10 Sustainability Tips to Make Your Life Better
I’m by no means an expert on sustainable living; however, living sustainably has a lot of clear benefits that are better for the environment and can also be beneficial for your bank account. Did you know that over the last 100 years, the average temperature across the earth has increased by 0.8° Celsius?
This might not seem like a lot, but if we don’t get our CO2 emissions under control, the earth will continue to warm at a much fast rate, and the consequences for the environment, our flora and fauna, and our well-being are enormous.
What can you do to make your life both more sustainable and better at the same time?
I’m not a vegan, and I’m never going to be a vegan, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not happy to cut down my meat consumption to try and save money. In a recent report published by the Worldwatch Institute, their research indicates that 51 per cent of worldwide greenhouse-gas emissions are attributed to growing cattle, sheep and pigs to be raised and killed for food.
Its generally accepted by most academics that a meat lover has the highest carbon footprint at 3.3 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. In contrast, a vegan diet has the lowest carbon footprint at just 1.5 tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent. I love meat too much to convert to veganism, however, if I reduced my meat consumption by 25%, it would do very little to my diet or enjoyment but would cut my greenhouse gas emission consumption enormously.
While taking the vegan approach, it’s a good idea to be mindful of where your fruit and vegetables are coming from. For example, growing fruit and vegetables produces less greenhouse gas emissions than raising cattle, but if you then air-transport it from its source to your location, it can be a far worse source of greenhouse gasses than cattle. Fruits such as blueberries and strawberries are imported to Europe and the U.S. by air in the winter as I not possible to grow these fruits in the higher latitude countries. Research by the University of xxxx showed that asparagus eaten in the U.K. has the highest carbon footprint, with 5.3kg of carbon dioxide being produced for every kilogram of asparagus because it’s nearly all imported by air from Peru.
Another example is the regular vegan diet of nuts. Cashew nuts, almonds and walnuts are the most water-intensive crops grown on the planet. Research shows that nuts grown in trees consume an average of 4,134 litres of freshwater for every kilogram of shelled nuts that we eat. Not only do they use a vast amount of water, but they also produce vast qualities of CO2. Research by the University of Michigan estimates that cashew nuts release 4.99kg of CO2 per kilo that is made.
Reduce Your Wastage
This covers everything from food waste to plastic and everything in-between. The problem is that what we throw is causing enormous problems for the planet and is a waste of resources to make in the first place. For me, there are three parts of wastage that I try to focus on;
This is all the food that is not eaten and is thus discarded into the bin. It’s not even the food that ends up on the side of the plate. It is the food from restaurants, hotels, cafes, supermarkets. Then because our supply chains are getting longer and longer each year, there is wastage from manufacturers, packers, distributors and so on. In the E.U., an estimated 20% of the total food produced is lost or wasted, totalling almost 88 million tonnes.
Over the last thirty years, plastic has been something I used daily. It’s cheap, flexible and durable but also causes huge problems to the environment and how we live. The biggest problem with plastic is that it does not bio-degrade. It might break into smaller and smaller microplastic, but it never totally disappears. As a consequence, you’ll find plastics in our drinking water, fish and animals where they are causing hormonal and other changes.
This covers everything from our lifestyle of living. It’s about reducing our use of natural resources in an attempt to reduce our personal carbon footprint. This is a huge subject, but the key points are below;
- Home – Insulating your home is easily the most effective way of cutting down on heat loss, but it’s not the only thing that you can do to stop waste in your home.
- Double Glazing – second on the list to reduce heat loss is double-glazing, however, watch out for the popular uPVC windows as they consume a lot of oil and chemical additives during the manufacturing process.
- Swapping old-style lightbulbs for L.E.D.s,
- Fitting smart thermostats,
- Donning extra layers of clothing and turning down the thermostat — to 19˚C, says the Committee on Climate Change in its recent report.
- Solar Panels can help to reduce
- Collect Rainwater – to be at a later date, either during the summer when growing vegetables at home or potentially used at home within a dirty system for toilets. It’s also a great idea if laws permit to divert water that has been used for showers, to be used in the garden again.
The amount of waste in the kitchen is mind-boggling when you start to consider everything from food waste, packaging waste, cleaning waste. In a 2018 study by the British Plastic Federation, the U.K. produced 2,260,000 tonnes of plastic, however, only 46.6% of it was sent to be recycled. Below are ten ways to be more sustainable in the kitchen.
Reduce plastic usage by buying from farmer’s markets or pick-your-own farms while taking your own reusable containers or bags for purchases.
Use natural cleaning products to clean your home as while there is no such thing as an environmentally friendly household product, there are some that are better than others.
Watch out for non-renewable sources of cleaning equipment such as man-made sponges and scouring pads that contain harmful synthetic dyes and disinfectants.
The Home Office
Working from home is very common, but you still need to watch out that you’re as sustainable as possible.
- Paper-Free – The average home office uses
- Recycled – If you have to print, make sure it’s on recycled paper, using recycled ink cartridges and vegetable-based eco inks.
- If you have to commute to work for the day, getting the train is the most eco-commuter friendly method of transport, after walking and cycling and uses 35% less energy per passenger mile than your car.
- If you cannot get the train and are forced to use your car, car-sharing trips are recommend as a great way to reduce your footprint.
- It’s said we spend a third of our life in our bedroom,
- The Bed – It all starts with the bed and duvet. Standard mattresses contain antimony trioxide, chlorinated alkanes and decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) which are exceptionally damaging to the environment. By switching to an organic bedding, you’re not only saving the environment, but you’re also potentially saving your health.
- Sheets and Throws –16% of the worlds usage of insecticide is used on the production of Cotton for things like sheets and throws. Buy organic cotton which is more expensive but much better for the environment.
- Duvets and Pillows – Your standard man-made duvet and pillow is made with fire retardants and harmful formaldehyde chemicals.
- New Clothes – Rather than buying new clothes, look at vintage or via charity shops for second-hand. In the U.K. estimates show that we throw away £140 million worth of clothes each year,
- Fashion – The latest in fashion is important, but buying better, more resilient clothing, washing pieces carefully for longevity and repair and selling or donating clothes rather than dispatching them to landfill.
- Don’t Bath, Shower Instead – The average bath uses 150 Litres of water, whereas a 15-minute shower with a low-flow showerhead only uses 45 Litres. The Energy Saving Trust (www.energysavingtrust.org.uk) says cutting showering time by one minute will shave £15 off energy bills and £15 off water bills per person per year.