The takeaway message of David Attenborough’s newest Netflix documentary A Life on Our Planet is clear as day: we need to start living more sustainably, or else the wildlife of our planet will perish (and mankind along with it). But how do you translate this grand objective into feasible daily habits? To help you on your way, we will discuss four cheap and easy ways to start living a greener lifestyle.
As a sustainable startup, we are fully aware of the hurdles to adopting a lifestyle that is as kind to our planet as it is to our wallets. A lot of articles on the topic describe radical plans to limit your ecological footprint to a bare minimum, such as going zero waste or moving into a tiny house. Although we have tremendous respect for those who stick with these lifestyles, we are strong believers in the power of incremental improvement. This week, we will discuss the following tips that are easy to implement in your everyday life.
1. Switch banks
2. Shop secondhand
3. Adopt a plant-based diet
4. Limit your consumption of single-use products
1 Switch banks
The first piece of advice that we would like to give is switching to a more sustainable bank and motivating your friends and family to do the same. Banks invest your money in all kinds of things as part of their business model. This means that your savings might currently support the fossil fuel industry or the deforestation of the Amazon without your knowledge. Luckily, a lot of banks are trying to cater to the increasing proportion of consumers who base their consumption choices on environmental principles. Switching banks is much easier than many believe it to be (it can be arranged in less than a day) and there are a lot of comparison tools out there to help you make your choice.
TIP: If you are not too risk-averse, you might even consider investing your savings in a sustainable fund. Your money will be used to support sustainable initiatives and you might even earn a bit of money in the process.
2 Shop secondhand
By shopping secondhand, you minimise demand for newly produced goods. Because of mass production, precious and finite resources are being depleted on a daily basis, while a lot of the products that are being made end up in the discount section of warehouses or tucked away in people’s attics. Due to the low costs of production, supply vastly exceeds demand in our economy. This leads to excess pollution. For example, the fashion industry emits more carbon emission than international flights and maritime shipping combined (accounting for a whopping 10% of all carbon emissions).
Luckily, it seems that more and more people are starting to realise this, as secondhand shopping is becoming increasingly popular. While buying previously-owned items might have had a bit of a scruffy image before, wearing vintage clothing is very 2021. And the best thing about it? You get your timeless items much cheaper than you would in a regular store! Find your nearest secondhand store on the website of Het Goed.
3 Adapt a plant-based diet
Along with being linked to a multitude of health benefits, eating (predominantly) plant-based is considered to be one of the kindest things you can do for the planet. This is because the livestock that is required for the production of meat and dairy requires a lot of food itself. To illustrate, one-third of the world’s grain is currently fed to these animals. Moreover, a lot of clean water is being used up by the industry, with one pound of beef requiring thousands of gallons of water. On top of that, there are the issues of land use and deforestation for agriculture and the careless usage of antibiotics. This means that even limiting your intake of these products to just a few days a week will have a considerable impact.
Luckily, preserving your health while changing your diet is not as difficult as it might sound. There is no need for rigorous feeding schedules or complex calculations. There are several tools that can do the work for you, such as Eetmeter. With more and more low-budget alternatives to traditional products becoming available, going (partly) vegetarian or even vegan is easier than ever before.
4 Limit your consumption of single-use products
The use of single-use products is detrimental to our planet. These products take up finite resources to be made and end up in our oceans after being thrown away. While some governments are working on banning single-use plastics in the near future (hooray!), you can also contribute to the solution for this problem yourself.
There exist many alternatives to most single-use products. You can exchange your makeup wipes for washable makeup pads and choose to brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush (or one made from sustainable materials such as bamboo or recycled plastic). Some other options are buying biodegradable cotton swabs, food covers made from bee wax or silicon, fashionable reusable water bottles (such as Dopper), RVS or bamboo straws, menstrual cups and washable face masks. If you often drink sparkling water, a SodaStream might be a good investment. Luckily, even more creative solutions are currently being developed.