10 Easy Ways To Be More Sustainable

a picture of a womans hands holding three seedlings sustainable

With Earth Day just a few weeks away, It’s a good time to think about sustainability. It’s become a buzzword in the past few years, and more and more people are implementing changes to make their lives more sustainable. It’s also attracted controversy- with many companies being accused of ‘greenwashing’ which is when they make claims that are vague, insincere or just outright lies. Paper straws is the one that comes to mind for me- we don’t need paper straws in place of plastic. We just need to get rid of straws! (except for individuals who absolutely need these of course- such as those with disabilities)

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What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is a way of using resources that can last indefinitely. To use resources in such a way that causes no harm to the planet. At the moment, the way we live is unsubtainable- we are using resources faster than we can replace them.

July 27th is Earth Overshoot Day– the official day that marks when we have used more resources in that year, than we can than we can replace in the same time period. It comes around earlier each year, which means we are continuing to live beyond our means from an environmental perspective. At the rate we consume, we would need 2-3 more planet Earths to provide the reources to do so.

Isn’t recycling enough?

Recycling is great, but it should be your last option. To be more substainable we need to Reduce first, Reuse second and then Recycle.

Reduce can be reducing your consumerism- what you think you need to buy. It can also be choosing fruits and vegetables that are sold loose, reducing the need for soft plastics. Reducing what you need, analysing need vs wants, is the most powerful action you can take.

Reuse– this can be upcycling things you already own, reusing shopping bags or repurposing items rather than buying something new.

Recycle- recycling everything that can be recycled is still a powerful action, but reduce and reuse should be your first choice.

What Can We Do About It?

I’d like to make an important point here- the burden caused by overconsumption should not sit solely on consumers. Big business needs to do far more than it does, particuarly fossil fuel companies. We can take many individual actions, but without change from multi billion dollar companies- the impact we can make is limited. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldnt at least try to make a difference.

Easy Sustainability Habits You Can Try

Whilst we can’t solve this problem entirely as indivdual consumers, here are some easy ways to make even a small difference! Remember- it’s not about being perfect. You don’t need to be zero waste. Every little change you make adds up!

Buy Secondhand

There’s a secondhand option for almost anything you can think of- clothes, furniture, toys, books, electronics, home decor!

For clothes, check out Preworn! They have thousands of items, a great selection of sizes, and they ship worldwide. If you’re in the UK- postage is FREE.

For more information on where and how to shop secondhand, check out this post.

Eat In Season

I covered this in a previous post, eating in season greatly reduces your Carbon footprint as the food has had to travel far less distance to reach you. Also, it tastes better and is often cheaper due to reduced costs of growing it, and shipping it.

Repair rather than replace where possible

This is a tricky one. Most electronic goods are built to last for a short time frame, or in the case of mobile phones the manufacturer will stop providing necessary updates to keep your phone working (I’m looking at you Apple!) They are also often built in such a way that repairing them is impossible- either because you can’t access the parts you need to replace, or the company doesn’t sell spare parts. If you want to have a go at repairing something Youtube is a great resource for instructional videos. Where I live the local council also runs repair cafes- check to see if such a scheme is available near you!

Reuseable Water Bottle

This is a no-brainer, and I like to think most of us are doing this! However- the rise of trendy re-useables has had the opposite effect. People are dumping their reuseable bottles in favour of the latest trend. Think Hydro flask, which was overtaken by Stanley Cups, which will no doubt fall foul of the next trend. Keep a hold of your water bottle, whether its trendy or not- or it just becomes another wasted item.

In addition to this- if you feel your tap water isn’t great- buy a Brita filter, or similiar water filter jug. I see so many people online buying dozens of packs of plastic water bottles because they don’t trust tap water, or don’t like the taste. Tap water is cleaned to incredibly high standards, and whilst the hardness or softness of it may impact taste, you don’t need to buy water!

Eat more plants

25% of global land use, land-use change and forestry emissions are driven by beef production, including the tearing down of forests in the Brazilian Amazon. In addition, beef accounts for 36kg of CO2 for each kilo of beef produced, and meat in general accounts for 60% of all greenhouse gases produced from food. Essentially, we need to eat less meat.

This is not a call for everyone to go vegan. Rather it’s a call to eat more plants! Plants are a far more sustainable option, and despite claims that Avocado’s being shipped around the world is worse for CO2 emissions than raising animals for slaughter- it’s not. Plants also need far less water than cattle.

Even just having one to two meat free days a week is a great option!

Meal Idea Posts

Best Meals to make with Tofu

The Ultimate Guide to Beans

5 Winter Comfort Foods

Reduce disposables like kitchen towels/napkins

I use the term reduce very purposefully here- as honestly there are some dirty jobs that need doing that I’m not comfortable using a cloth for. I keep my kitchen towel usage minimal- using cloths for day to day tasks like wiping counters and cleaning up food messes. Disposable napkins however can absolutely be replaced with cloth ones, and paper plates are totally unecessary. Use real crockery!

Reuseable mentrual products

Sanitary pads being flushed down the toilet causes real problems, and I’m not sure why anyone does it. They should always be put in the bin/trash. A better option is to forgo disposables altogether- there’s so many reuseable options including reuseable pads, period pants and menstrual cups. So long as they are washed properly, they are completely sanitary and a far better option from a sustainability perspective.

Switch to Plastic free toilet paper

We have been using Who Gives a Crap for our toilet paper needs for YEARS. The rolls are made from Bamboo, which is a quick growing sustainable plant and every pack sold helps to build toilets in countries around the world where access to sanitation is limited or non existent. They also have a recycled option if you prefer that. Sign up today for £5 off your first delivery It’s super simple to delay your delivery, or cancel if need be.

Recycle properly

Admit it- we’ve all played the hopeful recycling game. This is when you put something in your recycling that you aren’t really sure about, in the hope that somewhere down the line it will be “filtered out” as being unrecycleable, and everything will be ok. In truth- that’s not how it works, and cross contanimation is a big problem fo recycling plants.

The best way to avoid this is to familiarise yourself with your doorstep recycling service. Council websites will always detail what can and cannot be recycled. Our council goes so far as to detail the plastic PET types, marked by a number on the packaging packaging, that it does and doesn’t accept. If after all that you really aren’t sure- bin it. Honestly, it will cause less problems for the recycling plant which means more can be recycled long term. Some difficult to recycle products are recycled by specialist services- such as Terracycle who have drop off points for such items.

Wash Cold

Washing at 20c or 30c can save you money on energy bills, and helps to preserve your clothing by exerting less stress on the fabrics. Most laundry products are designed to be used at cold temperatures and will be just as effective. If you have concerns about hygeine, you can add white vinegar to your wash as it has anti-bacterial properties. Again- there are going to be times that a hot wash is needed- such as when you’ve been ill, but these incidents are likely to be few and far between.

Also- skip the tumble dryer as often as you can, and either line dry or put clothes on an airer inside. Again, your clothes will last longer, you’ll save money, and clothes dried outside always smell amazing! If it’s cold out, try a heated airer. These cost pennies to run!

Do you do any of these? What habits do you have that help you live more sustainably? Let me know in the comments!


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