Nicosia, CYPRUS – I’ve recently been caught up in the flurried storm of New Year’s resolutions, endless promises to ourselves to change this or that. Many of us have set one or two in the past and failed to follow through, so this year I wanted to ask myself; what sustainable resolutions could I make, some small changes to everyday life that can positively impact not just me, but our planet?
Here are 10 ideas I like:
- Glass containers for the win
Whether you’re taking food to school or cookies to the workplace, instead of using single use plastic or aluminum containers, opt for glassware that can last years! Not only is it more eco-friendly, it’s also healthier as there are no concerns for leaching chemicals into the food as it is heated up in plastic containers.
- Use wooden cutlery
Once again, a great alternative to single-use plastics. Some might argue that the water used for washing wooden cutlery balances the two, but as it can take up to 1,000 years to fully decompose single-use utensils this is certainly not the case. Also, since they are likely compostable, they have a reduced contribution to carbon emissions.
- Carry a re-usable bottle
Whether it be for coffee, tea, a cool lemonade or even just some water, investing in a reusable bottle can save up to 1,400 plastic bottles a year! This reduction of dependency on single-use products leads to a reduction in environmental pollution. Your choice of which re-usable container to choose can matter, too. I like Ocean Bottles or Buoy Bottles.
- Beeswax wraps
A recent sustainable social media sensation is using beeswax wraps when covering leftovers in the kitchen. Although some have reported a faint taste of honey on the foods they were used on, they are reusable and 100% natural, a complete 180 from the environmental disaster of plastic wraps.
- Buy local and organic
Buying produce from local shops is an excellent way of promoting sustainable development and reducing environmental impact due to the shortening of distribution chains. Buying organic means you are playing your part in the reduction of pesticides, energy and carbon emissions produced excessively by more commercial farms.
- Limit fast fashion and shop at thrift stores
Of course, this recently controversial topic should be addressed properly. Not everyone can afford non-fast fashion brands and that is completely fine. But when looking for the perfect jeans or coat or sweater, check your local thrift store before buying something new. Thrifting and up-cycling clothes means slowing the demand for new clothes, cutting carbon emissions in the long run for factories, transport, and distribution. You can also play your part in this green cycle by donating your old clothes!
- Sustainable cosmetics
Just another corporate social responsibility scheme? Not necessarily. Not only have more natural ingredients been proven to be more beneficial to our skin, ‘green’ cosmetics, ideally, are produced in more eco-friendly environments and most are entirely biodegradable. Keep an eye out for the NATRUE Label on certain cosmetic products for a certainty that the product you are purchasing was made with the best intentions.
- Cutting phantom energy
It really is as scary as it sounds. Phantom energy refers to the energy used by electronics that constantly run, no matter if they are in use or not. Unplugging simple electronics such as hairdryers, chargers, or other appliances, using power strips to metaphorically ‘unplug’ everything from electrical sockets and replacing normal bulbs with energy efficient versions are just a few ways to cut excess energy usage.
- Reduce your meat intake
Eating less meat leads to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and excessive water usage. There is no need to go fully vegetarian or vegan. Simply make more conscious choices when buying meat or try to slowly lessen how much you eat. It will still help!
- Rechargeable batteries
Although they have been in circulation for quite some time, rechargeable batteries aren’t usually used to their full potential. When used consciously, rechargeable batteries can help cut greenhouse gas emissions if they are recharged about 150 times, according to the Sierra Club. Using rechargeable batteries in cameras, flashlights and other things that frequently require new batteries is a step in the positive direction.
Erin Timur is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.