Five Easy Eco-Friendly Swaps

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Since becoming vegan and watching the Netflix documentary Cowspiracy, I've become a whole lot more aware of my personal impact on the environment, a subject that I used to be absolutely clueless about! But aside from the obvious changes to my diet and, of course, recycling, I was still pretty unsure about how I could reduce my negative impact on the environment in my daily life. But after doing some research, I was relieved to find out that there were actually plenty of small changes I could make (that wouldn't break the bank) in order to make my life more sustainable and eco-friendly. So here are five easy swaps you can make in your everyday life to become more sustainable.

1. Buy a reusable coffee cup. I'm a total sucker for a Starbucks, or a Costa, or lets be honest, just about any coffee shop. But from the cups, to the lids, to the plastic utensils, every takeaway coffee I ordered was accumulating a lot of unnecessary waste. Inspired by my Instagram feed, I decided to invest in a KeepCup. As reusable mugs go, Keep Cups are quite aesthetically pleasing, but there are plenty of cheaper options available too  - any old flask will do the job! While it can seem easier to just take the plastic cup, investing in a reusable mug can help to save you some money in the long run, as companies like Pret are now offering 25p off each drink when you bring your own cup so really, its a win win!

2. Get a tote bag. After the 5p plastic bag charge was introduced in the UK, I quickly purchased some (Star Wars themed) reusable bags to use in my weekly food shops. But these bags for life are too chunky to leave in my backpack all the time so I still found myself opting for the easy plastic bag option when making any random purchases. I found it so easy to accumulate a huge surplus of plastic bags that would simply waste space sitting around the house or end up in the bin, so I picked up a tote bag from H&M which, as a bonus, also happens to be made from recycled fabrics! Taking up minimal space, I can now leave the handy tote in my backpack at all times for any impromptu purchases.

3. Buying reusable straws. In Summer, I go through a lot of smoothies and I always use a straw and with so many affordable reusable straw options available on Amazon, there was really no reason for me to keep throwing plastic straws away. Being a bit of a clutz, I opted for a metal straw but glass straws are also available as well as bamboo straws - simply use, wash and you're good to go again.

4. Ditch the plastic wrappers. Supermarkets, in the UK at least, love to cover everything in plastic so going completely plastic free is almost impossible, but there are some areas where plastic can be totally removed. I always make sure to pick up loose produce rather than getting the prepackaged bananas or apples etc. Just pop the loose fruit and veg in your trolley and give them a good wash once you get them home. There are also reusable produce bags available but, as I'm on a student budget, I just opt to be totally bagless!

5. Try to shop with ethical companies. Ethical shopping is a completely different issue, and I still need to do my own research on this issue, but I have been making more of an effort to shop from companies whose ethics align with mine. One such company is Coconut Bowls, who take discarded coconut shells and turn them into bowls. The bowls are absolutely gorgeous (and very Instagrammable) and by buying one, you're helping to reduce waste, what's not to love?!

I've still got a long way to go in reducing waste from my life and becoming more sustainable, but I've quickly discovered that making positive changes can be really simple, easy & affordable.

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