Environmentally-friendly ideas for new year’s resolutions
Each and every January, the optimistic “new year, new me” phrase sweeps the UK with positivity. New year’s resolutions are often based around our health, with desires to lose weight or quit smoking especially popular. But this coming year, why not direct your source of motivation towards the world around you?
At Commercial Waste, we’ve come up with 10 eco-friendly habits for you to implement in the coming months and beyond, so you can start living a more sustainable and zero-waste lifestyle.
1. Eat less meat
Switching meat for pulses and vegetables that are rich in protein and fibre isn’t just beneficial to your health. It will also make a significant difference to the planet’s land and water consumption, as well as reducing the need for grazing livestock, and the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. For example, it takes 1700 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef, but just 39 gallons of water to make a pound of vegetables.
Whether it’s opting for meatless Mondays or going the whole hog (not literally) and signing up for Veganuary, curb your carnivore instincts for a healthier and more environmentally-friendly diet.
2. Shop local
Shopping locally instead of buying imported goods is right up our green street. From the greengrocer to the butcher, baker, and candlestick maker, you can help cut carbon emissions and air pollution by getting behind the ‘little guys’.
Farmers markets are a fantastic opportunity to show your support for locally produced food. Even though they aren’t always the cheapest option, it’s no secret that locally-grown food is bred for taste and not smothered in chemicals to withstand a long commute.
Did you know we get more imported fish from Sweden than anywhere else in the world? A large majority of our fruit and vegetables such as avocados and bananas are also flown in from abroad. To guarantee the highest qualities of freshness, nutrition, and flavour, keep your pennies within the local community.
Online advertising sites such as Facebook Marketplace and Preloved are great ways to discover and/or sell new or used goods locally. Whether it’s kitting out your new wardrobe or finding a second hand sofa bed for the spare room, there are some amazing bargains to be had just around the corner.
Upcycling is far more than just a creative trend. By breathing new life into waste materials and undesired products, it helps us live a sustainable lifestyle by preventing bulky waste ending up in landfill, oceans, and waste management facilities.
The internet is an endless source of inspiration if you are keen to learn how to upcycle your furniture, clothes, and any other ‘trash’ that is in need of a little TLC to give it renewed purpose.
It turns out that chipped coffee mugs can become plant pots. You can even light up your living room by making chandeliers out of mason jars!
4. Buy an electric car
Drive into 2022 with a clear conscience by moving across to the electric vehicle (EV) lane. Pure EVs produce no carbon dioxide emissions when driving, contributing to better air quality and cleaner streets. The government are also keen for you to power up, with the plug-in car grant (PiCG) enabling you to claim a maximum of £1,500 off your new electric motor.
What’s more, EVs are much friendlier towards our ears, as they are far quieter than their diesel and petrol cousins when travelling at low speeds. In city centres and residential areas where speeds are generally low, we can all look further on up the road to a future of greater peace and tranquility.
5. Farm to table
Tip your hat to the chefs championing local and sustainable farming by only eating out at farm-to-table restaurants.
The farm-to-table concept is essentially a symbiotic relationship between a farmer and a restaurant that cuts out the middle man (supermarket, distributor, etc). The restaurant (and diners) benefit from the freshness and seasonality of the produce, while farmers are able to reap more of the profit on their labours.
You’ll also be lending mother nature a helping hand too. Local food has less distance to travel, resulting in fewer emissions being released into the atmosphere.
6. Start composting
This low-waste method diverts seemingly unusable materials such as egg shells and coffee grounds from landfills, as well as minimising our greenhouse gas emissions. Composting one ton of organic waste can reduce emissions as much as taking one car off the road for two months.
Composting is useful in all gardens. To make for the best compost, aim for a 50/50 mix of both green (for e.g., cut flowers ) and brown materials (for e.g., egg shells) in your compost bin. Satisfy in the knowledge that they will break down naturally and add valuable nutrients to your soil.
7. Walk more
Opting to walk a short journey over taking the car can do wonders for our planet. It has been calculated that completing five trips of 2km a week on foot instead of a car can decrease the amount of emissions by 86kg a year. It also helps to protect our buildings, green spaces, and biodiversity by limiting their exposure to pollution.
Walking to places also prevents congestion, meaning the landscape isn’t heaving with parked up vehicles. They say the best things in life are free – walking is no exception.
8. Reduce plastic use
It’s estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our ocean than fish. Before you buy something manufactured from or packaged in plastic, seriously question whether or not you need it. Is there an eco-friendly alternative available with plastic-free packaging?
Many refill options became available across businesses in 2019 to help eliminate plastic waste, including the Waitrose Unpacked Scheme, where customers bring their own bottles and containers to stock up on kitchen and household items.
There are many quick changes you can make to reduce your plastic use. Think reusable travel cups, drawstring bags for groceries, and even swapping clingfilm for beeswax wraps.
9. Cut down on food waste
Many of us are drawn to food for our new year goals, but rarely do they relate to how we can change our ways to reduce food waste. With the unwanted title of Europe’s leading food waster, the UK needs to make a dramatic behavioural shift if it is to lower the 9.5 million tonnes of food it throws away in a single year.
Before you go shopping, devise a meal plan and write a shopping list so you only buy what you need. WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) also suggests taking a ‘shelfie’ – a photo of your fridge and cupboards to remind you of what’s there. Freeze any leftovers in manageable portions, and stock up on pantry essentials with a longer shelf life – lentils, pasta sauces, etc.
If you’re out at a restaurant, make an effort to order smaller portions or split the grub with a friend.
10. Save electricity
We’ve all been guilty of a mad rush upon leaving the house, and then blaming a lack of time or vitality to check all the lights have been switched off. A simple ‘switch off’ can help reduce the use of non-renewable resources that are harmful to our environment.
You can also decrease your carbon footprint at home by installing energy efficient lightbulbs, and switching off appliances such as computers when not in use. With power bills set to soar, we also recommend turning down your heating (even by one degree) for a quick money-saving and eco-friendly win.
Another way to ensure you are cutting down on carbon is to use energy when demand is lower. Electricity demand peaks between 4pm and 7pm, so try to shift your energy consumption outside of these hours, as your needs are less likely to be reliant on non-renewable and carbon-heavy methods to meet requirements.