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My 5 easy lifestyle changes for the environment

I’m a huge science geek so I am fascinated by Earth and the life that calls it home. There is so much we still don’t know about this planet, but one thing we do know is it’s getting warmer. Global warming is a real threat to life on this planet, and the current rate of climate change is particularly concerning. Not only is the data from the last couple of decades significantly higher than the data over the past century, but it is also widely agreed that it is because of human activity.

So why am I writing about this on a lifestyle blog? Well quite simply, I care about the environment, I care how much landfill we have and how polluted the air is and what kind of life my son will have when he’s my age. I’ve also found myself feeling pretty lost in terms of what I can do until recently. How much difference can a 29-year-old single mum from London actually make?

The answer is, a lot. And you can too.

Below are the small lifestyle changes you can make to have a big impact. Not only that but I’ve also added some of the information I found whilst researching so that you can have informed conversations around these topics and hopefully inspire those around you to start making changes too.

 

Use less disposable plastic

In the 10 years between 2002 and 2012, humans produced more plastic than in the entire 20th century! Plastic does not biodegrade, meaning it never really goes away. Plastic waste causes over 100,000 marine and over 1 million bird deaths each year. It’s also responsible for harmful chemicals that reach our groundwater; getting into the food chain and causing illness, and potentially death. As well, the production of plastic emits millions of tons of greenhouse gases, adding to the global warming problem.

This is an easy first step to being more environmentally conscious. Most, if not all, councils recycle plastic therefore reducing the amount going to landfill. If you don’t have a recycling bin at home that the council collect, why not check their local website for what programs they have available. If they don’t have something convenient for you to be able to recycle then get in contact with them and influence a change! The biggest change you can make, however, comes from using less plastic in the first place. Instead of buying a bottle of water with your lunch, why not invest in a metal or glass reusable bottle that you can fill up with whatever you fancy. Also if you haven’t already, invest in a non-plastic bag for life for your shopping needs.

Shopping bags don’t have to be boring either, why not check out these designs;

LOQI Museum Hokusai the Great Wave Reusable Shopping Bag

White Canvas London Landmark Red Bus Shopper bag

Tough Canvas Tote Bag With Chunky Rope Handle

 

Think about going vegan… and quitting rice!

Now, before some of you roll your eyes at this one…I’m not vegan myself. Vegans get a lot of schtick for being all about saving the animals, every single one, without a huge amount of detailed thought process. I don’t agree with that as the people I know who are vegan are well informed and open for discussion around the topic even if views are different. On the animal welfare side of things, I’m not sure where I sit – I believe all animals deserve to have a good life and not be put through pain and cruelty just for the sake of human meals and beauty etc, however I don’t know yet if I believe a vegan lifestyle is how to fully achieve that. That’s for a separate post though.

This post is about the environment, and there are a lot of reasons why leaning to a more vegan lifestyle improves our environment. It’s estimated that meat consumption generates nearly one-fifth of man-made greenhouse gases, and requires an extortionate amount of water compared to plant-based counterparts.

Going meat-free has a huge benefit to the environment, equally so does giving up rice. Rice cultivation releases methane, a greenhouse gas, into our atmosphere. Unlike carbon dioxide which takes more than 100 years to break down, methane takes eight years. Having an impact on the amount of methane released in the atmosphere has a much quicker, although smaller, benefit on climate change. This offers another reason for going meat-free, or at least cow-free. Cows have a ruminant digestive system which causes a lot of methane. The lower the demand on beef or dairy, the less cows will be farmed, and the less methane released into the atmosphere from ruminant digestion.

If you and your family reduced the amount of days you eat meat and cheese by just one day a week, it would be equivalent to taking a car off the road for five weeks!

For those, like me who have a restrictive diet for medical reasons, going meat free can be daunting. Start small and do your research. Currently I’m not eating beef and looking for alternatives to cow’s milk that I enjoy and gives me equivalent nutrients. I’ve stopped eating rice, and rice noodles (a solid favourite of mine!) and instead found other alternatives – new favourite is bare naked noodles made from konjac flour.

 

Don’t let your tummy do the shopping..

Another way our food habits contribute to environmental changes is through food waste. This food waste usually ends up in landfill which, as it decomposes, ends up releasing methane. You probably don’t even realise how much you could be wasting. Follow these steps to reduce as much as you can – and save money!

Never go food shopping whilst hungry. Your cravings will take over and generally our eyes are bigger than our stomachs! Instead eat a meal then plan out your week ahead and write a list. Think about ingredients you can use for multiple meals.

Log what you throw away; everything from leftovers to gone off meat. When you write your shopping list each week review your waste log. Look for trends and adjust what you buy accordingly.

Donate! If you know something isn’t going to be used before it expires why not do a bit of research and see if there is a food bank or homeless shelter near you that could use the food you’re about to chuck away.

Use leftovers to experiment with new dishes. If you cook too much, don’t throw away the remains, look online for recipes you can use to combine your leftovers into a new tasty meal!

 

Use the car less

If you drive, think about the journeys you take. Could you walk, or ride a bike instead? Public transport or even car-pool with friends? How can you lower your carbon footprint, and save money in the process!

If you’re looking to buy a car, why not see if an eco-friendly vehicle is in your budget? Can’t afford an electric or hybrid car, then check out the CO2 emissions for the model you’re considering. Try and find a vehicle that have the lowest CO2 emissions. Not only does it help the environment but your road tax will be cheaper as well.

 

Buy energy efficient

It’s pretty well documented that non-renewable sources of energy are not good for the environment. They are resources that we are using too quickly, and they will run out. Add onto that the greenhouse gases and pollutants released into the environment I think we can all agree that reducing energy used through non-renewable resources is a good thing.

When you need to replace a bulb, buy energy-efficient. Energy-efficient LED bulbs, for example, are up to 10-times more efficient than the previous standard filament bulbs. Switching to energy-efficient lights will save you a lot of money over the year and use a lot less energy therefore being great for the environment.

Don’t stop there, when you need to replace an appliance check the energy efficiency rating. Appliances are generally more energy efficient now that they were even a decade ago but there are still some that are better than others.

Do you own your own home? Why not look into putting solar panels on your roof. You could generate enough energy to run your home and take your electricity bill down to zero! Produce more energy than you need and you can sell it back to the grid and even make money!

 

What changes are you making to help the environment? There’s so many I didn’t include in here but as I make more and more changes I’ll revisit this topic here on the blog.

 

Sources I used for researching this topic:
Methane production by ruminants: its contribution to global warming by Angel R. Moss, Jean-Pierre Jouany and John Newbold
Grad student studies methane production in ride fields
NASA – Climate Change: How do we know?
Earth Day Network

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