How making small changes can have a big impact
At Sustainable Life we aim to promote sustainable living and motivate everyone to live their life in the most ethical way they can.
We understand that as individuals we cannot single-handedly change the world however by taking small steps and making little changes to our everyday lives collectively, we can have a big impact.
Changes to your diet
The Lancet released a commission in 2019 defining a new sustainable diet assuring that there is minimal damage to the planet, by reducing; greenhouse emissions, loss of biodiversity and freshwater use, this diet is great and easy to fulfil cooking for 1 or 2 people. But what changes can be made in a larger household when trying to please more people becomes difficult and drastic changes cannot be made?
The most striking food item is meat, this probably won’t come as a surprise as we are constantly being told in the media to cut down on meat consumption. But what is the damage being done?
Greenhouse gases are a biggie when it comes to meat. To produce one burger patty, you could drive an efficient car 1.5 miles (2.5km) and produce the same amount of carbon emissions.
Something that completely passed me by was considering the quantity of water used in meat production, to produce 1kg of beef meat (about 2 packs of mince) it will require 15,415 litres of water which is just over the size of a big bottle used in a water cooler! While lamb, pork and chicken use less than half of that of beef the amount of water to make 1kg of chicken could grow 13kg of vegetables!
So, what is the little change to be made here? Switching a family of 4’s spag bol from beef mince to a meat free alternative could save almost 14 litres of water being used and will prevent almost 2.16kg of greenhouse gases being emitted! Meat-free alternatives are so accessible nowadays and they are starting to taste more and more like the real thing, so no excuses to just cutting out one day a week!
- Plastic Reduction
We need to use less plastic! This is something that is seems obvious! But people are doing nothing about it. In 2019 plastic production will contribute 850 million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Not to mention the effects the plastic has once it has been produced, only 1% of plastic bags will be recycled so what happens to them?! They will end up in landfill or in the ocean. 1 in 3 turtles found dead are found with plastic bags in their stomachs! This affects many other sea creatures, in 2008 a sperm whale found off the coast of California had consumed 22.2kilos of plastic ultimately resulting in its death. The average person will use roughly 700 plastic bags per year!
So, what to do?! This one is pretty easy. Just get yourself a reusable bag! There are so many that are available, small fold-away ones to tuck into your handbag just in case, to large reusable bags to carry your groceries! Most of these bags are easily available and are more sturdy, fashionable and comfortable to carry anyway so there really is no reason to not get one!
There are so many alternatives to other single use plastics, metal straws can be bought from so many outlets and normally come in a handy pouch to slip into your handbag. And let’s be honest they’re a lot better than the paper straws! Water bottles are becoming more and more of a fashion statement and companies are really upping their game. Reusable bottles can keep your water cooler and tasting fresher all day and you will reduce the health side effects that can come from reusing the single use bottles.
- Use of transport
We all know the negative effects of transport, we’ve grown up being taught about carbon emissions coming from cars, vans and lorries. in the EU the average car will emit 1.8 tonnes of CO₂ every year!
But a lot of us rely on these polluting modes of transport so what can be done to try and reduce our pollution levels? When considering buying your next car why not opt for a more energy efficient motor? There is the benefit of knowing you’re lowering your carbon footprint but also you will save loads on petrol and you’ll cut a hefty chunk off your road tax bill!
Does someone from work/on the school run live close by? Why not car share? It’ll half the emissions for running both cars and you’ll get some company on the commute. Other ways to share lifts would be opting for public transport like the bus, where you could find buying a bus pass is cheaper than car running charges!
Alternatively, why not cut out the fuel usage all together? If you live close to work, why not cycle or walk? It’s free, has 0 emissions and you’ll get a bit of exercise in the process.