If you read my previous post about my goals for 2018, you will know one of them was to be more environmentally conscious in the future. This is something that has become more and more important to me as I have grown older, and with the global issues of climate change, I feel that even my small contribution can make a difference.
Zero waste is one of the current aims for many people, and if you haven’t heard of it, it means reducing the amount of stuff we throw away that ends up on landfill and incinerators to zero. This means reducing what we need, reusing as much as possible, and recycling and composting what we can. Of course, it is difficult to change habits immediately, so taking smaller steps is the best way to go.
It isn’t just food items that I want to be more conscious about, but also clothing and beauty products. There is a huge amount of waste and energy costs in fashion retail most people are unaware of, and I plan to start being more sustainable with the clothes I buy. And when it comes to beauty products, there is a lot I know I can save on. A lot of what I use up goes in the bin, and certain products I buy might not be eco-friendly.
I have put together some top tips I have come across in my research of being more sustainable and environmentally friendly, and you may be interested in my post from last year about eco-friendly travel.
- Look for items with little or no packaging, or packaging that can be recycled. Packaging for food items is a huge issue, as so much of it is unnecessary and damaging to the environment.
- Buy reusable products, as disposable items cost more in the long run. This includes cloth napkins, rechargeable batteries and reusable coffee cups (places like Costa Coffee offers a discount if you use your reusable cup).
- Reuse bags and containers. Clean out the containers from your takeaway to use them again for leftover food. Using reusable bags, either cloth or plastic when you shop means not having to buy loads of plastic bags.
- Buy recyclable products or packages. Check the symbol on the packaging to see if you can recycle before you buy. (This guide explains what each means).
- Invest in a kitchen caddie. Many local councils provide kerbside caddies to leave your food waste in, and you can get yourself a counter-top one, so any food waste (leftovers, teabags, peelings, mouldy food, eggshells ) can go straight in, then transferred to the caddie for weekly/fortnightly collection.
- Plan food shopping. I do this as a way to plan what I eat to avoid buying unnecessary food, which in turn saves me money, but this also helps reduce food waste.
- Avoid shopping the sales and ‘capsule’ your wardrobe and buy clothes only if you know you can get enough wear from it to equal the cost of the item. Sadly, I have done this with a few dresses. A capsule wardrobe is cutting down to a select few, versatile pieces that can be endlessly mixed and matched.
- Recycle old clothes or give them to charity shops. I have been doing this for many years, and often take items from my wardrobe, leaving them in a bag for a while (in case I change my mind) then take them to a charity shop. And if you Gift Aid it, the charity gets more money – win-win!
- Don’t use microbeads! These have become a huge issue in recent years, and what may seem harmless, microbeads (found in some exfoliators, kitchen cleaners or freshening toothpaste) are designed to be washed down the sink, and then hundreds of thousands of them are washed into our rivers and seas. They then end up in the stomachs of fish, birds and mammals in the sea, which suffer health problems that also affect future generations of these creatures and the whole eco-system. Thankfully, the UK has just implemented a ban on microbeads being used in cosmetics and personal care products, which has initially banned the manufacture of such products, and a ban on the sales begins in July. Buy natural products instead!
- Don’t drink bottled water. Bottled water is very un-environmentally friendly, and for people who have access to tap water, a huge waste of money. Get filters if you want cleaner tap water, and buy reusable water bottles to have at work and home.
- Reduce the amount meat and fish in your diet, as being veggie can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. Animal agriculture is estimated to be responsible for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions. Also, try buying from the local market or grocers for your veg, as this supports local farmers, is often cheaper than supermarket produce and also reduces the packaging.
Do you have any other environmentally friendly living tips you follow? Let me know in the comments below!