New year, new decade, new resolutions!
If you follow eco-friendly blogs and websites we’re sure you’ve come across people who have managed to cut down on waste so much that that they are able to fill all the waste they’re created in the last couple of years into a single mason jar.
Of course that is a remarkable achievement and those people should be commended, but if you start your waste free journey from zero, maybe it’s best to proceed one step at a time without setting yourself up for failure by aiming for such a high bar.
If in time you succeed to fit all the waste your household produces into one single jar, that’s awesome, but start 2021 being realistic: You can’t go totally waste-free over night and that’s ok, do not feel discouraged and do not give up on your plans and resolutions because you see them as being to much in conflict with your daily life.
Here are some small, manageable changes that will make an impact and pave the way towards a more sustainable lifestyle:
Don’t waste to cut down on waste
If you want to cut down on waste or cut down on plastic, don’t start by throwing away all the single-use items you have at home. Use what you already have, find ways to repurpose them or to dispose of them correctly (remember recycling should not be your first option) and then, when faced with having to purchase new items, choose a more sustainable alternative. For example, you may not realize how much of an impact something as small as a plastic toothbrush may have on our environment, but when the time comes switching to a more eco-friendly alternative, such as a bamboo toothbrush, will make a massive difference.
if you’re used to using plastic utensils in the kitchen, once you run out, invest in steel products. Why? Because steel is the only material that has a closed recyclable loop and stainless steel utensils will last you a lifetime. Another swap could be cloth napkins instead of paper napkins. (For more tips on how to achieve a more sustainable kitchen click here).
Say ‘No’ to items you don’t need and get used to Bringing Your Own
Say ‘No’ to single use plastic bags, which were created to save the world and its trees, and which have now become the undeniable symbol pf plastic pollution. Say ‘Not to single-use straws and either drink without sucking or be prepared by always carrying reusable straws with you. Say ‘No’ to useless packaging and were possible shop package free and buy in bulk. When eating out say ‘No’ to single use cutlery and always have your essential ‘Dining out kit’ made of reusable utensils with you.
When you do need to purchase something new (knowing perfectly well that this won’t be an option for everything you will need) make second-hand shops your first stop, especially when it comes to furniture or clothes. If you can’t find what you are looking for in stores or on online marketplaces, and you are really not able to make do, or to mend what you already have, when it comes to selecting new fashion items and being conscious about their environmental price, follow Vivienne Westwood’s mantra: Buy less, choose well, make it last.
Veganuary or Meat-free Friday
Are you aware how much impact our food has on the planet? Cutting back on certain products, such as meat for example, or choosing to buy local and in season, can go a long way as far as reducing your carbon footprint and being more sustainable. Instead of Dry January, try a Vegan January and go a whole month experimenting low impact recipes that you can then use all year round. If you’re not willing to change your diet for a whole month, how about deciding on one day a week in which you do make more of an effort to forgo dairy and meat products in favor of more plant-based dishes.
Walk, get on your bike, or use public transport
If you live in a big city this change may be much easier, if you live in more remote areas ditching your car may be a bit more complicated. If that is the case try car sharing, or at least on weekends, or when you don’t have to commute far, choose to walk, or take your bike. Switching to more sustainable means of transport, like walking for example, will not only benefit the planet but could also benefit your health (ever heard of plogging?)!
Invest in energy-saving appliances
Again, don’t throwing away perfectly functioning items because we are trying to be more sustainable makes no sense. Use what you have, if it breaks try to get it repaired, and only when all other options have been considered, purchase a new one. In the case of electronic appliances, by choosing more eco-friendly products you’re sure to reduce your energy consumption. Upgrade items as they break down and need replacing. A few energy saving appliances you need to look out for are, for example, LED lighting, water-saving shower head, and a smart thermometer.
An action as simple as turning off the tap while we brush are teeth, chop vegetables or scrub dishes can save a lot of water in the long run. The same way fixing leaks, doing only full loads of laundry and installing dual-flush system in your toilet can. Find out more about saving water here.
Start reading labels and don’t be fooled by greenwashing
Do you know the real difference between popular daily terms such as biodegradable, compostable and recyclable? Find out what labels on various products you purchase are really telling you, and be aware that all may not be what it seems. Be very conscious of a practice known as greenwashing, which is when a company or an organization tries to advertise and market a certain product as being eco-friendly while not actually implementing sustainable business practices that minimize the impact of said product on the environment. A common greenwashing strategy is to rebrand the product using the color green, saying the product contains ‘natural’ ingredients, or saying the product is 100% recyclable, while failing to explain that recycling is not the solution to the plastic pollution problem we are facing. Don’t let yourself be fooled into purchasing items that are actually harming the planet, read labels and get informed.
Reduce the amount of chemicals in your home
A lot of the cleaning products found in your home contain a load of mysterious, dangerous chemicals that are not only bad for you , but also bad for the environment! Again, read labels and choose chemical free options or search for DIY recipes online. We’re sure you already have most of the ingredients needed in your kitchen cupboards.
Clear out your inbox
This may seem like a strange one, but did you know that as well as having a carbon footprint, we also have a digital one? Everything we leave behind when using the internet, including our IP address, login details, and other personal information that can potentially be seen by other people, or tracked in a database, is indirectly responsible for damaging the environment. There are 7 quick and easy ways to reduce your digital impact on the environment, from turning off gadgets when not in use, installing ad-blockers, clearing your inbox, uploading less data and choosing smarter search engines.
Do you have a garden? Put that to work too!
If you have a garden there are a number of things you can do to make it more sustainable. For example you could start a compost pile and reduce your food waste while producing natural fertilizer you could later use. Also, if you have the space, plant a tree! Big or small it doesn’t matter, trees are essential in absorbing the carbon dioxide that we exhale, but also in absorbing other heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Furthermore, with their leaves trees also absorb chemicals, create shade, influence winds and even enrich the soil once they fall and decompose.
These tips all offer big changes while having a minimal impact on your daily life. Every bit counts, be realistic and don’t give up on being more sustainable and eco-friendly in your daily life.