Sustainable living is not ‘a one size fits all’ approach. There are so many sustainable lifestyles and no two are the same. It can be incredibly daunting to reduce your effect on the environment. However, when you break it down into steps, you can soon see that you have more power than you think.
What is sustainable living?
Sustainable living involves reducing the amount of the Earth’s resources that you use in order to help protect the environment. You are trying to have as little impact on the Earth as possible and replacing any resources that you do happen to use with more eco-friendly ones.
Why is it important to live more sustainably?
A UN report shows that human consumption of the Earth’s natural resources has tripled over the last 4 decades. Oxygen depletion is on the rise and so is the depletion of clean drinking water and other notable resources. Sustainability improves the quality of life, protects the ecosystems and preserves natural resources for the future generations.
Here are 10 changes that you can make to start being more environmentally friendly:
1. Use Eco Friendly Toilet Paper
So many trees are cut down in order to make toilet paper. It takes 17 trees and 90,921 litres of water to make a tonne of toilet paper rolls. The average person uses 100 toilet rolls in a year, so you can see that using regular toilet paper is not a sustainable habit.
You can buy toilet paper made from bamboo. Surprisingly, bamboo grows 39 inches within a 24-hour period, so this is a much more sustainable option.
2. Stop Using Plastic Straws
The UK has confirmed a ban on single-use plastic straws as part of the 25-year environment plan. Plastic waste is one of the biggest environmental challenges which both the UK and the world face. There are over 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic in the world and the majority do not enter the recycling process. Plastic straws take up to 200 years to decompose, hurting the lives of animals and the environment during that period.
You ca now readily purchase metal and bamboo straws that are reusable. It is the safer option for the environment as well as a cost effective solution.
3. Switch To Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
A lot of the popular, well-known cleaning products contain ingredients that are harmful to the environment. Chemicals such as detergents, preservatives or foaming agents are the ones that cause the most harm to the environment.
Opting for products that contain no synthetic ingredients and ones that are using plant-based ingredients that do not deplete the ecosystems or harm them when expelled are the better option.
4. Reusable Cups And Bottles
Purchasing water bottles and cups from cafes is now becoming common practice. Unfortunately, too many bottles still end up in the world’s oceans as many people fail to recycle them properly. This leads to a high rate of pollution as one plastic bottle will break down into 10,000 micro plastic pieces over time and this type of pollution is very difficult to clean up.
Investing in a reusable water bottle or cup is not only cost effective, but can also help to reduce the impact on the planet. You’ll always have water with you when travelling and in many places you can refill your bottle for free or receive a discount on your coffee!
5. Eat Less Meat
Meat and dairy production is responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions within the agricultural industry. The emissions come from the different stages of production including processing and packaging. The main emissions are methane and nitrous oxide; if everyone could reduce the amount of meat in their diet, it would have a huge, positive impact, slowing the rate of damage to the planet.
6. Recycle Where You Can
Recycling has become one of the easiest practices to start and is now fully integrated into many councils’ waste collection services across the UK. Some brands have even changed their packaging, so that it can be recycled and may even already be made of recycled materials!
There are places such as: bottle banks, clothes banks, battery bins and specified areas at the local tip that enable you to recycle even more types of waste. It was reported back in 2017 that there was approximately 419.69 million metric tonnes of cardboard being produced in the world, so where you can, try to use recyclable paper and card and recycle any paper and card that you use.
7. Switch To Online Communication
There are so many companies that now offer paperless communication such as your bank, where you can opt for online statements. This means there is less paper being used and wasted in the first place.
On the high street, certain shops now offer emailed receipts rather than a paper copy. This not only helps to reduce your paper waste, but is also helpful if you need it for your records, or whether you need it for a refund.
8. Use Sustainable Skincare Products
Switching to plant-based skincare cannot only be beneficial for your own conscience, but it also doesn’t harm the environment when you dispose of the packaging.
There is a huge amount of vegan and cruelty-free brands that you can try. I shared a huge list of brands and products that are kind to both your skin and the planet because they do not contain toxic ingredients.
9. Donate Your Unwanted Clothes
The longer clothes are used for, the fewer clothes which will need to be produced or ditched in landfill. It requires far more energy to create new garments than reuse old ones. Recycling clothes is so important because many mass-produced clothing lines have fibres inside them that will never break down no matter how many years pass.
You can recycle clothing by passing it down to family and friends, giving to charity shops or clothing banks for the homeless as well as women’s refuges and family shelters.
10. Reusable Bags
It is estimated that the average plastic bag takes between 15 and 1000 years to decompose depending on the environment. A landfill environment causes plastic bags to sit in the ground for decades or centuries with minimal degrading.
Up to 1 million birds, 100,000 turtles and many other sea creatures die annually from ingesting plastic bags because they confuse them with floating bags with sea life they can eat. When they have eaten the plastic bag, it clogs their digestive tract and they starve. They can also become entangled in them and drown.
Cloth bags are super cost effective as they are widely sold in retail stores, but can be used for years and when they get dirty, you can simply put them in the wash and use them again. Other advantages of cloth bags include:
- Many people find it quicker to pack their shopping as they hold their shape
- More comfortable to carry than plastic bags
- They are unlikely to tear or split
- There are so many different colours, materials and designs to suit every taste
These are just 10 suggestions that are small but simple steps to making a huge and positive impact on the environment.