Since COP26 in 2021 threw environmental issues into the limelight, a lot of pressure has been put on manufacturing and industry to reduce carbon emissions and become eco-friendlier.
We all know we need to do something, and recycle where we can, but what else can we do as individuals?
As part of our 2022 Earth Day activities, we take a look at some of the small changes you can make to lower your personal impact on the planet. Not just during Earth Day, but all year round.
According to a 2021 study (Wrap, org, 2021) in the UK, approx. 20% of the food we purchase is wasted! (that’s also 20% of the money you spend on buying it) This figure did stop dropping over the pandemic but is creeping back up to pre COVID-19 levels. Time pressures, diet fads, and an increase in takeaways are cited as some of the reasons.
So, what can we do? Planning is one of the best ways to reduce food waste, along with batch cooking, freezing and using up your leftovers.
Cooking from scratch is an excellent way of reducing your food waste and buying produce from local markets (many will deliver to you as well) often means you can buy just what you need – greengrocer veg is usually fresher, in season and lasts much longer than its supermarket equivalents. A quick internet search will allow you to discover hundreds of easy recipes ready for you to try!
Bonus! Uncooked veg waste can be easily composted – but more about that later
11 million clothing items are thrown away every week (Oxfam, 2019), and end up in landfills. Add to this the high amount of fast fashion clothing made in some of the poorest countries on Earth and you start to see why grabbing something new to wear for a night out can start to be a problem.
So, what can we do? A great thing to do is buy second-hand either by visiting your local charity shops or via one of the many online second-hand retailers (designer bargains anyone!!). You can also learn a few basic sewing skills or invest in a sewing machine (or even splash out on a professional altering service) to mend and alter what you already own. Items like iron-on hemming tape mean you can alter the lengths of trousers or skirts etc, in minutes. Again, the internet is your friend for inspiration on upcycling clothes. Another thing to take into consideration is to buy well, buy items that will last (not always the most expensive). Remember any wearable clothes you don’t wear can be donated or sold. Some charities will also take unwearable clothes for rags but check with them first.
Bonus! buying second-hand or vintage clothing and making a few simple alterations yourself means you can be super creative and individual and show off your own personal style.
Why not have a go at growing some of your own vegtables. If you’ve been composing your veggie peels and uncooked veg, you should have a supply of ready-made compost/plant food to grow your own fruit and veg.
So, what can we do? What you might not realise is that you don’t need acres of outside space to grow your own. Containers and even windowsills are great places to start. Herbs, salad leaves, and chili plants are all super easy to grow indoors. Of course, the bigger you go, the more CO2 you actually remove from the atmosphere and the more fresh, cheap food you have for eating.
Bonus! you have a wide variety of choices, especially if you grow from seed. Also, don’t forget that used cardboard and paper packaging can be ripped up and put in your homemade compost (it’ll be better for it) or if you’re more serious about growing, you can use your old cardboard in the no-dig method!
Unbelievably, 50% of all car journeys are under 2 miles (Hubub.org, 2022) and half of these are under 1 mile (Gov.uk, 2020). Leisure is 30% of these journeys, closely followed by shopping at 22%.
Considering that passenger cars count for 55% of transport emissions, this is an area we can make big changes.
So, what can we do? Smaller journeys need to be considered carefully, not every person is able to walk, cycle or scoot, and sometimes we need our cars to carry stuff for us or to offer us safety. But still a lot of journeys we make in our cars we could make by other means, a quick pop to the shops or a cycle to work (many employers offer government-backed schemes). Perhaps, we can work from home a few days a month or hold online meetings instead of traveling. Maybe consider jumping on a bus or a train for your next trip out!
Bonus! taking more journeys by foot counts toward your fitness goals!
According to the UN approx. 14% of all CO2 produced is from animal agriculture (Food and agriculture organisation of the United Nations , 2021), and of this, the majority (65%) is caused by cattle alone. Add into this that animal agriculture is responsible for 40% of the methane in the atmosphere (United Nations, 2021), there’s definitely an argument for cutting back on meat and dairy if you want to reduce your personal impact on the planet.
So, what can we do? Start by swapping out a few meals, it’s never been easier to try plant-based or meat-free food. It’s readily available at all supermarkets. There is some great advice and even a few recipes to try out on the Earth Day website.
Bonus! there are lots of health benefits to eating a whole food plant-based diet.
Making a few small changes in our lives can make a big difference on our environmental impact.
Simply thinking before you make a purchase can make all the difference. Take a moment to reflect on your food purchases, consider your clothing choices and consider your travel options before jumping in the car. Living more sustainably will not only have a positive impact on the environment, but it can also save you money and improve your health. It’s a win-win.
At Antalis we’re committed to reducing the impact our activities have on the environment while helping our customers do the same through our selection of eco-friendly products, services and solutions covering papers, packaging and visual communication. Read more about our environmental approach here.