Sustainability is the word hot on everybody’s lips right now-and for a very good reason, but what exactly does it mean and what can we do about it? Well, sustainability can be best understood as meeting our current needs without negatively impacting the ability of future generations, this includes things like ensuring the conservation of natural resources, clean air, and a non-toxic environment. With that being said, here are ten things that you could do to live a more sustainable life!
1) Don’t forget your bag!
Plastic bags don’t actually biodegrade, they photodegrade, this unfortunately means that they break down, over 400 to 1000 years, into toxic microplastics which contaminate the water and soil.
Instead of buying more plastic bags and further contributing to the problem, it is handy to remember to keep an alternative bag with you at all times! I personally love using cotton tote bags because they are so easy to fold up and keep in my bag at all times, so that I am never without!
2) Bring your own bottle (or coffee cup)
Reducing the number of plastic bottles and single use coffee cups that you buy is such an easy way to cut down on your plastic usage, instead, it is worth investing in a reusable water bottle and coffee cup that you can use time and time again. There are so many options available out there that you will undoubtedly be able to find one which best fits you.
3) Refuse plastic straws
The environmental impact of plastic straws is well known because of David Attenborough highlighting the issue in his Blue Planet series, but despite the problem being so widely known, plastic straws are still being given to us in drinks. You can combat this by simply asking for no plastic straw when you order a drink, or if you would usually pick up a straw for your drink in places like the cinema or iced latte, you could invest in reusable metal or bamboo straws instead! These are great alternatives, and super easy to just keep in your bag whenever you are out and about. They can be easily cleaned and last a lifetime!
4) Buy Less New
This can be applied to clothes, furniture, homeware, and just about anything else that you can think of. Not only does buying less things brand new save you a lot of money in the long term, it means that there is a lot less waste going into landfill. It is suspected that a shocking £140 million of clothing waste goes into landfill each year, most of which could be easily avoided by simply recycling items when possible, through donating to charities, selling items, or even repurposing them to give them a whole new lease of life!
Cutting down on red meat will reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Without action, today’s children will inherit a planet that has been severely degraded as our current diets are pushing the Earth beyond its planetary boundaries. Livestock currently accounts for up to 18 per cent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Global consumption of red meats will need to be reduced by more than 50% if greenhouse gas emissions are to be significantly reduced.
5) Eco Wash
This doesn’t mean never washing your clothes again, it just means washing your clothes in a more environmentally friendly way. There are a few ways that you can do this, the easiest being to simply wash your clothes at a lower temperature, this is so effective because 90% of the energy used by the standard washing machine is to heat the water, with only 10% to power the motor!
6) Buy more food loose
So much of our food comes wrapped in unnecessary plastic, which often cannot be recycled. There is however the option to buy some of our fruit and vegetables loose instead, this allows you to choose the products that you want, for what is often a cheaper price! Many supermarkets now have reusable bags that you can purchase to store your items in aswell which is a great alternative to plastic bags.
7) Switch to a Bamboo Toothbrush
Plastic toothbrushes are a massive contributor to the plastic problem, with the average person going through approximately 300 of them in their lifetime. Unfortunately, the modern toothbrush is made of entirely unrecyclable material, meaning that they cannot be broken down by the environment or reused to make something new, thankfully, there are some great alternatives out there which are much more environmentally friendly! Bamboo toothbrushes are brilliant because it is made from a highly sustainable material, which grows incredibly quickly, biodegrades, and doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on quality either!
8) Switch to Bar Soap
If you are trying to reduce your carbon footprint, then switching to bar soap could be an easy way to do so. This is because the vast majority of bar soap is packaged in environmentally friendly cardboard, thus eliminating the plastic containers. In addition to this, studies have shown that just manufacturing liquid soap has a statistically higher carbon impact than that of its solid counterpart. You can find a bar alternative to almost everything that you use liquid soap for, may that be shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, body wash, and even cleanser!
9) Consume Less Dairy
Dairy is a massive contributor to carbon emissions. If you were to drink just one glass of milk every day for a year, it would require 7000 square foot of land, which is the equivalent to two tennis courts, this is ten times more than the amount of land required to create the same amount of oat milk! There are so many great dairy alternatives out there that you could undoubtedly find one that works best for you!
10) Eat Less Meat
It has been proven that eating meat, particularly beef and pork, has a massive impact on the environment due to the amount of land, water, and crops that are required to raise them. It is estimated that this creates even more greenhouse gases than all of the world’s transportation combined! Therefore, one of the easiest and probably most effective ways to reduce our carbon footprint would be to eat less meat and try to switch them for vegan and vegetarian alternatives! There are so many delicious choices out there that you won’t even miss the meat!