a significant role to play in supporting environmental and social causes than you might imagine. They might be partnered with a charity, offset their carbon emissions or is a social enterprise. Many local businesses today have become hubs of the community, providing a space to share ideas and knowledge about sustainability.
Not only this, when shopping for food, there is a much higher chance you’ll be shopping regionally and seasonally. With many small businesses opting for Fair Trade products, you’ll also be supporting fair wages and working conditions.
Get started today
Moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle can seem overwhelming — like a long list of do’s and don’ts. Even the smallest changes can make a difference and help us work towards a more eco-conscious society.
Identify a few areas in your daily life where you can immediately make a change and start from there. You might not always get it right or see immediate changes but, like with most things, it takes time and effort to bring about change.