Run more, eat less, work harder. Every year we make New Year Resolutions and every year studies tell us why we fail them. Yet why, as the midnight bells strike a final goodbye to yester-year, do we promise ourselves that this is the year to make a resolution that lasts? We do it because we want to change.
And change we must do. With increasingly apocalyptic reports on climate one can be forgiven for wanting to draw the curtains and never read the news again. We feel helpless.
Yet we can make a difference. Even simple lifestyle alterations can reduce carbon footprint. So, New Year’s Resolution or not, here are 15 easy ways to become more sustainable in 2015.
1) Walk or cycle – It’s healthier. It’s better for the environment. It’s cheaper than the bus. With zero carbon emissions and a guilt-free reason to avoid the gym, you have no excuse not to. Plus, if you promised to do more exercise in 2015 you are already on a winning streak.
2) Recycle – 60% of waste that ends up in landfill sites could be recycled. Just one recycled tin can could save enough energy to power a TV for 3 hours. If you are unsure whether an item can be recycled, check the label or visit recyclenow.com.
3) Use a whiteboard and pen – A small investment that will save paper and your pocket. White-boards are re-usable, unlike all those ‘to-do’ post-it notes plastering your fridge, thus saving your paper and money.
4) Replace meat with veg – This old student trick is used to cut spendings, but it is good for you and the planet too. Meat production is notorious for its devastating impact on the environment, beef being the worst offender. Simply replacing meat with veg can half your carbon footprint. Just like that. Still not inspired? Look here for a tasty list of meat-free dishes.
5) Buy locally sourced produce – Shopping at the local greengrocers, farmer’s market and butchers is a sure way to cut down your carbon footprint by reducing transport miles (both for you and your food). As well as supporting your local community, the produce will be cheaper, fresher and tastier. Bargain.
6) Charity shops – From the latest Delia Smith recipes to vintage finds, charity shops are a treasure trove of second hand goods. As well as re-using items that might otherwise have gone to waste, local donations involve little travel which is great for your carbon footprint. If this isn’t enough, you know that your money is going to a good cause.
7) Tinker with your toilet – This takes 20 minutes and saves the average person 2 gallons of water per flush, or 750 gallons per year. Wash out a 2L milk bottle and remove the label. Fill with water, add a few drops of bleach and several stones to weight it down. Screw the lid on and place the bottle in the cistern away from the flushing mechanism. Check occasionally to assure the bottle has not shifted.
9) Lower your thermostat – a great excuse to keep wearing your favourite Christmas jumper. Switching your thermostat down by only one degree saves £75 and 310kg carbon dioxide per year on average.
10) Unplug that charger! – Smart devices take about two hours to charge yet thousands of Britons are guilty of leaving their devices plugged in over night. Overcharging wastes British households a staggering £134 million pounds per year, and the problem is increasing.
11) Polish up and plan ahead – According to the AA, carefully planning trips and servicing your car regularly increases fuel efficiency, saving you 10% or more on fuel bills. Road trip anyone?
12) Sugar, or honey honey? – With increasing demand for sugar alternatives, some have tipped 2015 to be the hottest year for honey sales. So, why not also make it the year to reduce food miles? Swapping imported sugar for locally sourced honey is certainly a tasty way to reduce your carbon footprint.
13) Drink tap water – About 15 million plastic bottles are used per day in the UK alone, most of which are thrown away instead of recycled. Instead of buying a new bottle each day, re-use one and fill it with tap water. Healthier, cheaper, better for the environment.
14) Eat seasonally – By knowing what grows seasonally, you can take full advantage of local produce to produce tasty dishes. There is a reason for the saying “what grows together goes together”. Yet another nifty trick to decrease those damaging food miles.
15) Buy biodegradable bin liners – No matter how much we love to recycle, there will, unfortunately, be some waste that has to be thrown away. But, just as every cloud has a silver lining, at least every bin can have a biodegradable bin bag.
So there it is – a list of 15 ways to live more sustainably in 2015 and thereafter. Use it wisely. And remember, if your resolution has failed already, don’t fret. You can still help save the planet.
Comments welcome below, particularly if there is a tip you have found useful or one that has not mentioned. This post is based on “10 tips to save the planet and your bank account” which I originally wrote for the Opinion Panel.