Saving the planet is more than just turning off the lights when you leave a room and recycling a plastic bottle after use, it’s about making conscious efforts and putting serious thought into saving this planet we call home. We share Earth with billions of other human beings, and even more other living creatures, yet us, the human race, have taken ownership of destroying our planet.
Whether it be species extinction, greenhouse gases, landfill or plastic in the oceans, it’s no doubt that all the horrors our planet experiences are down to us. As a result, it’s our responsibility to take care of this earth – not just for us and our grandchildren, but for the billions of plants and animals we are this world with.
This may seem like too big a feat to even comprehend, but there are quite a few things we can do in our day to day lives to minimise our own personal impacts on the planet. Starting one day at a time, we can make considerable differences to the lives of our successor, not to mention humans and animals living all over the world right now.
I am by no means an expert on this, and I am definitely not living the ‘zero-waste lifestyle’ just yet but I’m making conscious efforts towards looking after this planet. Here it goes…
Stop Eating Animal Products
There’s no surprise here! Of course, eating less (or no) animal products is the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint and reduce your impact on the planet. You only need to watch Cowspiracy on Netflix to learn how animal agriculture is the biggest contributor to climate change (even more so than air transport!). I won’t go on about this one, because the documentary tells it better than I ever could… however, a few stand out facts include:
- Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef
477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs; almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese.
Avoid Single Use Plastic
At my current point in my journey towards zero waste, I honestly think this is the hardest one. Plastic is everywhere. As a material, I’m not against plastic all together – but single use plastic is an absolute nightmare. From coffee cup lids to cling film, fruit punnets and food labels, plastic is unavoidable in the modern world.
You may be thinking – why not just recycle it all? That’s a good point, and one I would have shared before listening to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s latest podcast on her zero waste journey, where she shares her opinion that recycling is waste.
Of course, recycling is better than contributing to landfill, but only marginally. First of all, you have to take into account the energy that goes into recycling a product – whether it’s turning a plastic bottle into another bottle, or into something else completely – this all takes energy. In addition, plastic can only be recycled so many times before it eventually becomes waste itself. Therefore, avoiding items with single use plastic is your best way of minimising your impact on the planet, even if you plan to recycle it.
How do you do this, though? It’s definitely harder than you think. A few things I try to do include carrying my One Green Bottle canteen everywhere, so I never have to buy a plastic water bottle; using my KeepCup at the coffeeshop (instead of single-use cups, plus lots of places offer discounts for using a reusable cup!); avoiding plastic bags in fruit and veg aisle as the supermarket (bananas don’t need a bag!); carrying my own cloth bags to the shop; using tupperware instead of clingfilm over leftovers… to name but a few.
Please share any tips I’ve missed for minimising your consumption of products with single use plastic below – this is one I’m really working on at the moment!
Think Twice Before Buying Clothes
If you’ve read my blog before, or watched any of my YouTube videos, you’ll know that ethical clothing is something I’m incredibly passionate about. Fast fashion is probably the biggest issue swept under the carpet the developed world has ever seen. It was another Netflix documentary that opened my eyes to the real horrors of the industry, which employs one in nine people worldwide.
The True Cost exposes every element of the fashion industry, from cotton growers to sweatshops. This issue isn’t just an environmental one – it’s a human one. Conscious shopping is something I work hard to promote, as we live in a day-and-age where buying new clothes is a form of instant gratification and often used to fill gaps in our happiness that cannot be filled by physical objects.
The first step towards making ethical clothing choices is assessing your current wardrobe. What do you wear the most? What do you never wear? Not only is the production process of fast fashion a shocking one, but the concept of clothing waste is too great to comprehend. Donating to charity shops is great – and shopping in them is even better. I’ve made some absolutely amazing purchasing recently, including a pair of black skinny Levis for just £3.49!
Don’t buy things if you’re only going to wear them once, and wear what you love as much as you want. You can’t get everything in charity shops and vintage stores, so be conscious when buying new clothing and be sure to look into company policies regarding environmental and human issues in the production line.
My favourite way to shop ethically is to browse the ASOS Eco Edit, which filters products into conscious brands. Be aware though – the Eco Edit sometimes includes clothing from animals like leather and wool, so always be sure to read the Product Description before purchasing if this is something you’re concerned about.
Minimise Food Waste
Food waste is a hot topic and the moment, and the subject of a recent Food for Thought podcast as well as an episode of Earth to Us by Hannah McNeeley and Evan Oliver. Did you know that roughly one third of food produced for human consumption is wasted each year? That’s approximately 1.3 billion tonnes. Yet around one in eight people in the world are starving – those stats don’t sit well with anyone, I’m sure!
When considering the environmental impact of food waste, you’d be forgiven for thinking that everything edible that we throw away just decomposes – that’s simply not true. Food waste produces a shocking amount of carbon dioxide as it sits in landfills all over the world, thus contributing heavily to climate change.
Avoiding food waste is super easy and something you can start doing today. Be conscious when you shop – we find it easier to shop little and often, so we are always aware of what we’ve got and when it’s edible until. Use your senses to tell whether food is still edible – best before and use by dates are a necessity from a corporate perspective, but if your bananas are a little soft or there’s a squishy bit on a pepper, don’t throw them all away! Just cut it off and eat the rest.
Get on Your Bike
Cycling isn’t always an option for everyone, but it’s definitely the best way of getting around. With the summer coming up, we’ll be riding our bikes all over and avoiding car journeys where necessary. Shorter journeys are easy on food and even better on a cycle – it’s amazing how quickly you can get places, plus you’re producing no emissions and getting fit at the same time. What more could you want?!
Want to learn more about reducing your waste? Here are some of my favourite people to follow that inspire me to do more and live better on this planet:
- Colleen Patrick-Goudreau – Podcaster, philanthropist and inspirational speaker, Colleen is an incredible woman who has worked tirelessly to promote veganism and compassion for the planet. Colleen has recently started talking about her zero waste journey on her Food for Thought Podcast, which is available on iTunes, Spotify and Soundcloud.
- Hannah McNeeley & Evan Oliver – Hannah and Evan also have a podcast which aims to highlight a variety of ethical issues, including veganism, zero waste and mental health. Earth to Us is my absolute favourite podcast and the pair have really inspired me to live better.
- Rhian HY / Wifelife – My favourite ever YouTuber, Rhian is an advocate for several issues close to my heart including veganism, ethical clothing and mental health. She also shares great ways of making ethical choices in everyday life.