Are you looking for ways to be more sustainable and environmentally-conscious that go beyond a reusable bag and ditching single-use-plastic? Here are my suggestions for ten things to give up for the planet. The point isn’t to necessarily achieve everything (great if you do!). Rather, examine your personal lifestyle and see if you can realistically give up any of these things. Are you up for the challenge?! 🙂
The fast fashion industry is environmentally damaging, wasteful, and unethical. See my post on It’s time to Quit Fast Fashion.
Multiple Holidays Per Year
People are travelling abroad more than ever. When I was a kid, the highlight of my summer was a visit with family friends in Toronto (a 5hr drive from Ottawa), and a week camping. I’m always surprised to hear about how many holidays people go on nowadays, and I guess it has to do with the cheap cost of flights. My holidays generally consist of two flights to Vancouver per year to see family (more of a necessity than optional luxury), and sometimes a mini-break. To reduce your carbon footprint, opt for staycations, holidays in your country/state/province, and choosing travel by train or bus over short-haul flights. Check out my previous post on ways to travel low waste: Travelling Low Waste — Successes and Failures
Meat and Dairy
Not everyone wants to go vegan, and that’s okay. But it is vital that people cut down on their meat and dairy intake. If you still eat meat, maybe focus on reducing your intake to 2-3 times a week and opt for free-range/organic livestock rather than factory farmed. With dairy, try switching to oat or almond milks as they have less of an impact, and save cheeses for special occasions. You’ll also save money!
Resource Intensive Hobbies
If you’re considering starting a new hobby, think about the resources required. Do you need to buy a lot of expensive equipment? Does it rely on fuel or travelling ? Will it harm the environment or animals? Does it involve a lot of waste/ excessive consumption? There are lots of great hobby options that have a positive impact including gardening, walks, and DIY crafts that repurpose materials.
Take Away and Convenience Food
Processed and packaged food (a.k.a. junk food) is making people sick. As a society, we consume far too much sugar and low nutrition food, which is having a deleterious effect on our health, and the planet’s health. A positive step to living more sustainably is cutting down on all the burgers, cheese-laden pizzas, sugary drinks, chips, and cookies. I’m not saying never indulge, but these things should be treats and not a substitute for actual food. We need to make the time to care about our food and our bodies.
Technology has planned obsolescence, and it’s shocking how much old technology ends up in the landfill. Before you run out and buy the latest iPhone or Android, ask yourself if you really need it. Often clearing out cookies and caches and replacing the battery can stretch the life of your phone or laptop. Look to get your gadgets repaired first, rather than immediately replacing them. For more info, see check out this YouTube video.
Putting loads of resources into an ornamental feature of your property isn’t sustainable. A huge lawn serves no purpose, and you need to use resources such as water, fertiliser, and feul/energy to maintain the lawn. Meanwhile, it is lost space that could be used to grow flowers to help insects, or grow your own produce. It’s a monoculture that isn’t helping biodiversity and is prone to invasive species. Why not consider re-wilding you lawn? And please don’t use astroturf! See this post for more info.
Many people depend on a car to get around, as public transit is often not a viable solution unless you live in a city centre. Try to walk or cycle short distances, and take the bus when you can. Even opting for carpooling or public transit one day a week can make a difference. If you’re on the market for a new vehicle, look into electric.
Exotic and Off-season Food
Any food item that is shipped across the world, or grown in resource-intensive greenhouses isn’t sustainable. A great way to lower your impact is eating locally and in season. See Eating Seasonally and Locally in the UK while living Zero Waste
Online Shopping and Express Delivery
I find the notion of same day and next day delivery ridiculous. We are now used to an expect all of our needs and impulse purchases to be fulfilled at the click of a button and expect instant gratification. To reduce your impact, why not try the “30 day rule”? Add items you want to a wish list, and then review that list after 30 days. Chances are, you don’t really need that thing, and you certainly don’t need it express couriered to your doorstep.
For more info on the impact and carbon footprint of online shopping, see BBC How Green in your parcel?
So there you have it, my suggestions for then things to give up for the planet. Please do feel free to add your suggestions in the comments!