10 tips on how to enjoy a more sustainable lifestyle
It was about a year ago today that my sisters and I discussed the issue of plastic pollution as we sat in a cafe surrounded with disposable, single-use plastics and sipped drinks from plastic straws in plastic cups.
I mentioned to them I had just seen a Greenpeace campaign featuring a replica whale made entirely out of plastic found in the ocean. The ad depicted the whale’s death caused by consuming these plastics.
Our discussion made me realise I consume a great deal of disposable plastic. So I spent three intense weeks looking up how to give it up and reduce my environmental footprint. It started my journey to zero-waste and led me to Bea Johnson, Lauren Singer and Kate Arnell - all zero-waste advocates raising awareness around plastic pollution and encouraging the greater adoption of more sustainable habits.
I am not completely zero-waste, even after reducing my plastic consumption drastically. Avoiding plastic is challenging in the society we live in and it takes serious time and dedication to steer totally clear of it. But these simple tips can help you reduce your environmental footprints one step at a time...
#1 Get a reusable mug and water bottle
This will reduce your waste drastically and save you money in the long run! Some places even offer a discount if you refill from a reusable coffee/tea mug. Although PET bottles are recyclable, research has shown that less than 30 percent of these bottles actually get recycled, meaning that billions enter our oceans.
#2 Use a grocery bag
#3 Bulk shopping
Bulk shopping helps you avoid packaging and is the best thing for the environment. A simple Google search will help you locate your nearest one. I go to Earth Natural Foods in Kentish Town West and the process is very straightforward; you bring your containers - whether glass ones or old plastic, weigh them before putting anything in it, and then fill it with whatever you desire. It’s cheaper, more sustainable, and way more fun than shopping at Sainsbury’s!
#4 Eat/cook at home
Takeaways make up a massive amount of single-use plastic. Instead, opt to eat at home and cook (which is cheaper), or, next time you go out to eat at a food market, bring some reusable, washable cutlery with you. You can even take a tupperware to put your food in if you’re feeling extra determined!
#5 Avoid single use plastics
This tip includes a lot of different single-use plastics but a more obvious one that has been getting a lot of attention lately is the straw.
Try as best as you can to stop consuming any sort of single-use plastics.
#6 Buy less and choose second hand
The textile industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world, whether it be from gas emissions during production and shipping or the millions of micro plastics released in the oceans with every laundry load. Instead of buying new clothes, opt for a durable, ethical and sustainable brand or buy second hand. Also, try to buy smart instead of on impulse.
#7 Delete old emails and files and unsubscribe from newsletters
Research shows that an email itself is not particularly polluting. But billions of them combined use lots of energy and electricity which CAN pollute our environment. Same goes for old files stored in the cloud. As they constantly need to be reachable, they constantly use space and energy. An added bonus is doing a technology de-clutter. Empty email inboxes are so much more relaxing than seeing 1,875 unread emails. Am I right?
#8 Avoid cosmetics with microbeads
I didn’t know this until recently, but a lot of cosmetics, especially scrubs, use microbeads. These are tiny balls of plastics we wash down our drain everyday. If you can avoid them, definitely do it!
#9 Opt for durable over cheap
Disposable razors may seem practical and cheap but they greatly pollute the environment. There are around 2 billion plastic razors discarded every year - which means another 2 billion bought to replace them. If you buy a safety razor, made from metal, not only are you helping save the planet but you’re also saving your wallet! Yes, they might be more expensive but you only have to buy one. For your lifetime. You’ll make the money back so it’s totally worth it.
#10 Don't be too hard on yourself
Going zero-waste is hard and takes time. You can’t beat yourself up if by tomorrow you’re not perfectly zero-waste - which is totally disheartening and won’t make you want to continue.
Like I said, it is hard to be 100 percent zero-waste. For example, I am vegan and I still buy tofu even thought it comes in plastic. I just try to have a varied diet so that I don’t have to buy it all the time.
I hope this article helps you want to take the pledge for a #zerowaste lifestyle! See you on the other side!
ICMP Environment Week: 4th–8th March 2019
Throughout the week we'll be sharing tips with our students and highlighting how we strive to minimise ICMP's environmental impact. We'll also be running a 'Fix-it Desk' where our students can bring in old or broken gear for our Facilities Team to assess and fix where possible.
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