The Glasgow-based TV and radio presenter shares her top five tips to establish sustainable habits.
We’ve all woken up to the need to be more sustainable and use less single-use plastic. Sometimes though it can feel like plastic is everywhere and it’s difficult to know what alternatives are available.
Think of all the bottles that are currently clogging up your bathroom, and will one day contaminate our oceans. It’s not just the half-empty bottles of shampoo – plastic is also hiding in all manner of other places, like glitter, wet wipes, and even in the fibres of our clothes.
It can be a bit overwhelming, but the truth is there are some simple steps we can all take that make a massive difference. I’ve made a few easy changes to my own style routine, and it’s amazingly liberating to cut down on waste and often save money too. Here are some simple resolutions to help establish sustainable habits.
1 – Buy pre-loved
I avoid so-called ‘fast fashion’ as much as possible. It’s the second most polluting industry in the world and an estimated £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfill each year. But it’s also often poor quality and more expensive in the long run. Well-made clothes should last. I bought most of my wardrobe ten years ago – clothes that I’m still wearing today.
You don’t need to constantly buy new things to be on-trend either. I keep my outfits looking up to date by accessorising and if things need replacing I go to my favourite charity shops, helping the environment and great causes never felt (or looked) so good! My friends and I also have a “shwopping” group where we meet up regularly to swap clothes we no longer wear. It’s a perfect excuse to meet up with a glass of wine and it’s great for the environment and your wallet.
2 – Choose natural fibres
We are all aware of the harm that plastics do to the environment, but one that is not highlighted as often is microfibres from clothes when we wash them. You probably notice them sometimes, tiny hair-like strands that stick themselves to your clothes in the wash. That’s fine for wool and cotton fibres because they break down quite quickly, but synthetic fibres stay in the water. In our oceans these plastic fibres are mistaken for food by plankton and other marine animals, working their way into the food chain.
The best way to avoid all this hidden plastic is to check the label when you’re shopping and always buy clothes made from natural fibres.
3 – Ditch disposables
Until a few years ago, I wore contact lenses most days. In the end I switched back to glasses as I was paranoid about the risk of infection and fed up by how fiddly they are and the ridiculous packaging. What I had completely overlooked, though, was that every contact lens I used was plastic. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that I was chucking all the packaging in the bin and I didn’t think twice about flushing the lenses down a drain at the end of the day.
It may not seem like much, but it all adds up. Almost 800 million plastic contact lenses faced a similar fate or ended up in landfill last year. For now, I’ve switched back to glasses, but in the long run laser eye surgery would be cheaper, safer and more environmentally-friendly than contacts.
4 – Wipe it away
As a country we use 11 billion wet wipes per year and they are responsible for 93 per cent of all blockages in sewers, costing £100 million annually That’s not the worst of it though. Wet wipes contain hidden plastic which most people don’t even realise is there. So even if you do put them in the bin, they take hundreds of years to decompose and are damaging the environment.
I switched out my face wipes for a good old-fashioned flannel and some face wash. It’s easier, cheaper and my skin feels better for it.
5 – Walk, jog, run
Cycling or going on foot as much as possible rather than driving is probably one of the easiest ways to cut down on your carbon emissions. I love walking through my home city, Glasgow, so ditching the car and walking whenever I can is no great sacrifice.
You’ll save huge sums if you’re not constantly having to fill the tank of your gas-guzzler. Most of all though, walking more and being more active in your daily routine is great for your health and your figure. It’s a win-win, slash your emissions and get fit at the same time!
I’m so glad I decided to go green and lead a more sustainable life. These simple changes to my daily routine were easy to do and they are making a massive impact. I feel happier and more in control of my environmental footprint, and I’m also saving money.
Follow Heather on Instagram @onetaketelly