We all know we need to treat our planet better. Every day there is another news story on the effects of global warming and how we have contributed to damaging the planet. We know we should be better, but living an entirely sustainable lifestyle is something that takes time and serious dedication. If you’re not prepared to go all in just yet, there are still many things you can do to help make a difference. As it's Plastic Free July, we take a look at some quick swaps and tips to help us all live a little more sustainably…
1. Reach For Reusable Water Bottles
Stop buying one use plastic water bottles. Not only are they one of the worst culprits for discarded plastic, but if you try to extend their life by refilling them you run the risk of dangerous chemicals leaking into your drinking water. Whether you choose metal, BPA free or even glass water bottles, the options are endless so pop one of these in your handbag, gym bag or on your desk to stay hydrated throughout the day. If you aren’t a fan of tap water, you can even get bottles with built-in filters or get a water filter for your fridge to top up your bottle throughout the day.
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2. Make your Own Lunch and Coffee
Instead of nipping out at lunch and grabbing a meal deal or getting your morning coffee to go from the coffee shop next to work, why not save money (and avoid all the one-use packaging) by making it at home. Your lunches can be batch cooked at the weekend and placed in Tupperware to save you time in the evenings, and a trendy little lunch box will make you smile at your desk the next day. Reusable coffee cups are a coffee lovers best friend. Not only will they save you money, they will also let you enjoy an extra few minutes in bed by making your coffee at home and taking it with you. Thermoses and travel coffee cups will keep your favourite drink hot on the go, and if you really can’t do without your barista created brew, most coffee shops will now give you a discount if you bring your own cup.
3. Keep Reusable Bags On You
Shops have gone a long way in helping curb our use of plastic bags, however how often are you still caught short when shopping and have to say yes to that carrier bag which will take years to biodegrade? Avoid the situation entirely by making sure you have reusable bags with you as much as possible. From keeping a tiny foldaway bag in your handbag, to having a selection of sturdy reusable bags in your car for grocery shops, make sure there’s always one close to hand.
4. Say No to Straws (or Bring Your Own)
Like shops with plastic carrier bags, bars and restaurants are doing their bit for the environment by doing away with serving plastic drinking straws. Paper straws are becoming more popular but as these can go soggy quickly, more people are turning to reusable straws to make sure their favourite cocktail is just as enjoyable as before. These sets all usually come with a handy straw cleaner so you can make sure they stay in tip top condition. Just make sure you don’t leave them behind when you next go out for drinks.
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5. Swap Leather for Vegan leather
No we don’t just mean PVC alternatives, vegan leather is the new breed of animal friendly material which mimics the buttery softness of the real deal much better than traditional faux leather. So next time you look for a new bag why not look at vegan leather options, if it’s good enough for the likes of Stella McCartney it’s good enough for us. Or update your home with vegan alternatives next time you’re looking to refresh your home.
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6. Seek Out Recycled Plastics
Steering clear of new one-use plastic is one way to be more sustainable, but what about all the plastic already out there? Can we help get rid of that too? Many brands are now starting to use recycled plastic for their products to repurpose the plastic that has already built up in the world. Recycled plastic, which can be recycled again at the end of the product’s life, is becoming more common in many industries alongside many other recycled materials.
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7. Search for More Sustainable Natural Fabrics
Sustainable fabrics can be a tricky subject to navigate, cotton is a natural fibre, however the water consumption required to make it means it’s rarely seen as an environmentally friendly option. Newer fabrics like Modal, Tencel or bamboo are frequently seen as more environmentally friendly options thanks to their more sustainable manufacturing processes, so keep your eyes peeled for products made from these materials.
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8. Don’t Turn the Heating on, get Cosy Instead
It’s so easy when we get a bit cold at home to turn up the heating, but putting another layer on instead of reaching for the thermostat will not only save you money, but save precious energy too. Invest in cosy blankets and comfy loungewear in the home and turn the heat down a few degrees.
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9. Swap to Energy Saving Bulbs
Energy saving bulbs are everywhere now, so there’s no excuse not to have these in every socket in the home. Do an audit of the bulbs you have at the moment and replace any old style incandescent bulbs with newer compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), halogen or LED bulbs.
10. Recycle as Much as you Can
Most of us live in areas with good recycling facilities collected straight from our homes so make the most of them by recycling everything you can. If you’re not sure what’s collected in your area, get in touch with your local authority who will be able to tell you your collection days and send you new recycling bins, boxes and bags if any of yours have gone missing.
11. Stop the Fast Fashion
The rise of fast fashion and throwaway culture hasn’t done our planet any favours and landfills are full of items which have been used for just a short period of time before being thrown away. Not just for fashion but in the home too, there is a growing movement lead by the environmentally conscious who are spreading the word on investing in quality rather than quantity. So next time you’re shopping or redecorating, look for pieces that will last rather than just a quick fix. Even if you fall out of love with these pieces further down the line, your local charity shop will appreciate receiving durable items they can sell on.
12. Grow Your Own
Having plants in the home are a must, not only are they a treat for the eyes, certain plants are known to curb air pollution and even help us sleep too. Another great way to have a more sustainable lifestyle is to grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs. A great way to lessen your carbon footprint, having these fresh, home-grown additions close at hand will help you get more inventive with your cooking, so why not start with a few pots in the garden or make your own herb garden for your windowsill.
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