How to be more environmentally friendly
Sustainability, “green” lifestyles, and environmental awareness have all gained a more than fashionable cachet – particularly during lockdown where more people have turned to growing their own fruit and vegetables.
The UK is becoming more environmentally friendly
Several sources claim that the UK is becoming more environmentally friendly. Among them is energy provider Ampower, which points to some of the following trends as evidence:
- businesses are going paperless;
- individuals are making better food choices;
- more people are reusing the items they use;
- plastic drinking straws have been ditched in favour of more sustainable materials;
- electric vehicles are growing in popularity;
- smart energy meters are being installed in homes; and
- “green energy” options are available.
For many environmentalists, however, these trends may be just scratching the surface. They point to much more that we might be doing – as "going green" becomes an attitude of mind and instinctive reaction, rather than something we might take up to be "fashionable".
So, how can you be more environmentally friendly?
Tips on becoming more environmentally friendly
Becoming more environmentally friendly is about such an extensive package of actions and behaviours that it is very much an attitude or frame of mind. The website Conserve Energy Future sums up some of these many factors as conserving the water we use, walking more and driving less, using recycled goods and consuming less energy, creating less waste, growing our own vegetables, and planting more trees.
Against this background, both Conserve Energy Future and environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth suggest what this might mean in practice, by offering some tips and suggestions about becoming more environmentally friendly:
- since eco-friendly habits are developed through a heightened awareness of what’s going on around you, simply raise your consciousness of the resources you are consuming – in the water you use, the energy it takes to heat your home, the products you buy, and the carbon footprint left by your modes of travel;
Washing the dishes
- some of the tips might seem counter-intuitive – such as using a dishwasher rather than washing up by hand;
- provided you wait until you have a full load, using the dishwasher is likely to be more water-efficient than washing up by hand, even if you are using a bowl for those dishes;
Green cleaning products
- choose your cleaning products more carefully to ensure that you are using those that are eco-friendlier and do not contain the long list of harmful chemicals present in many popular brands;
Switch to clean energy providers
- some energy providers – such as Ecotricity and Good Energy – are consciously oriented towards the supply of sustainable, renewable and green energy;
- eco-friendliness is made up of lots of small moves – but changing your light bulbs to LED (light-emitting diode), will ensure that the bulbs last longer, are more efficient, cost less to run and, therefore, reduce your consumption of energy;
Share your journeys
- by sharing car journeys with others, you not only reduce your consumption of non-sustainable fossil fuels but also cut air pollution – and save yourself money, of course;
- tree-planting is a favourite of many an environmentalist – trees are good for the planet and the air we breathe;
- thanks to a website called Ecosia, you don’t even have to get your hands dirty by actually planting the trees – they do it on your behalf;
- Ecosia is a search engine that makes its money in a fairly standard way from the links to ads on which users click;
- the difference is that Ecosia users the revenue generated to plant trees – almost 100 million of them to date;
- the internet is there to be used, argue Friends of the Earth;
- research reveals that “because home delivery consolidates many people’s shopping journeys into one, it is generally more efficient than going in your own car”;
- so, rather than getting out the car and driving to the supermarket every time you need to stock up, therefore, order your groceries online and have them delivered to you while you count the climate-damaging emissions you have saved;
- if you have a garden or even a small patio, install a water butt. Ask your water service provider for a cistern displacement device – this will save you money every time you flush the toilet. Visit Waterwise.org for more water-saving tips;
Eat less meat
- the damage caused by transport and travel is rather less than that caused by climate-changing gases emitted by meat and dairy production;
- with meat and dairy products responsible for 14.5% of all such harmful gases, by switching to a meat-free diet – even just a few days’ a week - you may be helping to save the planet.
A change in attitude and awareness is probably the most powerful driver behind all these and many other changes that may contribute to you following a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. And that contributes to sustainability for everyone.
Any data used in this article is correct as at the time of writing.