The buzz words of the moment are ‘sustainable,’ ‘green,’ and ‘carbon neutral.’ These terms that are bandied around are flippantly spoken in terms of an aspiration or goal for the future. Eventually, we will focus on becoming carbon neutral when we take three flights for our annual vacation. In the future, we will try and become more self-sufficient at home. And at some point, we might consider purchasing a hybrid car. While we all like to think of ourselves as being able to flex our eco-credential muscles, the chances are that we still opt for efficiency and cost savings over doing our bit for the environment. However, we all need to look at the bigger picture.
If everyone on the planet chose to make a few simple life tweaks, the world could become a more pleasant place in which to live, not just for us but also for the wildlife and the plants that share the Earth with us. While this sounds very hippy dippy and wishy washy, there is a serious undertone to becoming more eco-friendly and environmentally aware. The choices we make now will have a massive impact on the lives of our children and grandchildren. As such, we need to lead by example and consider overhauling our lives to become more eco-friendly. Take a look at how you can adapt your life for the good of the planet.
The Food We Eat
Supermarkets are full of produce all year round. Gone are the days of only seeing strawberries on the shelves from May to August. Nowadays, you can get a mango in the depths of a freezing January and Jersey Royal potatoes entirely out of season. However, to produce food out of season, an enormous amount of energy is needed. Polytunnels made from plastic, irrigation that wastes water and techniques to genetically modify what we eat has made crop production become damaging to the environment.
Food miles have also led to more carbon dioxide being emitted into the environment leading to further issues with our ozone layer and global warming. Being carbon neutral doesn’t just mean taking less flights and driving your diesel guzzling car a little less. It means considering the items that you are buying to eat. If you adore tomatoes and sweet peppers you don’t have to head to one of the big four supermarkets and get the South American varieties. Yes, they are cheaper, but they have travelled a ridiculous journey to end up in your kitchen. Instead, think about shopping more local. Head to your local greengrocers and pick up tomatoes and sweet peppers that are fresher and probably only travelled the same distance you did to walk to the shop. You won’t only be helping the environment, but you will also be empowering local small businesses that are rapidly disappearing from the high street. Sure, the vegetables and fruit that you buy might be a tad more expensive, but the quality will be far superior than anything you pick up in a supermarket.
If expense is a concern, why not go one eco-friendly step better and think about setting up your own veggie patch in the back garden. Sowing potatoes, onions, and carrots for the winter time and tomatoes, peppers and chillis for the summer isn’t too hard. There is an abundance of vegetable troughs for even the tiniest gardens. You might even want to consider a couple of rainwater tanks to collect the water that you can feed your new plants with. Forget getting it out of the tap and recycle instead. If you live in an apartment, don’t worry, you can still do your bit with a small window sill herb garden.
If you have a gas guzzling diesel beast of a vehicle on your driveway, you need to think about whether you really need such a car to carry out your daily tasks and journeys. With a large SUV that has 4×4 capabilities, you should be heading off road every other day. The chances are you might be using this set of wheels for the daily school commute. Is it worth it to damage the environment so badly with the harmful fumes of your vehicle? Instead, why not spend your money on a more environmentally friendly alternative. Hybrid cars used to be the domain of the eco-friendly nerds. They never got up to speed very quickly, drove pretty slowly, weren’t an exciting drive at all, and yet still cost a small fortune to buy. Stopping every couple of hours to recharge your car isn’t a hassle with charging points cropping up all over the country.
Hybrid vehicles now are some of the best on the road today, with many luxury motoring names getting in on the action. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid looks like a top quality well-made SUV. However, it is so much kinder to the environment with no gas guzzling or fume emitting. Instead, you can charge and go, and still enjoy the pleasure of driving a stunning SUV while doing the school run every day.
If you live in a large city, a car may not even be the best option for you transportation wise. Cities have such thorough transport networks that getting from A to B may be more suitable if you travel by train or bus. You will probably reach your destination faster and you don’t have to worry about the maintenance required to run your own vehicle. If you’re keen to get physically fit, you might even want to ditch your car for a bicycle to embark on your daily work commute.
When you consider taking your vacation every year, you probably head straight for the glossy brochures to check out the latest beach resorts across the globe. The Maldives, the Seychelles, the Cayman Islands and Bali are stunning destinations that welcome sun seekers from those countries that are less blessed with Vitamin D inducing sunshine.
The only issue with visiting these destinations is the distance needed to travel. Flying is the only logistically possible way which results in an abundance of carbon dioxide radiating through the atmosphere. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t travel the world and see what this wonderful planet has to offer. However, venturing to these secluded far flung destinations every year might not be wise. Consider taking a flight once every couple of years, and in between supplementing your usual long haul holiday with a home holiday. The country where you live also has a variety of places to explore that would be fitting for any holiday. Many people choose to enjoy staycations once in a while. If you adore your humble abode, getting the chance to do a spot of renovating and making your home more fit for purpose can make the perfect relaxing vacation.
If you do embark on many flights every year, whether this is for work or for pleasure, consider ways you can make your trip carbon neutral. Sometimes there is no alternative but to take a flight. If this is the case, check out the charities and firms that allow you to plant some trees to negate your journey. It is such a simple concept, and yet many people do not know that it exists.
If you are self-employed and love the thrill of working for yourself, don’t jump in at the deep end and lease an office halfway across town. If you aren’t customer facing and you don’t have bountiful supplies of stock to store, the chances are that your home study will suffice, at least in the short term. This will lessen your need for transportation for any sort of commute, meaning that your exhaust fumes don’t increase. You won’t need to use more electricity on an extra site, and you can enjoy the feeling of working from your own humble abode.
It might not be the best option for those of us who procrastinate and enjoy any excuse to scroll mindlessly through our Facebook feeds, but to save money and to help the environment, working from home is a sound option.
If you do lease an office and you have a staff team, implement a policy of flexible working. By allowing them to have ‘working from home’ days, you are lessening their commute, fuel usage, and transportation costs. You might even want to get behind a car sharing or cycle to work scheme. Many firms will subsidise bicycle purchases by staff members and will incentivise car sharing with days out, days off or extra bonuses in their pay packet. It might cost you a little extra, but you will see a return in terms of productivity and morale.
Being eco-friendly is tough when the world feels like it is getting smaller. Just because there is so much on offer doesn’t mean that you should be experiencing it all at the same time. Pace yourself, consider more sustainable ways to carry out your tasks and ditch the diesel guzzling SUV. Set an example and show your brood just how easy it is to revolutionise your life and become more eco-friendly.