Bringing sustainable living into your home doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or involve major lifestyle changes. Our individual actions really do matter in the context of saving the environment, and there are simple steps we can take to reduce our own carbon footprint, produce less waste and ultimately help establish a more sustainable society. Here are six simple things you can do.
Reduce your use of plastic
Anything made of plastic, such as straws, carrier bags, food packaging and disposable cups, can take up to 1,000 years to break down. And when they do eventually break down, they give off toxic by-products rather than biodegrading safely. Furthermore, marine animals frequently mistake pieces of plastic for food and consume it – a dead beached whale in Spain, for example, was found to have 29 kg of plastic in its stomach after an autopsy. Awareness of plastic pollution in our seas is growing, and it is important for us to minimise our own plastic consumption by adapting more eco friendly habits.
The following ideas are an excellent place to start on your eco friendly journey:
- Bring reusable bags to the supermarket: Keep a stash in your car or handbag so you never forget them!
- Use your own cup for tea/coffee at cafes: You can purchase a reusable coffee cup for your daily does of caffeine, with most coffee shops these days encouraging the use of reusable cups (some stores even sell their own reusable mugs!)
- Don’t use plastic straws: Metal or bamboo straws are the best alternative and can be easily cleaned out using the small brush that comes with them at purchase
- Avoid clothes containing fabrics such as nylon, polyester and spandex: Opt for more sustainable fabrics instead; most retailers disclose this information on their website so have a quick look online to ensure your clothing (and other fabric items for that matter!) are being made from eco-friendly fabrics, as well being produced in a sustainable way.
Buy a reusable coffee mug
Much of the waste ends up being dumped into our oceans and swept out overseas in countries such as Malaysia and Singapore, with only a tiny percentage of plastic waste ever being recycled. Buying coffee on-the-go is one of our favourite pastimes, so bring your own reusable coffee mug with you to help save on throwaway cups that end up dumped in some faraway land. Unfortunately, standard disposable paper cups cannot be recycled due to a thin coating of plastic used in their manufacture; as mentioned above though, most coffee shops these do sell their own range of reusable mugs for you to take on the go!
Grow a mini herb garden
It can be very rewarding to grow your own herbs and vegetables, and it can greatly reduce your personal impact on the environment. You will only grow what you use, and there will be no industrial pesticides, plastic packaging or transport emissions. Most herbs are pretty easy to grow so make yourself a list of your favourite herbs and order some seeds. You can even use up-cycled tin cans from your kitchen as little planters for a rustic look in your kitchen or garden.
Sign up for carbon-neutral electricity
Carbon emissions are perhaps the greatest contributors to climate change. The consequences of climate change involve rising sea levels, loss of habitat for various animals, increased precipitation and more extreme weather events around the world. We can all work to reduce our carbon footprint by switching to carbon-neutral electricity suppliers; contact your electricity provider to discuss their options in terms of sustainable or carbon neutral options.
Reduce waste: Recycle, Re-use and Up-cycle
We can all help to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by keeping an eye on the products we actually consume, with the ultimate goal being to produce less overall waste. Wherever possible, opt for recycled products and try to find creative ways to re-use things around the home. Avoid using single use plastics as well as products that are sold in plastic packaging where you can and remember: Every little bit counts so do the best you can!
Shoppers are already showing a keen interest in sustainable living techniques in an attempt to minimise their environmental impact; with 71.4% considering sustainability when purchasing food and 64.2% when buying clothing and footwear.
Cut down on paper usage
Saving trees is important, and you can help by going paperless wherever you can in your day to day life. Choose e-tickets when you fly or go to music concerts, and opt for e-bills instead of hard copies (you’ll also find that many utility providers actually charge a little extra for a paper bill anyway!). Needless paper use can be cut down, and it’s very simple to make these small changes in your home.
Making a difference to society’s impact on the environment starts with individuals, and it isn’t difficult to make changes in your own home that contribute to the cause. These six sustainable living tips are a great place for us all to start and continue to make little changes for a big difference!
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Images: All images sourced from Unsplash.