A sustainable future: 5 attainable goals for the individual

image of a globe with a wooden stand

It’s no secret that our future on earth as we know it is in jeopardy. A damning warning issued by the world’s leading climate scientists earlier this month outlined the urgent changes needed within the next 12 years in order to limit a “climate change catastrophe”. The world needs to see “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 

You may be wondering what you as an individual can do when such extensive, deep-rooted changes are required. Can you actually make a difference? Yes! Even the smallest individual efforts are useful in the fight for a sustainable future. Living sustainably is all about using resources today in a way that maintains supplies for the future. Being aware of our resource consumption and reducing unnecessary waste is a simple, achievable and effective start.  

Here are five attainable goals to get you started on living a more sustainable lifestyle. If each of us adopts these into our daily routines, together we can make a big difference.  

Go paperless

image showing pile of paper rubbish bales

This first goal is one you can work towards both at home and in the office. Not only is going paperless important for reducing waste and protecting the world’s forests, it can help make admin much more efficient! Here are some of the things you can do as an individual to reach your goal of a paperless lifestyle: 

  • Opt to receive digital letters and statements when given the choice. Nowadays, everything you need is at the click of a mouse or tap of a phone screen. 
  • Think before you print! Do you really need to print off that memo or email? Spare the paper and jot any important information down on a digital note. If you do need to print something, be sure to recycle the paper afterwards.
  • Say no to junk mail. Put up a sign by your letterbox to limit the amount of paper you consume.
  • Read your favourite newspapers online.

Cut down on plastic

image of single plastic bottle washed up on a beach at sunset

Recent headlines about the global plastic epidemic have shocked us all. The problems caused by single-use plastics are affecting every corner of the globe, with urgent and radical action required. What can you do to cut down your personal plastic footprint? 

  • Rather than using plastic shopping bags, invest in a couple of reusable tote bags. 
  • Avoid buying products wrapped in excessive packaging. Opt for loose fruit and veg instead of pre-packed alternatives – these are usually kinder to your wallet as well as the environment.  
  • Use a refillable water bottle. Not only will this cut your plastic use, it will save you money too.
  • Use washable metal straws instead of disposable plastic ones.
  • Say no to disposable cutlery. Sometimes it can be hard to avoid those pesky plastic sporks that are hiding in your salad bowl, but consider carrying cutlery in your bag or storing it in your desk at work. 

For more tips to help fight plastic pollution, check out this advice from Greenpeace. 

Save water

image of a tap with water running from it into a sink

Staggeringly, each of us uses on average 150 litres of water every day to wash, cook and clean. According to the UK Environment Agency, people in England will face water shortages by 2050 unless we make changes to save water. What can we do on an individual level? 

  • Take short showers. Bathtubs require gallons more water than a 5-10-minute You could even invest in a water-saving shower head.
  • Turn off the tap whilst you brush your teeth. This could save you six litres of water every minute!
  • Save up your dirty clothes and wash a full machine load each time.
  • Cutting down the amount of meat you eat can drastically reduce your water-footprint, as rearing animals for meat and dairy is incredibly water-intensive. If you can’t face going completely veggie, why not give Meat Free Mondays a go? 
  • Install a water butt and save up to 5,000 litres of water a year.

Take a look on the Friends of the Earth website for more water-saving tips. 

Reduce your household energy use 

image of lightbulbs suspended from a wooden beam by black wires

Less energy used means less fossil fuels burned. Fossil fuels aren’t renewable or clean sources of energy, so the more energy we consume, the faster these resources will be depleted, and the more greenhouse gas emissions will rise. Here are several simple things you can do to reduce your household energy use: 

  • Save electricity by turning off appliances and lights that you’re not using.
  • Use energy-friendly lightbulbs. Even better, use as much natural light as possible before switching on your lightbulbs. 
  • Install energy-efficient appliances throughout your home.
  • Instead of turning on the heating when you’re next feeling chilly, put an extra layer on.
  • Invest in more rugs – they look good and do good! Not only are they aesthetically-pleasing accessories, but they help to keep your house toasty, thus reducing the need for the central heating.
  • Leave your wet clothes to air-dry rather than using the tumble dryer.

Reduce your fashion waste

image showing a pile of clothes for an article on a sustainable future for the fast fashion industry
Image: www.sustainability.uq.edu.au

Did you know that a truckload of clothing is wasted every second across the world? This rather frightening statistic highlights the extremely damaging nature of the fashion industry’s ‘take-make-dispose' system. It can be tempting to banish any unwanted clothes straight to the bin, but you can make a difference in the war on waste by not sending your undesirable apparel to landfill. Here are some simple things you can do to reduce your personal mountain of fashion waste: 

  • Shop less, choose better. Make the conscious decision to invest in quality, timeless pieces that will see you through multiple seasons, rather than heading to the high street for that impulse buy that won’t last. 
  • Show your clothes some TLC. If we adopt a more mindful approach to clothing-care, our apparel will last a lot longer. Always check the care instructions and try to choose a more gentle, eco-friendly detergent. Find more tips on our blog. 
  • Reuse your old clothes. Rather than exiling your tattered threads straight to the bin, why not transform them into functional products like cleaning cloths and woven blankets.
  • Recycle any unwanted clothing that’s still in good shape. Super-sustainable ideas include organising a clothing swap or donating your clothes to a clothing collection point.

Check out our article on the war on waste for some more handy tips. 

Colville Leather’s fight for a sustainable future  

Here at Colville Leather, we are passionate about securing a sustainable future for our planet. We are avid supporters of slow fashion, encouraging as many people as possible to step away from the damaging world of fast fashion. We lovingly craft genuine leather products that don’t require regular replacement. If cared for correctly, our leather goods can last a lifetime, bringing you decades of pleasure. This is part of what a sustainable future is all about – creating products with longevity in mind, thwarting the throwaway society that’s come to be. 

We’re also committed to protecting the environment and preserving its valuable resources. Wherever possible we try to limit waste, using any leftover leather to make belt keepers and keychains. 

Have any tips?

Let us know what you're doing as an individual to fight for a sustainable future. Share your tips for a sustainable lifestyle on social media and help us spread the word about how individuals can make a difference! 

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