With climate change and the environment on everyone’s minds these days, isn’t it time to start making some lifestyle changes? According to National Geographic, a whopping 91% of plastic never gets recycled. Our parks are becoming filled with rubbish and we’re running out of places to throw things away. A report released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) revealed that British households create over 26m tonnes of waste each year, the weight of about 260 large cruise ships.
Perhaps part of the problem is that there is a lack of imagination about how to reuse everyday things. Not only that, but all our newest items seem to be of the use it once and throw it away variety. Fewer people know how to repair anything and planned obsolescence has become a way of life. Consider how often we replace our mobile devices. It’s enough to make a person give up and decide to do nothing. Yet there are some small gestures we can make that will pay off dividends down the road.
Fewer Big Plastic Containers
Consider the large impenetrable detergent containers that take years and years to break down? I will never buy one again. The reports and coverage of plastics in the oceans, we had no idea back in the day what we were getting ourselves into. If everyone made one decision to change behaviours … it would go a long way to healing the environment, maybe not a lot in our lifetime but hopefully for my nieces and nephew. When we first saw those big plastic containers, we thought they could be recycled. However, many of them end up in the landfill, not only in the U.K., but all over the world.
Instead of those huge laundry detergent containers, it’s now possible to buy detergent in a small recyclable cardboard box instead of those big plastic containers.
Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade, so most of it still exists in some form. Only 12 percent has been incinerated – source: National Geographic.
Wash with Cold Water
Use a cold setting on your machine, something I’ve just discovered. Washing your clothes in cold water is a win for two reasons. For one, 90% of the energy used to wash clothes is for heating the water. The second reason is that your clothes will be in better shape and last longer when washed on a cold setting.
Air Dry Clothes and Dishes
Another small gesture is to air-dry clothes and dishes when possible. If your dishwasher has an air-dry setting, you can turn off the dishwasher before the air dry begins, then let the dishes sit – something else I’ve just learned to do. For clothes, letting them dry outside has the added benefit of giving them a wonderful scent.
Bamboo and Recycled Paper
Bamboo has been touted for use in everything from flooring to towels, to bed sheets, to toilet paper – read the story behind this recyclable toilet paper brand, it’s a good one.
Why bamboo? Bamboo is fast growing, reduces deforestation, and it’s safe and strong. And if you can find bamboo products without the plastic wrapping, that’s even better. Another option is recycled paper, especially if it’s labeled “processed chlorine free.”
Revolution Plastics – University of Portsmouth
Our local university is working on a transformation project focused on sustainability and the environment called Revolution Plastics. It wants Portsmouth University to be one of the world’s leading universities to drive change in the plastics sector and is working with the city’s authorities to drive Portsmouth as a sustainable city. Referring back to the theme of small gestures helping to contribute towards environmental change, individuals can help by using the Jetsam app to photograph any plastic waste that we see lying around in the city. The app will capture the photo location to build a heatmap of Portsmouth showing current plastic hotspots. Researchers will then use this data to better understand the patterns and movement of plastic waste in Portsmouth and develop solutions to reduce plastic entering the environment.
As an island city with an active community, Portsmouth is the ideal laboratory for a project like this. Thank you to Southsea Lifestyle magazine for sharing this information.
A very simple way to help the environment is to trade or reuse products. On Facebook, there are groups for people who want to Buy Nothing. We all have too many things, and all that unneeded stuff is hurting the planet. My sister organises a clothes and accessories’ swappage event every year for MacMillan Cancer Support and I can honestly say that what I buy there every year keeps me, and all the other ladies, going for a long time.
For some larger gestures that you might consider in the future, I can heartily recommend Tom Raftery’s podcast about the coming Green Revolution. Tom discusses solar energy, electric vehicles, and vertical farming. The podcast is available on Apple, Spotify, and Google Podcasts, too.
In Iceland, there is a technology to reverse climate change. Climeworks.com says that in order to remove carbon from the atmosphere, we need to have two things:
1. a machine that filters CO2 out of the air
2. a safe and permanent storage space to capture CO2