Climate change is a massive crisis which every being on earth is facing. As a 17 year old student, I feel very overwhelmed when I think about the climate crisis. I often feel powerless. However, I believe that if your house was on fire, you would be doing something about it. Here are my simple, top tier tips on how to be more eco-friendly and reduce your carbon footprint from the comfort of your own home. Nobody can be perfect however small steps add up!
Eco Tip 1: Reduce plastic
Plastic is truly everywhere, in our food, clothes and everyday objects. Not only this, but plastic is difficult to recycle and even when you put it in the recycling bin, it sometimes won’t get recycled! So it’s hard to escape. However there are many easy ways to avoid some plastics that we use every day. These are my easiest tips, but there are loads more on my social media that won’t fit on here!
· For example, the classic bamboo toothbrush. This was one of the first plastic free swaps I made and one of the easiest. Did you know that your first ever plastic toothbrush is still on the planet? Plastic takes up to 500 years to decompose. Even then it leaves nasty chemicals and micro plastics in the ground. The average American will throw away 300 toothbrushes in their life. Imagine the amount of waste that we could all easily reduce!
· There are many more plastic bathroom swaps which you can try: metal razor, soap bars, mouth wash tablets, tooth paste tablets and cloth sanitary pads. They may not all be suitable for everybody. However, certain items like soap bars or cloth pads save money too, so it’s worth a try!
· Food is often wrapped in layers of pointless plastic. However, sometimes it can be avoided: for example buying loose fruit and vegetables and switching to buying glass jars rather than plastic containers.
· As well as avoiding plastic, you can try to up cycle and reuse the plastic you have! Plastic can only be down-cycled meaning it reduces in quality every time it gets recycled so reusing is better than recycling. Try cutting up bottles and cartons to use as plant pots or bug hotels! Keep tubs to use as storage. Save packaging from your post to reuse!
Eco Tip 2: Plant based foods
There is a huge environmental cost when it comes to industrialized animal farming. 14.5% of manmade greenhouse gas emissions is from meat and dairy production which is roughly equivalent to the exhaust emissions of every car, train, ship and aircraft on the planet. A vegan diet would massively reduce this. Not everyone is able or prepared to go fully vegan- but that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything!
Meat free Mondays are a great idea to reduce your carbon footprint and to discover new foods. Since I went vegetarian 2 years ago, I have discovered so many brilliant alternatives (some things that even taste the same as meat!) which even my non vegetarian family love.
You don’t have to be vegan to try some of the vegan items that many supermarkets now sell. Beans and lentils are a great source of protein and also make a delicious curry. Even junk food like Quorn nuggets or Linda McCartney burgers can taste similar if not the same as meat products!
I think that trying more plant based food is the most fun way you can reduce your carbon footprint. What’s stopping you from giving it a go?
Eco Tip 3: Activism
No matter who you are or what you do, everyone can raise awareness about the climate crisis and eco-friendly tips to others. Whether you use your voice on social media like me, or share your ideas with family, friends or work colleagues it will make a difference.
For example, at my college, I spoke to the canteen staff to discuss other plastic free options they could do rather than using polystyrene boxes and plastic cutlery. They are now hopefully going to start using reusable china plates and metal cutlery in the new term. Also, once I made a vegan curry for my family and they loved the recipe so much that they now make it themselves at home which means for that one meal they are not eating meat or dairy. I also go to my local climate strikes once a month which I enjoy so much as its lovely to be around like minded people.
Also you could write to big companies and organizations asking them how ethical their brand is. Sign petitions, and boycott brands that test on animals or use child labor.
You may not feel it in a world where others can put you down, but you are powerful. You have the power to make one small change which will lead to a bigger impact. You have the power to encourage others to do the same. The more people who care, the more likely people will take action for a better future.