It’s easy to spiral into a pit of despair for the world after too many Netflix documentaries…
I do this on a regular basis; whether it’s about the corruption and cruelty of the food industry, the humanitarian issues with the fashion business, or just the shocking facts about climate change, there’s a documentary to watch and shock yourself with.
It can be depressing, but I do think it’s important to educate ourselves on these issues and be shocked by things we wouldn’t have known about otherwise – documentaries like this mean we can make better decisions for our planet. Even if they are just small decisions; if millions of us do these things, we can make a difference!
So what are some small things we can each do to make a difference?
1. Recycle and compost food scraps
I’m sure most of us already put the recycling bins out each fortnight, but what about those other things that won’t get picked up by the council? It’s easy to locate your nearest centre that you can visit yourself with different types of items or things that are too large to get taken for you (eg. old carpets, wooden planks, metal shelving). Similarly with your food waste, creating a compost heap is a great, sustainable way of getting rid of veggie scraps while creating your own compost for the garden.
2. Reduce your meat intake
I realise this isn’t possible for everyone, but it is now becoming common knowledge that the meat industry can be devastatingly unsustainable. For those who can, cutting down on a few meals a week is easy, and means you can start to get creative with veggie meals on those nights too.
3. Invest in some canvas bags for shopping
Plastic bags are the WORST – we all know that. I keep a couple of canvas tote bags in my handbag most of the time just in case I need to carry something, and I usually keep a stash in my car too.
I also love these handmade grocery bags for buying loose fruit & veg from BagMeFrankfurt on Etsy!
4. Collect rainwater for watering plants
If you’ve got a high maintenance garden that needs watering, why waste clean tap water on your plants? Water butts are really cheap, and means you can reuse rainwater for your garden (super easy when you live in rainy Cornwall)…
5. Buy from local food markets
So much of our fruit and veg is imported from places like Europe, South America, or further afield, even when we can easily grow our own in the UK! To cut down on the air miles of your meals, check out your local farmers market to buy fresher food that has only travelled a few miles down the road to get you!
6. Try charity shops & second hand before you buy new clothes
Charity shops are awesome places for finding bargains, but if you don’t have time to walk around trying to find something specific, then why not look online? There are probably local buying & seling Facebook groups in your area, and you can always try an app like Depop as well (I personally have used Depop loads and love it! – Not sponsored to say it, I just think it’s great!).
7. Get reusable cloths for cleaning
Paper towels and cleaning wipes take up a lot of waste when you add it up, so why not invest in some eco-friendly reusable & washable cloths for your cleaning? I love the ones from Ecoegg made from bamboo, as they’re super absorbent and last for ages.
8. Try natural skin & haircare
I’ve been trying to use more natural products on my skin and hair for a few months now, and have definitely found some winning products (and some not so winning ones…). I’ll probably write a separate post about these, but of course Lush has to be mentioned here for their awesome cruelty free, natural products!
9. Avoid processed food & things containing palm oil
I’ve written before about the surprising every day items we buy that sadly contain palm oil (a usually totally unnecessary substance that is the cause of mass deforestation around the world), but I’ll say it again. It can be very easy to make swaps to avoid this stuff, and making a switch over from over-processed foods is usually a pretty good idea anyway.
10. Support local crafts & businesses at Christmas & birthdays
Buying from local makers and crafters in your area is actually really fun! You get to meet and connect with people who are creative, and learn about their stories to starting their businesses. Or even if you’re not meeting people at craft fairs, just supporting people on Etsy and independent online shops always means so much to people making a living from your custom.
I’ve written a few local Cornish gift guides myself for this very reason!
11. Switch to renewable energy
Originally I thought this just wasn’t possible for everyone – not everyone can afford a £10k solar panel! But there’s an easier way; it is possible to swap to an electricoty supplier that uses up to 100% renewable energy sources for their power. Ecotricity is a company who offer this, and their tariffs really aren’t that expensive either, so you could have carbon neutral power without spending loads! (FYI I’m not sponsored to mention them, I just think they’re a great company).
12. Choose high quality, durable clothes
When you can afford to, it’s always best to spend a little more on clothes that are higher quality and more durable and (when possible) made using fair-trade fabrics & organic cotton is always a bonus too. I realise it’s not possible for everyone, as these clothes usually come at a price, but generally avoiding ‘fast/disposable fashion’ is a more responsible way of buying.
I love Sophie’s list of independent UK shops on her blog, all of which are sustainable & high quality.
13. Learn how to fix things & sew
I’m pretty rubbish at fixing stuff! I wish I knew more about electronics, or physically making/fixing stuff with screws and nails, and I’d love to learn. However I do know how to sew, which definitely comes in useful when trying to make clothes last longer. I’m not quite at the ‘sock darning’ stage yet but that’s fine as we usually reuse socks as toys for Pepper, who goes crazy for them!
14. Switch to energy saving lightbulbs
If you haven’t already switched to energy saving LED bulbs in your home then you’re missing a trick; this simple switch can save you so much money on electricity, and also on buying bulbs… most of these LEDs last for at least 10 years!
15. Reconsider your car journeys
This is another one I’m not great at… I drive everywhere. I mean, I do work from home, but even so, taking the dog for nice walks usually requires a short drive where it’s not totally necessary… oops. One day I’d love an electric car or at least a hybrid!
16. Choose energy saving appliances
Again, this isn’t something you’ll probably need to consider until you need to replace an old appliance or if you’re moving house, but if you are at that point, definitely opt for A+ economy rated appliances. It’ll save you money AND help the environment.
There are a million small things we can do to help the planet! Leave your ideas in the comments.
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