Changing usual actions or habits for the benefit of the planet
We all have certain habits we repeat on a daily basis. Sometimes becoming more environmentally aware can feel like a big task. So instead of adding lots of new habits to your day (which can be stressful), why not start by altering the existing ones?
In the Morning
- Heating and water – Reset your morning heating and boiler to the exact times you will need it. Start them 30 minutes before you usually wake up, and ensure they are off by the time you leave the house.
- Eco brew – Use sustainably grown looseleaf tea, plastic-free tea bags or fair trade coffee to get you started for the day. If you’re usually a coffee-to-go kind of person invest in a reusable coffee cup to get you to work without waste.
- Breakfast – Opt for nut or soya milk for cereal, or dairy free yoghurt for granola. Dairy free butters are available for toast. We recommend peanut butter with sliced banana on seeded toast to start the day the vegan way!
- Traveling light – If you can walk to work add extra time into your day to do this. It is worth it! It will both save money and help you feel great. If you’re not able to walk could you cycle? Public transport would be the next best thing. If you have to journey by car are there any people who you could pool with? The fewer emissions you omit the more successful your eco makeover will be.
- Pack lunch – Got any leftovers? Try to cook extra food when you have time to take into work the next day. Chilli con carne, curries and soups can be made in big batches on a rainy Sunday then frozen for those times when you haven’t had time to cook lunch. Grab it out of the freezer in the morning and head to work. Remember to take some cutlery from home or buy some reusable cutlery to keep in your bag for times you need to pick something up from a shop. Keep an empty tupperware container in your office, you can get your to-go lunch without packaging if possible.
- Print double – not literally. Configure office printers to print on both sides of the page to reduce paper usage. Also, remember to only print when necessary. Send agendas via email and ask people to print their own resources if they want paper copies – most people can’t be bothered to do this and this means papers won’t be left on the table after an hour meeting, never you be used again.
- Give your laptop a break – If you’ll be away from your computer for more than 20 minutes, change it to “sleep” mode. Don’t keep it plugged in constantly, this can reduce the battery life considerably.
- Note taking – Use note applications or electronic sticky pad on your computer rather than using paper notepads or post-it notes.
- Say no – if a cashier asks if you want your receipt printed, kindly decline. If they print out regardless and will be binned take the receipt and use it to write to-do lists on the back, or make pretty origami animals (to at least get some joy out of your waste before it goes to landfill). There is plastic used in receipt paper (which makes it shiny) which means they cannot be recycled.
- Be tote-ally prepared – sorry! Pack a tote bag or reusable plastic bag and keep it in your work bag at all times. You never know when you may need it.
- Doggybag it – if you are out for dinner ask for a doggy bag for leftovers to reduce food waste (and have for lunch the following day).
- Say no to plastic – try to use fresh ingredients which are not sold in plastic where you can. Zero waste stores are great for bulk items like rice and pasta without plastic packaging.
- Buy British – the shorter the travel time from farm to table the less emissions used.
- Meat free – cut down on your meat intake or go cold turkey (excuse the pun). Even if everyone cut down on one meal a week it would make a huge impact globally.
- Makeover your beauty regime– use biodegradable wipes, reusable cotton pads or invest in a Face Halo to remove make-up, look for natural products when your current ones run out (natural soaps, moisturisers, shampoos), opt for cotton buds made with paper rather than plastic.
- Truly turn off electronics – use extension leads for your large electrical items (TV, Laptop cable etc) and turn the main plug off overnight.
- Watch your water – take shorter showers or shallower baths before bed to reduce your energy output. Turn the tap off while shaving and brushing your teeth.
This makeover shouldn’t take any more time than your usual routine (bar the transport review). We hope this gives you a little more confidence that you can easily make switches to your a ‘normal’ day. Once these become the norm you can then search for new ways to improve (there is a website called Efforts Change Outcomes which have some great tips for you). Have a go and see how many you can tick off. Good luck!
Grace works for a School Improvement Partnership and is our resident ocean lover. Having worked as a scuba instructor in Indonesia she has picked up her fair share of ocean plastic. Her favourite eco product is Oliva Olive Oil Soap.