On the 6th of August, the UK celebrated Cycle to Work Day. This is a way to encourage people to leave their cars in their driveways so as to cut down emissions.
However, it goes without saying that Cycle to Work Day is merely a piece of the jigsaw puzzle in creating a greener and more sustainable UK. There are many other ways in which we can become environmentally conscious.
We should not punish ourselves for not being ‘perfectly’ eco-friendly or zero waste
The first major step is to analyse your routine and the consequences that arise from your daily routine. For example, as mentioned above, how you travel from your home to university or work. Then, you should decide which parts of your routine are the easiest to change. It is so important to note that it is very hard to completely overhaul the lifestyle we have adopted, and that the most important thing is collective imperfect action.
We should not punish ourselves for not being ‘perfectly’ eco-friendly or zero waste. The most important thing is making little changes.
One of the easiest changes involve reducing the amount of plastic waste that we produce: one of the biggest contributors is the plastic bottle.
Staggeringly, 7.7 billion single use bottles are used annually in the UK, and the average Brit uses three of them a week. If one billion plastic bottles were removed, that would be 13 million kilograms less of plastic.
An alternative to the disposable plastic bottle is the reusable one, such as a flask or a BPA durable plastic one. Or, even simply filling up an empty Evian bottle and reusing it can make a massive difference. For a list of the best reusable bottles read this article.
Unfortunately, the plastic bottle is not the only enemy. Our hair and beauty habits have a massive impact on the environment too. In fact, washing your hair daily will use around 14,000 litres of water.
Little modifications could include washing hair less frequently, and reducing the temperature and duration of showers. Additionally, you can replace plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles – of which the average person uses 24 every year – with ‘naked’ bars.
These naked products last months and reduce costs given that they last the equivalent of 4 to 5 bottles of product
Admittedly, they take some time to adjust, but they leave hair looking healthier than ever before as most are made from natural ingredients. My personal favourite shampoo bar is Jumping Juniper by Lush. For conditioner, I use the Normal Hair Conditioner Bar by Bain & Savon.
These naked products last months and reduce costs, given that they last the equivalent of 4 to 5 bottles of product. For a zero-waste guide to hair care read this post.
A major part of our daily lives is the food we eat. The effects of our diets not only has an impact on our health, but also on the planet. The food industry uses substantial amounts of energy for growth, storage, packaging and transport.
One way we can tackle this is to eat a “plant-based diet, with small allowances for meat [and] dairy”, according to the medical journal The Lancet. This diet should be sourced using local and seasonal produce wherever possible.
There are food items that are greener than others. For example, meat is one of the worst offenders: it forms 18% of total global calories yet takes up 83% of global land.
However, in moderation, the meat industry can produce benefits such as fertilisation using livestock’s waste. One thing is certain: daily consumption of meat is not sustainable, especially as food demand is rising. For more information about sustainable diets look here.
We should think of the above methods like pick and mix. We should change our lifestyles in the ways that appeal the most to us, as well as the ones that are the most convenient. It is not necessary nor obligatory to change everything. The most important thing is to do what we can collectively.
One online community that provides easy and cheap ways to become less wasteful is The Lazy Environmentalists. This group offers free advice for queries from how to recycle or repurpose used dummies, to how to make candles from Babybel cheese wax.
The most effective way of making our planet more sustainable is encouraging everyone to adjust the way that we live
Importantly, it is a judgement-free zone. It drives the message that collective imperfect action is the best way to help the Earth.
Overall, the most effective way of making our planet more sustainable is encouraging everyone to adjust the way that we live. A million people correcting one unsustainable habit is better than a hundred living completely zero-waste lives.
The above suggestions are not exhaustive either – there are plenty of habits that can be changed too. Some can be small, like ditching the disposable bottle, and some are huge, like changing our diets. No matter what you decide to change, your actions will help our planet.
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