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  • Writer's pictureJessica Rees Translations

We all need to be more environmentally friendly, but how?

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

Being environmentally friendly and sustainable have long been important to me. However, I only started making bigger changes to the way I lived a few years ago. With these changes, I made sure that my core values matched my actions.

I started using my bike to cycle around as much as I could. Although this was quite a jump for me not being a sporty person, it was made easier by the fact that I lived in a city with plenty of bicycle paths. Shout out to Cologne!

I also decided to avoid plastic packaging as much as I possibly could by choosing to only buy fruit and veg without any plastic packaging and to buy cupboard items from a zero-waste shop.

Since then, I have continued to make more environmentally friendly changes to the way I live.

Recent news made me reach out to my network to see if they had any tips on how I could continue to improve the way I live. Rather than keep these tips to myself, I thought I’d combine them in a blog post so that we can all use the tips to care for the environment.

So here they are:

  • Start small: Choosing one small thing to change first makes becoming more environmentally friendly more manageable. It also avoids feeling overwhelmed by the number of changes you would like to make.

  • Growing your own food: Not everyone has a huge garden, but we can all grow something. Whether it’s tomatoes on the balcony or herbs in the kitchen. It all helps. And if you have more than you can eat, then swap food with your neighbours. They will appreciate the home-grown food.

A bunch of red and orange tomatoes growing on a plant.
Some of the tomatoes I grew this year.
  • Cloth bags: A really easy change is swapping all plastic shopping bags for cloth ones. This goes fruit and veg bags too. You can now find small drawstring cloth bags to put your loose fruit and veg in instead of using the plastic ones found in shops.

  • Eating more plant-based food: This might not be an easy change for the meat-eaters in the world, but there is some scrumptious plant-based food out there. One of my favourites is vegetarian chilli which, without meaning to be, is actual vegan chilli.

  • Using more public transport: The more people who use public transport, the less pollution per person is released into the atmosphere. Whenever possible, I travel by train instead of by car or plane. I find that train travel can be less stressful and it gives me more time for reading.

  • Composting food scraps: Whether food scraps are collected by the refuse collectors or you compost them yourself, food scraps can be turned into nutritious compost to help your plants grow.

  • Upcycle fabrics into useful items: Upcycling fabric from towels and clothes is a great way to give the fabric a new life. For example, you can use towel fabric to make zero-waste baby wipes.

  • Buy local: Buying local products reduces the miles that the items have to travel.

  • Upfront costs of eco-friendly products are usually outweighed by how long they last: Making eco-friendly purchasing choices can sometimes look bad for the wallet, but if you take a step back and work out how long the product will last versus a non-eco-friendly product, the eco-friendly product tends to be more cost-effective in the end. This is what I did when I made the switch to toilet rolls that didn’t come wrapped in plastic. It looked like I was going to pay a lot more than I normally would for toilet rolls, but when I worked everything out, the cost per sheet was actually a little cheaper.

Sign on beach made from bits of coloured wood saying "Please leaves nothing but your footprints".
I strive to leave nothing behind but my footprints.

  • Subscribe to the Ethical Consumer to research how sustainable and ethical a product, company, or bank is: As consumers, our money has power and we should be using that power to help the environment, but it can be difficult to know whether we are using our power for the better. Ethical Consumer allows you to see how sustainable and ethical a product, company, or bank ranks is based on several factors.

  • Check out the 1 Million Women website: 1 Million Women is an organisation based in Australia that publishes tips on living a greener life and news articles about the environment. They also publish recipes that help reduce the amount of meat you eat and reduce your kitchen waste. If you’re ever looking for inspiration on what to do next in your sustainability journey, I would recommend you check out their website. They also have an app, and their Instagram and Facebook accounts are full of useful information.

  • Take action: There are plenty of pledges out there at the moment to show governments and companies around the world that it is time to take action. The Fridays for Future Global Strike is happening on 24 September 2021. Check out the website to find out how you can take part on the day. COP26 is being held in November, and the Count Us In project has 16 steps to help reduce our carbon pollution.

Marchers at the Fridays for Future Global Strike Cologne in 2019.
Fridays for Future Global Strike, Cologne 2019

  • Buy in-season fruit and veg: Buying in-season food reduces the number of miles food has to travel to reach your plate. Yes, it might be nice to have strawberries for longer in the year, but they would have to be grown in a warmer climate and transported to your local shop by road, sea and/or air. Take the time to learn what food is in season when and plan your meals accordingly.

  • Feeding food scraps to your animals: Obviously, only give your animals food that they are supposed to eat. For example, you could give carrot ends to your rabbit or guinea pig. But this is a great way to reduce your food waste. You could also give scraps to your chickens and then use their manure as a natural fertiliser for your plants.

  • Buying second hand: This goes for clothes, that second screen you’d like for your office, tools, furniture, etc. There are so many websites available now for us to sell items we no longer have a use for or to buy the things we need. Besides eBay, there’s Vinted for clothes and Back Market for your technology needs, along with many more.

  • Deleting old emails: The servers that store emails need electricity to run. By deleting old emails, the servers need to store less data and therefore, don't require the same amount of electricity to run them.

  • Unsubscribe from emails you don't read: Unsubscribing from newsletters that you no longer read is a great way to cut down your digital carbon footprint.

I hope that one of the tips in this post inspires you to take the next step on your sustainability journey. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect. But with everyone changing a few of their habits, we will all make a difference.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with or gain anything from the brands and websites I mention in this article. If you choose to follow the links or use any of their services, I am not responsible for anything that may happen.

Please feel free to get in touch with me using my contact form if you have any other tips for me or would like to continue this discussion further,

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