We all need to do our bit for the planet; from plastic pollution to global warming, and a waste management crisis, living more sustainably can feel overwhelming, but making some eco-friendly swaps to your everyday living needn’t be a burden. There are easy sustainable swaps you can make to your daily routine that, over time, can make a difference towards protecting the earth’s resources and beauty.
1. Reusable water bottles & coffee cups
Single-use plastics are still one of the biggest problems we face – most of it cannot be recycled, piles up in landfills, and releases harmful toxins when it’s created and disposed of. You can make a difference by switching to a reusable water bottle or coffee cup for your daily hydration.
The most sustainable container materials for reusable water bottles and coffee cups are glass, stainless steel, and bamboo. The bonus about stainless steel is that it’s naturally insulated, so your cold drinks will stay cool and your hot drinks will stay toasty. It’s also super lightweight – ideal for hikes and on-the-go. If you absolutely must choose plastic, look for plastic that has already been recycled, can be infinitely recycled, and make sure it’s BPA-free. Lots of packaging contains BPA which can be toxic.
Switching to stainless steel straws can not only help to save the turtles but actually cause less damage to humans too. Plastic straws are now banned in particular countries across the world because of the damage they cause to the planet – they are easily swept up, end up in oceans, can cause harm to marine life, and even break down into microplastics that transfer into the water and air.
3. Food containers & waste disposal
Isn’t it great when you realize you have leftovers from the day before? Sometimes the food is even better the next day around! Swap your plastic Tupperware for glass containers for eco-friendly freshness. Plus, they’re much easier to clean!
Saran wrap, cling film, foil, and plastic zip lock bags that we often use for food leftovers can’t be recycled. Fortunately, there’s now a sustainable like-for-like alternatives that we can use to keep food fresh at home. Swap saran wrap for beeswax wrap – it’s easily moldable and better for the planet.
To cover food and keep it fresh, opt for cloth covers. Many now come with elastic to secure tightly and keep food fresh. Switch to reusable silicone zip lock bags instead of disposable plastic zip lock bags for a more sustainable choice too. Compared to plastic, silicone is more people, animal, and ocean-friendly. For trash bags, including dog poop bags, switch to biodegradable bags that are proven to break down more quickly and easily in the environment.
4. Eco-friendly cleaning
As we all become more aware of what we’re putting into our bodies, we should also be aware of toxins in our environment that can be harmful to our skin, hair, body, and general health. Particular cleaning and laundry products can release harmful chemicals into the air, surfaces, and clothing that can have a detrimental effect on our bodies, from respiratory problems to skin breakouts and rashes. Choosing natural, chemical-free cleaning and laundry products can be an easy way to reduce harmful toxins in our environment that can cause damage to our health.
5. Recycle better
Most of us aren’t recycling properly. While 50% of people now use a recycling bin, only 8% of plastic in the world is actually recycled. Most of it ends up in landfills. Because of a lack of knowledge on recycling correctly, many of us are throwing seemingly recyclable items in the recycling box with optimism hoping for the best. In reality, many items that we think are recyclable aren’t. Any packaging that still has food leftovers or grease on it isn’t recyclable, for example. If just one item in a whole recycling bag can’t be recycled, the whole bag can be ruined and end up in landfills. To recycle more efficiently, read the waste disposable information on the packaging and learn what each symbol means. Not all symbols with arrows mean it’s recyclable in your recycling trash at home.
1. Stay clean & fresh, the eco-way!
There might be an eco-friendly version of your everyday toiletries. Make the switch to more sustainable deodorant, shampoo, and conditioner, shower cream, and soap. Bring back the traditional soap bar, and not just for your hand soap, but for your shower cream, shampoo and conditioner too. There are now zero-waste refillable deodorants to save all that plastic packaging from ending up in landfills.
Zero-waste brand, Object Beauty, have created hair bars (just like soap bars), that last three times longer than a standard shampoo bottle and aim to tackle the global water shortage crisis that could see two-thirds of the world’s population without water by 2025. “Solid beauty is a great solution – a regular bottle of shampoo is 80-90% water; the solid equivalent is roughly 0.5% water – a huge saving. Another added benefit is that CO2 emissions from transporting solid beauty products are a fraction of their liquid equivalents because there’s no need to transport all the unnecessary water,” says co-founder, Jack Wolton.
2. Menstruation products
Tampons and sanitary pads are one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste. Switching to a more eco-friendly option can support the planet’s resources. “A standard plastic tampon applicator can take up to 500 years to decompose, and the average person uses more than 11,000 disposable menstrual products in their lifetime,” says Good Housekeeping. Menstrual cups, period pants, and reusable sanitary pads are all reusable options to minimize waste completely, but if you can’t get to grips with those, many eco-friendly menstrual products now come with sustainable packaging, including some that dissolve instantly in water.
3. Cotton swabs, pads & toothbrush
Switching to reusable cotton pads to remove make-up and wash your face is much more sustainable than continuing to buy packs disposable cotton pads that end in landfills over time. You can now choose cotton swabs and toothbrushes made from eco-friendly bamboo too. Bamboo is the fastest-growing natural resource on the planet, growing up to ten times faster than trees. Plus, the super-strong, durable material releases no harmful chemicals or pesticides during growth and produces 35% more oxygen, whilst absorbing more carbon dioxide than trees. (Increasing CO2 levels is contributing to global warming.) Just think about much plastic you could save from ending up in landfills over your lifetime by making these easy switches to your daily care routine!
Reusable Menstrual Cup
1. Choose eco-friendly brands
Next time you’re shopping, look out for the sustainable policies, practices, and certifications that your favorite brands use including giving back to eco-conscious charities and initiatives, to using vegan, natural, organic, chemical-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, and non-GMO ingredients.
2. Buy local
Where you can, buy local and choose brands that source their ingredients locally. This keeps travel and transport emission pollution down and supports local sellers. For fashion and furniture, opt for second-hand. Track down local antique fairs, vintage markets, and flea markets. Often, antique and vintage items are much more high quality and durable. Plus, they’re one of a kind! For groceries, buying local often means sourcing the freshest produce – something your body and tastebuds will thank you for! Did you know that the healthiest people in the world are those who travel to get their fresh food from local sellers each day? It’s thought that the strong community feel and fresh food produce help them to live longer!
3. Grow your own veggie patch & herb garden
If you want to go one better than buying local produce, why not grow your own? It doesn’t get much fresher than that! If you’ve got the space, growing your own vegetables and herbs is not only a boost for the planet but great for your recipes and mental health too. You can gain a new hobby, have lots of fresh produce & it helps your money to go further. Plus, according to Ayurveda, eating in synergy with the season has its own health benefits too!
4. Grow wildflowers
If flowers are more your thing, growing wildflowers, leaving grass long, and planting bee-friendly pollen plants can support the biodiversity of the planet. “Bees are pollinators and play a critical role in healthy ecosystems, so are essential for our food production. Pollinators are worth a staggering £690 million per annum to the UK economy, and more than three-quarters of the world’s food crops are in part dependent on them. Yet, bee populations are suffering. Here in the UK, habitat loss and fragmentation combined with climate change are having huge impacts on the bee population,” reveals charity WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature).
5. Home compost
You could up your recycling game further by having a home composting pile. Over time, home compostable packaging and food waste like teabags can be disposed of in a home composting pile where it decomposes over time into nutrient-rich soil that can support growth of healthy vegetables, flowers, and plants. Many packaging items can now be home composted, so you can do your bit towards eliminating waste.
THE SUSTAINABLE SWITCH
We get it – no one likes change, but trust us on this one. We’re the last generation that can stop the devastation of climate change. There is satisfaction in knowing that the small changes you choose can make a massive difference to the planet long-term and for future generations. You’ll only wonder why you didn’t make the sustainable switch sooner!