More and more people are trying to watch their impact on the planet. For the past few years, I’ve tried to be more conscious of my actions and have tried implementing different things into my daily life to be more sustainable. I definitely think that it’s the small things that help, such as bringing your reusable coffee cup and water bottle. You can visit the Peace With The Wild website where you’ll find the really helpful guide book that’s in the picture below (if I remember correctly, you get it when you subscribe).
In this post, I’m using the popular phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle”. And although it might seem impossible to go completely zero-waste or raw vegan for the sake of the planet, implementing a few things here and there can make a big difference. So if you’re wanting to do your part for the environment but don’t know where to begin or if you’ve never really thought about all of this, keep on reading! This is going to be a long one so make yourself a cup of tea, cozy up somewhere and enjoy!
For decades, we have been living in a “consumption society” where people buy things they don’t even need. Ads often sell a lifestyle more than they sell a product so the fabulous woman in the handbag ad makes you feel like, if you had the bag, you could be just as fabulous as her. This way of over-consuming is destroying our planet. Too much is produced, too much is bought and too much is thrown away. The only thing that matters is making more, no matter the cost. In this case: Earth.
The environmental crisis is hitting a point of no return so it is important to not support this senseless production of goods. The simplest way to do so is by buying less. This does not mean restricting yourself and becoming a minimalist. It just means buying what you need. If you’ve got a drawer full of pens, use them up before buying more. It’s small things like this that are easy to do for everyone. You might be thinking that what you do won’t change anything, but imagine if even just 1 million people did that. That would be 1 million less packs of pens.
Usually, it is better – and also cheaper – to buy quality over quantity. Buying one expensive item that will last years instead of multiple cheap ones that won’t be useable for long means you’ll be spending less money in the long run. On top of that, with cheaper products, corners are often cut in order to keep the prices low. This can mean very poor conditions for workers abroad, a high carbon footprint and harmful ingredients.
This is especially true for clothes. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industry on the planet, just second to the oil industry. The biggest culprit is fast fashion: collections are brought into stores on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. Try to avoid buying clothes from stores that promote this. Most brands now offer information on sustainability on their websites, so do some research and find brands that are doing something for the planet. Go to charity shops for second-hand garments to reduce the impact of clothes, buy better homeware that’ll last longer or, if you’re buying a new car, why not look at electric and hybrid models? The possibilities are endless.
A major problem in our society is how much we consume. On average in the UK, we each use over 140 litres of water, daily! And that is just our direct water consumption: showers, dishwasher, tap water, etc. Everything we use is made with water: that’s the water footprint. The Water Footprint Network has created this table to show how much water is needed to make many common food items. If you are curious what your water footprint is, you can find out here. Mine is 956 m3/year! Consuming less water is not easy, but making small changes to the way you consume can go a long way.
If you usually take baths, take showers instead. Spend less time in the shower, even 2-3 minutes less will make a big difference. Having a “shower routine” helps a lot: know what order you do things in and multitask (leave your conditioner in while you shave for example)! Reducing the amount of meat you eat also dramatically lowers your water footprint. Limit yourself to having meat once a day or even just a couple times a week. You don’t have to go vegan, but having some meals with fewer animal products can go a long way to reduce your water footprint. Quorn and Linda McCartney are great vegeterian brands that taste amazing, so look out for them in your local grocery store.
A very easy and healthy habit to form is avoiding single-use items: water bottles, to-go cups, take-away boxes, grocery/fruit bags, paper towels, etc. These items are probably one of the worst culprits when it comes to how much waste we produce. In your house, the kitchen is a big area for single-use items. Try using tea towels and cloths instead of kitchen roll and replacing zip-lock bags with reusable bags and tupperware.
Bring your own reusable bag when you’re doing groceries and use natural mesh bags for your fruits and veggies. Bring your own travel mug when you get coffee. Not only will you feel good because you are helping the environment, it’ll also make your bank account happy. Most coffee shops offer a small discount if you bring your own cup! So if you want to help the planet and your wallet, BYO!
When it comes to toileteries, there are a few things you can do as well. I now use reusable make-up pads made from bamboo that, instead of throwing out after use, you put them in the little laundry bag, wash them and reuse them (they only cost £13 for 16 with the laundry bag!). Finding sustainable, reusable toileteries can be tough, so I’ll link a few of my favourite brands in “Use sustainable brands” a bit further on!
Use recycled materials
There is one thing you should keep in mind when buying anything: the materials they are made of. The best would be buying something that is made from recycled materials, something that lasts a very long time (glass for example) or even better, something that is biodegradable. Nowadays, it has become much easier to find products made out of bamboo or beeswax for example. Most of the time, they aren’t much more expensive either and I find that they usually last longer.
Buying your everyday products made from recycled materials will have a long-lasting impact on your water, carbon and plastic footprint. It also helps you avoid the smell you can get from using plastic, especially food containers or bottles. It’s also much healthier to avoid plastic due to some of the toxic elements that are in it. Many products can have a part that is made from plastic (lids for example). My travel mug is made from recycled materials but the lid and sleeve are made of plastic. Although I’d rather there was no plastic at all, it’s better to have most of the product plastic-free.
Use sustainable brands
It is so easy to find sustainable brands today. With the internet, you can also quickly research brands online and see how sustainable they actually are. Here’s a great article about sustainable clothing brands which explains what makes a brand ethical and things you might be wondering, for example if buying from sustainable brands will break the bank or not. Buying less clothes will also enable you to buy better quality ones that will be way more durable!
When it comes to household products, there are many brands you can choose from. My favourite one is Ecover, who make cleaning sprays, washing up liquid and laundry detergents (to name a few). I genuinely find their cleaning spray to be much better than all the chemical ones you can buy. It also smells much nicer and doesn’t leave my hands smelling for hours. Another popular one is Method. Try swapping out some of your items for bamboo ones, like your toothbrush or kitchen cloths. My friend recently discovered &Keep where we bought the make-up pads and bamboo toothbrushes. It’s definitely worth a browse and I’m sure you’ll find something you love! You also get 15% off your first purchase if you subscribe to their newsletter – love a little discount.
Every day, tons of food are wasted. And as I’ve mentioned before, the water and carbon footprint of these items go to waste with it. The best way to avoid wasting food is by not buying too much. You can do this by planning your meals and buying food that keeps longer (cans, pasta, rice, frozen vegetables, etc.). Looking at the dates on food items is also a good way of judging if you’ll have time to make it before it goes off. If not, you can freeze it.
Avoiding food waste completely is pretty much impossible. But what you do with the leftovers is important. Most people throw them out with the normal household waste. But food waste can and should be recycled. If you have a garden, you can build your own compost bin! If you’re not much of a DIYer, you can also buy one. If you don’t have a garden (like me), you can get a food waste bin from your local council. They’ll provide you with bins and bio-degradable bags. Composting your food yourself or with your local council will allow it to be turned into natural gas which can be used as fuel. If you have your own compost in your garden, you can use it to feed your plants.
We all have things we don’t use or wear anymore, whether that be clothes, jewellery, kitchen appliances, DVDs, games and much, much more. A lot of people throw things away, even though they might be in great condition. That’s a shame for those items and it just creates more landfill. You can sell items online if you’d like to make a bit of money. A great way to get rid of things (that are still in good enough condition) is donating them.
There are so many places you can donate things. You can give stuff to your friends and family. Just have them come over, lay out all the things you want to get rid of and let them take what they like. You can bring whatever is left over to charity shops where your unused items will be sold and the money made from them will be donated to the charity that shop supports. Oxfam is another great charity you can donate your clothes to.
Recycling is so important. And although it’s not always easy, there are some things that can make it slightly less hassle. The most important thing when it comes to recycling is habit. Make it a habit to have a recycling bin/bag where you throw in plastic and paper. What can and can’t be recycled is a mystery to a lot of people so here‘s a short guide to help you out.
Unfortunately, there are many items that cannot be recycled with your local council. However, I found out about this company called TerraCycle. They recycle things that aren’t easily recycable such as food packages and toileteries. If you have a look on their website, you can find all the different items they recycle as well as where the nearest drop-off location is for you. If you can, please recycle as much as possible. If you don’t have a car, get a friend to drop waste off with you!
Don’t forget that every little bit you do helps in the grand scheme of things. If you’ve got any thoughts, comment them down below or DM me on Instgram (@relatablesunday)! This week’s post was very long, so if you’ve read this far, thank you so much! I hope you have a lovely week and I will see you next Sunday.