I am feeling really encouraged this year by the active discussions which keep surfacing around the environment and what we can do to protect our planet. I have always been actively interested in nature and the wildlife which surrounds us, but I cannot pretend that I have always been the best protector of our planet. As I have gotten older however, I have had to accept full responsibility for my actions; I therefore try to maintain a lifestyle which benefits the planet. I try to eat vegetarian; I always try to recycle when I can; I pick up litter on walks; and I try to buy sustainable and organic food. However, there are still a number of things I can change and adapt in order to help the planet further.
As Earth Day arrives this Sunday 22nd April, I thought I would compile a list of 10 easy steps which anyone (myself included) can incorporate into their day to day life. Each will help to reduce our negative impact on the earth and in doing so, battle climate change.
Recycling is something which people can get lazy with, throwing away various cans and paper if we can’t be bothered to sort it through. However, this is such an easy and important step which can help reduce landfill. So set up a recycling area in the house, make compost out of food waste and ensure as little as possible ends up your general waste bin.
2. Walk / Cycle
Granted, this isn’t possible for everyone all the time. Some people need to drive to work or live in the middle of nowhere and a car is the only option. BUT if you do have the option of walking, cycling, getting the bus or train – then do! You can increase your fitness and lower your carbon footprint, plus getting outside is an awesome way to increase energy and a positive outlook.
3. Eat Less Meat
This is a lifestyle change which a vast majority of people are consciously trying to do, whilst others still are skeptical that it has any impact. I am not at all suggesting you should all turn vegan (if you are one or do want to then you are incredible!) but I completely accept that certain bodies need meat. However, by eating less meat we will decrease the amount of cows in particular, which in turn will reduce the amount of methane they release into the environment. In addition to cows, we will also decrease the number of trees/plants which need to be cut down to create space for such rearing animals. More trees = more oxygen for us and more cleansing of the air surrounding us!
4. Buy Sustainable / Local Produce
Buying locally grown produce not only supports local farmers, butchers etc. but it also maintains a more ethical approach to shopping. Again, this is not possible all the time but buying seasonal native fruit and vegetables where you can and avoiding the need to stock up on a lifetimes supply of avocados (even if they do taste delicious!), can really help to sustain the environment surrounding us. Personally, I have signed up to Riverford, a company which works with local farmers in different regions, who deliver organic and seasonal produce to your door. I completely love them and would highly recommend them if you are interested in something along those lines!
Following on from food, there are also a lot of great small businesses out there who are up-cycling furniture and house-ware or creating sustainably produced and ethically sourced clothing. Not only will a small business feel far more grateful and excited when you purchase one of their items but you will also probably find more authentic products for your money.
5. Avoid Using Clingfilm and Throw away Cooking Items
This is something I have to constantly remind myself to do. Often we choose ease over sustainability but it is a very easy step to take and will actually save you money in the long run. Using pans rather than tin foil; Tupperware rather than cling film to cover leftovers; makes such a huge difference to the amount of household waste you discard, as well as being far more cost effective.
6. Switch off the Lights / Electrical Items
I have always been slightly anal about this, even since university! Ask any of my housemates and they will tell you that I had stickers on plug sockets all over the house, with various rhymes decorating them reminding people to turn off their lights and electricals! It is still a habit I have to this day and one I do not mind continuing! Not only does it help the planet but it also saves you a lot of money! Turning your TV off at the wall for example rather than leaving it on standby can cut you electricity bills by a huge amount.
7. Watch Documentaries
Keeping yourself in the know and constantly learning is a huge part of helping the planet. Thankfully with programmes such as Blue Planet and Planet Earth this has become an incredibly popular past time for a lot of people and has helped generate discussion and awareness. So keep doing it! By understanding the issue and its effects, you will understand how you can help and be able to nudge others in the same direction.
8. Start a Discussion
Keep talking about it!! By opening it up to discussion you may not only learn something new but you will understand other peoples view points and may have the chance to change someones outlook for the better!
9. Donate to / Volunteer with a Charity
Support charities who are out there doing their bit for the planet. I am running an Earth Day Yoga workshop in Oxford this Sunday and will be donating £5 of each ticket sold to ‘Friends of the Earth’. This is an expansive registered charity which has community based centres and really work hard to fight the effects of climate change and other issues within our planet. Currently they are battling the decreasing Bee population and plastic pandemic. Research them and find one that speaks to you! There are so many fantastic organisations out there, by supporting them and getting involved you can take an active part in protecting the planet!
10. Carry your own Bottle, Mug and Bag
Keep a spare bag in your bag, mug or bottle in your car and bag to ensure you never leave the house without it. Once again this is something which has become increasingly popular over the past few years, ever since the plastic bag ban came in. By buying less disposable bags/cups/bottles, we will reduce our general waste infinitely and stop destructive plastic being dumped in the ocean. There are also a lot of shops which also offer a discount or free refills for those with their own mug or bottle. So saving those pennies!
I hope these steps help you and don’t feel like you need to begin them all at once! These are all actions we can take every day which will help increase awareness and lessen our imprint on the Earth. The Earth is our home and all of our shared responsibility. We need to reduce our waste, plastic consumption and carbon footprint where we can because at this stage, every little DOES help.
Here are my personal aims for this year:
- Buy less plastic based products
- Cycle to work when I can
- Further my knowledge on environmental awareness
- Continue to be open to change and discussion
What will yours be?