No-one has the power to single-handedly save the world, and not everyone has was it takes to go waste-free. So here’s a few little things that you could change to help our planet, which don’t have to pose a major disruption to your lifestyle.
1. Carry your own bag. Whether it’s a real, cloth bag, a reusable synthetic one or simply reusing a plastic one. Or even a furoshiki. If you’re a take-away coffee addict, get yourself a reusable drinking mug, which come in all sorts of materials. Carry a reusable hand-towel. Don’t use plastic straws – if you really need a straw for some reason you can get glass ones like the ones Plastic Dharma sells. Get a cool sandwich wrap so you don’t use cling film. REUSABLE is the magic word here.
2. Make your own smoothies, juices and milkshake, which will most definitely come out nicer than plastic-bottled ones too. My favourite is strawberry and banana milkshake, which tastes nice with soya milk, but you can also find some more exotic recipes here.
3. Drink tap water. It is generally recommended that you drink two litres of water a day to keep well hydrated. That’s a lot of water, and I have to say I probably only drink about half that amount. But the plastic bottled water is incredibly polluting, not to mention expensive. If the water quality isn’t great you can use different kinds of water filters. You can also get plastic-free charcoal filters, which I hope to be able to try one day. And of course, you can get all sorts of different reusable bottles to use when you’re out and about.
4. Shower challenge! Choose a longish song and try to finish your shower roundabout when it finishes. Alternatively, listening to a cd is a good way of not losing track of time – over time you can try to decrease the number of songs your shower lasts. And don’t forget to catch the cold water in a bucket to use it for flushing toilets, water the garden or wash the floor.
5. Don’t wash your hair every day. It’s unnecessary and not even good for your hair. You can also take it one step further by using solid shampoos which usually involve less plastic, going no-poo and making your own all-natural shampoos (check out the Queen of Green) or even going water-only.
6. Buy local and organic if possible, even if it’s only one thing. Obviously there are sometimes difficulties due to climate (you tell me how to find a local banana in Scotland!) and price – being organic normally makes things more expensive. I can’t afford to buy everything organic, but the one thing I buy organic is apples – because it’s meant to be one of the worst fruits for pesticide and I really really enjoy eating the skin.
7. Say no to microbeads! You can find them in facescrubs and other cosmetics. They are just tiny pieces of plastic that are washed down the drain and end up in the sea. If you need exfolliating and natural for your face, you could use some a scrub with ground almonds – I use this one from Lush, but you can also make your own.
8. Close the tap when you’re brushing your teeth. If you like to rinse your mouth well with water after brushing make sure you take the water from a glass, and not by cupping your hand under the tap.
9. Buy second-hand. You’ll be preventing items from going to landfill, getting them cheaper, and probably getting all sorts of weird and wonderfull discontinued items. The manufacturing of clothes is normally not particularly environmentally friendly either, so you’ll also be making up for it a little by giving it a second chance. Plus, if you buy your second-hand items from charity shops you will also be helping a cause.
Obviously there’s way more things that can be done, but it’s better even to just choose a couple of simple things to do than to get overwhelmed and not do anything at all, right? Have you got any other simple ways to help?