Finding ways to live more sustainably is an ongoing conversation and, despite the fact that news headlines have been dominated by COVID-19 over the past year, the problem of climate change isn’t going anywhere any time soon. This year’s Earth Day is a great reminder that every individual has a part to play in looking after the planet but sometimes it's tricky to know what to do in our day-to-day lives beyond recycling to help out with this urgent issue.
It might seem like nature restored itself over the last year while we were in lockdown, with people flying and driving far less, but in reality, globally 2020 was the hottest year on record, and even with traffic stopping, CO2 levels were worse than in 2019.
On top of this, us humans continue to produce waste in astronomical quantities. According to National Geographic, the amount of plastic that enters our oceans every year is expected to nearly triple by 2040 to 29 million metric tons. “No one knows for certain how much plastic, which is virtually indestructible, has accumulated in the seas,” the publication wrote. “The best guess, made in 2015, was about 150 million metric tons.” We all know that recycling is important, but it’s clear that we need to change our relationship with plastic all together in order to make a dent in these terrifying statistics.
In recent years, with Extinction Rebellion protesters taking to central London, youth strikes happening across the globe, and the Black Lives Matter movement continuously protesting against environmental racism, it’s clear that this is an issue millions of people across the globe are concerned about. If you are one of those people, there are simply steps you can take to live more sustainably that you may not even be aware of. While policies need to change in our governments and the onus needs to be placed on large polluting industries, there are still things that can be done on an individual level. Below, you will find 11 actions you can implement starting today.
- If possible, try to re-asses your relationship with fast fashion and invest in second-hand clothes instead.
- Research ethical and sustainable beauty brands and, if your budget will allow, invest in them instead of regular high-street options.
- If you can, go plastic-free and shop in zero-waste food grocers.
- Help combat food waste by composting your old food scraps. You can even do it if live in a small flat.
Cut Carbon Emissions
- Try to avoid air travel wherever possible. If you can, stay local and and opt for a destination you can get to by train.
- If you really need to take to the sky, offsetting your flights is one way to help out.
Rethink Your Food Consumption
- Cutting down animal product consumption is a great way to help the environment. If you can, try introducing delicious plant-based foods into your diet.
- Always question where your food is coming from. If it’s travelled many miles to get to you, it’s probably doing some damage to the planet. If possible, buy local, seasonal ingredients.
- Donate to sustainable food organisations who are fighting for climate action and supporting farmers.