We’re beginning a new decade, and as the New Year Resolutions start to pour in, there’s no doubt that many of us want to live a more sustainable life. However, knowing where to even begin is a challenge in itself.
words Katie Anderton
Let’s filter through the confusion and discuss how you can change your life in realistic, achievable ways. Becoming part of the green movement is easier than you think.
In your home
There are specific small changes you can make in your home that make such a drastic difference in the bigger picture.
For instance, changing all your light bulbs to LED is a small but powerful change. LED lights, on average, use 75% less energy than your typical incandescent bulb and last 35 times longer. This helps the environment and saves you money in the long run.
Another way to make your house greener is by weatherproofing the windows and doors. Energy can escape from gaps and spaces, which contributes to greenhouse gases caused by fuelling buildings. Make sure to invest in weather stripping on your house and business buildings – again, this saves you money further down the line.
Sustaining a clean house might be on your new year’s resolutions, too. Unfortunately, many cleaning products contain toxic ingredients that are damaging to the environment and the air we breathe. Using natural cleaning products is better for your home, skin, and the environment.
Food and diet
You’ll likely already be aware of how much impact our diet has on the environment. The food that we decide to eat can have cataclysmic effects on the planet, especially when eaten on such a large scale.
Results from the Global Sensitivity Analysis (GSA) stated that Animal Agriculture is the leading cause of climate change, suggesting that it’s responsible for 85% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s exceptionally optimistic to suggest the world should go vegetarian. That being said, swapping one meat meal a week for something vegan or veggie-friendly makes a world of difference. Meat Free Mondays, a not-for-profit organisation, has tonnes of resources and recipes to help make this a reality.
Eating seasonally is also something to be mindful of. Growing, fertilising, harvesting, transporting, processing, manufacturing, and selling food that is out of season contributes more to climate change-related gases than all sea, land, and air transport…combined.
Remember, “seasonal” is also based on your location. Eating locally goes hand in hand with eating seasonally.
Shopping locally and seasonally is excellent, but you can go one step further – grow your own. Don’t worry if space is an issue, you can have a small indoor herb garden. This makes it much easier to be zero-waste; plus, it’s your own. Organic herbs, vegetables, and fruit – what could be better?
So, what should you do with all your food waste? Composting, of course, Your composting area can literally be a hole in your garden or a bin in your kitchen.
On the topic of waste, this is such a significant consideration for 2020. As the world struggles with the issue of waste, there are specific steps you can take to release the strain on the planet.
Firstly, have you been recycling correctly in 2019? If not, let’s change this. Check out your city’s recycling rules and make sure you follow them.
Recycling should come after your zero-waste efforts, though. Make sure you deny all those plastic bags and opt for reusable, eco-friendly bags instead. Yes, you can even get biodegradable dog poop bags.
Opting for eco-friendly products also makes more of a difference than you might believe. For instance, a plastic toothbrush takes over 400 years to decompose. Purchasing bamboo toothbrushes in compostable packaging is the best alternative. Plus, they’re antimicrobial, which means they don’t harbour any nasty bacteria.
2020 is also the year to say no to water and hot drinks being sold in single-use plastic, glass, cartons, and cans. While the latter might seem like a good option, it still contributes to the world’s waste. Instead, you should purchase reusable bottles and keep on refilling. A lot of coffee shops will offer a nice discount if you have your own cup, too.
Trying to lead a zero-waste lifestyle seems optimistic. Still, small steps (like those listed above) make the possibility of it more plausible.
The spotlight has definitely turned to fast fashion, primarily as we all aim to enter 2020 more sustainably. Consumers are buying clothes more frequently, and keeping them for half as long. It’s predicted if we continue on this level, that the western fashion industry will produce 3030 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2025. That’s a 77% increase in ten years.
There’s a way around this. Firstly, you should try to shop for ethical, sustainable brands. Sure, the pieces might cost you a tiny bit more, but their production won’t harm the environment, and you can be sure the workers creating them are paid a liveable wage.
It would help if you also shopped at thrift stores. This eliminates the possibility of you contributing to waste production. Gain some new clothes and save some money. It’s a win for everybody involved.
Don’t worry if you’ve fallen in love with an item of clothing from a fast-fashion site. A lot of issues can be solved simply by making smarter purchases. If you do buy from a fast fashion brand, ensure it’s on a piece that you’ll wear more than once.
Don’t forget, there are apps like Depop and Vinted, which allow you to sell and buy clothes.
We know it’s not always possible to walk, but that shouldn’t stop us from exploring other modes of transportation.
Public transport and cycling are much kinder options when it comes to getting from A to B. Also, this will save you a bunch of money when compared to travelling by car.
Of course, a train still contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. However, 100 people taking one train to work is much better than driving 100 cars to work. It doesn’t always have to be all or nothing.
Obviously, walking and cycling are the most sustainable options when it comes to transport.
You can do your own part to help nature, even if you only have a super small space. For example, you could consider putting up a bird feeder, and watch as the beautiful birds flock to you.
Also, you should install a beehive, which will help pollinating species do what they do best. Bees play a vital part in our ecosystem, supporting the growth of flowers, plants, and trees. They’re interconnected to our planet, supporting the existence of a wide range of plant species.
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, you should plant native plants. Supporting your local wildlife is the key to regenerating our fragile ecosystem.
There’s no reason why you should compromise when it comes to your personal hygiene and grooming. Swapping beauty products is the best way to get around this.
For instance, swap your single-use razor and opt for one that allows you to change the blades and heads. You can even find razors that are made from bamboo or are entirely recyclable.
Makeup wipes can be swapped for a flannel or a reusable cotton pad. You can also find decomposable wipes – but a reusable option is more environmentally and economically friendly.
Likewise, with fashion, research into beauty brands that are ethical and take steps to be more environmentally conscious.
The three Rs are still something to follow in 2020. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Reusing seems to get ignored, though.
Upcycling is the act of transforming items into something else – rather than throwing them away. Think, turning bottles and light bulbs into plant hangers, CDs into kitchen backsplashes, and ladders into shelves. There are tonnes of ideas on Pinterest to follow.
Whether it’s a meatless dish here or a purchase from a thrift store, you can make conscious efforts to change bad habits into good ones. Becoming more eco-aware for 2020 will be a constructive way of preserving and saving our planet.