Invest In Our Planet - Everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable
The theme of Earth Day 2022 is ‘Invest in our planet’, which stresses the urgency of the climate emergency and how fast we must take action. Many of us experience guilt over our personal environmental impact - taking the car to the shop within walking distance, leaving the light on for when you get home at night, shopping fast fashion when you just have to have those shoes - but it’s important to remember that large companies are the major cause of pollution and carbon emissions. Since 1988, just 100 companies have been solely responsible for 71% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Blame is all too often shifted to the consumer for participating in the use of these goods and services so corporations must be held accountable for their actions, but even so, choosing to alter your own attitudes and behaviours towards the environment means we, as consumers, can make a difference.
How YOU Can Make A Difference:
Reduce your plastic consumption
- Use S'wheat's plastic calculator to find out how much plastic you’re really consuming. This will help you to understand your environmental impact and see exactly where you can minimise the damage.
- As much as we’d like to, not many of us are capable of cutting out single-use plastic entirely; it’s nearly impossible to avoid buying essentials like food and hygiene products without a plastic exterior. However, buying food from places like local markets makes a real difference as opposed to plastic-wrapped punnets of supermarket produce. Within the beauty and hygiene industries, a number of brands are beginning to switch to alternative ideas in packaging and product types. Products such as shampoo bars and solid toothpaste tabs allow brands to banish the need for any plastic, and some companies actually allow refills on products to avoid producing excessive amounts of plastic.
When it just can’t be avoided, make sure to look into whether it can be repurposed, for example, small plastic bottles from items like shower gel can be refilled and reused as a travel container. If not, ensure it is properly recycled.
- Substitute reusing or repurchasing single-use plastic items such as water bottles, food containers and shopping bags with sustainable alternatives. Glass, plastic and steel are commonly used for food storage, but using a bioplastic made from compostable materials such as bamboo or sugarcane is even better.
The S'wheat plant-based bottle is made from waste bamboo fibre and wheat straw, which make the perfect renewable material that is durable, insulated and ethically sourced. This unique material means the bottle won't develop an unpleasant taste as it's easy to clean and naturally antibacterial, so it can be used for any liquid, both hot and cold. As a company that exceeds carbon neutrality, S'wheat plants a trackable tree in your name and removes 20 pounds of ocean-bound plastic, and even donates a portion of the profits towards protecting sea life.
Minimise energy consumption
- Be mindful of how much energy you are using. It’s easy to forget the little things, but leaving on lights when you leave the room and leaving appliances on can really eat up your electricity bill and needlessly waste energy. When you can, wash your dishes by hand instead of filling a dishwasher with barely-used plates and hang clothes to dry instead of throwing them in the dryer. We all need our phones at the ready in this vastly digital age, but leaving your devices charging overnight eats up electricity, not to mention damages the battery. Try to fully charge any devices you may need the following day before you go to bed so you can unplug, switch off and relax for the night.
- Numerous household appliances can be easily swapped for environmentally friendly options. Heating, air conditioning and washing machines deplete a large amount of energy and can all be substituted for energy efficient versions. Ensuring your home is properly insulated can eliminate any cold outside air slipping through the cracks and eradicate the need to counteract it by cranking up the heating. Even changing your light bulbs to eco-friendly bulbs and opting for lamps instead of overhead lighting can make a difference or, better yet, switch to solar. Solar energy can be used for heating, cooking and lighting through the use of roof panels, and smaller items such as portable phone chargers can be found as a solar alternative.
- A plant-based diet has been proven to be the single most effective way to reduce your energy consumption. Raising livestock and taking it through the process of farm to slaughterhouse to supermarket requires a huge amount of time, energy and money. The production of meat is also incredibly wasteful of food and water, and exacerbates the environmental issues associated, such as deforestation to create land for livestock, overfishing and pollution caused by the meat industry.
Veganism isn’t for everyone, of course, but even just minimising the amount of meat and dairy products you eat will help in the long run. Alternatives like oat and soya milk can be found in any shop you go into, as well as delicious plant-based “meat” products, so you don’t have to give up a whole group of foods - just replace them. Doing so can not only hugely reduce your carbon footprint and water consumption, it can benefit your health and help prevent the growth of issues like world hunger and shortage of water.
- Participating in events and activities for Earth Day is a great way to show your support and determination. Involving your friends, family and community by spreading the word or organising a group activity like litter picking will truly help as a team effort and can certainly feel more rewarding than going alone. Earthday.org will be hosting Earth Day Live on 31st March at 4pm GMT (12pm EST) to address what we can do to take action against further climate damage, along with other events that can be found on their website. Encourage your school or place of work to organise some sort of environmentally positive event if you can. If this would be suitable, why not suggest switching off all power being used that isn’t absolutely essential for the day, or even just for a designated hour or two.
- Get in contact with the ones in charge. If you’re aware of somewhere a change can be made locally, like banning single-use plastic bags, call or write to your local elected representative and let them know your ideas. There are often many petitions regarding environmental issues to sign, too. If you can’t find one that suits you, start your own!
- Encourage everyone surrounding you to follow in your (carbon-neutral) footsteps. Share your favourite eco-friendly products with your friends and family and let them know how they can positively impact the environment in such simple steps. Despite the actions of large corporations, the consumer can still significantly help the earth if each person gets involved and bands together to take action now.