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7 ways to…

Save the world without really trying

There are some effortless ways that you can help the planet, so why not give them a go?

We all know that the planet needs humans to make some drastic changes to our lives, as well as efforts to save and protect it - but in the immediate future, that's unlikely to happen on a large scale. However, does that mean that we should do nothing?

No! If we, personally, cannot instigate widespread changes, then we should do whatever we can do. Small changes and acts, if committed by enough people, can amount to big wins for the environment, its inhabitants and the impacts of climate change. Here are seven ideas to save the world that you can undertake without going to great lengths.

 

1. Go vegan

For those of you that are at the beginning of your vegan journey, adopting a plant-based diet is one of the most direct and impactful ways that you can help the planet - and nowadays, you really don't have to try too hard to live vegan.

There are multitudes of online resources, cookery books and literature (like this magazine!) that offer all the information you could ever dream of, regarding health, nutrition, lifestyle, beauty, food and more.

If you do need more support, get in touch with or sign up to brilliant challenges like Veganuary (veganuary.com) or 30-Day Vegan by Viva! (30dayvegan.viva.org.uk).

Why can going vegan help to save the planet? Meat, dairy and egg production are among the leading causes of climate change, soil erosion, water pollution, habitat destruction, and the decrease in biodiversity (proveg.com).

In fact, research by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations shows that farmed animals are responsible for 14.5 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Farming animals for meat and dairy demands huge inputs of water and feed, as well as space - one of the biggest causes of forest loss is the expansion of agricultural land for animal farming and feed production, like soya.

A switch from beef to beans by the US population would free up fields equivalent to 43 per cent of US cropland for other uses, such as rewilding or nature-friendly farming (UN Report 2021).

For those of you that are at the beginning of your vegan journey, adopting a plant-based diet is one of the most direct and impactful ways that you can help the planet - and nowadays, you really don't have to try too hard to live vegan.

There are multitudes of online resources, cookery books and literature (like this magazine!) that offer all the information you could ever dream of, regarding health, nutrition, lifestyle, beauty, food and more.

If you do need more support, get in touch with or sign up to brilliant challenges like Veganuary (veganuary.com) or 30-Day Vegan by Viva! (30dayvegan.viva.org.uk).

Why can going vegan help to save the planet? Meat, dairy and egg production are among the leading causes of climate change, soil erosion, water pollution, habitat destruction, and the decrease in biodiversity (proveg.com).

In fact, research by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations shows that farmed animals are responsible for 14.5 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Farming animals for meat and dairy demands huge inputs of water and feed, as well as space - one of the biggest causes of forest loss is the expansion of agricultural land for animal farming and feed production, like soya.

A switch from beef to beans by the US population would free up fields equivalent to 43 per cent of US cropland for other uses, such as rewilding or nature-friendly farming (UN Report 2021).

2. Waste less food

Data from food waste app, Olio, shows that between 33-50 per cent of all food produced globally is never eaten, with the value of this wasted food worth more than $1 trillion USD. To put that into perspective, in the US, food waste represents 1.3 per cent of the total GDP (olioex.com).

This amount is heart-breaking, when we consider how much energy and resources are used to produce it. Indeed, food production has been found as one of the most significant drivers of wildlife extinction.

Research also shows that what we eat contributes to almost a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and is responsible for nearly 60 per cent of global biodiversity loss (wwf.org.uk).

Make a meal plan and write a shopping list before you hit the supermarket or greengrocers. This way, you can ensure that you are only buying what you need for the week, and not extra goods that might end up being left in the fridge to go 'off' or be forgotten.

Whenever you get leftover food, save this in a tub in the fridge or freezer, to be eaten later or added into your next meal. If you do end up with items in your cupboard or fridge that you know you are not going to eat in time, list them on the Olio food waste app for someone in your local area to take off your hands.

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3. Make sure your pension fund is planet-friendly

In just a few clicks online, you can find out which companies your pension fund is invested in. With a little more searching, you can ensure that your money is not involved with anyone who is contributing to the climate crisis, habitat destruction or other harmful practices.

Luckily, year on year, more pension funds are divesting from companies that generate revenues from fossil fuels and Amazonian deforestation. You can check yours by logging in to your pension online, and then searching for 'fund choices'. In just one minute you can make the switch to an ethical fund within your company's pension scheme.

4. Buy less and buy better

Living a less consumerist lifestyle benefits both you and the planet. Not only will buying less 'stuff' save you money, but it will also help you to reduce waste and improve your environmental footprint.

However, if you do need to buy something new, make sure to use your purchasing power to go towards positive change. Support local, eco-friendly businesses and products which are less damaging to animals and the environment.

That way, you are actively encouraging these companies to continue to source and produce their products in a sustainable way. Your money won't contribute to companies which are heavily impactful on the Earth, and eventually, they will conclude that unless they change, they will lose business.

The best thing about this? You don't actually have to do anything at all! Simply refrain from making impulse purchases or overindulging in yet another new PJ set or pair of shoes... And when you do buy, it's only a case of being mindful of where you are buying from.

5. Eat fewer packaged foods

And here we have food, yet again - it is definitely a recurring issue when it comes to planetary destruction. However, the problem with it in this instance is due to packaging.

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Did you know that individually packaged foods use about one third of energy inputs needed for food production? This is because they tend to be shipped across long distances across countries and are packaged to both protect and keep them fresh for longer.

As well as this, the most common material used to wrap foods is plastic - which we all know is disastrous for the Earth and its creatures, not only because it is made from fossil fuels, but because it takes years to degrade.

This is a blight on our landscape, often washing up on coastlines, but it also harms birds and marine life, when they mistake it for food, or become entangled in it.

6. Work from home

If your employer allows you to work from home for at least a few days a week - take them up on it. The benefits extend far beyond simply avoiding office politics. For one, you don't need to commute via car, train or bus (walking from your bed to your desk doesn't count as a commute!).

And by not commuting, you are able to massively cut travel emissions and fuel usage - in fact, Global Workforce Analytics, estimates that working from home half the week can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tonnes every year (capital-ges.com).

Less office waste is another positive. Employers and employees can cut down on everything from printer paper to plastic. At home, people tend to prefer email and digital tools for messaging, taking notes, and sending and receiving files.

Without the commute, and with the kitchen nearby, you will have more time to prepare lunch, snacks and hot drinks, resulting in reduced purchases of packaged foods and takeout coffees, as well as single-use cutlery and bags.

7. Use greywater for plants

Greywater is the wastewater from things like sinks, baths, washing up buckets and kitchen appliances - it is relatively clean, but you wouldn't drink it!

Using it, instead of letting it go down the drain, is a great money-saver as well as a way to help the planet.

Greywater makes up between 50 to 80 per cent of a household's wastewater (pebblemag.com) but it doesn't need to travel miles to go through a treatment process, when it could be used to water your plants.

Garden and household plants aren't fussy about what water they drink - but try to stick to natural cleaning products, since you don't want lots of chemicals in your soil.

VeganLife

The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.