8 easy but impactful daily habits to help the planet (and ease your eco-guilt)

The fight against climate change can feel insurmountable, but every little bit does count – if you know the little swaps and daily habits that have the most impact. 

I went to a kid’s birthday party on the weekend and was seriously impressed with how the parents tweaked the usual party formula to make it more eco-friendly. They didn’t go all eco-warrior on us, which can be a little scary, but just introduced a few simple – read: doable – tweaks. The one was that they requested we bring a refillable water bottle for our child, to reduce the plastic waste, and the second was that instead of the usual character-emblazoned plastic goodie bags, our kids’ parting gifts were presented in beeswax sandwich bags. Such a brilliant touch!

It really got me thinking 1) about how it’s really about little changes adding up to make a bigger impact and 2) about the other small and practical things we can all do to make a difference. I suffer from ‘life overwhelm’ (I’m sure this is a thing) – I have great intentions to do and be better, but get so overwhelmed trying to do it ‘right’ that I land up doing little, if nothing at all.

Needless to say, I was inspired this weekend and am on a new mission to play my part – no matter how small – In making this world a better place for future generations. And it appears I’m not alone, with a Real Insurance report last week revealing that 73 per cent of Aussies have “a strong desire to help do their bit and make a difference to improve the environment”.

Well done Australia, well done! That’s a great start.

There’s a LOT of info out there and no doubt you’re on top of most of it – reusable coffee cup? Check. Plastic grocery bags? Gone! Energy-efficient lightbulbs? But of course. You may have even taken it one step further and are already eating less meat, and wearing clothing and shoes made from recycled plastics.

Much of it is common sense – don’t leave the lights on when you’re not at home, sign up for e-bills or e-tickets to avoid wasting paper, hang up your washing instead of using the tumble dryer, ride or walk to work instead of taking the car, are just a few examples – but we’ve also rounded up some not-so-obvious tips that are not only easy to implement, but rather clever, too!

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1. Surf the Web

Yup, you can sit at home in your PJs and play on the internet while at the same time planting trees in Uganda or Peru. Ecosia is a search engine just like Google Chrome or Internet Explorer; the big difference is that the money Ecosia makes from advertising gets used to plant trees. The social corporation has already planted more than 86 million trees and is changing the lives of people in need around the world. Click on over to ecosia.org to read about how your searches can help to restore Ethiopia’s water cycle, reforest volcano slopes in Nicaragua and support Colombian coffee farmers, among other examples of Ecosia’s amazing work.

2. Eat with avos

You read right, of course eating avocados is also pretty good for you and the planet, but the gifted peeps at BioFase have come up with a way to use the waste from avocados to create disposable cutlery. Not only is the production of these products eco-friendly, but you can also wash a reuse the cutlery for up to a year, when it will start to biodegrade.

Speaking of biodegrading, the composition of the bio-plastics in BioFase is such that it doesn’t need any industrial process to break down and will even biodegrade in your backyard. As If you needed another reason to think this invention is ah-mazing, here’s a stat to get you over the line – normal plastic can take up to 1000 years to biodegrade, but the avocado bio-polymers take just 240 days!

3. Get down and dirty in the shower

Half-flushing, switching off the tap while brushing your teeth and using a dishwasher are all very clean ways to save water – and you should definitely continue doing all those things. But you can also make water-saving a bit more fun by getting your partner involved and bringing them into your shower for a bit of foreplay… why waste water on two showers when you can get clean – and dirty – in just one?

4. Give yourself a night off from cooking

This takes the meat-free Monday movement one step further not only by making more eco-friendly food choices, but also saving on energy by eating ‘raw’ once or twice a week, where you make specific effort to eat mostly uncooked and unprocessed foods. It’s actually easier – and more delicious – than you think. We have plenty of raw recipes on body+soul to get you started.

5. Ditch the cringe when it comes to menstrual blood

Wait, what? Are we still talking about being enviro friendly? What do periods have to do with the environment? I’ll tell you what, because the average tampon- and pad-wearing woman will contribute up to 150kg to landfill on period products in her lifetime. But there is something you can do about it, but it will require you becoming a little less squeamish when it comes to your period blood.

The menstrual cup has been around for a while. It’s a little funnel-shaped device that you insert into your vagina during your period, which collects your blood that you then flush down the loo, wash and reinsert every four to 12 hours, depending on your flow. You could also try period undies- comfy, leak-proof underwear that you rinse, wash and rewear. There are a few brands kicking around, but we love local brand Modibodi, the brainchild of Aussie entrepreneur Kristy Chong.

6. Go shopping

Yes, consumerism is indeed part of the problem, but this tip isn’t about stopping you from doing what you love. Plastic bags aside, it’s about encouraging you to think wisely about HOW you shop. Take your clothes, for example. Instead of only buying from major chains, you could also get some items from op shops, vintage stores or even swap clothes with a friend who is a similar size to you. When it comes to food, buying from your local producer will save big time on the pollution that comes from transporting goods long distance.

And then there’s shopping for investment items that may cost you more upfront, but will save you loads of money and be way more eco-friendly down the line, like an e-reader instead of buying new books and a keep cup to replace all your disposable ones from the coffee shop to bigger-ticket items such as more eco-friendly home appliances like washing machines and hybrid cars (if you’re in the market for new ones, of course!)

7. Speak up

Look, I’m not suggesting you become the next Greta Thunberg, the teen climate activist who’s taking some of the world’s most powerful people and organisations to task for not doing enough on climate change. That takes a lot of commitment and a lot of time, which, let’s face it, most of us don’t have. But, you can add your voice to the growing number of Aussies who are taking a stand and telling our politicians enough is enough, without having to even get up from where you are right now!

This year for Earth Hour (being held from 8.30pm on March 28), Aussies are also being encouraged to sign up to #SwitchOff where for each sign-up, Earth Hour will send a letter to 25 key politicians, urging them to do more on climate change. What with the bushfire crisis and the recent droughts, this year is being billed as the most important Earth Hour ever. So one hour + two minutes to sign up = minimum input for maximum impact.

8. Click ‘share’

It’s that simple – by sharing this article with your friends and family, who will then share it with their social circles and so on, you can be the pebble that starts a wave of change.