It is a common practice for people worldwide to start a new year with a change in their lifestyle.
According to the People’s Climate Vote, a UN survey of public opinion on climate change, people worldwide recognise it as a global emergency and agree that we should take necessary measures to address it. Although people are gradually adopting more sustainable lifestyles, changing habits can be challenging, and they may not know where to begin their sustainability journey.
If you want to make your life greener in 2024, here are some affordable and manageable changes you can make.
We waste a staggering one billion tonnes of food each year, a major contributor to methane production, a greenhouse gas that is more potent than carbon dioxide. However, there are simple changes we can make to our eating habits that are not only sustainable but also cost-effective.
We can eat locally and seasonally and choose to consume more plants, particularly beans and greens, instead of meat, as beans uniquely can convert nitrogen from the air into nutrients, eliminating the need for nitrogen fertilisers.
Starting with a meat-free day each week is a great way to begin. While processed “mock meats” can be a stepping stone towards a more plant-based diet, they tend to be relatively expensive.
Meal planning and utilising leftovers can help minimise waste, and cooking with a microwave is more energy-efficient than using a stove. It’s unnecessary to incorporate all of these changes at once; select the ones that fit best with your lifestyle.
We all need to travel, whether it’s for work, school, university, or to go shopping. Sustainable travel is a delicate balance.
Opting for active travel, such as walking, cycling or wheeling, is the greenest option. It keeps us and our children healthier and fitter and produces no carbon emissions. Try to replace one or two car journeys weekly with active travel options if possible.
In urban areas, where you need to travel shorter distances, active transport is often more convenient and cheaper than car travel. It also decreases congestion, a significant cause of urban air pollution.
Travelling by train or bus is more environmentally friendly for longer journeys than using a car or plane. However, you may need to plan ahead to get the best deals on tickets.
The energy cost we use at home is on the rise and is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. However, making small changes in our daily energy consumption can significantly affect our monthly bills and our household emissions.
Fortunately, most of these changes are easy and convenient. For example, turning off lights when leaving a room, cooking with the saucepan lid on, turning down your home thermostat by 1°C, washing clothes and crockery at colder temperatures, taking shorter showers, unplugging devices like microwaves when not in use and chargers when devices are fully charged, and replacing broken halogen light bulbs with more efficient LED versions.
If you have a smart meter, you can use the data recorded by it to monitor your energy use and make these changes.
People are inclined to buy new clothes, but the fashion industry’s “fast fashion” approach comes with a staggering environmental and social cost. Every year, the fashion industry produces over 92 million tonnes of waste that is either burnt, dumped in landfill or exported to developing countries.
However, there are several ways to follow fashion trends while being sustainable. You can begin by organising your wardrobe to know what you already have before shopping. This way, anything you buy will match what you already possess.
Don’t dispose of damaged items! There are numerous YouTube videos available that can teach you how to repair clothes and accessories. By using repair techniques like Sashiko stitching, you can even make your clothing more personal by making the repair a visible feature of your clothing.
Buying second-hand clothing can save you money, and charity retail shops’ environmental and social benefits are widely recognised. You can also exchange clothing you no longer require with friends and family or at swap shops.
Alternatively, you could buy fewer but high-quality clothing items. These items are usually more durable and last longer.
Did you know we produce more than 2 billion metric tons of solid municipal waste annually? Unfortunately, this figure is expected to increase by 70% by 2050. But don’t worry, there are many small changes we can make in our daily lives to help reduce the amount of waste we produce.
For instance, writing a shopping list can help reduce overbuying and impulse buying. Remember to take reusable bags with you when you go shopping and try to shop packaging-free whenever possible. There are plenty of places to buy food with minimal packaging, such as zero-waste shops where you can bring your own containers to fill with bulk whole foods.
It’s also important to know what you can recycle locally and to follow the advice provided. By reducing our waste, we can save valuable resources and reduce pollution while also saving money.
Remember, we can work together to create a more sustainable future by making small changes in our daily lives.