Want to become more eco-friendly but not sure where to start?
Perhaps you are concerned it will bump up your bills? There are lots of quick and affordable ways you can help care for the environment at home and work without spending a fortune. It’s often just a case of switching up how you usually do things or what you usually buy – and you might be surprised what a big impact these little changes can make (especially if you can get your friends, colleagues and family on board too).
Below are 5 simple swaps to get started with today.
Swap beauty essentials for eco alternatives
We all have our go-to toiletries, but have you considered their planet-protecting alternatives? With so many big brands making positive strides towards environmental consciousness, it’s never been so easy to pick out greener (but similarly priced) versions of your favourites.
Let’s look at a few examples:
Running low on shampoo? Try switching your usual bottle for a handy shampoo bar to save on packaging. Due a toilet roll restock? There are lots of recycled options out there that do the job just as well. Get through more cotton pads than you can count? You’re not alone – the average skincare lover uses around a thousand per year, plus packaging! Sadly, these are often made of synthetic materials such as polyester that can’t be recycled. Reusable bamboo pads – made from biodegradable and compostable bamboo fiber – can be found at all the usual places and make an ideal eco-friendly swap. And the list of cosmetic culprits continues. A shocking 22 billion disposable plastic razors are discarded each year and end up hanging around in our environment. Instead of adding to this huge number, invest in a safety razor. Not only do they give a closer, smoother shave, they are recyclable, require far less plastic consumption and only cost around 3p per blade. Top tip: Buy beauty products in the largest containers they’re available in to reduce packaging waste (and often save money).
Swap single-use items for re-usable substitutes
Most of us are overly reliant on single-use items, and this trend certainly isn’t exclusive to the toiletries mentioned above.
But did you know that many reusable alternatives are actually even more effective? Take cling film for example: Beeswax wraps let your food breathe, keep food fresher for longer and do a much better job of preventing leaks than the usual plastic-based rolls. It’s a similar story when it comes to coffee machines. Around 17% of the UK population own one of these landfill-regulars. And although some brands are creating biodegradable options, most aren’t. So if there’s a pod machine in your kitchen or office staffroom, consider switching (or inspiring the switch) to a zero-waste option. Replacing pods with a bean-to-cup machine or French press will get you much closer to a zero-waste caffeine routine – even if you’re a “5 cups a day” kind of person!
Swap workplace convenience for simple sustainability
While you might be making efforts to be more eco-friendly at home, it’s easy for good intentions to get forgotten when you’re on the go or in the office. Next time you go to fill up your flask or pack your midday meal into a lunch box, take note of how much plastic is involved. While plastic containers and cups are reusable, which of course is good, there will always come a point when they need replacing. Considering 79% of all the plastic ever produced still remains in the environment and can take up to 500 years to fully decompose, it’s never too soon to find a new option. Consider switching to glass storage containers instead. They might cost you slightly more to begin with but with proper care, these can last forever, saving you money in the long run – a simple swap that has a big impact.
Still enjoy flicking through a hardcopy newspaper on your coffee break? Here’s something to think about:
If every newspaper was recycled, we’d save around 250 million trees per year. And on the subject of paper – most businesses are a tad too “printer happy”, guilty of blasting through reams and reams of paper and card. Does everything really need to be printed? Probably not. Consider going paperless where you can. With everything stored safely on a computer, you’ll be able to find information more quickly and won’t lose important notes or documents either.
Swap fast fashion for a quality, ethical closet
38 million items of clothing are bought in the UK each week. At the same time, £30 billion worth of unworn clothes are sitting in our wardrobes! Are some of them yours? If they are, now is the time to:
· Buy less: track how many clothes you buy each year and aim to reduce the number
· Buy secondhand: shop in charity shops or on pre-loved clothing apps or websites to pick up clothes you love, for less
· Invest in ethical brands: there are plenty of brands making clothing in sustainable ways using recycled materials. Spend your money with these
companies for high quality fashion that will last so much longer
If you’re looking for an occasion piece that might only be worn once, borrow from your friends or sign up to online communities offering the same thing The equivalent of one bin lorry full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every single second, having a huge environmental impact. Making any of the changes above prevents clothing waste and the overuse of our planet’s natural resources that are used to make fast fashion items. Sustainable clothing can be more of an investment due to how it’s made but its quality means you’ll have the pieces in your wardrobe for much longer.
Swap inaction for eco-education
Perhaps the main reason people don’t recycle correctly is because they’re not sure how to.
Getting up to speed with ways to conserve the environment and why they’re needed is so important. Not only does it allow you to make confident, conscious changes – it also means you can help gently educate those around you too. A word to the wise though: the abundance of information out there around environmental friendliness can be overwhelming (and in some cases, conflicting) so we recommend checking a few sources when you’re looking for an answer. Once you feel fully clued up, you’ll quickly spot opportunities to become more eco-friendly and cut back on harmful habits. Armed with info, you can then focus on motivating your workplace to do more for the environment. Whether this means putting up posters by the bins to communicate correct waste disposal methods, or even nominating a fellow colleague as the in-house eco expert – the important thing is that you’re learning and sharing knowledge.
With these 5 simple swaps, we hope you’re now full of ideas on how to become more eco-friendly at home and work without having to make unwelcome compromises or racking up big bills. We’re also crossing our fingers that when you next run out of a product or find yourself shopping the sales, the following questions will pop into your head:
“How many times will I use this?”
“Is its packaging recyclable?
“How was it made?”
“Is there an eco-friendly alternative that’s just as good?”
If you find yourself unsure of any of the answers, don’t forget to do some digging and find out more.