It's Zero Waste Week this week – an initiative designed to make us more aware of the impact our lifestyle choices have on the environment. But waste doesn't just mean plastic packaging, for example – we're producing waste and contributing to climate change in lots of other ways, to the point where it can feel debilitating and confusing just trying to work out how we can make a change. So which choices contribute to environmental problems the most, and what can you do now (and beyond Zero Waste Week) that will really make a difference?
Fear not: no one can change their life completely, unless you choose to live off grid. But there several very simple changes that are genuinely effective at fighting climate change that you can make immediately, although it will likely be a psychological adjustment.
1. Eat less meat
It really is impossible to underestimate the importance of this step. Going vegetarian or vegan is not for everyone, but reducing out meat consumption is essential. To put it into perspective, 1,799 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of beef (opens in new tab). Carbon emissions from livestock a year? It's 7.1 gigatonnes. So yes, even eating one less steak a week matters, hence the popularity of a lifestyle initiative such as meat free Mondays. If you can do it, try to eat red meat no more than a couple of times a month.
2. Change how you buy clothing
The rise and rise of fast fashion is problematic on multiple levels, from the huge amount of water used in the growth of cotton and textile production, to pesticide use, to the alarming amount of clothing that goes to landfill each year. How to buy less? This is where mindful decluttering methods such as the Marie Kondo method can really come in useful – if you know what you own and where to find it in your wardrobe, you'll be much more likely to wear it. And therefore buy less. Failing that? Buy upcycled, recycled, pre-loved vintage. There's a look we can get on board with.
3. Don't drive unless you have to
Just to be clear: we're not talking about commuters who don't have any other option but to drive. Urban driving, on the other hand, is a leading cause of air pollution and the high carbon emissions produced by cities. The stop-start cycle that characterises urban driving has been scientifically proven (opens in new tab) to be more polluting. So, it really is as simple as: if you don't need to drive and can walk or take the train instead, do that.
Want more tips on a greener, healthier lifestyle? Visit our eco hub page.