Green. Natural. Sustainable. The list of adjectives used to describe eco-friendly living seems to proliferate almost as quickly as cute critter videos go viral.
Reading about our warming, acidic oceans and disappearing forests can make even most cheerful green activists feel, well, a bit blue. That’s one reason why many celebrities and organisations are trying to use their high profiles to share news and ideas that celebrate environmentalism and make our planet healthier. While ever-increasing awareness raising is beautiful and beneficial, taking action is also crucial. Before blindly diving in, it’s important to take a step back and examine what everyday choices could be most impactful.
Are you now wondering what a sustainable lifestyle actually looks like, and what kind of every day actions individuals can undertake to protect the earth? Well, fear not – even if you don’t have millions of social media followers like famous eco advocates Leonardo DiCaprio and Gisele Bündchen, you still have the power to make a difference. In the age of greenwashing and nonstop social media chatter, mindful choices and mindful living are the antidotes to hectic, convenience-driven lifestyles.
We know that food waste is extremely damaging, and that microbeads should be avoided at all costs, but there are additional ways to make your home a bit more eco-friendly. Here are some top tips for going greener:
DIY home ideas:
Reuse glass jars
The next time you finish that final spoonful of peanut butter or cook a stir fry with the last of your coconut oil, instead of recycling, fill that used jar with something from the supermarket’s bulk containers. Shopping in the bulk section also means consumers are cutting back on plastic packaging, which usually winds up in the rubbish.
Recycle and unsubscribe to junk mail
Sorry, that doesn’t include bills!
Don’t throw out old clothes
Can they be mended, donated or upcycled? If so, sew up that hole or fallen hem, find your nearest donation centre’s drop box, or start combing Pinterest and Googling all of the fun ways to upcycle old clothing. For any items in an unfixable state, consider using them as cleaning rags, in lieu of paper towels.
Bring your own bags everywhere
Find a sturdy, fold up bag to slip into your purse, backpack or day bag. Having a re-useable bag on hand prevents further waste since you won’t use, or will at least use less of, plastic and paper bags. In 2015, the British Government enacted a law that charges shoppers 5 pence for each plastic supermarket bag used by consumers; this has led to swift and measurable results.
Get some greenery
Houseplants not only look nice, they also act a purifier or filter, to clear up the air you’re breathing in. While you’re at it, why not plant a tree in your yard? (a native species, of course!)
Shop for sustainable foods and drinks
Whenever possible, buy locally grown fruits and vegetables. This not only helps support local farmers in your community, it cuts down on the mileage food gets shipped. However, tropical products like bananas and coffee are often shipped from thousands of miles away.
When it comes to foods and drinks whose origins come from warmer climates, look for products in the supermarket that have been awarded certified seals from organisations such as the Soil Association and Rainforest Alliance. The products must meet stringent criteria that seeks to protect both producers’ and consumers’ best interests. In the US, the Non-GMO Project is also a great food seal to look out for.
Worry about the windows
If you’re not in a financial position to install new insulation or double paned/glazed windows, hang thick curtains to prevent heating or air conditioning from escaping your home.
Check your tech
Lower the heat on your washing cycle to use less energy and also save on your energy bill. Additionally, many electronics that aren’t in use, such as switched off televisions, are still energy vampires that drain electricity. If you’re in the US, be sure to unplug major energy users that aren’t in use. In the UK, make sure your plug switches are turned off.
Cut back on meat consumption
According to the Food and Agriculture Association of the United States, the total emissions emitted by livestock globally is a whopping 7.1 billion tonnes, and 44% of livestock emissions are in the form of methane, one of the largest drivers of climate change. While shopping for your weekly groceries, consider bypassing the refrigerated meat section more often. For those people needing a quick lunch on the go, consider opting for a falafel wrap or another vegetarian option.
In conclusion, there are of course much larger (and costlier) ways to change your home, from installing renewable energy to having FSC certified wood floors and furniture. But for those of you who are unable to make such grand changes, hopefully these nine DIY home tips will help get you on the right foot to a greener tomorrow.
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