Today’s blog post is a guest post from Lauren! <3 She has written a jam-packed post on her top eco tips for a beginner. I have written a blog post over on her blog, be sure to check it out here 🥰 x
HI! I’m Lauren and I write for Lauren Heart – a lifestyle blog, aimed at encouraging readers to explore small and independent brands, with an emphasis on making sustainable choices whilst considering eco-friendly gifting. Mixed in with this are personal ramblings and discussions on popular topics.
Are you going green? If you are, you’re not alone. An increasing number of us have joined the green movement: eating organic food, timing our showers and reducing our carbon footprint. Once relegated to peace-loving hippies, sustainability has now hit the mainstream in a major way.
You’re not alone if you’ve felt lost about becoming more eco-conscious. I often get asked: how can I live more sustainably? For newbies navigating a greener lifestyle, it can be daunting, and it’s easy to understand why. There is SO much information out there, it can be completely overwhelming. When faced with conflicting sources and too many eco causes to choose from, some can be put-off and end up not making any positive changes. So I decided to put together a cheat sheet to help you navigate that first toe-dip into living more sustainably. I’ll talk through some simple steps that you can take TODAY, that will positively impact the environment. These tips will hopefully inspire you to dive headfirst into living a greener life.
Before I dive into the detail, I want to start by telling you to go easy on yourself. You will feel obliged, and indeed want, to join every cause going. But my advice is to take it slow and try a couple of tweaks to your way of living. Then you can scale it up.
I recommend watching a couple of documentaries a month, to try to pinpoint what causes are important to you. Do your research and get educated on topics that you’re passionate about. For me, watching Racing Extinction and Cowspiracy (Netflix) was pivotal in my ‘switching on’ and focusing on my impact on the environment.
I decided to give up eating meat and drinking dairy, which opened my eyes to so many other positive changes in my life. This leads me to say a key ethos to start with – do just one thing. Any changes you make will 100% make an impact on the planet, so don’t under-estimate your contribution for one second, and worry you aren’t doing enough. Making just one change can have a huge effect.
Change takes time. So forgive yourself if some things take longer. You’ll hear people tell you “what’s the point” or “what difference am I going to make in my lifetime”. IT DOES MATTER. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to completely overhaul and reinvent your life. It will be exhausting and you’re much more likely to give up or burn out. Try swapping out one thing in your lifestyle – whether its take away coffee cups for a reusable cup or giving up drinking dairy for oat milk, swapping out cling film for beeswax wraps or eating vegan just one day a week. Anyway, this blog is a gentle chit chat just between us, a mindset shift to unlock a greener way of thinking. You got this.
Being eco-friendly (known also as sustainable or ethical) should first and foremost be about reducing consumption. Reducing your footprint starts by being mindful of consumption and waste. This ultimately means buying less and purchasing only what you need. This can be applied to all aspects of how we live our daily lives. Ditching the single-use items is an easy quick-win. I’ve included some simple swaps – a few single-use items and their eco-friendly stand-ins:
- face wipes – swap for – reusable face cloths
- bottles of water – swap for – your own snazzy refillable water bottle
- coffee cups – swap for – reusable coffee cup (which will usually get you a discount at your local coffee shop! You’re welcome)
- plastic bags – swap for – fabric tote or Bag for Life
- cling film – swap for – reusable beeswax wraps
- paper napkins – swap for – washable cloth napkins
- face masks – swap for – reusable face masks in a fabric/design of your choosing
Another really simple way of reducing your impact on the environment is to consider a dairy-free or veggie lifestyle. Yep, I’ve said it. Give up on gristle. You’ll not only save money making your weekly shop much cheaper, but you’ll also reduce greenhouse emissions and deforestation. You heard me right – little old you can make a REAL difference by giving up your participation in the mass-meat & dairy industry.
Related post: How I became a vegetarian during recovery
You’ll have no doubt seen or experienced this and perhaps not picked up on it. Planned obsolescence is something that was introduced by businesses and manufacturers as a way of maintaining steady sales.
An old example is back in the 50s when cars were first made available to the average Joe Public. Corporations needed a way to keep the market going and so product lifespans became deliberately shorter. This meant that consumer goods broke down faster, needing to be replaced or upgraded, and thus trapping the consumer into a never-ending shopping cycle.
Fast fashion is a primary example of planned obsolescence. Fashion brands purposely create trends in order to sell cheaply-made new product lines that are introduced to stores almost weekly. What’s not ‘in’ is deemed ‘out’ and are disposed of, directly to landfill usually. Brands like Primark and Claire’s are run on these exact strategies. I try to live by the age-old saying “if you buy cheap, you buy twice”, meaning that if you invest a little more upfront, you save more in the long term as your product stands the test of time. Try to apply that thought process when you next shop, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Related post: 9 ways to reduce your fast fashion consumption
When a garment is damaged, many of us think of nothing more than chucking it out and replacing it with something new. However, many items can be repaired. You can sew on a new button or mend a seam that is coming apart. You can darn a sock or sweater. With 400kg of waste per person sent to landfill each year here in the UK, we need to start changing the mindset of throwing items away and asking ourselves: Can it be repaired? Can it be fixed? Why not learn a new skill and try to fix it yourself.
You could go to a tailor or seamstress who operate out of most dry cleaners on the high streets. Alternatively, there are plenty of local repair shops popping up all over the country. If you don’t have the skills personally, why not get in touch to see if one of your neighbours can? Some high street brands have started to offer in-house repair services where you can get fashion favourites mended or upgraded.
Instead of throwing items that you no longer need in the trash, why not recycle them? There are simple ways to do this: you can donate it to a charity that will recycle your goods and turn your trash into treasure. Even in lockdown, there are loads of charities that are still taking donations, having innovated their supply chain to work around stores being closed. Many will collect from you at home or pay your postage so that you can send your items to those that need them. I wrote a blog about donating items in lockdown, detailing all the charities you can still work with to shift your pre-loved items which you can check out here.
Recycling is also about the waste that you create as a household and making sure you dispose of it in the most eco-friendly way possible. That means accessing all of the tools available to you locally – check out your town council’s website and make sure you have all the recycling bags/boxes, and ensure you maximise them.
According to the Mirriam Webster dictionary, repurpose is defined as: “to change (something) so that it can be used for a different purpose.” Thus repurposed fashion is similar to upcycling in that it is a form of recycling.
Unlike upcycling where fashion is altered to create an item with a similar purpose; repurposing involves altering it so that it is given an entirely new purpose or use. One example is turning an old linen dress into a tote bag. If you’re like me and are hopeless with a sewing machine, there are high street brands and designers that will take your unwanted fabrics – whether it’s odd socks or bed sheets, and rework them into garments. You can choose to donate your second-hand items to increasing numbers of designers who will happily receive and recycle your unwanted garments.
Some even offer vouchers in return for donating goods, such as H&M who in 2019, collected over 29,000 tonnes of unwanted clothes and textiles through their Garment Collecting programme.
Reinventing your wardrobe goes hand in hand with buying less. It also involves being creative. Let’s face it – it’s easy to go shopping for an item that you want because it’ll ‘complete’ an outfit. Why not organise a clothes swap between friends – invite them all around to help you, Marie Kondo, your wardrobe. So much more creativity is involved in looking at your existing closet and finding new outfits with the help of a fresh pair of eyes. Reinventing your closet with your buddies can bring about creative new looks that you may otherwise not have considered. With an added bonus – in the process of helping, your friends get their hands on your unwanted items. Anything left is then donated to charity.
War on plastic
If you do one thing this year – reduce your plastic use. We’re seeing new scientific data on this every day. Only last year we learnt of microplastics revealed in the placentas of unborn babies… It’s something that is going to get worse before it gets better and so fighting the war on plastic has never been more important. The best and most effective way is to simply not buy it.
Look out for alternatives to plastic when shopping – buy loose fruit and veg where possible, buy bamboo toothbrushes, buy takeaways in vegware or compostable boxing, or better yet cook up your own at home. Use a refillable water bottle and you’ll be amazed at how many water bottles you’re not throwing away. Most workplaces offer free filtered water, as well as many towns and city centres providing free water stations, there’s never been a better time to purchase a funky water bottle to use time and time again, such as chilly’s.
Use your voice
The last thing I’m going to talk about is the most effective and completely free tool on your eco-warrior journey – YOU. Use your voice to take action. For each email we send to our local supermarket, our local MP, our favourite clothing brand, is another notch on the tally of customers that want to see actual change. Why not tell your supermarket that you’re sick of all the plastic packaging their fresh fruit and veg is sold in & which isn’t recyclable. Tell them you expect more. As well as that, talk to family and friends about causes that are important to you. Why not use a birthday to ask loved ones to donate to a charity of your choice instead of gifting you presents that you don’t need. Use it as the vehicle on which to educate those around you in a positive way.
Thank you so much to Lauren for writing this incredible post! I’m sure you will have learnt something new in this post, I know I have 💚
Best wishes, Cx