10 Easy Ways To Reduce Your Impact On The Environment
By now we have all seen headlines from the latest major scientific report conducted by the UN warning us of the catastrophic effects of climate change, with their stark warning that this is ‘Code Red for Humanity’. Despite the alarming phrase, the report also stressed that it is not too late for us to reduce our impact and limit the more dire consequences. However if we are to achieve this then we must act now.
But how do we as individuals stand a chance of making any difference and how would we even go about doing this?
Let us share some of our top tips with you! Here are 10 ways to reduce your impact that are easier to implement than you might have thought:
- Switch your bank to an ethical one - did you know that your money doesn’t just sit in your bank account accruing minimal amounts of interest (if you’re lucky) while waiting for you to withdraw it? Your bank invests your money to help increase its revenue and most of the popular high street banks invest in unethical industries including arms & munition, tobacco and fossil fuels. By switching to an ethical bank who will invest in more savoury practices, such as green energy and clean technology, you’re reducing the ability for those unethical industries to continue. No money = no business. By remaining with a non-ethical bank, you’re effectively bankrolling their activities.
- Ditch the single use plastic - it’s really useful to think of the ‘cradle to grave’ cycle of a piece of plastic to see how damaging it is to our environment. It’s creation involves crude oil, a fossil fuel, polluting our planet from its birth. It will pass through a fair few hands to be moulded into a particular use, all the while increasing its carbon footprint, until it is eventually sold to a customer that uses it for an extremely short period of time before discarding. At this point it will be sent to landfill where it will pollute the Earth, taking thousands of years to break down into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic that can enter the soil, food chains of wildlife, waterways and even humans. Do you need that item packaged up in that piece of plastic that badly or can you find an alternative?
- Reduce, reuse, recycle - this is a really useful mindset to get into. It can take a little while but once you’re in it, it’s very difficult to make any decision without considering your impact on your surroundings! Firstly, reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ you buy or use. If it’s an impulse purchase, question whether you really need it. If you do, is there something you already own that might do the same job? Or could you get it from a second hand source (probably saving you money as well)? Reuse whatever you have. Did you get a takeaway that came in plastic containers? They don’t necessarily need to be thrown out - reuse them to store other meals or items in, use them as pet water bowls when you travel, use them for arts and crafts for the kids. It’s amazing how much use something has once you really think about it. If something is in no fit state for reuse then recycle it - make sure it’s clean and dry then pop it in an appropriate recycling bin.
- Shop second hand as your first choice - buying new just isn’t necessary most of them time. We’ve all been conditioned by very clever marketing tactics to feel like we must stay on trend and replace what we have every season. It’s absolutely not true and is extremely damaging to our environment. Many people buy an item of clothing and either never wear it, wear it once or a handful of times and then discard it. That item of clothing is often still in great condition and perfectly usable! Pass clothes you no longer want on to a friend, give to charity or sell via online platforms such as eBay or Vinted and give it a new lease of life. Similarly, when you need some new clothing head to one of these platforms to pick up a unique item with the added bonus of grabbing a bargain too.
- Buy organic where possible - it’s true, organic products can be more expensive (although this isn’t always the case). But what you’re spending your money on is not just a piece of food or product that may or may not be better for you - you’re investing in a whole infrastructure that works in harmony with our environment to sustainably produce that piece of food or product. Organic means using natural agriculture methods making use of local wildlife for pollination, soil turnover, drainage and even pest control. Studies have shown that although there’s little difference between the nutritional content of organically and industrially grown food, the benefits come from not only enriching the environment but from the strict limits placed on the use of harmful fertilisers and pesticides. These are not only incredibly damaging to local ecosystems and wildlife but also to our health, having been shown to have endocrine disruptive effects affecting fertility, growth and even contributing to some cancers. Being more expensive will also mean that you will only buy what you actually need, helping you to achieve your above goal of reducing what you use!
- Buy in bulk - this is a simple one: buying larger volumes reduces the amount of packaging and transport so reducing your carbon footprint. It will also save you money in the longer term, and reduce the frequency of your need to visit the shops again reducing your carbon footprint. Just make sure you have adequate storage space!
- Introduce more meat free meals - this one has the added bonus of introducing you to some new tasty recipes while eating more healthily. I get it, it’s tough for a die hard meat eater to think of a meal as anything other than a snack without a piece of meat in it. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Do a little research and find a recipe you think you’ll enjoy both making and eating. Bosh! and Deliciously Ella have some of our favourite plant-based recipes that are easy to make as well as delicious. Set yourself the task of doing this once a fortnight and in no time you’ll find that increasing in frequency while you get more and more used to eating vegan dishes.
- Switch to a green energy supplier - did you know that even if you sign up to a green energy company you won’t necessarily receive green energy in your home? Erm, what’s the point then I hear you ask!? Even though you pay your bills to one company, all energy comes from the same source. So in reality we all receive energy generated by a mix of fossil fuel and clean technologies. But if you are paying specifically for a green tariff, your energy company will pay more money for green energy. So the more of us that switch to green suppliers, the more money goes to green energy producers and the more green energy is produced and used! If everyone switched to green energy, then fossil fuel-derived energy would be no more - hurrah!
- Limit international flights and switch to an electric car if possible - we all know by now how polluting cars and aeroplanes are, both for our health and the environment. You can easily remedy this by simply avoiding flying on an aeroplane unless absolutely necessary. Pick a holiday somewhere within your own country or a train ride away and you’ll enjoy it just as much, plus you may discover some new wonders you never would have! And if you can switch your car to an electric one this is a big plus point - just make sure you switch to a green energy supplier too! If this isn’t possible, use public transport or cycle as much as you can.
- Create a ‘wild patch’ in your garden or other outdoor space to increase biodiversity: if you have kids this is a fun activity to do together, if not it’s just as enjoyable for a bit of downtime. You don’t even need a garden - if you have a patio, a balcony or even just a window ledge, plant a few seedlings in a pot and watch them grow. If you do have a garden, create a patch to grow some wildflowers and grasses and watch it flourish. Either way you’ll soon be attracting bees and insects that will feed from and pollinate your lovely plants, helping to maintain a healthy local ecosystem.
So there you go, 10 easy ways to live a more eco-friendly life! We'd love to hear if you have implemented any of these changes and how you felt about them, or if you have any other suggestions then please do let us know!