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Saving planet earth sounds daunting, but wouldn’t you want to contribute to it? It is much easier than you might think! Of course, not everyone will have the means to make changes in their lives to live more eco-friendly, but here are some ideas that could get you started.
Starting with the obvious here, eating less meat not only helps the environment but also your body and health. You don’t have to become a vegan immediately but if you have the access and financial means, I’m just asking you to try and take little steps – be that to only eat meat two days a week, shopping local and buying seasonal produce, or ordering a vegan or vegetarian meal when dining at restaurants.
My favourite thing to do when shopping is using a tote bag instead of plastic bags. Tote bags are more durable, environmentally friendly, and come in many different prints so you can show off your favourite band or television show.
In my opinion, practicing conscious consumerism and minimalism is really fantastic. I travel and move places a lot because of my studies so having fewer belongings makes it easy to pack. My rooms also don’t get cluttered and stay clean. Conscious consumerism means that you appreciate everything you own and really ask yourself if you desperately need a new t-shirt or if you already have two similar ones at home. Speaking of buying clothes, try to opt for shops that recycle material and don’t exploit people – look for products with a fair trade label. You may end up paying more but will usually end up buying good quality clothes and if you shop less you will save money in the long run.
Cars and petrol are expensive and unless it’s a hybrid or electric car, it won’t be very eco-friendly. See if you can use public transport, carpool or cycling instead to get to work or travel.
We all know that plastic stays in nature forever. Try to limit your use of single plastic items like plastic cups or plastic plates. Many restaurants have, for example, already swapped from plastic straws to paper straws in drinks but the reality is, you probably won’t need a straw at all to drink your drink! You can even attempt a minimal waste challenge in which you create as little waste as possible within a certain time frame (e.g. one week). Such a challenge will open your eyes to how much plastic you are actually using on a daily basis and you can discover alternatives, like buying in bulk with jars for example.
About two years ago, I stopped using plastic toothbrushes and went for bamboo ones instead. It’s a very easy change to make! Bamboo toothbrushes don’t have to cost more than a plastic toothbrush and can be bought in an increasing number of shops.You can recycle the bamboo toothbrush by removing the bristles/top part and then put the handle in your compost, which will then compost within 4 months to 3 years, instead of the 400 years that it takes a plastic toothbrush to compost!
Another easy thing to do to be more eco-friendly is to purchase a soap bar instead of liquid soap. Less plastic is used and your body will be just as clean.
Make sure you know your local council regulations on what exactly can and cannot be recycled in your area. Look up how to sort your recycling and how to clean it before putting it in the bin. Donate clothes you no longer need to charity. Reuse small containers for storage or a glass bottle as a vase. Use old toothbrushes for painting or cleaning. Make face masks or other crafts projects out of an old pillowcase or tshirt. Create a small compost station in your kitchen or garden. Don’t waste any food.
Whenever I’m going on a hike or to a beach, I make sure to take a small bin bag with me so that I can pick up any litter that others have left behind on the way. You’d be surprised to see how much litter ends up on mountains or in sand, especially plastic wrappers of energy bars or chocolate. For public spaces, there are usually community groups that volunteer to clean up their beloved spaces every now and again. I encourage you to search for your local group or contact the park ranger to see how you can get involved. It’s a great way to exercise in nature and keep the places we like clean.
About fifteen years ago, I participated in a community project in my hometown to plant fruit trees in a field. This was an amazing experience: I spent some time outside in nature, learned about trees from experts, felt good because trees help the environment, and now I get to check up on my own tree and pick apples from it every year!
Lastly, just educating yourself by reading about the climate emergency and other environmental efforts may encourage you to help our planet, as well as talking to other people about what you learn or change in your life to be more eco-friendly. Lots of people live in cities and don’t see the effects of climate change so they don’t necessarily have the intense draw to protection and action. If everyone made a small, positive change, the world would instantly be a better place.