Dee Moloney and Meagan Crawford explore how we can lighten our footprint, without making drastic changes to our lifestyles.
Living more sustainably might seem daunting, but sometimes it’s not all about making huge lifestyle changes. We’re all on a journey towards sustainability, where every small step we take can have a positive impact.
Over 40 per cent of all carbon emissions come from our households, meaning we all have a part to play in reducing the impact of climate change. Even by adjusting some of our smaller, day-to-day activities we collectively have the potential to reduce carbon emissions long-term.
If going completely vegan or plastic-free sounds too overwhelming, Meg and Dee, founders of the sustainability lifestyle app Nudj, outline some subtle changes you can make today to improve your carbon footprint without completely changing your lifestyle.
“I don’t want to go vegan”
Try this: Making some small changes to your diet is a great starting point and a positive step forward. Did you know there are over 15 types of plant-based milk, including oat, nut and even hemp? Buying and using a carton of oat or nut milk instead of dairy milk just once a week is a great step towards sustainability.
Substituting beef or pork for lower-carbon alternatives like chicken or fish is also a good place to start. Just by swapping one meat-based meal for a vegetarian one every week, you could save the carbon footprint equivalent of up to 1660 miles of driving every year!
“Zero waste is impossible for me”
Try this: Together we could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 8 per cent if we stopped wasting food. Using the food in your fridge and prepping extra meals to take to work or school for your lunch is a small change we can all make that has a big collective impact on the environment and our wallets. As a bonus, the average four-person family could save around £1,110 per year by reducing food waste.
“I can’t afford organic food”
Try this: Visiting a farm shop once a month to buy locally-grown fruit and veg, and even meat and dairy, is much better for the environment. As well as cutting down on the carbon generated by storage and transport, you’re helping to support local businesses. That’s always something we can get behind.
“Going plastic free is too hard”
Try this: Unfortunately, plastic is everywhere and going completely plastic-free is definitely a challenge. Instead, starting with something simple like taking a reusable coffee cup to your favourite café once a week can save 7.6kg of coffee cups from the bin each year, that’s the equivalent of around 12 basketballs. Some vendors will also give you a discount for bringing your own cup, so it’s a win win.
“My energy supply isn’t renewable”
Try this: It might sound obvious, but turning your plug sockets off at the wall when you’re not using them is something we can all do every day to help stop ‘phantom energy’ that is used when appliances are left in standby mode. Most energy providers will also have a green tariff that uses renewable energy. Making the switch could cost more but can help reduce your carbon footprint every time you turn on the lights.
“I can’t live without screens”
Try this: In this day and age, expecting to have zero screen time is unrealistic, but limiting your scroll time can begin to have a positive impact on your mental health and carbon footprint. Try cutting down your screen time by an hour each week as a starting point by reaching for a book instead of your devices.
“I don’t have time to walk or cycle to work”
Try this: Choosing to ditch the car for just one day a week can help to limit some of the harmful emissions from driving. As an added bonus, people who cycle or take public transport to work arrive less stressed than those who drive and will improve their fitness. Making an effort to use more sustainable means of transport for journeys under three miles can also help to reduce your carbon footprint.
“I could never give up my tumble dryer”
Try this: Tumble-drying a single load of laundry uses enough energy to power LED lighting for almost two weeks. Making an effort to air dry your laundry when the weather is nice, or when you already have the heating on, can help to conserve energy.
There are so many ways that we can begin to change our habits and learn more sustainable behaviours. Like any worthwhile activity, practise makes perfect. While we all might not end up living the 100 per cent eco-friendly lifestyle, knowing we’ve started our own journey is just as important, so don’t feel bad if you’re only able to make small steps right now.