(and save the planet in the process). By Annabelle Spranklen

Our world is not the same as it was before the pandemic, so why go back to embracing damaging habits? We can all make a change, as author and green champion Jen Gale says in her book, The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide, ‘There are ways to fit ‘sustainable living’ into the life you lead. To change your impact without radically changing your life’ adding, ‘it’s about creating a new normal – one that’s better for us, better for our cluttered homes, our bank balances and the planet. And we can do it one simple step, one change at a time.’

To help get you started, here are some high-impact, low-effort changes to make your life more environmentally friendly…

Cycle instead of driving

In our new post-pandemic world, we’re being urged to ditch gas-guzzling cars in favour of greener alternatives and number one on that list is the humble bicycle. ‘It’s a great workout, lots of fun and can make a significant difference to your carbon footprint. Plus, once you’ve bought the bike, it’s free’, says author Madeleine Olivia. During lockdown, levels of walking and cycling increased across the world prompting governments to promise more cycle-only lanes and wider pedestrian walkways which is a positive change for all.

Cold wash your clothes

Madeleine Olivia suggests one easy hack for being greener is to switch to using cooler water (this doesn’t have to mean taking only cold showers and ice baths). She says, ’Lots of laundry detergents advise a colder wash for your clothes (it also protects your clothes better) and having a cold shower (or at least switching it to cold towards the end of your shower) can heavily save on bills and energy.’

Muse before you buy

‘When you see something you like or want, make a note of it, and then review that list in a week. Chances are you would have forgotten about it by the next day, If you still really like it or want it in a week, then you can think about buying it,’ advises Jen Gale.

In 2016, EcoAge founder and sustainable fashion pioneer, Livia Firth challenged consumers to ask themselves one question before making a purchase: ‘Will I wear this at least 30 times?’ It was dubbed the #30wearsmovement, urging us to steer away from rash one-wear shopping, made easy with click and buy.

In the last few years fashion rental services like By Rotation, My Wardrobe HQ and Hurr have exploded onto the scene giving us greater options of wearing pieces in a one-off kind of way that doesn’t damage the environment. Influencer Rosanna Falconer revealed, ‘I have been renting my wardrobe through Hurr for over a year and get such a thrill from seeing women – from Laura Whitmore to my Instagram followers – taking some of my treasures out for a twirl.’

Swap bottled water for reusable bottles

‘Getting your own reusable water bottle is one of the easiest ways to reduce your waste, while also saving money,’  says Madeleine Olivia, author of Minimal: How to Simplify your Life and Live Sustainably. ‘Marketing has led us to believe that bottled water is healthier, when the reality is that in the UK it’s no safer than tap water and 35 million plastic bottles are used every day – 23 million of these won’t get recycled, which means they’ll end up in landfill or in the environment.’ If you need further convincing, most plastic bottles do not biodegrade, but rather photodegrade, taking up to 1,000 years for one to decompose, leaking pollutants into our soil and water along the way. 

Opt for a stainless steel bottle that will keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. Plus, they’re more durable than glass or plastic bottles so they’re less likely to break or wear down quickly.

Switch up your beauty routine

From excessive, non-recyclable packaging to its lack of transparency over ingredients and ethical practices, the beauty industry isn’t exactly known for being particularly eco-friendly but there are things you can do. According to Marcia Kilgore, founder of bath and body brand Soaper Duper, who have recycled more than 22 metric tonnes of plastic since their launch, ‘Look for packaging that limits the use of glosses and foils and opt for products that are packaged in more simple containers’ She also adds, ‘Make sure you put a recycling bin inside your bathroom, and ensure your cosmetic containers go into the correct bin.’

You could also pick products that sack off packaging altogether, brands such as Lush are pioneering the movement in the beauty sector with their Shampoo Bars. Also small adjustments like switching you regular plastic cotton buds for bamboo and soft cotton ones that can easily be thrown into the recycling or compost bin after use and using reusable face pads such as Face Halo will keep your bathroom waste low.

Travel more consciously

Francisca Kellett, travel journalist and co-founder of Mundi & Co, a creative content agency for travel brands, says travelling more green-mindedly doesn’t need to be unrealistic. ‘The key thing to travelling sustainably is to be more conscious in your decision making. Take the train when you can instead of flying, and if you do fly, stay longer. Do your research and pick a hotel that has a proven track record of operating sustainably, supporting the local community and conserving the environment. Are they acting to eliminate plastic and conserve water? Do most of the staff come from the local community? Do they support local charities and causes? If the answer is yes, then you know your tourist dollars are going to the good guys.’

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