Living more sustainably in 5 small steps

True story: I joined Greenpeace when I was 8. I still have an envelope full of literature and stickers about the Ozone layer, Save the Whale and the dangers of pollution. Let’s just say I was a precocious, super sensitive little Sally Draper who was very obsessed with saving the planet. Plus, I’d read The Baby-sitters Club ‘Dawn Saves the Planet’ that summer and well, just about everything in my life can be traced back to The Baby-sitters Club books.

At the weekend I listened to Ali Cutler talk about her love of nature, Gaia theory and how to live sustainably on Atlanta de Cadenet Taylor’s podcast, I’m Over It, and then I read Al Gore’s comments on the current heatwave and I felt inspired to share a few easy things we can do everyday to live more sustainably. At the risk of sounding completely preachy, we only have one planet and time is running out for us to stop a complete catastrophe. Small actions make a huge difference

1. Say no to single use plastic. Coffee addict? Invest in a reusable cup. Buy your coffee from cafes that use compostable materials and paper straws. Always chugging bottled water? Drink tap water, buy a Brita and use a sippy cup you can refill from home. Don’t buy fruit and veg that’s packaged in unnecessary plastic containers. Every time you buy something plastic, remember that it is going to be on the planet, festering away in the ground for thousands of years or floating around the ocean causing irreparable damage. Are you really ok with a whale dying because it swallowed 80 plastic bags?

Wild flower in bloom2. Switch off. I’ve lived with a LOT of people and 99% of my housemates just left lights and appliances switched on all the time. It drove me insane. Laptops and PCs are just left switched on 24/7 at every office I freelance in and I find myself unplugging things that aren’t in use everywhere I go. Not only is it a fire hazard but it’s a massive waste of electricity. Many appliances still use power when switched off so turn off and unplug appliances when you’re not using them. It takes all of two seconds but makes a massive difference to the environment. Where possible, charge devices and use appliances that use up a lot of electricity at off-peak hours such as avoiding the 5pm-7pm power surge. You’ll notice a big difference in your electricity bills too.

3. Go vegetarian or vegan. As Einstein’s famous quote goes “Nothing will benefit health or increase chances of survival on earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” Who are we to argue with Einstein? Meat consumption has a massive impact on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, water usage and disturbance to the land. There have been countless studies to show that adopting a plant-based diet is more sustainable, as long as you opt for organic and local produce as much as possible to have the lowest carbon footprint. A vegan diet has the smallest impact on the environment. If you’re thinking about going vegan, here’s 5 Things To Know Before You Go Vegan. Even just taking part in Meat Free Monday will play a big part in living sustainably. Not sure what vegetarians can eat? Take a look at my recipes page for some healthy, easy vegetarian recipes.

Trees in winter4. Make Reduce, Reuse, Recycle your mantra. Buy less stuff and when you do, buy second hand. Join the library so you can still get your hands on the latest bestseller or blockbuster movie on DVD without (literally) buying into endless consumption. The fashion industry is the second biggest polluter after the oil industry and most of us still buy items of clothing that we wear a few times before discarding. Cotton needs 2,700 litres of water to produce one t-shirt. Shocking, isn’t it? Buying pre-loved garments is an excellent way to stay fashionable and be eco-conscious. This post offers a few tips for getting the most out of thrift shopping.

5. Spread the word. No one knows everything and, if the #plasticfree movement proves anything, it’s that people care and will actually change their behaviour once they’re informed. You don’t have to start screaming in people’s faces about Al Gore and the apocalypse but passing on your tips for sustainable living can inspire others to adopt more environmentally-friendly habits. You could encourage colleagues to make your office as paperless as possible. Ask that blogger you love who posts a snap of her iced latte every day to switch to a reusable cup or at least to ditch the straw. Share articles on your social media about restaurants, bars and clothes brands that are adopting sustainable practices. When someone asks you about your plant-based diet, give them a few facts and stats on how meat consumption is bad for the environment. Ask your local representatives what they’re doing for the environment and only give your vote to politicians with green credentials. Use your voice.

Want more tips on living sustainably? This helpful article on 12 things you can do to live sustainably is excellent. Interested in minimalist living? Try this post on Swedish lifestyle trend lagom which is all about using what you’ve got instead of constantly buying more.

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