It’s never too late to adopt another New Year’s Resolution – especially where the environment, climate change and ocean pollution are concerned. The UK government have implemented new regulations regarding ocean plastic and microbeads, and there are little-known schemes that have been available for years now to encourage people to use green energy.
Read on for our list of simple changes you can make in your lifestyle and daily routine that will make a big impact on your carbon footprint.
1. Say No to Micro-Plastics
The UK government have recently announced a ban on the sale of microbeads in cosmetics and hygiene products – but this doesn’t come into play until July 2018.
Do your bit before the ban comes in, by not buying these products starting from now. Micro-plastics end up in the ocean and water supply, poisoning marine life. The same goes for glitter, used for arts and crafts and body decoration. If you’re a glitter-fan, you don’t have to ditch it all together: there are earth-safe, bio-degradable glitter options available!
Lots of exfoliators and scrubs by brands like Clean & Clear, Laura Mercier, Neutrogena, Soap & Glory, The Body Shop and more are still on-sale. Check online product lists which show if any of your regular products contain beads; and next time you go shopping, switch to microbead-free scrubs.
2. Whip Out a Reusable Bag
If you’ve been watching Blue Planet II, or any news channel recently, you’ll know that tonnes of plastic is still filtering into the sea and killing whales, fish and ocean plants. The UK government enforced a compulsory 5p charge on plastic bags in shops in 2015, but we all still occasionally end up using them when shopping.
Make a vow to never own another plastic bag! Help reduce your reliance on plastic shopping bags by keeping a reusable bag on you at all times – there are ones you can get that fold down really small! Pop one in your handbag and you’ll forget it’s there until you need it.
3. Help the Bees
Charities like Friends of the Earth have helped to reverse the decline of bees for the last few years, and have seen improvements in the number of bees buzzing around in the summer. Still, there are 35 species of bees in the UK that are under threat from extinction. Considering that bees keep our air breathable and oxygenated, we should all be doing our part to help them survive!
Plant a diverse array of flowers, herbs and shrubs in your garden (if you’re fortunate enough to have one) to encourage bee activity in your area. If you can’t, add your signature to petitions against bee-harming pesticides.
4. Make a Stand with Solar
Many people shy away from the idea of solar panels, believing they’re much too expensive. However, more and more government grants and money-back schemes have been introduced to encourage homeowners to install panels.
The Feed-in Tariff scheme has been available since 2010, but most people still aren’t aware of it. It works by paying panel owners for solar energy they produce, even if they use it. Then, if you produce more energy than you need, you can make additional cash by selling it back to the grid.
Look into solar energy schemes today, and you might find that after the initial investment, you could make more than enough money to cover the costs and then some.
5. Avoid Palm Oil
Devastating deforestation and loss of biodiversity is resulting from the food industry’s obsession with palm oil. Food is the biggest culprit, but the ingredient is also found in cosmetics, cleaning products and fuel.
Oil palms currently cover a surface of the earth the size of New Zealand, and offer little diversity for wildlife in their plantations. It is contributing on a large scale to the displacement of animals and extinction of other plants.
Join the thousands of shoppers who are standing up to mass deforestation, and consciously try to avoid palm oil. Read labels carefully in supermarkets, and make efforts to switch to products that use different vegetable oils.