Happy New Year! Now is the perfect time to consciously opt to be more sustainable in your everyday choices.
Scrap the fad diet you won’t stick to, or joining a gym you’ll never actually turn up at. This year, choose to make a sustainable New Years resolution which you know you won’t break!
Lower your carbon footprint and start a new habit that you’ll enjoy, and want to continue for more than just the first month of the year. Here are five sustainable New Years resolutions that you will be able to stick to all year long!
1. Swap your energy provider to a green energy provider
This is by far the easiest thing you can do to help save the planet because once you’ve done it, you will be inadvertently helping lower your carbon footprint every single day!
Switching to green energy means choosing to use renewable energies such as the sun, wind, and water, instead of fossil fuels like oil and coal.
I use Octopus Energy who are a wholly renewable energy provider, and I’m on the ‘Super Green Fixed’ tariff. You can get a sweet £50 off by clicking this link. Don’t worry, you won’t lose a connection to your electricity or gas while they transfer you over.
2. Stop using takeaway mugs and cups
In the UK alone, we use a whopping 7 million cups a day! Even if they are disposed of correctly, takeaway coffee and other drinks cups are extremely difficult to recycle. Your standard local recycling centre is unable to recycle them, because they’re lined with plastic polythene which makes them waterproof. In fact, there are only three centres in the UK which have the equipment able to recycle takeaway cups properly!
Invest in a reusable mug & use it all the time, instead of receiving your coffee or other drinks in a plastic container. Keep a spare mug in your car for when you’re on the go, or get a collapsible one to keep at the bottom of your handbag. I use a Contigo mug for hot drinks and a Manna metal canteen bottle for water.
3. Go meat-free for one day per week (or vegan if you’re already veggie)
Livestock and their bi-products (eggs, milk, cheese) account for 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions* so cutting down just one day per week WILL make a difference.
Switching just one day a week is enough to make you see a real difference in the food that’s on your plate and gives you the opportunity to try new foods or flavours that you have otherwise avoided. You never know, you might love it!
Initiatives like Veganuary make it much easier to gain support while you try a new diet, and places like Pinterest are a great source of information if you’re stuck for recipe ideas. Communities for vegetarian and vegan recipe ideas exist in many forms; the easiest place to find likeminded people is in Facebook groups.
There are so many yummy vegetarian and vegan options on menus when you dine out now, it’s easy to make the switch!
If you’re travelling as a vegan, check out my vegan travel guides here.
4. Switch to a menstrual cup
Did you know that the average menstruating woman throws away 150kg of tampons, pads and applicators in their lifetime?
Cups are much more hygienic than tampons or pads and omit more than 200,000 tonnes of waste per year. I found it took about three months for me to fully settle into using my Organicup menstrual cup, but I’d never go back to tampons now!
Sidenote: lads, this one isn’t for you, but you will be able to influence the women in your life to make the switch instead!
Want a full review of what it’s really like to stop using tampons and use a menstrual cup instead? Read my full blog post review of my experience with Organicup here.
5. Travel overland instead of flying
This is a big one for me this year, as I LOVE to travel! If I do end up doing a long-haul trip this year, I’ll make sure I don’t do any internal flights in my destination and instead use the train or bus to get around.
With cheap flight sales appearing all the time to jet over to Europe for a weekend, I’m choosing not to book any short-haul trips for holidays this year. Instead, I’ll be exploring more of my home country, taking trips to new cities in the UK, or going camping or hiking at weekends.
6. Use your electrical appliances less
Having electrical appliances running for a long time not only means you’re more out of pocket, but it also uses up much more energy!
First of all, try to wash your clothes less. Levi’s CEO sparked controversy when he admitted that he went 10 years without washing his favourite pair of jeans – because the colour fades, they lose shape, and the machine can damage the garment. Clothes can create pollutants in your washing machine; unless they are made from fully natural materials, they can release micro-plastics.
Other options include:
- Choose not to straighten your hair as often
- Let your hair dry naturally instead of with the blowdryer
- Turn lights and TVs off when you’re out of the room
- Switch your electric toothbrush to a biodegradable bamboo one
- Don’t jet-wash your car; instead grab a soapy bucket of water and sponge
- Air-dry your clothes instead of tumble-drying them
7. Carbon offset your flights
If you know you won’t be able to be flight-free this year, make sure you carbon offset all flights you take.
Some airlines make it incredibly easy to do this, with an option to offset your flight included when you go to purchase your tickets online.
There are lots of recommendations online about which programmes to use (these might differ dependent on where you’re from) but this blog post is a good place to start.
You can also carbon offset other transport, like your car journey to work! I drive around 10,000 miles a year, and it costs me just under £6 to carbon offset this, according to the BP calculator (yea, you read that right, £6 PER YEAR).
8. Go a month without buying anything new
The economy exists to make people think we need new things. Broken? By a new one. Old? Buy an updated version. Unfashionable? Buy something on trend.
Projects like Secondhand September, which is run by Oxfam, challenge you to buy no new clothes for a whole month. Try to extend this for as long as you can, instead opting to buy secondhand, borrowing someone else’s item, or upcycling something old.
This thought-process shouldn’t just be about clothes though, think about it if you’re buying furniture, electrical, home furnishings… anything at all! And why wait until September? Start now instead!
9. Swap kitchen and bathroom products for ‘greener’ ones
Gradually, as they run out and need replacing, choose to purchase the more sustainable option for your kitchen and bathroom instead of plastic or chemical-filled alternatives.
- Switch to an EcoEgg Laundry Egg instead of using washing powder
- Choose bamboo kitchen brushes and natural sponges
- Choose shampoo bars instead of bottles of shampoo
- Choose bars of soap instead of a plastic soap dispenser
- Scrap cotton wool for reusable make-up remover pads
- Stop buying wet wipes and choose a flannel instead
- Buy recycled toilet roll instead of paper that’s directly created from cutting down trees
10. Grow your own vegetables
Store-bought vegetables are covered in all sorts of chemicals and pesticides, and often if you choose to buy organic, it means purchasing a product that’s packaged in plastic (I’m looking at you, Tesco bananas).
Choosing to grow your own vegetables means no chemicals on your food, produce that is packaging-free, and a lowered carbon footprint of your food travelling only a few meters to go from your garden to your plate, instead from the other side of the world.
I truly believe everyone has the space to grow some form of food if you think smartly. Even if you live in a flat, choose a windowsill to make into your own indoor vegetable patch! Personally, I have three flowerbeds I dug up last summer to plant onions, peppers, leeks, courgettes, tomatoes, spinach and rocket. Windowsills are great for herbs like mint, basil, rosemary, and thyme, but you can choose to grow greens or even chillis on your window-ledge.
Grab a planner to track what you have planted when so you know when to harvest your food!
What are your sustainable New Years resolutions for 2020? Do any of these make the list?
Thanks for reading,
This post contains affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase something from the linked site, I’ll earn a tiny (and I mean tiny!) commission at no extra cost to you, which contributes to running this blog.