The Small Sustainable Swaps We Can Make

Looking after our environment and hopefully combating the effects of climate change is something I feel incredibly passionate about. I’m lucky enough to live in beautiful countryside for some of the year and in an incredible city for some of the year so naturally, I do want to protect it.

The amount of waste that we create but don’t actually need is frustrating and as a result, our oceans and land are being impacted. I’ve recently read ‘No More Plastic’ by Martin Dorey and I feel inspired, it’s a quick reminder that we can make a difference, no matter how small they may seem in the grand scheme and overwhelming thought of climate change.

(As a quick disclaimer, I am in no way perfect with my consumption but I’m trying to make as many conscious choices as I can and I wanted to highlight ways how you can do the same.)

First things first, if you’re on Facebook, join the group: ‘Living Consciously Crew’. This was set up by Zanna Van Djik and the group has plenty of people who are trying to make conscious changes to their lifestyle too. It’s one of the places where I learn the most as recommendations, advice and support is offered left right and centre.

Second of all, reusable water bottles is one of the biggest changes you can make to your lifestyle. One million plastic bottles are brought every minute around the world so that is a lot of plastic which will be thrown away, as 91% of plastic bottles are not recycled. In the UK, we are lucky enough to have access to clean water (and I appreciate that this may not be the same everywhere), but Refill is an initiative set up to provide more refillable options for reusable water bottles. I’ve seen one pop up in Birmingham New Street station (near platform 10!).

Reusable coffee cups/flasks are another good way to reduce your waste. Costa Coffee did start a scheme in 2016, whereby you could return any disposable coffee cup and they will recycle it for you, which is a good initiative. However, using reusable coffee cups/flasks will reduce the waste we are producing, whether it is recycled or not. It can often mean that you get money off your drink, this may seem small at typically a 25p reduction, but if you buy a coffee every day, that will add up to a win-win situation. There are plenty of reusable coffee cups on the market, even ones that are collapsible making it easy to fit into your bag.

Another simple swap is actually reusing those reusable bags we pay for at the supermarket. Keep a few of them in your car, fold one down to fit into your handbag, even if you aren’t planning on going to the shops that day, you’ll have one just in case.

Beauty wise, it is much harder to be ‘plastic free’ with the products, but Lush sell shampoo & conditioner bars which are free from packaging. It may take a bit of time to find which type of shampoo bar suits your hair, but once you’ve figured that out, it’s an easy way of reducing the usage of plastic shampoo & conditioner bottles. At the moment, i’m currently mixing between a plastic bottle and my shampoo bar, mainly because i already had the plastic bottle, taking the mindset that it is best to use what i’ve currently got before recycling! It’s also a good idea to take it ‘old school’ and use a bar of soap instead of shower gel, I’ve currently got a coconut one from the Body Shop and it smells just as good! Instead of using cotton wool pads to remove make-up, reusable flannels, cloths or pads with cleanser work really well to do so.

Finally, one of the best ways we can improve how much waste we produce, is through looking at what we are buying. What is packaged when it doesn’t actually need to be? Fruit and veg is one of the main ones in the supermarkets packaged in so much plastic, but by buying loose fruit & veg or taking your own reusable bags is a really good way of reducing waste! There are also more ‘zero waste’ supermarkets beginning to emerge, like ‘The Clean Kilo’ in Birmingham, where you are able to use any container you want to buy their products and the price is based on the weight of product purchased.

So, I’ve shared a few ways where small lifestyle changes could make improvements to our environment, it can start by just looking at what you are currently using and how you can make swaps. I feel really passionate about reusing more, especially as the changes that are small, the more people that take them on board, the bigger & better impact it will have!

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