It has become painfully apparent that most of the damage is caused by massive corporations and we need their cooperation to make real impactful change. Nevertheless, there are still little things you can do to help from home.
Here are 10 small steps you can make to do your bit for the environment.
Let’s start simple. It is important to recycle anything that is eligible. Look around your house and you’re bound to have dozens of things that can and should be recycled. Aluminium and steel cans. Completely empty aerosols. Glass and plastic bottles. Foil items and takeaway trays. Margarine and yoghurt tubs. Even shampoo bottles! All of these things can be recycled, just make sure you wash them out first!
There are also things like cardboard and paper, leaflets and catalogues, and plastic bags. You can recycle batteries, clothes, shoes and textiles if you take them to the right place too.
It’s equally important to check – and double check – what can be recycled. A good place to look is here https://www.gov.uk/recycling-collections and then on your local government website for detailed information.
Often people do their best to help but accidentally recycle something that isn’t recyclable, unintentionally causing even more landfill.
There are a lot of items we dispose of that can be used in other ways within our homes. Use cardboard boxes for storage. Use cans and old crockery as plant pots. Carry a reusable bag for all your shopping. Use a reusable mug and straw for your drinks. Save bubble wrap, paper bags and postage materials for future use. Switch from make-up wipes to reusable scrubbies. Reuse items as much as you can before considering recycling or disposing of them. Use newspapers and magazines as wrapping paper. Use old towels, flannels and socks as cleaning rags and dusters. Save old toothbrushes and use them in cleaning for stubborn stains. Do not use single use products where possible, use reusable and eco-friendly alternatives instead. Avoid plastics!
Turn your old clothing into T-shirt yarn and use it to crochet or knit. Sew your own outfits, reduce the waste of fast fashion. Turn those yoghurt pots and loo rolls into fun crafts with your kids. Build a fort out of cardboard boxes. Make a collage out of old magazines. Upcycle other people’s abandoned items: turn that damaged table into a modern masterpiece with a coat of new paint! Reupholster that old chair. Decoupage that shelf. Make bird feeders out of plastic bottles. The list for fun and making art out of repurposed materials is endless!
If you are a meat eater, eat less meat. Build in vegetarian and vegan meals regularly into your diet. Go paperless if you can for bills, receipts and transactions. Use less energy, switch off appliances when you are not using them. Buy from charity shops and second hand stores. Use eco-friendly soaps and cleaning products. Use renewable energy: batteries, lightbulbs, you name it!
Donate or Sell
Don’t bin it. Donate it to your local charity shop. Hold a bric-a-brac stall. List it on eBay. Put it up on freecycle.org. The options are endless for used items you no longer want in your home. You would be amazed at some of the items that you think are past it that other people would love. There are so many abandoned items that another individual could find use for. Think before you throw it away! Your item could make somebody else happy AND produce zero waste. It could even make you some money!
Save any ribbon, cards, gift bags or wrapping paper you receive and use it in papercrafts or for wrapping your own bespoke presents. Save bubblewrap to reuse for another day. Keep those plastic carrier bags and reuse as bin liners (but make sure you reuse/recycle them afterwards!). Use paper bags as storage for small items where you might usually use plastic bags.
Don’t throw your food away! Save the rest of your meal for another day where practical, pop it in the fridge or freeze it. Where this is not safe or recommended, use your spare food for composting! It can provide brilliant compost for your gardens.
Give up the glitter
There is no denying that I absolutely love glitter. It adds sparkles to any occasion and cheers up the drab. Unfortunately, so much of it is not environmentally friendly and non-degradable. Avoid it where you can or if you find it hard to resist a bit of shimmy recycle the parts of an item that do not have the glitter on them. For example you can still recycle the backs of glittery greetings cards. You can buy biodegradable glitter deemed as eco-friendly, but there has been some recent controversy stating that this produces just as much waste, reported here by The Guardian.
Grow your own fruit and vegetables! Not only is it fulfilling and fun, if you have an outside garden or allotment, it can bring much needed fresh air during this lockdown. It reduces excessive waste and packaging used by supermarkets for such items and helps to encourage sustainable living. You can also grow lots of things inside your home too! Herbs, fruit, there are options for pots on your windowsill if you explore! At the end of the season, collect the seeds from what you have grown and use them to plant even more!
Avoid the disposable
So much we use in the kitchen is disposable and can be adapted with reusable items. Use beeswax covers instead of cling film to protect your food dishes. Use fabric bags instead of plastic bags for food storage or to carry your lunch. Use a reusable drinks bottle or take-out drinks mug. Where the disposable cannot be avoided, try to opt for biodegradable instead! Small changes like this can help you produce less waste and do your bit to help save the environment.