Lots of us are aware that climate change is a huge threat to our very existence, and many of us are thinking about how we might change our behaviour. But knowing what to do and even how to begin making changes can feel overwhelming. Here at Good Things we're all about celebrating and encouraging little ways to love the planet. So, here are our five easy wins for an eco-friendly summer:
1. Switch that Burger
This one's not too tricky. Next time you're heading to a barbecue, simply head to the veggie section to peruse sausages and burgers. You'll find a wide range of options and reducing your meat and dairy consumption is viewed by many as the single biggest way of reducing your impact on the planet.
If you're a resolute carnivore try just one day a week meat-free. Managing that already? Try to reduce your intake of meat and dairy a little more - why not try oat milk in your coffee (it's delicious!).
If you're already vegetarian have a think about further changes you can make to reduce your dairy consumption. Dairy-free mayonnaise on the burger? Hummus instead of a cheese slice? All good options!
Sure, read that as alcoholic if you like, but we're also talking water bottle, coffee cup, cutlery, plate, lunch box. Basically anything that means you don't need to use disposable (often plastic) products. We use £2.5 billion disposable coffee cups in the UK every year, but getting into the habit of taking a reusable cup with you is fairly simple. Reusable is much, much better for the planet than (often so-called) recyclable.
Also, you'll probably get a discount on your coffee!
In the UK we use an average 117 plastic bottles per person per year! Investing in a reusable bottle is a great way to avoid plastic waste. Get started with these durable reusable bottles that keep drinks cold for 24 hours, hot for 12 hours, and fund clean water projects!
3. Cut that air con
If you're heading somewhere with an air conditioning unit, or you work in an office with air con (fancy!), try to reduce, or even better avoid, using it.
It's not mentioned so much here in the UK but AC has become the focus of many conversations about climate change in recent years. It's estimated that air conditioning units used in many homes around the world at present will contribute to 20 - 40% of the world's remaining carbon budget. The US expends more energy on air conditioning than the whole continent of Africa does on everything. Many units are uneconomic and actually contribute to warming up cities where air con is widely used. Try these hacks to keep your home cool in a heatwave.
Step away from that remote!
4. Holiday Closer to Home
Many of us have opted for holidays closer to home over the last year, and this is a great time to consider flight-free destinations nearby. A short-haul return flight can account for 10% of your yearly carbon emissions, and air travel is increasingly contributing to climate change. Could this be the year you pledge to go flight-free?
Alternative methods of travel can also provide a different perspective and the opportunity to stop over in other destinations. A night in Paris on the way to Florence? Yes please! Find practical information for train travel across Europe and beyond from The Man in Seat 61. There's a growing community (including our hero Greta Thunberg of course) sharing their no-flying adventures, which we found inspiring too.
Visit England has lots of ideas for fabulous UK destinations - there's so much to explore!
5. Waste Not, Want Not
Globally one third of all food produced goes to waste. Not only is this horrifyingly wasteful, it's also damaging for our planet. Our food production contributes to a quarter of all global greenhouse emissions and threatens our planet's biodiversity. Reducing food waste and only producing and consuming what we need could have a significant positive impact.
So what can you do? Buy locally grown, organic and sustainable products to support biodiversity. The pandemic has resulted in an increase in local box schemes so why not see whether you can support yours? Buy what you need, and make efforts to use everything you have.
Avoid waste. Some supermarkets have scrapped 'best before' labels in order to reduce food waste - think carefully before you get rid of food, could you make a soup or smoothie even if it's wilted? Check out these apps which help tackle food waste by redistributing it.
So there you have it. Five easy wins so you can enjoy an eco-friendly summer. Start with one and see how you get on!
At Good Things you’ll find inspiring ethical and sustainable gifts that support charities, empower people and protect our planet. Discover gifts for all ages and inspiring ideas like cards that plant trees, handmade cushions empowering people in Tanzania and eco toys made from recycled milk bottles. Have a look at our collections.