How to have a more sustainable 2021

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a challenging year – and for many of us, 2021 will herald a new year and a fresh start.

With January resolutions an age-old tradition where we set our personal goals for the next 12 months, some of the most common aims are often around fitness and exercise, making more time for friends and family, learning new skills and of course, looking to break bad habits. However, there is an important aspect which can easily be overlooked, which is; what steps or changes can I make to help the environment?

So, when considering resolutions for the year ahead, make sure to think; how can I be more sustainable in 2021? In May 2020, it was reported that carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere hit an all-time high of 417ppm – the highest in human history.

However, although the pandemic resulted in lockdowns in 2020, environmental benefits came from people staying at home – with rivers flowing clearly, animals returning to natural habitats and general Co2 pollution down by 17%* – in just a few months. Showing that changes in our habits really can have a positive impact.

With 33% of Britons stating they are more aware of their environmental impact post lockdown and 64% looking to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, attitudes are heading in the right direction.

Which is why eco-friendly cat litter brand Natusan, has put together 12 ways to make small but effective changes to live life more sustainably in 2021.

Rachel Andre, CEO of Natusan, who provide the UK’s first cat litter zero-waste circular economy service says; “As we enter a new year, it’s important to consider meaningful resolutions which will not only have a positive impact on ourselves – but also the environment. There are many small, yet effective changes which we can all make in our day to day lives to help reduce our carbon footprint; from deleting old emails and photos to trying out a flexitarian diet.

“Surprisingly, our pets impact the planet too – and with sustainability at the heart of Natusan, we are always looking to help conscious pet parents and the planet. Which is why we offer 100% natural, biodegradable and compostable litter – whilst also running a zero-waste tree planting programme in the capital, where we work with partners to plant a tree right here in the UK every time a customer subscribes to our Collect & Compost service. With our planet edging towards irreversible damage, 2021 needs to be the year we all look to make a difference.”

12 ways to live a more sustainable life in 2021:

1 Delete old emails, photos and videos – Did you know that digital pollution represents twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as civil aviation?* A common misconception is that the internet exists as a cloud but actually, sending an email or a picture goes via a chain of energy-burning electronics.

Many might not realise it, but if every Brit sent one less ‘thank you’ email a day, we would save 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year – which equates to 81,152 flights to Madrid*

2 Old clothes? Return, rehome, repurpose, recycle – The textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, generating an astonishing 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions.* It also represents more than one tenth of the water used by all other industries – and bleak projections from the Common Objective (CO) show this is set to double by 2030.

With so many discarded clothes ending up in landfill – which is a major contributor to global warming – look to repurpose or donate any unwanted garms.

You can even head to the high street to drop them off at well-known clothes shops, as certain stores offer return and recycle schemes where you can hand over your old clothes in exchange for in-store discounts.

3 Practice being a sustainable pet parent – Pet parents might not realise it, but unintentionally, our animals and our habits surrounding them can cause an adverse effect on both the environment and our four-legged friends.

In fact, a pet’s carbon pawprint is equivalent to that of 13.6 million cars. So making small changes can go a long way when it comes to improving your pet’s carbon pawprint; from trying toys and bedding which are made of natural fibres to switching to a 100% natural and biodegradable cat litter. Because clothes aren’t the only things which end up in landfill. Feline waste winds up there too; with an estimated 2 million tonnes being sent annually to UK landfill, according to analysis by Natusan.

4 Read up on rubbish rules – It was estimated that the UK generated a staggering 37 million tons of household waste in 2017, and in 2020, the UK government agreed on targets to recycle 65% of it by 2035. Meaning now more than ever, we need to individually do more to recycle and reduce our rubbish.  When it comes to household waste, what type of rubbish to put where can be confusing. So head over to the Government website to look up your local area and see what rules/guidance are in place when it comes to your trash. Also, be sure to read labels on packaging to see what can go in the recycling bin.

5 Think before buying – It’s all too easy to mindlessly shop and make impulse purchases without much thought. And with many factories far afield, products will have travelled thousands of miles to get to you, clocking up quite the carbon footprint.

For those looking to be more eco-conscious, it’s a good idea to take a step back and think about what you are buying. Ask yourself, do you NEED it? Where has it been made / where has it come from? And where are you buying it from… could you source it locally instead?

When it comes to food shopping, look to local farms and green grocers if possible. Many supermarkets sell loose fruit and vegetables which aren’t encased in plastic film – try to opt for those instead. There are a range of companies that make use of wasted fruit & veg so look to research and utilise these options.

6 Clear out old, unwanted electricals – We all have that one drawer in the house which is continuously amassing electrical appliances, from chargers and random leads to dead batteries and old phones. But what to do with them?

It takes a huge amount of scarce energy resources to produce electrical devices, whereas almost all electrical items with a plug or a battery can be recycled. Look online to check out companies that will recycle your electrical goods. Not only is it better for the planet – but also gives you more space at home!

7 Opt for alternative travel – Coronavirus led to a huge halt on both domestic and international travel in 2020 – but as a result, some positive effects on the environment were seen, with Co2 emissions dropping by 17%.

Transport is the biggest source of air and noise pollution in the UK and surface transport equates to around 25% of UK emissions of CO2, but there are ways in which we can reduce this*.

Where feasible, try not to use cars for short journeys and opt to stretch your legs by walking or cycling instead, as not only will this reduce pollution, but will also help to improve health – both physically and mentally.

8 Consider conscious consumption and cut down eating meat – It’s a sad fact but*60% of global biodiversity loss is a direct result of what’s on our plates – with what we eat contributing to around 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Which is why it’s important to start actively making the connection between our plate and the impact on our planet. With meat consumption a great starting point. The livestock sector (i.e. cattle, chicken and pig production) generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all cars, trucks and automobiles combined.

In order to help combat climate change, look to reduce the amount of meat you buy and eat – and try your hand at more of a plant-based diet too – as it not only benefits your health, but the planet too.

9 Switch off your TV and devices to stop draining energy – Electrical devices can sneakily continue draining energy in standby mode. In fact, UK households waste a whopping £470 million a year by leaving so-called ‘vampire devices’ on, which drain 135,000 hours of electricity per household, per year.

By simply switching off and unplugging the likes of televisions, chargers, monitors, microwaves and other appliances when not in use, not only can you have a positive impact on the environment – but also on your electricity bills!

10 Don’t bottle it – pass on plastic – The UK uses 13 billion plastic bottles every year, of which only 7.5 billion are recycled. While the remaining 5.5 billion end up as litter in landfill or incinerated. Landfill and incineration of plastic bottles produce about 233,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year. These are huge numbers.

Plastic bottles are not only an avoidable source of pollution – they’re also an avoidable source of spending, so look to bring a trusty flask with you when you’re out and about. In more positive news, sales of single-use plastic bags in large retailers in England dropped by 37% in 2019, with the average consumer now buying 10 bags per year from supermarkets.

Although a sizable drop was seen, there is still work to be done to eradicate plastic bags, as billions are still used annually. Look to invest in a 100% recycled tote bag which you can reuse when shopping…. just remember to bring it along with you!

11 Conserve energy at home – An astonishing 54% of energy produced in the UK goes to waste, which is equivalent to the power generated by 37 nuclear plants or by wind turbines, covering 40% of Scotland.*

What can be done to help? There are many small but simple ways to conserve energy at home. When it comes to lights; switch to energy saving bulbs and make sure to turn them off when you leave a room. With appliances, switch off and unplug everything when not in use. And close the doors when the heating is on.

Make sure to turn off taps too! By simply turning off the tap when you’re cleaning your teeth, you will save 5 litres of water a minute. Being conscious about the amount of water you use at home really can make a big difference.

12 Support a charity – For the eco-conscious amongst us, why not consider supporting a cause close to your heart this year. Pick a charity or organisation that promotes the health of our environment and look to support by volunteering, giving monetary donations or spreading awareness by sharing their great work on social media.

Alternatively, look for brands that are known to support and have affiliations with charities. For example, Natusan works with partners who help to improve lives within local communities by planting trees across London.

Simply incorporating these small habitual changes into your day to day life can make a big difference – and for any cat parents who might be curious about how much waste their feline is contributing, head over to the Natusan website and take the waste calculator here: Natusan’s Waste Calculator.