This year I am not making any new resolutions, what I am doing, however, is keeping the good ones I have made last year and one of them was to be more sustainable. We all know the planet is not doing very well and if we want to give the next generation of people and animals any chance to live a decent life we all have to take action now.
Over the past 12 months, I have been actively adopting new habits to be more sustainable in my daily life and here are 6 very easy ways to make it happen. They won’t cost you much, some may even save you money, and all require very little effort!
Avoiding single-use plastic when eating and drinking
Let’s start with a very obvious one: single-use plastic. We all have been guilty to enjoy a tasty salad in the park with the help of a plastic fork. Don’t get me wrong, there are situations where you do need disposable cutlery or plates, big birthday parties, on a business trip to another city, etc. But no one ever needs a plastic straw for instance, so saying no to these is already an easy way to reduce waste.
What I try to do as much as possible is to wait and have my meal at home, in the office or at the coffee shop so I can use washable utensils. When I am out and about I tend to get a meal that doesn’t require any unnecessary single-use cutlery, like a wrap or sandwich. And if I have no choice I try to grab more environmentally friendly items like wooden cutlery and compostable coffee cups which are getting more commonly available in cafes and shops.
Finally, I am never without my Dopper reusable water bottle. When I first got it I was sceptical I would even use it, but now I cannot be out of the house without it. It keeps me hydrated and spares the ocean a few plastic bottles.
Making coffee the old way
I LOVE coffee – black. no sugar, no milk, please! For the longest time, I have been very guilty to turn on my Nespresso machine first thing in the morning and brew a couple of capsules. The coffee was good but those capsules not so much… We were recycling them using Nespresso’s scheme however I still felt like I could do much better.
So one day I decided to dust off my student years Bialetti and the French press I had bought when I first moved to London, and I have almost solely used these ever since. This new habit has elminated our aluminium capsule waste and means we just have to throw the coffee in the compost bin after it has been brewed. Zero polluting waste and one good cup of joe!
Eating less meat and dairy
Like many other people, I love a good burger, a nice steak and French cheese. But unfortunately for us, meat and dairy lovers, the truth is that livestock farming is one of the most polluting industry in the world. Add to that the fact that animal welfare is rarely respected, this should motivate most of us to eat fewer animal products.
I am not turning vegan anytime soon but I now consider meat as a treat. I will eat vegetarian food and fish most days, and if I fancy a delicious roast chicken I will either buy it from our local butcher who sources their products locally from free-range farms, or I will go to a restaurant. This shift has been the most drastic but it has been surprisingly easy.
I have also been very pleasantly surprised by the meat and milk alternatives you can now find in supermarkets, they can be very tasty. Long are gone the days of the bland tofu!
Recycling properly everything I can
Recycling is another obvious and easy way to be more sustainable, that is if you do it properly! Paper napkins, some type of plastic wrappings, foil and many other items are commonly misplaced in recycling bins. This can have a negative impact on the recycling process by contaminating or slowing it down.
I took the time to educate myself last year on what can or cannot be recycled and I am now making the conscious effort to do it properly. It really doesn’t take that long and may only add a few seconds here and there to take a packaging apart before binning it. If you are interested in learning more about recycling properly I recommend you watch this video which is very educative.
Our local council also provides compost bins and even though it can be a bit messy at first, once you get used to it, it is a very efficient and easy way to recycle more. We now have three bins in our kitchen and barely go through one general waste bag per week between two of us.
Taking better care of my clothes
As I am writing this I am wearing a 4-month old jumper, a 7-year old pair of jeans, socks which are about 5 and underwear (oh yes we are going there) which are between 3 and 7 years old. All have been washed thoroughly multiple times and all have been cared for greatly. No holes, no stains, no damages, so why should I dispose of the oldest ones?
As my income has not always been great (shout out to all the creative people out there!), I had to learn pretty early on in my career to take good care of my belongings as I knew I wouldn’t always have the money to replace them. This has made me very thrifty and resourceful when it comes to taking care of clothes. You just have to learn to wash things on the right setting and invest in a few specific cleaning products for different fabrics.
Knowing that the textile industry is one of the most pollutants releasing industries of the world, I feel pretty good not consuming too much of it!
Investing in eco-friendly cleaning products
I have slowly but surely replaced every single cleaning product we have in the house with a more environmentally friendly option. Many brands are now offering products which are more gentle for the plant and aquatic life. And if you think it is more expensive, you are wrong! Recently many supermarkets, like Wilko in the UK, have released eco-friendly cleaning product ranges which are cheaper than their brand counterparts.
I also make sure to always have a few bottles of white vinegar in the house. It is honestly the most efficient product to remove soap gunk and water stains in sinks, baths and showers.
So with these 6 easy ways to be more sustainable, there are no excuses. We all have to do our part to protect the planet and 2019 is the year we make it happen!