Being environmentally friendly is so important, especially now when we can see the impact that climate change is having on our world. Everyone has to do their bit if we want to transform our world and cut back on pollution and waste. So we’ve come up with ten vital things that everyone should do to make a start at becoming more environmentally friendly.
1. Bamboo Toothbrush
You may never have thought that something as small as your toothbrush is actually bad for the environment, but with 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes sent to landfill each year, they contribute significantly to the huge amounts of plastic waste that ends up in landfills and oceans.
Bamboo on the other hand is a renewable material, with plants growing fast enough to be harvested in under five years (much quicker than any other type of wood). It’s antimicrobial properties also mean that it doesn’t require any fertilizer of pesticides that could harm the environment. When you’re done with your toothbrush, the handle is totally compostable and you can recycle the plastic bristles separately.
Plus, if you order from a company such as Humble Brush, you will also be donating to their charity which provides toothbrushes for those who cannot afford or do not have access to their own.
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2. Reusable Straws
Straws, like plastic toothbrushes, are another form of plastic that ends up in oceans and landfills and doesn’t decompose for up to 200 years. It is estimated that in a single year the UK uses 4.7 billion straws and while that only makes up for a small percentage of plastic waste, they are so easy to do without.
While a ban is coming into effect in the UK to stop the distribution of plastic straws, many are still using them, and the paper alternatives used in many restaurants and bars are not totally practical. Metal straws are the reusable alternative that everyone should own. With brands such as Saint Laurent selling them for £170 or Jeffree Star Cosmetics selling them for £19, they really don’t need to be that expensive. On Amazon, you can buy a set of 8 stainless steel straws for less than £5.
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3. Eat Vegetarian
Eating vegetarian isn’t just about saving animals. Many people who adopt a more plant based diet do so because of the environmental benefits. The climate change emissions created by breeding animals for meat surpasses that of cars, planes and other transport combined. Meat farming also contributes to deforestation, pollution and water shortages.
This is not to say that you have to go entirely vegetarian. For some people that is too challenging. However, thinking about your meat consumption is a good place to start. Purchase your meat from local sources to reduce air miles and, if you can’t cut it out completely, reduce the amount of times that you eat it per week. Vegetarian options are tastier and more varied than ever before and there are so many delicious dishes that require no meat.
4. Invest In A Reusable Bag
The plastic carrier bags that we use in everyday life take between 10 and 20 years to degrade, contributing to landfill and pollution and posing a danger to wildlife. While a decade may not seem like much in comparison to other types of plastic, when you imagine the quantity that we use you can see that it adds up. Every time that you get a carrier bag, remember that that piece of plastic that you will use for a few days will be around for so much longer.
While in the UK we now have to pay 5 pence for each bag, people continue to use them. Instead, if you care about helping the environment you should invest in a reusable bag. You can get a cute tote or one that will fold away into your purse and it might even save you some money in the long run.
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5. Cut Out Plastic Bottles And Get Something Reusable
People may make fun of VSCO girls and their Hydro Flasks but opting for reusable bottles is so much better for the environment. Your regular plastic bottle takes 450 years to decompose, meaning that it sits in landfill and oceans for ages, posing a long lasting threat to wildlife. Each year over 1 million marine animals are killed in our oceans by plastic debris!
While Hydro Flasks are a popular option that you can use again and again and will also insulate your drinks, Chilly’s bottles come in a much wider range of designs that will look cute as well as saving the environment. You can even personalise the bottle when you order it. Chilly’s bottles keep warm drinks warm and cold drinks cold, making them perfect all year round.
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6. Grow Some Bee Friendly Flowers
Bees are really important to the environment, pollinating plants and contributing to biodiversity. Without bees, the plant life so vital to cleaning our air will die out. However, populations of bees are decreasing so, if you’re lucky enough to have some garden space at your uni house, you could help by planting some bee friendly flowers.
Lavender, thyme and rosemary are ideal, as are any of the plants on this list, but if you’re not much of a gardener then there’s good news. Leaving your lawn to grow a bit without weeding or cutting the grass can be helpful. Weeds such as daisies and white clover are also great for bees so why not let them grow a bit.
Recycling is a pretty obvious thing to do but it can feel like a lot of work. Going out to the bin everytime you have an empty glass jar takes effort. Invest in a few seperate bins and keep them in your kitchen or dorm room so that you can sort as you throw away. One bin for general waste, a second one for paper and another for glass and plastic.
It also helps to learn what you can and can’t recycle. So many people throw things into general waste that belong in recycling. Receipts, ink cartridges from your printer, batteries, tin foil and aerosol cans are just a few of the things that should be recycled but often aren’t. Just make sure you’re putting them in the right place!
8. Use A Clothes Horse Or Washing Line
Dryers use a lot of energy per hour of use, more than televisions, refrigerators or even the washing machine itself. So, if you cut down on their use you’ll definitely be helping the environment, especially if you’re living in a shared house where a bunch of you are all using it throughout the week.
Instead use a clothes horse or washing line to air dry what you can when you can. On a hot day there’s no need to use a dryer at all.
9. Turn Down The Heating And Put On A Jumper
Heating your home in winter is not only expensive but also really bad for the environment. It makes up a significant part of a house’s energy use across the day.
So, instead of turning up the heating (even if it’s free in your halls), putting on another jumper or wrapping up in a blanket is much better. Don’t leave it on overnight and instead invest in a microwaveable bear to warm your bed.
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10. Unplug Your Electronics Overnight
Charging your phone overnight may seem like a good idea but it wastes so much energy. Once it has reached 100% the electricity doesn’t just cut off and it will be charging for no reason. Try to charge it in the evening so you can take it off when it’s ready and do the same with your other gadgets. Things like TVs or computers shouldn’t be left on standby when you could just as easily turn them off.