Reading about the environment and the impact that we’re having on it can be a depressing read. Like most people with children, I’d like to see my son grow up in a sustainable world that’s not been completely massacred by our destructive ways. At the same time, I have to juggle so many balls. I have a budget, I’m limited on time, my life is already filled with things I need to do and the last thing I feel like I can cope with is more complexity. I want to save the environment, but that seems like a daunting and monumental task. What can I do by myself?
Saving the environment doesn’t have to be complicated. These are five simple switches that any family can do without breaking the budget. Whilst each seems small, if everyone on the planet did them it would make an absolutely massive difference. I do believe that every single person can make a difference and every little counts. So here’s what you can do to help your family save the environment.
Save the Environment by switching to Shopping Bags
With the 5p bag charge introduced across the UK, plastic bag usage dropped 83% in the first year. That’s absolutely crazy! The plastic bags that were sold raised £66 million for charity. There are still a lot of plastic bags in circulation though, including bags for life which despite the name, do break and need to be replaced and are still seen as disposable even though they cost 10p. The best solution is to switch to fabric shopping bags, or at the very least, the big 50p shopping bags. They’re strong and last for years and carry a ton of shopping in them so if you invest a couple of quid on them you really won’t regret it.
Save the Environment by switching to Bamboo Toothbrushes
Toothbrushes have to be regularly thrown out and they’re made of plastic which isn’t recyclable or biodegradable. There is a simple solution. You can buy bamboo toothbrushes with natural bristles that are entirely recyclable! How cool is that? If you buy them in a bulk pack they’re really not much any more expensive than a plastic toothbrush from the supermarket whilst saving the environment. They come in cardboard packaging too which helps as plastic toothbrushes usually have plastic packaging to boot.
If you use an electric toothbrush you can’t make this switch, but at least you’re already moving away from the disposable plastic handles, so well done!
Save the Environment by switching to Re-usable Straws
Straws have been in the news recently because millions of them are thrown into landfill year after year after year. Pubs and restaurants have been trying to cut down but these are still used in their masses. I do love to drink from a straw for a slow sip and so does my son, but you can buy a re-usable straw and carry it around with you. It sounds a little weird, but odds are if you’re out with the family you already have a changing bag or a hand bag of some sort with you – so is it really any more trouble to pop a pack of 100% organic, eco friendly and reusable bamboo straws in it that you can use time and time again? If you don’t fancy bamboo, glass straws are another alternative. Of course, even hard plastic or silicone straws are more environmentally friendly than using multiple plastic throwaways, as long as you keep them and re-use them.
The alternative of course is to say no thank you if you’re offered a straw and just go without. Saving the planet one straw at a time!
Save the Environment by switching to Re-usable Water Bottles & Flasks
Drink water from a plastic bottle? Stop!
Drink coffee or tea from a cup that you pop in the bin when you’re done? Oh no!
You might think your coffee cup was made of cardboard, but in fact most of the disposable cups out there are not recyclable due to the lining they use and most large venues don’t offer specific recycling facilities and only a general trash bin. Some are, but these are usually well advertised and labelled.
There are a ridiculous amount of re-usable bottles and flasks on the market now. Whether you’re a gym bunny, at the office all day, out with the kids, or working a late shift outside on a cold night, there is a re-usable product for you. Some coffee shops have even started giving discounts if you bring your own container, and can make your coffee or tea directly into a flask. Just ask them!
Save the environment to switching to Glass Bottles of Milk & Juice
I’ve talked before about the family milkman making a comeback and this is true more than ever. You can find a local delivery service that offers glass bottled milk and juices that are collected and re-used time and time again. These are both re-used and made of recyclable glass for when they reach the end of their life. Glass is one of the purest forms of recycling. If you think about how many cartons of milk you buy in a year, this simple switch can really make a big difference to your plastic use.
Little Actions can make a Big Difference
There are many other ways that you can help save the environment and every little way does make a big difference. If you look at your rubbish at the end of the week, have a think whether anything’s been thrown away that could be replaced by a re-usable product or something more recyclable. It used to be hard to get hold of eco-friendly alternative products and they really stretched the family budget, but as awareness raises, ethical companies are now breaking into the mainstream and can compete on convenience and price. You might be pleasantly surprised at what alternatives are available. By living in as sustainable a way as we can, we set the future up for our children. If you make a point of explaining to your kids why we do things the way we do, they can grow up where this is natural and in future our landfills can diminish and our oceans be free from plastic.
On the topic of plastic, it becomes essential also to take a look at our wallets. Plastic is essentially what most wallets contain: your credit card and banknotes (made out of polymer or thin plastic). While money does not end in landfills, reducing plastic money could also reduce our environmental impact. You might want to research digital money, such as PayPal payments, or find out where to buy Ethereum or any other cryptocurrency. Digital payments are likely to pave the way for a green economy in the future. So why not start today with little gestures that make a big difference for both the planet and our finances?