If you’re like me then you like to think that you’re doing everything you can to live an eco-friendly lifestyle and reduce the impact us humans have on the planet. Making small changes to your everyday habits can definitely help us to live more sustainable lives but often, we aren’t always doing as well as we think we are. Not that I want to make you feel guilty as I know how bad that feeling can be. Every day I feel consumed by guilt for something I do that I know could be greener. I have to remember that doing something is better than nothing and if everyone changed just one thing today to something more eco-friendly then just imagine what an impact that would have!
Over the past few years I have changed a great deal and have become more eco-conscious by the day. I’ve switched to around 80% organic produce, natural cleaning products, a plant based diet, natural based vegan beauty products, upped our recycling, started being responsible about our landfill waste, turned to upcycling, starting shopping in charity shops for clothes or buying more organic and recycled clothes. We’ve also been working on lots of ways to reduce our plastic consumption. We used to have so much rubbish that our bin was overflowing by collection day, but now our landfill bin only has a quarter to half of waste every two weeks. We are definitely on the right track and I sometimes need to remind myself to not feel so guilty and remember we are doing lots more than some people and doing something is better than doing nothing.
The point I want to make though is that even if you think you’re doing everything you can, you might still be getting some things wrong and wasting energy or creating unnecessary waste. If you want to reduce the damage that you’re doing to the planet as much as possible, make sure that you avoid the below sustainable living mistakes.
Filling the recycling bin
Obviously, you’re recycling everything that you can, but what happens when you’ve simply got too much to fit in the bin? It’s a good sign because it means that the majority of the things that you throw away are recyclable, but if you’re creating too much waste and filling up the recycling bin, you might end up throwing some of that recyclable waste into landfill. We used to be guilty of this, but now if there is seriously no more room in our recycling bin then we will save a cardboard box for the next week or we’ll visit the recycling centre to offload some there – this is particularly useful after big events such as Christmas when we have more recycling than usual.
There are also a couple of other things to try first, before wasting fuel jetting off to the nearest recycling centre. If you buy a lot of stuff that comes in cardboard boxes, you may just need to pack it down and manage it properly to fit it all into the bin. If you’ve a small business and get through a lot of cardboard recycling then you may want to consider purchasing a baler. You can read more about balers here. By using a baler, you can reduce the amount of space that cardboard takes up in the bin and free up more space for everything else.
You also need to be more aware of the products that you’re buying and the packaging that comes with them. People often think that, just because it’s recyclable, it doesn’t matter how much rubbish you create. But regardless, you should be trying to buy things that don’t come with as much unnecessary packaging where possible to cut down on all of the waste you create, not just the stuff that goes into landfill. Recycling and creating recyclable packaging still causes pollution during the manufacturing processes. Plus it may not even all get recycled – just find the documentary by Sky News called Dirty Business and it will shock you!
If you have a large household or you still have far too much recycling consistently then contact your local council as they may be able to provide your address with an extra recycling bin. It’s definitely worth doing this over throwing it in the landfill. At least this way there is a good chance it will get reused again.
Throwing away clothes
Sometimes, you can’t avoid chucking stuff away, even if it isn’t recyclable. But one thing that you should never throw away is clothes, even if they’re full of holes. There are so many great ways to recycle those clothes, rather than chucking them into landfill. Giving them to charities is a great option, but you can also make something out of the material or just fix the holes in them and carry on wearing them. It’s more environmentally responsible and it’ll save you a load of money as well.
H&M, the High Street clothing store, are a great example of a clothing chain trying to be more eco-conscious. You can donate a bag of unwanted clothing and textiles to them in exchange for a £5 discount off your next clothing shop of £25 or more with them. They will recycle or repurpose the clothing. Anything that can’t be used will be used to create cleaning cloths or insulation for cars and houses. Everything gets used somehow!
Greenwashing is when companies that sell cleaning products make false claims about the ingredients that they use and claim they’re good for the environment when they aren’t. Although authorities are starting to clamp down on this, it’s still a problem.
The best thing to do is do your own research into products before you buy them, don’t take what the companies tell you at face value. If you’re particularly worried, you can start making your own cleaning products from natural ingredients. That way, you can be sure that you aren’t doing any damage to the environment. Otherwise use reputable brands only and research their claims. There are lots of plant based cleaning products by brands who want to do good and they’re not that hard to find.
Avoid these 3 mistakes and you’ll be on the way to living a more eco-friendly lifestyle!
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