A grim picture...
The Amazon (and Australia) burns, the Great Barrier Reef bleaches, humans pick up dodgy bugs from animals and Aussie summers are breaking heat records… And we don’t mean in a “Bondi Beach Hot” kinda way.
The climate crisis has become undeniable, but it’s kind of hard to deal with the sense of hopelessness it brings with it. Especially when so many people seem dead-set on ignoring the problem. So where do we even begin to help the environment? Take the first step, that’s what. Deal with it day by day, starting with small actions and working your way up to big ones.
Our month-by-month action plan for going green and living more sustainably lets you pick your own theme for each month based on what you feel most strongly about. Research your theme, take action and perfect new habits: that’s how things get done.
Let’s get started!
Month One: Find support
It’s easier to start new projects when you don’t feel alone. Support could come in the form of a like-minded friend or family member who also believes in your cause, or you could join online forums or communities that focus on living sustainably and making a difference to the environment. You can also join local community groups or school projects that are working to combat climate change.
There are also loads of websites and “green” apps available that gives you useful information about different causes and going green. We mention some of them in the points below.
Month Two: Rethink your eating habits
We eat too much, making ourselves physically sick (pandemics of obesity and diet-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and strokes), and destroying the environment while we’re at it. Scientific research has shown that our diets are a large cause of climate change, with the global food system responsible for up to 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions. But while billions of people in Western societies are gorging themselves, about 800 million people in developing countries are estimated to be chronically undernourished. The way we eat is out of balance, and we need to fix it. Start like this:
- Cut down on meat, and up your intake of vegetables. Do Meat Free Mondays, but try to add two more vegetarian/vegan days to your week. It’s not really that hard: it could be as easy as replacing your regular burger with a Beyond Burger from Grill’d, or a vegan burger from Hungry Jacks.
- Plant-based meat supplements are becoming really popular, and are created to mimic the appearance, texture and taste of real meat. Get experimental with your cooking!
- Plan your meals, and always use everything you buy. This helps you combat food wastage and saves money, too.
- Shop locally and seasonally. This means buying food products that were grown or farmed in your local area, which cuts down on costs and pollution generated by transport from source to store. Shopping seasonally means buying vegetables and fruits based on whether they’d naturally be “in season” at a particular time of year – farming “out-of-season” produce is more expensive and needs more resources (such as water) to make them grow.
In general, eat less. We really don’t need to eat as much as we do.
Eat more veggies!
Month Three: Revamp your closet
Fast fashion has changed the way we interact with clothing. It’s created the mindset that clothes have no value, making it easy to just buy something, wear it once or twice, and then discard it. But it’s gotta go somewhere, right? And this is where it goes: across the world, every second, one garbage truck of clothing is sent to landfills or incinerated. EVERY SECOND.
Challenge yourself to stop buying fast fashion, and start focusing on buying from brands who create their products in a more ethical, sustainable way. Patagonia is one brand that’s serious about sustainability, for example, while Converse has started upcycling jeans into sustainable sneakers.
These apps and services can help you rethink your fashion habit:
If you’re serious about issues such as animal testing or ending child labour, check out the Buycott app. It allows you to pick the causes you feel strongly about, and then gives you information on different brands based on how they perform in the areas you care about. This gives you the power to “vote with your money”, basically, choosing not to support brands that don’t align with your values.
Where all fashion ends up.
Month Four: Plastic proof your life
Plastic is literally everywhere, because (let’s face it), it’s rather useful. Start by avoiding single-use plastic of any kind, plastic straws, plastic bags, plastic water bottles and containers. Research eco-friendly options to replace common plastic items in your home. The UN Environment’s app “My Little Plastic Footprint” offers dozens of pledges you can take to reduce your plastic usage, and provides information on plastic-free alternatives and best eco-friendly lifestyle practices to get you started. It’s fun and easy to use, so give it a shot.
Meanwhile, out of sight and out of mind, your trash lives one.
Month Five: Energy matters
Streamlining your home’s energy usage will help you minimise your carbon footprint, and save your parents loads of money, too. The Energy Rating Calculator App helps Australian users to shop for new appliances based on their energy ratings and environmental impact and helps you calculate appliance running costs and long-term energy usage. Get your parents to check this one out!
Month Six: Get water wise
It pays to do your research on all the ways that you can do your bit for water security. Start by not wasting water:
- Don’t leave taps running while you brush your teeth or wash your hands.
- Shower instead of bathing, and take shorter showers.
- Use eco-friendly shower products, and choose green household cleaning products and laundry liquids. The Good Guide app will give you a breakdown of harmful ingredients.
- Wash your clothes less to minimise the amount of microplastics that go into our waterways, or install a special filter on your washing machine to catch these particles.
- Choose reef/ocean friendly sunblock to keep dodgy chemicals from going into the water.
Haven’t freaked you out too much yet? Click here to discover more tips to go green in the remaining six months of the year
Want to make an ongoing difference to the environment? Consider choosing a green career: read our suggestions for jobs that help the environment here
Gifs via Giphy.com
Main image by Markus Spiske on Unsplash