Blog – New Year’s Resolutions
The new year has always been a time of renewal and rebirth, a time for new beginnings, that’s why new year’s resolutions have been so popular. You have the power to make changes in your life for the better, and what better way to start than by making a sustainable new year’s resolution. Help to make a positive impact on the environment, as well as in your own life, read along to find out how!
Start your new year with the right foot forward, by disposing of your Christmas tree in a sustainable way. Of course, this only works for real trees, artificial trees are generally made of PVC which isn’t recyclable. Many real trees unfortunately end up in landfill, where they release methane, a substance that is worse for the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
Many local councils have a tree disposal system, where they will collect and compost your tree for free. You can also compost your tree at home, provided you can break it down small enough, a woodchipper is ideal but if you want to put in the effort you can also break it down with a saw.
The best option however is to replant your tree, provided it still has the roots intact, this is the most sustainable option of all.
Go Meat Free
January also coincides with Veganuary, a movement in the UK that challenges people to follow a vegan lifestyle for the whole month of January. For those that don’t know the core tenets of veganism are:
- Living in a way which avoids exploitation and cruelty to animals.
- This can be through food, clothing, entertainment, or any other purpose which requires animals
The UN states that meat and dairy livestock accounts for 14.5% of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions. This is roughly the same amount as all transport (car, ship, plane) emissions across the planet. Switching to a plant-based diet can cut emissions massively.
A plant-based diet may have the ability to lower your blood pressure. In a study of 89,000 people, those eating meat-free diets appeared to cut their risk of high blood pressure by 55 per cent but those eating a vegan diet had a whopping 75 per cent lower risk.
Research shows that we could feed an additional 4 billion humans if we grew our crops directly for human consumption, rather than feeding the crops to farm animals, and then consuming them.
Grow Your Own
There’s nothing more sustainable than growing your own food, even in winter there are so many fruits and vegetables that can be grown successfully. We’ve already posted our guide to growing winter vegetables, so if you missed that, you can check it out here. One thing to keep in mind when growing plants in winter is that some plants do need more care and maintenance to protect them from the adverse weather. Plant fleeces, bell cloches, and hoop tunnels can provide the protection needed to survive through winter. If you have the space you can also invest in a greenhouse for all your growing needs.
Start your year with a pledge to avoid all single use plastics, the majority of which can be replaced with reusable alternatives. Many businesses have already phased out, or at the very least severely reduced their reliance on single use plastics such as shopping bags and straws. You can already start making these changes at home:
- If you use straws often, try replacing plastic ones with metal straws. These can be cleaned and reused every time.
- If you’re a coffee addict, try bringing your own reusable coffee container next time you head to Starbucks or Costa, most stores are more than happy to encourage customers to use their own cups (it saves them money in the long run too!).
- Going shopping? Take as many reusable bags as you need with you, you can even get collapsible and easy to store bags that fit right in your pocket! So no need to worry about bags taking up space in your cupboard or car boot.
Charity shops are a great source of several different items, whether it is clothing, toys, furniture, electricals, media, bric-a-brac, and more! With charity shops having to evolve with the state of the world, you would be surprised just how many high quality and brand-new items people donate to stores. Some stores also class themselves as ‘premium’ stores, and it’s much easier to find vintage and designer items than you would imagine.
Pre-loved items also works both ways, so instead of throwing away any items you no longer use, try asking yourself: could someone else make use of this? If the answer is yes, then it’s always worth contacting your local charity shop to see if it’s something they can sell.
If you’re in position to do so, try shopping locally. The carbon footprint of delivering items can be larger than you would think, and while it may not seem much on its own, the cumulative effect of items being delivered across the country (and globally) creates a larger environmental issue. You can also have double-whammy impact by walking or cycling to get your shopping and essentials.
Make Your Garden Eco-Friendly
There are a plethora of ways you can make your garden eco-friendlier, here are just a few ideas:
- Use a garden composter to dispose of household food waste, as well as garden clippings, leaves, etc. You can then use this compost to provide nutrients to your plants
- Utilise a water butt to harvest rainwater and create a sustainable source of water for your plants.
- When buying furniture and tools for your garden, make sure to buy FSC certified products
- Use sustainable alternatives to pesticides, not only will this benefit any garden critters in your garden, your plants and soil will benefit from avoiding harmful chemicals.
- Make your garden wildlife friendly, bird boxes, bee hotels, hedgehog houses, and more can help maintain the ecological balance of your garden. Hedgehogs love to eat slugs, bees can pollinate your plants, and birds are known to pick at and eat unwanted weeds.
Water butts and water tanks aren’t just for your garden; you can also use them to provide water for your home! Depending on the capacity of your tank or butt, you can potentially replace your entire household water supply with rainwater. On the lower side of the scale, you can start using rainwater for toilet water, dishwashers, and washing machines. Depending on your setup you may need alterations to your rain harvesting system, some tanks may not be directly suitable for supplying water to certain appliances or needs.
When you’re doing your weekly food shop, plan ahead and stick to a shopping list. If you know exactly what you need before you enter the store, you can make sure you don’t waste money on food you don’t need. Supermarkets deliberately offer multibuy discounts and bulk food knowing that food will go unused, it is important not to buy in to this wherever possible, as most food will end up in landfill.
On the off chance you do end up buying more than you can use, you can always donate the food to a local foodbank or homeless charity.
Don’t Let Food Waste Go to…Waste
The majority of unused food waste and kitchen scraps end up going to landfill, whereby they contribute to pollution. There are a number of alternatives to this situation however, like the aforementioned garden composter. Kitchen top composters, bokashi bins, and wormeries are becoming more and more popular, with many being small enough to fit under your kitchen counter or cupboard. Simply place your food waste within and let nature do its thing.