glass of water surrounded by ice

Simple changes can make a big difference

We know that New Year can be a time for reflection and good intentions for making a change. The ‘new year, new me’ sentiment can be seen all around: in conversations with friends, on TV and on social media. Whilst we think you are pretty perfect already, you might be considering turning your attention to helping our planet a little more this year. So to help, we have some eco-friendly swap suggestions that might give you a good starting point and help you stay on track.

1.) The Reusable Bag
The reusable bag is the first swap on the list. It is simple, but effective and once you get used to carrying a reusable bag with you, you will find yourself wondering why you ever bought plastic bags in the first place. It is surprising how much plastic you can stop entering landfill just by making a simple switch to a reusable cloth bag. This swap is also relatively cheap and you can easily include other reusable items once you’re in the habit of taking your bag everywhere with you. All you need to do is put things like your keep cup, your reusable straw and cutlery in the bag before you leave in the morning and you can limit a lot of waste while you are out during the day.

2.) Reusable Coffee Cup
A reusable cup is another easy way to cut down on single use plastics and also save a little bit of money. Many coffee shops offer discounted prices for those who bring their own reusable cup which means you can save a little money whilst also saving the planet. If you are reluctant to buy a keep cup, you can always just take a mug from home out with you. Sure, you might get some funny looks from your barista, but heck you’re saving the planet so who cares?!

3.) Loose Leaf Tea and a Drainer
When it comes to tea drinking, on average the scots drink four cups daily which equates to 22 million cuppas brewed in Scotland every single day! Now that’s a lot of tea.
Unfortunately, the majority of tea bags are not biodegradable and most of the tea bags used will never fully decompose which means this tea habit is contributing to a significant amount of waste heading to landfill.

An easy way to stop contributing to this waste, is to buy loose leaf tea and invest in a strainer. Buying loose leaf tea in bulk can actually end up being cheaper than using tea bags and opening up to loose-leaf means that you find so many different varieties and flavours to explore.

National Tea Day – Scotland’s beloved brew drinking habits revealed – The Sunday Post

4.) Beeswax Wraps
These cloth wraps are a great alternative to cling film and tin foil. Simply wrap up your food, wash the wraps and reuse. You can buy them or make them at home. Making your own beeswax wraps is a great activity. You can use old bed sheets or go out thrifting to find pretty materials. They also make great gifts for friends and family.
Here are some instructions to use if you are thinking of making your own. Share your creations with us, we would love to see them!

How to Make Easy Reusable Beeswax Wraps – Craft Invaders

5.) Shop Local
There has never been a more important time to shop locally. The events of last year have affected our small local businesses the most, so what better time to start shopping local? The food from local grocers, butchers, bakers and fishmongers is often fresher and shopping locally is a great way to eat seasonally and be closer to the cycles of nature. On top of all this, local grocers are more likely to sell produce without unnecessary packaging which means you can reduce your plastic waste during your weekly shop.

6.) Glass Bottled Water, Canned Water or Tap
The best way to limit waste when drinking water is to drink what my Gran likes to call ‘council juice’. Drinking out of the tap is both cheaper and better for the environment. There is no waste involved. Just fill up your reusable bottle or your cup and you’re good to go. Of course, some people do not like drinking from the tap. If that is the case, perhaps consider buying your mineral water in glass bottles instead. There are also many canned water options that have entered the market recently. Both of these can be recycled and are a better option than buying plastic bottles.

7.) Reuse and Refill
If you have access to a zero waste or bulk shop then consider going there for your dry ingredients instead of buying ingredients that come in plastic wrapping. You don’t need to go out and buy lots of fancy mason jars or glass tupperware boxes. Simply use old jam jars, old bottles or old take away boxes and refill them. This is a great way to support local businesses and reduce your waste at the same time.

8.) Period Products
For those of us who menstruate, finding eco-friendly period products is becoming easier and easier. There are many more sustainable single use options on the market now as well as reusable alternatives to pads and tampons such as menstrual cups, cloth pads and period underwear. These alternatives are often better for our bodies, better for the planet and better for our bank accounts in the long run.

9.) Bar Based Shampoo and Body Lotion
Switching from liquid shower wash and shampoo to bar-based shower products can limit the amount of plastic that it usually takes to create our shower products. Bars are also a great option for traveling as they are compact and can travel in hand luggage.

10.) Reusable cleansing pads
Skin care can contribute to a huge amount of waste. Using a reusable cleansing pad instead of a cotton one can save a lot of waste. You can buy these for a relatively low initial outlay or crochet one for yourself.

11.) Second hand clothes
When it comes to clothing, many influencers or sustainable lifestyle bloggers choose to promote sustainable brands. Often, this is because they have brand deals or affiliate links with these brands. The problem is that for the average influence-less person, these brands are often way too expensive. Shopping in charity shops or swapping clothes with friends is a cheaper way to be more sustainable when it comes to fashion. This year we have seen a resurgence of 90’s inspired clothing which proves that just because something isn’t brand new, it doesn’t automatically mean it is unfashionable.

12.) E-books
This one is for the book worms among us. It is lovely to go into a bookstore and buy a book, to flick through the pages and steadily break the spine in, but it may not always be necessary to buy the physical copy of a book. As pretty as physical books are, buying ebooks makes a lot more sense for so many reasons. They are often cheaper, they don’t take up space or clutter your home and they also create a lot less paper waste. We completely understand that reading a book is an experience: people like to hold a copy in their hands, but with a little persistence, you can get used to the ebook life and come to love it.

This has been our 12 swaps for New Year. By no means are we suggesting that you implement all of these at once, but if you choose just one of these swaps to implement in your own life, then you can enter the New Year knowing that you are making just a small difference to the planet. What’s more, you will soon notice that your friends and family will often be inspired by your actions and try these things out for themselves and in turn so will their friends and family. Before you know it, you will have inspired a whole group of people to be a little more sustainable this year! For lots more ways to reduce waste, visit Zero Waste Scotland