2018 has kicked off to a promising start here in the UK with regards to the environment. With Scotland joining a growing number of countries to be phasing out single-use plastic in the next few years, and the government finally taking steps towards more eco-friendly options, we are starting to see change. There’s definitely a long way to go, but there are so many things we can do to help save the planet. Here are 8 things to get you started!
1. Kick Plastic To The Curb
Let’s face it, it’s no secret that our plastic loving ways are out of control. From plastic straws and coffee cups, to cleaning products and clothes. Plastic can be found in every corner of the planet. Supermarkets present a plethora of plastic packaged products, a seemingly overwhelming sight for the more consciously-inclined shopper. Hey, it’s even in our tea bags, and you know how us English feel about our tea. If this isn’t a call to action for the nation, I don’t know what is!
Luckily, there are loads of ways we can all do our part to reduce the sea of plastic waste. Check out this post for some incredibly easy ways you can reduce your plastic waste right away.
2. Buy For Love, Not For Lust
You work hard for your money, so of course it’s only natural to want to reward yourself with a treat. Buying new clothes gives us a boost in self-confidence and happiness, which is great. But how long does this feeling last? Fast-fashion is extremely trend-led and changeable, meaning that jazzy top you bought two months ago may now be going out of style. Resigned to the back of your wardrobe, it’s only a matter of time before it gets sent to the local charity shop, or worse, the landfill. Now you need something new to replace it, to feel that boost once again. And so the cycle continues.
‘But, I can afford it, so why not?’.
I’m not trying to make you feel bad for buying yourself new things. However you want to spend your money is completely up to you! But there are ways to spend it more wisely, sustainably and economically which will benefit you, the planet and the people who make your clothes.
Buy for love, not for lust. Buy it because you need it, not because you want it. And if you really want it, love it and make it last. Wear it until you can’t wear it anymore. Repair it. Repeat. And when it is beyond repair, repurpose it, recycle it.
3. Care For Your Clothes
Before the rise of fast fashion and online shopping, clothes used to last. They were an investment, they were well-made and they lasted you until you outgrew them. They became hand-me-downs to younger siblings, cousins, neighbours and your mum’s friend’s kid, because ‘waste not want not’ was a thing. Items were carefully kept in the back of the wardrobe until they came round in fashion again decades later, still in top-notch condition.
There are thousands of vintage clothing stores with rack upon rack of quality clothing, made years ago. I can’t imagine an awful lot of today’s fast fashion standing up to such a test of time – flimsy materials, cheaply made and mass produced. Designed to last the season rather than the years to come. I’ve had jeans that have lasted me a couple of months, yet the incredibly-80s mum jeans I got from the charity shop (100% real denim, almost unheard of on the high street) are decades old and are still going strong, no wear and tear in sight.
It’s a given that almost all of us will have several items of fast fashion within our wardrobe, but that doesn’t mean we should treat them as replaceable commodities. Try to adopt the idea of your clothes as an investment, and look after them.
Wash them less, and at lower temperatures. The Care Label Project is an amazing website which explains the science of washing your clothes, and the most planet-friendly methods. For example, did you know that the label on your clothes will tell you the maximum temperature you should wash each item at, rather than the recommended temperature? And that washing at 30°C instead of 40°C can save up to 60% of the energy consumption? Click the link and revolutionise your wash!
4. Learn To Cook
Knowing how to whip up a tasty meal can benefit both you and the planet in many ways.
Firstly, having an idea of what you want to cook before heading to the supermarket can inadvertently reduce food waste. If you don’t know what you are looking for, it can be easy to just pick up a random selection of things. They may seem like a good idea when you’re in the shop, but when you get home they don’t really add up to make a meal. Quite often these items end up being half-eaten or thrown in the bin, along with the money you spent on them!
Knowing how to make something different out of any leftovers you have saves food from being thrown away. It can also add some variety to your weekly meals. Even if you don’t make anything different, take your leftovers to work for lunch and avoid spending more money on pre-packaged sandwiches.
Finally, if you can cook something delicious you may be less tempted to eat in a restaurant or order takeaway as often. While less convenient, cooking for yourself with fresh ingredients reduces waste and energy consumption. It’s also easier on your wallet and can relieve stress. So dig out your cookbooks and get chopping!
5. Shop Locally
You’re gonna need loads of fresh produce with all the cooking you’re going to be doing! Supermarkets offer convenience, but they can’t compare to the quality and quantity of product you can find at a local market. Admittedly, not everywhere has its own farmers market, but where possible try to shop as locally as you can. Visiting markets makes for a fun weekend activity, so grab a bunch of friends and a few produce bags and make a morning of it!
You’ll get more for your money and the produce is guaranteed fresh – none of this preserving plastic wrap that you’ll find in shop aisles. You may even discover new foods along the way! By shopping locally you will cut down on the amount of packaging, as well as reducing emissions from transportation. It also means local business collects more of the profit, rather than the large supermarket brands.
6. Buy Experiences, Not Objects
Instead of getting physical gifts for your friends and family for birthdays and celebrations, why not gift them an experience? While everyone appreciates a beautifully wrapped gift, there is nothing better than spending quality time with your loved ones doing something fun and exciting. You’ll make memories to last a lifetime and do things you might never have done otherwise! Better still, it’s a great way to be thoughtful no matter your budget. Got no money? How about throwing a film night, or organising a surprise picnic in the park? Or if you’ve got more to spend, why not get a group together and plan a weekend away?
It doesn’t even have to be a gift. Why not save the money you would usually spend on your morning cup of coffee every day for a month, and spend it on a day out for yourself?
7. Get Active and Get Outside
Get up, get outside, get active! Whether you’re training for a marathon or you’re just walking to the shop to get a snack (guilty), leaving your work place or home for a bit of fresh air is always a good idea.
Switching off your electrical items for an hour when not in use takes a little bit of pressure off the planet, while being outdoors has shown to reduce anxiety and stress. What better way to recharge your brain!
8. Use Your Voice
It can be frustrating sometimes to be making lots of changes to your own lifestyle when it seems the world is acting against you in so many ways. Governments around the planet are finally starting to take more action when it comes to the environment. However there are still some world leaders, people of influence and organisations doing their best to reverse progress and hinder development.
What can you do? Use your voice! Stand up for what you believe in. Fundraise. Create Events. Litterpick. Sign Petitions. Protest. Tell a friend!
What steps are you taking to help save the planet in 2018? We’d love to know!