How to make 2021 the year of sustainable living
Updated: Feb 1
While 2020 was a year of change for us all in any way, for me it was the beginning of me making lifestyle changes in order to limit my impact on our planet. Environmentally friendly living isn't a simple task as I have discovered over the last year. I learnt a lot through personal research and recommendations from others. I think the most interesting 'tips and tricks' have come from the people I have interviewed for my "Getting To Know local Sustainable Businesses" blog series. All of these businesses leaders taught me something which I have carried forward and have found to be a very manageable change in my lifestyle. So I am going to give you the key to what I have discovered so far.
So here are my tips and tricks to make 2021 your year of Environmentally friendly living:
1) Shop second hand - Everything you can!
The ladies from Buy Wear Swap Repeat make second-hand stylish and have shown me that it can be one of the most effective ways to live more sustainably. Buying second-hand means that you are giving clothing, furniture, or anything else for that matter a second chance. This second chance prevents the item from going to waste and right into a landfill. By shopping second hand you are limiting waste but also the need for mass-produced clothing and other items. This means that you are no longer contributing to factory pollution and the unseen carbon footprint of the delivery of these items.
I started by shopping in charity shops but also on apps such as Depop and Vinted. However, I have noticed that my Dad has taken to browsing on the Facebook market place for sports equipment and now even clothing (and found some good and unexpected bargains)! When it comes to second-hand shopping try a few different online options as well as stores and find what works for you best.
2) Planning and preparation is key to overcoming convince culture
Lucy from Coconut & Cotton has taught me that planning ahead is another key element in living sustainably. Simply because it cuts out the convivence of single-use and disposable products. Whether this is food waste or plastic waste you will be surprised how much you can cut out simply by looking ahead and planning for what you actually need. This might be meal prepping for the week, using leftovers or packing a lunch to take to work rather than picking up a sandwich every day. When you leave the house it is easy to have a few things on you which mean you are already prepared and no longer need to convince of disposable good and packaging. Simply having a reusable water bottle or coffee cup can do wonders to reduce your usual waste from convincing.
Here are some of my recommended items to add to your bag before you leave the house:
1) Travel Mug
5) Eco-friendly lunch box made
This isn't to say you need all these things in an eco go-bag but is simply a suggestion that you might want to incorporate these items into your daily life. I started by tacking a travel mug to Uni when I commuted. Travel isn't so much an option now, but if you are still making a journey into work something on this list might work for you.
It is important to remember everything we do makes a difference.
3) Compost if you can!
As Christmas was fastly approaching I realised that wrapping paper and plastic wasn't the only increase in waste around the festive season. I decided it was time to start a compost bin, ready for the Christmas food waste. To be fair to my parents they didn't have much of a say in the matter but our little compost bin a has made a big change in our kitchen routine. As my compost bin is only small (hand made by myself and my boyfriend, from old pallet wood) we can only put so much in. Having this in mind has to lead to us making that extra effort to use as much of our food as possible so we don't fill the compost too quickly.
I appreciate you may not have the room for a compost bin or space to use the compost afterwards. But if you do this might be worth giving a go as part of your 2021 new years resolutions.
4) Reduce your plastic consumption
When you shop make sure to keep an eye out for a plastic-free option to your normal household goods. This might mean swapping to soap bars or shampoo bars. This could even simply buying cooking oil in glass bottles rather than plastic, or loose leaf tea. It may seem like a small thing but every bit of plastic adds up, so each item you swap to a plastic-free option will make a difference to your yearly plastic usage.
If you are looking to take your plastic-free lifestyle that step further, why not seek out your local farmers market or zero waste store to see what you can find!
5) Grow your own veg at home
Growing your own veg at home might seem like a huge ask, and for many people, it will be as it takes a lot of time and effort. Maybe you don't have space. If you do why not try and see if you can grow what you usually buy. Like tomatoes or cucumbers or maybe a few radishes. As we are finding ourselves confined to our homes with every new lockdown, taking up gardening might not be so bad. I know I have plans for what I am going to grow this year and see if it is a worthwhile investment.
If you are growing your own vegetables you know what they have been grown in, and that they aren't being sprayed with nasty chemicals. Organic veg is always more expensive in the shops but can be a lot of fun from your own back garden. I am hoping to make growing my own veg another part of my normal life in order to become as self-sufficient as possible. We shall see how it goes.
6) Shop local
Shopping local is one of the key ways to live a more sustainable and ecofriendly lifestyle. If you don't have the room to grow your own veg at home shopping from a local greengrocer is the next best thing. One of the hidden issues around vegetable in supermarkets is not always plastic packaging but rather the carbon footprint from the miles they have travelled. As lovely as the strawberry might be, if they are coming from Israel you can guarantee that it has a considerable carbon footprint. Shopping from local producers will help to eliminate this hidden environmental cost from your weekly shop!
I appreciate that these ideas might not be new to many of you reading this. But what I find helpful is the reminder to try something new and make goals for my sustainable lifestyle changes. Every month on my Instagram I set three goal to make manageable changes in my day to day life which are small. But all the small things add up!
What I have learnt and found the most helpful is to speak to other people on this journey and see what wisdom they have. We are all in this together, and while many different lifestyle changes might not suit you someone else might know of an option that does. So get talking, do some research, see what you can find. Please let me know!
"...it is possible to achieve so much more working with others than any one of us can achieve alone" David Attenborough 8th July 2020 (A Life on Our Planet).