“We’re all dooomed!” Ok, not really. But kind of. Private Frazer might not have been talking about climate change in Dad’s Army, but he might as well have been.
As weather extremes across the planet increase in frequency, it’s hard to deny that climate change isn’t progressing at an alarming rate. Whether you have an interest in environmentalism or not, you only have to feel that chilly Polar Vortex in the States or the Spring like February weather in Europe to know that our actions as a species are having an upsetting consequence on both our planet and (hopefully) our consciences. So what can we do? Well, we need to start making changes, pronto.
Small actions create big change. Some may scoff at this saying, but let’s be real for a minute here. Napoleon didn’t conquer Spain with his own fair hands, and Trump didn’t get into power on a single vote. Yes, the challenge we face is big and scary, if not sometimes incomprehensibly huge, but it doesn’t mean we should just bury our heads in the sand and do nothing. Individual actions count.
So whether you’re a singular person deciding whether to spend a little extra on recycled products or a corporate company figuring out how to deal with your waste, there are plenty of easy switches that each and every one of us can make in our everyday lives to contribute to saving our little Earth.
Knowing where to start when we face so many issues across the planet can sometimes feel overwhelming. So here’s 5 straight forward switches you can make today to start living a Lower Impact Life. At first they might feel like a hassle, but soon you will hardly notice them and hey, you’ll get to revel in that gooey “I’m doing something good” feeling…
SWAP TO A SUSTAINABLE TOOTHBRUSH
Bamboo, recycled plastic, charcoal brushes… whatever you brush with, trust me, your nashers don’t care. But you can! Get a sustainable toothbrush, look after it properly and help stop an average of 4 plastic conventional toothbrushes per person ending up in landfill every year1. Here’s what i’m running, but there are plenty of brands out there.
And why stop at your tooth brush? If you look carefully there are sustainable alternatives for all sorts of products. Try switching up to natural cleaning products, self-care and beauty, or even recycled material homeware alternatives. Shop around and don’t be afraid to spend a couple of extra bucks if you can afford to, remember small actions count!
GET A KEEP CUP
How many days a week do you call into Starbucks, Pret or Costa to get a coffee on your way to work, during work or (if you’re having a really bad day) when you return to the office after dinner? Next question: how many takeaway cups do you use whilst doing so? Don’t worry, you don’t have to answer that. All you have to do is buy a Keep Cup: a reusable coffee cup that you keep in your bag, take it to the shop, use it, clean it and repeat. Simples.
In fact, whilst you’re at it, skip the bottled water and get a reusable bottle too! Anything reusable is your friend here. The key is to move away from a throw away mindset to a more long term view. Plus you’ll actually save yourself money in the long run as well!
ORGANISE YOUR WASTE
Composting and recycling is a really easy way to minimise your waste. If you buy smart, almost everything is recyclable but so many households are missing the point and still putting a horrifying amount of waste into landfill. To make things easy for yourself, have a recycling box next to your normal bin to encourage you to think about where your waste is going. Equally easy, start a compost patch for food scraps and leftovers and use the goodness for your garden! And, if you’re really not keen on the idea of a visible compost pile, you can always go for the sneaky Dig and Drop approach.
SHOP SLOW FASHION
We’re all guilty of buying into more than we need. For the past 20 years, the fashion industry has thrived on selling us the concept that we’re not enough and will only be happy when we buy shiny new X or better performing Y. Since the early 2000’s Fast Fashion has been the norm in many western societies, leading to an astonishing 3 out of 5 items ending up in landfill in the first 12 months of their life in the UK.
We desperately need to take a rain check, rewire our purchasing habits and think SLOW. Reduce what you buy, buy second hand or buy better products that will last longer. And where possible, buy products made with sustainable fabrics! Brands are becoming more and more wise to consumers wanting to know where their products come from. Help us keep applying that pressure by shopping with environmentally conscious companies such as Patagonia.
EAT MORE WHOLE FOODS
A crazy amount of energy and resources goes into producing the standard western diet. Get creative and learn how to make quick easy meals using whole foods, herbs and spices. Try to increase your plant intake and reduce your meat consumption as much as possible, the biodiversity of our planet will thank you. Unprocessed and unpackaged foods are best, so try swap out that ready made pizza or pre-marinated chicken for vegetable dishes that lower your impact and your waste! Take a look at this great resource from Minimalist Baker for easy plant-based recipes… Can confirm, DELICIOUS.
Finally, whatever changes you can make to live a lower impact life is an achievement. This isn’t about changing your whole lifestyle overnight, and it’s not about striving for perfection or feeling defeated if you can’t go plastic free just yet.
This is simply a plea to think about what you’re buying, reducing where possible and trying to control your waste. So try implementing one of these switches this week and see how you go. I can promise you’ll feel kickass for doing it!