14 Sustainability Life Hacks
“We all have so much control and it turns out, living a more sustainable life can be easy”.
16th September 2017 - Design for Need , Sustainability
By Finn Brownbill
Before we begin, I must say, you don’t have to do each and every one of these things. We can’t all be Lauren Singers but we certainly can take an active stance in changing the status quo of being a bit wasteful now and again. I hope you find it just as enlightening and useful as I do.
In a previous article we talked about the importance of the ‘sustainable mentality’, in regard to the UN SDGs. This was mainly focused on global development and the importance to take a holistic approach when dealing with the future of others. However, the SDGs are just as important here in the UK. So this is why this article has been written, to let you know how this sustainable mentality can be incorporated into your daily lives on a smaller yet effective scale.
With the rise of globalisation and commercialism comes comfort and simplicity. It’s harder to question things when you’re warm, well-fed and calm. However, even though a lot of ‘things’ come easy here in the UK, it doesn’t mean everyone has to keep their head down and accept that this wasteful infrastructure that has been put in place should dictate how we live our lives. We all have so much control and it turns out, living a more sustainable life can be easy. I find that breaking it down into categories helps to achieve this lifestyle, as opposed to being a eco-friendly superhuman from the off.
1. Recycling, it’s the of circle of life
This one is pretty clear and has drilled itself into the brains of most people by now. No excuses, we don’t want those landfill sites overflowing. For anything that can be recycled - recycle it, don’t just throw it in the normal rubbish bin because it’s 3 feet closer. Also try not to buy goods that can’t be recycled. It’s pleasantly surprising with what actually can be recycled, like that old mobile phone that is currently sitting in the bottom of your drawer which you haven’t used in 10 years. Turns out you can recycle/donate old mobile phones for spare parts.
2. Flick the switch
… and I’m not just talking about night-time. Turn off lights, radiators, electronic appliances when there’s no need for them to be on… Also if you are turning off the tumble dryer altogether, stick the clothes on to dry whilst you’re at it. Because that my friend, is a double win.
3. If it ain’t broke…
Things on their last legs still have a chance to prove their worth. Whether that’s after some revitalisation or for another role altogether. So upcycle that old coffee table or repurpose that gin bottle and turn it into a candle holder… why not?
4. No more unnecessary paper cuts
Fortunately, as many of us have truly made ourselves at home in this ‘Computer Age’ we know and love, becoming digital and going paperless is so easy. Let that high-street shop send you your receipt by email and ask that backpacking friend of yours to facebook message you instead of sending you postcards which will no doubt make you jealous anyway. Still reading the Daily Mail in physical form?... well first, don’t read the Daily Mail, then read all of your newspaper/magazine publications online. Also another neat tip when you’re online, change your default search engine from Google to Ecosia as it “uses over 80% of the profits from your web searches to plant trees where they are needed most”. Awesome!
5. Vintage is cool anyway...
Subjective yes, but vintage clothes are pretty cool. Even the occasional charity shop garment does the job! I cannot stress how useful, and sometimes fashionable, second hand clothing can be. This is because amazingly, “the clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world ... second only to oil". And don’t forget to donate your old clothes when they don’t fit anymore. More info: https://www.ecowatch.com/
6. Quality not quantity
Make sure whatever you buy will last. This can range from energy efficient appliances and LED lighting to a thick winter coat that doesn’t dissolve in a light rain.
7. Operation Boycott
There are so many companies out there that are ethically dodgy and couldn’t care less about the fate of the world as long as they are making money. By paying for their products they are given the go-ahead to keep on steamrolling ahead with their twisted ways. I’m talking about those who continue to endanger wildlife (e.g. check that toothpaste for palm oil) or have a massive carbon footprint on the world, not to mention the ‘not-so-fair-trade’ ones. I’m not going to name names, but a quick Google, I mean Ecosia, should show you the results.
8. ‘Meat’ me in the middle
I’m not necessarily asking you to go veggie or vegan, but cutting down on carnivoring is sustainable. As you might have heard, meat production itself is an immensely environmentally destructive industry. So if and when you can, buy organic and/or local. And if you’re like me and that’s sometimes too costly to do, go veggie altogether perhaps. If you do, I’ll send you some recipes personally, I promise.
The 5p plastic bag charge makes people think twice about bringing their own bag, but consider the environmental implications, not just the financial one. There no point bringing any more plastic into this world, we’re at capacity! Don’t buy bottled water, fortunately we all have taps in our homes, and can afford a reusable water bottle container, the answer is simple.
10. Turn off the engine
Cars are excessively used for the needs that don’t need people to start the ignition for. Commuting to work, popping to the shops, visiting a friend, going to an event? For so many of these trips, consider using public transport, bicycles, walking, scootering or even pogo sticking instead? Just leave that petrol guzzling mechanical machine behind. Or if you can afford it, go electric.
11. See’d the light, grow it yourself
Now this is self-sufficient and sustainable all in one. It’s so satisfying putting together your own meal, exploring new recipes, finding the ingredients, slaving away in the kitchen to produce a yumazing dinner. Why not go one step further and plant your own vegetables. I admit this is easier when you have some garden space to do so, or even an allotment, however there are some ways to grow your own even in a tiny apartment. More info: http://mashable.com/
12. Down the road rather than ‘Made in China’
In terms of carbon footprint, it would do the world wonders if we didn’t have to import something as crazy as a pair of slippers from China every time you want your feet to be snug.
13. Every drop counts
This means quick or timed showers and perhaps even purchasing an eco-shower head? And yes, cutting down on baths is a must I’m afraid. In regard to brushing your teeth, it’s become common place leave the tap on for the entirety of the brushing experience. This roughly wastes 6 litres per minute, so turning the tap off when brushing can save around 12-18 litres per time. Considering each person is supposed to drink around 2 litres of water (minimum) per day, it put things into perspective doesn’t it?
14. Borrow over buy
Instead of buying a book off the internet to be shipped to your front door, only for you to read the blurb and never read it, check to see if it’s in the library first perhaps. Also some train stations, hostels, hotels and hipster cafes have got into the habit of having their own book swap service. It’s definitely worth a gander with what they have to offer, you never know what your next favourite read will be.
A co-founder of a sustainable design company without any design experience. Sounds ideal right? Hey ho, that’s not why I’m here. I’m the chief editor of the blog and I do plenty more (non-design related) jobs too.