So. That was 2018. The year when politics went wild, Mr Blobby appeared on ‘Loose Women’ to give his verdict on Brexit, and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) let us know that we have just 12 years to deal with impending global warming-induced disaster.
With regards to the latter, you may be thinking about what you can do in 2019 to be more eco-conscious. Good for you! To help you along the road to new year habits that are kinder to the planet, we tapped up some sustainability specialists to share the resolutions they want you to try.
1. Re-Imagine Your Relationship With Stuff
“If you need something, buy it second hand or beg occasion pieces from your friends. If it’s got to be new, make it ethical, fair and sustainable and support brands like fashion label People Tree and footwear makers Po-Zu,” says Safia Minney, who founded the former in the early 90s and used to be MD of the latter, and is a leading ethical and eco-friendly style pioneer.
[Read More: 5 Affordable Brands For Sustainable Fashion Fans]
2. Call Out Shops And Restaurants Giving You Extra Plastic
“Be bold and tell supermarkets and cafes that you don’t want unnecessary packaging,” says Will McCallum, head of oceans at Greenpeace and the author of How To Give Up Plastic (£12.99, Penguin). “You can send an email to the company, take a photo of any extra packaging and tweet it, tagging in Greenpeace and using #pointlessplastic, or speak to the manger of the retailer.”
3. Give Up Wet Wipes
If you flush them, they add to our already clogged-up sewers and, even if you don’t, they’re still another single use disposable chucked in your landfill bin every day. Breaking up with all sorts of wet wipes, including the type that takes your make-up off, is a great resolution. The alternative? “Cut a cotton flannel into squares and spray on a mix of water and calendula oil, which is antibacterial,” says plastic-free campaigner Claire Sumners, who blogs at Zero Waste Maman. Stick the dirty ones in your washing basket and clean when you do your laundry.
4. Take A No-Waste Pack Out With You
“For 2019, you could commit to carrying a reusable water bottle, a canvas bag for shopping and a reusable coffee cup,” says McCallum. Doing this can drastically reduce your daily ‘to landfill’ waste – and will save you cash, too.
5. Get Political
“I’m going to spend more of 2019 campaigning around modern slavery in fashion,” says Safia Minney. “You can join me on my campaigning Instagram, @slavetofash and spread the word on social media. And social justice and climate change are going to require all ages to change their lifestyles, so talk to your parents and grandparents to get them on board.” Minney suggests watching ‘The True Cost’ [available on Netflix], which shows the lives of the people who make most of the world’s clothes, to get the conversation going. You could also check out Stacey Dooley’s documentary, ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’ [on BBC3].
6. Start Campaigning
“The next six months are crucial, with regards to plastic,” says Will McCallum. “The environment bill is going to be tabled at some point in the new year and it’s our best chance for some positive legislation right now. You could resolve to get involved in the Greenpeace campaign via our website – we’re going to be doing tons of activity around getting people to meet with their MPs, getting local business to do the same – it’s going to be big.”
7. Replace Your Takeaway Habit
When you’re in the late night, early start grind, takeaway food ends up as a lifeline. But with all of the plastic packaging involved, it’s not the most eco route – “320 million perfectly edible meals are also thrown away each year by UK food venues,” according to Jamie Crummie, UK co-founder of Too Good To Go, an app which lets you buy food that hasn’t sold at restaurants on any particular day at reduced prices. To deal with both issues, download one of said apps (we also like Karma, but it only covers London) and buy what you find, rather than hitting up a Deliveroo.
8. If You Have A Baby, Try Cloth Nappies
According to 2006 research (old, but the latest data available) from recycling charity WRAP, the UK chucks out three billion nappies a year, accounting for 2-3% of all household waste. “Using reusable, cloth nappies can dramatically reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill and minimise our impact on the environment,” says Claire Sumners. “It is an initial cost, but, long term, it saves money, patience (you can’t run out as you have them at home to wash!) and unnecessary waste.”
9. Try To Throw Zero Food Away, All Year
Statistics from the UN Food and Agriculture organisation show that roughly a third of the food produced globally is wasted. In terms of household waste, this works out as 7 million tonnes of food wasted by UK households alone. Jamie Crummie says a great resolution is pledging to be super creative with leftovers, rather than binning them. “Stew excess vegetable trimmings to make a vegetable stock from scratch, dice your bread off-cuts to fry into croutons or blend into bread crumbs,” are two ideas he recommends.
10. DIY Your Crisps
While Walker’s have launched a recycling scheme for their crisp packets, they are still made out of plastic – and that doesn’t count for the myriad other brands out there, of which McCoy’s remains the self evident, undisputed queen. “Make your own from potato and vegetable peelings,” says Sumners. Stick your peelings on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, season with flaky sea salt and a little paprika or chilli power, if you like, then bake for ten minutes.