With global temperatures on the rise, more and more people are striving to live more sustainably. To help you make this change, we’ve compiled ten small ways to make your everyday more sustainable.
Go plastic free
Going plastic free is more than bringing a Bag For Life to the supermarket and remembering your reusable coffee cup. We need to start considering ways to forego plastic in all walks of life.
It has never been easier to shop for plastic-free alternatives to your daily essentials. For example, switch to bar soap, use a washing-up loofah rather than a chemically dyed, yellow-green sponge and embrace a natural deodorant. Discover plenty of plastic-free alternatives at EcoVibe.
Single-use plastic packaging on your pasta, rice and grains can be made redundant by showing your support for local plastic-free shops or market stalls. Find your closest zero-waste shop here.
If we support these pioneering shops then hopefully larger supermarkets will notice the consumer trend and reduce their plastic packaging. Getting supermarkets on board will hopefully make zero-waste shopping more accessible for those who can’t afford the premium that can come with shopping local.
Is it made sustainably?
Buying pre-loved or vintage clothes is the more sustainable option when it comes to fashion as they are already in the production cycle. Websites like Vestiaire Collective, Designer Exchange and HEWI all sell pre-loved designer clothing with the added bonus of a lower price tag.
However, if you insist on buying new then there are ways to make your wardrobe more eco-friendly.
A major consideration should be what your clothes are made of. Avoid fabrics that include fibres like nylon, polyester and elastane as these contain plastics which won’t biodegrade when they reach the end of their lifecycle. Not only do these fabrics release micro-plastics which find their way into your food and water, but they are created using carbon-intensive methods.
Instead, opt for natural materials like cotton and linen which will leave a smaller impact on the planet. Linen takes the lead in terms of sustainability because flax requires less watering than cotton and grows happily on poor soil.
You should also consider manufactured fabrics like lyocell, viscose and tencel, which are all types of rayon. Rayon is created using naturally occurring wood pulp. Whilst rayon seems sustainably produced, it is chemical-treated and pulp farming can be detrimental to existing woodland. However, this will differ depending on specific fabric, for example Tencel’s lyocell is markedly more sustainable.
Keep your eyes peeled for up-and-coming fabrics like Qmonos, which is made using synthetic spider silk, and vegan leather Piñatex.
Cut Down on Dairy
Going completely meat or dairy free is seen by many as a hurdle in the path toward living more sustainably. However, cutting down on meat is widely considered one of the most important and time-sensitive changes to make. With the abundance of meat and dairy alternatives on the market it’s no longer quite so difficult.
Brands such as Vivera, Like Meat and Beyond Meat have created convincing alternatives for those who can’t quite ditch the steak. Similarly, with oak, soy, coconut and rice alternatives to milk, making the jump to veganism is lots easier.
Make considered design choices
Try to find the most sustainable course of action when designing your interiors.
When it comes to buying furniture, consider your future design needs rather than purchasing for the present. For example, if you know you’ll want to completely overhaul your home in the near future then buy furniture that will work then as well as now. Invest in pieces you know will suit you and your taste for years and don’t be afraid to buy vintage.
If you’re redecorating from top to toe then you’re in prime position to make sustainable finish choices. From carpeting made using natural, renewable resources to using non-toxic paints, there are many ways to make your renovation eco-friendly.
Sustainably sourced energy
The choices we make as consumers speak volumes, especially as there are now many green alternatives available. This is even the case with energy companies.
Many large electricity companies now offer green tariffs, but finding a company that also offers green gas is more challenging. As green gas is more challenging to generate, companies that advertise it often offer carbon-offset gas. This means that they’ll invest money into forest regrowth to help minimise the carbon emissions of your gas usage.
Of course, everyone has different priorities and budgets. This is why we suggest doing your research to find the right green energy provider for you. We recommend starting with this informative article from T3 which outlines the UK’s top green energy suppliers.
Go paperless – bills, bank statements etc
Aiming towards zero waste is essential to living sustainably. This can start somewhere as small as switching all your bills, bank statements and general paperwork to online. Most mainstream banks offer paperless banking as an option to help you cut down on waste paper. Similarly, shops often offer an e-receipt. Going paperless means all your paperwork is organised in one place and easily searchable. It’s better for the environment and will also make your life easier.
If the majority of your post is from mailing lists and shopping magazines then it might be time to start unsubscribing. This will clear up your letterbox as well as the recycling bin.
Start Recycling Right
Reducing your overall waste is key to bringing a halt to our environmental impact. Opting for food with recyclable packaging is a good step towards eventually living sustainably with zero waste.
There are many misconceptions about recycling because each local council accepts different items. It is important to check as putting the wrong rubbish in your recycling bin can render the whole batch useless.
Check out what your local council accepts as recycling here.
Switch out your light bulbs
With the dawn of new lighting technology comes even more energy-efficient LEDs. Typical LEDs can last up to 20 years, reducing the waste that comes from regularly replacing standard bulbs. Plus, not only do these cutting-edge bulbs last longer, but they also use far less energy. In fact, LEDs consume just one fifth of the energy of a halogen bulb.
Recent EU law changes mean the restocking and consequential sale of halogen bulbs is now banned. If this law is followed across Europe then we could cut up to 15 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year.
Considering a light with integrated LEDs? Head over to the Heal’s Blog to find out more.
Cut down on travel
Whilst exotic holidays can be brilliant for relaxation and exploring new cultures, regular long-haul flights will leave a huge impact on the planet. Similarly, driving a car instead of using public transport will hamper your efforts to live more sustainably. If you only need to use a car occasionally, car-sharing services like Zipcar may be a good option.
If you’re uncertain about where you stand in terms of your carbon usage, why not try WWF’s useful footprint calculator?
Surprisingly, healthy soil stores more carbon than the atmosphere and forests. Non-organic farming relies on synthetic or petroleum-based pesticides and fertilizers that can lead to soil erosion and chemicals entering the water system.
In fact, if the UK farming industry switched to organic then soil would absorb at least 1.3 million tonnes of carbon. To put that into perspective, that’s the equivalent of taking nearly one million cars off the road.
Plus, organic production also allows wildlife to thrive whilst reducing soil and water contamination from pesticides.
Of course, we are a long way off a complete switch to organic farming. But again, using our power as consumers we can encourage this change.
Want to find out more? Visit the Soil Association for more information.