In the spirit of World Environment Day 2015, we thought we would offer a helping hand to those out there looking for ways to help save our earth. This year’s theme is sustainable consumption and production because if we continue producing and consuming and wasting at the same rate as we are now, by 2050 future generations will need three planets. We don't have three, we have one and there are five very simple steps you can take to conserve it. So let’s get sustaining…
1. Plan ahead
The best way to ensure minimal wastage of energy or food, or anything, is to think carefully before purchasing. Planning your meals for the week before heading to the supermarket will mean you’re far less likely to buy something you're not going to use. Furthermore, when you do buy, buy in bulk; you'll save on packaging, and then perhaps you could even cook in bulk and freeze the leftovers. In the same vein regarding energy saving, set up the timer for your heating and hot water and adjust it according to the season. Arrange a carpool to work or purchase a bus pass for the year. Invest in an e-reader rather than buying paperback after paperback. In adopting all these methods, you'll likely save some money too.
2. Buy ethically
In today's world, it is pretty well impossible to not be a consumer, but it is possible to be an ethical one.Whilst scouting out the ‘fairtrade’ labels in the supermarket is better than scouting out the ‘value’ aisle, there are more effective ways to buy sustainably. The best way: don't set foot in a supermarket. The smaller shops tend to source their produce locally, meaning it has travelled far less to make it onto your plate – less water and fuel has been used – and you will probably end up purchasing less plastic for your money (see below). Pretty much everything can be bought ethically if you have a look online…And there's no such thing as ethical bottled water, so just don't do it.
Useful online sources
www.ethical.org.au - Comprehensive guide to ethical shopping
www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/LeapingBunny - Where to buy ethical make up products
www.bbcgoodfood.com/seasonal-calendar/all - For UK residents, which food to buy when
Once something has been used, the next step is NOT recycle. Stop. And think. Turn the page over, and you've got a blank sheet again. Rinse the wine bottle out and put some candles in it rather than buying a fancy holder from IKEA. Most importantly: minimise the amount of plastic you use. My first and only scaremongering fact for you: every piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists. Scary stuff, huh? Reuse the bags as bin bags or shopping bags, or better still don't use them at all. Get yourself a reusable water bottle. Be creative and you'll be amazed how much bric-à-brac can be utilised!
Living a Zero Waste life is possible: www.mindbodygreen.com/0-16168/i-havent-made-any-trash-in-2-years-heres-what-my-life-is-like.html
But if you can't find a use for it, somebody else probably can. As people across the world are becoming increasingly dependent on food banks, it should be a crime to waste food. Indeed, France has become the first country to forbid supermarkets from throwing away food. Our world produces enough to feed every single person that belongs to it, yet up to a third of it goes to waste whilst the privileged consume excessively and others don't have anything to consume at all. This imbalance can be rectified with a little generosity, and thought. Of course, material goods can be donated to your local charity shop too.
And finally: recycle. Of course, it's still a whole lot more worthwhile than simply chucking something on top of a landfill site but recycling does take up a lot of energy. As products are recycled, particularly those made of plastic or metal, fossil fuels are used in order to decompose them which releases methane gas into the atmosphere. Composting food waste is always a good idea, but with other objects try all of the above first before resorting to recycling. If you're not sure what can be recycled and what can't, your local government’s website should have the information you're looking for.
For more information on why recycling does not solve all our problems: www.listverse.com/2013/01/27/10-ways-recycling-hurts-the-environment/
And for a new way to recycle: www.terracycle.com
So there we go! Happy Environment Day everybody!