Along with Brexit (which we’ll say no more about for now), ‘eco-friendly’ is one of the hottest topics of conversation at the moment, not just in Europe but worldwide.
People are becoming more aware of environmental issues; popular TV programmes such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet are helping to highlight the problems the earth faces today, and which will continue to be of huge concern for the next generation.
Frightening 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the sea every year. If we carry on at this rate, there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050. Deforestation continues to destroy forests: In Indonesia alone, an area the size of a football pitch is lost every 25 seconds to make way for palm oil plantations. Climate change due to greenhouse gases is causing polar ice caps to melt, endangering the future of the polar bear.
But what does it really mean to be eco-friendly? Do we all need to become vegan, stop driving our diesel cars to work, or start installing expensive solar panels on our properties? Or even, stop using gas and electricity at all and go back to the good old days of lighting a fire? In today’s progressive society this all sounds a little…regressive.
We think the answer isn’t 100 people becoming a perfect eco-friendly warrior, but 1,000,000 people taking small steps in improving the way they live their lives, becoming more environmentally aware and responsible. You can make small changes in everyday life to reduce the effect of your carbon footprint, such as using a reusable water bottle rather than disposable plastic bottles which will end up in the ocean.
Lots of chain café’s such as Costa Coffee and independent food outlets (incidentally, we say always support local!) now offer free water, so you can take along your own bottle and refill for free. Not to mention that many reusable water bottles have thermal properties to keep liquid cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours, which is great when you’re on the go as many of us are with today’s busy lifestyles.
Plastic straws are also a big issue – most people have seen the sad images of a turtle, but realistically we all hate the paper straw alternatives which just turn soggy after a few sips. Re-usable straws offer the perfect travel friendly alternative, you can just put one in your pocket and take it from café to restaurant (or bar to bar) and be free from soggy straws forever. If you’re ever lucky enough to swim with a turtle, I’m sure they’ll give you a great big high five to thank you.
Plenty of other small steps can be taken – literally – for example by thinking ‘Do I really need to drive to the shop, or can I walk instead?’ Lights can be switched off when leaving the room (the energy used in our home accounts for approximately 20% of Carbon Dioxide emissions). Meat free Mondays are also a step towards reducing your meat consumption – a vegan diet reduces the need for land usage by over 75%.
With clever purchasing, it’s not just about the products you buy but also their materials. With Bamboo being the fastest regenerating plant in the world, looking out for Bamboo products from toothbrushes to lunchboxes can help you make more environmentally smart choices.
With so much plastic around, lunchtime can become a nightmare when you’re at the salad bar, tentatively picking up that plastic box which you know you will end up in the bin within ten minutes. By having a reusable lunch box, not only can you help to reduce plastic waste but they can also offer a more convenient and stylish alternative.
For day to day reminders of how you can make small steps to becoming greener, Instagram is a huge platform where many accounts are using their voice to encourage people to become more eco-friendly. Here are a few of our favourite accounts to follow:
@Oceana – Beautiful photography of the oceans with a serious and powerful message
@Ecowarriorprincess – Interesting articles mixed with tips for a more sustainable lifestyle
@Trashisfortossers – A no nonsense approach to waste reduction
And remember, it’s not about being perfect, but the small steps you take today all contribute to redressing the damage and steering our planet towards a better tomorrow.
Sources: WWF, The Vegan Society & Greenpeace
Image: LundLondon, Shutterstock, Greenpeace USA, Discover magazine