All rather depressing... so often we bury our heads in the sand and simply get on with life. However that's rather like being overweight and deciding to ignore it.
Why should being greener be your new Year's resolution?
Just like a diet, small steps, over time, can add up to big results. Axing everything 'naughty but nice' from your diet overnight can cause dramatic short term results, but often is unsustainable and can lead to your weight yo-yoing, rather than stabilising at a more healthy level for the long term. It's also easy to think 'I've had one chocolate biscuit, so I might as well have more' when every little bit you don't eat will help.
With the environment it's exactly the same. You may think 'but I'm just one person, what difference will I make?' The answer is, potentially a huge difference.
To take a positive view, technology may one day give us some solutions to repair the damage we have already done, preserve our wonderful planet and ensure a long term future for generations to come. Every little bit we do to slow or stop the destruction will, in the worst case, delay disaster - and let's face it if the worst were to happen we'd certainly value that extra hour, day, month or year. Not only that, the more you opt for environmentally friendly alternatives, the more you encourage their availability and accessibility for others, not to mention inspiring more people to follow your lead. Every bit we all do to reduce waste and harm to our environment is helping us all.
And so this is a plea. When you make your New Year's Resolutions, make one of them to be a little bit greener, to think about your buying choices, your day to day actions and your life and try to do a little bit more to make your own impact on our wonderful home a little less harmful.
10 top tips for greener living
Here are a few handy ideas to reduce your impact on the environment. As my son loves to chant, 'reduce, reuse recycle' - this is a general good thought to have at the back of your mind, but there are some specific areas you can target and small life changes (some of them will also improve your life and your health as well).
Make considering the environment part of your everyday life. Try to take a moment to think about every item you buy or use. Do you really need it? Will it last? What is it made of, will it be easy to dispose of at the end of its life, is it re-usable, or recyclable?
1. Reduce your use of plastic bottles. Choose tap water over bottled water in restaurants, carry a reusable water bottle with you, and ensure that any bottles you do use go to be recycled. For more ideas to cut your plastic use, see these handy tips.
2. Switch to a Mooncup or similar sanitary product alternative. A Mooncup is a simple silicone rubber cup that collects your menstrual flow and is simply emptied into the toilet. No chemicals, no dryness, no irritation. This will save you money as well as a lot of hassle. Once you are used to using one, will make the time of the month much more pleasant as well - they are great for swimming, sports and even overnight. Imagine how much landfill, not to mention money, you would save if you never bought or threw away a tampon or sanitary towel ever again.
3. Buy secondhand. So much is readily available secondhand these days, thanks to the internet. Every time you buy a secondhand toy or book of item of clothing you are saving all the energy and materials involved in its manufacture. Our son's bike is a brilliant example; we bought an Isla bike from eBay. Well made the brand holds its value, our purchase looked like new and we will sell it on for pretty much the same figure we bought it for. Far better than buying a cheap bike new.
4. Avoid giving 'throw-away' gifts, especially anything plastic. If you don't know what to buy someone, buy something edible, or a subscription or donation to a charity related to one of their interests. For example, you could adopt an animal through the WWF.
5. Buy more organic, seasonal local food. Bear in mind where your food comes from. Look at the country of origin and choose items grown closer to home and which are in season. Plan your meals more carefully to reduce food waste, and compost food waste (many councils now offer this service). Eating less meat is also a good way to move to a lifestyle that has a lower impact on the environment, as well as helping with heathier eating.
6. Choose clothes carefully. Some fabrics can be a lot kinder on the environment than others. Not just in the processes involved in their manufacture, but also in what happens to them at the end of their life. Something that is pure cotton will biodegrade naturally, while a plastic-based fabric will end up in landfill. Buying more natural fabrics is a positive move, even better go for organic ones that avoid chemicals - better for you as well. Consider buying fewer, higher quality items. Read more about various fabrics and their environmental issues here.
7. Look at your household energy use. Not only can you try to reduce your energy usage, you can take steps to make your energy use greener. Simple steps include turning lights out, avoiding leaving electrical items on standby, turning the heating down, or moving to using a 'warm zone' in your house. You can switch to a 'green' energy supplier - this helps to send a message to the market that you would choose to get your energy from renewables, not only can you feel better about he energy you do use you are helping to grow the demand for greener energy.
8. Encourage breastfeeding. You knew I'd say that, right? For some it doesn't work out, and that's partly about a lack of support. If you're not in a position to feed yourself, you can help by supporting and normalising breastfeeding to help enable others to do it. Think how much energy is saved. No artificial alternatives that need to be manufactured, no sterilising or cleaning, no plastic bottles or teats, not to mention less medication. Read more about supporting breastfeeding and why we should all care about it and can all play a role in helping to promote it here.
|Camping in the New Forest involved a short drive, but provided a wonderful escape. You can see our son's bike in the picture - purchased from eBay we will be able to sell it for pretty much the same price we bought it for.|
9. Minimise your travel. Even if you cut one flight from your plans for next year you will make a difference. Try holidaying a bit closer to home, try using public transport. With our toddler, public transport is an adventure - taking the bus is enjoyable both for him, and the elderly who use it more regularly and take joy (well most of them do) in interacting with a lively toddler.
10. Switch to environmentally friendly cleaning products. Whether you switch all your products, or just some of them, this is a simply and positive move. As well as ingredients that are less harmful to the environment, these products are less harmful to you. Try a soap nut ball for washing, and try wearing your clothes a little longer before washing them.
There you have it, 10 ideas to get you started. There are plenty more. Most of all remember, every little helps, just like saying no to dessert, or that extra chocolate biscuit! This is for our children's futures and the generations that are to follow them. Let's do everything we can to protect and preserve our wonderful world.