If we’re honest, we all make New Year’s resolutions, whether or not we stick to them is a different story, however! When making New Year’s resolutions, we usually think of personal goals we’d like to achieve for ourselves, which might include getting fitter, eating healthier or being happier. But what if you chose to make small changes that would help the whole world? One of the biggest issues faced today is climate change and how we can live more sustainably to use less resources such as plastic and electricity.
It’s something we hear about all the time and assume it’s such a big problem that only the government and world leaders can make changes big enough to help, but there are actually plenty of small and easy things we can all do to make a huge difference.
1. Reuse cups, bottles and containers
It may seem a nuisance and a lot of effort to carry a cup around with you for when you fancy a coffee, but it can make such a huge difference to the environment. Most coffee cups aren’t recyclable as they are lined with plastic and can actually out-live you! There are many different companies that make travel cups, some that even fold down to easily carry around in a small bag as well. Most coffee places sell these too, and even offer you a discount if you are using your own coffee cup!
Investing in a BPA-free plastic bottle, or even one that is made from natural products such as bamboo is also one small change that makes a real difference. For those that are always buying bottled water, save yourself some money and fill your bottle with water every morning from the good old fashioned tap! If you want filtered water, water filter jugs can be bought from around £10 too.
Keep containers from takeaways and use them to transport your food. Instead of relying on single-use plastic sandwich bags, use these air tight, leak proof containers instead and you’ll save a lot of money and waste.
2. Go vegan on the products you buy
This doesn’t mean a meat-free diet, it means making a conscious and kind choice towards animals, with the cosmetic materials you purchase. More and more companies are becoming cruelty free and using natural ingredients as opposed to bi-products of animals. Look out on the label for ‘vegan’ or ‘cruelty free’ to know for sure whether these products are 100% natural. 100% natural products such as shower gels, shampoos, creams and make up also tend to be less damaging to your scalp/ skin as well. By doing this, you’re reducing the carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions caused by transporting animals and you’re also stopping unfair animal testing.
3. Have a meat-free day
The transportation and production of animals is causing a very bad effect on the planet. It is raising greenhouse gas emissions and creates a huge carbon footprint as well. Because the demand is becoming so high for meat, the quality isn’t as good, depending on where you source your meat from. If we all had a meat free day per week, we would reduce C02 emissions by 20%. Paul McCartney has introduced ‘Meat-Free Monday’ to encourage people to create healthy meals that don’t contain any meat products.
4. Car share or walk/ cycle where you can
As well as being good for the planet by reducing the CO2 emissions and pollution on the roads and our streets, it would also dramatically decrease the amount of traffic on the road. Speak to your colleagues to see if you live within the same area and could arrange sharing the driving to and from work, you would each half the amount of petrol you buy, saving you both money, and there wouldn’t be any fighting for the last car park space!
OR, an even healthier option would be to walk or cycle. A lot of companies are part of a government scheme to get more people to cycle to work, this scheme helps people buy a decent bike by slowly using the money out of your pay each month, so you don’t really notice the money coming out. By riding your bike or walking, you’re getting in your daily exercise, which would also save you trips to the gym, which are never usually that fun! You’re saving petrol money and also reducing the emissions on the road, as well as exercising!
5. Turf off any electricity that isn’t being used
We hear it all the time, but do we actually do it? It’s too easy to leave on the plugs for your TV or computer, but if it’s not being used, there’s really no need for it to be left on. By turning off appliances that aren’t being used in your home, you’re saving on your electricity bill and also living a lot safer, especially with little ones around!
The biggest place where electricity is left on is the work place, each night, or at least over the weekends, remember to switch off and shut down your computer, so it isn’t using any electricity at all. There’s many things we all forget about, like heating and the coffee machines, try and assign someone to check the electricity every night to ensure nothing is left on over night.
6. Grow your own!
If you’re lucky enough to have a spacious garden, why not challenge yourself to grow your own seasonal fruit and veg? When you grow your own produce, you know it doesn’t contain any chemicals or pesticides, and you will definitely taste the difference! It’s a lot cheaper than you think and will save you money in the long run. By doing this, you are helping to decrease the emissions given out by the transportation of vegetables from different countries.
When you grow your own fruit and veg, you then also have more of a reason to compost your food waste. By composting your food waste, you are creating a nutrient-rich growing medium for lovely, thriving fruit and veg. It’s a great way of educating your children about how plants are grown and where our fruit and veg come from.
7. Choose paperless billing and opt out of any postal subscriptions
How much post do you get each day and chuck it straight into the bin? Even if it is recyclable, it has still been printed on paper and posted to your house via different vehicles on the road. Due to new GDPR laws, companies have to comply with anything you want to unsubscribe from, so it should be a case of going online and clicking ‘unsubscribe’ to all communications via post.
Going paperless with your billing and bank statements will also reduce a lot of waste. If you’re comfortable with online banking, there shouldn’t be a need to receive statements in the post. It also makes it a lot safer keeping your bills and statements in one place, instead of them being stored online as well as in your house, and may even reduce the risk of fraud.
8. Re-think your gifts
Everyone loves a handmade gift, there are lots of handmade craft fairs around where people have made something from scratch or created something like a beautiful painting, piece of jewellery or clothing. This is much nicer than going online and getting something imported from around the world which causes a large carbon footprint because of the emissions given out during the delivery process.
Re-gift or up-cycle
Sometimes we’re too proud to re-gift something in our own home that we no longer want, but if it’s unused and unwanted, what’s the problem? This saves you money as well as travelling to get something, and also helps clear out your things. Up-cycling is also very popular, where you take something which you think is junk-worthy and turn it into something amazing and unique. Especially things that are single use like plastic, why not go online for some inspiration to see other are up-cycling their unwanted things.
Pay your local high street a visit
It’s sad to think that our high streets may not be around in 10 years time because so many people are going online and getting everything they want from all over the world, instead of having a nice browse around the shops that are right on their doorstep. Instead of getting 10 different presents from 10 different websites, paying delivery charges and entering all of your information online, take yourself and your friends on a day trip out to the shops and get your presents there. Even if you haven’t managed to bag everything you wanted, you’ve spent a nice day out with people you love and helped your local shops and their employees.
Buy experience days
A great present for someone (and one that doesn’t involve waste) is an experience day. To save all of that wrapping paper and sellotape, an experience gift slides into a card and can be enjoyed just as much, if not more by the recipient. It’s a win-win when you’re buying for someone difficult as well!
Planet earth – Car vector created by gstudioimagen – www.freepik.com
Reusable cups – Logo psd created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com
Man on bike – Business photo created by photogenia – www.freepik.com
Light switch – People photo created by shayne_ch13 – www.freepik.com