Ethics and sustainability are huge buzzwords these days, but there still seems to be a bit of a misconception around what they actually mean. To live sustainably do you have to go off-grid, live out in the sticks somewhere with solar panels and an allotment and live completely self-sufficiently off your own land? Maybe. But there’s plenty of smaller ways you can live a more ethical and sustainable life too and I thought I’d share some ways I’m currently making changes.
Okay so maybe going full Vegan would be the most ethical thing to do, but going cruelty-free with all the makeup you use on a daily basis and the toiletries you use (including cleaning products around the house) can make a huge difference. Put your money where your mouth is and give to companies you support and believe in, rather than those who continue to support animal testing. There’s loads more brands than you’d think who don’t test their products on animals so it’s easy enough to make the switch. You’re probably already using some without realising!
Eating less meat
This month I’ve taken up pescatarianism – which does have it’s own sustainability issues – but means I’ve cut red and white meat out of my diet entirely. This isn’t going to solve any problems on its own, but reduces my carbon footprint dramatically so I’m pretty happy to be doing it. You don’t have to cut meat out of your diet entirely (I probably won’t forever) but just limiting yourself to once or twice a week is much better for both yourself and the environment.
Reducing your dairy intake
I’ve never been a massive fan of dairy really – I’ve only eaten cheese for probably the last five years of my life – but one area you can cut down on pretty easily is milk. I’ve replaced my usual dairy milk with oat milk and I honestly prefer it. Last year I dabbled with almond milk, which is great for cereal but not quite as good in tea, but this year I’m 100% an oat milk convert. I only drink cow’s milk now if I run out of oat milk at work and someone’s making a cuppa, and I don’t miss it in the slightest.
There’s all sorts of vegan cheese on the market now too if you’re looking to go one step further. I’ve not tried any (I don’t really eat much cheese anyway so I never remember to buy it) but it’s definitely on my radar to do some time in the future.
Sometimes easier said than done, but many common disposable household items have reusable counterparts. Even if all you do is invest in a cloth makeup remover, or pick up some reusable cleaning cloths instead of the cheap, disposable cleaning wipes, you’re making a difference to how much waste you’re creating. It goes without saying to recycle as much as possible too – consider getting a crate of some sort that sits in a designated area in your house to avoid multiple trips outside!
Considering where things come from & where they’re going
For me, part of being ethical and living more sustainably is just being aware of where the items you’re buying have come from, and where they might end up. If you’re the sort of person who buys new clothes week in week out, working out where they’ve come from (i.e. who has made them & where) or what you’ll do with them once you’ve worn them out/outgrown them is important. Taking clothes to charity or clothes banks isn’t always the best way to dispose of unwanted clothes as items that don’t sell are often sent to the tip anyway, and it’s worth considering that when you’re buying new items.
That’s not to say you can’t buy new clothes, but maybe don’t buy as many new ‘on-trend’ pieces that you’ll only wear a handful of time, in favour of buying more quality clothing you’ll get a bit more longevity out of.
I hope this has been a helpful insight into some small changes you can make to live more ethically. I’m by no means perfect – I’ve definitely got a long way to go before I can say I’m living an ethical life – but these are all steps I’ve made in the last six months or so to be a bit more aware of my impact on the planet. Clothes shopping is definitely my main weakness so let me know of any brands you love that are a little more ethical!