Today is World Environment Day – a date that has been running every year since 1974, and focuses on raising awareness of the challenges facing the planet. To inspire you to do your bit, we’ve rounded up 11 easily achievable changes you can make that’ll minimise your impact on the environment.
[Read More: What is air pollution and what can we do about it?]
1. Switch To Reusable Cups And Bags 🛍
First off: an easy and affordable switch to make. Ditch single-use plastic when you’re out and about by getting organic cotton shopping bags, reusable water bottles (here’s a review of bottles tried and tested by HuffPost UK), and a reusable coffee cup or flask.
2. Curb Your Fast Fashion Obsession 👜
How many of us have clothes, accessories or shoes we never wear – yet somehow feel the urge to buy more? Cheap fabrics like polyester, nylon, polyamide and acrylic fibres harm the environment because they omit tiny pollutants into water systems. Look closely at the clothes you have – you’ll be surprised at the outfits you can cobble together without buying more.
3. Help Local Wildlife Thrive 🐝
Gardens, allotments and community gardens all play a huge role in helping wildlife thrive, especially in urban areas. In fact, according to University of Bristol researchers, bees prefer gardens to open parks as they host nectar-rich flowers and weeds. If you have any open space, help bees by planting wild flower seeds ahead of the spring – open flowers such as daffodils and tubular-shaped flowers like foxgloves and honeysuckle are bee-favourites.
Hedgehogs are in decline in the UK, so if you’re lucky enough to have them in your garden, supplement their natural diet by leaving out food such as minced meat, tinned dog or cat food, crushed dog biscuits, sunflower hearts, dried mealworms or chopped boiled eggs. And if you’d like to make your garden a friendly place for toads and frogs, help by creating a mini pond or a frog cave.
4. Eat Local Produce 😋
To minimise the impact of any diet, experts say you should consider buying as much as you can from local suppliers – this helps reduce air miles and also gives a boost to small businesses. Why not head out to a local farmers’ market and see what goodies you can find?
5. Reduce Your Food Waste 🗑
Food waste is an unnecessary modern-day scourge – the energy and resources that have gone into growing, cooking or packaging food are wasted if that food ends up in the bin. If you’re unsure what to do with those leftovers, head to the charity Love Food Hate Waste online. It has a number of recipes which can be adapted to suit what’s in your fridge.
6. Buy Loose Fruit And Veg 🥕
Talking of waste, how many of us have seen vegetables like aubergines or cucumbers over-packaged in plastic? Buy loose fruit and veg when you can, as this minimises the need for single-use plastic. Some high-street chains, like M&S, have launched lines of loose fruit and vegetables to give shoppers more environmentally-friendly options.
[Read More: 5 small diet changes to make for the environment]
7. Eat Less Meat And Dairy 🐄
Even if you don’t want to give up meat and dairy altogether, reducing the amount you eat can help. In October 2018, scientists warned that if we keep up with our current levels of meat consumption, it will “greatly affect the Earth’s environment”, because of the 5.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide associated with the industry. Reducing the amount to one meal a day, or once a week, could make a difference.
8. Recycle ♻️
Much of the waste in the kitchen and around the home can be cleaned and dropped straight into the recycling bin – but when it comes to the bathroom, four in 10 admit they don’t recycle items in there. Hang a bag on the bathroom door or get a recycling bin for your empty shampoo bottles to help reduce your impact.
9. Ditch Non-Recyclable Wrapping Paper 🎁
If you choose fancy patterns or a glittery design for your gift wrap, there’s a chance it could be reinforced with plastic, which means it can’t be recycled and could stick around on the planet for a long time. Brown wrapping paper or good old-fashioned newspaper tied with string are good alternatives.
10. Make Your Bathroom Habits Sustainable 🛁
Recycling bathroom items is one thing, but there are a number of other easy changes you could make to reduce the hefty environmental cost of bathroom habits. Opt for shampoo bars and soap instead of shower gel to cut back on single-use plastic; switch to a bamboo toothbrush; or swap your regular loo roll for a brand made from recycled fibres, like Who Gives A Crap, which donates 50% of its profits to improve sanitation in the developing world.
[Read More: Inside Lush’s first UK plastic-free shop]
11. Stop Wasting Water 🚿
There are plenty of water-saving devices you can get for free from your water provider. These include ‘save a flush’ toilet devices, which reduce the amount of water flushed away and could save 5,000 litres of water; tap aerators, which save water by mixing it with air; and a four-minute water timer, designed to cut the time you spend in the shower.