Being eco-friendly might seem like the trending thing to do right now with one in three consumers preferring environmentally friendly options. But going green isn’t just a fashion fad that will someday be deemed uncool. Unlike elaborate hair perms and MC Hammer pants, being eco-friendly is a long-term statement. It’s a commitment to contribute to the planet’s salvation – a cause that will never go out of style.
If all of your friends have been pestering you to have a greener outlook, this is one of the few times that you should give in to peer pressure.
To help get you started, we’ve pieced together the ultimate Q&A with a green newbie’s most common worries about environmental living. We’ll talk all things eco living including hard to beat habits, bringing green values to your business and environmental packaging alternatives.
Q: Why’s it Such a Big Deal to Be Eco Friendly?
A: Being eco-friendly isn’t just about sporting a cotton tote bag and being done with it. Sidenote, recent reports reveal that a cotton tote bag could be as comparably damaging to the environment as plastic ones.
While it might seem straightforward from the outside, going green means undergoing a lifestyle change and getting educated on the matter. The good news is that being eco friendly will have a real impact on the future of our planet.
Take a look at the following news stories that outline the globe’s current state:
- In 2016, the UN conducted a study that found human behaviour to be damaging the earth faster than it can recover – this was the UN’s first warning about climate change. Last year, the UN warned that we only have 12 years to limit the climate change crisis, meaning that we must act now.
- High profile publications like The Financial Times are spreading the word about veganism since the production of meat is damaging to the environment (more on that in our last question). In a new article, The FT reveals the amount of farmland needed – if the entire world population was to go vegan – would reduce by the size of an African continent.
- The National Geographic continues the conversation on diet, by considering how our current habits will fare in the future, when the population has risen to 10 billion in 2050. The publication focuses on the dangers of meat consumption and overall food waste – currently, 30 per cent of all global food is wasted.
- Struggling to see climate change as a reality? Get up to scratch with the current crisis by listening to Britain’s national treasure, Sir David Attenborough. His new BBC series Climate Change – The Facts is available to watch online. If you can’t spare the 60 minutes it takes to watch the full episode, watch the four-minute version, instead. We promise it will change your perception.
Q: What’s The First Step to Becoming Eco Friendly?
A: Although being eco-friendly is incredibly serious, it doesn’t have to be hard. Just making small changes to your daily routine can have a positive impact on the environment. For example, you could get into the habit of flushing the toilet less, as the average flush in a Western toilet uses 6 litres – equivalent to 1.6 gallons – of water.
How to start peeing less? Well, you can’t change your bodily functions and we’re not suggesting that you should. Instead, you could start making a habit of peeing while in the shower. Yes, science has finally given us permission to pee in the shower, claiming this is just as hygienic and dramatically saves on water. Researchers reckon that by relieving yourself once per day in the shower and cutting down on your flushing, you’d save 2,190 litres – equivalent to 579 gallons – of water each year. So, if you usually pee, on average, six times per day, do the dirty five times in the toilet and once during your daily rinse.
So, while being eco-friendly is serious, the steps to get there are not and while the effect of your greener behaviour on the planet is a big deal, it’s less of an ordeal than you might think to go green.
Q: How Do Eco Friendly Products Help the Environment?
A: “Eco-friendly” is a broad term, but when applied to products it means that the substances used to make that given product should have no adverse effect on the environment.
Either an eco-friendly product is easily reusable, or it has compostable and biodegradable properties meaning that it won’t get trapped in a landfill. Using an eco-friendly product means that you’re helping to reduce worldwide pollution. But what does worldwide pollution even mean? Well, an estimated 14 billion pounds of garbage is thrown into the ocean each year, which means more than 1.5 million pounds of rubbish is pumped into our waterways every single hour.
Q: How Can I Tell If a Product is Eco Friendly?
A: Not so easily. All of the obvious tell-tale signs such as the way the product is marketed, the brand’s imagery and even reputation can be faked. Some businesses simply see the words “eco-friendly” as a smart approach to sales. The harsh truth is, you can’t always trust that products marketed as green are legitimate.
One article reveals how difficult policing the carbon footprint of products actually is when Tesco enforced a labelling system, only to later drop the initiative due to its complexity.
So, how can you be sure that what you’re buying is legit? In this case, the proof is in the pudding – or you might say the packaging. Check the manufacturing process and materials that the product uses and this will give you the clearest indication of whether a product is harmful or not.
If a brand is claiming to be green but is still repping plastic packaging, this is a red flag. The more transparent a brand is about its product’s make-up, the better chance that the brand is trustworthy. Avoid trusting buzzwords like “planet-friendly” and instead, jump straight to the product specifications to figure out the item’s waste credentials for yourself. If this information isn’t easily identifiable, perhaps the manufacturer has something not so sustainable to hide.
Q: How Can I Make My House Eco Friendly?
A: The great news about this answer is that practically every step to building an eco-friendly home has some added “selfish” benefits, in that your finished abode will likely be cost-effective and self-serving.
Simple examples of this are switching to energy efficient light bulbs, installing solar panels and switching to a smart meter – all of which will give your home greener credentials by using fewer resources. Can you guess the added bonus? As you use less energy, your monthly bills will be reduced.
There isn’t a “one-size fits all” solution to eco-friendly living. As such, creating an eco-friendly home doesn’t mean that the end result will be identical to any other sustainable house. Instead, you should work off a general rule: to reduce resources in order to make every domestic process self-serving. By this we mean you should look to produce resources yourself, rather than buy resources elsewhere. This is the whole argument behind solar panels – why would you buy energy when you can create energy yourself?
Serious eco-friendly enthusiasts might choose to get into gardening, in the hope of producing their own organic vegetables. Allotment gardens are popular amongst advanced environmentalists as they reduce the number of poisons that are fed into our waterways. A beginner might take a more transitional route and begin feeding environmental products – like green kitchen cleaners and dish soap – into their home.
Q: What Lifestyle Changes Can I Make to Become More Eco Friendly?
A: As discussed earlier, you can start peeing in your shower and saving on household bills in order to go green. There are some less frivolous ways to curate an environmental lifestyle too. These include:
- Take Alternative Modes of Transport – It doesn’t take a genius to note that cycling is better than driving when it comes to the environment. As is walking better than taking the tube and so on. In some cities, you’ll find choosing greener modes of transport easier than others, depending on their public transport system, traffic signals and availability of free city bikes. This article on examples of green mobility highlights that cities like Copenhagen currently have the upper hand when it comes to encouraging residents to be eco-friendly during travel.
- Be More Prepared – If you’re not already an organised person, becoming eco-friendly will force you to clean up your act. Forward planning is a simple tool to reduce the amount of waste you use. For example, bringing a reusable cup to your favourite coffee house will significantly reduce your intake of plastic cups, straws and lids.
- Consume Less and Get More Social – Unless you need to buy an item brand new for hygiene reasons, try to borrow or share an item instead. This forces you to be more social, looking on shared marketplaces and social groups for answers. Plus, it also helps you to build a network of eco-friendly advocates. Swapping parties have become a hugely popular way to stay fashion-forward while practising environmentalism. As the second largest polluter in the world, the fashion industry is not your friend. While you might want to update your wardrobe with the latest trends, don’t look to shiny stores for a makeover.
Q: I’m a Business Owner. Can I Make My Company Eco Friendly?
A: Absolutely. Environmentalism is not reserved for personal practice – it can be company wide too.
Just like switching up your personal practices, adding an environmental touch to your business has some hidden benefits. For example, you might choose to allow your employees to work out of the office for a few days of the week to reduce the hefty cost of running a commercial space. We don’t often factor in the excessive fuel it takes for each member of staff to get into the office either, but we should. All of these moving parts add up to one big corporate carbon footprint. On the face of it, the adoption of flexible work arrangements might have been implemented purely for the planet’s benefit. But studies show that remote work helps employee’s happiness and productivity, giving your company more than it bargained for.
Much of creating a green company is about using your common sense and embracing the modern workplace. Instead of hanging on to files of unused paper documents and insisting that meetings notes are printed, vow to go digital. This is probably the more streamlined and professional approach to meetings anyway, but the green benefit might be the clincher in persuading you to make the change.
Depending on what type of business you have, you might want to study your supply chain in more detail and figure out where you can make positive changes that are individual to you. Creating a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report is a structured task that’s often a good exercise to highlight the possible improvements you could make in the future. Not to mention, that these documents are often shared publicly, making you accountable for your actions.
Q: Do I Need to Change My Diet to Be Eco Friendly?
A: The consensus on this a little foggy. While we’ve discussed home allotments to promote organic produce that doesn’t involve the use of harmful chemicals or poison and cuts down on the fuel used for food delivery, the nature of your diet is also up for debate.
Some people vote that eating less meat is better for the environment. Some scientists go as far as to say that reducing your meat consumption would be more beneficial than changing all of the other aspects of your life, such as your mode of transport. Their view is that meat production is endangering our planet through deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, emissions from cows and fertiliser use are estimated to pose a higher risk than the emissions of all the world’s cars, trucks and aeroplanes.
Meat or no meat, we think that if you’re new to eco-friendly living, you should pick a few achievable pointers from this post, as this is simply better than doing nothing.
If you must change your diet to protect the planet, thank god you don’t have to give up takeaways. Discover our online shop that’s stocked full of sustainable food packaging options for the UK’s restaurant sector.