For a long time, I thought that there was nothing I could do as an individual. I figured that it was in the hands of our world leaders, and their jurisdiction to make through signing deals and making pacts. This is certainly true, but I’ve discovered since that there are lots of things you can do as a singular human that can help cut your carbon footprint. Every big movement has started with the effort of a few individuals.
- Buy reusable coffee cups and use drink in cups. They generally cost between £3 and £5 but given that most coffee shops will give a discount for using them, they pay themselves off after a while. I know the discount at Costa Coffee is 25p, which means it’ll take about twelve cups of coffee before it’s paid off. That might sound like a lot, but if you’re a regular customer it’s not really - I know I visit my local coffee shop three or four times a week. It means that they don’t have to use their own take out cups, which can only be recycled sometimes. Plus, if you’re drinking in, make sure you use their china mugs/glasses. The plastic cups used for most take out ice drinks aren’t recyclable and will end up in a landfill so when you have the option of an alternative like a glass, definitely use it.
- Buy a reusable shopping bag. This one is quite self explanatory - most shops sells bags for life that last a decent amount of time, and they’re only a couple of pounds . It’ll save you having to spend money on plastic bags. Equally, you can purchase paper bags online that are recyclable and if you have lots of plastic bags leftover you can reuse them (I use mine as bin liners or when I’m walking my dogs).
- Buy a metal water bottle. These are also easy to find in any supermarket and it’ll save you having to buy plastic bottles from vending machines. They’re usually quite light and 100% leak proof, and I have a small one that easily fits in my bag and is very practical. Alternatively, you can find bottles made of recycled plastic that last equally well and long. Plus, most of them have cute patterns.
- Shop sustainably. If you can, buy loose fruit and veg in paper bags rather than ones in plastic packaging. A lot of brands are switching to cardboard now too, which means you can recycle a majority, if not all, of the packaging.
- Avoid meat products. This is slightly less simple one but if you have the option to, going vegan or even just meat free can have a huge difference. I’ve been trying to cut meat out my diet and although it’s a difficult process, especially as a college student, every little helps. You can phase out meat slowly.
- Go fully vegan. Some people have already done this to help avoid global warming, and like cutting out meat,it’s certainly a process but can be hugely beneficial. Again, I’m not vegan myself but I am trying. Simple things like getting soy milk in your coffee (it won’t cost extra) rather than cow’s milk can have a big impact. It sounds difficult in theory, and it can be practice, but you never know unless you try.
Even the tiniest changes can help. Everyone has to start somewhere and if we all try and make tiny changes and steps, it can help benefit our planet. We’re not past the point of no return and doing simple things and making a collective effort can make a world of difference (no pun intended - or maybe it is).