1 Aug 2016

5 EASY WAYS TO START OFF YOUR GREEN LIFE


I often notice that a lot of people genuinely want to live a greener life but they just don't know how and where to start. If you struggle with this problem as well, today’s your lucky day because I've listed 5 easy-to-make changes to start off your green life!


1) When possible, eat in-season and local fruits and veggies


This first tip is just common sense. Think about all the boats, planes and trucks it takes to get your delicious -insert southern country- tomato to your supermarket. You can pretty much always find the country of origin on the label (or on the supermarket shelve if it’s not packaged).

Fruit and vegetables that are in season automatically tend to be local, because the conditions of your local area are optimal that time of year. I love this seasonal calendar on the BBC Good Food website. Make sure to switch to the ‘Fruit’ and ‘Vegetables’ tabs for a clearer overview.

So head to your supermarket or local market and browse around the fruit and veg aisle, there's plenty of choice!


2) Drink tap water instead of bottled water


Okay, so chances are you already do this, but I also know a lot of people who find it quite hard to make this change (myself included!). I am currently transitioning from drinking my favourite brand of bottled water to (filtered) tap water. It's hard though. I just don't like the taste of tap water. I am determined to make it work though and if I can do it, I’m sure you can too. Here’s why and how!

Not only is drinking tap water better for the environment (because you won’t be throwing any more plastic water bottles away), it's also waaaay cheaper and even healthier (blogpost on this coming soon).

So how can we make the switch? First of all, buy a reusable water bottle (glass or stainless steel are toxin-free and durable alternatives for plastic bottles) to take with you to school or work. If you don't like the taste of tap water (I know the struggle), you could try a carbon water filter. These filters also remove contaminants, though a lot of people remain sceptical on whether a filter is necessary. You’re either for it or against it, but I once heard the expression: ‘You either have a filter, or you become the filter.’ Up to you to decide! :)


3) Print double-sided


This one may seem like a no-brainer, but 75% of my friends don’t do it yet. Being a university student myself, I print a hell of a lot of PowerPoint-slides and other texts for my lectures. To limit the amount of paper I have to use, I ALWAYS print double-sided and in black and white (saves you money on coloured ink!). For PowerPoint slides, I also make sure to print six slides per page instead of a whole slide on one page.

If your printer doesn't have a ‘print double-sided’ setting, you can always choose to print all uneven pages first and then all even on the backs of the uneven pages. You will have to turn the page a specific way after printing the uneven pages, which is different for every printer. If I'm honest with you, it's a frustrating process of trial and error the first few times but you’ll get the hang of it eventually!


4) Go zero waste


As you can probably predict, a zero waste lifestyle means that you don't produce any waste at all. It's almost impossible to go completely zero waste, but there are a few easy changes you can make to reduce the amount of times you have to take out the trash.

My main tip? Buy unpackaged food if you can. For example: most supermarkets give you the option to take a small plastic or paper bag for every type of vegetable or fruit you buy. You can easily just take your large fruits and veggies home without a separate bag for each type. For smaller vegetables like cherry tomatoes, you can bring your own cotton bags with you. Same goes for shopping at your local market. Always try to bring your own bags or containers.

If you want to go all out, you could always shop in bulk stores. These stores buy everything they want to sell in bulk, giving the customer the option to buy as much as they want in a container that they brought. That way, not a single bit of trash enters your house after your shopping spree.

Bulk stores around the world: http://bepakt.com/packaging-free-shops/

Bulk stores for fellow Belgians:


5) Become a flexitarian (or even a vegetarian or vegan!)


I put this tip last, because it's the most important one and because I feel like this is the hardest one for most people.

For those who are not familiar with the term, I would describe a flexitarian as someone who has at least three vegetarian (or even vegan) meals every week and who tries to minimise their meat and dairy intake. I know this might sound a bit daunting, but I promise you, it’s not hard at all (or at least it wasn’t for me).

But how do I start?? Set up a meal schedule! Have a chat about it with your family. You could for example choose Monday, Wednesday and Saturday as your vegetarian/vegan day. Write your schedule down on a whiteboard or chalkboard (or a piece of paper works just fine). You could even add recipes or healthy snack ideas to your veggie mood board. (Click here for some delicious recipe ideas!)

If you are not familiar with the environmental impact of the animal farming industry, definitely watch the video below. It's a real eye-opener!
(source: Cowspiracy, The Sustainability Secret - http://www.cowspiracy.com/)




That’s it! If you make these five easy changes in your routine, you've already overcome a huge hurdle towards a greener life!


Good luck!

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