7 Easy Ways To Help Save The Planet

“Nature doesn’t need people; people need nature.”

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on environmental issues. In fact, I’m far from it (my high school APES teacher can vouch). Nor am I perfect when it comes to caring for our planet—I shower for way longer than the recommended 5 minutes, I sometimes throw recyclables in the general rubbish bin, and I don’t even know what a compost is. I’m not even sure if “a” was the right article to use. That’s how little I know about it.

Nevertheless, I fully believe that every person on this planet has an obligation and a responsibility to treat Earth with a little TLC. There are tons of teeny tiny, super simple changes you can make in your day-to-day that will do wonders for the world you live in. It’s so, so important to stay informed about the state of y(our) environment and the ways in which you can do your part to help save the planet (you can catch me Googling what composting is right after I finish writing this).

1. Use a travel mug or a keep cup

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If you’re someone who regularly—or even semi-regularly—drinks hot drinks in takeaway cups, you may fall into the trap of thinking that the cups you’re drinking out of are recyclable. I thought that, too, but it turns out that those cups are generally made up of tons of non-recyclable plastic in and around the cardboard part. A better alternative to to-go cups is a travel mug or a keep cup. Steel mugs are the best option, but plastic ones work great too! I personally use a KeepCup—it’s only $20, dishwasher safe, and BPA-free. They come in heaps of different sizes and colours and you can even customise your own. Plus, tons of coffee shops give discounts to customers who bring their own cup!

2. Ditch the straw

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Straws are one of the nastiest examples of a single-use plastic (a plastic product that will be used once and then thrown out). They don’t biodegrade and more often than not they end up in oceans and on beaches. This is obviously problematic and causes major issues for underwater life. Try ordering your drink without a straw the next time you eat out. If you’re in dire need of an iced coffee or iced tea and don’t have a travel cup with you, most Starbucks stores now offer strawless lids for their iced drinks. You could even invest in reusable straws or a tumbler cup for iced drinks—both options are dirt cheap and save you from putting more plastic out into the environment.

3. Catch public transport

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Cars are huge contributors to global warming and pollution. Luckily, there are tons of other ways to get to work/uni/school: ride a bike, walk, catch public transport, get a ride with someone else, give a ride to someone else, or use a carpool service. You’ll save money on petrol and save the environment. Plus, public transport saves you from sitting in peak-hour traffic and you’re free to sleep, read, text, etc.

4. Use a clothesline

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Using a clothesline or a clotheshorse is a great alternative to a dryer. It’ll save tons of energy (not to mention money!) which really helps the environment by reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Fossil fuels aren’t a clean or sustainable source of energy, which means we should try to rely on them as little as we can.

5. Meatless Mondays

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Don’t worry, I’m not about to preach the benefits of veganism or how cruel it is to murder animals for your own culinary pleasure. But going vegetarian at least one day a week is a great way to help save the planet. Most people don’t realise the huge environmental impacts that the meat industry has. It takes 2,500 gallons (nearly 9,500 litres) of water to make ONE POUND of beef. One pound! And on top of that, raising animals for meat takes tons of land, food, and water, which often means mega deforestation. Plus, fishing methods used by commercial fishers often harm ocean life such as coral reefs and other animals, which, in turn, leads to the destroying of ecosystems. So come on—just take a break from eating meat for one day. I’m sure you can find your protein somewhere else.

6. BYO water bottle

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This is pretty commonplace nowadays, but bringing your own water bottle wherever you go is an infinitely better alternative to buying multiple plastic bottles a day, especially when you’re not recycling those bottles. You can buy water bottles pretty much anywhere and they come in just about every colour, size, shape, and price point imaginable. My favourites are the stainless steel bottles from S’well and Contigo. Think of all the money you’ll save!

7. Stay informed

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It’s so easy to find information online that there’s really no excuse to be ignorant about the world around you. It’s 2018 and saving the planet is cool. Watch some documentaries, read the news, listen to podcasts. Answers to every question you have, and those you don’t even know you have, are right at your fingertips. Don’t let them go to waste. Set goals, write lists, take action, and hold yourself and others accountable.

P.S. for any other ignorant ding dong like me, composting is the use of decomposing organic material for growing plants. In other words, it’s using your potato peels and banana skins to grow your plants instead of using harmful, chemical-filled products.

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Look Good, Do Good, Feel Good

Despite what Donald Trump tries to tell you (not that anyone is really listening to him, anyway), climate change is very real. Our environment is suffering and will continue to suffer if we don’t make big changes as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, when it comes to industries that threaten the state of the environment, the fashion industry is second only to the oil industry. The way our clothes are sourced and produced, combined with the high turnover rate of our garments, are slowly ruining the world around us.

Think about what you’re wearing right now. Do you know where each item of clothing on your body at this very moment actually came from? This may be news to you, but clothes don’t just magically appear in stores one day. A lot of time, materials, and human labour go into producing a garment; in fact, the fashion industry is actually the most labour-dependent industry in the world.

Most materials and processes by/from which clothes come aren’t sustainable. We just can’t keep mass producing items of clothing in the same way that we do now. Resources will be depleted and the environment will keep taking massive blows because of it.

It gets even worse when you think about the people that are making your clothes. Women in countries such as Indonesia are forced to work shifts of up to 24 hours in garment factories where they don’t even get paid enough to be able to buy a sufficient amount of food to give them energy to keep working. What kind of fresh hell is that?! Why are we letting this happen?

And then, as if all that isn’t bad enough, we as consumers have the audacity to get rid of clothes after only wearing them a couple of times! While the whole “out of sight, out of mind” mindset is nice and easy, take a sec and think about where your clothes are ending up after you get rid of them. Sure, some might end up in landfills; but those are filling up fast and are running out of room to hold more waste. A lot of waste actually ends up at the bottom of the ocean, destroying ecosystems, killing marine life, and polluting our water.

But here’s the good news: there are super easy fixes to these issues!

Did you know that if you expand the lifespan of a garment an extra nine months, you’ll reduce its carbon footprint by 30-40%?

Instead of buying a cheap jacket at the beginning of winter and getting rid of it a few months later when the weather warms up again, why don’t you commit to saving up for a more expensive coat? Investing in an expensive piece of clothing will actually save you money over time because you won’t have to keep replacing it the way you would a cheap garment; you’ll also reduce the amount of waste you generate.

Try to shop from sustainable and transparent brands. Labels such as Everlane make a point of sourcing sustainable, ethical materials, and showing consumers exactly how much money was spent at each stage of the supply chain, making you feel good about how much you’re spending on their clothes. Brands like Reformation use only sustainable methods and materials, and are completely transparent about their manufacturers and the manufacturing process. Shopping from brands like those ensure that you’re purchasing clothes that weren’t harmful to any workers or the environment while they were being made.

The fashion industry is amazing, dynamic, and super progressive on so many fronts—don’t be part of the reason it falls behind in environmental consciousness.

Want to know more?

Here’s a podcast

Here’s an article

Or two!

Here’s a great doco if that’s your thang

And here‘s a list of some awesome ethical fashion brands (plus ethical menswear!)