As we’re becoming more aware of the need to look after mother earth, it’s more important than ever to learn from each other when it comes to being more sustainable. Being sustainable and eco-friendly may sound daunting, but focussing on what each of us can do at home is the best and most effective place to start. Read on to discover a host of simple ways we can practice sustainability within our own lives with a few sustainability tips, thus creating a ripple-effect; when we make a sustainable choice, we make a vote for a healthier, happier future. Here you’ll find the easiest sustainability tips and tricks most of us are probably already doing (because we could all do with a little reminder sometimes, right?) to real-life examples of the creative and committed ways people are making moves towards a low-waste and sustainable living.
Although recycling is easier than ever today, it’s always useful to be reminded about just how important recycling at home is. Especially if you live in a household where the views on sustainability and recycling are mixed, making recycling as easy as possible is one way to ensure we create less waste. Having a recycling bin next to your waste bin makes recycling an easy habit to cultivate, and choosing items that either come without any packaging at all – either by choosing not to bag your fruits and veggies at the supermarket, or shopping from packaging-free stores – makes recycling even easier! Look for the triangular arrow sign that means your items can be recycled, or a note saying your carton, can or bottle is ‘widely recycled’.
Re-usable Water Bottle
Carrying a re-usable water bottle with you is now a mainstream practice, and every time you choose to use your own re-usable bottle, you’re helping reduce the amount of plastic waste found in the ocean each year. National Geographic have reported that more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in the sea, and with almost a million plastic beverage bottles being sold every minute throughout the world, plastic pollution will only get worse unless we make a change. Carrying your own water bottle may seem like a small contribution to the world’s plastic crisis, but if we all make small changes, it’ll add up to create a huge difference! Look for re-usable water bottles made from sustainable and non-toxic materials like stainless steel and recyclable bamboo.
BYOB (bring your own bags!)
Another super simple way to be sustainable; bring your own cloth bags when you head to the supermarket! Now shops either charge for the use of bags or have got rid of them altogether, it’s easier not to use waste-creating plastic bags. Cloth bags are widely available from many forward-thinking stores, and there are of course an inexhaustible amount of them to choose from online. Choose from cotton, mesh string bags, canvas totes, or you can even re-purpose old t-shirts by cutting and stitching them into bags too!
Break up with Fast Fashion
With sites like De-pop making it easier to sell and swap clothes, and big-name chains like H&M getting involved in the ‘conscious fashion’ movement, it’s now easier to make better decisions when it comes to clothing. The fast fashion industry emits roughly 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 every year, and is responsible for producing around 20% of the global waste water, contaminating rivers, oceans, freshwater sources and soil. Being more sustainable when it comes to clothing enables us to be creative with mending, swapping and obtaining second-hand items, as well as buying from retailers that support conscious fashion. Wearing those new yoga pants is going to feel so much better if you know they’re also helping save the planet!
Eat Seasonally & Buy Locally
Being able to buy avocados in December or watermelon from your local shops may feel convenient and healthy, but transporting these foods to the UK creates a huge amount of pollution when they have to travel half way across the world. Not only does the earth suffer when we eat out-of-season foods, but our wellbeing actually does too. To explain this, I’ll show you a little excerpt from an e-book I’m currently working on!:
‘Why Do we benefit from living seasonally? Much of it has to do with our ancestry, our circadian rhythms, and the types of foods we benefit from most depending upon the time of year. One simple yet important point for example, is that our bodies tend to metabolise carbohydrates better when we’re exposed to high levels of vitamin D. This makes sense when you think about the types of foods that grow in the sunniest countries – high carbohydrate fruits like bananas, mangoes and pineapples originate from countries like India, Costa Rica, West Africa and the Caribbean, which all have high levels of sunlight year-round. Those who live in sunny climates and naturally absorb high levels of vitamin D seem to be able to eat higher carbohydrate foods with little problem, whereas areas with periods of lower levels of sunlight like Norway, Sweden or Iceland, the inhabitants are more naturally suited to a higher fat and protein diet of fish and meat. Much of this is also related to ancestry, and how our bodies have naturally evolved to eat different types of foods according to where live or where we’re from. Grains, by the way, are often dismissed when it comes to finding the ‘best’ ancestral diet to follow, because they require some amount of processing before they’re edible, and many people feel our bodies aren’t evolved to consume them (this has much to do with the ‘gluten free’ movement too). If we’re talking about ancient ancestral diets though, grains are definitely an ancient food type, as harvesting tools dating back 10,000 years before the origin of agriculture have been found in places like Israel, proving that wheat, and other glutenous foods have actually been part of the human diet for a long time’.
Buying locally means we’re also more likely to be buying seasonally and reducing transport pollution. Supporting your local farm shop, family-run store or UK-based online company means these small, honest and sustainable businesses can stay afloat (especially in unpredictable times like this!)
Brush with Bamboo
A simple swap for your teeth now and a simple sustainability tip – try using a bamboo toothbrush instead of plastic! Bamboo is compostable, naturally anti-bacterial, and won’t contribute to the swathes of plastic floating in the sea… The best part is that they work just as well as regular toothbrushes, so you’ll hardly notice the difference!
Aerosols, chemicals, and the packaging they usually come in means many deodorants are bad for both our bodies and the planet. Swapping to an eco-friendly deodorant like Native Unearthed is a fantastic way to be more sustainable (and no, you definitely won’t smell using their products!). You can also make your own deodorant easily, which will also help you save money. To make your own, try the following recipe:
(makes 1 mini jar full)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
- 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
- 8 drops good quality essential oil (oils with antibacterial properties will help with the deodorising element, such as clove, cinnamon or rosemary, and oils like lavender or rose will give a lovely scent!)
- Add all ingredients to your jar and mix well
- Place somewhere cool and dry and allow the mixture to set for about an hour
- Use a small amount each time and enjoy!
Walk & Cycle when Possible
Whilst the gyms and yoga studios were closed throughout lockdown, many of us reconnected with the act of taking long walks, benefitting from the extra amount of sun exposure, fresh air and gentle movement! If you’re back to work now or have a busier schedule, you can practice sustainability by choosing to walk rather than drive when it’s possible. Of course, not all journeys can be walked, so choose the ones you’re able to commit to regularly. Cycling is also a fantastic way to stay moving, travel from place to place, and help reduce pollution.
Cloth Nappies & Wipes
As many new mums will know, navigating the world of nappies and wipes can open the doors to a world of new questions and confusing options. Vanessa Chubb – inspiring super sustainable mum and someone who is really committed to living a down-to-earth, eco-friendly life, not only grows her own fruits and veggies, shops from a local zero-waste co op, but also uses cloth nappies and re-usable wipes. “Thousands of nappies to go landfill each year, and take hundreds of years to decompose. Cloth is such a great swap and relatively easy too. I use ‘Cheeky Wipes’; all you do is fill up the clean wipes box with water and essential oil, pop the wipes in, and they’re ready to use whenever you need them! The nappies I use are ‘Baba and Boo’ and ‘Little Lambs’ for nighttime. There are so many great cloth nappy sale pages on Facebook, and online groups where you can find out about the right fit, absorbency, size, and even clothes that fit nicely over the cloth nappies!” To find out more about Vanessa’s eco-friendly baby routine, and how she’s managed to create some incredible ways for her son to learn and play at home, follow her on Instagram @x_vanessa_louise_x
Re-Purpose Old Materials for Dish Rags
Speaking of using cloth instead of landfill items, one of the most simple ways to bring sustainability into your home cleaning us to re-purpose old clothes or bedding. When an item is no longer suitable to wear or use, and if it seems likely that the charity shops would reject what you want rid of, try cutting the items into squares or strips and using them as cleaning cloths instead. You’ll save money on buying cloths from the supermarket, and put your old clothes to good use!
DIY Cleaning Products
Speaking of cleaning, making your own home cleaning products is simple, sustainable, and could even make a huge difference to your respiratory health. Many commercial cleaning products contain toxins like phthalates, perchloroethylene and ammonia, which are known endocrine disruptors, and when inhaled, can cause hormone issues. Purchasing cleaning products from companies like Method, Kinn, or Bio-D is a great way to support ethical businesses whilst avoiding toxins, but making your own is effective too! Ellen Carr – yoga teacher, holistic coach, and host of the Create Shift podcast, is committed to sustainable living and makes her own cleaning products too. “I’m constantly surprised by how many things I used to just buy that I can actually make myself. Things like all-purpose cleaner, bathroom cleaner and even wood polish. Or bathroom products like body scrub and foot butter. Making these things is quick, easy, uses a lot less plastic and has the added benefit of no harmful chemicals being breathed in”. Find Ellen on Instagram @being_change
Grow your own Fruits, Veggies and Herbs
The culmination of being at home more, realising that supermarkets and food supply can be pretty unreliable, and feeling the need to look after the health of ourselves and the planet even more so over the past few months, has meant many of us have discovered the joys (and challenges!) of growing food at home. Growing our own food means we become much more aware of just how much effort it takes for the meal on our plate to get there, and can ensure there are no toxic chemicals and pesticides sprayed on the plants. Sussex based yoga and meditation teacher Derry O’Toole says she’s become more connected to where her food comes from after growing fruit and veg on a family allotment; “Earlier this year, we were fortunate enough to find a small allotment plot locally, and started growing our own fruit and veg. It’s been a fantastic experience for all of us, especially our six-year-old, who’s school project last term ‘Going Green’. Nurturing something from seed to plate has given us a really strong connection to our food sources, and inspired us to waste less, building meals around what we have and creating a far more sustainable and planet-friendly kitchen”. Find Derry on Instagram @derryjayne
Cook from Scratch & use Leftovers
Similar to growing our own food; cooking from scratch not only creates a stronger relationship between us and our meals, but means we create far less waste from packaging too. Ready meals often come in packaging and contain artificial ingredients our bodies aren’t evolved to consume. When we create a meal from real ingredients, our bodies know how to digest and assimilate all the nutrients in the food. Any waste that is created (vegetable peels, onion and garlic skins, herb stalks etc.) can be made into vegetable stock by simply adding the scraps to a large pot, simmering for an hour, then straining the liquid. You can store the liquid in containers ready to use whenever you need! Remember that even if the sustainable switches and eco-friendly changes we make seem small, they add up to create a healthier world, and a brighter future for everyone. How could you make your life more sustainable today?
Aus der Feder von Yogamatters