12 easy sustainable changes to make this year
And there you have it, we finally get to put 2020 behind us, enough said on that!
January always bring optimism and renewed energy for a fresh start, even if we are facing into another lockdown. It’s a great time to start something new or change a few habits. We are all about making small simple changes towards a healthier, more sustainable, and an overall happier new year.
Here are our some easy changes you can make in your life to help you live more sustainably in 2021.
1. Use a reusable coffee mug
Although some cafes aren’t facilitating the use of reusable coffee mugs at the moment due to Covid-19, they will hopefully be okay to use in the near future when it is healthy and safe to do so. Thankfully, it is still possible to use them at self-service stations at certain stores with many encouraging their use through small reductions off of your tea or coffee! The conscious cup campaign has this handy map of locations in Ireland where you get a discount when you bring your own cup.
Stojo Coffee cups are a great choice when on the go as the silicone cups fold down when not in use to pop easily into a bag or pocket.
2. Stop buying bottled water
The same goes with bottled water. The irony of bottled water is that on top of the oil used to make the plastic bottle, the average one litre bottle of water requires 3 litres of water to create! To increase your hydration while reducing your carbon footprint, invest in a good, durable reusable water bottle.
If you prefer the taste of filtered water just add a charcoal water filter - the Japanese have been using this method for hundreds of years and it avoids the recycling nightmare of water filter jugs. When the charcoal filter is at the end of its life you can throw it in your composter or on the fire.
3. Say no to disposable straws
Disposable straws are another big contributor to plastic waste as they are impossible to recycle, so try to avoid where possible. Explicitly ask for drinks without straws at restaurants and cafes. If you prefer to use a straw, a great option is a reusable straw that can be carried around with you, washed and reused.
4. Invest in a reusable shopping bag
Investing in a strong, durable reusable shopping bag can really reduce plastic waste and is a great way of shopping sustainably. Turtle bags are a great option as they can conveniently sling over your shoulder, a buggy or wheelchair and allow the contents to breathe. They are 100% organic cotton, Fairtrade and a great alternative to plastic bags + they come in really lovely colours. They stretch A LOT + hold up to 40kg.
5. Eat less meat
Eating less meat can really help cut down on your carbon footprint. If you can’t commit to cutting it out completely, you don’t necessarily have to go cold turkey (pun intended!). Instead, why not consider more of a flexitarian approach like Meatless Mondays, only eating meat at weekends, going Vegan before 6pm or taking part in Veganuary?
Recent research by Oxford University in the UK shows that if every family in the UK swopped red meat for a plant-based meal just once a week it would have the same environmental impact as taking 16 million cars off the road. In Ireland, that would be the same as taking almost half the cars off our roads - that's nearly a million cars
6. Switch To Natural Personal Care Products
Many personal care and cosmetic products consist of vast amounts of harmful and toxic chemicals and unfortunately many of them are still tested on animals. Look up the products you use and ditch any that are tested on animals. It’s an unnecessary cruelty in this day and age when there are so many good alternatives.
Solid Shampoos and conditioners are available for every hair type and help you cut out the shipping of unnecessary water, toxic ingredients and the plastic bottles. Declutter your bathroom and be kinder to you and the planet at the same time.
Natural skincare products like Hawthorn, Oxmantown and Bodhi Blends are handmade in Ireland from all natural ingredients. It is possible to effectively nourish your skin without controversial ingredients, synthetic fragrances and unnecessary packaging.
Do you start your day by blasting your pits with a freezing spray of pore blocking chemicals and aluminium from an impossible to recycle can? Switching to a natural deodorant is a game changer.
7. Swop to Sustainable Cleaning Products
Many products found in your cleaning cupboard contain toxic chemicals and can be harmful both to yourself and the environment. We recommend doing a spring clean of your cupboards and replacing any chemical-filled cleaning products with some great natural cleaning alternatives that still clean brilliantly but without all the harmful chemicals.
We love the neat. refill bottles and concentrated cleaners. Simply fill the bottle with tap water, add the concentrated refill and shake. The fragrances (seagrass and grapefruit) are more reminiscent of a scented candle than what we’re used to in cleaning products. There's also an unscented version available for people who are allergic to fragrances or prefer to add their own essential oils. Most cleaning products are 90% water and neat.'s super concentrated formula avoids the needless shipping of water around the world. The bottles themselves are made from fully recyclable glass and aluminium.
Our homegrown brand Lilly’s Eco Clean products are all biodegradable and are made with consciously sourced plant-based ingredients. The surface sprays are mostly vinegar based but don't smell at all of vinegar which we love. The scents in all of this range are essential oil based and are lovely and light.
More and more people are also making their own cleaning products which is easier than you might think. Reuse any existing spray bottle or buy a spray bottle for your homemade cleaning mixes. There are plenty of recipes online available to research, a simple one for an all-purpose surface cleanser is a mix of one cup of distilled water, one cup of whistle distilled vinegar, half of a lemon juiced, and 15 drops of essential oils Shake the bottle gently and keep refrigerated between uses because of the fresh lemon juice. Be sure to test any homemade cleaners on small areas before use.
Making your own cleaning products is a great way of ensuring that there are no toxins in your cleaning products while also cutting down on single-use plastic bottles. Source: Pixabay
8. Switch to an Eco Egg and cut out laundry detergent altogether.
The Eco Egg is a weirdly good product and it’s hard to believe it works but it really does. We even have the mother-in-law converted and she would be quite the traditionalist when it comes to cleaning. The Eco Laundry Egg is packed with unique, natural and powerful mineral-based cleaning pellets which activate in the water and are scientifically proven to gently lift away dirt. They are lightly fragranced too and there’s two varieties available, Fresh Linen and Spring Blossom.
There is also the Eco Dryer Egg available that reduces drying time by 28 percent saving you energy and money. They are fragranced with essential oils and cut out the need for fabric softener. Eco Eggs are hypoallergenic, meaning that they are suitable for sensitive skin. They can be a little bit noisy in your dryer as they basically bounce around your clothes and soften them through this massaging action, avoiding the need for chemical softeners.
9. Compost your food waste at home
Composting at home is easy to do and has a variety of environmental benefits, and is great for your garden too. Having either a compost bin or pile feeds the ecosystems that are living in your soil and provides essential nutrients to plants. Turn and mix your compost and break up bigger solid clumps every so often to ensure oxygen can get through. Make sure to water it when it runs dry, and protect it from pests with wire or fencing. Try to keep a healthy mix of green and brown waste.
Clean cardboard like pizza boxes, newspaper, brown paper and toilet rolls are great for your compost bin - just tear them up into smaller pieces and work them through where they are great for adding aeration and dryer brown waste to balance out your wetter food waste. And if you are still cutting your own hair at home, human hair is high in nitrogen and is fantastic in your compost bin.
10. Shop local
Shopping local more often is one of the easiest sustainable changes you can make. Not only will you cut your carbon emissions due to the reduction in travel time, you are having an outsize impact on your local economy thanks to the multiplier effect which means every €100 spent in the local economy is actually worth €500.
Chances are you’ll discover that fresher produce is available at local farmers’ markets and stocking up on fruit & veg that’s in season is very beneficial to your overall health.
11. Cut Fast Fashion from your wardrobe
It’s important to be conscious of the choices that we make when shopping for clothes, and to be aware of the impacts of us taking advantage of these bargains on the people that are making these clothes and on the environment as a whole.
By investing in higher quality clothing and revisiting some of the pieces that have been tucked away into the corner of your wardrobe, you can help break this fast-fashion cycle.
Alternatively, there are some great Irish vintage clothing websites to check out with high-quality, pre-loved pieces available including Whack Vintage and Güse.ie. A new online store which is helping Irish charity shops sell online and connect to consumers that want to shop more consciously is Thriftify. Like the real life counterparts you have to have a good root around but there are plenty of gems to be found.
12. Delete Your Old Emails
This lesser-known way to save energy costs you absolutely nothing. It’s easy to forget that all your emails are ultimately stored in a giant data centre somewhere, usually in Ireland. These data centres use A LOT of energy. According to Eirgrid, by 2028 data centres will consume 29% of Ireland’s electricity!
Scanning through your Email inbox once a month for any mail that can be deleted is good practice. Less Emails means less online storage and data centres will not have to use as much energy which is good news for the environment. Pay particular attention to any emails with large attachments as they will use a lot of storage, and don’t forget to go through your junk mail, although some programmes will do this for you automatically.
Happy New Year!
Best of luck with whatever sustainable changes to make this year and remember that ever small steps makes a difference. From all of us here at Faerly we wish you all a happy and healthy 2021!