Thu 14 Mar 2019
With climate change becoming more of an urgent global problem and little seeming to be done to slow this down, is there anything we, as individuals can do to help? The answer is yes; little changes can have a huge impact
It’s no secret that by law, all major retailers and food outlets have had to drastically reduce their plastic waste. This has been achieved by either replacing plastic with more eco- friendly alternatives or charging for every bag used.
Currently the price per bag is 5p but this is set to increase to 10p later this year. This initiative can be easily mimicked at home very simply by re-using old bags or by purchasing bags made from sustainable materials, such as hessian.
Interestingly, you may not know, that if you take your own flask to either Starbucks or Costa coffee you will be charged 25p less for your drink. This not only helps to reduce plastic waste but also saves you money!
Make small changes
We all need to clean and heat our homes and wash our clothes. Turning the central heating down by a few degrees or washing on a cooler temperature will not massively affect our well-being but can have a big impact on the amount of energy we are using. It’s also possible to buy eco-friendly cleaning products from most major supermarkets. Using phosphate free washing-up liquids and washing powders will reduce the toxins released into the water supply. Phosphates stimulate algal growth in the water which lowers the oxygen levels and can kill both plants and fish.
As well as food waste we are all guilty of using too much electricity. To save on our bills there are a few simple steps which can be taken. Turn off lights when you are leaving the room for any length of time and replace standard lightbulbs with compact fluorescent ones – these are estimated to last up to eight times longer and use a fraction of the energy. It’s also a good tip to turn all electrical devices off rather than leaving them on standby mode.
Recent studies have shown that our love of plastic is having dramatic consequences for all types of marine life, with more than 8 million tons of all types of plastic being washed into the seas each year. Some of this is broken down and consumed by marine wildlife including the seafood which we ourselves eat.
Many of the plastic bags are, however, mistaken as food by creatures such as whales. And if they swallow enough, they can ultimately starve to death. It might sound a little extreme, however changing your toothbrush can make a big difference to plastic waste. Billions of plastic toothbrushes are produced every year, most of which end up in landfill sites and take years to decay. Why not try a sustainable alternative? Many health food shops sell Bamboo toothbrushes.
It won’t come as any surprise that one of the major pollutants in this country is car emissions. In 2017 it was estimated that transport accounted for 34% of all carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is toxic and can be hazardous to our health, with it being estimated to cause 3,500 premature deaths in London alone every year.
If you are a driver there are things you can do to help reduce this. Drive slower and if possible, drive less. Do you really need to do the school run in the car? For shorter journeys could you cycle or take the bus? If you slow your speed from 70 to 50 you will use 25% less fuel which may be worth considering on longer journeys.
There are other items which will stay in landfill sites for many years such as disposable nappies and sanitary products. Admittedly, not for the faint hearted but it may be worth considering trying reusable nappies – saving you money and reducing unnecessary plastic waste. With the amount of food wasted in this country alone, you could consider creating your own compost heap, to reduce the waste that you, as an individual, send to landfill sites. If you are a keen gardener this can then be used to feed your plants, flowers or vegetables. So, not only will you have the satisfaction of recycling waste and feeding your garden but also protecting the ever-decreasing peat bogs. Also think about buying a water butt to collect rain water which can be used to water the garden during the dry summer months – ideal for when hosepipe bans are put in place.