The world of ethical and sustainable living is big, complicated, and overwhelming. It can be fun and creative too – we love finding new ethical fashion brands and trying out vegan skincare products – but when you really start trying to live a full, well-rounded, eco-friendly lifestyle, there is a LOT to do. So we’ve put together a list of a few easy, simple swaps you can make to really start making a difference in lots of smaller ways.
#1: Ditch the plastic water bottles for a reusable one
So much plastic gets wasted when we’re always buying plastic water bottles – even if we then recycle them, there’s still a big environmental impact from producing them in the first place, and then from processing the recycling of them. Plus, they’re just expensive, there’s no need to waste your money. Instead, grab yourself a reusable bottle. Chilly’s do a huge range of coloured and patterned reusable bottles – you gotta love this avocado one! – but there are also plenty of cheaper options out there. And for refilling when you’re out and about, did you know that you’re actually legally allowed to get tap water from any licenced venue, like pubs and restaurants? There are various campaigns going on at the moment to spread awareness of this, so don’t be shy about asking to refill your bottle when you’re out!
#2: Ditto for coffee cups
It’s a widely held myth that coffee cups can be recycled. They aren’t completely made out of paper, since they need to be lined to cope with the hot liquid inside. Technically, it is possible to recycle this material. However, there are only two recycling plants in the UK which have the ability to do this, and they have done this a very small number of times. There’s a great article by the BBC on this, where they say that ‘in every meaningful sense, conventional paper coffee cups are not recyclable in Britain.’ This also leads to some greenwashing; Costa recently removed the recycle symbol from their coffee cups, as they acknowledged that it was pretty misleading given that very few coffee cups in the UK actually get recycled. This issue is just as easy to solve as the water bottles – pick yourself up a reusable coffee cup. Most coffee shops now actually sell their own branded reusable ones, so you can pick one up from your favourite spot, or order a cute patterned one from Ecoffee Cups – this cute geometric one is the one I have. Some coffee shops even give you a small discount if you bring your own cup!
#3: Opt for environmental cleaning products
Next time you run out of your washing up liquid or your surface cleaner, for example, replace it with one from an environmental brand like Ecover or Method. I love this swap because it’s so easy and simple – cleaning products are something that you need to buy semi-regularly anyway, so it just involves changing where you get that product from. And in my experience, I don’t know if it’s because they want to really encourage people to buy more sustainably, but I’ve found that these products are often just better. I love my Ecover laundry liquid and fabric softener, they make my clothes smell amazing. And Method have done an amazing job with their branding (their website is pretty cool, it actually makes me excited to buy cleaning products) and they’ve just introduced a new anti-bacterial spray in a range of great scents that I’ve seen so many bloggers talking about. How have they managed to make cleaning seem so fun – genius!
#4: Use a plant-based alternative to cow’s milk
Many vegans would encourage a swap from dairy products to a plant-based milk because of the many ethical issues involved in the meat and dairy industries. But as well as the ethics behind it, the industry surrounding cow’s milk has a huge environmental impact, so a good sustainable swap is to choose a plant-based milk as well. There aren’t too many scientific studies which detail exactly which plant milk is the most sustainable, and honestly, there are issues with all of them. However, there seems to be a general consensus that plant milks are usually better options than dairy in terms of its impact on the environment. Which plant milk you choose, then, is up to you. One of the biggest issues with plant milks is that they are often transported long distances to reach us here in the UK, so you could try and look for local producers and buy from them. Wide Open Eats has a great article about thee benefits and issues surrounding plant milks, where they conclude that coconut milk is likely the most sustainable option. However, there are very few regulations regarding fair trade when it comes to coconut farming, so you might want to look into where your coconut milk comes from. Unfortunately, there’s no definite solution when it comes to plant milks and currently our best option is to buy the best we can while the industry develops, since plant milks have become popular quite quickly, so the industry needs to catch up with demand in a sustainable way!
#5: Stop throwing out your razors
Okay – I don’t mean to say that you should buy those ‘disposable’ razors and just use them forever. When you next need to get a razor, opt for one that isn’t specifically designed to be thrown away. This is true of so many beauty products really – things like face wipes, razors, and one-use sheet face masks are designed to be thrown away after often just one use. It’s in the companies’ best interests to convince us that all this stuff must be thrown away, since we then just go and spend more money on their products to replace the stuff we threw away. But you can usually find a reusable alternative. With razors, try out a safety razor. (Okay they sound kind of boring but look at this pretty pink one) They’re traditional razors, probably the razors all the guys shaved with in Mad Men, but the only disposable part is the blade itself, which you only need to replace as it dulls. As well as being better for the environment, many also find that they’re less irritating on the skin and just prefer them to disposables. Plus they’re made of metal, so instead of using hundreds of little plastic disposable razors over your lifetime, you can use one of these metal razors instead!
Hopefully some of these suggestions have been useful if you’re looking to make your lifestyle a little greener! Got any other simple swap suggestions? We’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below or tweet us @revival_collect