Choose these 5 sustainable swaps to make a difference
Climate change and plastic pollution have a devastating impact on the world, from waves of intense weather and rising sea levels, to waste plastic choking and trapping marine life.
It doesn’t just affect the earth; it’s wreaking havoc with communities and people’s livelihoods, too. Unfortunately, this will worsen unless we act and invest in the health and wellbeing of our planet.
As part of Earth Day, we’ve written this guide suggesting 5 sustainable swaps you can make, because if everyone makes small changes, it can make a big difference.
Why is it important to make sustainable swaps?
Large, global-scale changes are needed to reverse the damage of climate change, but it isn’t something that can be achieved overnight. However, there are small sustainable swaps everyone can do to bring forth a real change.
For example, if all meat eaters cut out meat - especially red meat - in a couple of their weekly meals, it could decrease carbon emissions and deforestation, all huge contenders in the war against climate change.
The small changes you choose to make may seem worthless and ineffective, especially when we watch the climate change crisis pan out on the news or over social media. But imagine if thousands of people adopted the same sustainable changes as you. Then, the difference would be clear.
How you can make a difference
So, how can you live more sustainably?
You don’t have to shell-out on costly solar panels or convert to veganism to help save the planet, but if you can afford it and you want to give the plant-based way of life a try, great! Still, these options aren’t feasible for everyone.
There are many small changes you can make to contribute to a prosperous and sustainable planet for us all–keep reading to find out how.
Choose eco-friendly skincare products
Let’s look at skincare products–we all have them. Whether it’s just your basic face wash and moisturiser, or your go-to face scrub, toners and serums. Have a think, are the containers plastic or recyclable? Do they contain sustainably-sourced, plant-derived ingredients? Or are they toxic and synthetic?
Many brands now strive to be eco-friendly by making their containers recyclable, but the ones that don’t are fuelling plastic pollution, and in extension, climate change. The more plastic that’s in demand, the more fossil fuels we need to make them, which magnifies climate change.
What’s inside the container is just as important as the container itself. If a skincare product is made by sustainable means, it hasn’t harmed the planet, animals or people in the process.
You don’t have to read that very long list of ingredients, either, because brands will be willing to shout about their sustainable certificates on the packaging. Look out for labels such as: vegan, cruelty-free, palm oil-free, non-toxic, certified organic and fairtrade.
We’re not saying to toss your products that aren’t sustainable, but next time you’re skincare shopping, take a closer look at the container and the ingredients to make more informed, eco-friendly choices.
Go meatless – at least a few times a week!
As we touched on earlier, animal farming is a big climate change culprit. In fact, it represents 14.5% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. So, how does animal farming and the consumption of meat and dairy contribute to climate change?
Let’s start with deforestation. It’s estimated that around half of the planet’s land is used for agriculture, with about 77% of this land being used for animal farming. This releases large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, with forest-rich habitats being destroyed and repurposed to raise animals.
Billions of animals are used for meat and dairy production every year to keep up with the growing demand, but sustaining these animals is damaging the environment. When animals digest food, they produce methane. Manure and fertiliser also release methane and nitrous oxide emissions.
Transitioning into a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is a commitment that you may be unwilling to make. If this sounds like you, try to reduce the amount of meat you consume instead. Cows produce the most greenhouse gas emissions compared to any other type of livestock, so if you’re big on your beef, this may be something to consider when you’re doing your weekly shop.
Swap to vegan vitamins
Switching up your regular vitamins to a vegan variety is simple and sustainable. Vegan vitamins still provide your body with all the goodness and nutrients you need to stay healthy, while being kind to the planet.
Choosing vegan vitamins is an easier, more manageable swap to make if you don’t want to sacrifice meat or dairy.
Get your steps in
Not only is walking good for your body, but it’s good for the environment, too. Globally, the emissions produced by transport, like your car, is responsible for about a quarter of all energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.
If you can, be sustainable and choose to walk or cycle instead of starting that engine. Daily exercise is proven to boost your energy, improve your mood, and combat a number of health conditions associated with obesity.
Invest in reusable products
Everyday items like water bottles, nappies, straws and makeup remover pads can only be used once and are quickly discarded. Many of us already have reusable bags for our weekly shop, but you can take it a step further if you’re striving to be more sustainable.
Invest in a reusable water bottle, use washable, cloth nappies and makeup remover pads, and pick paper (or even better, metal) straws.
Many single-use items that are sent to landfill sites, like plastic water bottles and nappies, aren’t biodegradable, meaning they aren’t broken down naturally. This results in lingering, festering waste that has to be incinerated. These two factors are producing large amounts of greenhouse gases that are contributing towards climate change and pollution.
By ditching the single-use rule, we can reduce these items being sent to a landfill, and in extension, reduce our carbon footprint.
Living sustainably doesn’t need to be tricky. It can be as simple as swapping your plastic straws to paper or metal straws. If we all do our bit to save the planet, great things will happen. After all, there isn’t a planet B to rely on!
If you need any more tips on how you can be more sustainable, visit the Earth Day website to join the fight against climate change and plastic pollution.