Ten ways to become more sustainable
Depending on how you spend your social media time, you may well feel worse after using it. Plenty of studies have found correlations between higher social media use and poorer mental health, including depression, anxiety, feelings of loneliness and isolation, lower self-esteem, and even suicidal tendencies.
Ditch the disposables
There’s a reason that reduce and reuse come before recycling.
A proactive way to tackle your waste is to simply refuse to use disposable takeaway coffee cups, paper plates, straws, paper towels, razor blades, toothbrushes or even nappies.
Next time you’re buying fruit and vegetables try to choose as much plastic-free or loose as you can.
Focus on food
Waste food continues to be an issue, with over five million tonnes of food wasted in England every year. A third of it comes directly from households.
Buying less and buying loose is a good start. Freeze food, such as fish and meat, so that you can defrost as you need it.
Juicing or making soup from vegetables that are turning reduces waste. One of the most effective ways of reducing your carbon footprint is to reduce your consumption of meat. Try integrating a ‘meatless Monday’ into your week.
Watch your water
Did you know that a a 15-minute shower will use, on average, 150 litres of water? Cutting your shower time back by five minutes could save 50 litres of water.
Imagine how much water this will save over the course of a week, a month or even a year if everyone in the household plays their part!
Switch your energy
For every £10 you spend on coal and turf, eight of it goes up the chimney.
Switch to using renewable sources of energy for your open fire, such as wood logs, or even better, use an energy-efficient stove to make your fuel last longer.
If possible, replace your open fire with a wood stove or wood pellet burner. Open fires are 25% efficient. The wood pellet burner is 85% efficient and wood stoves are about 75% efficient.
Turn off the power
Unplug your phone once it has been charged, so it’s not draining power unnecessarily.
Don’t forget to fully turn things off. Leaving any household appliance on standby could use up to 20% of the energy it uses when switched on.
Reduce your tumble dryer use and resist re-boiling the kettle several times.
Trade your transport
Use your car less. Trade a car journey to a business meeting for a Skype meeting, instead.
Trade the car trip to work for walking, biking, car-pooling, or using public transport.
Buy hybrid or electric vehicles. Avoid a diesel car, which may be banned from urban areas in a few years.
Change your cleaning
Some cleaning products may contain harmful chemicals that pollute our water, so make a switch to environmentally friendly alternatives.
The selection and choice of eco-friendly cleaning products has expanded in recent years and they have proven to be very effective.
Cleanse your care products
Facial wipes, made rom several plastics are very bad for the environment. Using a re-usable cotton cloth is far better.
Switch to bamboo toothbrushes and try making your own homemade face mask – there are lots of recipes online using things like oatmeal, honey, avocado, and even coffee grounds
Consider a deep energy retrofit of your home
Most houses in England are exceptionally badly insulated. A deep energy retrofit would include insulating the roof, walls, floors and windows to a high standard, thus reducing the energy demand of the average household by around 80%.
It’s a very expensive project, but grants of up to 50% are available.
Help wildlife flourish in your garden
Instead of using pesticides and chemicals, use the garden to encourage wildflowers like daisies, dandelions and cowslips.
York University in Canada, found that young women who were asked to interact with a post of someone whom they perceived as more attractive felt worse about themselves afterwards. The 120 undergraduate women were either asked to find on Facebook and Instagram a peer whom they felt was more attractive, or a family member whom they did not feel was more attractive, and leave a comment. They reported that they felt worse about their own appearances only in the first condition, with peers, but not family.
What’s also important to point out, but was not studied here, is that making any kind of comparison – not just to people you think are more attractive or smarter, but also people you think are less attractive or smart (or anything) than you – is linked to poorer well-being. A study a few years ago illustrated this, finding that the link between social media and depression was largely mediated by this ‘social comparison’ factor. And again, this was true in either direction, ‘upward’ or ‘downward’.
Again the bottom line is what researchers – and even some of the developers of social media apps themselves – have been saying for a while now; social media, especially spending long periods of time on it, is just not that good for us. We may not need to quit it completely, but limiting our time on social media considerably, and reconnecting with friends and family in real life, is definitely the way to go.