Reducing your carbon footprint, being kinder to the environment, choosing eco-friendly options - there are a lot of different ways to say it but simply put, our planet needs some TLC to create a better place for everyone to live, now and in the future. It's easy to think, what difference can I make? But making a small change can help. These six small swaps can all really add up to us all contributing more to helping the environment during the summer months and beyond!
1. Ditch the plastic
Possibly one of the easiest changes for us all to make is to dramatically reduce the amount of single-use plastics or SUPs that we all use in our daily life. Plastic has almost become a dirty word and the shift in their use has been fantastic in recent months. All single-use plastics are to be banned and this will come into full force by 2021 by all EU member states, including the UK. 'By 2025, plastic bottles should be made of 25% recycled content, and by 2029 90% of them should be recycled'1.
But what can you do personally? It's easy really. Stop buying or using SUPs. These include but aren't limited to drinking straws, non-biodegradable wet wipes, food packaging such as cling film, water bottles, plastic shopping bags and disposable coffee cups. These everyday items can all be replaced by reusable and more environmentally friendly alternatives such as metal straws, re-usable coffee cups (which will even save you money on your daily latte in most chain coffee shops!), fabric shopping bags and reusable beeswax food wraps. Most of these items can also be made out of recycled materials but, make sure that they are either biodegradable or recyclable for when you do eventually need to replace them.
2. Drive less
Another simple habit to break is to drive less and walk and cycle more. Start small by one day a week leaving the car at home when you go to drop the kids off or nip down to the shop to pick something up. As well as releasing less damaging fumes into the atmosphere you'll be saving money, wear and tear on your car and petrol whilst improving your family's health by getting more exercise. If you must drive, car share with a colleague or friend to reduce the amount of cars on the road or, try public transport as an alternative. A lot of city centre buses are now a lot more environmentally friendly than they ever have been and some are working towards being totally electric.
3. Have more staycations
Jetting off on holidays is a luxury that we enjoy from time to time but flying has a large impact on the environment. If you usually take multiple return flights a year then perhaps you could take this down to one overseas trip and trade in your other flights for staycations in the UK?
But, when you do fly, did you know that you can offset your carbon footprint and emissions? You can also do this for driving, the amount of energy you use to heat your own home, bus travel and almost everything else that uses energy in our day to day lives. 'Carbon offsetting is used to compensate for your emissions by funding an equivalent carbon dioxide saving elsewhere'. Many carbon offsetting projects also provide other benefits in addition to carbon reduction, such as education, jobs, food security and heath & well-being in developing countries2. To offset your carbon footprint you can invest into projects like tree planting, reforestation and emission reduction by paying for the amount of CO2 you are creating from your personal carbon footprint.
4. Festival the right way
From frantically clicking for Glastonbury tickets to heading to shows closer to home, festivals are a huge part of the Great British summer but they can be tricky for the environment. Eco-friendly blogger Flora Hewitt-Brake from The Rookie Woman is here to help with some tips on how to be more sustainable at your favourite music events.
"Ever seen the after-math of a festival? A tangible hangover brewed with deserted tents, and a graveyard of thousands of plastic bottles and cups. It is not a pleasant sight. In total, it is estimated that U.K. festivals produce 21,800 U.S. tons of carbon emissions per year3, due to the generators needed as well as the transport taken to get to the festival. Here are some tips on how to reduce that in your own way.
- Take public transport to get there, or if this is not possible look into car-sharing. There are so many sites offering this and it is a great way to make festival friends.
- Pack your own straws, takeaway containers, cups and cutlery to avoid single-use plastics at those food stalls, you might even be able to haggle a discount!
- Go veggie. Noticed how there has been a big increase in meat-free food stalls at festivals? If the demand is there…
- Ditch the baby wipes, opt instead for washable flannels.
- Scour the charity shops for your festival outfit. Save some money on that outfit you will probably wear once a year!
- Dispose of your litter responsibly. Look for separated bins and recycle!
- Use biodegradable glitter. Glitter is essentially micro-plastic and it can get everywhere, including into our marine life."
5. Recycle where possible
A lot of packaging for food and household items is recyclable. It can get confusing as to what the symbols mean but Recycle Now have a handy guide that explains them all. Remember, not all packaging will have a recycling label but this doesn't mean that it's not recyclable.
A further step is to stop buying food such as fruit and vegetables in plastic packaging if it is available loose. Take your own fabric bags or reusable containers to the supermarket or grocers if you are concerned about the food getting damaged or lost amongst your shopping.
6. Wear more and buy less
Fast fashion is a large culprit when it comes to the state of the environment. Research has reported the shocking truth that it takes just under 2,000 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to produce just one pair of jeans4 and then there is also the issue of throwing away clothes once they are damaged or simply because we're bored of them. Adding some eco-friendly changes to how you see your style could really help lessen some of the strain on the environment from the fashion industry.
Shop your own wardrobe by packing away season-specific clothes when the weather changes and then rediscover them the next time the season rolls around and you'll find pieces you forgot you had. Shop better by buying higher quality items less often and investigate mobile apps like Depop or eBay and scout out some charity shops to buy second hand and to sell your old clothes too.
Here we have six small changes that are relative to how we eat, shop, travel and live day to day that are all easily adapted to become more eco-friendly in our day to day lives. What do you think you can change first?
1The Guardian - The Last Straw European Parliament Votes To Ban Single Use Plastics
2 Carbon Footprint.com
3 Can A Music Festival Be 100% Sustainable?
4 How much water does it take to make a pair of jeans