I’m not sure about you but saving the planet is pretty high up on my priority list. The more I read and the more I learn I realise the huge magnitude of the problem. There were times at the start of this year where I felt like people were totally missing the point, everywhere I looked people were “turning vegan” not to save the planet as such but to save animals, that’s probably more vegetarianism. Being a vegan is a lifestyle change considering the use of all animal products not just changing your diet. I became overwhelmed by the message in the media that the only way to make a difference was to make a public pledge never to eat a roast dinner again. There are plenty of ways to save the planet without turning vegan or even actually without overhauling your life too much, so if you want to make a difference but don't know where to start, take a look at these ideas:
1. Know that what you do will make a difference
If you only read and remember one point from this piece please make it this one. One reason a lot of people get put off making changes is because they don’t believe that their small changes will make a difference. What good will it do to the planet if someone swaps a single use coffee cup and uses their own reusable cup?
Well, let’s say that person thinking about making a change, let’s call her Alex, has one cup of coffee every day on her way to work, that’s 5 cups a week for 47 weeks (allowing Alex 5 weeks annual leave). That’s 235 cups a year. And if we think that Alex has to work for 40 years (from age 25 to 65) that would be 9,400 cups, which really isn’t a small number any more.
What if I have based Alex’s story on that of one of my followers? What if we take the 10,000 readers of this blog and my combined social media following of 15,000 to work out the number of single use cups used by my followers over the next 40 years - we would get 235,000,000 - yep that’s 235 million cups.
Then what if we went really crazy and realised that there’s more to life than social media and that the people who follow me are only a small proportion of the population?! What then? I know you’ll find holes in my maths, you’ll say, “but I don’t coffee” Well neither do I but I do pick up a bottle of water from time to time, a plastic carrier bag, or a straw. My point is it all adds up and that if one person decides to make a change, no matter how small, it matters. Dr Martin Luther King said, “If I cannot do great things I will do small things in a great way”
2. Avoid Single Use Plastic
There’s a common misconception that because something can be recycled that it’s okay to use it. Wrong. Single use plastics are things which can only be used, or are only used, once before recycling. Water bottles, straws, cutlery and, not forgetting our friend from earlier, the coffee cup. The amount of water and energy it takes to recycle that plastic is sometimes greater than the energy it takes to create new. Hence less than 20% of recyclable material is actually recycled. Single use plastics are a HUGE contributor to the plastic in our oceans. It saddens me to hear the prediction that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. Humans are killing the ecosystems and we need to stop using plastic where possible. This doesn’t actually mean that you have to deprive yourself of a drink when you’re out on the go or eat with your fingers. Instead buy once and re-use. I recommend My Thirst water bottles. They keep hot water hot for 12 hours and cold water cold for 24 which is so needed in the UK right now. You can also get them personalised which is a nice touch for a gift. I got mine with a message to remind me that sustainability is so important and that my small daily change of a long lasting bottle is important and does make a difference.
3. Try meat free meals
So you don’t have to become a vegan to save the planet but we all know it could help. I’m not going to start number crunching again but I do want to share the statistic that one steak takes 7,500 litres of water to produce. Knowing that makes it easy to understand how animal agriculture now accounts for 18% of greenhouse gases which is more than the combined exhaust from all transportation!
I feel like there is a HUGE pressure from fitness circles to go vegan. However, that’s not right for me right now. I like bacon sandwiches, fresh tuna and lamb and mash. I realise how hypocritical this may sound to then say I love animals but that’s for a different post. What we can do is swap a few meals a week to meat free meals and that will make a difference. Get creative with your cooking and either remove meat from your meal or just eat less of it.
4. Consume less - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The easiest way to make a difference is to contribute less to the problem. Being more conscious about your daily habits and how they add up is a great place to start. Try and reduce your plastic consumption, your meat intake and your effect on the planet. This doesn’t mean you should stay in your house and not do anything but it’s about reusing things again where you can. Fix things when they break, don’t just throw them away. I saw something recently which asked, “where is away” when you dispose of something it has to go somewhere. Being more aware of this and making adjustments where you can will help to save our planet.
5. Spread A positive Message
Share simple swaps, ideas for change and any inspiration quote or impactful statistic you can find. We all have a responsibility to protect the world we live in and we all hold different aspects of it dear to our hearts. Some will want to save the oceans, others the mountains. Some will just want to protect the woods and the green fields around their home. You may not wish to go vegan or you may wish everyone to go vegan but let’s make sure we all put our energy into promoting positive change rather than forcing people to make changes that don’t feel right for them. Please feel free to share this blog post or any of the ideas in it as far and as wide as possible.
Here’s to saving the planet!