With the majority of 2020 being spent indoors with strict travel restrictions, it is no surprise that human life coming to a halt for a short period has had a positive impact on the planet. Carbon emissions have dramatically fallen, and while this is fantastic news, it is vital to make sure that we continue to take a ‘greener’ approach when life returns to normal. Luckily, there are many different lifestyle changes that you can begin to make to ease yourself into taking a ‘kind to nature’ approach and reduce your carbon footprint. To give you inspiration on where to start, we have put together a guide on how to save the planet in the new year, beginning with your home, all the way through to long term solutions.
How To Save The Planet With These Lifestyle Changes
We have already seen the immense impact that global warming is having on the earth and the life living amongst our wonderful planet, and the predictions of what to come are incredibly daunting. In fact, the Living Planet Report 2020 has stated that the population size of wildlife has dropped by more than half since 1970. This statistic alone is enough to make you reconsider your lifestyle choices, and while you may believe that your single efforts are futile, this most definitely isn’t the case. If we are all to spend time reflecting on how we can make a positive impact on the planet and begin to take action, we will start to see a change.
With this in mind, to begin your quest to save the planet, we have split our guide into four categories, based on which area of your life you believe is the most improvement. These include the following:
Every lifestyle change begins from the comfort of the home, and becoming ‘greener’ is no different. We are now spending more time than ever inside, with many of us also working from home, which means that its time to start lowering your carbon footprint. The key ways that you can become more environmentally friendly at home are:
Switch To A Renewable Energy Provider
The most significant change you can make in your home is switching to a renewable energy provider as this will stop your reliance on fossil fuels, which is by far one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Through choosing a home energy plan that utilises renewable sources, you will be taking advantage of power generators such as solar, wind and hydro; all of which are naturally replenished without impacting the environment.
For those who would like to take one step further than changing provider, installing solar panels is a sure way to create a ‘greener’ home. Once your home solar panels have been fitted, you can slowly cut all ties with the grid, storing any excess solar energy in a smart battery, which can then be used at a later period.
Beware Of The ‘Vampire Load’
Are you one of the many who are guilty of leaving appliances on standby? If the answer is yes, did you know that this amounts to 1% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions? Leaving your electricals on standby is guaranteed to drain your home electricity, hence the name ‘vampire load’. This not only causes your bills to skyrocket but also your carbon footprint; both of which could be solved in a matter of seconds by switching off appliances from the mains.
If you are struggling to get into the routine of turning off mains power, then we suggest picking up some smart plugs. These plugs are cleverly controlled by an app, which allows you to turn appliances off from your smartphone. You can also programme the supply to automatically turn off if it has been switched on for too long.
Reduce Your Household Waste
There are many ways that we can reduce waste, and while recycling is the most vital, this is not the only solution that we can adopt. Reducing how much we throw away starts from the moment that we purchase items, whether this may be food, clothes or any other products.
When it comes to food shopping, it is recommended to avoid picking up items which are wrapped in plastic. Most supermarkets have now swapped plastic fruit and vegetable bags for paper, but are there any more substitutions you can make? Are there any alternatives of particular items on your shopping list which will avoid you having to throw away a huge amount of packaging? Pringles tubes, Lucozade Sport bottles and black plastic food trays have all come up as some of the worst products for recycling, so could these be missed off your list?
Another way that you can reduce food waste, in particular, is to plan your meals in advance, meaning that you will only need to pick up ingredients you will use. Any leftovers can then either be frozen to use at a later date or made into compost for the garden. For more tips on how to reduce your waste, take a look at the Madeleine Olivia blog.
Whether it may be commuting to work or going away for a holiday, there is no way that we can completely mitigate travelling, but there are many ways that you can be more mindful of your impact on the environment. If you are worried about your carbon footprint while travelling, consider the following:
Invest In A Electric Vehicle
Now, this is a significant investment but is most definitely worth considering should you be in the process of replacing your car. By far, the most environmentally friendly way that you can continue to drive is through an electric vehicle, which will come alongside considerably fewer emissions than a petrol or diesel car. As there will be no need to burn fossil fuels in order to power your vehicle, you will be able to lower your carbon footprint.
Along with purchasing your vehicle, you will also need to install a home EV charging station, which you are able to cover with the help of a government grant. These are installed either onto the exterior of your home or inside your garage, allowing you to charge your vehicle using your electrical supply when it’s not in use. If your workplace is also hoping to take a greener approach, you may also find business electric charging points, which is another handy way to keep your car topped up.
Walk Or Cycle Where Possible
Being in a lockdown for months on end has most definitely taught us to appreciate the time that we spend in the outdoors, so why not continue embracing fresh air by swapping driving for walking or cycling where possible? Not only is this a fantastic way to incorporate exercise into your week, but you will also be having zero impact on the environment. From cycling to your local shop to pick up essentials or walking to a loved one’s house to say hello, before your journeys, consider if you really need to jump into the car or whether you can choose a more sustainable way to travel instead.
Choose Holiday Locations Wisely
As a nation, we love jetting off abroad for a break in the sunshine, but our holiday addiction is having an immense impact on the environment. Much like spending time in the outdoors, the pandemic has also taught to find the beauty in staycations. With this in mind, next time that you sit down in front of the laptop to plan a holiday, we recommend taking a look at destinations here in the UK. Or if you are desperate for a change of scenery, European locations which can be travelled to via trains are also a great choice!
Once you have tackled the most challenging hurdles in becoming more environmentally friendly, you can begin to take a closer look at the small lifestyle changes that will make a world of difference. Although there are tonnes of excellent ways to become greener, these are some of the easiest yet most impactful:
Reduce Meat Consumption
While becoming a vegetarian will always have the most positive impact on the planet, we recognise that giving up meat is not an option for everyone, and there is nothing wrong with this. However, as a meat-eater, what you should consider is whether you can reduce your consumption. Why? Because the impact that the meat production industry has on the environment is just as bad as those of driving or travelling via plane. This means that through cutting down on how much meat you eat, mainly beef and lamb, you will directly work towards reducing climate change.
Become A Smart Shopper
We have become accustomed to shopping both in-store and online without a second thought, but in reality, we could all benefit from becoming more conscious of our spending habits. By far, the most impactful way that you can become a ‘smart shopper’ is through trying to buy locally as much as possible. Supporting local businesses has always been important, but now more so than ever after the impacts of the pandemic. Whether it may be visiting your nearest farm shop for groceries or buying from a small brand in your high street, not only will you be helping an independent business owner to keep their dream going, but you will also eliminate the harm caused by sourcing products from overseas.
Another way that you can shop smart to help the environment is through only purchasing foods that are in season. Fruit and vegetables are the perfect examples because any that are not in season will have to be grown overseas. These are then shipped over long distances to be delivered to your local supermarket, building up a considerable amount of carbon emissions along the way.
For more tips on how you can shop the eco-friendly way, take a look at Greener Ideal.
Use Reusable Items
We have all been encouraged to give up our plastic water bottles for reusable alternatives, but did you know that there are a whole host of other items that you can invest in then use time after time again? This will limit your reliance on single-use plastic and in return, help your lifestyle to become more environmentally friendly. Some of the most popular reusable items include:
- Reusable Shopping Bag
- Silicone, Bamboo or Stainless Steel Straws
- Beeswax Wraps (these are used as a reusable alternative to tin foil or clingfilm)
- Reusable Makeup Remover Pads
- Reusable Coffee Cups
Although every effort that you make to become more environmentally friendly will have a positive impact on the planet, if you are looking to make a more significant difference, then you will need to look at long-term solutions. These are great ideas to consider once you have implemented the above and include the following:
Volunteer Locally Or Abroad
For those who are hoping to make a direct impact on the planet, there is no better way than by getting involved in a volunteer scheme. Now, if you are new to volunteering, we recognise that this can be daunting, but we can be sure that there are organisations in your local area who are eager to get new members on board. Whether this may be helping out at your closest nature reserve or joining a local river cleanup, you most definitely will not be short for opportunities.
If you are able to take time out of your education or career to volunteer, then joining projects abroad is another fantastic way to make a huge difference. The WWF run a Young Adult Volunteer & Internship Programme which directly tackles conservation issues across the globe, allowing members to have a hands-on experience of how to protect the environment. Currently, the WWF has volunteers working all around the world from Madagascar to the Philippines.
Donate To Charities & Organisations
Another way to support organisations working towards preserving the planet is to donate to charities where possible. Every donation, no matter the scale, helps organisations to continue running their projects, so your contribution will always be hugely appreciative. When looking to support charities, you most definitely will not be short for worthwhile causes. You can donate directly to the organisation, set up a fundraiser, adopt an animal and much more, depending on how you want to show your support. Eartheasy has put together an excellent guide to the ten charities across the globe that make the most significant impact, so is worth reading if you are unsure who to donate to.
Encourage An Eco-Friendly Workplace
Once you have tackled lowering your home’s carbon footprint, why not take your newly found knowledge and implement ideas in the workplace? Even if you take it one step at a time, changing the mindset of your colleagues is guaranteed to make a difference in the long-term. Whether you research renewable business gas plans, then provide your line manager with a list of suggestions, or you encourage processes to switch to paperless, there are so many ways that you can make a positive impact on the environment. For more handy tips, take a look at iHasco.
Saving The Planet, One Step At A Time
Saving the planet is not something that we can achieve overnight, but with a joint effort and through positive lifestyle changes, we can most definitely begin the journey to restoring the environment. Every step that we take to become more environmentally friendly will help carbon emission to lower and therefore, reduce the dramatic rate that global warming is deteriorating. As a team, we can make a difference!