27 Small Ways that You Could Change the World

News of global issues like climate change, human exploitation and plastic pollution can feel often overwhelming and completely out of our hands, but there are small changes everyone can do that make a big difference.

1. Find your local zero waste shop

Store up jars and bottles and reuse them to refill with pasta, rice and other dry goods, as well as shampoo, washing up liquid and washing detergent. It’s rewarding, and cheaper, too.

2. Grab a blanket instead of turning up the heating

We have been spoilt - if we get cold, we can just turn up the thermostat, but do you really need to? Next time you’re chilly, try putting on some socks and grabbing a blanket. They do the same job.

3. Buy a GUPPYFRIEND bag

Did you know that every time you wash a manmade fibre like polyester or Lycra, it releases tiny fibres of plastic into the water system? These clever bags reduce the microfibres your washing produces.

4. Switch to washable cotton pads to remove your make-up

As with many sustainable life choices, a small investment in the beginning will save you money in the long run. Organic washable cotton pads might be a little more expensive than disposable ones, but after a few months you’ll be reaping the rewards. (NB don’t use these for nail polish!)

5. Offer to help an elderly neighbour with their garden

Getting to know your neighbours is important, especially if they are older and live alone. By helping with their garden you’ll not only keep them company, but improve the ecosystem of your street.

6. Change to ink refills rather than buying a new pen

Have you ever stopped to think how many pens you get through in a year? And what are they usually made from? Plastic, of course. Reduce the amount your throw away by using refillable metal pens instead.

7. Learn how to repair your clothes

You’ve probably got reusing and recycling down to a good art, but repairing is a skill you might need to learn. Start with your clothes - anyone can sew on a button or a patch with half an hour of guidance; you can find tutorials online.

8. Ditch shower gel in favour of soap

When did we fall out of love with soap? It’s packaging free and cleans our bodies just as well. Check the labels and avoid palm oil for a double gold star.

9. Pick up rubbish when walking in the countryside

There aren’t as many rubbish bins in the countryside, but that’s no excuse for littering. If you’re going on a walk, pop an extra bag in your pocket so you can clean up other people’s mess as you go.

10. Only use local, seasonal fruit and vegetables

The closer your food was grown to where you live, the less pollution it will have created on its way to your plate.

11. Make your next toothbrush a bamboo one…

Plastic was designed to be long-lasting, so it makes no sense to use it to make something you know you will throw away. Bamboo toothbrushes with natural fibre bristles are now widely available as an alternative.

12. ...And while you’re at it, change to palm oil-free toothpaste

Most products that foam when you use them - shampoo, liquid soap and toothpaste, for example - contain palm oil. Many palm oil-free toothpastes actually taste much nicer than regular ones; look for propolis toothpaste which is made using a byproduct of honeycomb.

13. Switch to a milk round

It’s really easy to sign up to have your milk delivered to your doorstep. The glass bottles are collected and reused, and the milk is delivered on an electric powered van.

14. Stop buying miniatures for your holiday

It’s better for the environment, and also cheaper, if you just save the last bottles you bought and fill them with your regular shampoo before you leave.

15. Sign up for a beach clean

It’s easy to find your nearest organised beach clean. They not only help to protect the ecosystems of your local coastline, but mean you can enjoy the beauty of the seaside while you are doing it.

16. Stop buying virgin polyester clothes

Polyester is the most used fabric in the world, and although it’s cheap, it’s also polluting to produce and takes hundreds of years to biodegrade. Instead, stick to natural fibres like organic cotton, wool and hemp.

17. Stop polluting your water

Swap bleach and harsh washing detergents for something more natural and less polluting. They still smell lovely and clean!

18. Volunteer in a local nature group

See if it’s possible to be a friend of your local park, where you can get involved in tree planting, organising events and even mural painting, as well as getting to know your community better.

19. Make your own dog food

Ask your butcher if they sell dog mince - all the bits that humans don’t want - and cook fresh weekly stews for your pooch. It’s much cheaper and he’ll think it’s delicious! 

20. Email your favourite fashion brands

If your favourite store isn’t being transparent about where its clothes are made, who they were made by, and what they are made from, email them to find out what they are doing about it.

21. Invest in a reusable chilled water bottle

If you haven’t already done this, what were you thinking?!

22. Explain why you don’t want a plastic straw

If you’re offered a plastic straw with you drink, politely refuse and say why you don’t want it. If you need one for a child, invest in a reusable metal straw that folds up neatly to fit in a pocket.

23. Embrace meat free Mondays

Not everyone wants to be vegan, but simply cutting back on the amount of meat you eat, even if it’s just one day a week, will make a big difference.

24. Plant flowers in a window box to attract bees

If you live in a city, even without a garden you can help to save the bees. They need rest stops on their busy days, and a window box full of flowers is the perfect solution.

25. Rethink your workout

Lycra is a manmade fibre; hunt out leggings made from recycled materials, such as plastic bottles, or even coffee granules for a more sustainable spinning class.

26. Stop using cling film

Instead, cover your food and pack your sandwiches in reusable wax wrapping, which is usually decorated with lovely bright patterns.

27. Have conversations about your sustainable choices

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to let others know how easy it is to make better choices about how they consume.

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