Wanting to leave your print on the planet can seem like a pretty overwhelming feat. The more I delve into the dangers impacting our world, the less I feel as if a solution is within grasp.
Rather, the solution is there. It just needs mass implementation to start reversing the damage.
It’s all too easy to say “It isn’t my problem” or “It’s too impossible a task – why even try?”
And yet… there’s only one thing we can control in life, isn’t there?
Our actions. Our beliefs. Our journey.
That bigger story? It isn’t ours to write. And whether or not we believe our own choices to alter our behaviour for the good of the planet will help, you can guarantee the impact of our choice NOT to do anything.
A big fat nothing. Zilch. Impact of 0.
This doesn’t have to mean anything radical. If you want to drop everything to travel the oceans with the Sea Shepherds or simply make a small change in your diet, you can do as much or as little as you want to create an eco-friendly lifestyle.
To get you started I’ve rounded up my top 10 tips to ease yourself in. See it as some simple sustainability to dip your toes into a more environmentally conscious life!
1. Get on your bike!
Easy peasy. And now the Spring sunshine is starting to peak its face out from behind the clouds, it really is the ideal time. Of course it isn’t ideal for everyone to cycle EVERYWHERE. But if you can change just a few of your driven journeys per week to a cycle (or even a walk!), you’re immediately reducing your carbon footprint.
Plus, cycling gives you KILL-AH thighs and butt. My legs have never felt so rock hard. Winning all round.
2. Purchase less.
Right, this is the one I personally am still working on (this month is my total commitment to it).
We live in a society of “stuff”. Look around you. How many items that you’ve purchased do you really need? How many were impulse buys? How much clutter is bursting out at the seams?
Product production can have a huge impact on the environment, let alone the further impacts of product disposal and getting rid of all that packaging. So try and push yourself into the 14 day test – give it a fortnight after the moment you decide you REAAAAAALLY want that new pair of shoes or Moleskin notebook to commit.
And if you do still feel the need to buy it, try to steer towards fair-trade, ethical stores. Many of these will be independent as well, so you can rest easy knowing you’re helping the smaller guys.
3. Go to a clothes swap.
Leading on from that, if you do look around and realise you’ve got more clothes than a Kardashian photo shoot, why not pull the bits you don’t need together and take them to a clothes swap?
You get to recycle your old items AND pick up new (to you) ones on the way. Pretty cushty, really.
They’re easy to find with a quick google search of clothes swaps in your area. Southampton followers, there’s a great one coming up on April 22 in Gods House Tower. Check out more details here.
4. Buy used when possible.
… another way to reduce the problem of the purchase is by doing to second hand. I grab all my books from charity stores and Amazon (which also tends to reduce to price a ton).
For bigger items, eBay is also a goldmine for furniture. We kitted out our whole living room for about £30 and it looks and feels fab-u-lous. Chuck a vibrant cover over a sofa, upcycle a table and you’re sorted.
5. Cut out the plastic bags.
I’m sure you’ve heard this one over, and over, and over again.
It’s certainly coming more to the forefront of people’s minds since the 5p carrier bags were enforced in supermarkets. Bravo for that one, folks. But it really is SUCH an easy adjustment to keep a canvas bag on you to use instead of shopping carrier bags.
I keep one under my desk at work, one at home and a squishy one (good adjective) slotted into my handbag. Always ready and raring to go… just like WonderWoman.
6. Get a re-usable coffee cup.
Drink a lot of coffee (*cough* obscene amount *cough*)? A lot of coffee cups from stores aren’t bio-degradable, and it’s been revealed that 2.5 billion supposedly paper coffee cups are being thrown away in the UK every year. Whilst we might be led to believe that these cups are recyclable, the reality is actually a different story.
And whilst you will find coffee shops (normally the more independent stores) with biodegradable cups (I’ll be carrying out some research on those that do in Southampton soon) it’s well worth keeping hold of a re-usable cup that you can just get the barista to fill up for you.
Hungry City Hippy (one of my fave eco bloggers who did an awesome roundup of 10 coffee shops in Cardiff, my old home, that do biodegradable cups) recommends these lush little bamboo reusable coffee cups from Surfers against Sewage. I’ve ordered the pink one, obvs.
7. Buy cruelty-free makeup.
This one doesn’t need much explaining.
I’m in the process of re-purchasing all my skin care and makeup to that which I know is 100% cruelty free. Unfortunately many of the makeup brands who claim to be cruelty-free are, along the line, still taking part in animal testing. This is because the actual ingredients that go into the products may be manufactured in factories that do test on animals.
Despite the controversy recently surrounding The Body Shop, it has come through from PETA that the company is and will remain 100% cruelty free. I can also say that my skin has never been clearer since moving over to their natural products.
The Vegan Kind is also a great resource for finding out about cruelty-free, vegan cosmetics. They also run two subscription boxes (one for food, one for cosmetic products) which are both brilliant for finding out about ethical brands. Plus, all packaging is totally recyclable. What’s not to love?
8. Go meat-free.
When people ask why I’ve gone vegetarian (and gradually transitioning to vegan), the answer is always three fold. The first is of course the ethical side of it – and that one is self-explanatory, really. The second is health. And oh lord, have I felt the benefits already in my energy, skin and mental well being. The third? The environment.
An animal-free (vegan ideally) diet is a hugely powerful way to help protect our planet. The livestock sector is one of the most significant contributors to our most critical environmental issues, at every end of the spectrum from local impact to global climate change. It’s one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas as well as the extreme amounts of grain required to feed livestock reducing the amount of food available for the world’s starving.
I pulled together 5 brilliant documentaries that dig deeper into all of this, which you can read here. Believe me, coming from someone who used to be a huge meat eater, they will seriously open your eyes.
9. Get involved in the Real Junk Food Project.
The Real Junk Food Project is a national movement that intercepts food before it goes to landfill or incineration and distributes it to the community or uses it to cater events.
These projects normally crop up within “cafes” with a “pay as you feel” ethos. It’s all totally safe and works to create a more ethical approach to food by avoiding chucking food out that is still entirely fit for purpose.
10. Join a local green group.
And finally, why not suss out the local eco groups in your community? They’re easy to find – I mean, these guys tend to be a tad vocal. So whether it is something like a Real Junk Food café, a local division of Greenpeace or just a meetup, this is a great opportunity to meet with like-minded people and work together to initiate tangible change.
Do you have any tips you’d add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!