10 Easy ways to Reduce Your Environmental Impact
We all know that everything we buy, every journey we take and every lifestyle choice we make, has an impact on our planet. Luckily, there is plenty you can do to reduce your personal impact.
We’ve created the handy list below for you to provide some inspiration. And remember you don’t have to be perfect, if we all make a few small changes, the cumulative impact will be huge!
Reduce your Meat Consumption
It would be hard to miss all of the conversation around the impact of the meat industry on climate change. It’s estimated that around 18% of greenhouse gas emissions are the result of livestock production. Meat production is resource in-efficient, requiring 25kg of grain and 15,000 litres of water, to produce 1kg of beef. Not only this, but livestock farming takes up around 30% of land surface.
The rise of the #veganuary movement serves to demonstrate the changing attitudes towards meat consumption in the UK. The surge of vegan alternatives available in the supermarkets, means it’s now easier than ever to cut down on how much meat you eat.
By just reducing your meat and fish consumption to a few times a week, you can have a significant impact!
Avoid Single Use Plastic
Plastic isn’t going anywhere any time soon. It’s an incredibly useful material with lots of beneficial properties, but what is an issue is the mountain of single use plastic being used everyday! You only have to walk into a supermarket to see the mountains of plastic our food comes in, or walk down a beach to see the liter being washed up from our oceans.
Some easy ways for you to reduce your usage are investing in a reusable coffee cup and / or reusable water bottle, using reusable produce bags for fruit and veg and taking reusable tupperware to your local butcher or takeaway.
With so many eco-brands so readily available, this is now an easy switch to make. Traditional cleaning products are full of harmful chemicals which make their way into our waterways. Not only this, packaging is something else we need to consider, it's another category where plastic comes into play. Eco-refills and recycled plastic packaging are good things to look out for. We recommend checking out Ecover, Method and Tincture.
Another option is to make your own using ingredients such as lemon juice, baking soda and vinegar. A quick online search will provide you with lots of ideas!
Wash your Clothes Less
Washing clothes uses a lot of energy, water and chemicals, with the average washing machine using 13,500 gallons of water every year! Not only this, if your clothes are made from synthetic fibres, such as polyester, nylon and elastane, then they are shedding microplastics into our oceans every time you wash them - you can read more about this here.
So it makes sense to wash them less, and do what we can to extend the wear of each item. For tips check out this article.
Now for most people, stopping buying things entirely will seem impossible. Buying new clothes, or items for our home is fun. It's how we express ourselves and is a creative outlet for many. I love treating myself to something new.
But what we can do is reconsider how often we are buying these things. And when we do, think about where they are from, what they are made out of and how. By choosing to support brands which are producing their products ethically and sustainably, we can make a real difference!
Switch to Clean Energy
Energy has the most significant environmental impact. Over 70% of the UK’s current energy supply comes from non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels and nuclear power. An easy step you can take is to have a smart meter installed. This allows for updates to the UK’s energy infrastructure making it possible to incorporate more renewable energy sources. Try turning down your thermostat, keeping your house a couple of degrees cooler can reduce your energy usage and save you money! You can also try switching to a green energy supplier such as Bulb or Ecotricity.
When you put your money in a bank, they use this to make investments. The ethics of the investments are something which we need to consider. Since the Paris Agreement was made in 2016, the top UK banks have invested over £150bn into fossil fuels. You can find out what your bank's investment policy is on their website.
Changing to a bank which supports renewable energy and green infrastructure through its investments is one of the easiest swaps you can make.
Reduce Food Waste
Food waste is another big one. It’s estimated that between 33-50% of the food produced globally goes to waste, with a value of over $1 trillion dollars.
One way you can combat this through meal planning, so you only buy what you need. When you do have excess food, batch cooking is a good way to use them up, then the meals can be frozen for consumption at a later date. Alternatively, try out a food sharing app such as Olio, which allows you to give your waste food to a loving new home.
Eat Seasonally and Organically
Food miles are a big thing. The main reasons our food now travels so far are:
- It is usually because it’s cheaper to import than grow domestically
- So we can have foods which are out of season in the UK
- Access crops unable to grow in our climate, such as bananas
It’s now estimated that around 95% of the fruits and vegetables bought in the UK are imported. However, remember food miles aren't everything. A recent report showed it is more sustainable to import strawberries from Spain than grow them in grass green houses in the UK, due to the energy required to heat them.
So what can you do? Try and eat seasonally where you can, and buy from local farmers and producers. Check out your green grocer, markets or subscription boxes such as Abel & Cole, Oddbox or Milk & More.
Carbon Offset your Travel
So we all know that travel results in carbon emissions, but that doesn’t stop us wanting to go on holiday. And who can blame us with the current dismal weather in the UK, I for one am desperate for some sun. But we can’t forget that aviator accounts for around 2.5% of carbon emissions.
One thing we can do is carbon offsetting. This involves paying for a carbon positive activity, such as planting new trees to balance out the impact of your flights. And its relatively affordable, setting you back around £20 for a European flight of £60 to the US. You can sometimes do this through your airline when you make a booking. Look to airlines such as Quantas and Air Canada. It might not be the perfect solution but it’s a start!