My Top 10 Sustainable New Year’s Resolutions
For many of us, living a healthier, happier and more sustainable life is a big priority for this year. So, if you need some help deciding what changes to make, here are my top 10 Sustainable New Year’s Resolutions:
1) Make more plastic swaps
Plastic was once seen as an essential packaging item for all our household products. However, despite being a durable material and inexpensive to produce, it can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. In the UK, over five million tonnes of plastic are consumed each year, yet only a quarter is recycled. Unfortunately, the plastic that isn’t recycled enters our environment, overflowing landfill sites, polluting oceans, and damaging our ecosystem.
To avoid plastic, there are so many simple swaps you can make at home such as using reusable shopping bags instead of plastic bags. Also, carrying a reusable water bottle like a Chilly’s bottle rather than plastic bottles and using soap bars in the bathroom, such as Friendly’s natural, hand-made soap bars. For eco-friendly laundry detergent, we’ve started using SMOL, which offers subscription-based bio and non-bio laundry capsules created with ethically sourced essential oils. They smell great and come in plastic-free packaging which is 100% recyclable.
2) Eat less or no meat
The vast majority of meat bought in the UK is produced in intensive factory farms. These farms are part of a destructive global system of mass-produced industrial meat which requires a huge amount of land to sustain itself. Forests are destroyed every year to graze cattle and grow enough crops to feed billions of farmed animals.
Try and reduce your meat consumption to only a few times a month and cook more plant-based meals. But even better to give up meat completely.
3) Buy organic vegetables
Most vegetables are grown using pesticides which contaminate soil, water and other vegetation. Aside from killing weeds, they’re also toxic to birds, fish and insects, in particular bees who are critical for our ecosystem.
Choose organic vegetables when you’re out shopping, they’re grown with no pesticides and are much fresher because they don’t contain preservatives to make them last longer. This makes them far more nutritious and better for your health, as well as the planet. The only downside is they perish more quickly, so you’ll need to buy fresh vegetables more regularly.
4) Say no to takeaways and ready meals
It’s all too easy to buy frozen convenience food when you can’t be bothered to cook but try to avoid doing this. Most convenience food packaging contains plastic. Even the food trays which appear to be made of cardboard have plastic in them. Take-aways also tend to come in plastic containers so even more plastic!
Instead plan your meals and cook them from scratch. This is a great way to save money, improve your health and is far less impactful on the environment. It will also help you stick to your New Year’s diet, if you have one.
I’ve started doing better meal planning and batch cooking at the weekends. I recommend using cook books like ‘Speedy Bosh’, simple vegan recipes, for faster preparation time.
5) Buy less clothes
The fashion industry is under increasing scrutiny for its huge impact on climate change. The industry accounts for about 10% of global carbon emissions, and nearly 20% of wastewater. The fashion industry also uses more energy than both aviation and shipping combined.
Try and buy less clothes, and when you do need to buy more opt for good quality organic clothes from sustainable brands. Also keep an eye on the second hand clothes and charity shops for some great finds.
6) Support small eco businesses
Instead of doing all your shopping on Amazon, consider buying from smaller businesses. I love to support small eco businesses that care about our planet and are not so profit driven. It’s also important to check the green credentials of a company and look into how a product is produced. Try and opt for sustainably made products. It’s also a bonus if the product is available locally.
My local eco store Four State has a wonderful range of bathroom and homeware products. As they carefully select every product from companies that have strong eco credentials, it’s great to know that everything is ethically sourced and sustainably made.
7) Reduce your water consumption
MPs recently warned that parts of England could run out of water within the next 20 years and called for the Government to “step up and make up for lost time.” So, it’s vital that we try and reduce our water consumption as much as possible. Here are some of my tips for using less water at home:
- Take showers and avoid baths: Baths are big water wasters. A full bath uses approx. 80 litres of water, whereas a five minute shower only uses about 45 litres. Also, remember that running the shower for a few minutes before you step in also wastes a lot of water. You can now buy shower egg timers to remind you to keep your showers short; the recommended time is four minutes.
- Change your shower head: A water efficient shower head could save a four-person household around £200 a year on water and energy bills (if you have a water metre). It works by reducing the flow, while keeping the pressure up, so producing the feeling of a more powerful shower than it is. These shower heads are best used on power showers with a high flow rate and shouldn’t be used on low pressure electric showers.
- Turn off the taps when you brush your teeth: A running tap uses 6 litres of water per minute. If you follow the guidance of brushing your teeth for two minutes and leave the tap running, that’s 12 litres of water wasted each time you brush them.
- Use your dishwasher: It’s hard to believe but dishwashers are a greener choice to clean your dishes than washing up by hand. Washing up in the sink can use up to 100 litres of water if you leave the tap running, whereas a new dishwasher uses around 10 – 15 litres per load.
8) Use less energy at home
Reducing our energy consumption limits the amount of carbon emissions in the environment resulting in cleaner air quality. Many of us waste a lot of energy at home, but if you make a few adjustments to your habits, you can save energy and also money off your bills. Here’s what I recommend:
- Turn the lights off in a room if you’re not using them. If you switch any light off for a few seconds, you will save more energy than it takes for the light to start up again. This could save you around £14 a year off your annual energy bills.
- Don’t overfill the kettle: Only fill the kettle with the amount of water you need. This could save you £6 a year.
- Avoid using the hot wash cycle on your washing machine: It isn’t necessary to regularly wash your clothes in hot water. You will save energy by using the warm or cold-water setting on your washing machine.
9) Try renewable energy applications
To use renewable energy at home and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, even on a small scale, you could try solar powered applications. We’ve just installed exterior solar lights to light the garden and drive at night. Just place them in the ground in your desired location and make sure they have good access to sunlight in the day to charge up. The lights will vary in brightness since the bigger the solar panel, the brighter the light.
10) Spread the word about sustainable living
And finally spread the word about sustainable living to encourage others to make changes to their lives. If everyone made small sustainable changes every day it can make a huge difference.