Sustainable Swaps – Reduce Your Environmental Impact
One of my goals for 2019 was to introduce more sustainable habits into my lifestyle. I want to demonstrate how easy it is to make a few simple swaps to reduce your impact on the environment. Here are my most recent sustainable swaps…
Reduce Meat Consumption
This January I took part in Veganaury! ‘Veganuary’ is a registered charity that encourages people to try vegan for January. Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, reducing the suffering of animals and helping to preserve the planet. A lot of people assume that being vegan is expensive but I wanted to prove that you can get healthy vegan meals on a budget. Using only plant based products I managed to spend as little as £1 a meal throughout the month. If you’re interested in giving veganism a go, check out my tips on doing Veganuary on a budget.
I switched to Bulb last year and I can’t recommend them enough! Bulb is 100% renewable when it comes to electricity! 74% of its renewable energy is supplied by hydropower plants (which generate electricity using water). The other 26% of Bulb’s renewable energy comes from anaerobic digestion (organic farm waste is used to generate gas). They are cheaper that the big six (British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power, and SSE). Bulb will also cancel your previous contract (including paying any exit fees you may have), and credit your account with £50 if you switch through an existing customers referral link!
I did some reading on what banks do with our money when it’s stored in their accounts and it really doesn’t look good. The mainstream banking sector invests heavily in fossil fuels (and nuclear weapons) in order to make profits from our money. If, like me, you want to be part of a environmentally and socially conscious bank there are some really great alternatives! And better yet, you won’t lose anything from switching to a more ethical provider… in fact you might even make money. Check out the ethical banking leaderboard and make informed choices!
Reusable Coffee Cups & Water Bottles
One of the ways we can reduce the amount of plastic waste we produce is by filing up a reusable water bottle (rather than buying bottled water). If you need coffee to function in the morning you could be doing the world a favour by bringing your own reusable coffee cup or flask – most coffee shops will give you a discount for bringing your own mug too!
According to National Geographic, there is currently 5.35 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the world’s oceans; with 269,000 tonnes of this floating on the surface. And that’s only plastic waste! We’ve been making a conscious effort to reduce the amount of non-recyclable packaging that we use. Our efforts include moving away from shower gel to bar soap, picking loose fruit over pre-packaged, and reusing grocery bags. I always carry a fabric tote bag with me when I go shopping. My dad keeps reusable grocery bags in the boot of his car for when he does the weekly shop. Not having to pay 5p for a bag every time we go shopping is an added bonus too!
Reusable Make-up Wipes
Cleansing face wipes contain huge amounts of chemical components! But it’s not just your skin that wipes are damaging, they’re also clogging up our coastlines and water works. A report by the Marine Conservation Society shows that the number of wet wipes washed up on British beaches has increased by 50% since 2013! Switching to a reusable make up wipe is very small change but it means less waste and we don’t have to buy make up wipes anymore – win-win!
Sustainable Menstrual Cups
People who menstruate will have, on average, 450 periods over their lifetime! The Ocean Conservancy collected 27,938 used tampons and applicators on beaches around the world in a single day in 2015. Tampons are not recyclable, and despite being told not to, many of us flush them, where they’re likely to clog up sewer systems and waterways.
Menstrual cups are much more environmentally friendly than disposable pads and tampons, because they’re made of reusable plastic and have a long lifespan. This one might not be for everyone, but if you haven’t heard about moon cups before it’s worth considering! Other sustainable options include period underpants, reusable/washable pads, and biodegradable miniature bags.
Choosing to shop locally and support small businesses has tons of benefits. From supporting your local community to reducing your impact on the environment. Local companies are usually within walking distance meaning you don’t NEED to take a car to visit your local shops. Reducing the distance you travel when shopping helps to alleviate our dependence on fossil fuels, reduce air pollution and cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. Eating locally sourced food also protects farmland, land which might otherwise be developed for industrial or commercial use.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The environmental cost of an item isn’t just a reflection of what’s needed to make it. It also reflects the energy used in the item’s production and the impact it will have when we use it and throw it away. You can reduce the impact you have on the environment by eating locally, shopping ethically, and opting for more sustainable alternatives. When you’ve reduced as much as you can, look to reuse! I regularly sell my old clothes (and buy second-hand). And when you can’t reuse anymore look to recycle! We have a dedicated recycling bin in our flat! Find your local recycling centre…
I’d love to know what sustainable swaps you’ve introduced into your lifestyle! What tips do you have for people looking to be more sustainable?