6 ways to help the planet

Team GB triathlete Dan Geisler is a Veganuary ambassador

Team GB triathlete Dan Geisler is a Veganuary ambassador - Credit: Archant

When you read about climate change, the war on plastic, extreme weather conditions, the depletion of our wild spaces, and any of the multitude of environmental issues that our world faces, it's easy to feel helpless. What can one person do? Quite a lot, actually, and here are some ideas for a meaningful start to 2019.

Reduce packaging waste by choosing loose fruit and veg where available

Reduce packaging waste by choosing loose fruit and veg where available - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

If the fact that Collins Dictionary named 'single-use' as the word of the year 2018 has shown anything, it's that the environment is on our minds. Ambassadors such as David Attenborough and Liz Bonnin have raised awareness and support for the war on plastic, but as with any movement that requires world-wide change, everyone needs to get onboard.

Whether you want to make a bigger change or a few small ones, it really is worth the effort. Here are some ideas:

Small changes, big impact

Modern reuseable nappies are colourful and easy to use - do your bit to reduce the three billion sin

Modern reuseable nappies are colourful and easy to use - do your bit to reduce the three billion single-use nappies that go to landfill every year in the UK - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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There are so many small changes you can make which will have minimal or no impact on your day-to-day life, but when added up can make a huge difference to your impact on the planet. A quick search online reveals lots of ideas, such as remembering to switch off the lights, turning the heating down a few degrees, walking instead of driving where possible, using rechargeable batteries, taking shorter showers and going paper-free. Write a list of the ones which are do-able for you and try to stick to them.

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Join the fastest-growing food movement

Veganism is on the rise, and with the Veganuary campaign in full swing, now is the perfect time to find out more.

Go electric in 2019 and you could halve your greenhouse gas emissions

Go electric in 2019 and you could halve your greenhouse gas emissions - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Simon Winch, Veganuary CEO, says: 'Animal agriculture is a bigger contributor to climate change than the whole global transport sector – eating vegan is a great way to halve your dietary greenhouse gas emissions. Every meal is a choice, and by eating vegan foods we can help tackle climate change and save wild animals from extinction too. It's possibly the smartest decision you can make to help protect our planet.'

There are lots of tips at veganuary.com, as well as interviews with celebrity ambassadors, including Team GB triathlete Dan Geisler, who won a silver medal at the 2017 World Triathlon Championships eight months after turning vegan.

Stand up for what you believe in

People power is the best tool we have to create change. Tweet the supermarkets, sign petitions and follow movements which highlight our collective responsibility to address environmental issues.

It works! Snack fans took a stand earlier this year and began posting crisp packets back to Walkers in protest. In response, Walkers has launched the UK's first crisp packet recycling scheme. You can drop off your crisp packets at a public access collection point, of which there are around 15 in Norfolk, or alternatively post them for free directly to TerraCycle for recycling – find out how at www.terracycle.co.uk. Once the packets have been collected they will be cleaned, shredded and turned into small plastic pellets which will then be converted into useful plastic items, such as benches and fence posts.

Add some simple swaps to your weekly shop

If you go to the supermarket and make a conscious effort to question the environmental credentials of every item you put in your trolley, you'll come away very disheartened, especially when it comes to single-use plastic. The simple truth is, it's pretty much impossible to completely avoid it at the moment. However, there are some simple swaps that everyone can make:

Swap plastic cotton buds for those with bamboo or paper stems.

Swap cling film for re-useable containers.

Swap plastic-wrapped fruit and veg for the loose alternative where available – if you're worried about them getting ruined, pop them in one of your reuseable bags until you get to the checkout.

The same goes for meat and fish, use the counters and take your own containers with you.

Swap liquid soap hand wash for a good old fashioned bar of soap (packaged in a cardboard box).

Swap liquid detergent bottles for powder in cardboard boxes.

Basically, ask yourself: is there a cardboard, glass or tinned package alternative?

Time to go electric

The electric car revolution is gaining momentum. New models are alleviating the 'range anxiety' that previously put many buyers off, and if the price is an issue then a second-hand model is an ideal alternative for those with shorter commutes.

There has been some debate around the 'green credentials' of an electric car when you take into consideration the carbon-intensive process of battery manufacture and the fact that a relatively small share of Britain's electricity supply comes from renewables, but a new report by the European Climate Foundation suggests that replacing a fossil fuel-powered car with an electric model can halve greenhouse gas emissions over the course of the vehicle's lifetime.

So if you need a new car in 2019, give some serious thought to going electric.

A fresh approach to nappies

Expecting a new addition to the family in 2019? Congratulations! There are lots of baby-centred new year's resolutions to choose from: make your own baby food, sign up for baby yoga, read to your little one every day…. Or how about using real nappies?

An estimated three billion single-use nappies go to landfill every year in the UK alone. Add to this the fact that each nappy will take up to 500 years to decompose and hopefully the idea of real nappies will start to score highly on your be-more-environmentally-friendly list.

There are so many real nappies to choose from, and once you get going it becomes second nature – there's nothing like seeing a line of clean nappies flapping in the breeze.

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