January wouldn’t be complete without new year resolutions. This year, mine are focused on continuing things I’ve already started: to improve my rather poor knitting skills by hopefully not stopping at the next hurdle, to keep up with my weekly swim in the sea, and to get back to drawing more regularly; I’ve set a target of drawing something (anything!) at least once a week. Whether I’ll maintain these practices is anyone’s guess, but by setting my intentions for change I at least have a chance at fulfilling them. If you’ve been considering changing your habits for the better, here is a list of 50 earth-friendly ways that you can implement right away in your daily life. I hope these inspire you to introduce some easy changes in your routine.
1. Save water by spending less time in the shower.
2. Switch to soap bars instead of using shower gel.
3. Ditch the disposable wipes. Use reusable cloth wipes instead.
4. Swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one.
5. Invest in a good quality razor instead of using disposables.
6. If you use disposable sanity products, switch to reusable alternatives like cloth menstrual pads and panty liners, period underwear, or a menstrual cup.
7. Use handkerchiefs instead of buying individual packets of tissues.
8. ‘If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down’
9. Switch to cleaning products that don’t contain harmful chemicals. Eco-friendly washing-up liquid and laundry detergent can be purchased in health food shops and some supermarkets, some of which offer the option to refill your bottles.
10. Learn to make your own cleaning products from scratch using lemon or vinegar. I share some simple recipes in my blog post ‘A Natural Spring Clean’ on my website, which you can find at the bottom of this article.
11. Use a basin in the sink to reduce the amount of water you need to wash the dishes.
12. Use a cloth and a brush with a removable head to do the dishes, rather than disposable sponges.
13. Pledge to recycle properly. Some plastic items like cling film and the net bags that contain fruits are not all recyclable and will contaminate your recycling bin. Read the label for each product, and if in doubt place in the general waste bin.
14. Ask your postman not to put advertisements into your letterbox or leave a note on it asking same.
15. Wash your clothes less often, and at lower temperatures. It will make them last longer.
16. Avoid using fabric softener and dryer sheets. They cover clothes in a waxy coating that makes them less easy to absorb water and detergent, and which locks odours and stains into them.
17. Air-dry your laundry as much as possible.
18. ‘A stitch in time saves nine’. Repair a tear in a garment before it becomes a bigger problem.
19. Switch the lights off when they are not in use.
20. Bring your own bags when doing your shopping.
21. Pick products that come in glass or cardboard over those that come in plastic. Only 30 per cent of recyclable plastic gets recycled.
22. Bring your own containers to purchase fish, meat from the butcher, or cheese and olives from your local farmer’s market.
23. Decline bags from shop assistants even if they insist on giving you one.
24. Nowadays, the easy option is to turn to Amazon to buy anything and everything. Support Irish businesses if the option is available.
25. Reduce the amount of clothes you buy by ideally 75 per cent. When you do buy clothes, choose those that will last rather than flimsy ‘fast fashion’ garments.
26. Choose natural fabrics such as cotton, wool, bamboo, and linen over synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon to limit microplastics entering our waterways.
27. Swap clothes with friends and borrow or rent special occasion wear.
28. Seek second hand items rather than buying new.
29. Bring your own reusable cup for your take-away coffee.
30. Use a reusable bottle to carry water instead of buying bottled water.
31. Keep cutlery in your bag or in the glove compartment of your car so you don’t need to use plastic ones when buying a takeaway.
32. Cycle more, make use of public transport when possible, and carpool with friends and neighbours.
33. Fly less.
34. Get into the habit of turning the car engine off rather than keeping it idle when waiting for something or someone.
35. If you’re going on holidays or a city break, pack your own toiletries and avoid those offered by hotels as they often get thrown out once you are gone.
36. Bring your own clear plastic bag to put toiletries into when going through airport security.
37. Avoid using hot air hand dryers.
38. Reduce your intake of meat and switch to a vegetarian diet a few days a week.
39. When possible choose seasonal, locally produced fruits and vegetables.
40. Start growing your own herbs and vegetables.
41. Learn to compost your food.
42. Mow your lawn less and keep an area of your garden unmown to provide a habitat and food for wildlife.
43. Herbicide endangers biodiversity. Employ organic methods to keep the weeds at bay in the garden.
44. Plant perennial and biennial plants rather than annuals.
45. Plant a native tree as a gift for a loved one or a new baby in the family.
46. Harvest rainwater to water your plants in the drier months.
47. Use biodegradable bags to pick up your dog’s poo and dispose of it in the general waste bin.
48. Switch to cat litter made of wood pellets or tofu.
49. Avoid printing if you can. Use both sides of the sheet if you must and default all printing to black and white.
50. Unsubscribe from mailing lists that clog your inbox and delete emails and data that are no longer needed.