It can be completely daunting knowing where to begin lessening your impact on the planet. What to focus on first? Plastic pollution or carbon emissions? Can I only buy locally-made products? Will I even have an impact as just one person?
These ten individual actions all add up to create one, powerful movement across the globe.
Fortunately, there are small, simple lifestyle changes that every single individual can make to reduce their impact on the planet. These individual actions all add up to create one, powerful movement across the globe.
Reassess your needs
We have become accustomed to certain standards of living, but some of these little luxuries come at a huge detriment to the earth. Taking a step back and looking at the things you truly need - as opposed to the things you simply want - is not only a sure-fire way to reduce your impact, but studies have shown that a simpler way of life actually improves its quality. The affectionately dubbed “Marie Kondo Effect” has seen swathes of people turning away from material goods to bring them happiness; celebrating instead the simple joy of living.
Ditch disposable plastics
The anti-plastic movement has risen like a phoenix from the ashes, and it shows no intention of slowing down. It can be a difficult thing to avoid in daily life, but there are some simple tricks than almost everybody can implement right away. Try cutting out the “big five”: plastic bags, bottles, coffee cups, straws and food wrap. All of these have a reusable alternative and you’d be amazed how much this all adds up to!
Grow your community
One thing we seem to have lost over the years is a real sense of community. Value is placed on ownership, with each household buying the same items to do the same jobs, which is much more wasteful than if this were shared. Community gardens, tool shares and skill shares are just a few examples of investments that really work. Need a dress mended? Take it to your neighbor in return for some of your home-made salad dressing that they love. Noticing a load of trash in your local river? Organize a clean-up and invite everyone back for some freshly baked goodies and tea. The concept is so simple; but shared communities like this are reemerging all over the world. All it takes is enthusiasm, patience and some willing friends to get started, and the results can be endlessly rewarding.
Take a look at the way you use transport on a daily basis. Are there ways in which you can cut down your dependence on your car? If your commute is a reasonable distance, consider purchasing a bike. The benefits of cycling to work or school are plentiful: Keep fit and healthy, cut out those awful, crawling traffic jams, save mega money on gas and greatly reduce your carbon emissions.
If cycling really isn’t for you, then look into car-sharing or public transport. A lot of major cities have incentives for vehicles with two or more passengers, and most will have decent subway, train or bus routes for you to make the most of. The thought of public transport can induce a sense of panic at the thought of bustling passengers fighting their way across town; but it can actually be a wholly pleasant experience, allowing you to settle into a book or podcast at your leisure. Much more enjoyable than hailing abuse at other motorists from the window of your car.
Reduce, reuse, reUPcycle
Recycling is out; upcycling is in. Recyling used to be lorded as a quick and environmentally friendly solution to trash. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Many of the items we send to be recycled still find their way to landfill or the ocean due to improper infrastructure. That’s where upcycling comes in. Learning how to transform old items into something new is an invaluable skill for individuals, the economy and, ultimately, for the earth. Why not check out our blog on upcycling to learn more about what we do, and get inspired to try a little at home yourself?
Fall in love with pre-loved items
There’s no shame in second-hand! Giving old items a new home is one of the best ways to give back to the planet. North Americans send an estimated 10 million tonnes of textiles to landfill every year – but imagine if these items were simply redistributed. Not to mention the amount of seriously cool stuff you can find in thrift stores for almost criminal prices (for inspiration, watch Macklemore’s video). Become a savvy bargain-hunter and your closet, your budget and your planet will thank you.
Get creative with gifts
Whether it’s a birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day or the Summer Solstice – there is always something to celebrate. Industries capitalize on our love of giving gifts, and they rely on your consumerism for their profits. Unfortunately, a lot of their products are cheap, costly on the earth and end up in landfill. Learn the art of gift-making, as opposed to just gift-giving! Homemade decorations, baked goods, knitted treats or even simply your time are invaluable gifts to the people who mean most in your life.
Be energy efficient
Home comforts are important to us, but they shouldn’t cost the earth. A few simple switches like energy-saving light bulbs, insulated water heaters and a programmable thermostat can save you cents whilst reducing your environmental footprint. Taking a little time to understand how the systems in your home work and improving their efficiency is a really important step for anyone who is becoming more eco-conscious.
Do your research
Don’t believe everything you read! In light of the global climate crisis, clever marketing is being used to steer customers to their products with slogans like “eco-friendly”, “sustainably-sourced” and “organic”. But it is important to do proper research on a company before you buy their clothing or goods, to make sure that they are truly environmentally conscious and not just doing the bare minimum. That “100% organic cotton eco tee” you saw advertised still uses virgin materials – when there are plenty of second-hand or upcycled garments out there with a lower environmental footprint. So start sleuthing!
Spread the word
Perhaps the most powerful thing you can do for the environment this year is to tell everyone about our beautiful earth, why it is so important and what we, as individuals, can do to protect it. Saving the planet is a hugely daunting (and impossible) task for one person; but we have strength in numbers. Start small with the people around you, and watch the ripples spread as your earthly vibes inspire others to do the same.
Living a more sustainable life seems daunting at times, but it is such an important goal for every individual who has the means to try. So, for 2020, pick three of these to start with and see how many changes you can implement before the year is through. Good luck!
Got more top tips for a greener year? Let us know in the comments below!