New year - new decade - new you... but same planet! That's why it's so important to us to do as much as we can for the environment. Here are 20 tips that you can take with you into the new decade.
Offset your carbon emissions simply
Offsetting carbon doesn't have to be a big chore. Thanks to online carbon calculators, you can quickly and simply find out your carbon emissions ready to offset them. There are also sites which calculate your emissions and how much you should donate towards planting trees (or other methods of carbon offsetting). Our go-to is myclimate.org/carbon-offset/.
Many stores also offer an option to carbon offset your carbon when placing deliveries or booking flights. This is probably the simplest way to offset!
Eat mostly plant-based
For many people, going fully vegan right now seems too much of a challenge. Know that even some of the smallest swaps to plant-based alternatives could lower your emissions and make your lifestyle more eco-friendly.
Try meat-free Mondays or Veganuary, for example, then slowly increase the number of plant-based items in your diet. This will not only be a great move for our planet, but also your health.
Take the scenic route
You might be surprised to learn that the UK's emissions from flying are higher than anywhere in Europe. Airlines' CO2 emissions are also rising up to 70% faster than predicted. If that's not "flight shame", then we don't know what is.
Not flying doesn't mean you shouldn't travel. Rather, opt for train or bus instead. It may take a little longer, but it will probably be more scenic and relaxing! Not to mention there are no baggage constraints on a train...
Go digital, not physical
Wherever you can, opt for digital tickets over paper ones. For most events and tickets, a QR code for your device is available so you don't have to receive or print a physical ticket.
This also goes for businesses who have to consider signage and window displays. Invest in digital options and recycled/reused materials and make use of them as much as you can.
Be less traffic
In the famous words of Ru Paul, "you aren't stuck in traffic, you are traffic."
Transport is the UK's highest-emitting sector, but there are several choices you can make to reduce your transport emissions. Get out of a drive-everywhere mindset and set a resolution to train, bus, bike or walk to your destinations. This way, you'll not only be reducing your own emissions, but you won't be adding to the traffic's pollution when stuck in queues with your engine running. Thankfully, there are more economic vehicles nowadays that have a stop-start function, but still, the less you use your car, the better.
Buy in bulk...
...to reduce the packaging used. Buying single packets of groceries will often result in more energy being used to create packaging, rather than big bulk buys. It will likely be cheaper as well!
Rent your clothes
A love for fashion and always evolving your 'look' is not just an expensive habit for you, but also for the environment. This is where you should make an effort to be more conscious with your clothes.
The most effective way to do this is by renting your clothes. This means you can update your wardrobe on the regs by hiring clothes from others, but also make some cash by renting out your own! Check out hirestreetuk.com/ if you're interested.
Get behind not-so-fast fashion
This brings us onto the next tip - don't be tempted by fast fashion, but opt for not-so-fast fashion. In other words, go for conscious clothes that are both ethical and eco-friendly, made from recyclable or organic material. Also, learn how to up-cycle and mend clothing to make yours last longer!
Cut out microplastics and microbeads
You can really green up your beauty routine by avoiding products that contain microplastics or microbeads. These mainly pollute oceans meaning that marine life is in danger of ingesting them. Products like face wash and body scrub are obvious culprits, but you might be surprised to learn that lipstick, deodorant, sun cream and hair gel often contain these substances too.
Find or start a food swap in your area
If you have a green thumb, or just a penchant for growing your own food, this tip will be right up your street! Organise with local neighbours to swap things like eggs, vegetables, etc. if you have a surplus. Growing your own produce reduces packaging on shop-bought goods and carbon emissions from transportation. You can also ensure that your produce is free-range or organic.
Buy second hand
Before buying anything new, have a look of Gumtree, eBay, or equivalent sites to see if you can buy it second-hand. This will be cheaper, but also truly beneficial for the environment!
Coffee doesn't just have to be for drinking
Coffee grounds also serve as great fertilisers on your plants. You could also add them into your face wash or hand soap to make a scrub.
Ditch cotton pads and makeup wipes
Instead, invest in reusable, washable pads. This will save you money but also reduce packaging and carbon emissions from production. This will also reduce your amount of waste - another plus for the planet!
Make hair removal green
Switch out disposable razors for more sustainable options. You could try a stainless steel safety razor which is free of plastic. When you replace the metal blades, the old ones can be recycled, meaning you're not contributing to plastic pollution. Bamboo razors are also a good option for the planet conscious individual!
Wash your hair with a bar
Have you ever seen a shampoo bar? Most bars can be used for both hair and body, meaning you don't need multiple products with lots of plastic packaging, but just one product that needs minimal (and usually paper) packaging. They also tend to last for more washes than a bottle of shampoo.
Makeup brushes, applicators and hairbrushes
When you wash makeup applicators and brushes, it's likely that some of the bristles will wash down the plughole! This is bad for our oceans, whose sea-life can ingest it. Hairbrushes can also shed their bristles. All of the above are often just thrown away rather than recycled, which is just as bad for the environment. So what can you do? Buy brushes and applicators that are made from sustainable materials and can be recycled when you're finished with them.
Buy the right Light bulb
When you next need to buy a light bulb, purchase an eco-friendlier one. Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs last longer and use much less energy than regular bulbs. They're also brighter which means you'll need less of them to brighten up your home!
Beauty products with marine extracts and algae
Beauty products that contain marine extracts and algae not only work miracles on your skin, but these ingredients turn CO2 into oxygen as they grow (which is why we plant trees to offset carbon emissions!).
Simplify your skincare routine
Reducing the number of products in your skincare/beauty routine can have a huge positive impact on the amount of household waste, but also on production pollution. Rather than using a separate lip and cheek stain, why not use the same one? Alternatively, look at your moisturisers and other skincare products to see how similar their ingredients are. Any products that have a similar make-up will be futile, meaning you could cut them down and only use one!
Recycle your beauty products
Once you've finished with your beauty products, make sure you recycle them properly - don't just chuck them in the bin! Wash containers before recycling (contaminated materials are often discarded by the council). Also pull apart any containers that have different types of recyclable materials (e.g. pull the paper packaging from plastic pots).