If you’re not already aware, this week is jam-packed full of activities. Whether you’re happier it’s Galentine’s, Valentine’s or Pancake Day (that’s crêped up on us, hasn’t it?), I’m pretty sure Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent, has fallen totally off your radar. But even if you’re not religious, lent can be a really great time to try and pick up some new habits that will help lead you to a more sustainable lifestyle. Whether you’re a raving burgerholic, addicted to buying new clothes, or enjoy a 20 minute shower every single morning, now’s the perfect time to give something new a go for 40(ish) days to help save the planet – and you never know, you might even save some pennies too.
- Go vegan or vegetarian
Did you miss out on Veganuary? Tried it but it didn’t do so well? Or maybe you’ve never even considered the possibility that you could live without cheese. Wherever you’re at, why not try giving up meat and dairy for lent to help reduce your environmental impact (and save some lives while you’re at it). If you’re not quite ready to go the whole hog (pardon the pun), you could try going vegetarian, or simply giving up beef and lamb, as these have some of the biggest impacts in terms of emissions and water use.
If you do decide to go totally meat and dairy free, make sure the replacements you’re choosing also don’t have a huge impact on the environment, and aren’t creating social problems across the world…and don’t come wrapped in mountains of plastic. Which brings me to my next point…
2. Use less plastic
275,000 tonnes of plastic are used each year in the UK – that’s around 15 million bottles per day which are classed as ‘single use’. So whether it’s buying all your veggies loose, saying no to single use plastics or going totally plastic free, reducing the amount of plastic you buy will have an impact. We’ve all seen Blue Planet II, and we all know this is something we should be doing – but it can be hard to stick to, and often takes more time and effort. Just make sure you’re prepared.
If you do accidentally make a plastic purchase, don’t panic – just check if you can recycle it. If you can’t, make sure you take a photo of the product, share it on social media and call out the company you bought it from. And make a point of leaving your plastic at the till.
- Stop buying things you don’t need
We all love a bit of retail therapy every now and then. And there’s no harm in that. But make sure you’re buying things you actually need (and don’t just think you need). Try and shop second hand, or from ethical and sustainable brands; charity shops aren’t what they used to be – there’s plenty bargains and pre-owned treasures out there – and your money would be going to a good cause. If you’re a total shopaholic, why not try to stop buying clothes just for lent, giving you a chance to break your habit and see the value in the clothes you already own.
- Only use sustainable transport
According to recently released government figures, the majority (26%) of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions now come from the transport sector. With the government crawling along in the slow lane (pun intended this time), we all need to be doing our part to keep emissions dropping if we want to meet our targets. So, if you’re used to relying on your car to get you everywhere, why not hop on a bus, or better yet, your bike. If you can, and you’ve got the time (and the energy) you could always try walking to your destination…just make sure you check the weather first…
- Save water
According to Waterwise.org.uk, every person in the UK uses around 150 litres of water a day – thats 54,750 litres a year. Although we’ve always been told that having a shower is always better, this isn’t necessarily true; eight minutes in a power shower can use twice as much water and energy as a bath. Luckily, cutting your shower time down in by just one minute could save up to 20 litres of water! Plus, you could always *splash out* on a low-flow shower head, turn the water off while you’re soaping up, or, as it’s Valentine’s Day, shower with your significant other. You can even try saving your shower water – especially the stuff you watch go straight down the drain while you’re waiting for the water to warm up – and using it for things like watering your plants.
However, to put things into perspective, choosing not to eat a pound of beef can save more water than not showering at all for six months (which we don’t recommend…). Whatever you choose to do, doing something is better than doing nothing at all. All your effort adds up, and you don’t have to go from zero to zero-waste all in one day. For more tips and advice on going plastic free, check out the Fox & Moon blog, and if you’re after some vegan and vegetarian recipes, we’ve got plenty over on Little & Large.