With environmental issues becoming more and more high profile, it can be hard making sense of what it even means to be environmentally friendly. Are we really seeing climate change in action? Is the plastic pollution in our oceans that bad? And do we really need to think about the impact our clothes or food have on the planet? To answer those questions, we’ll look at some quick statistics.
In terms of climate change, we are seeing records set every year for extreme weather. From flash floods and hurricanes, to wildfires and droughts, there is no doubt that there is an upward trend on many forms of disruptive weather patterns.
When it comes to the plastic pollution, an estimated 12 million tons of plastic is dumped in the sea each year. This figure is rising annually too, with an estimate that by 2050 there will be 1 kilo of plastic for every 3 kilos of fish in the sea.
As for our food and our clothing? Believe it or not, Americans throw away 80 pounds of used clothing every year, and around 50% of all food bought in the USA goes to waste. That’s a lot of produce and money just going in the trash!
Whatever you think of these figures, there is no escaping the fact that we consume a lot of resources as a species. And if you believe climate change is happening or not, there can be no question that we are leaving lasting mark on our planet that might be irreversible.
So what can you do right now to make a difference? Well, believe it or not, there are plenty of small things that you as an individual can do to make the world a better place. After all, every little helps!
Avoid disposable plastic
Straws, disposable cups, shrink wrapping your leftovers, plastic water bottles… These are all items that will just go to landfill and will take hundreds of years to break down.
Many countries are looking at cutting back their plastic production, but you can do your bit too. Use reusable shopping bags, have a store of fridge boxes, carry a reusable water bottle and coffee cup and avoid any single serving items that comes in a plastic container.
Buy local produce
When it comes to your food, rather than buying imported fruit and vegetables, buy seasonal and local. That way your food has travelled less distance and you’re supporting your local community too. As a bonus, local food is often not shrink wrapped in plastic either…
Also, try to plan your meals so that you only buy what you need. By cutting back on food waste you’re not just saving landfill, you’re also saving money!
Change your driving habits
Although cars have got more efficient over the years, gas is still a pollutant. With the rise in asthma and breathing related diseases, there’s no question that emissions have had an impact. Reduce your gas emissions by reducing the amount of time you spend in the car.
Walk, cycle, use public transport, carpool… Whatever you can do to minimise the amount of time you spend in the car.
The global trade in clothing is huge and causes a massive impact to communities where it is made. Some of the worst pollution surrounds cotton farming, where the water is diverted from local crops to support our thirst for cheap clothing. And most of it goes unworn!
There is a booming market in ethical clothing, including clothing made from organic materials or made closer to home. Search online for ethical or sustainable clothing. You’ll also find ethical shoes too.
Use less energy
The amount of energy we use in the home is phenomenal, but the amount that is wasted is staggering. By some estimates around 65% of all energy produced is wasted. That could be inefficient appliances, leaving lights on when not home or leaving the TV or standby.
Turn off your TV or plug sockets at the wall when you’re not using them, install smart sensors like Nest to control your heating or air conditioning, and turn off lights when you leave the room. You’ll not just save the planet, you’ll be saving a lot of money….
Recycle and compost
You already recycle, right? Of course you do… If you’re not already recycling, then now is a good time to start. Make sure to pay attention to what can and can’t go in the recycle bin and make sure everyone in your household knows too.
Composting is a great way to make sure excess food isn’t going to waste. Many local authorities offer composting bins, or if you have a garden, use it to start growing your own fresh produce. There’s nothing like the taste of home grown.
So there you have it. 6 quick and simple steps to make the world a better place. None of them are too tricky or time consuming, but they could make you an eco hero.