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Try these 10 simple swaps to live a more sustainable life

Embracing a sustainable life doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing overnight switch, so take it slow, start with a few small changes and most of all, enjoy the process. 

The key to lasting change is to make it through the first 30 days of a new habit and when it comes to adopting more environmental practices, the little swaps make the biggest difference, simply because they all add up. Could you try to go zero waste in a day? Probably, but the likelihood of success is imperceptible, which is why a few simple switches are the best way to start the snowball of sustainability rolling.

If you’re looking to embrace a significantly more sustainable lifestyle, try committing to a few of the following as a jumping-off point:

1. Ditch plastic bags

There’s no need for plastic bags anymore and there never really was, we just didn’t know it at the time. Even though most supermarkets now offer a recyclable alternative to the single-use plastic bags of the past, try going without all together. You’ll most likely see that most shops have eco-friendly produce bags for sale already, in a bif to make your sustainable grocery shopping ideals a little easier to bring to fruition. For the bulk of your buys, reusable shopping bags, such as jute totes, are a much better option and though they cost a little to buy initially, they will last for years. 

2. Don’t support fast fashion

It’s easier said than done, especially when you’re in a pinch and need something in a hurry,but continuing to support fast fashion has devastating consequences that ripple throughout the world. In addition to the emissions and waste created during the manufacturing processes of cheap clothing, workers’ rights and conditions are a major concern as well. If we all committed to investing in long-lasting pieces made by fairly-paid workers, in a facility that strives to reduce environmental impact, we would see tangible results almost immediately. 

3. Get material aware

This can be applied to every facet of life. Instead of choosing animal leather, look for sustainably produced and cruelty-free alternatives for your accessories. Likewise, swap out paper napkins for cloth ones that can be washed and reused. Essentially, when it comes to materials, you want to be aiming for a totally plastic-free lifestyle, if you can, and adding in a layer of ethical awareness is always worth trying. You don’t need to be a fully fledged vegan to know that if there’s a sustainable, cruelty-free alternative to leather that looks and lasts as well as the ‘original’, then it’s worth a try.

4. Shop locally

The easiest way to lower your carbon footprint is to shop as locally as you can. This doesn’t just mean heading to the shops near your home though, it requires a little extra commitment to supporting local producers as well. One of the most accessible ways to do exactly this is to start buying all of your fresh goods from a local farmers market, as everything will have been grown within a designated perimeter of where you live and won’t have been flown in. Can you cycle to your local market too? That’s cutting even more emissions from your day. Buying loose produce will make single use plastic packaging a thing of the past and will most likely save money as well. There’s no downside.

5. Streamline your kitchen

If you normally buy paper towels as a matter of course, try investing in some microfibre cloths instead. Not only do they work well in terms of absorbency, but they also make great dishcloths too and can be washed, dried, and reused for months. It’s simple swaps like this that make such a big difference and help you to achieve that plastic-free dream.

6. Bring your own bottle (and cup)

The ultimate poster children for environmental damage, plastic water bottles, and disposable coffee cups have filtered into our everyday lives. Leaving an indelible mark thanks to countless images of towering landfill mountains consisting of only these items, we all know that not using them is not only a big step towards sustainability but also that there’s no need to, but so many of us still need to make the final switch. The only way to do so is to plan ahead and be prepared with reusable containers in our bags at all times. A stainless steel flask is one of the most environmentally-friendly options and can be used with all kinds of drinks too. Not going to lie: they look great as well.

7. Look at your delivery services

When you’ve mastered the art of buying as plastic-free as possible, you can start looking at your wider impact, including how things are delivered to your door. There are plenty of companies offering zero emissions deliveries, with electric fleets or carbon offset programmes in place, so choosing to shop with them will give you peace of mind that you’re doing your bit, plus a little extra and supporting those who are putting the planet above commercial gain.

8. Try veganism

There’s no sinister vegan cabal trying to coerce you into trying a plant-based diet, but if you are serious about sustainability, it is something to consider. The emissions created during the meat production process are staggering and in order to benefit both your own health and that of the environment, reducing meat consumption has been widely recommended. It’s not all lentils and tofu either, thanks to the enormous influx of tasty new products, so even the most dedicated meat-lover will find something to substitute.

9. Brew with consciousness

Home baristas, don’t forget to give your coffee station a sustainable makeover. From stainless steel honeycomb pour-over filters to composting all those used grounds, you have an opportunity to do better, while you brew up. Paper filters, even when unbleached and recycled are still paper, beans can be packaged in eco-friendly pouches and don’t forget to check out the plant milks on offer too. It’s incredible to think that adapting just one part of your routine could result in your kitchen being significantly greener. 

10. Enjoy the beauty without pain

If your personal care routine could do with an overhaul, start looking at the numerous sustainable alternatives available now. From shampoo and conditioner bars in cardboard packaging to refillable moisturiser jars, plastic tube-free toothpaste tablets, and even carbon neutral recycled toilet paper, nothing has to be a compromise anymore. Just swap out when you run out and go from there.

When it comes to sustainable living, you can wear your ethics on your sleeve, your face, and display them in your cupboards at home, but go at your own pace. Make the simple swaps that feel the most natural to start with and build up to bigger, more impactful lifestyle adaptations gradually. Change is needed but it doesn’t have to be instant to be real.