Devastating news about the climate arise every day, and if the responsibility does not only fall on your shoulders, there are ways to improve your everyday life and help preserve the planet. A new school year, or after a long break from work, is the best time to start getting some greener habits.

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This summer, a study German-Swiss research team found microscopic particles of plastic in the Arctic. Countries such as Malaysia or the Philippines are sending back plastic waste to their wealthy countries of origin. China does not even buy plastic waste anymore since January 2018 if it’s not almost pure (which is very seldom, as a majority of the shipped plastic waste is actually contaminated). We are living in a world where we constantly produce plastics that are very hard to recycle and bad for the environment.

Buy less single-use objects

One of the ways to help the situation is to avoid buying plastics altogether, which can be quite hard, or at least avoir single use plastics and objects. So invest in a reusable bottle instead of buying bottled water and take a reusable bag everywhere with you so you don’t have to get a plastic one if you end up buying something.

One serving ready-made meals can be a very easy solution if you don’t have much time or don’t like to cook, but their individual wrapping creates a lot of waste. Learn a few recipes you like, set a little time aside for cooking or, if you have to, try to buy in larger bulk some already made dishes and bring them to work in reusable dishes. Buying a lunch box and making your own lunch instead of buying it everyday can reduce your waste and also your spending!

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Avoid waste as much as possible

It’s important to recycle your waste but it is not a miracle solution, unfortunately. While reaching the “zero waste” goal is hard, little things can help reduce your overall waste. If you can, go grocery shopping more often and buy smaller quantities, according to your needs. Sometimes you think you’ll consume a lot of but it turns out the apple does not last as long as you originally thought and you might have to throw it away. So buying smaller quantities, more often, can help limit your waste. If you’re afraid your fruits or vegetables are starting to turn bad anyway, look for new recipes to cook them.

You can reduce waste in other areas than food. For example, buy soap bars and not bottled shower gel. Instead of throwing clothes, pieces of furniture or electronic products away when you want or need a new one, find a way to recycle them, donate them or try to sell them to make a few bucks.

At work or at school, you will probably have to read a big amount. Try to limit printing things and make sure to use recycled paper and print on both sides of the page. It’s a good idea to visit second-hand bookstores so you can give a new life to someone’s beloved book.

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Buy locally or second-hand

You don’t have to become vegan or vegetarian, but try to think about the products you’re eating. In addition to buying organic food, a good idea is to buy more locally grown vegetables and fruits. They will have travelled less, which means less transportation pollution, and they will have been harvested when they’re ripe, not before to last the travel time, or with a lot of preservatives. Buying locally also means buying seasonal foods which are often better in taste or healthier. Eating locally-raised meat has the same no-travel advantages and you might be able to make sure the animals are raised cruelty-free. Economically, it also creates jobs in your area and supports your community.

Maybe you feel like you wear the same clothes everyday, or you love updating your wardrobe but you’re don’t know how to fix worn-out clothes and sewing is not your thing. Consider going to your local second-hand shop or buy from sustainable brands. Vintage is trendy and you’ll feel better about your environmental impact (the fashion industry is frightfully wasteful). Or, as iconic British designer Vivienne Westwood said, “Buy Less, Choose Well and Make it Last“.

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Reduce your energy consumption

If, like me, you spend a lot of time in front of a screen, you know how much energy it takes for your phone to work (think of how often you have to plug it in when you use apps or play games…). At least, when you’re not using your electronics, think of turning them off completely and not only putting them on sleep mode. You’re allowed to disconnect and turning your phone off during the night could greatly improve your sleep. And always turn of the lights when you leave a room! Both habits will also lessen your electricity bill, if you need extra motivation!

If it’s possible in your area, try taking public transports, biking or walking as much as possible. If you live in the middle of the countryside, you might have no other option than taking a car. But, if your budget allows, consider buying a less polluting car. Or try to find people who live close-by with whom you can share rides. Who knows, you might even make new friends!

You don’t have to be perfect, I know I’m far for it. But if everyone does a little better, and is more careful about their consommation, companies will have to follow the trend to keep customers, and things might start to change for the better.

Article by Juliette Cardinale