21 ways to live more sustainably in 2021

Protecting the environment is at the heart of what we do here at Karshare. Now that 2020 is finally behind us, we have taken a look at some of the ways in which everyone can live a little more sustainably and make a positive difference in the pursuit of net zero emissions and combating climate change.

1. Swap banks

Your money can do the heavy lifting for you when it comes to protecting the environment. By switching to a sustainable, ethical banking provider, such as Triodos Bank or Charity Bank, you can be confident that your values are reflected in your investments.

2. Find a local zero waste shop

Zero waste shops (also known as Refill Shops) have had a massive boom over the past few years – and with good reason: they are totally packaging and plastic free. Shoppers are asked to bring their own containers to purchase key ingredients such as flour, pasta, herbs and spices, coffee, dried fruit and cleaning products. Aside from reducing waste, packaging-free shopping can also be friendly on your wallet as bulk buying often reduces costs. Plus, your pantry is bound to look like a Pinterest board. Lucky for locals, Bristol is home to a fair few zero waste shops scattered all over the city: Zero Green (BS3), Preserve (BS7), Harvest (BS7), Wild Oats (BS6), Scoop Wholefoods (BS8), Smaller Footprints (BS8) and Simply Green (BS20, BS48) are but a few. Check out this list for more zero waste shops across the UK!  

3. Go paperless

You could spend just 30 minutes this month ensuring that you are not receiving unnecessary mail. Stick a “no flyers” sign on your door and cancel your paper bank statements to reduce your waste. You can also opt to have your bills sent to you via email.

4. Take a closer look at your seafood

If you’re an avid fish eater, spend a bit of time looking into your favourite types of fish that you tend to buy and check whether they suffer from overfishing. Online sources like Seafood Watch or the Good Fish Guide App can help you understand which fish to buy in order to help the planet. When eating out, make sure the restaurant can tell you where exactly your fish has come from. The more local, the better!

5. Create a capsule wardrobe

2020 was already a year that rendered half our clothing useless with no events to go to or people to impress. But this year, you can take it one step further by taking a closer look at your items and creating a capsule wardrobe that could last you a lifetime. We love Courtney Carver’s Project 333, which challenges users to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months and helps them realise that they can do more with less. Remember to donate or upcycle any unwanted clothing.

6. Drive greener

With the UK government putting the brakes on the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2030, electric vehicles and hybrid cars are seeing a massive increase in demand. If you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly way of getting around, purchasing an EV could be a great investment, but the world is shifting to become a place where owning a car is a choice, not a necessity. Cheaper alternatives such as car leasing or car sharing are growing in popularity and take away the pressures of a long-term commitment. At Karshare, we are working to make electric vehicles even more sustainable through car sharing – you can read more about that here.

7. Invest in reusable essentials

Take a look at the single-life items you use on a regular basis and see if you can find a high-quality, reusable alternative. A few core investments can go a long way, from reusable water bottles and coffee cups like the uber-popular Chilly’s or Huskee Cups to shopping bags, face masks, dryer balls (to replace dryer sheets), menstrual cups or fabric cotton pads.

8. Opt for plant-based and organic

You may already be participating in this year’s Veganuary challenge or have experimented with Meat Free Mondays but did you know that the UN General Assembly has actually designated 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables? The new year can mark a new opportunity to fully examine your eating habits and see where you can make changes to support the planet. Make sure to also check out the Soil Association’s useful tips on shopping organic.

9. Switch to renewable energy

Traditional fuel sources are some of the biggest causes of climate change, so a switch to renewable energy generated from natural resources such as wind, sunlight and water can drastically reduce your personal carbon footprint and encourage local councils to invest further in renewables. The switch is easier than you might think: Bulb, Octopus Energy, Pure Planet and OVO Energy are some popular providers.

10. Future-proof your home

The UK Government is offering Green Homes Grant vouchers of up to £5,000 to contribute toward the cost of installing energy efficient improvements in homes across the country until March 2022. This can include insulating your home to reduce energy use or installing low-carbon heating. Check if you’re eligible here.

11. Buy second-hand

Fast fashion emits more carbon emissions than all international flight and maritime shipping combined and textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally. That’s pretty grim. Luckily, second-hand clothing and vintage fashion have become all the rage over the last few years as platforms such as Depop and Beyond Retro have taken center stage in the sustainable fashion industry. If you can’t find what you’re looking for at your local charity shop, try to buy your essential clothing from sustainable providers, such as TALA, Rapanui, Patagonia, Finisterre, Lucy & Yak or Organic Basics. Good On You is a fantastic resource where you can check how your favourite fashion brands rate on the sustainability scale.

12. Upgrade your toilet paper

If 2020 was the year of the toilet paper riots, 2021 should become the year of eco-friendly loo rolls. We’re not asking you to reuse your toilet paper, don’t worry – but just know that some of the biggest loo roll providers out there are actually using less and less recycled paper than they used to, causing a concerning growing demand for virgin wood. Companies like Who Gives A Crap and BoxRoll are here to make a change.

13. Fight food waste

Challenge yourself to genuinely eat all the food you buy this year – including the peel and stalks! Too often, we chuck away perfectly edible parts of produce because we think they’re inedible or don’t trust the sell-by date. In fact, ⅓ of all food produced for human consumption is wasted! There are plenty of resources to help you reduce food waste – including apps like Too Good To Go which sells leftover restaurant meals at a discount and OLIO which lets you give away your own leftovers to your community.

14. Check your bottles

A lot of the most common cleaning products in households contain cleaning agents that can have detrimental effects on the environment – in fact, they tell you so themselves. Have you ever seen the warning at the back of your Fairy Liquid bottle: “Harmful to aquatic life with long-lasting effects?” Next time you’re headed out for a shop to restock your cleaning cupboard, opt for brands such as Ecover or Method to ensure you’re not washing harmful chemicals down the drain whenever it’s time to do the dishes – or make your own!

15. Stop chewing gum

Gum is really, really difficult to break down. It contains synthetic rubber – the same ingredient used in car tyres – which does not biodegrade, and it is estimated that 92% of Britain’s pavements have gum stuck on them. Yikes. Next time you’re looking for a minty refreshment, why not go for a tic tac or check out plant-based, biodegradable gum alternatives like Georganics, Chewsy or True Gum.

16. Look for Green Key accommodation

When the time comes when we can all travel again, you can do your bit by staying in accommodation with a Green Key eco-label. This accreditation is awarded to establishments in the tourism industry which are helping to make a difference on a sustainable level based on 130 criteria, such as washing and cleaning, green activities and corporate social responsibilities.

17. Update your skincare routine

If a consistent skincare routine is on your list of new year’s resolutions, make sure you’re opting for products that are made from natural and organic ingredients and do not include waste products such as microbeads or harmful chemicals. The internet is full of helpful lists of sustainable, cruelty-free skincare brands, like Neal’s Yard, BYBI, The Body Shop or Lush. PETA is also a useful resource to help you with your search and avoid companies that test on animals.

18. Light up with LEDs

Give your home a bit of a rejig by replacing your bulbs with eco-friendly LED light bulbs. They’re better for the environment because they use less energy to run – up to 80% less in comparison to incandescent bulbs. They may be slightly more expensive upfront but if you consider their longer lifespan and the money saved on energy bills, they’re a great investment.

19. Control the heat

Smart or programmable thermostats are a fantastic way of controlling your home’s energy expenses by enabling you to set the days and times you want your heating to come on. Aside from saving money on your energy bills, it will encourage you to be more efficient with your usage and keep the environment in mind.

20. Stay in season

If the travel restrictions around Covid have taught us one thing, it’s that sometimes the best thing you can do is to stay local. By purchasing products, especially fruits and vegetables that are in season for the region you are in and do not have to be shipped across the globe, you can drastically reduce emissions and support local vendors and farmers in your area. In the UK right now, you can cook up a feast with seasonal beetroots, parsnips, wild mushrooms, apples and carrots for example. More info here.

21. Keep the conversation going

Discussions around climate change can be daunting. You can make a change by simply striking up a conversation with friends and family and asking them how they are contributing towards making the planet and their lifestyle more sustainable. If they don’t know, you can show them how to! Take it a step further by contacting your representatives and favourite companies and urging them to champion policies and structures that ensure we can have a safer and cleaner future, together.

We would love to hear from you on what you are doing this year to protect the planet. You can get in touch with us on social media or by emailing help@karshare.com. To find out more about how Karshare is helping Bristol achieve its net zero target, take a look at this blog post by our CEO Andy.