We all want to do a little bit better for our planet, and with Earth Day upon us, it’s time to do more than just post a pretty picture on Instagram, captioning it with something profound: it’s time to actually do the work and make sustainable changes to our lives. Today we’re offering you 21 simple sustainable changes that you can make to help look after Mother Earth. Whether you start with one, or challenge yourself to all 21 is up to you. But every change counts.
Out & About
1. Take advantage of public transport
It’s an oldy, but a goodie. Taking the train, bus, or metro does help sustain the planet because you’re sharing the journey.
Just take a second to imagine 50 people in one train – then imagine each one in their own car making their own journey to the same destination.
That would be 50 times the fuel being burned for the same journey…
2. Can’t take public transport? Carpool instead
If you must take your car, try carpooling. Sharing the journey with colleagues or friends can take the load off – not only do they save gas (which again, helps the planet (see point 1)), but they can help pay towards the gas that you need when you refuel. Everyone’s a winner.
3. Walk to places that are close by
Are you ever feeling super lethargic and decide to hop in the car to visit the grocery store that’s 2 blocks away? We’re all guilty of this when we’re in a hurry or simply can’t be bothered to walk and carry groceries back home. Whilst doing this once or twice isn’t going to make a massive impact, getting into the habit of taking the easy route is. Remember, every change counts.
Walk to the shop. Or hey, if you hate walking so much, grab your bike… your scooter… anything that’s not fueled by gas. Move your body and get some exercise. You’ll love the fresh air that you’d otherwise be polluting. What’s not to love?
4. Give flying a miss
Did you know that the word ‘vliegschaamte’ is Dutch for ‘flying shame’? Yes, the Dutch came up with a word that projects how people should feel if they fly too often.
Fair enough: flying is one of the biggest enemies when it comes to pollution, especially with around 100,000 planes taking off every day.
Ever thought about heading to your destination by train or car rather than hitting the runway? What about traveling within your country rather than heading abroad on vacation? Try being a guest in your own country and see what it has to offer. Not only are we willing to bet you’ll find some cool places on your own doorstep, but you’ll be helping to make your carbon footprint that little bit shorter.
5.Pick up Litter
Ever find yourself surprised by the horrific amount of litter lining the streets? Us too. Why not help the planet (and your neighbors) by picking up pieces of litter you come across and disposing of them in the closest trash can?
The new craze surrounding picking up trash is called ‘plogging’ – have you heard of it? Taken from the Swedish verbs plocka upp (to pick up) & jogga (jogging), this is picking up litter whilst you’re out on your morning jog, and could really help clean up the planet.
Imagine the difference we could all make if we all picked up a few pieces of litter per day…
6. …or don’t litter in the first place
If you’re a litterbug, you should aim to change your ways for good. When you find yourself with a piece of trash, don’t throw it to the floor – put it in your pocket or bag instead and take it home with you, or at least wait until you find a trash can to dispose of your waste.
Did you know that in Japan, there are no trash cans on the street at all? Yet Japan’s streets are notoriously clean and tidy because people there have been taught to dispose of their trash at home.
7. Take your water bottle along for the ride
You’re going to get dehydrated throughout the day, and the number one rule of health is to drink plenty of water – so don’t forget your reusable water bottle whenever you leave the house!
Forget one use plastic bottles of water – they’re unable to be recycled properly and will end up in a landfill that’s spoiling our beautiful planet. Every bottle that’s left to decompose takes around 450 years to completely disappear. None of us can wait that long. Don’t make future generations suffer.
At the Grocery Store
8. Don’t forget your grocery bags
Bags for life are in – so don’t forget to pack them before you head out for groceries every time. 2 or 3 large, strong bags are usually enough for a grocery haul, but you could also add in a rucksack for better balance and less stress on your arm muscles if you want to even out the load a little (especially if you’re walking to and from the grocery store!).
9. Say no to those tiny plastic bags too
Bigger grocery stores are finally getting the memo, eschewing unrecyclable, often flimsy plastic packaging for loose, free fruits and veggies that can be chosen by hand. The trouble is, they often still offer loose plastic bags to place your chosen veggies in… completely missing the point.
So, say no to those tiny plastic bags. Your fruits and veggies will not have a longer shelf life because of them. They simply don’t need to be bagged.
10. Don’t buy too many groceries
Unless you make a meal plan for each week, chances are you eyeball most of what you buy at the store. But just take a second to think about this: how often do you have to throw out uneaten food that’s perished?
Don’t buy more than you can physically eat between grocery store trips… Food waste is a bigger problem than most of us realise, with every American wasting approximately 1lb of food per day. That’s around ⅓ of food in the country, which equates to about $1800 per person per year.
Make it easier on yourself by making a weekly menu, and prepping food when you buy it so nothing goes to waste.
11. Eat less meat
Consuming less meat is great for the environment. Not only does raising livestock contribute to deforestation, but waste from livestock can also contribute heavily to c2o emissions that damage the ozone layer and bring around climate change.
While you may not want to dive into vegetarianism or veganism all at once (or at all really), cutting down your meat consumption in a week or a month can help decrease all of the above. If you would like to give it a go, easing yourself in gently is the key to making a long term difference. That could look like going meat free for one meal a month, one meal a week, or even one meal a day: whatever works for you could make a huge difference to the world’s carbon footprint.
12. Buy recycled kitchen and toilet paper
It’s super simple, but replacing super luxurious toilet or kitchen paper with recycled versions will help the environment too! Creating recycled versions of these well-known household products takes less water and energy, which in turn cuts back on air pollution, so you should always go for the recycled paper!
Did you know that kitchen paper can actually be thrown on your compost heap too? Yes! It’s biodegradable, which means it’ll break down and rot away without polluting the earth.
13. Buy sustainable beauty/care products
It also takes a lot of water and extra energy to create the beauty and care products and packages that we’re so used to, so switching to an environmentally friendly substitute can help planet earth breathe a little.
Brands like LUSH, LÓccitane, Gosh, & Love, Beauty & PLanet are all well known for keeping their packaging and products as environmentally friendly as they come – and they often reward their customers for bringing their empties back into store for refills, which is another reason to start saying no to unsustainable brands.
14. Buy second hand/vintage
Fast fashion is under the spotlight right now, and it’s not hard to see why. Child labor is illegal in most places, apart from select countries who are still managing to manipulate and exploit underage workers for very little cash compensation.
Buying vintage, retro, and second hand garments from your local thrift store can help slow down fast fashion, as well as halting the destruction of clothing that is still perfectly good to go. Who doesn’t love a bargain and a one-of-a-kind statement piece anyway?
15. Turn off lights when you leave a room
When the sun goes down do you light up your home to stave away the darkness? Not only does leaving all your lights on end up costing a lot when that electricity bill lands in your mailbox, but you can reduce your carbon footprint if you simply switch any lights off that you aren’t using. Normalize switching lights off as you move from room to room!
16. Turn the thermostat down!
Dads of the world are rejoicing! Finally, someone backed up their claim to turn the thermostat down and put a jumper on instead!
Keeping the heating on when you’re out of the house or still in bed is such a waste of energy and non-renewable resources, and can also make your carbon footprint grow. By turning the thermostat down, you can save up to 10% on your gas bill per year too!
17. Dim your screens!
This is linked to our previous point of turning the thermostat down, and can save a lot of energy (plus your eyes – especially at night!). Dim your computer screens, TV screens and phone screens and save energy easily!
18. Wash full baskets of laundry
It’s time to stop washing small loads of washing. Did you know that each time you turn your washing machine on, it uses approximately 19 gallons of water? And it doesn’t matter how much laundry you add… it’ll use this amount of water regardless.
When you calculate how many loads of washing you put on per week, then per year, the results are astounding, and your water bill will probably be pretty wild too. Simply waiting until you have a full load of washing can save you cash, and the planet its valuable resources.
19. Take shorter showers (and say no to too many baths)
This one speaks for itself, especially if you just read point 17…
Harvard University posit that the average American takes an 8 minute shower. That’s about 20 gallons when you learn that each minute uses approximately 2.5 gallons of water. That’s the same amount that’s being pumped into your washing machine for each wash!
By cutting your shower down to just 5 minutes, you can reduce your carbon footprint, and save yourself money each month, so stop singing in the shower and get on with sudding yourself up!
20. Say no to junk mail
Hands up who receives junk mail weekly… I certainly do. And whilst I love looking for my next weekly bargains, the paper used to print out these ads is actually pretty wasteful. I mean, we’re not reading any Classics between these pages, are we?!
You can opt out of receiving ads and other junk mail, and the more people who actually say no to these brochures and pamphlets hitting their floor each week, the more trees we’ll save (deforestation is no joke folks!).
21. Create your own cleaning products
Creating your own cleaning products is a fantastic way to say no to harsh chemicals, unsustainable products, and those high price tags that often come along for the ride.
Most cleaning solutions can be created with baking soda, vinegar, and citrus fruits. They’re long lasting, and you’ll cut down your carbon footprint doing it. Try creating your own cleaning products once or twice and we guarantee you’ll be hooked.
One pro tip that’s actually pretty important? Never mix bleach with vinegars. They can create a potentially lethal chlorine solution that will end up in a trip to the emergency room or worse.
Are you already an eco-warrior in training? How many of these points can you tick off your list? Why not make 2021 your year to prioritize making a difference to the planet and see how your small changes can help make a world of difference.
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