Lifestyle: 17 Ways to Go Green This Year
You can’t have missed the significant changes that are happening in our society at the moment.
We’re becoming more and more aware of the damage that we have been doing to our planet. We know all about plastics in the oceans, landfills, and other pollution. We know that if we don’t start to make drastic changes to the way we live soon, it will have catastrophic effects, and not in the distant future, as we used to think, but much sooner.
Some of us will live to feel these effects, and your children and grandchildren might grow old in a very different world if we allow climate change to continue at its current rate.
Supermarkets are starting to cut their use of plastics. We’re being encouraged to recycle more. Restaurants and cafes have stopped using plastic straws and are happy to refill your water bottle instead of trying to sell you a branded plastic bottle. Coffee shops are asking us to take our own travel mugs, and a lot of high street stores have made the switch to paper bags from plastic. It’s all great news. But, if it’s going to work, as we need it to, we all need to play our part.
It’s not just the big corporations that should be doing their bit (and many of them could certainly be doing more), if we want to, without putting too fine a point on it, save the world, every single one of us needs to make changes. Here are 17 things that you could do, at home, and in your day to day life to make a difference.
1. Drink More Tap Water
There’s nothing wrong with tap water. At some point, we started thinking that it was healthier to drink spring water from a bottle. We started believing the hype on the sides of bottles about mountain springs and minerals. But really, water is water. Start taking a reusable bottle, filled with water from your tap out with you instead of buying plastic bottles all of the time. You’ll save money while you are saving the planet.
2. Don’t Forget Your Bags
Most of us have got a cupboard or drawer absolutely stuffed full of plastic bags. We keep them, with the very best intention of reusing them, and then we stuff them in a cupboard and forget about them until we add more. You probably even have a bag of bags. Or, you might do your best and keep your bag of bags in the back of your car. Then, you take them into the house to unpack, and they never make it back into the car. Get better at taking a bag with you wherever you go.
3. Utilise Rainwater
If you’ve forgotten how good tap water is, chances are you don’t even know that rainwater is usually completely safe to drink too. Installing rainwater tanks means that you’ve got access to free water for washing clothes, watering your plants, showering and even drinking. You might choose to treat this water, to ensure it’s safe, but you are still saving water and money.
4. Grow Your Own Fruit and Veg
Growing your own fruit and veg is a great way to go green. It’ll save you money, cut your use of plastic and packaging, and make you more sustainable. If you’ve got a large garden or an allotment, there’s no limit to what you can grow (perhaps aside from the weather). In a small garden, you could grow small plants like strawberries and tomatoes in hanging baskets, and things like peppers, courgettes and corn in planters or even bags. Even if you live in a flat, you might be able to grow herbs in a window box.
5. Cut Fast Fashion
We’ve all been guilty of the odd budget clothes store haul. We buy things we don’t really need because they are cheap. We buy an outfit for a night out, with no intention of ever wearing it again. But, it’s a false economy. Cheap clothes don’t last, they don’t sell in charity shops, and they end up in landfills. You could try buying less, but buy quality. Chances are they’ll last longer, and could be used by someone else when you no longer want them.
6. Walk More
You might love your car but using your car less for short distances is always going to be good. Walk , take public transport or even car share when you can to cut your emissions.
7. Buy Bamboo
Bamboo is a fantastic resource. Bamboo hardly needs any water to grow, it rarely, if ever needs replanting as it just continues to grow, and it doesn’t need any fertiliser or chemicals (believe me, I've got some in the garden that I do nothing to and I usually end up killing most plants) . Try bamboo toothbrushes, bamboo cotton clothes, bamboo socks, bamboo bedding, and anything else you can.
8. Stop Printing
In today’s online world, there is rarely a real need to print. Save things into the cloud so that you can access them on your phone or tablet, and if you do need to print, do it double-sided or use scrap paper.
9. Switch Your Suppliers
Most energy suppliers have started to offer some renewably sourced energy. But, some are better at it than others. There are now some firms that only provide you with renewable energy. A few years ago, these companies were much more expensive, but that is quickly changing.
10. Shop Charity Stores
You might already donate your old clothing to charity, but do you have a browse while you are there? Charity shops can be great because your money is helping others while you save an item of clothing from a landfill. But, second-hand stores like eBay, car boot sales, and even hand me downs are still great for the planet.
11. Eat Less Meat
Even if you aren’t ready to give up meat completely (or don’t think you ever will be), start practicing meat-free Monday to do your bit.
12. Donate Unwanted Goods
Clothes aren’t the only things that you can donate. Try to throw away as little as you possibly can by donating, or upcycling.
13. Stop Wasting Food
Food waste is massive. In the UK alone it’s thought that around a third of all the food that gets bought ends up in the bin. We buy too much. We buy more than we need because things are on offer and we think we’ll save money. We cook much bigger portions than we can eat and we throw leftovers away instead of keeping them.
Food waste is also incredibly easy to avoid. Start writing meal plans and shopping lists, so that you only buy what you need each week. Then, cook smaller portions, or cook in purposefully big batches and save extra portions for another day. If anything is left of your meal, ask yourself if it could do for lunch the next day before simply binning it.
14. Avoid Other Single-Use Products
Plastic water bottles and paper coffee cups are by no means the only single-use product that most of us are using every day. You might use paper tissues, or cotton wool pads to remove your makeup. You’ve probably got packs of baby wipes and other wet wipes around your home. Replace disposable wipes with cloths, or even save old clothes to use as rags. Start using cloth nappies and washable bamboo cotton pads to take your makeup off. Make a list of all of the things that you throw away after one use, and look online for alternatives.
15. Save Energy
Do you still leave lights on when you leave rooms? Is your hot water heater set to the maximum temperature? Do you wash your clothes at 40 degrees and leave the TV on even when no one is watching it? You are certainly not alone, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing that you can do about it. Start being more careful with what you use around the home, and your energy bills will drop quickly.
16. Buy Energy Efficient Appliances and Bulbs (But Only When You Have To)
Replacing your lightbulbs with more energy efficient options can mean that they last a lot longer, use much less power and save you money, as well as saving energy. It’s also worth replacing your appliances with more energy efficient versions that use less power. But, don’t rush out to buy new until your old goods need replacing.
17. Cut Chemicals
When it comes to cleaning products, many of the most well-known brands use chemicals. That goes for household cleaners, as well as facial cleansers and other personal products. But, for the most part, there’s no need. Natural cleaning products can be just as effective, better for your skin and the air quality in your home, and may even last longer.
Most of these changes are small, and many of them will save you money. Being green doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, as it becomes more popular, it’s also getting easier.