New year, new me. We’ve all been there, done that and just how often have we set ourselves up for failure? Well, this year, instead of listing the 101 things you’d like to change about yourself we challenge you to do only the one: live more intentionally and heighten your awareness. Take small actions, consistently. Adopt new habits, with time. And please, don’t forget about the environment along the way.
Switch to renewable energy. Electricity and heat is one of the largest carbon-emitting sectors. Green energy from clean, renewable sources such as solar, wind or hydro emits no greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, reduces certain types of air pollution and can help you reduce your annual carbon footprint by as much as a quarter. On top, it helps reduce the dependencies of fuel imports plus spurs the uptake and development of the green energy sector. If your household operates on gas, opt for carbon neutral.
Use search engine Ecosia for your web searches. Entrusted by more than 15 million users and operating across over 9,000 planting sites, Ecosia has to date planted more than 79 million trees through the reinvestment of its ad revenue. Through reforestation, a single search of yours will help remove 1kg of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Host local clean-ups. Not only are you doing good, but clean-ups can be a great way to get directly involved with your community and raise everyone’s environmental awareness too (passers-by included!). Pick a location and time well in advance, decide on supplies required, any waivers and how you will be disposing of all you collect, properly. Then, use your immediate network and social media to shout about it. Work, your local gym or any clubs you are a part of can serve as great starting points too! You may also find that a nearby volunteer group already exists, so try to inform yourself beforehand. For those short on time or less comfortable with hosting their own clean-up why not start by committing yourself to pick up a piece of litter a day or joining key annual events such as the Great British Spring Clean or World Cleanup Day, a global initiative held across more than 180 countries in September. Either way, you’ll find that clean-ups are a highly rewarding experience and so worth it!
Reduce your meat and dairy intake. As put forward by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector alone accounts for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Within this, cattle farming is the most taxing and responsible for 65% of emissions. So if you’re not quite ready to go vegan, why not try to reduce your intake of red meats and dairy by working towards eating 80% plant-based plus opting for chicken, pork and local seafood from sustainable sources where you can. Another neat trick is to enjoy your coffee black or with plant-based milk alternatives.
Ditch single-use coffee cups and water bottles. Globally, one million plastic bottles are purchased each minute. Now, add to this the billions of disposable coffee cups used each year. As more and more of these staggering statistics are uncovered, it really is no wonder that reusable bottles and coffee cups are flying off the shelves. After all, the best means of waste management is the prevention of waste altogether. To locate more than 20,000 refill stations in the UK, download the Refill app. You’ll also find that many coffee chains reward you for your eco-friendliness with savings of up to 50p per coffee.
Shop conscientiously. Support brands who do good, buy local goods and avoid packaging where possible, especially plastic! For example, switch to eco-friendly cleaning products and opt for loose fruits and vegetables over those wrapped in netting or plastic. Scout out your local zero waste shops and make the transition to plastic-free across all your bathroom and beauty essentials, it’s easy enough!
Smokers, cigarette butts belong in the bin. Each year, trillions of cigarette butts end up in the environment and routinely in waterways and the ocean as well. Highly toxic as they leak nicotine and heavy metals before disintegrating into microplastics, cigarette butts are one of the worst plastic pollutants that exist, yet also remain a widely accepted, unacceptable, form of littering.
Get your recycling right. It’s a widespread practice, yet so many of us still get it wrong resulting in a sizeable amount of recyclable waste ending up in landfill. Agreed that keeping tabs on the dozens of recycling symbols and rules can be a headache but take the time to familiarise yourself with your local recycling scheme. You can also choose to consult our recycling guide.
Fix it, don’t throw it. The internet is a powerful source of information so make use of it. Before disposing of things (in the right way, of course), consider whether you can repair or reuse them for another purpose, whether you can sell them on or give them away freely. Get imaginative and you’ll likely surprise yourself.
Choose your means of transportation responsibly. Cover shorter distances by foot or bicycle, opt for public transportation more often or have a go at carpooling. Try to avoid air travel and where flying is the only option, make up for your impact through carbon offsetting, a means to donate towards environmental projects that cancel out your journey’s carbon emissions. Make sure to always opt for monitored and accredited projects such as those backed by the Gold Standard. If you really want to go in the nitty-gritty, leave heavy baggage at home and fly economy class for a higher carbon efficiency – you’ll save money too.