So you’ve decided to shed a few pounds, get marathon-fit or stop smoking – good for you. But why not make 2018 memorable by improving the world as well as yourself? Mike Peake asked an assortment of eco warriors to nominate a challenge we could all try…
1.Take the 30-wear challenge
Apparently started by British actor Colin Firth’s eco-minded wife, Livia, the 30-wear challenge is aimed at making people think, ‘Would I wear this 30 times?’ before buying any new garment. Fashion designer Tom Cridland, creator of the 30 Year Collection (handmade clothes that come with a 30 year guarantee), is a big fan. ‘As fashion is the world’s second most polluting industry after oil,’ he says, ‘I’d like to challenge people to ask themselves, ‘Will I wear this at least 30 times?’ or, better yet, ‘Would I be happy to wear this in 30 years?’ before purchasing an item of clothing.’ If not, he says, then you don’t really need it and it’s going to end up contributing to the millions of tonnes of clothing in landfill.
2. Fix It!
‘We live in a take-make-waste economy that is linear by design and not circular,’ says Martin Charter, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Design. ‘Society has a bad record at repairing everyday items like electronics, shoes, clothes and furniture and many usable products that could have had their life extended – if people had access to the right skills – are instead going to recycling or landfill.’ To change this, why not learn how to repair something or alternatively, think about opening or supporting a repair café which Charter says have sprung up globally such as the Farnham Repair Café in England which has completed 440 successful repairs and diverted over a tonne from landfill. #sharerepair
3. Master the 90-second shower
Phil Scott is the co-founder and MD of ethical and sustainable menswear brand Cock & Bull, but his challenge has nothing to do with clothes – he’s an advocate of the 90-second shower, which he reckons saves around 7,000 litres of water per year. ‘Changing the way I shower forced me to be quicker, use less water and less energy to heat the water’ he says. Here’s his tried-and-tested method: ‘First I get myself completely wet and then immediately turn off the water – that takes 30 seconds maximum,’ he says. ‘Then I lather up, which takes another 30 seconds. Next, I rinse off, which takes another 30 seconds.’ As soon as all the suds are gone, he says, he switches off the water. Job done!
4. Walk to work one day a month
The idea behind this challenge, says Eva Dimitriadis, who proposed it, is that it will make you think about the millions of children around the world who have to walk long distance to school every day – sometimes through rather hostile environments. If you can donate the amount of money you’ve saved by walking to a suitable charity that benefits such children, she says, even better. Dimitriadis is the COO of a global company named C5 Accelerate, who run an accelerator programme in Washington D.C. aimed at companies creating technology for social impact.‘In some parts of the world, students have to walk up to one-and-a-half hours to get to school, so it takes real dedication and commitment for a 12-year-old to make it through the academic year,’ she says. ‘Individually, any money raised by walking to work might be relatively small, but if an office was to club together to do it, then donations would really mount up to provide high-quality education in places where it is needed.’
5. Pick Up Plastic
Lizzie Carr is an Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion, and has been busy of late raising the issue of plastic pollution in our waterways – a topic that the whole world seems to finally be embracing. She was the first person to paddle board the English waterways – all the while mapping where she found plastic – and reckons that a great challenge is to get together with some friends to spend a few hours or a full day pulling bits of plastic out of a local waterway. ‘Pick up any plastics you find, take a photo and log them in the Plastic Patrol app,’ she says. ‘This helps build a comprehensive picture of the problem to campaign and lobby for changes.’ Next take the junk to a local recycling plant, pat yourself quietly on the back. www.plasticpatrol.com
6. Check Your Takeaway
There’s nothing more rewarding after a long day at work than hearing the front door bell ring and opening the door to the smell of takeaway food – but if you do this regularly you might be throwing a small mountain of non recyclable junk into the bin every year. It’s far better, says John Haken, a packaging specialist who is passionate about reducing food packaging waste, to choose a restaurant with a sound environmental policy. ‘What you want,’ he says, ‘is a takeaway that uses recyclable or compostable packaging. Cheap polystyrene trays often used by takeaways might technically be recyclable, but they are not recycled in any post-consumer waste streams as they are not seen as financially viable, due to the nature of expanded polystyrene (EPS) being 98% air and 2% material.’ Better alternatives to these – and also plastic containers – are card boxes, compostable bagasse boxes and paper bags.