The Eco Eight

A list of eight things we can do, today, to help the environment.

Plastic not fantastic

The damage done by single-use plastics is no better seen than when swathes of the stuff ends up in our oceans, often deposited on secluded beaches halfway around the world.

As a nation, we are now so much more in touch to recycling of our waste, yet despite this, single-use plastics exist – from forks an knives to coffee cup lids, water bottles and straws – remain a big problem. While government limit our reliance on these, the most productive action comes not from above, but ourselves.

Shop locally

The fewer journeys we make, the less impact we have on the environment; so when the option comes to shop locally it’s one we should always do our best to pursue.

Walking to the shops instead of driving is another easy win when it comes to saving the environment (and on cost).

Shop organically

The more natural our goods are, the less harmful the impact there is in getting them to our plates, bedrooms and bathrooms. And remember, while our assumption is that organic refers predominantly to food, the terms applies to everything from cotton to skincare, detergent to shampoo.

And by shopping smartly, organic need not necessarily mean paying more for the privilege.

Volunteering

Wildlife, conservation, animal preservation or simple litter-picking groups all require a helping hand, and you’ll find them truly grateful to anyone coming along willing to commit a few hours to their cause.

Not only will you be doing your bit for those around you, it’s also a great way to get outdoors, and can provide a huge spike in people’s social lives, coming at the end of a period in which many of us have been desperate to break out and interact with people again.

On your guard in the garden

While the impact we have on the wider outdoor spaces can sometimes feel minimal, the way we manage and oversee our own front and back gardens is entirely within our control.

For that reason it’s worth keeping an eye on the chemicals we’re putting on plants and lawns. Can we be absolutely sure they aren’t having an adverse effect on animals who reside in our green spaces? The sharp decline in butterflies (down by three quarters over the past four decades) indicates we need to take more responsibility over pesticides and other treatments, before it’s too late.

Donate

If for whatever reason you’re time-tight, stuck inside or unable to change your immediate habits when it comes to green and eco improvements, making a donation to an environment charity or organisation succeeds at least in giving someone else the chance to affect change.

From contributing to the welfare of the smallest worm to the biggest rhino; from caring for hedgerows to preserving mountain paths, the option to help is wide and bewildering, and the impact even a small donation has can be huge.

Utilities

From switching all the lights off when you go to bed to sharing baths, making small changes to the way we use our home utilities can have a massive impact further down the line. Even something as simple as only boiling the amount of water we need in a kettle (rather than filling it to the top) can have a profound difference. After all, a recent study found that we used more energy on cuppas than we do preparing meals in the oven.

Installing a smart meter is a great way to begin judging and improving your energy efficiency.

Recycle

The most obvious answer of all – the more we recycle, the more the planet will thrive. This is a premise we can begin right now, and simply takes some thought and care in terms of what and how we recycle. From removing lids on plastic bottles through to washing out jars, the way we recycle is just as important as the objects we recycle.