One of the questions that most often invades the minds of people who are getting into environmentalism is: what to do to save the environment? The problem of climate change is perceived as something very far away or, even worse, as an insurmountable problem. Well, it isn’t. Each of us can do our part. If everyone would adopt a series of eco-sustainable behaviours, such as those that I will list below, the decrease in emissions needed to keep the rise in planetary temperature below 1.5/2 °C would no longer be a mirage. Here are some tips to help the environment.
Switching to a sustainable lifestyle and figuring out how to help the environment is often seen as a difficult goal to achieve, partly because of a few too many prejudices. I have summarized in 15 points what each of us can do to drastically reduce our environmental impact. Some measures are more immediate while others may take more time as well as a bit of organization. If it feels too difficult, try to change a little at a time. Change is within everyone’s reach, even those who think they can never change. All it takes is making the right choices.
So how to help the environment? Our 15-point guide on what to do to save the environment
Adopt a plastic-free approach
A sustainable lifestyle begins with the small things. Find a store that sells household and body cleaners on tap. Get some empty containers. Two per type of detergent, so you always have one full and one ready to be filled. Avoid plastic straws, cups, or the plastic toothbrushes and razors.
When you need them, go to stores that offer this service instead of buying yet another container you don’t need. Also, when you go shopping, always bring a reusable bag from home.
Identify all sustainable alternatives to everyday products.
Luckily, today we find sustainable alternatives of everything, such as bamboo toothbrushes, solid shampoo bars, soaps, aluminium water bottles, eco-friendly cosmetics, refillable or compostable coffee pods, etc. Make your sustainable lifestyle a habit, step-by-step, replace all plastic with their sustainable alternatives.
Find a trusted farmer with seasonal and km0 products
Of course, even for your food you need to find sustainable alternatives. There are now many farms that deal with direct sales and offer only seasonal and km0 products in various markets. Otherwise, to avoid mistakes, download an app that contains the list of seasonal foods. There are dozens of them. Fruits and vegetables, if in season, are much tastier, healthier and often cost less.
Switch to a green energy provider
The energy component contributes 25% of emissions on a global scale. By switching to a supplier that uses only renewable energy, you will be supporting the green conversion of one of the most polluting sectors and help the environment massively. With an old utility bill, social security number and an IBAN it won’t take more than 15 minutes and you can do it online or by phone.
The prices of energy from renewable sources are now more than competitive compared to the past. If you don’t have major financial constraints consider installing a heat pump and solar panels. The initial investment can be scary, but in a few years, it will pay for itself, believe me. Contact a company that does this and have a chat with them. It could be a game-changer.
Invest in energy-efficient products
One example is LED light bulbs, great sustainable alternative to traditional bulbs, long-lasting and available in various colours and intensity. When you have to change an appliance, try to buy one that has the best energy rating possible. Consider buying an induction stove. Electricity is much more readily available from renewable sources. Gas, as we know, is a fossil fuel and its use should be limited as much as possible.
Most of the big banking groups have been financing the fossil fuel sector for years, but there are some exceptions. We recommend you to search online for ethical banks to find the options in your area. Choosing a bank that supports fossil fuels means supporting them yourself. Even the smallest choice can make a big impact to help the environment and find sustainable alternatives
Stop abusing the car and choose sustainable mobility
With a good bicycle, it is not a problem to travel even 7/8/10 km. You exercise, avoid traffic jams and, in many cases, you gain time. Public transport is also a good choice in terms of sustainability. If you just can’t do without a car, for example, to get to work, arrange with colleagues to carpool. You’ll reduce emissions per passenger significantly.
You should also consider buying an electric vehicle. There are big government incentives available almost everywhere. Here in the Netherlands, you won’t have to pay for the car park (quite expensive here) and insurance costs less. But the real saving is in the energy component. With less than 3 euros of electricity, an electric car has a declared autonomy of at least 250 km. But the actual range is often even greater.
For those who want to spend less, there are also scooters and electric bikes on the market, two means more than suitable for moving around the city.
Think twice before buying another plane ticket
The aeroplane is by far the mean of transport with the highest ratio of emissions per passenger. Plan your next vacation so that you don’t have to take a plane. Staying in your beautiful country or going to neighbouring lands you can still get to enjoy great places. If every now and then you want to break this rule, try to choose airlines that allow you to add a small surcharge to offset emissions. Most importantly make it an exception and don’t make it a habit.
Reduce your consumption of animal-derived foods
It’s a proven fact that the environmental impact of vegetarian or vegan diets is less than omnivorous ones. I’m vegetarian since 5 years, and I’ve never been happier with my diet! Now, If you don’t want to give up meat and dairy products, find a local producer who uses sustainable farming methods. Avoid beef and pork as much as possible. Try to favour chicken. As for cheese, sheep and goat cheeses are the most sustainable.
Stop buying water in plastic bottles
If the tap water in your municipality is not clean enough, find someone who chooses to help the environment and offers a returnable water-tank service. Alternatively, find out where to buy a jug that can filter water. This last option is also the cheapest. A filter costs an average of 4 euros and can last more than a month.
Reduce, reuse, recycle!
Get organized to help the environment more efficiently. Do the differentiated waste collection. Do not mix plastic with glass, or cans with humid, and make sure to rinse any dirt off.
Stop buying new clothes just because they’re cheap
Fast fashion (Zara, H&M & co.) is one of the most polluting sectors. The externalities that allow you to pay so little for a garment burden the environment and exploited workers. Favour brands that stand out for using sustainable practices such as Patagonia, North Sails, Rapanui and Reformation. Look for a business that buys and sells second-hand clothes. They can provide quite a few surprises.
Stay informed and make informed choices
A sustainable lifestyle requires commitment. Read reliable articles and books, watch reports and documentaries on this topic without abusing streaming services. Staying up-to-date and having correct information is fundamental to orienting one’s lifestyle towards sustainability.
Support environmental groups and vote in a consciously.
Attend meetings, assemblies and demonstrations for green parties that fight against climate change. Be wary of politicians and corporations who, overnight, have awakened as environmentalists. Greenwashing is a widespread practice. Promote a sustainable lifestyle, share your new habits with your friends, and spread the green word!
Plant trees or support projects that take care of them.
There’s no better way! There are now countless organizations working on reforestation and reforestation campaigns. If you have a garden, plant some trees. There are also new sustainable alternatives on the web! Ecosia is a search engine, set it as your default search engine in your browser. It works like Google only, unlike the American giant, they reinvest a good chunk of its profits in reforestation projects and sustainable alternatives. As of January 20201, 118 million trees have been planted thanks to its users’ searches.
Now you can start your sustainable lifestyle and help the environment.
Changing one’s habits may seem like a demanding goal to achieve, and for some of these points, I recognize, it can be. For example, it is true that the prices of electric cars are still too high, even if in the long term there is a real saving, and that there are still too few charging in some country. A similar case is for solar panels.
The convenience in the long term may not frighten those who have medium-high economic possibilities, but it is understandable that for others, it may be a too big investment. But do not despair, in a few years the prices will come down, as they always do when technologies advance. Try also to take advantage of government incentives.
However, there are also several points that, you may be able to implement fairly quickly, and with effortlessly. Examples are the plastic-free approach and, more generally, all those points that, in fact, refer to a change in consumption habits. Do not buy clothes produced in a non-sustainable way, change bank and energy supplier, eat km0 and reduce your consumption of food of animal origin. It is also essential to understand the reasons why certain behaviours should be adopted to understand how to help the environment.
What matters most is your conviction and your willingness to change habits, as well as opening your mind to change. Little by little, it can be done. And once all of these become established habits, your anti-ecological lifestyle will be just an ugly, old memory.
I really hope I’ve helped you finding a solution on how to help the environment and maybe to pushing you towards a more sustainable lifestyle. For any suggestions, questions or clarifications, do not hesitate to contact us. We are always ready to help someone in making their green turn.