‘Climate change isn’t real’ they cry and oh do we cry for real because we’re so sick of hearing that. For those of us that do want to help the environment and feel like we can’t make much of an impact here are 5 ways we can make a small bit of difference to the fate of this mad world.
1. Buy a water bottle
Recently people were looking to Coca Cola as one of the leading drinks manufacturers and therefore one of the companies creating the most waste, to try and reduce the huge amount of plastic bottles that are thrown away as a staggering amount of people still don’t recycle them.
This did create some change and opened people’s eyes to the damage single use bottles are causing but the best way for us to combat this in our day to day lives is to carry a water bottle and try to buy as little plastic bottles as possible, if you do buy them then definitely remember to recycle them.
2. Reduce Food Waste
One of the tricky things with this one is the waste caused by bringing the food to your house, i.e. packaging, bags etc. While Britain has mostly quite comfortably moved towards using reusable bags in shops we still have the huge issue of all that packaging on everything we buy.
Zero-waste advocates suggest taking your own bags, jars etc. and buying the items free from packaging at farmer’s markets, grocers, and others. However, I know that where I currently live, apart from the loose veg sections in supermarkets, I really don’t know where I’d go to get these loose items and even so, would it be as cost effective or easy for me to get to as these things can determine how long we’re going to keep up the practice for.
I think if we’re being honest this is too extreme to go straight to, especially as zero-waste is a fairly unheard of and potentially daunting concept. A place to start though is to try and make more things homemade. I know, this is a painful thought to some, we have busy lives and we can’t all be like mother of 3 Penelope who can make actually nice courgette cakes without breaking a sweat but we can attempt to swap that ready-made plastic encased pasta bake for a bag of dried pasta and veg that you can use for as many pasta bakes as you want, as well as reducing the number of takeaways we buy that always come in loads of plastic cartons.
In general, it’s also good to know what food you can get through in a certain time frame, if you know you can’t eat 3 loaves of bread in 2 weeks then don’t buy 3. The biggest thing you should remember is DON’T SHOP WHILE HUNGRY, you will buy things you don’t need and have an excess of food which leads to things going moldy and having to throw them away. Try your best to keep to a regular shopping list that takes into account the amount you usually eat.
3. Think about what you buy and own
My Dad gets endlessly annoyed at my Mum because she always wants to declutter and if something breaks she instantly just wants to throw it away. However, there are many things you can do apart from just throwing something away. Of course, some stuff is beyond repair and is just beyond help but if something breaks why not try to fix it, even if you fix it to sell it. Selling stuff on not only gets you some extra cash but means it’s not going to waste, it’s being sent on another cycle of its journey and you’re extending its life. If you can’t be bothered with the time and effort of selling things then why not donate it to charity or give it away to people who you know might need it, go to clothes swaps etc. If you’re feeling crafty then have a trawl through Pinterest and see if you can upcycle anything into something new or use it in a new way. For example, at my slightly miserable looking student house, we use one of my old duvet covers as a cover for our sofa and cushions and I use an old bedsheet as a curtain so I don’t have to look at my moldy blind. You can obviously make something a lot prettier than that.
It’s also worth remembering that we can all take some tips from minimalists, even if you’re someone like me and you love to collect things, at least try to be aware of what you’re buying. Ask yourself: do you really need it? Will you keep it for a decent amount of time?Will you look after it? Having a small number of belongings that you really care about and treasure for a long time can actually be way more rewarding than having tons of stuff you hardly care about and will inevitably throw away.
4. Peruse some environmentally friendly products
It’s insane what people can think of, some of the products I’ve come across when searching for eco-friendly alternatives are genuinely really clever and cut out waste that you might not even notice you create. For example, companies like ‘Beeswrap’ sell an alternative to plastic wraps in the form of a sticky wrap that can cover food without having to reach for that single use plastic every time. There are now tons of people making this stuff at a variety of prices and I think it’s such a great way to make a small but important difference. There are also whole shops dedicated to products that eliminate waste such as the ‘Zero-waste Shop’ that sell bamboo toothbrushes, metal straws, eco-friendly makeup brushes and much more, all of which have a surprisingly reasonable price tag. It might all sound a bit too tree-hugger for you but it’s worth at least considering, you never know if you might find yourself really wanting something and then you don’t have to feel guilty about spending the money because it’s not for you it’s for the planet.
5. Consider your periods (If you have them)
A part of life that I didn’t really worry about my environmental impact in until I was a bit older was when I was on my period. You think of it as a necessity, you have to use tampons or pads and therefore you need to throw them away. I never really considered any other alternatives until I started seeing the adverts crop up on Facebook and I became intrigued. Menstrual cups, for example, are an eco-friendly, safe way to deal with your period that really isn’t as medieval as it may sound.
There are a few different companies out there but they all have the benefit of a one-off cost, usually about £30 but that’s something you can use for 10 years. Not only does it save you a hell of a lot of money because if it isn’t bad enough that you have to buy tampons/pads every month, they’re still taxed as luxuries (I think we can all agree there’s nothing luxurious about it) and I think we’ve all rolled our eyes at the cost when the time comes around. You also have the knowledge that you have completely cut out the waste you were creating from tampons and pads, a statistic on the ‘Organicup‘ website states that the average woman uses 11,000 pads or tampons in their lifetime, not only is that a huge impact on the environment but think of all the money we could have been spending on literally anything else. There are tons of other benefits, such as the fact you can use it for a lengthy 12 hours but I’ll move on to some other options just in case this really isn’t for you.
There are reusable pads you can buy that are made of a soft material in some really nice patterns and are machine washable and kind to your skin. So, even if you religiously stay away from tampons there are options there. Another option is a brand called TOTM (Time of the month) who specialise in making pads and tampons as environmentally friendly as they can as well as making the products safer and softer. Another big aspect is that they deliver the pads/tampons to your house every month so you don’t even have to remember to buy them! This service does become a bit more expensive unfortunately but if you’re someone that hates shopping for pads and wants to lessen their impact then it could be worth it for you.
Good luck in your planet saving endeavors!