Ella Mayne helps you create your most environmental self in 2020 with this list of eco-friendly resolutions.
Instead of a resolution to get healthier this year, why not look to help the health of our planet in 2020? The climate crisis is one of the biggest issues facing our generation and is the responsibility of everyone in our society.
One of the single biggest actions an individual can take is to move towards a plant-based diet. Reducing your meat and dairy consumption vastly reduces your personal carbon footprint. Oxford University suggests that a vegan diet can reduce your carbon footprint by as much as 73%. Veganuary is a movement which encourages people to move towards a vegan diet in January, however, do not despair if you’ve missed 1 January it’s not too late! Simply reducing the amount of red meat you buy or switching your milk for a plant-based option will reduce your environmental impact.
Move away from fast fashion. Although it’s cheap and as the name suggests pretty immediate (ASOS premier) the impact on not only the planet but the people making the product is seriously damaging. Children are paid as little as 13p per hour, to produce clothing that can be sold on our high streets for minimal prices. The cheap and accessible clothing available at the click of a button encourages a disposable attitude to fashion and allows us to cycle through new wardrobes faster than the people or the planet can keep up. So this year, shop with greener brands, shop second hand or simply shop less.
Wash your clothes in a more sustainable way by buying yourself a guppy bag. Up to 64% of our new fabrics are made from plastics and when they are washed they release microfibres of plastic into the water systems. One load of washing could create 17 million tiny plastic fibres. This microplastic infiltrates our oceans and wildlife. A guppy bag will catch the fibres from your clothes and allows you to wash synthetic fabrics in an environmentally conscious way.
Perhaps the simplest change a student could make is to get a compost bin. Composting isn’t very sexy, but food waste, when layered with general waste in landfill, releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Glasgow City Council is obliged to give all residents a compost bin caddy and provide a food waste bin or point to collect food. So, composting is quite cool: free, easy and environmentally conscious.
Cut down on single-use items, coffee cups, reusable water bottles, plastic bags. Instead, replace them with more sustainable options. But everyone knows that plastic bags are bad and we shouldn’t buy single-use water bottles, but what do you do when you are at the supermarket with a handful of groceries, or in the library dying for a drink?
We can try our best to prepare and carry reusable options. However, one plastic bottle isn’t a failure. Don’t strive for environmentalist perfection, almost everyone is bound to fall short. An environmental resolution doesn’t mean becoming a purist. Instead of aiming for a zero-waste or vegan lifestyle, maybe resolve to reduce your environmental impact. The culture of all or nothing in our current society is symptomatic of the obsession with hypocrisy or perfection. Celebrities can no longer call attention to environmental issues for fear of other actions being called up as hypocrisies. The perfectionism attitude fails to take into consideration the financial and social privilege afforded to those who can live an environmentally perfect lifestyle. We need to shift towards a culture of being commended for effort, so don’t feel like you must be perfect to try, we all have a responsibility to be as environmentally conscious as possible however we are part of a bigger system.
Some personal responsibility is paramount for tackling the climate crisis, however, there reaches a point when the actions of an individual are no longer enough. The actions of one person can only go so far when our government facilitates global corporations’ anthropogenic actions. There reaches a point where recycling a coffee cup is insignificant against the tide of environmental abuse. We need to call for stricter government laws and sanctions on environmental impact until there is a legal motivation for climate-conscious corporations, global players will continue to prioritise their profits. We need a shift towards a green economy which provides a financial incentive for an environmental conscience. So, what can you do?
Educate yourself: there are a plethora of environmental books, podcasts and documentaries which allow you to formulate personal motivations to help. But mainly, get involved. Things aren’t going to change till the system changes, write to your MP expressing your frustrations, grab a placard and get involved in some activism. Exercise your right to protest: global climate strikes are almost monthly and are right here in Glasgow, a continued presence is essential to send a clear message that climate crisis isn’t going anywhere and neither are we! Join a local activist group, here in Glasgow there are multiple extinction rebellion groups (Glasgow XR and Glasgow Uni XR), help students draft a list of environmental demands for the university in the Glasgow Uni Green New Deal, or participate in your own way.
This year strive to be as environmentally conscious as you can, but don’t get caught up in semantics or perfectionism- we feasibly cannot all live a zero waste, ethical lifestyle 100% of the time.