‘Do my individual actions really make a difference?’ YES! Yes, they do. Even if taking the train instead of your car doesn’t solve the climate crisis, your conscious decisions inspire the people around you. Whether that’s your family or your friends. And their actions will go and inspire others. It’s a bit like a snowball system, really – minus the negatives. Not sure where to start with your sustainability journey? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Just keep on reading.
The driving thing
Cars are convenient – there’s no questioning that. But is it really necessary to drive to the shop around the corner if you only need a handful of items? Maybe try putting on some comfy shoes, grab a bag and combine the shop with your daily walk. This way, you’re doing something good for the environment and for you.
Walking isn’t always a possibility, of course. When walking isn’t, maybe cycling is? If the friend you’re visiting lives only a few blocks away, consider hopping on your bike. You don’t just save 10 times the amount of CO2 per kilometre travelled, but you’re also doing something for your own fitness on the way. Meaning you REALLY earned this cake at your friend’s house!
So what if you want to travel further afield? In many places, the quality of public transport is improving. Now just imagine how much money you would save on petrol, car insurance, leasing payments, etc. if you didn’t have to drive daily anymore. And on top of that, you don’t need to worry about traffic, and you can simply enjoy the ride.
The shopping thing
Have you ever bought something because you were feeling down? Retail therapy is a well-known phenomenon and it’s not surprising either. I mean, who can really be sad with a new pair of shoes on their feet, right? However, overconsumption is actually one of the main reasons for environmental problems. So do we really have to “shop till we drop”?
The fashion industry consumes more energy than the aviation and shipping industry COMBINED! I know, right?! That’s why reducing the amount of clothes we buy, especially from fast fashion labels, is so crucial for saving the environment. Don’t worry, though, we’re not talking about going cold turkey. Maybe you could start by simply buying less?
The 30 wears challenge is a great way to be more sustainable with your clothing, for example. Instead of throwing that blouse away after few wears, set yourself a goal to wear it at least 30 times. This will lead to less garment waste and reduces overconsumption because you don’t need to buy a replacement. And if you’re really struggling without retail therapy, try spending some time with your loved ones or reading a book instead.
It’s not just about buying less, though. It’s also about where you’re actually buying from. Next time you buy something, have a look at how the company is treating the environment. Are they using a lot of natural resources and toxic chemicals? How much water do they use in production? There are many ethical companies out there that offer products made from recycled materials. And if you want to take it a step further than that, there’s always second-hand. Whether that means buying clothes from a charity shop, upcycling things you already own or organising a clothes swap party with your friends. Second-hand means that the money spent doesn’t go back to the fashion industry and might even go to charity.
Clothes obviously aren’t the only thing we buy. So let’s talk about the one we’ve heard many, many times over these last few months: Shop locally! By buying from your local, independent greengrocer’s or butcher’s you are helping to reduce the number of truck journeys needed to get produce from A to B. That’s not the only benefit, however. It also means, that you know exactly what you’re getting as produce and meat will likely come from nearby farms, rather than other countries.
The plastic thing
Single-use plastic is undoubtedly the environment’s worst enemy. Made from non-sustainable fossil fuels, it slowly fills up landfill sites all over the world. And not just that! Your average small single-use plastic bottle can take anywhere between 450 – 1000 years to degrade. This would take us back to at least 1570, the year Guy Fawkes was born. Yes, it really takes THAT long!
So, where should you start? Let’s start by thinking about small, everyday items that many of us buy regularly. When it’s time to buy a new toothbrush, don’t get another plastic one. Instead, take some time to research where you can get one that’s made from recycled or sustainable materials. If you usually buy your water in a plastic bottle every day, you might want to consider getting a reusable, non-plastic bottle instead. It’s the perfect eco-friendly alternative and saves you money at the same time.
Where you have to buy plastic because there’s no alternative, make sure to recycle everything you can! Everything that’s not recycled is likely going to landfill – and we already know what that looks like. Maybe you can also re-use the item in question? Just ask Google if you can’t think of an alternative use yourself.
The female hygiene thing
Over the years, women go through a shocking number of disposable period products. We know today that these items are just as bad for your own personal health as they are for the environment. If your tampon or pad is made from cotton, chances are high that the cotton crops were sprayed with a variety of chemicals and that the cotton has been bleached during production. Many of them also contain harmful plastic chemicals. And now let’s just take a moment and think where exactly we are wearing those items!
How do they affect the environment? Well, most of them will end up in landfill. And the ones that don’t end up in landfill have probably been flushed down the toilet and will end up in our oceans. On average, a woman uses about 11.000 disposable period products during her lifetime. You can imagine how much waste ends up in landfills. And disposable period products don’t exactly degrade quickly either. It takes about 500 years… which brings me back to Guy Fawkes.So why don’t switch to a reusable alternative? That can be anything from reusable pads, period panties, a menstrual cup, or even a menstrual disc. Everyone is different, so you might have to try a few things to find the right one for you. But rest assured, there is a sustainable alternative for everyone!