Last week I wrote about the new State of Nature report which was a call to action that could save both our wildlife and futures. This week I bring you 10 ways which you as an individual can positively impact the environment without sacrificing your lifestyle.
1. Swap to an environmentally friendly energy provider
Fossil fuels are one of the biggest contributors to the increase of CO2 to the Earth's atmosphere. By swapping to a greener energy company you support investment into carbon neutral and renewable energy initiatives but you won't notice any change to the energy you use in your home. I use a company called Bulb whose electricity is 100% renewable. They are also 100% carbon neutral, much like their competitor on the market, Pure Planet. It's great to see greener options on the market, especially those who directly support independent generators. You can even feed into the electricity grid if you have solar, hydro or biogas power! If you're interested in swapping to Bulb I have a referral link which will give us both £50 should you sign up, so you can be kind to both your purse and the planet. (NB. I'm not sponsored to share this but I am, thus far, a satisfied customer.)
2. Support independent retailers
From fast fashion to high street homewares, the retail industry is a big business and the desire to buy things yesterday, whether for ourselves or for others, is a habit we've become accustomed to. By buying directly from the maker you can vastly reduce the carbon footprint of your purchase while helping local businesses to maintain higher welfare standards for their workers.
3. Eat wildlife-friendly farm produce
While plant-based diets are having their heyday you don't need to eschew meat from your diet to contribute positively to the environment. While eating less meat is a great thing, if you don't want to give it up completely, consider supporting a wildlife-friendly farmer and buy from your local butcher, or better still, buy from the farmer direct. Wildlife-friendly farmers are those who endeavour to respect the local wildlife as they farm the land which could mean leaving a slightly larger border around fields or cutting hedgerows after nesting birds have flown in September. For more information check out the Nature Friendly Farming Network.
4. Give bees a home at the bottom of your garden
Ever wanted to spread your own honey on your morning toast? Well perhaps that dream could become a reality sooner than you think. Whether you've always dreamt of being a beekeeper or you simply have a space that could lend itself well to a hive Urban Bees could be for you. Contrary to popular belief you don't actually need a lot of space to keep bees but the benefits of having them around are potentially huge. Pollinators help ensure the air we breath is clean by pollinating plants who in turn absorb the CO2 we breathe out.
5. Swap to a more ethical bank
This is one of the easiest swaps you can make to positively impact people and the planet. Banks invest and re-invest our money daily but some are less ethical than others. For example, back in 2012 HSBC came under fire when it was revealed the bank was involved in a money laundering scandal in Mexico and Colombia which resulted in the murder of a number of individuals connected to drug cartels. The US government subsequently fined the bank £1.2 billion for their role in the scandal. In 2017 Barclays not only held the bank account for arms manufacturer BAE Systems, it also had a 4.25% share in BAE Holdings and with global banks pouring almost $2 trillion into fossil fuel investment since the 2016 Paris Climate Accord was signed it's clear this industry is contributing more than its share to the climate emergency we're now facing. The Good Shopping Guide has ranked banks from best to worst so if you're looking for a more ethical bank or building society to put your money this list could be a good start.
6. Wear the clothes you have
It sounds simple but if you're anything like me your natural urge is to go shopping every time you have a special event to attend or want to reward yourself for doing well at work. This article on throwaway culture is a pertinent look at how our desire for instant gratification is contributing to the generation of huge amounts of waste piling high in landfills around the world. Instead why not try to breathe new life into old clothes by making them last a little longer (and not necessarily in their original guise!)
7. Compost your leftovers
Most councils in the UK now offer a food waste collection service - check out your local authority's website for details on how you can take advantage of this. If you're a keen gardener why not put your food waste to good use and start making your own compost. All you need is a bin in your garden with top and bottom access and something to turn over the mixture every once in a while. Your plants will love the extra nutrients you're giving them and you'll save yourself a few trips to the garden centre in the process. (Just avoid putting any meat into your home compost or you may encourage pests.)
8. Support environmental charities instead of sending Christmas cards in the post
When the festive season rolls around I usually have great intentions in sending out cards to my nearest and dearest but every so often life and work gets in the way and I find myself frantically running to the post office 2 days before Christmas to post cards I know will be thrown in the bin come the New Year. It seems like such a waste so this year I plan to send e-cards and support a good cause in the process. Why not join me?
9. Make your own wrapping paper
I recently posted a DIY on making your own wrapping paper. It's fully recyclable and fun to make with water soluble poster paints. Throw on some old clothes and prepare to make a mess. A great thing to do with children on rainy days!
10. Make your coffee to go a Fairtrade one
We know by now that carrying a reusable cup for your morning coffee is good for both planet and purse - most places now offer a discount for bringing your own cup. But why not take that goodwill one step further and ensure the coffee you buy is Fairtrade certified? This website lists the coffee chains who support the Fairtrade movement enabling consumers to easily ensure their coffee has been grown and picked by workers who are treated and remunerated fairly for their labour.
I hope these tips will be useful and I'd love to hear yours! Please do leave them below or over on Instagram @laura.weekendwonderlust
Until next Sunday, keep wondering.