We can’t afford to keep burying our head in the sand, folks. In this digitally enlightened era, we can no longer turn a blind eye to the impac our consumer and lifestyle choices have on the world around us. Our tenuous relationship with the planet we occupy has been covered in multiple documentaries like Cowspiracy and A Plastic Ocean– both uncompromising exposees that demonstrate how seemingly benign choices like eating a cheeseburger or throwing your plastics into landfill waste can add up to devastate our delicate little blue planet. Indeed, it’s already been hypothesised that there could be more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050. Moreover, this time last year it was supposed that we would have 18 months until the climate change that our industries and lifestyles have wrought becomes irreversible. As Greta Thunberg puts it, “our house is on fire” and we need to act accordingly.
Perhaps COVID-19 came at the best possible time. The world was effectively put on pause for several months with fewer cars on the road, fewer industrial operations and fewer international flights. While we can all sympathise for the businesses and individuals affected by the pandemic, we can also admit that perhaps the encouraging signs that we’ve seen in terms of air pollution reduction show us that the damage we’ve done can be reversed. If each of us makes some little changes to live more sustainably, the difference our combined efforts make could be massive!
The good news, of course, is that then home and garden are full of opportunities to live more sustainably. Most of the time, we won’t even have to miss out on anything we value to live in greater harmony with the planet we all share. Better still, we’ll even find that we save money. Here are some ways in which we can all save money and live more sustainably…
Stop impulse-buying new clothes
It’s an unfortunate consequence of living in a consumer-capitalist society that we’ve come to treat shopping as a leisure activity. Spending a drizzly Saturday in a shopping mall and browsing through online fashion outlets on our lunch breaks have become the norm. But the more clothing we own, the more we contribute to the environmental and ethical problems created by the fast fashion industry.
Worse still, when we throw our old clothes away because they no longer fit, they’ve gotten worn or damaged or, worse still, we’ve grown bored of them, we add to the growing problem of textile waste. The fashion industry is responsible for more carbon emissions than international flights and maritime shipping put together, so it’s a beast that we need to stop feeding.
When we get into the habit of repairing, upcycling and repurposing old clothes, buying less and making more outfits with what we have, we reduce our reliance on an industry that is filling our air with carbon and our oceans with discarded manmade fibres. Plus, think of all the money you’ll save when you’re not filling your time with buying items to fill your wardrobe.
Get rid of all those cleaning products under your sink
We all love to live in a clean, tidy, inviting home. But our over-reliance of cleaning products can not only take a toll on the environment, it can cause us to waste a small fortune. We’ve been conditioned to believe that we need one bottle for our kitchen and bathroom surfaces, one bottle for cleaning our floors, one bottle for cleaning out the oven and another for wooden surfaces. But the truth is that there’s very little that can’t be cleaned by baking soda, spirit vinegar, lemon juice and water in one combination or another. From the persistent brownish black rings that plague your bathroom to the scuffs on your eldest son’s tennis shoes to the carpet that’s started to smell a little, there’s nary a stain or pong in the home that can’t be banished using these simple household items. You can even use olive oil from the kitchen to polish your wooden furniture.
Harsh chemical household cleaning products can not only be damaging to our lungs, eyes and skin, they can be harmful to the environment when they’re washed away into our waste water. Save yourself a fortune while also helping the planet. Look into natural homemade alternatives.
Reduce your reliance on the utility grid
The 21st century household is reliant on electricity and running water. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t take active steps to be more self-sufficient. Generating your own energy and collecting your own water may require some upfront investment, but it can result in years of savings, not to mention the sense of fulfilment that comes from knowing you’re helping the planet.
Even something as simple as looking at domestic water tanks from Clark Tanks to collect rainwater can make a big different to your bills and your environmental footprint. Likewise, installing solar panels or investing in a backup generator can reduce your reliance on the grid and save you a great deal as the years go by.
Change your energy provider
Speaking of energy, do you know what percentage of your current supplier’s energy is renewable? Generating energy involves the consumption of finite resources like water and fossil fuels. Even something as simple as switching to a cleaner energy provider can really help the planet. What’s more, renewable energy providers tend to be very competitively priced. So there’s an excellent chance that you could find yourself saving on your monthly bill.
Eat more veggies and fruit, less of everything else
Finally, as documentaries like Cowspiracy have demonstrated, there’s no greater threat to our environment than animal agriculture. Farm animals, especially cows, consume massive amounts of food, water, land and energy to raise for slaughter. We could end world hunger with the soy that is currently being fed to cows.
Eating less meat and more veggies (or at least eating less beef, lamb and pork and more chicken and poultry) can not only be cheaper and healthier, it can also make a huge difference to the impact your meals have on the planet!
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