Slowly but surely, many of us are taking more conscious steps to introduce sustainable changes into our lives. From simple swaps in the weekly food shop, to more considered alternatives in our beauty routines.
Sustainable living is a necessity now more than ever. We’re beginning to see and feel the effects of climate change and the impact human consumption is having on the world.
While we’re all for the easy switches, thinking proactively and longer-term is where the real change lies. Truthfully, a real potential for change rests with the big manufacturers and corporations. They have the power to remove the option for less sustainable options across our daily habit.
However, until that massive change is made, we’ll stick with little and sometimes imperfect switches on a personal level.
Here are some tips that should get the cogs turning about how to live more sustainably.
At the base of any major life change is an education on the subject. Beyond the obvious tips that we see so regularly, it’s time to get to the bottom of sustainable changes that can be applied across multiple areas of your life.
Learn about the different recycling and waste symbols stamped on all products. There are different grades of plastics, each needing a different type of recycling (or often not recycled at all). Educate yourself on these symbols.
A lot of food packaging clearly labels whether it’s recyclable or not. Check before throwing away and look for product switches with different packaging where you can.
Each local council has slightly different rules on recyclables, especially for what will be recycled in curbside collections. Check your local council website for more information and research where alternative recycling points are in your area for non-curbside materials.
If a single load of recycling has a certain percentage of non-recyclable items, it usually tarnishes the whole load, so do your bit to help in reducing and eventually getting rid of this percentile.
For the lotions and potions that line your bathroom cabinets and cleaning cupboard, look into the common ingredients that make up these products.
For your own health and for more eco-friendly production, avoid unnecessary or often harsh chemicals, particularly in your skincare. Find alternatives where you can.
Seek out eco-friendly stores
There are sustainable stores popping up all around the country, from big city outlets to hidden gems in villages. Look into where your nearest eco store is and take a wander around to find new items to replace your day to day products.
In Leeds, for example, there’s Out of This World which stocks food, cleaning and beauty products. It’s where I’ve discovered a whole host of things I wouldn’t previously have used and it means I’m also supporting a local business.
Similarly, there are many refill shops in the city and on the outskirts that have both pantry staples and cleaning products available to decant directly into your own containers.
There’s no doubt you’ll have either a sustainable-friendly store or section in a larger outlet somewhere nearby. See what you can find near you and explore what’s on the shelves.
A large part of swapping to a more sustainable lifestyle is proactively thinking through your day or your purchases. Plan ahead instead of working from convenience.
Following the above tips and spending some time educating and researching is at the base of further sustainability.
Remember your reusable bags for the big food shop. Stock up on beauty products in advance of grabbing what you can. Make a trip to a speciality store instead of relying on what’s in your usual supermarket.
Convenience is where a lot of us—myself included—trip up on sustainable actions. Plan ahead with a quick mental run through of your day before you leave the house. Or stash bags, masks, coffee cups and containers at different points of convenience.
As most of our switches are down to personal changes or our own actions, consider how you can weave the sustainability conversation into different areas of your life.
Share any great switches with friends and family and encourage them to do the same. As with the convenience point above, think about where you often forget your eco option or where you’d like to make more changes. And set about implementing them.
I think we’ve all realised that truly sustainable living is a long-term and often uphill journey. Hopefully the tips above provide some useful ideas to help add more sustainability function into your day to day.
Do you have any more simple sustainable living tips? Leave them in the comments and get in touch on Instagram or Twitter to help us out.
Phoebe Dixon lives in Leeds, UK, and loves the local indie food scene, regularly visiting the bars and restaurants around the city. She's a blogger at heart, managing NorthofLondon.co.uk, which mainly covers food and Leeds and provides an opportunity to get her thoughts down on the page. When she's not exploring her local city, Phoebe loves to get lost in books, often losing hours of the day to reading, and enjoys cooking something up in her kitchen at home.