It may be the third week of January already, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to make some eco-friendly resolutions you can really stick to. Whilst it might not be possible to do all of these things all of the time, keep them in mind for the next 12 months and each small change could add up to a much bigger impact overall.
1. Eat more mussels
We all know that eating less meat is good for the planet. After all, a third of the earth’s available land is already used in the production of meat products – and that’s only going to get worse as the population grows. The worst offenders in terms of carbon footprint are beef and lamb, with chicken and pork faring much better – so it might be time to say goodbye to steak dinners for a while.
The greenest animal protein is the humble mussel – grown on lengths of rope hung beneath the surface of the sea, it takes relatively little energy to rear them and get them to our plates. They even have the added bonus of capturing carbon dioxide and locking it up in their shells. The result is that their carbon footprint is 20 times less than chicken, and 50 times less than beef. Bring on the moules frites!
2. Switch to a greener energy provider
I recently switched my gas and electric to Bulb energy, who supply 100% renewable electricity and 10% green gas at prices that don’t cost the Earth. The process was quick and painless, and once I had given them a few details, they contacted my previous providers for me – they even gave me £50 credit on my account as a welcome present. If you fancy switching to Bulb’s greener energy, use this link to sign up in less than 5 minutes and get a £50 credit on your new account, too.
3. Buy a reusable coffee cup (and be sure to use it)
Most takeaway coffee cups aren’t recyclable, and take 100 years to break down in landfill. There are a few great coffee shops in Cardiff which use biodegradable cups that can be put in the food waste bin after use, but the best option is always a reusable mug. I’m in love with my fully reusable, ceramic Vera Wang cup – I get a compliment every time I use it. The only problem is, I keep leaving it in work! This year, I am setting a reminder on my phone to take it home every night, and another one to pack it again the next morning so there’s never an excuse for me to grab a takeaway coffee without it!
4. Go easy on the hipster foods
Who doesn’t love avocado on toast – and surely it’s better for the planet than a bacon butty? Maybe not. Reports are starting to highlight that the western obsession with foods like avocado and quinoa is causing havoc in the countries where they’re grown, as land is being illegally cleared to keep up with increasing demand. There are lots of so-called “hipster” health foods causing problems. The answer? See below.
5. Eat more locally-grown food
We never used to be able to eat blackberries year-round; picking season was something to look forward to and to savour. These days we can pop in to the supermarket and buy them in plastic tubs any time we like, shipped over from Spain or Morocco. But that doesn’t mean we should. Sticking to locally grown produce and a seasonal diet could help reduce the carbon footprint of your weekly food shop significantly. Shopping at local farmers markets is even better.
6. Recycle in the office, not just at home
There are only a couple of recycling bins in my office (which irks me no end) but I always make a point of saving up my plastic packaging, cans and paper and walking across the office – rather than chucking it in the trash can next to my desk. Nag your bosses, office managers and whoever else you need to, and make sure you’ve got somewhere to recycle in work – you’ll be amazed how much packaging a few al-desko lunches can add up to.
7. Walk, bike,or run to work – or set up a car share
Swap the car for a journey on foot and you’ll be improving your physical and mental wellbeing whilst being green – what’s not to like? If you can’t quite manage that, see if you can car-share with a colleague or two; you can even take it in turns to pack the coffees in your new reusable cups 🙂
8. Buy second-hand, or share with your neighbours
Before you fork out for that brand new Ikea sideboard or fancy games console, go online and search secondhand first. Using sites like eBay, Gumtree and Freecycle, you can track down furniture, appliances, clothes, bikes and other items, often cheaply and sometimes even for free!
Borrowing instead of buying is also a good idea – instead of purchasing new books and movies, share with your mates. Power tools and other appliances are also good to share, plus you’ll cut down on the number of barely-used appliances cluttering up your closet or garage.
9. Boycott excessive packaging
Just last week I was quoted in an article on the Independent website, who quoted me angrily tweeting about Marks & Spencer selling slices of cauliflower in a plastic tray. These then came wrapped in even more plastic, and were on sale for £2.50 each.
We all saw that heartbreaking episode of Blue Planet, with the mummy whale hanging on to her calf who had died after ingesting plastic waste. And we all want to do something about it. Whether it’s fruit & veg, makeup, clothing or toiletries, stay away from brands who over package their products – in today’s polluted world, it’s an increasingly irresponsible move.
Have you made any eco-friendly resolutions for 2018? I’d love to hear them – let me know in the comments below.