The increasingly high level of damaging greenhouse gases, plastics, chemical waste and our reliance on the earth’s limited natural resources have put our future generations at risk of inheriting an unliveable planet. It now seems that nearly every month there is a new deadly flash flood or wildfire somewhere in the world reminding us of the need to take immediate action and make better environmental choices.
Although it often feels that in our everyday lives our individual choices have little impact on the world around us, reversing environmental damage and saving our planet relies on all of us to make a conscious decision. Through making small compromises to the way we live, we can reduce our impact on the planet and force large corporations to take similar steps.
What is a Sustainable Lifestyle?
Living a sustainable lifestyle means adopting a set of eco-friendly principles and environmentally conscious choices in our daily lives with the aim of minimising our impact on the environment. It has become one of the most popular lifestyle choices of the last decade as people become more aware of environmental damage and are educated on how they can reverse it by taking action, individually and collectively.
According to research by Beko, 9 out of 10 people in the UK believe sustainability is vital and that the general public needs to implement eco-friendly practices in their daily lives.
Swap Everyday Items with Sustainable and Eco-friendly Alternatives
While sustainable living might seem like a complex lifestyle with several limitations, you can start by taking small steps and begin with swapping everyday items with eco-friendly alternatives.
So, without further ado, here are 15 eco-friendly alternatives that will have you living sustainably in no time.
- Swap Single-Use Kitchen Rolls and Napkins with Fabric Napkins:
We’ve all had to deal with a spilled drink at some point; especially those of us with kids. Our first instinct is usually to go straight for the kitchen roll and before we know it, we’re at the shops again buying more!
This excessive use is unnecessary and producing so much kitchen roll to accommodate this use is damaging. An excellent sustainable alternative is fabric napkins which can be used to clean up spills and can be washed and reused. These fabric napkins are a lot less damaging to the environment than using traditional kitchen rolls which are thrown away after a single use and contribute to landfills. Even better, cloth napkins that are made from linen are environmentally friendly as they are made of the fibres of flax plants which are easily biodegradable.
- Swap Plastic Bottles with Reusable Water Bottles:
One of the biggest threats to our planet is the vast amount of plastic waste that is piling up in our oceans.
An estimated 100 million marine animals die every year from plastic pollution alone, 1 in 3 marine mammals find themselves entangled in plastic, while over 12 thousand tonnes of plastic debris is ingested by marine life annually.
Besides that, in the UK alone, over 2 million tonnes of plastic packaging is used annually and it is reported that on UK beaches, at least 5,000 pieces of plastic and 150 plastic bottles are found every mile.
We can collectively make an effort to reduce plastic bottle usage and waste by swapping plastic bottles with reusable water bottles. Especially in developed countries like the UK, where tap water is perfectly safe to drink and you can just fill your stainless-steel reusable water bottle every time you leave the house.
- Swap Plastic Shopping Bags with Reusable Shopping Bags:
There are many reasons not to use plastic shopping bags in the UK. Not least because they now cost as much as 10p at most supermarkets, burning a hole in your pocket. But although we might all feel a little bit robbed, the single-use plastic bag levy was introduced by the government in 2016 to push us all a little in the right direction.
Plastic bags excessively contribute to damaging the earth’s environment as they are designed to be used only once and then thrown away. They not only take a long time to decompose, but they also disrupt marine life, cause air pollution when burned and negatively impact human health.
Purchasing a few reusable shopping bags will significantly reduce the plastic bag problem. Start taking them with you when you pop out to the shops and save yourself money and the planet while you’re at it.
- Swap Single-Use Plastic Cutlery with Reusable Wooden Cutlery:
Single-use plastic cutlery is widely popular worldwide, and an estimated 1.1 billion plastic plates and 4.3 billion pieces of single-use cutlery, the majority of which is made from plastic, is used in England annually. However, only 10% is recycled after disposal, with the rest ending up in landfills.
Single-use plastic cutlery and utensils not only pose a risk to the environment but are also harmful to our health as they contain toxic bioactive chemicals such as Bisphenol A (BPA).
Try switching from single-use cutlery to reusable wooden cutlery. This will not only benefit you in the long run by providing you with a favourable alternative, but you’ll be protecting the environment in the process too!
- Swap Harmful Plastic Straws with Stainless Steel or Bamboo Straws:
Plastic straws have been getting quite a lot of attention recently and are undergoing a major overhaul as the harmful consequences of using them have come to light. Many businesses have switched to paper straws worldwide and are banning the use of plastic ones as they harm marine life, create landfills, and damage ecosystems.
Still, many plastic straws are pretty common worldwide, with at least 4.4 billion plastic straws thrown away annually in the UK alone. If you want to do your part then you can swap plastic straws with paper ones that are recyclable or, better yet, buy stainless steel or bamboo straws that can be washed and reused multiple times.
- Swap Your Ordinary Bowls with Bio-Degradable Coconut Bowls:
For the ultimate feel of a sustainable lifestyle, you should definitely try out Coconut Bowls. Instead of using bowls made from ceramic, metal or plastic to serve your food you can use coconut bowls that are made from ethically sourced, eco-friendly, and sustainable materials.
Coconut bowls are bio-degradable and zero-waste, making them the ultimate example of sustainability and a true testament to the ability to reuse and repurpose natural materials. You can make delicious smoothie bowls and other plant-based and vegan recipes and serve them in beautifully-crafted coconut bowls.
- Swap Plastic Wraps with Reusable Beeswax Wraps:
If you have used plastic cling wraps for preserving food items, then you, like me, must have dealt with the struggle of getting it to wrap without losing your mind. Plastic wrap is not only a hassle to use but is also harmful to the environment.
Thankfully, a much better eco-friendly alternative exists - Beeswax Wraps! The wraps are made with a combination of beeswax, cotton, tree resin and various oils, making them washable, reusable and easily compostable upon disposal. Not only that, but they are also easier to use and significantly lower your carbon footprint, bringing you one step closer to your new sustainable lifestyle.
- Swap Plastic Food Containers with Stainless Steel or Glass Food Containers:
Food containers are an essential item for every kitchen, but often, the food containers are made from plastics that cannot be used more than once and need to be disposed of after every use.
As an alternative, you should try and switch to eco-friendly food containers that are made of stainless steel or glass. They are freezer safe so you can be sure that no harmful chemicals will contaminate your food, unlike plastic containers. They also last longer much longer!
- Swap Disposable Coffee Cups with Reusable Coffee Cups:
We are a nation of coffee addicts and quitting can be a real challenge for some. However, unlike most addictions, coffee-addiction is one we want to make sustainable! That’s because coffee cups are often made with hard-to-recycle materials that end up in the trash and ultimately contribute to landfills.
What you can do to help is swap your disposable coffee cups with reusable coffee cups that are either made of stainless steel, glass or recyclable food-grade silicone.
Take your reusable coffee cup whenever you go out for coffee to avoid using single-use plastic cups and help prevent landfills. As an added bonus, many cafes will actually give you a discount as well for using your own cup, so the sustainable investment will pay for itself in the future!
- Swap Single-Use Plastic Coffee Pods with Compostable Coffee Pods:
Coffee machine owners often use coffee pods that are created using non-recyclable plastic and are thrown away after every use. This unnecessarily causes billions of plastic coffee pods to end up in landfills annually.
An alternative option is to buy 100 percent compostable coffee pods. The coffee pods are made with fully compostable materials that can be thrown in the compost bin and will not harm the environment after disposal.
- Swap Your Plastic Toothbrush with a Bio-degradable Bamboo Toothbrush:
Every plastic toothbrush that you throw away ends up in a landfill, and research has shown that it takes approximately 400 years for it to degrade. Therefore, it is important to switch to an eco-friendly alternative such as a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush.
Bamboo toothbrushes are not only biodegradable but also provide the same quality of teeth cleaning a plastic toothbrush offers. Swapping your plastic toothbrush to a bamboo one will eliminate unnecessary waste and protect the environment by reducing overall plastic consumption.
- Swap Your Aluminium Containing Deodorants with Natural Aluminium-Free Deodorants:
Deodorants are probably not the first thing that come to mind when you think about products that harm the environment. However, most deodorants use ingredients such as aluminium and other volatile organic compounds. The compounds result in the production of ground-level ozone which is a key component of the smog that pollutes our atmosphere.
We all want to smell good but it is not worth damaging our environment, which is why you should buy natural deodorants instead. These can smell just as good as regular deodorants but contain natural ingredients that do not pose a risk to the environment and help you maintain a sustainable lifestyle.
- Swap Traditional Cleaning Products with Natural Cleaning Products Made with Eco-friendly Ingredients:
A clean, hygienic and spotless home is often achieved by using an arsenal of cleaning products that contain harmful ingredients used to break down spills and tough stains.
However, you can easily swap your traditional cleaning products with eco-friendly alternatives that are made from organic and natural ingredients.
- Swap Plastic Bin Bags with Biodegradable Bin Bags:
One of the easiest changes you can make today is swapping plastic bin bags with biodegradable and compostable bin bags. These biodegradable alternatives are made of natural plant starch with microorganisms that break down the bin bag without producing toxic material during the degrading process.
Besides using environmentally friendly bin bags, you can also put in the effort to only throw away items that cannot be recycled or composted. Practice minimising your waste to reduce your dependence on bin bags and help reduce your contribution to landfills.
- Swap Single-Use Batteries with Rechargeable Batteries:
Batteries are composed of several chemicals and materials that are harmful to the environment, which is why everyone should make the effort to swap their single-use batteries for rechargeable batteries.
Sure, they may cost more than a traditional battery, but they should also last longer and the one-time payment should prove to be cheaper in the long run.
The effects of global warming will worsen if we don’t transition from our current habits of convenience and fast fashion to a lifestyle of eco-conscious decisions and sustainable choices. If we all start taking small steps today to replace wasteful traditional items with eco-friendly alternatives, sustainable living can gradually become the norm. All it takes is a little extra thought and a little added effort from all of us to help preserve our beautiful planet and its inhabitants.