As a sustainability warrior in a world that elects a climate change denier as President, I was thrilled to see that over a quarter of Brits consider the environment and climate change to be their biggest concern for future generations in research commissioned by LG*.
The issue is – apart from carrying reusable water bottles and wearing our bras a few days more than we’d ideally like to – it can be hard to know what we should be doing to really make a difference.
That’s why I’ve created this little guide.
But what is being sustainable?
To provide a short answer to a very long question, being sustainable is to live in a way that can be maintained long-term with the resources at hand; renewable resources. recycling what you can, and minimizing resource use overall. This, in turn, protects our environment, health, communities, and future.
The alternatives – primarily mass waste and use of fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) – are a dire failure of supply and demand that destroy everything from the environment to global health.
6 Baby Steps towards Sustainability
1. Stop driving.
Walking and cycling not only keep you fit, but keep our air less polluted. I know this isn’t easy for everyone, but if you can’t go without, go with less. And hybrid or electric, if the option is available. Only drive where other transport options aren’t available and try to ride share if you do. In Los Angeles (a city impossible to explore without roads) I used Uber Pool so I could rest assured I helped to take three more cars off the road at any given time. (Bonus: Ride-sharing is drastically cheaper than the alternatives and you can get an additional £15 off with the Uber code “uberlela“!)
2. Unplug everything.
I mention this purely because I used to leave my computer plugged in for days at a time. For no good reason. Any charger, computer, TV, light, etc that is left ‘on’ unnecessarily is the epitome of a resource drain.
When you use electricity, use it consciously. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water, so something as seemingly insignificant as a cold wash can make a real difference.
3. Refuse palm oil products.
I could talk about the dangers of palm oil at length, but will try to reign it in. What is important to know is that palm oil is incredibly bad for the environment but incredibly cheap to produce, so many companies fill their products with it . Destroying our rainforests as they do so.
Avoiding it isn’t as straightforward as it should be (many countries allow it do be listed as “vegetable oil” to mislead customers) and 50% of supermarket products (from food to beauty) contain it, so research is imperative. But at a true gain to yourself. Companies like The Body Shop, L’Oreal, and even treats like Aero are completely palm oil free while seemingly ‘everyday’ products like Oreos and Doritos are packed with the stuff. For no other reason than profiteering.
A little Googling goes a long way here.
4. Eat smart.
Where buying food locally (farms, greengrocers, butchers, etc) is obviously best for your community and carbon footprint, you will be pleased to know that doing this alone for thirty days can reduce CO2 emissions by around eleven pounds.
Knowing what you’re eating, where it comes from, an limiting your meat intake are incredibly easy ways to live a more sustainable life.
While I’m not asking everyone to become vegan (which can have its own negative impacts – think palm oil), I do encourage you to eat less animal products overall. Meat production is one of the most environmentally destructive industries on the planet, responsible for massive amounts of water use, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and habitat destruction. Agriculture is actually responsible for more worldwide greenhouse gases than transportation.
A baby step? Cut your beef intake to once or twice a month. A steak or bolognaise will create almost four times as much C02 as a chicken breast, so limiting your protein intake to vegetables, nuts and locally raised, humane, and organic chicken & eggs is a great step towards sustainability.
(Don’t forget to compost and recycle everything you can when all is fed and nom!)
5. Buy sustainably.
Sustainability is much more than food and beauty products. Almost everything we use in our daily lives can contribute or prevent to non-sustainable repercussions so it is very important we buy products with a conscience. Buy products with less plastic packaging, reusable coffee cups (many chains accept them with discounts to your bill), “green” shopping bas, sustainable appliances (like the Centum washing machine with its 20 year warranty!), and more.
6. Continue to educate yourself.
And others. With love. The more you know, the more power you have. Collectively, we have a lot of purchasing and political power that can protect a fair and healthy existence for now and a thousand years from now.
* The survey coincided with the announcement that the LG FH6F9BDS2 Centum™ System washing machine uses 217kWh less electricity every year than an A+ rated model of the same size, saving you at least 67% off the electricity running costs. Not only this, but purchasing an A+++ washing machine can help to reduce carbon emissions and reduce consumers’ environmental impact at home. Compared to a similar sized A+ rated washing machine this will save you the same amount of CO2, as the equivalent to driving 370 miles every year!