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The Small Changes You Can Make to Help the Planet

20/01/2016 11:08 GMT | Updated 20/01/2017 10:12 GMT

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These sorts of articles have peppered the web for years now. Do this and don't do that to save the planet. Part of what turns people away though is the huge lifestyle overhaul that is often required of people for their impact to be felt.

This one's a bit different as it'll show you the way to being more environmentally friendly without causing you any additional anguish.

Household Products -

One of the hottest topics in conservation and sustainability at the moment is the risk and damage caused by microbeads. These are tiny pieces of plastic that are found in literally hundreds of self-care products. Everything from shampoo to face creams to toothpaste might contain microbeads and, despite being designed to help people, go a long way towards causing harm to us and the environment. They're also used in biomedical and science research, microscopy techniques and fluid analysis. OK, not sure what any of those are but the point is that they are used extensively. The idea behind them is to remove tiny pieces of dead skin and grit from whomever or whatever they cleaning but instead they work their way into our ecosystem. They're washed away down the sink and into sewage systems which, eventually, makes its way into our oceans. Being tiny, less than five millimetres, means they are extremely easily swallowed by a VAST array of different animals who feed on microscopic algae and other life forms. Animals eat them which damage the animals, which damage the animal who eats that animal and so on until we start to feel the effects in the fish we eat. Is eating fish with toxins in it from all the plastic it has eaten good for you or sustainable? Nah. The solution is simple though (hence its inclusion on this list), check your products before you buy them to make sure they don't contain microbeads.

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flickr | MPCA Photos

Varying Your Diet SLIGHTLY -

Yes, this does count as a small change. No-one's suggesting you become a vegetarian or a vegan or only eat what you've grown yourself. Quite simply, eat slightly less meat. Slightly less means as little as having one day a week of not eating it. One pound of beef requires 2,500 gallons of water to make and the figures are broadly similar across all meat products we consume. In addition you'll be saving some trees as for every single hamburger that originated from an animal raised on rainforest land, roughly 55 square feet was cleared to create it. You'll also be helping the recycling world too as meat products tend to come tightly wrapped in plastic packaging which doesn't always get recycled so not buying and eating it means not throwing away packaging. In addition, eating less meat, particularly red meat, has great health benefits as you consume less fat. I bet Meat-free Mondays sound more appealing now, right?

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flickr | CAFNR

Be Water Conscious -

Here comes a list so deep breaths. Measure the water for the kettle from the mug or pan you're using rather than guess. Don't leave the tap running when brushing your teeth. Take showers instead of baths and reduce your shower time by two minutes. Go to a car wash instead of clean your own car as they maximise their water efficiency, unlike people with hoses. Wash clothes on a warm or cold cycle to save energy. Soak your dishes from the day all at once rather than rinse each as and when you finish using it. Get a durable water bottle rather than buying a new bottle every day. How much water do you save each time with one of these little snippets? It's not much, granted, but added up over a week? Or a month? That's a lot of water that's wasted. Save water, save money and save the planet.

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flickr | Eelke

Travel Plans -

Travelling around is clearly a big part of everyone's day to day life. Between commuting to work or school or doing odd jobs and chores, we're always on the move. Make some minor adjustments and they'll go a long way towards helping the world around you. Little things like making sure your care tyres are properly inflated which saves drag, which saves fuel which saves pollution. Make sure your de-icer products are all environmentally friendly so that animals around you don't ingest them. Carpooling to work or to town or to the pub or even cycling once in a while instead of driving. Use public transport where possible. Use e-tickets for planes and trains to save on paper. Cruise control in your car is more efficient on fuel so why not use it. If you have a nice boss, see if you can e-commute? None of these put you out anymore than normal and make a big difference.

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flickr | epSos .de

These all do seem insignificant on their own. That's the point, though, they're small changes that once you have in your routine you wouldn't notice anymore. Think of the scope of change that would happen if a whole town of people change just one little thing. In a way, that's the point of these changes, and of conservation to help the environment as a whole. Isn't it about everyone chipping in and doing their bit?

By Guy Bezant - Online Journalism Intern

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