It's no secret that the environment is in danger. But going green and doing your bit is easier than you may have first thought with these changes to your everyday routine
1. Jog on
Why not kill two birds with one stone by getting fit while you help the planet? “An environmentally-friendly fitness activity from Sweden has already been adopted by thousands of Europeans. Introducing plogging – a combination of the Swedish ‘plocka upp’ (meaning ‘pick up’) and ‘jogging’ – in other words, the act of picking up litter while running,” explains Frida Harju-Westman, nutritionist at health app Lifesum (lifesum.com). “The activity is designed to generate exercise benefits from what might otherwise be considered an unglamourous public service. The new craze coincides with both growing environmental concerns about plastic waste and rising obesity rates in many countries.”
2. Pack it in
The 5p charge for all single-use plastic carrier bags has paved the way in changing how we approach the weekly shop but that's only the start – reducing food packaging waste is next on the list. “The government is considering additional taxes aimed at polystyrene and other single-use plastics to encourage businesses to seek environmentally-friendly solutions, so don't be afraid to ask if your favourite shops or takeaway restaurants use recyclable or compostable packaging,” says John Haken, director at WF Denny, specialists in biodegradable packaging (wfdenny.co.uk). “Make sure they're using card boxes, compostable bagasse boxes and paper bags instead of polystyrene and plastic bags.”
3. Keep shopping sustainable
John also recommends a sustainable approach to shopping. “Choose items packaged in cardboard, foil or recyclable plastics where possible. Be sure to check the recycling information, which will advise you of the materials used and their recyclability. When buying fresh fruit and vegetables, try choosing loose items without the extra packaging. As for tea bags, although they are made of 70-80 percent paper fibre, they're not actually fully compostable as the remainder comprises a heat-resistant polypropylene mesh. And if that wasn’t incentive enough for you, making the switch to loose leaf tea could also save you money!”
4. Use your voice
“Many businesses aren’t forthcoming about their practises,” says Alessandro Rocchi, founder of Georganics oral care brand (georganics.co.uk). “Even those that brand themselves as ethical and sustainable aren’t necessarily so. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for on their website, then get in contact over email, phone or social media. If they’ve got nothing to hide, they’ll be happy to address your concerns. Also, living more ethically and sustainably can be made a lot easier through supporting small, local, and independent businesses. There are usually less links in the supply chain, which means companies usually work directly with factories and suppliers and are able to monitor standards. Shopping locally also helps cut down on air and road miles, too.”
5. Have a green cycle
You can't avoid your period but you can make it more eco-friendly, which is vital when you realise the average woman uses up to 12,000 tampons and applicators in a lifetime, according to Fast Company (fastcompany.com). “Non-organic tampons, pads and liners contain materials which can damage the environment,” says Fee Bassett from sustainable period care brand Time Of The Month (totm.com). “Alongside conventional cotton, which is farmed with toxic pesticides, and rayon (a man-made fibre), they also contain a significant amount of plastic in the finished product and packaging. These are products that we use on a regular basis, so you can imagine how this affects the planet over time. The good news is that there are more and more eco-friendly period care products now widely available. This includes organic cotton products that are biodegradable, so they break down naturally in landfill after disposal. TOTM’s organic range uses sustainable alternatives wherever possible, using cardboard applicators in place of plastic and cornstarch biofilm wrappers on menstrual pads. Together with these eco-friendly disposable options, there are also reusable period care products. Menstrual cups, for example are a zero-waste option and directly replace tampons. With any of these products it’s important to find what works best for you!”
6. Style it out
Ethics and asthetics are married together as fashion goes green. “Shockingly, an estimated 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets are dumped in oceans every year, representing one of the greatest threats to marine life. That's why the majority of our swimwear is made from regenerated nylon coming from pre and post-consumer waste,” says Kylie Ronalds, founder of Natatio swimwear (natatioswimwear.com). “We know that using regenerated nylon has multiple advantages – it removes waste from the environment and the production process saves the extraction of more crude oil to generate new synthetic fibre. In turn, this lowers CO2 emissions and energy requirements. The end result is a fabric which is twice as resistant to chlorine, meaning that it will last longer. We firmly believe that one way to be more eco-friendly is to carefully consider fast fashion choices and look for a brand which uses sustainable fabric. Remember to buy once and buy well.” Other eco-friendly fashion brands H&W recommends are People Tree (peopletree.co.uk), Manduka (manduka.com) and Asquith (asquithlondon.com).
7. Brush with bamboo
The average person will use and throw away 300 plastic toothbrushes over a lifetime and billions end up in the ocean and landfill every year. To combat this, The Pearly White Club (£32 for a 12-month subscription, pearlywhiteclub.co.uk) set up the first bamboo toothbrush subscription service. The company sends out a new toothbrush every six weeks that has a compostable bamboo handle and ecofriendly packaging. Its research found that plastic toothbrushes in landfills take thousands of years to decompose and, in the meantime, they leak toxins into the ground that harm wildlife and potentially human health. In the oceans, they could end up in an animal's stomach, contributing to its death, or litter our beaches all around the world. Bamboo toothbrushes are a great answer as the handle will decompose over a short period of time in landfill (one to two years max), they don't have any harmful toxins and they are made from a plant, so they decompose and go back to nature. Or, in the ocean, they will rot in the way that drift wood does over time.