How to Be More Eco This Week

March 20th, 2017

illustration by Sarah Dowler / The Phoenix News

illustration by Sarah Dowler / The Phoenix News


We think we have heard all the usual tips for making our daily lives more sustainable—turning off lights when we leave the room, recycling what we can, using energy-efficient lightbulbs. So this week I scoured the internet for some simple, and some unexpected ways to be a little greener in our lives.

  1. Shop online. As if you needed any more excuses to browse your favourite online store, all from the comfort of your warm bed. A 2009 study by Carnegie Mellon University found that online shopping’s carbon footprint tends to be around a third smaller than that of going to the store. You may rip into your parcel’s many layers of packaging with a feeling of guilt, but despite the extra wastage it is still widely regarded to be more eco-friendly overall.
  2. Plan your weekly meals. Sketching out a rough timetable of what meals you plan to eat, on which days, will help you buy fewer items at the supermarket (by making dishes which will use up similar ingredients), and forces you to stick to the plan so you don’t buy extra food which goes to waste.
  3. Bottle your beverage. Nearly 30 billion plastic water bottles are sold annually in the U.S. with less than 20% of them being recycled—the rest contributing to our ever-increasing landfill problem. Plastic bottles are also the fourth biggest contributor to trash found in the world’s oceans. So get yourself a reusable bottle and you can majorly cut your plastic waste – not to mention your spending.
  4. On your bike! It turns out that cars give off CO2 emissions… who knew? But with the weather getting a little warmer, spring is in the air and a bike ride instead of a daily commute or drive is healthier, greener, and might even make the journey a little more enjoyable.
  5. Go to a used bookstore. Downtown you can find Mosaic Books, as well as a selection of weird and wonderful old books in the café-slash-bookshop Pulp Fiction. Next time you are looking for something to read, try delving into the treasures of the past before buying a brand new book.
  6. Raise the steaks. …By replacing them with more vegetable protein. Animal agriculture is water-intensive, contributes to a huge quantity of deforestation, and is responsible for around 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions globally. No, you do not have to stop eating it completely, but starting to cut meat from one or two meals a week makes a difference.
  7. “Fork out” for less landfill waste. Nowadays, we use far more disposable plastic items than in the past, which are contributing to the landfill problem. Those wooden disposable chopsticks?  Chopping down rainforests, too. It may sound weird to carry around a knife and fork, but it is easy and much more sustainable than throwing out plastic every meal. Many camping stores sell reusable cutlery sets which last ages and can be carried around day-to-day.
  8. Ditch the disposable. As well as cutlery, there are so many disposable products that we use nowadays that did not previously exist in disposable form. Switch kitchen paper towels for reusable cleaning cloths, or plastic shopping bags for reusable ones.
  9. Go for naked fruit and veg. As a rule of thumb, if you have the option to buy something with less or no packaging, choose to. Items like peppers, bananas, apples, and so on, can quite happily roam free in your shopping bags without the need (or wastage) of an extra layer of plastic.

Buy and sell. Today’s disposable attitude towards fashion might be great for keeping up with trends, but can be toxic for the environment. If you have old clothes that you no longer want—don’t throw them away! Give them to charity, sell them online, or host a clothes swapping party with friends and you might end up with some neat new gear, too.

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