One of the biggest challenges facing the world today is climate change, and it has many people worried - one survey found that 93% of participants were concerned for the environment. The same study had a more promising result as well, though: 77% of those surveyed said they wanted to learn more about sustainable lifestyles.
This shows that there’s a huge amount of motivation for people to make the necessary changes to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle and help to combat climate change. Luckily, there are all sorts of ways that we can contribute to cutting down our environmental impact in everyday life.
Make your food greener
Food often plays a large part in discussions on climate change, as agriculture can have a tremendous impact on the environment. The most common piece of advice here is to cut down on meat consumption since livestock accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
You don’t necessarily have to go fully vegetarian or vegan - you can start small with a few meat-free days each week and still make a big difference. You can also reduce the impact of your meat consumption by buying locally and supporting smaller farms rather than more damaging intensive agriculture.
Similarly, try to get your fruit and veg from local sources as well. The further your food has to be transported, the less eco-friendly it is, so try shopping at local farmers’ markets. You should also avoid eating out-of-season products, as growing them year-round means intensive energy use in greenhouses to recreate the right conditions. On the energy front, it’s also worth batch cooking where possible so you use your oven less, which will also in turn reduce your energy bill.
Finally, try growing your own food if you have space. Even a small planter on a windowsill can let you grow your own herbs or salad vegetables, which will save you money on your groceries while helping you save the planet.
Tame your travel
The way you get around is another big contributor to your environmental impact, thanks to the harmful emissions produced by cars and other vehicles. It’s best to avoid driving as much as possible to reduce these emissions. If your destination is within walking or cycling distance, ditch the car and go there under your own steam - it doubles up as good exercise.
For trips further afield, try to use public transport where possible. Using a bus or train along with other people means the overall emissions per passenger are much lower than if each person used their own individual car.
Finally, if you’re heavily reliant on your car, consider making the switch to an electric vehicle. Until recently, the cost of electric vehicles has been off-putting for many drivers, but they’re steadily becoming more affordable. Using an electric car means every trip will be emissions-free, and there are a number of other benefits such as lower running and maintenance costs. There are advanced safety aids in electric vehicles such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) which are designed to prevent car accidents.
Cut down on waste - especially plastic
Plastic is a huge contributor to environmental issues - not only is it energy-intensive to both produce and recycle, it can also endanger wildlife if it ends up in oceans or rivers after being thrown away. That means you should try to cut down on plastic waste wherever possible, as well as trying to cut down on waste generally.
A few ways you can cut down include:
- Taking a reusable mug with you to coffee shops instead of using disposable takeaway cups
- Buying loose fruit and veg rather than packaged if possible
- Buying groceries from zero-waste refill stores if there are any in your area
- Using cloths and flannels instead of face wipes (as many face wipes are non-biodegradable)
- If you do need to buy something in plastic packaging, reuse it – e.g. plastic containers are great for food storage, plastic bottles can be cut in half and used as flower pots
Avoid fast fashion
Fast fashion has a massive impact on the environment. It produces 92 million tonnes of waste per year, and uses 1.5 trillion tonnes of water. What’s more, this water often re-enters the environment as toxic wastewater, causing massive damage to the ecosystem.
As such, avoiding fast fashion is a great way of being more eco-friendly. Rather than buying new clothes all the time, try to get them second-hand in charity shops or on clothing reselling apps and sites. You can also learn to mend your old clothes - sew up any rips and tears, and if you can’t mend them, keep old clothes to use as material for fixing other items rather than throwing them out.
If you do need to buy brand-new clothes, do your research about the company you buy from. Many big brands make a lot of noise about becoming more eco-friendly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re putting in the work, so make sure you’re picking the most sustainable option before you buy.
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