Plastics have had a lot of bad press recently, and rightly so. It’s great that people are now trying to reduce their plastic consumption but I often wonder how it was even allowed to get to this point. Truth is, governments are way behind when it comes to eco-friendly policies and don’t even get me started on big corporations. I know it can feel frustrating and that the problems are much bigger than any individual, but there are things we can all do – consumer choices have a HUGE effect on the demand and therefore production of more eco-friendly products and offering more environmentally friendly services.
1 – Swap face wipes for a flannel
Just imagine a pile of 365 used face-wipes. A year of removing makeup makes a LOT of waste, and the large majority of face wipes (and bay wipes for that matter) are NON-recyclable. Using a natural cleanser and a warm, damp flannel is not only better for your skin but also better for the bank balance, and of course, it’s much more eco-friendly. If using wipes for whatever reason is unavoidable, we can at least choose a recyclable brand with a more environmentally friendly ethos.
2 – Reduce meat and dairy consumption
This is probably the single biggest change an individual can make to help the environment. We have 3 chances a day to reduce our negative impact on this beautiful planet. A reduction in the consumption of meat (especially red meat) and dairy would have a positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, deforestation and antibiotic resistance. I personally don’t eat any meat or dairy, but even if everyone just reduces how much they consume on a weekly basis, it will make a huge difference! Plant-based protein sources such as lentils and beans are also much cheaper than the meat alternatives, plus they have a much lower fat content.
3 – Turn down the temperature
Lots of us are lucky enough to live in houses or flats with lots of rooms. In winter we can save energy and therefore money by turning off the radiators and closing the doors of rooms which we’re not using. The same goes for washing machines and dishwashers. 30 degrees is usually plenty hot enough to get things clean!
4 – Choose re-usable packaging
We probably all own a ‘bag for life’ which is wonderful (as long as we remember to take it with us)! There are also many more ways we can use less plastic when it comes to our shopping. Choose the loose fruit and veg instead of pre-packaged. A bunch of bananas can go in the trolly without being put in a little plastic bag first! For other products we can try to choose products which come in recyclable or reusable packaging – look for the little symbol on the back of the packet. I was unpleasantly surprised by how many aren’t actually recyclable. They’ve been going in the ‘green’ bin for nothing.
5 – Move towards minimalism
Production and delivery always have a carbon footprint. Less consumption, less damage. Whether you want to think of it as minimalism or just a more thoughtful way of living, choosing to say NO to the superfluous will save you money and create more freedom. A more conscious and deliberate lifestyle leaves more room for what is really important. If you’re interested in learning more, I have a blog post on minimalism for beginners.