by Emma Louise Oldham December 27, 2019

Want to make 2020 your cleanest and greenest year yet? Excited to set some goals to help wildlife and help reduce your environmental impact? Here are 5 to start you off! Let's make 2020 a wilder, better place to be!

1. Ditch Single-use Plastics

Bags, straws, bottles, coffee lids, milk tops - single-use plastics accumulate everywhere. Since the 1950s, humans have produced 8.3bn tonnes of plastic. To put that into perspective, the weight of one billion elephants will stick around in our environment forever. And the production of it isn't slowing down either.

Plastic never goes away. It just breaks down into microplastics. Scientists warn that its prevalence (in everything from teabags to clothes), is destroying our oceans. On average, we are eating the weight of a credit card every week (5g). Over the year, that is 0.5 pounds in plastic which poses huge health risks.

So, in 2020 let's plan more and be more mindful with our habits. Rather than reaching out for a quick, on-the-go drink or snack, pack yourself reusables. Packing your own bags, bottles, straws and cutlery will help reduce your plastic consumption. Preparing your lunch and snacks beforehand and using wraps or sandwich bags will also save money and cut down on waste.

When doing your supermarket shop, try and find a plastic-free alternative. Lots of products are also packaged in glass jars, tins and paper and cardboard. Once you find them, it'll get easier to eliminate plastics from the trolley. Want more ideas? Here are 10 ways to wave goodbye to plastics.

2. Switch to Renewable Energy

Burning fossil fuels is one of the biggest contributors to environmental pollution and climate change.  Unearthing, processing, and moving underground oil, gas, and coal takes an enormous toll on our ecosystems. As a result, critical wildlife habitats ends up fragmented and destroyed.  Coal, oil, and gas development also threat our waterways and groundwater with pollution. Coal mining operations wash acid runoff into streams, rivers, and lake, while oil spills and leaks pollute drinking water.

Fossil fuels emit harmful air pollutants before they’re even burned. Significantly contributing to air pollution, these harmfull pollutants are linked to many cancers. Then, when we burn oil, coal, and gas, we drive the current global warming crisis as well. Fossil fuels produce large quantities of carbon dioxide, which trap heat in the atmosphere and lead to climate change.

By swapping to a renewable energy supplier, you can power your home using the sun, wind and waves. This will instantly reduce your carbon footprint by 50%. Good Energy, Pure Planet and Ecotricity are all paving the way in providing green and clean energy.

3. Be Litter Savvy

Being conscious of what you bin while out on the go is a good place to start. Hold on to recyclables until you get home and even your food waste. Yes, chuck those apple cores into your compost bin. If you don't have a compost bin, now is a great time to build or buy one. It will attract lots of insects and as a result, will welcome many beloved garden wildlife like the hedgehog. It'll also leave you with some fresh compost which is a superfood for helping things grow.

Think of ways you can give your rubbish a new lease of life. Try growing seeds in glass jars, keep hold of tins for storage or to use as jelly moulds, reuse ribbon and magazines for wrapping paper. The possibilities are endless.

If your child is given a helium balloon at a party, remember not to release it into the air. Or, say no to the balloon altogether. Support your children going plastic-free by encouraging them to kindly refuse unnecessary items. Turning down straws, or a free plastic toy that comes with a meal deal, or choosing a magazine without plastic tat is a good starting place.

4. Use Social Media for Wildlife

Put your social media accounts to great use. Everyone is on the prowl for inspiration and guidance, so show them that you care about nature! Share messages and examples on how people can help! Do you go birdwatching? Do you go on litter picks? Do you write to your MP about protecting marine life? Show the world, how united, we can help protect our beautiful wildlife.

5. Shop Consciously and Thoughtfully

There are lots of hidden (and not-so-hidden) ingredients in our products which cause huge environmental damagePalm oil is one key one lookout for. Only buy products that use sustainable palm oil. You can look for an RSPO label, or check if the listed ingredients states 'sustainable' palm oil.

It isn’t the easiest to work out which products contain palm oil.There are lots of different names used in the labelling, such as PKO, Palmitate, Stearic Acid and Steareth 20.However, you can check which brands in the UK contain 100% certified sustainable palm oil. Use Chester Zoo's 'Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping List' here.
You can also lookout for the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ logos.These logos support sustainable farming and land management, meaning a brighter future for wildlife and local communities.
When purchasing fish, only buy products containing theblue MSC logo.This ensures that your seafood has beensustainably sourced, keeping the impact on wild populations and ecosystems to aminimum.Supporting fisherman who cares about our oceans ensures a future for all fish populations.
Looking for the FSC logo in paper and cardboard products is important too. Trees provide oxygen – without trees, we cannot breathe. Forests are home to hundreds of thousands of different plants and animals. When youpurchase a product with the FSC logo, it ensures that all the wood usedis tracked from the forest to the store.The FSC label guarantees that the trees harvestedare replaced or allowed to regeneratenaturally.

Want some more inspiration?

Here are 5 simple ways to help protect our rainforests and here's some support on sending your children with school lunches that are plastic-free! Here is also how to throw a kick-ass eco-friendly party!

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