6 ways to live more sustainably

YHL looks at ways to live a more sustainable life that’s kinder to the planet

Reduce your plastic consumption

The proliferation of single-use plastic has led to major environmental problems. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), eight million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year, killing and harming marine life. Reducing our own personal plastic footprints will go a long way towards helping to tackle the problem. Carrying a reusable bottle rather than buying bottled water, saying no to plastic straws, opting for products with no plastic packaging and avoiding plastic cutlery are just some of the simple ways that we can make a difference. Carrying reusable shopping bags and buying food such as cereal, pasta and rice from bulk bins will also help to cut your plastic usage.

Consider going vegan

Opting to follow a vegan diet could go a long way towards lowering your carbon footprint and living a more sustainable life. According to the Vegan Society (vegansociety.com), “The production of meat and other animal products places a heavy burden on the environment – from crops and water required to feed the animals, to the transport and other processes involved from farm to fork.” A 2018 Oxford University study found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18 per cent of calories but takes up 83 per cent of our farmland. In addition, a 2019 Harvard University report stated that if everyone in the UK went vegan, we would still have enough food for everyone to eat. If adopting a fully vegan diet seems overwhelming, avoiding meat for a couple of days a week can still make a huge difference.

Choose sustainable fish

If you eat fish, choosing sustainable sources of fish and seafood is one way to help tackle the growing problem of depleted fish stocks and to help protect the future of the world’s oceans. The Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide features ratings based on the relative health of each fish stock, and the sustainability of the various fishing or fish farming methods used. A red rating of 5 is given to fish that are overfished, vulnerable to exploitation, poorly managed or whose method of harvesting has significant concerns. A green rating of 1 or 2 is awarded to the most sustainably harvested seafood while yellow and amber ratings 3 and 4 indicate increasing levels of concern regarding the status of the fish stock, or the environmental impact of the fishing or fish farming method used. Find out more at www.mcsuk.org/goodfishguide/search

Cut down on food waste

“There’s a lot of confusion around ‘display-until,’ ‘use-by,’ and ‘best-before’ dates and many people throw away food that is still perfectly good to eat,” says Jamie Crummie, co-founder of social impact company Too Good To Go (toogoodtogo.co.uk). “Sell-by, display-until and best-before dates are all about quality. These are dates which the food retailer has estimated as the optimum time for the best taste and/or appearance for the product, meaning it’s still safe to eat the product past these dates. Use-by dates however should be used strictly as food past these dates is not safe to eat. Most foods can be frozen before the use-by date and then defrosted when needed – even milk, butter and grated cheese.”

Opt for products made from sustainable palm oil

Palm oil is extremely widely used and can be found in many products from packaged foods to toiletries and cosmetics. Unfortunately though, it is one of the main causes of deforestation, which has led to the destruction of habitats of endangered species and contributed to climate change. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) campaigns for the production of sustainably produced palm oil, encouraging companies to commit to buying and using palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). WWF’s Palm Oil Buyer’s Scorecard assesses manufacturer, food service provider and retailer commitments and actions for sustainable palm oil and helps build a culture of transparency around palm oil use. To find out more and to download the scorecard, visit palmoilscorecard.panda.org

Recycle, recycle, recyle!

Recycling helps to save energy, conserves natural resources and cuts down on landfill, so it’s a vital way of living a more sustainable life. According to Friends of the Earth, the amount of energy saved from recycling one glass bottle could power an old 100-watt light bulb for four hours and a new low-energy LED equivalent for a lot longer. Knowing what can and can’t be recycled can be confusing though, particularly when rules vary according your local council. Recycle Now, the national recycling campaign for England, has a recycling locator on its website which provides help and advice on where to recycle specific items, what to put in your recycling at home and how to find out your nearest recycling location. To find out more, visit www.recyclenow.com/local-recycling

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