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Think outside the compost box: 10 small steps that have a big environmental impact

It sometimes feels like the positive changes we make are a drop in the (polluted) ocean, but it’s some of those smaller, everyday acts that can make the biggest difference to the planet ...

environmental impact

Say no to newness
Even if you go out of your way to source the most ethical, eco-friendly products possible, the mantra of “make do and mend” is usually better than “buy, buy, buy”. Take your trusty pair of jeans, for example: the environmental impact of the mainstream denim industry is huge, with every pair producing the CO2 equivalent of driving a car for 50 miles. This means keep wearing your old faithfuls until they’re fashionably threadbare, get into vintage and charity shop shopping and, if you must go new, do it mindfully: walking to the shops beats buying – and returning – online impulse purchases.

Think outside the compost box
Did you know you can compost hair caught in your hairbrush, that weird dust from behind your fridge (it’s mostly organic matter) and burnt out matches? Also: popcorn, old spices, and used paper towels (which are forbidden from entering your paper recycling). You can even compost paper and Post-it notes – the glue is non-toxic so it naturally biodegrades over time. Conversely, food waste that crops up in the wrong recycling bin can cause the entire load to be rejected, so make sure it’s kept where it belongs.

Be tech savvy
It can take some getting your head around, but even sending an email has a carbon footprint – which is something to think about next time you’re getting your meme on. But since most of us can’t live without being constantly connected, make sure you’re staying charged up in the right way. A solar-powered charger, like the The Freeloader Supercharger 5W, has a small solar panel that gets busy in direct sunlight, then provides power for your smartphone/tablet/camera, or any device that connects with a USB. Easier wins still are energy efficient home tech – from LED lights to “smart appliances”, like fridges that use more or less energy depending on how full they are.

Take a swipe at wet wipes
Wet wipes take more than 100 years to biodegrade, but 3.4bn of them are flushed down the toilet in the UK each year, according to the Earthwatch Institute, and often end up in rivers and the sea. Last year the Marine Conservation Society found an average of 12 wet wipes per 100 metres on UK beaches. It’s time to try eco-friendly alternatives. Cotton pads and washable muslins are the best eco-alternatives for removing makeup, while cotton cloths are excellent for cleaning surfaces. Many new parents balk at giving up baby wipes because: eeeuuuw. Fortunately, sustainable bamboo wipes are now a thing.

Take the aeroplane pledge
I know it, you know it. Flights are the antithesis of environmentally friendly. Yes, even if we’re flying to an eco-lodge in Costa Rica and pay £40 to offset our carbon footprint/guilt. We Brits take 72.8m overseas trips a year, according to the International Passenger Survey, and the Air Transport Action Group says the aviation industry accounts for 12% of all transport-related CO2 emissions in the UK. Instead, take advantage of the other modes of transport at our disposal: we have access to Europe’s extraordinary rail network, we can catch a ferry to Scandinavia and cycle around the Cotswolds. The world is ours! (But not ours to trash.)

READ MORE AT TheGuardian.com