What are the best eco-friendly and sustainable swaps for 2022? However complex the less waste and plastic-free lifestyle can be, every greener step we make counts towards maintaining the integrity of our planet.
It is all about resetting our mindset to think before we consume.
The whole point of sustainable living is to consume less, make more of what you have, use what you already have and repair what is broken – so why not give the following swaps a try if they fit around your lifestyle?
Reduce food waste
Food waste is one of the biggest problems in our world today. Every year in the United Kingdom, 18 million tonnes of food ends up in landfill.
Approximately a third of this waste is caused by the producers and the supply chain, another third from the retail and a third from the consumers.
This issue has negative effects on the environment (waste of resources) but also on our economy (high landfill costs to dispose of) and our pockets.
Meal planning and making lists when out shopping is one of the best ways to minimize food waste.
Make sure you don’t cook more than what you consume and find creative recipes to reuse your leftovers.
You can find more ideas on tackling food waste here.
Use water wisely
Get to know your water consumption and how you can reduce it. Most water companies offer advice on saving water and reducing costs.
Here are a few ideas from the SES website:
- Turning the tap off when brushing your teeth or shaving saves up to 6 litres every minute
- If you have a dual flush toilet, use the small flush when possible and check if the cistern is leaking down the back of the pan between flushes – this wastes 400 litres a day on average.
- Take a 4-minute shower rather than filling up the bath, which uses around 100 litres of water.
- Ensure washing machines and dishwashers run on a full load as half load settings use more than half the amount of water and energy.
- You don’t need to rinse dishes before they go in the dishwasher – scrape food into the bin, which keeps sewers clear too.
Who Gives A Crap offer a subscription service for toilet paper. They make two products, toilet paper from 100% Bamboo and toilet paper made from 100% recycled fibres.
Plastic-free product and shipping.
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The average person will use 11,000 sanitary products in their lifetime! In the UK, we are throwing away, on average, 400 thousand tampons and pads every single hour.
Swapping to zero-waste period products is a huge step towards minimising your impact on the environment.
You can read more about Zero-waste period swap options in our blog post here.
According to TreeHugger, every single-use paper napkin causes 10 grams of greenhouse emissions!
Swapping to cloth towels generates as low as 2.5 grams greenhouse emissions.
How many paper towels/kitchen paper do you go through every day?
You can make your own napkins from old table cloths, shirts or other fabric.
If you opt to buy new, the best eco-friendly option is fabrics made of linen, hemp or organic cotton.
Peat Free Compost
According to National Trust, “Peatlands are vital in the fight against both the causes and effects of climate change. Peatlands hold twice as much carbon as the world’s forests while offering precious habitats for vital wildlife and plant species. They also preserve high-quality archaeological sites.
But extraction, draining damage and other activities means that carbon stored by peatlands is being released. This equates to more than 5 per cent of all global human carbon emissions.”
By buying peat-free compost for use in your garden or allotment, you help reduce peat demand.
Consequently, you encourage retailers to stock peat-free compost.
You can also write to your MP and ask them to lobby the government to phase out peat in gardening products, as promised in April 2021.
Recycle Flexible Plastic Packaging at Big Supermarkets
Most UK councils don’t accept flexible plastic packaging, which means consumers cannot recycle it at home.
Big supermarkets like Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Coop etc., now can recycle flexible plastics. With this initiative, they take responsibility for the waste the products they sell to us create.
Customers can recycle flexible plastic packaging into the same recycling bins currently provided in supermarkets that collect PE plastics (plastic carrier bags). Read the full list of flexible plastic packaging accepted for recycling here.
Support Local Businesses
Just 8 big supermarket chains share 93 per cent of the UK’s food retail market. This means they can influence how our food is grown and how much they want to pay for it.
But, according to the Ethical Consumer organisation, most supermarkets scored very low in their ethics ratings.
You can instead opt to shop from:
- Your local independent grocery shop
- Bulk / zero waste shops
- Food box delivery services
- Farmers markets
- Better still, grow your own if you have access to a community garden/allotment or a small plot, or even the roof of your apartment block.
Adopt a Plant-Based Diet and a Cruelty-Free Lifestyle
Although veganism is a lifestyle choice fueled by ethical motives and animal compassion, a vegan lifestyle brings about many other positive effects on people and the environment.
Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from an individual’s diet could reduce their carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent.
Of course, the main focus of veganism is to stop animal exploitation.
Therefore, choosing a cruelty-free lifestyle is a positive step towards protecting the animals’ fundamental rights, the people who work in this cruel industry, and the conservation of our planet.
It takes valuable resources to create all of the things we use. By striving to waste less food, fuel and energy, we can reduce our impact on the environment.
While something like recycling may not have an immediate effect, by reducing our consumption, we help to slow down the production of new things every day.
If you think about it, all the things we ever need already exist! Therefore, re-using what we have or sourcing used items is the most sustainable way to slow down the depletion of the Earth’s natural resources.
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