As the climate emergency continues to be on the news agenda, it can be tricky sometimes navigating eco-anxiety, however we can all make simple, minor tweaks to the choices we make in our daily lives which then have a positive effect on the environment.
Single-use plastic is one of the most damaging pollutants to our environment, especially when its disposed of incorrectly and if you think of all the single-use plastic which is currently clogging up your bathroom, it may, one day contaminate our oceans.
It’s not just the half empty bottles of shampoo and conditioner– plastic is also hiding in all manner of other places, like glitter, wet wipes, and even in our wardrobes with the fibres of our clothes.
1 - Buy pre-loved or vintage
Primark, ASOS and Zara are at the forefront of ‘fast fashion’ and this is something I avoid as much as possible. Apart from anything else, giving up ‘fast fashion’ means you’ll never turn up to work or a party wearing the same outfit as someone else. It’s important to dispose of clothing properly in clothing recycling bins, an estimated £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfill each year.
You don’t need to constantly buy new things to be on trend either. I keep my outfits looking up to date by accessorising and if things need replacing I go to my favourite charity shops or get things repaired, helping the environment and great causes never felt (or looked) so good!
Investing in vintage or pre-loved clothing means you can be saving money, ensuring the life-span of garments is longer and you’ll never have the fear of turning up matchy-matchy. You could also host a “shwopping” or “swishing” event where you swap clothing and accessories and therefore don’t spend any money. Tips on how to host your own event can be found here.
2 - Choose natural fibres
Microfibres from clothes can end up as microplastics over time, causing marine pollution. You probably notice them sometimes, they’re tiny hair-like strands that stick themselves to your clothes in the wash. That’s fine for wool and cotton fibres because they break down quite quickly, but synthetic fibres linger in the water. In our oceans these plastic fibres are mistaken for food by plankton and other marine animals, working their way into the food chain. The best way to avoid all this hidden plastic is to check the label when you’re shopping and avoid polyester and nylon, where possible, and always buy clothes made from natural fibres.
3 - Ditch disposables
Until 2010, I used to wear contact lenses most days. When I realised contact lenses were single-use plastic and damaging to the environment, I switched back to glasses as I was paranoid about the risk of infection and fed up by how fiddly they are and of course, the ridiculous amount of single-use packaging. On reflection, it’s hard to believe that I was chucking all this contact lens packaging in the bin and I didn’t think twice about flushing the lenses down a drain at the end of the day. It may not seem like much, but it all adds up. Almost 800 million plastic contact lenses2 were flushed away or ended up in landfill last year. For now, I’ve switched back to glasses, but in the long run laser eye surgery would be cheaper, safer and more environmentally friendly than contacts.
Why not switch out plastic for reusable options when it comes to eating and drinking when you’re out and about? Perfect for on-the-go meals at food markets, airports or even on the plane, a reusable cutlery set helps to cut down on those single-use forks and spoons. Reusable straws made from long-lasting materials like steel and bamboo, often come with a pipe-cleaner to keep them clean.
4 – Wave bye bye to wet wipes
As a country we use 11 billion3 wet wipes per year and they are responsible for 93% of all blockages in sewers, costing £100 million a year . As if that wasn’t enough bad news, wet wipes contain hidden plastic which most people don’t even realise is there. So even if you do put them in the bin, they take hundreds of years to decompose and are damaging the environment. I switched out my face wipes for a good old-fashioned flannel and some face wash. It’s easier, cheaper and my skin feels better for it. There are biodegradable wipes for skincare and domestic use available and these should also never be flushed down the loo.
5 – Walk or bike it
Cycling or choosing to walk as much as possible rather than driving, is probably one of the easiest ways to cut down on your carbon emissions. Why not see if your work mates can do a car share with you, or see if your employer has a cycle to work scheme? Many cities also offer a bike hire service which is often cheaper and faster than an Uber or a taxi if you’re in a city centre. Walking more and being more active generally in your daily routine is great for your health and your mind-set. It’s a win-win, slash your emissions and get fit at the same time.
I hope that these tips can show how being mindful about the environment can be easier than you might think, you can save money too and help relieve any eco-anxiety you may be experiencing. You can share your tips with me too, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me https://twitter.com/Blondi_SOS
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