How are your eco new years resolutions going?
Last year I made some Green New Years resolutions which I wasn’t that successful at keeping.
Remember that no-one is perfect. As long as you’re making the effort and changing a few things to be greener you’re helping. Do as much as you can, future generations will thank you!
There are some small changes you can make around the home, to your daily routine, or your grocery shopping, that can have a big impact.
1. Commit to never buying a plastic bag again
It’s easy to say you’ll always carry reusable shopping bags around with you but it’s happened to nearly all of us – we get to the checkout at the supermarket and realise we’ve either forgotten to bring our reusable bags or we didn’t bring enough. You don’t necessarily have to purchase bags though, there are several alternatives that might be available to you.
- Ask if the supermarket has any empty boxes you can use.
- If you drove to the supermarket just put your shopping back in the trolley and then straight into the car after paying. Admittedly this is a bit tedious if you did a massive shop, but at least you aren’t buying plastic!
- Did you buy just a few items? Carry them loose or see how much you can fit into your pockets or handbag. This will depend on how far you have to walk!
My main recommendation is to buy cloth shopping bags. Try to always have one in your handbag, another one in a coat pocket, a few in the car and store them near your front door so you see them before you leave the house. They’re so easy to carry in your handbag and your coat pocket, because they take up so little space.
2. Shop Local
Support the ‘little guys’. If you’re lucky enough to have a greengrocer, a butcher, a fish market, a delicatessen, a bakery, a florist etc in your home town, use them as much as possible. The products are likely to be better quality and your money is more likely to stay within your local community. It’s also much easier to ask for plastic free. If you don’t have these types of shops, support the local corner shop or try to find local farmers markets. If you have no choice and have to use a supermarket choose the most ethical supermarket near you.
3. Stop Buying ‘Stuff’ For The Sake Of It
I like to own nice things, we all do, but if something catches your eye ask yourself if you really want it or why you’re buying it. One thing I do is walk away from the shop and if I can’t stop thinking about it I might return and buy it. I’ve given myself some time to think about whether I actually want it or can afford it rather than impulse buying.
A good example to use here are souvenirs. A lot of people like to buy themselves or friends and family gifts from their holidays, but are these items going to add value to anyones life? If you want to buy souvenirs buy from a local craftsperson and get something that’s both better quality and supports the local community.
4. Buy Second-hand
There are so many things we can buy that already exist, why always buy new? Antiques are second-hand items and are in demand, we just need to start thinking about other things as valuable as antiques. You can buy second-hand clothes, crockery, books, games, jewellery, furniture, appliances, phones. Almost everything can be bought second-hand. Shop around and know that by buying second-hand you’re reducing your own carbon footprint and possibly preventing something from going to landfill. It’s probably going to be a lot cheaper too!
5. Buy Reusable Instead of Single Use
When you’ve run out of all of your single use items start replacing them with reusable ones. Big Tip… Don’t throw out everything and replace the lot with eco-friendly alternatives. Your house might look nicer with sustainable products if you do that, but you’re just contributing to the waste problem! When you’ve run out of single use face wipes buy a flannel. When you’ve run out of disposable razors buy a safety razor. These items will initially cost a bit more but over time you’ll save yourself money and your personal carbon footprint will look much better.
6. Stop Sending Greetings Cards
It’s nice to receive something in the post that makes you think someone was thinking of you, but it’s so wasteful and expensive to pay for so many cards and stamps. The sender might not even have really been thinking about you.
At Christmas time you might receive a card that just says “love from Doris and Bill”, no message and your name isn’t even mentioned. What’s the point? Someone has just bought a stack of cards because they feel they have to but they haven’t the time to put a personal message in it.
You’ll display it for a few weeks at most and then it’ll either go in the bin or stored in a box in the attic for future generations to throw away. Send the people you care about an email with personal messages and letting them know how you are instead.
7. Plan Your Shopping Trips
Occasionally I have to visit the local town to do some shopping or go to the bank because I live in a small village on Dartmoor. I try to do a maximum of one car journey into town a week so I work out all the places I need to visit and take the shortest route possible. I make shopping lists so that I buy everything I need so that I won’t have to come back in a few days to top up.
8. Car Share
This one is a bit trickier at the moment due to the pandemic, but wherever possible share car journeys with other people. If you and a family member, or your neighbour, are heading to the same place go in one car rather than two! My neighbour and I always do our ‘weekly food shop’ together and go in one car. (It’s ok, we’re in a bubble!)
9. Go Litter Picking
It’s so awful to see how much litter there is in the UK. Try to commit to going litter picking to keep your local area looking nice but also to protect wildlife and marine life.
10. Green Clean
The cleaning products we use around our homes are full of toxic chemicals. There are some really simple and cheap homemade cleaning products you could try and numerous eco-friendly and plastic free cleaning products you can buy.