The start of a new year is always a good time to begin new habits to improve your quality of life. According to a recent survey by Hubbub, 1 in 6 people have made resolutions to live more sustainably in 2021.
With the dramatic influx of disposable masks and gloves as a result of COVID-19 throwing everyone off the path to becoming carbon neutral, we all need more daily reminders about how to get back on track. The fact of the matter is, if we do not prioritise living sustainably, we will continue to be more frequently and invasively plagued by pandemics and infectious diseases as we destroy our natural habitats. (For more information about this, check out these reports by National Geographic and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.)
According to a recent survey by Harvard Business Review, while 65% of people understand that our behaviour today has a huge impact on the environment and want to buy from brands with a sustainability focus, only 26% actually do, rather opting for cost and convenience. Small changes that have been easy to implement have been adopted by individuals and businesses in recent years, such as using refillable water bottles, paper and metal straws, taking your own bags to the supermarket, eating less meat and dairy, and using public transport/car sharing/walking/cycling more.
These all make a difference, but there are still many more ridiculously easy ways to become more eco-conscious that require very little effort:
Get involved with companies that have sustainable incentives
There are so many businesses today offering similar services and products that we as consumers are therefore spoilt for choice. People will usually choose brands and companies based on the cost, quality and reputation of the products or services offered, however, the sustainability efforts of a company is something that should also be considered.
Did you know, all the major banks in the UK invest in fossil fuels? Unfortunately a lot of greenwashing goes on in this area, where some banks have announced big sustainable statements, but subtle loopholes in their new policies allow them to continue financing fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas plants.
A good way to find out how your bank ranks in terms of environmental and ethical standards is by checking out this handy comparison guide by The Good Shopping Guide. Swapping who you bank with to one that invests in sustainable and ethical ventures has a huge positive impact, and which once set up, requires no additional effort from you.
Tip: Find out more about how to choose a new bank by following this guide by ethical.net.
It was in the news lately that if everyone sent one less email a day, it would greatly reduce carbon emissions. This is but one way to reduce the amount of energy but ultimately, there is really no reason not to switch to a renewable energy provider. While they used to be a lot more expensive than their nuclear-sourcing competitors, the prices of renewable energy providers have dropped drastically in recent years, making them a much more attractive alternative. In the same way with banking, once you have made the switch, there is no additional effort required and you will instantly have a lower carbon footprint.
Tip: To find out more about the best green energy suppliers currently, theswitch.co.uk has a good detailed article, and T3 has also compiled an extensive comparison list, with information on how to make the switch too.
Buy reusable, recycled, and innovatively eco-friendly products
Transforming to a circular economy will be one of the most effective ways we can fight the climate crisis, and buying recycled and upcycled products is a great way to invest in companies that give waste a second life. Thankfully, these products have been seeping into the market from all angles; furniture, footwear, construction materials, electronics, and even something as simple as kitchen foil.
Many environmentally-minded companies have additionally created reusable alternatives to single-use kitchen and bathroom items that not only reduce plastic waste, but also lower the negative impact of the production process. There is the added benefit of it being so much more cost efficient to buy one single reusable item, as opposed to continuously purchasing disposable items. There has equally been an increase in availability of products such as shampoo bars and compostable coffee pods, which are wrapped in biodegradable and recycled packaging.
The best thing is that you do not have to look too hard to find big brands offering these sorts of products. With some companies such as Adidas, you are easily able to filter products by brand, which includes the option to filter by sustainability, allowing you to browse products that are made with recycled materials.
Tip: I recently wrote an article for online marketplaces looking for eco-friendly products to sell in 2021, which you can also check out for more ideas on better products to buy.
Use lifestyle apps that make it easy for you to make sustainable choices.
While some brands do largely advertise their eco-friendly products, it is not always easy to find, which can be difficult for many people who care about the environment but do not have the time to research which products are sustainably and ethically made. Fortunately, there are several platforms that have done the research for us, and have been designed to make eco-conscious shopping incredibly easy for users.
Fashion consumerism continues to be a huge problem in the west, due to the catastrophic impact the demand has on the environment, as well as the inhumane working conditions of outsourced cheap labour (find out more here). With a directory of thousands of ethical, sustainable and organic clothing brands, Good On You offers consumers a plethora of better choices to suit every fashionable need. Available on app and desktop browser, you can filter by preference; item, price, offers. You can also find detailed information about each brand, including where the products are made, how they are made, what materials are used and what the working conditions are. For those interested in learning more about sustainable fashion, the platform also has a very interesting blog with relevant, well-researched articles.
Food & Cosmetics
Making shopping for sustainable food, cosmetic and personal care products easier, apps like Giki and Think Dirty can give you information on-the-go. Both apps work by scanning the barcode of a product, which then brings up useful information about the product, as well as suggestions for better alternatives. Think Dirty can be helpful if you want to find out the environmental and health standards of all the chemical ingredients in your cosmetics and personal care items. Giki on the other hand has its own rating system which is very clear to follow to easily see what food items, cosmetics and personal care items are not only sustainable, but are also ethically made, responsibly sourced, and vegan. The app also recommends better alternatives, which makes it easy to make a better choice when shopping.
Hopefully this will have given you an idea of just how easy it is to reduce your carbon footprint, become more eco-conscious and live more sustainably!
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