Starting the new year sustainably.
As we clear the Christmas clutter and finish up the last of the mince pies, many of us think to the new year and what positive changes we are going to make to our lives. Traditionally this would have just involved a spring clean. More recently it has been all about starting that fad diet or joining a gym. But how about this year, thinking of a change in the green direction? One small step for you could be a giant leap for mankind once you’ve got your friends involved and blown your own trumpet a bit. Good deeds can be happily contagious! Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Going for the full Veganuary can feel a bit much… especially in the dark winter months when all you want is hearty stew and cheese! But eating less meat is one of the number one things you can personally do to help the planet. If you normally eat meat every day, why not try Meat Free Monday? If you’ve already cut down on meat, extend it by an extra day a week. With the savings you’ll make on the meat-free days, you could consider splashing out on free range, organic or local farm produce for the meat you do buy, which is often produced in a more sustainable (and kinder) way. Over the year your meat reduction will really add up.
- Don't buy any more plastic bags! This one is easy! Always have a bag with you and you’ll never have to buy a plastic one again. Such a finite and precious resource really shouldn’t be wasted and cheapened on flimsy shopping bags. A cloth or jute bag will last you ages and can be recycled or even composted at the end of its life, leaving zero waste!
- Reduce food waste. Shop with a meal plan and a list. Freeze food that is nearing its use-by date. Find out if your town has a Community Fridge. These are local sites (often in a community centre or library) where surplus food from local stores, which would other wise be binned, is offered to anyone in the community, free of charge. It’s not means tested and it’s not a food bank – anyone can use it. The main aim is just to reduce food volume in landfill. What a great idea!
- Change to a truly eco poop bag – and tell your friends! 90% of pet poo bags on the UK market are made from oxodegradable plastic – the type that is treated with chemicals to make it ‘degrade’ into microplastics that pollute the soil, water and even the air. This includes ones packaged in green and marketed as ‘degradable.’ Sometimes even the ‘biodegradable’ ones are made from this kind of plastic! It’s a mine field! The GREEN POOP BAG is made from sugar and cornstarch blend and is certified home compostable 😊
- Buy to last and buy second hand. If you do need to buy brand new clothing, think about the fabric and the style. Will it still look good next year? In five years time? Wool is naturally antibacterial and stain resistant and will need washing less than a synthetic jumper and has the added bonus of being biodegradable. A coat in a classic cut will outlast this year’s quirky look. Searching for second hand clothing can be great fun. Don’t like the trend for high waisted jeans? Look for your favourite low slung ones from the 2000s on a preloved site – it’s like finding an old friend!
Photo by Tim Mossholder