2018 is fast approaching and all around us people are reflecting on the past year. What they’ve done, what they’ve achieved, and what they’d like to do more of in the upcoming year. I’m doing the same, and this year my goals for 2018 revolve a lot around what I can do as an individual to help change our world, promote a more ethical and conscious lifestyle, and grow as a person.
We’re killing our world. That’s the long and short of it. I’m not going to sit here and copy/paste images of dying wildlife and melting ice caps because we shouldn’t need emotive photos of starving polar bears to make us care about the world around us. We’ve all heard of David Attenborough, and Blue Planet II shook a lot of us with its candid approach to how our exhausting overuse of plastic is causing detrimental and irreversible harm to our environment. Unless you’ve had your head under a rock for the last couple of years, you know the general effects of the way we live our lives. I do too, yet it’s been all too easy over the last few years to bury my head and think that because I’m only one little person I can’t make much of a difference. 2017 has been the year that I really put my heart into doing what I can for our world and those who love in it, and it’s a theme I want to continue into 2018. Doing what you can is vital to preserving our planet; even if it seems like you’re not making a difference, believe me, you are.
Last year, around this time, I made a list of goals for 2017 and most of them revolved around living a more ethical, greener, more enriched life by doing things to save the planet and give charitably to causes close to my heart. I’m proud of the steps I have taken this year, and the things that I’ve achieved, but there’s always room for more. So this year I thought I’d incorporate my 2018 goals list into a post about ways you and I can help preserve our planet in the upcoming months.
Recycle & Reuse.
An easy one which people still choose to ignore because it causes a little bit of hassle. Paper, glass, metal, and certain types of plastic are all recyclable materials. In the UK every household is given a green waste bin, a recycling bin, and a blue bag for paper, so we have the bare minimum to do when it comes to recycling beyond sorting out what goes where. Don’t just throw stuff in one bin because it’s simple to do so. Look into new ways to recycle and what is available out there. Nespresso, for example, recycle their coffee capsules when you send them back rather than binning them and them ending up as landfill.
Think about your energy consumption and the sources it comes from. We spend very little on our energy at home: we reuse logs left over from the jobs that J works on and burn them in our stove, which generates almost all our heating for the house (upstairs is bloody freezing but I’m getting used to the race up to the bedroom and diving under the covers in 0.3 seconds flat). We’re also planning to have solar panels put in next year to reduce our energy consumption even further. But without making major changes to the way you heat and power your home, here are some little tips you can utilise to cut down on your use of water, gas, and electric:
- Turn off lights when you’re not in the rooms. There’s no need for your house to look like Blackpool Illuminations. (That link is only there for my friends across the pond; most Brits are more than familiar with the phase, I’m sure!)
- Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Another easy one that saves water.
- Don’t use the dishwasher/washing machine every day. Try and go for every two or three days if you can, it uses a lot of power and water even on the eco cycles.
- Unplug any electronic devices you aren’t using, and turn off computers when not in use.
- Choose energy-saving bulbs, there are plenty out there now to fit all light fixtures.
Pick It Up.
It costs nothing but 0.5 seconds of your time to pick up litter as you walk past it. Littering really infuriates me no end, I hate seeing people drop rubbish – especially when they’re barely ten feet from a bin. So don’t drop it, either! Wildlife can easily get themselves into distress when they encounter litter, so always head for the bins.
Cut Down on Plastic.
Say no to straws and plastic coffee cup lids. Buy a glass or BPA-free water bottle to keep with you and, if you happen to forget it and have to buy a bottle, try and buy water in glass bottles which you can reuse and recycle – I did this just yesterday at the Co-Op when I forgot to bring my normal water bottle with me. Take reusable shopping bags to the supermarkets and buy fabric tote bags for your shopping. If you do buy carrier bags, reuse them and don’t just bin them. Make your own fresh fruit juice instead of buying it in plastic bottles (it’s healthier for you, too). Make your own lunch at home and take it to work/school in a reusable box or bag. There are so many ways to reduce our uses of plastic every day, many more than I’ve listed here.
Have a Diet Do-Over.
Going vegetarian or vegan isn’t for everyone. But there are steps we can take to reduce the impact our diets have on the natural world. In our house we’re doing meat-free Monday’s, and any meat we do buy for the week comes from a local butcher rather than processed, bulk-bought supermarket meat. You know I love shopping local as I mention it quite often: I buy a lot from local farm shops and try to buy dairy products that are manufactured locally – living in a farming community this is easy enough, but in the cities there are plenty of places to do this too. A Google search or Facebooks recommendations request post should yield some good places to shop.
Where Does Your Money Go?
Think about the products you’re buying and the companies you’re supporting with your purchases. Buy from companies whose values align with yours, and avoid those who don’t. Look for ethical brands who stand by their values. For example, I’ve switched all my make-up and cosmetics to cruelty-free products and won’t buy from brands who test on animals, support animal testing, or who sell to the Chinese market (China requires animal testing in order for a company to sell their products there; Hong Kong, interestingly enough, does not).
Create Change Around You in 2018.
Talk about what you do to help save the planet. Write about it, Tweet about it, try and start school, college or office schemes to recycle, reduce waste, and challenge the way we think about the future of our natural world.
When it’s all written down like this it honestly doesn’t seem like a lot. Not everyone is in a position to do the things I’ve suggested, but if you are then I encourage you to think a little bit harder about how you live your life in the upcoming months, because I certainly will be doing – and will be sharing snippets of my journey along the way. This planet won’t be around forever, and it’s our responsibility to do something about that. To undo the damage we’ve already done.
What are your wider resolutions for 2018? What do you currently do to help preserve our planet, and what changes will you be making in the year to come?