Yes, I am one of those people that make New Year resolutions. Nothing too unrealistic, such as ‘I will become a millionaire by March’, but I like to set myself challenges and goals to strive towards throughout the year. Of course, 2018 was no different.
This year, after watching Blue Planet and growing increasingly frustrated at the amount of rubbish I kept finding when hiking around the UK, I decided to make a change. I would break several bad habits to be more eco-friendly and reduce the amount of waste I was producing each day.
In all honesty, it seems convenience and waste go hand-in-hand, and forcing myself to practice more organisation and time management in my own schedule helped me reached my resolution to be more eco-friendly. The past year taught me it was habit more than anything else that prevented me from making most of the changes, and actually after making them I found other improvements in my life were made, such as stressing less about money that was usually wasted on takeaway coffee and snacks.
So guys and gals, listed below are the biggest changes (for me anyway) I made for 2018 in my goal to be more eco-friendly:
Switching from paper cup to eco-friendly keepcup/flask
This change was the easiest, but in another way also the hardest. After I found myself spending a small fortune on coffee each month, I decided to try bringing a reusable cup to cut down costs and waste less. However I kept forgetting to bring the cup with me, and saving 20p on a drink that still costs £2.50 each time is not much of a saving. Instead, I found it much easier to make the time to brew a small flask of coffee in the morning and take it with me.
Ditching pods for coffee beans
In addition to coffee cups, coffee pods were also on my knock-off list for 2018 considering the damage they cause to the environment. This was an easy habit to break though, as there is a much wider selection of coffee beans than pods. Plus, it meant I could have coffee from my favourite cafe each morning.
Replacing shower gel with soap bars
Again, compared to other habits I had to break, this was one of the easiest. Admittedly there is not as wide of a selection of soap bars compared to shower gels in pharmacies/drug stores/supermarkets, but soap bars are usually cheaper and last longer than shower gel. TK Maxx is my go-to for fancy soap bars – they usually have a large selection and are cheap. Then again, if you feel like spoiling yourself, there’s always Lush.
Using a safety razor instead of disposable razors
Frankly, I find women’s razors a ripoff. They rarely last longer than a couple uses, and are also expensive. Not gonna lie, when I came across safety razors via Trash is for Tossers, I was apprehensive. What if I was too harsh on my skin and made a massive cut in my leg? However with the help of Mutiny Shaving and a couple of YouTube videos I was able to put my best foot forward. The razors are sharper and last longer than disposable razors (approximately a month) and they can be recycled after they become blunt.
Cycling was most definitely the hardest habit to incorporate in my schedule in my quest for being more eco-friendly. The bike, the amount of accessories needed, not to mention the effort of locating shower facilities and secure bike-lock areas required much more effort than I initially assumed. I didn’t realise how much my schedule would revolve around charging bike lights in the UK winter. The worst assumption of all however was that all the running, climbing and hiking I did would compensate for my lack of cycling stamina, and I could continue to do all those activities in addition to cycling everywhere. After a range of health symptoms sent me to the doctors, it became apparent this was a habit that had to be eased into my daily routine.
Despite all this hoopla however, I genuinely enjoy cycling around London. I frequently found I arrived at destinations faster than if I used public transport or a car, and I could already feel the health benefits after a few weeks. Not only that, but I caught fewer colds as a result of spending more time outdoors. So far I have cut back on cycling distances that take longer than 30 minutes, but simply cycling to run errands or around the neighborhood is a pedal in the right direction so far.
Swapping face care products to brands that use eco-friendly packaging
Admittedly the beauty industry is far behind in eco-friendly products or packaging. Replacing my old products with those using recyclable packaging was a challenge. Sometimes I had to scour the internet for niche brands, but I also hit the jackpot in some high street stores. Meow Meow Tweet makes palm oil-free, cruelty-free and environmentally friendly products suitable for all skin types, and all the packaging can be recycled. Body Shop also had some items whose packaging could still be recycled, such as its chamomile oil makeup remover.
Sustainable swimwear – Batoko
With two summer trips to New Zealand and Canada planned for 2018, I needed a swimsuit that could handle swimming, kayaking, coasteering, bodyboarding, and more. Normally the fashion industry is one of the worst for environmental credentials, but luckily I found Batoko’s adorable swimsuits after a short search. All of their swimsuits are made using recycled plastic waste, as well as nontoxic ink and compostable packaging. Personally, I adore their bright and quirky prints – I like to think my orca swimsuit brought us good luck on our whale-watching trip in Canada!
Planning meals for the week
Living in London, it is all too easy to buy ingredients for meals in between other errands. The downside to this convenience is much meal leftovers and surplus ingredients end up wasted, and usually these have extra packaging. This year I decided to sort my life out and get serious with meal planning.
A week of meals usually takes an hour to create, and it is cheaper to bulk buy a few ingredients, such as potatoes or carrots, and use them multiple meals, than buying individually or letting them rot in the fridge.
What additional changes can I make to be more eco-friendly in 2019?
The more changes I have made throughout 2018 has shown me there are even more swaps that can be made in 2019. Here’s a few:
- Swap regular tea bags for tea leaves – on the few occasions I decide to swap beans for leaves, I’ll ditch the plastic bags for a tea leave spoon.
- Switch from plastic to bamboo cotton ear buds – I can get that squeaky-clean feeling without killing any turtles
- Choosing items with less packaging at supermarket – some food stores are beginning to offer waste-free aisles or options, but while the big stores catch up, at least I can be more picky with what I choose to buy.
What other New Year resolutions will I make for 2019? Well, I have lots of plans, but I can guarantee they will involve being outdoors as much as possible, and sharing them all with you on here (and saving a few trees in the process?).