By Leah Conway –
Many of us are aware of the ongoing climate emergency, but it isn’t always easy or accessible to make changes in daily life.
Sometimes making changes such as buying ethical and sustainable fashion, is not always accessible to everybody’s budget despite being a positive thing.
So for this bank holiday, I’ve compiled a list of smaller but more realistic changes that we can all make to our daily lives, to be more eco-friendly. All the changes I’ve included are either free, low cost or simply swapping products you’d usually buy.
Five free ways to become more eco-friendly
1) Switch from Google search to Ecosia
This one is about as simple as it gets, but is a great passive way to contribute. Ecosia is a search engine similar to google, except when you use it, you’re helping to plant a tree.
For roughly every 45 searches Ecosia plants one tree. They also highlight the websites of companies that are environmentally friendly or environmentally damaging.
I have been using Ecosia for only a few months and have already searched enough to plant around 50 trees! It is also accessible as a downloadable app on your mobile phone for when you’re out and about.
2) Donate, Reuse, Upcycle
Recently lost some weight and have a t-shirt that no longer fits? Instead of just throwing it away, find another way to make use of it.
Charity shops are always looking for donations, or you could make some alterations yourself to make an old piece of clothing feel new again.
Making sure to make the most out of the things we buy can go a long way to reduce waste and our overall carbon footprint. Speaking of reducing waste…
It may seem a simple one but where you can, take the time to read the label; sometimes only parts of a product can be recycled.
See what your local bin actually accepts, what they don’t accept see if there are collections points.
Take the time to wash out bottles and cans; if not the product remains contaminated and won’t even be able to be recycled!
4) Small dietary changes
The global meat industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, but many of us understandably, aren’t ready just yet to commit to a 100% vegetarian or vegan diet. However, small changes make a difference.
How about trying to dedicate one or two days a week to a vegetarian or vegan diet? You can try new recipes or ingredients you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of.
Better yet, meatless versions of products are not only becoming more plentiful, but are increasing in quality and consistency, give it a try, and see what you like.
5) Cut down on those long showers
Everyone loves a good long shower, but unfortunately, they can be quite wasteful when they are not used responsibly, and buying a more eco-friendly shower just isn’t an option for many.
Instead, aim to reduce the overall amount of time you spend in the shower, even if you start small and work your way up to less time spent overall.
Low-cost ways to become more eco friendly
Those are just a few examples of some completely free ways to reduce your overall footprint.
Sometimes, however, just spending a little can go a very long way in helping. Here are a few low-cost ways you can make small changes to your lifestyle.
6) Plant some bee and insect friendly flowers in your garden or a flower box
Much of the endemic life around us contribute greatly to our ecosystem. Bees for example are the vital pollinators of plants and crops that we need to survive.
One low-cost and straightforward way to support wildlife in your garden is to plants flowers that encourage this healthy cycle, protecting them whilst looking beautiful to boot.
7) Buy a couple of reusable tote bags
One of the biggest changes we’ve seen in our lifetime was the removal of disposable plastic bags in supermarkets and shops. However, many places still sell ‘reuseable’ plastic bags, which many of us often forget we have, and then end up having to buy more.
Cut down on that unnecessary plastic by spending a little more to buy some proper tote bags. That way, you have more control not only of the amount of bags you have, but how they look as well.
8) Plastic to bamboo
Start to change things like toothbrushes and hairbrushes from plastic to wooden or bamboo products.
Once it’s time to change the toothbrush, you simply snap off the head, and the handle can be used in many different ways. The packaging suggests the handle can be used as a plant marker, a pottery tool or a paint stirrer.
If not, the handle is suitable to compost at home. Depending on the brand, every tree that is cut down is replanted and excess material is used to heat their factory. Once you have ten heads or more, you can even post them back for free to be repurposed.
Look at apps to help you become more eco-friendly. CoGo is an app that lets you connect to your bank account to monitor your spending and how big your carbon footprint is.
You can offset your carbon footprint by donating to causes such as forest protection, safe community water supplies.
By offsetting your carbon footprint, you can even become carbon neutral!
10) Cut down on food waste
Always think before you buy.
Write a list to help you cut down on wasted food and buy exactly what you need. Depending on what works best for you, meal kit delivery services might be a good alternative, and they only ship you exactly the ingredients you need to make the recipes provided.
You could also try composting any food waste, or check out Share Waste, a website where you can send food waste to be composted. And while we’re on the topic of food and drink…
11) Reusable bottles and coffee cups
A simple investment, buy that reusable water bottle or coffee cup instead of using a single-use bottle of water or paper cups and your usual cafe.
Not only is more environmentally friendly but it will save you money too, as many places offer discounts or deals if you use your own travel mug.
12) Eco-friendly toiletries and cleaning products
There are a myriad of different environmentally friendly cleaning products out there. You can start swapping how you buy these products. Here are a few suggestions:
Soap: Try changing from plastic bottles of handwash to bars of soap. You can try out some really nice scents. I’ve been trying Faith in Nature’s handmade orange soap, which smells nice and leaves hands soft!
Shampoo: Swap those plastic bottles of shampoo to a shampoo bar. There are loads of brands to try out that use natural ingredients and a range of recipes to suit different hairstyles and needs.
One bar of solid shampoo from ethique saves you buying an average of three 350ml bottles, equivalent to 2.7 litres of water needed to make the bottles.
Toothpaste tablets: A strange change after years of using toothpaste. It takes a little bit to get used to but does the job and cuts down on plastic.
Menstrual products: There are more plastic-free options for period products than ever before. Try out plastic-free sanitary pads, tampons with cardboard applications; you could try menstrual cups, reusable tampon applicators or even period pants.
There are also many alternative sanitary pad products that use more natural ingredients such as bamboo rather than plastic, such as Flo.
Cleaning products: Instead of buying a plastic spray bottle each time, it runs out, you could get refillable products.
A few companies have started such refillable and recyclable products. An example is Bower Collective who reused its plastic pouches and customers receive a free envelope to post packages back for reuse.
Washing up products: Instead of plastic scrubbers and sponges, you can replace them with recyclable and compostable replacements. A small but impactful change!
Shaving products: Instead of using plastic, disposable razors, try out a safety razor. It takes a bit of getting used to and you need to be careful, but you can save the razor blades and then get them properly recycled.
Bonus ways to become eco-friendly
Finally, here are a few more little tips that help contribute overall.
One of the significant changes you can make is becoming more aware of where you buy from.
Ditching fast fashion is a big way to change if it’s possible in your budget because not only does it create environmental issues, but there are often human rights abuses too.
Sustainable fashion can be expensive, but it is often better quality and would last longer than most fast fashion. Other options are to try out buying second-hand! Good on you is a good website that rates clothing brands on their sustainability.
There’s no need to make all these changes at once, nor do you have to make every single change listed here. It’s all about the small changes you feel you are able to make, that way we can all contribute in the way that works best of us collectively.