It’s a new year and a new decade! Personally, I don’t make new year’s resolutions, for I have a hard time formatting what I want to achieve into concrete goals – personal growth is not always clear. Still, the opportunity to start anew and to make a change is something I embrace and want to share some easy ways to be more environmental-friendly this year, all of which are guidelines I follow in my daily life. What’s best, these resolutions will also save your money and support a healthier lifestyle – win-win!
Eat more plant-based
The meat industry is a massive polluter, and going plant-based will make a difference to your carbon footprint. Beef is especially problematic, but vegetarian protein sources in general have a significantly smaller impact than meat-based alternatives. There’s no reason for you to be eating meat on every meal. Vegetarian food is often delicious and healthier, so why not try to have for example three vegetarian days each week?
Reduce food waste
If food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, after China and the USA. Throwing food away is bad for the earth, and for your wallet. Easy ways to address the problem are planning your meals in advance and making a list before going grocery shopping, to only buy what you really need. In restaurants, you can ask for smaller portions (and if going to a buffet, keep your cool and only take as much as you’ll eat), and sharing dishes is fun and cheap!
Buy less, and buy pre-loved
Fast fashion – that is, stored bringing in new items every week if not every day and the idea that you need to buy new all the time to be trendy – uses toxic chemicals, dyes, and synthetic materials which harm our water resources and encourages single-use fashion: throwing away clothes after one or two wears. Millions of tons of fabrics are thrown away each year. In addition, companies use cheap labour, and workers have long days in unsafe conditions with minimal pay.
When shopping for new clothes (or decoration, or jewelry, or dishes), second-hand shopping is the way to go, instead of contributing to the harmful practices of fast fashion. You can find everything you need secondhand if you’re willing to make an effort, and it’s better for your wallet too! But before buying, ask yourself whether you really need this, or do you want it just because it’s trendy?
Walk or use public transport
This is a classic, but for good reason. Driving by car is bad for the environment – and getting stuck in traffic is not enjoyable. Tokyo is thankfully a city where public transport works well, but even in rural areas, it is possible to consider more environmentally effective ways of transport. Carpooling is fun, saves money and is better for the planet! And with shorter distances, it’s worthwhile to walk or cycle – no need to go to the gym then.
Flygskam, Swedish for “flight shame” is a growing phenomenon as people are realizing how much of an impact flying really has on our planet. Next time you’re thinking of travelling, consider if you could do it using trains, buses or ships instead? However, sometimes you need to take the plane. In those cases it’s worthwhile to consider offsetting your carbon emissions – it won’t save the world, but it’s a start.
Vote. Be political. Participate in protests and social media movements, pressure companies to take action, use your voice to tell the world that you are willing to make a change and want others to do it too. Educate yourself by reading and tell others what you’ve learned, too. In the age of internet and social media, everyone has power, and you should use yours for a better tomorrow.