Choosing to live a more ethical lifestyle can feel daunting at times when we are surrounded by ads offering improvements in every aspect of our lives. Whether you’re thinking about how much plastic you use and the environmental impact it has, or what the wage of the person who made the outfit you’re wearing today was, there are numerous steps you can take to face these dilemmas.
Besides, spring is finally here so what better way to celebrate than by doing a little spring cleaning to your lifestyle, ditch some old habits and try to incorporate sustainability into it!
Two words: fast fashion. Bringing fashion trends from the catwalk to the high street quickly and cheaply, fast fashion is quickly becoming a colloquial term as we learn more and more about the poor treatment of garment factory workers and its environmental impact. In the UK alone, 11 million items of clothing are sent to the landfill each week while an estimated 30 billion worth of unused clothing hangs in our wardrobes.
Instead of buying new, why not resist and only purchase items you really need when you need it, or incorporate second-hand shopping into your wardrobe? Have some fun and try using this wardrobe planner to minimise what goes into your closet. Make some money out of your closet through buying and selling through apps such as Vinted and Depop (although some apps do take a percentage of earnings so do some research). Fancy getting some fresh air instead? Hit up a car boot sale to find clothes and more. Head this way to find one in your area.
Don’t feel like putting in that much effort? Use reGAIN – an app that picks up your old clothes and turns it into discount coupons. They reuse what’s wearable and recycle items that can’t be worn again, meaning you can even send in old socks and knickers (but please wash them first). Return to Earn operates on a similar premise but will give you cash for clothes – £0.50 per kilogram for clean clothes and shoes that aren’t damaged. Finally, if you plan on binning any textile, check out Recyclenow to find out where the closest recycle point is for you.
Your Daily Routine
Most of us have a routine to get us out of bed each morning and ready for our day, but what impact does this have on the environment? The UK is facing a water shortage in the next 25 years so really we should be adopting measures now to decrease our consumption habits and prevent wastage. Use a water calculator to determine your consumption levels and get tips on how you can save water. As the old saying goes, ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow…’! Maybe that isn’t ideal if you are living in shared housing so try taking shorter showers or turn the tap off while you’re lathering up.
Try to make a few substitutions in your bathroom while you’re at it. Invest in reusable cotton pads that are machine washable instead of using disposable ones. Just don’t forget to add it to your basket on laundry day.
Likewise, makeup remover clothes such as the MakeUp Eraser are reusable and just need a little water to remove your daylong makeup. When it comes to oral hygiene, try switching to bamboo toothbrushes which offer a compost-friendly alternative solution to plastic, although you do have to pluck out the plastic bristles beforehand.
It’s important to take care of yourself throughout your menstrual cycle but you can also take care of the environment during your period. 90% of conventional pads are plastic whilst 6%of tampons contain plastic – not to mention the plastic applicators and packaging.
There are a number of alternatives you can use to decrease your environmental impact. Firstly, of course, there’s a menstrual cup. They are made from medical grade silicone and have a 10 year life span! Think about how much money you can save and how many pads and tampons will be kept out of the landfill over 10 years. You can also make your period more ethical as well. Here at The Cup Effect we are proud to state that for every menstrual cup purchased from us, two are donated to women and girls who can’t afford menstrual products in East Africa or the UK so your pounds are going to good use.
We know that menstrual cups may not be for everyone, so do consider investing in period underwear. They are super absorbent, designed to protect against leaks and are machine washable. This Women’s Health article lists some of the best period panties for different needs and activities. For some women, disposable products are preferred so why not look into organic and plastic-free options – there’s no plastic, no bleaching or nasty chemicals and are biodegradable.
According to FareShare.org.uk, 1.9 million tonnes of food is wasted by the food industry every year in the UK while 250,000 tonnes of the food that goes to waste each year is still edible. However, there are simple ways you can join the movement to prevent this.
Olio is an app that connects you to your neighbours, local shops and cafes with surplus food that can be shared rather than thrown in the bin. Too Good To Go is another app where you get a ‘magic bag’ filled with items restaurants and cafes usually throw out at the end of the day.
Meanwhile, the folks at Oddbox are determined to fight food waste by working directly with farmers and growers, taking their wonky and surplus produce rejected by supermarkets and delivering them straight to your door. They offer a range of produce boxes that are delivered weekly, with subscriptions starting at £9.45. It’s a great way to discover new fruits and veggies, try new recipes and help reduce food waste!
Wedding season is upon us and the thought of gift giving can incur high levels of stress to find that perfect present. Weddings or not, gift giving is a wonderful opportunity to make someone else’s day but can also help draw attention to a specific cause. Instead of buying a gift, make a donation to an organisation they are involved with or a cause they support. A membership to a museum or theatre will give them the chance to explore arts and culture in their community.
If you prefer to buy a physical gift, try to support a business that is making a difference, such as an ethical clothing brand or a sustainable home furniture store. Wearth London is a fantastic ethical online department store that sells only eco-friendly and ethical products.