The month of September marks the beginning of a new season – and not just Autumn. It also marks the beginning of one of the most stressful parts of the year. We are called back to reality from the summer holidays to face work, school and then the onslaught of Christmas.
In many jobs the run up to Christmas can be one of the most intense work periods of the year. Add on the new school year and then the insatiable social whirl of December, and it’s not surprising that this can be a difficult time.
Studies reveal that November is the most stressful month of the year, and the Mental Health Foundation’s study from 2018 shows that 74% of British adults felt “overwhelmed or unable to cope at times” due to stress.
It’s unsurprising then that sustainability really can fall to the bottom of a very long to do list.
But by making even just one sustainable swap in your life, you can make a big difference without sacrificing your valuable time and energy.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Cling film is a huge contributor to landfill. Due to its stretchy consistency, it is unrecyclable material and sits in landfills and our oceans without decomposing. Over 1.2 billion metres (745,000 miles) of cling film is used by Brits each year. That is enough to circle the earth’s circumference 30 times.
So, when packing your child’s school lunch this year, why not swap out your cling film for beeswax? Made of natural ingredients, washable and reusable, they are a fantastic alternative to using single-use rolls of unrecyclable plastic. They also come in fun colours and patterns to brighten up those dark autumn and winter days.
- Another huge pollutant are single-use coffee cups. Each year, an estimated 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away in the UK. That’s enough to circle the earth five and a half times. Amazingly, only 0.25% of these cups are recycled. The next time you are rushing out the door to work, swap your single-use coffee cup for a reusable coffee cup and beat the statistics. It’s not only better for the environment, but also for your wallet – many cafés offer discounts for those who bring in their own cups.
- After a long day at work and looking after your children, the last thing anyone wants is a complicated skin care routine. This is the reason why makeup remover wipes are so popular – but did you know that they are also one of the most polluting products we use? Astonishingly, an estimated 11 billion wet wipes are used and thrown away in the UK each year, and the non-profit organisation City to Sea reported that the number of wipes found on beaches increased by 400% within the last decade. This year, swap your single-use make up wipes for reusable ones. This allows you to maintain a quick bedtime routine without harming the planet.
- The next time you spill something, swap your paper towel for a reusable cloth. 1,109 tonnes of tissue were consumed in the UK in 2017. Due to their short fibres, paper towels cannot be recycled like other forms of paper. In landfill, they break down and generate methane, which is much more toxic to the environment than carbon dioxide. By ditching your paper towels and opting for a reusable alternative, you would still be able to clean up your (or your childs’) mess while preventing more paper towels ending up in landfill.
- Brits use an average of 150 litres of water every day, and British companies consume around 1300 million cubic metres of water every year. With water consumption at an all time high, it is important for us to do our part in reducing our own consumption of it. The next time you are doing your laundry, opt for the quick cycle. It not only wastes less water than a regular cycle, but it also makes it quicker and more convenient to do laundry as you go about your busy day.
- Lastly, shopping second-hand is one of the best ways to practice sustainable consumption. Cotton requires up to 20,000 litres of water to produce just 1kg of cotton. As one of the most polluting industries in the world, fashion is a massive contributor to climate change. As a planet, it is estimated that 100 billion new items of clothing are produced every year, which is a 400% increase from twenty years ago. Instead of buying lots of new items of clothing why not join the Second-Hand September campaign, drop by your local charity shop or online second-hand clothing store to pick up your next fashion find. By shopping second-hand and donating or selling your items, you reduce the environmental impact of clothes.
By making just one of these small daily changes, you can practice sustainability without it becoming another weight in your hectic life. If we all pledge to do our part, we could make a huge collective difference.