BY FLORA DALLAS, Community Manager, Fat Lama
Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 when over 20 million Americans peacefully took to the streets in a march to raise awareness of environmental issues. Since then, Earth day has been observed in over 192 countries and, in 2016, it was the date chosen for the Paris Agreement (a landmark climate protection treaty. This year, we have seen environmental issues receive more attention than ever, with the start of the worldwide movement to end plastic pollution of the oceans. With this in mind, it seems like an appropriate way to examine our own personal habits and how we can make our lifestyles a little greener this year. Here are five achievable ways for kickstarting your environmental resolutions:
Recycle Your Clothes
Research done by Council for Textile Recycling shows that the average US citizen rids themselves of 82 pounds of textiles a year. Of that 82 pounds, only 15% are recycled with the remaining 75% going straight to landfill. This means that textiles are now forming 5% of all landfill waste and the trend is looking to increase year on year.
There are many factors to blame but the main perpetrator seems to be the changing pace of high street fashion. If you want to make a simple lifestyle change that will help you combat this problem long term, then look at creating a micro-wardrobe made from sustainable or recycled material that will stand the test of time. If you are unwilling to sacrifice keeping up with the current trends, then make sure that you are recycling your clothes rather than putting them in the bin. It’s a common misconception that clothing will biodegrade in landfill, the majority of modern fabrics (especially cheaply made ones) contain synthetic fibers which will not only not decompose but will wash into the oceans and rivers. So do the planet a favor and recycle or reuse.
Cut Down On Meat Consumption
It is a well-known fact that the meat industry is far from being the environment’s best friend, but the statistics still have the ability to shock. In a recent study by Greenpeace, agriculture is predicted to account for more than 52% greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades, with over 70% coming from meat and dairy production.
So, an obvious move to help the environment, is to simply cut down on the amount of meat and dairy you consume on a daily basis. Many environmentalists would advocate veganry (this is obviously a great choice environmentally speaking), but for many people that’s just too unappealing and they end up just giving up on the challenge altogether. Therefore, if you are a dedicated meat eater looking to cut down, why not start out by doing meat-free midweek. By keeping meat as a weekend treat you will had the added benefit of having a little more budget to invest in organic produce when you do buy it!
Borrow Don't Buy
2018 has seen the peak in the ‘buy, use, throw’ spending mentality, this article has touched upon this already in the textile industry, but it is also prevalent in many others especially technology. As consumers, we are encouraged to have the newest of everything, but this can often result in a huge surfeit of possessions that we only use once. Not only does this clutter our houses but it is also incredibly wasteful and often leads to almost new items ending up in landfill.
In recent years, we have seen the rise of sharing economy platforms to combat this waste issue. We have all heard of unused accommodation being utilized by the sharing economy titan Airbnb, but this has been taken to a new level by companies like Fat Lama, who make it possible for you to borrow anything from hammer, to a bike or the latest drone from people nearby. So instead of buying a drill to put up the one set of drawers, curb the need for production and look into renting one from someone nearby instead.
One of the main sources of an individual’s environmental impact come from the home. It turns out it takes a lot of energy to keep us ticking over in our households. There are many simple tricks that you can use to reduce the impact of this and have the added bonus of saving you money in the process.
- Ditch your tumble drier (and by that, I mean recycle it obviously) in favor of air drying clothes - driers are notorious energy guzzlers and let's be honest fundamentally unnecessary.
- Switch all your light bulbs for long life bulbs - obvious energy saver.
- Install a toilet flush reducer to save water/ limit your shower length.
- Buy a slow cooker to reduce electricity used on ovens.
The final point here relates mainly to the growing issue with plastic waste, as more and more statistics emerge it is becoming less and less acceptable to condone the use of single use plastics. The lifestyle changes are relatively easy to employ and can have a huge global impact.
For starters, by ditching plastic shopping bags and opting for reusable options you can help bring down the figure if 500 billion bags currently being used worldwide. You could follow this up by using a reusable glass or metal water bottle (80% of plastic water bottles currently end up in landfill), and a reusable coffee cup (99.97% of disposable ones currently end up in landfill). These are the ‘big ones’ in terms of environmental impact, but there is no need to stop there; other offenders include plastic straws, disposable razors, nappies, toothbrushes, cotton buds, yoghurt lids and plastic cutlery - and the list could go on. Half the issue here is awareness, so next time you are browsing around your house keep an eye out and you will be surprised by how many unnecessary plastics you do own!