The urban woman's guide to going green in 2018

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Sophie Benson
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Do you want to live a more eco-friendly life? Here, freelance writer Sophie Benson offers 10 unexpected ways to go green.

From brand boycotts to a vocal backlash against Trump’s climate change-denying tweets, it looks like we’re all taking a more considered, ethical approach towards what we buy and how we live.

The ethical sector grew by 3.2% in the last year, according to a recent report, bringing sales in the UK up to a record £81.3 billion. In addition, sales of ethical clothing grew by 22.4% last year while a massive 42% of us shopped locally, prompting a welcome revival of a community-focused economy.

So, with the boxes ticked for ethical and sustainable fashion, food, drink, travel and energy, how can we keep the momentum going for 2018? Level up your eco credentials with these unexpected ways to go green… 

Change your search engine to Ecosia

This eco switch couldn’t be simpler. If Google is your go-to, change your search engine to Ecosia and relax in the knowledge that every time you search for a gif of a baby goat, you’re helping to plant trees.

Ecosia uses the income from their search adverts to plant trees in an effort to absorb CO2, promote biodiversity, protect the soil, prevent droughts and support the 1.6 billion people whose lives depend on forests. So far, the company has planted over 19 million trees and aims to plant one billion by 2020. They’re totally transparent too, publishing their finance reports and tree planting receipts monthly. 

Head to an eco hairdresser 

A trip to the hairdressers is always restorative, but have you ever considered the environmental impact? From plastic gloves to chemical-laden dyes, it can add up pretty quickly, so entrust your tresses to an eco hairdresser.

A handful of salons around the UK have dismantled the standard practice and rebuilt it upon environmentally-friendly foundations. Stuntdolly in Hackney offers cruelty-free, organic, non-toxic products, available from a gender neutral price list. If you’re not in the capital, Grönn in Bury is painted with ecological paint and decked out from floor to ceiling in plastic-free, reclaimed materials. And if you have a coffee while your vegan dye takes, the leftover grounds will even be fed to the plants. 

Swap your rabbit for a biodegradable vibrator

Sex toys are big business: Lovehoney sells one every 16 seconds, according to its 2017 Sex Toy Census. However, with so many products made from synthetic materials, such as PVC and silicone, our penchant for vibrators isn’t so great for the planet. But don’t worry, you don’t have to give up the buzz - just treat yourself to a Gaia Eco instead. The first of its kind, the vibrator is made from BioFeel, a completely biodegradable ‘polymer compound mixed with corn starch’. While standard sex toys won’t break down and give back to the earth, the Eco will biodegrade within 47-90 days in a composting facility. 

Insure your house, car or cat with a green insurance company

By opting for a green insurance company you can help protect the planet at the same time as your house, car or pet. Evergreen Insurance donates 25% of its commission to environmental charities, including the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and LionAid. Similarly, Naturesave was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Sustainable Development category for its vital work funding a plethora of green initiatives, from conservation projects to renewable energy. Make the switch and your insurance company will do all the hard work for you.

Sparkle with eco glitter

Glitter has come a long way since we were coating ourselves in it at the year eight disco. The SS18 catwalks saw it elevated from an offbeat beauty trend to a high fashion must-have, but environmentalists aren’t championing the move. Glitter is essentially just tiny bits of plastic, known as microplastics, and when we wash it off we’re flushing it straight into our already plastic-saturated waterways. To combat the damage that our weakness for a little sparkle is doing to the environment, companies like Eco Glitter Fun and Eco Stardust are offering a safer, biodegradable alternative.

Made from eucalyptus tree extract, eco glitter will break down in both oceanic and composting environments, meaning you can sparkle without adding to plastic pollution.

Host your website with Green Hosting 

In the era of the personal brand and ‘side hustle’ careers, many of us rely on our websites to showcase what we can offer. To boost your eco efforts, host your site with Green Hosting and tell everyone you know that you’ve got a 100% wind-powered website. While traditional hosts rely upon fossil fuels which contribute enormously to global CO2 emissions, Green Hosting uses only renewable energy generated from UK wind farms. As if that wasn’t enough, their water-based chillers ensure they run their servers in the most efficient way possible, making the most of all of that lovely, clean energy. 

Break your phone habit with Forest

If your New Year’s resolution is to use your phone a little (or a lot) less, why not plant some trees while you’re at it? Forest is an app that uses growing trees to help you stay focused. Set a timer, plant a seed and your tree will slowly grow. However, if you give in to the urge to check Instagram or your emails, your tree dies.

Forest doesn’t only deal in digital trees, however. The app’s partnership with Trees for the Future allows you to spend your virtual coins on real ones. With over 225,000 planted so far (at the time of writing), that’s a big incentive to break the habit. 

Buy British flowers

Flowers might seem like the most natural product you could possibly buy but, with air miles and long periods of refrigeration to take into account, a single bunch of flowers could have a significant impact on the environment. So, to reduce the carbon footprint of the flower industry in the UK, there’s been a shift towards British flowers.

Working under the ethos ‘grown not flown’, the likes of The Good Flower Company are championing seasonal, local flowers grown to organic standards and delivered within close proximity. Use the #britishflowers hashtag to find an eco-friendly florist local to you – there are over 71,000 posts on Instagram already.

Switch to sustainable, ethical banking

Since the financial crash of 2008, our collective trust in banks has taken a nosedive. In fact, a YouGov survey found that only 55% of Brits trust their banks to work in their interest. However, banks can provide more than just a place to keep our money; the right ones will invest in both people and the planet.

Triodos, founded in the Netherlands, claims to be “Europe’s leading sustainable bank” and will use your savings and investments to fund only sustainable projects. So far they’ve supported a range of companies and initiatives spanning organic farming, education, recycling and sustainable energy, all of which you’ll find on their website. And, if you open an account with them, you’ll receive a debit card made from biodegradable plastic to boot.

Hire green cleaners

Having a cleaner might sound like a luxury but, with nearly half of all millennials hiring one, it’s more popular than ever. And there are an abundance of green cleaners, who come armed with chemical-free and eco-friendly products. From Done and Dusted to Super Clean and Green, cleaning companies with an eye on the environment are popping up all over the country to keep your home clean and to make the world a little cleaner, too.

Images: Tanja Heffner, iStock