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19 things you can do in 2019 to lighten your impact on the planet

5 minute guide

Stop scrolling. Let's do something. Want to change the world? Start with small steps and don't underestimate the power of the indvidual. We've got 19 quick ideas that when scaled up can help save the world - from going plastic free to tackling your food waste. Let's do this.

Georgina Wilson-Powell 9 January 2019

19 things you can do in 2019 to lighten your impact on the planet

1. Have you joined the zero waste shopping revolution? 

The UK is blooming with locally sourcing, community promoting zero waste stores. Click here to find your nearest one in our ultimate British zero waste shops guide (and yes we’re waiting to list our first one in Northern Ireland).

Hetu Zero Waste Shops

Hetu is a zero waste store in south London

2. Eat for pleasure - says eco-chef Tom Hunt

“The first principle of my Root to Fruit Eating sustainability philosophy is to eat for pleasure. Taking joy from the food we eat, is a sensorial experience that connects us with nature. This, caring about what we eat, it's origin and even it's flavour, are all factors that lead to a delicious and nourishing diet that can improve not just our own health but the health of the environment. In this sense eating for pleasure can literally regenerate our ecology from the soil to the insects, bugs and birds flying through the air.”

Tom Hunt is the author of The Natural Cook: Eat the Seasons with Root to Fruit (Quadrille Publishing Ltd); owner of award-winning Poco in Bristol and a Guardian columnist.

Chefs Reduce Food Waste Tom Hunt Pebble Magazine3

Tom Hunt is an eco-friendly chef who loves root to fruit eating

3. Do a plastic audit of your bathroom

What’s on the side of your bath or at the bottom of your shower? We bet it’s plastic. Can you swap even one or two items from your daily routine to plastic free? See here for our suggestions for plastic free shower gel, metal razors, hard bar shampoo and more.

Plastic Free Swaps Bar Of Soap

Hard bar soap is having a resurgence because it's locally made and plastic free

4. Stop tutting at supermarkets and tackle your own food waste at home. We’re all guilty

“Did you know that if food waste were to be a country, it would be the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, after the USA and China?” says Tessa Clarke, co-founder of food sharing app, Olio.

“Half of all food waste takes place in the home? This means that one of the highest impact - and easiest - tips for a greener 2019 is to share any unwanted/extra food you may have with a neighbour via the OLIO app.”

Olio food waste app

Olio is a free food sharing app - it's time to get involved

5. Support local businesses

It sounds obvious but local artisans, crafters and makers are often sustainable by virtue of using local materials (so no airmiles) or are upcycling rather than using raw materials. They’re also more likely to spend more in the local economy - because in 2019, looking after our own local patch is going to be a growing trend. Click here for our eco and awesome pebble guides to Brighton, Bristol and Nottingham and discover a world of amazing local British talent.


Room 212 is a fantastic hub for artists and designers on Gloucester Road in Bristol

6. Have you ever felt ‘vliegschaamte’? 

Trust the Dutch to come up with a word for ‘flying shame’. Embrace slow and local travel this summer which also means you won’t have to do the dreaded security queue shuffle with bags, iPad, skincare miniatures and so on. We'll be sharing lots of British break inspiration over the spring.

7. Learn how to ‘shop your values’

Whether you’re looking for vegan friendly shoes, locally produced shirts or social enterprises that help traditional artisans, there’s a new ethical fashion brand for that. Put the effort in and you’ll have a unique wardrobe that will last the distance. We love Mamoq, Reve en Vert and Compare Ethics for ethical fashion platforms where you can find lots of different eco-friendly brands.

Mamoq Lyme Terrace Ethical Fashion Advice

British menswear label Lyme Terrace make organic cotton shirts that you'll love forever

8. Become a master of the no waste veggie stock

"Use the trimmings from your veg to create a delicious natural vegetable stock. Simply bring to the boil and leave to steep overnight in the fridge," says Benn Hodges, head chef at EatFirst, an gourmet takeaway company in the UK with an almost 0% food waste kitchen.

No more veggie waste and you’ve always got the building block of stew, soups and more in the bag.


50% of food waste happens at home. What can you do to combat it?

9. Join a beach clean or river litter pick

Surfers Against Sewage, Plastic Patrol and the Marine Conservation Society consistently organise big beach and river cleans or undertake your own #2minutebeachclean and tag the photos using that hashtag.

Cornwall Beach Sas Plasticwaste

Surfers Against Sewage have been instrumental in helping local communities to get rid of single use


10. Ah microplastics

Just when you thought you had a handle on the plastic catastrophe, there’s more. Microplastics have basically turned our oceans into a plastic minestrone soup, turning up in our guts, our water and millions of fish and birds stomachs. So what can you do? Combat microplastics getting into the water at source, through your washing machine. We’ve seen a huge rise in people using GuppyFriend bag, which you put your clothes into before the machine, and it captures the microplastics rather than them being washed away.

Washing Machine

How often do you wash your clothes?

11. Would you think about having a plastic free period? 

The Marine Conservation Society found 20 tampons and sanitary items per 100 metres of shoreline in their 2016 beach clean-up. Pretty gross for us, pretty fatal for marine life. The good news? 2018 saw a huge array of new organic and/or plastic free period brands come to market. Here are our favourite ones.

Knix Plastic Free Periods

Knix make period proof underwear that can be rewashed and reused

12. Lease your jeans

Buying denim is one of the most water guzzling fashion choices you can make. While ethically made jeans can be pricey, MUD Jeans have a new lease scheme - where you pay a small amount per month for a pair that have free repairs and you get to change the model each year. You send your old pair back and they’re made into new jeans for other people.

Click here to read our interview with MUD Jeans' founder.

Mud Jeans2

A traditional pair of jeans use 1,800 gallons of water to make. How long do you wear yours for?

13. Invest in things that mean you can stop using single use

We're talking bamboo cutlery for lunches on the go, stainless steel lunch boxes, beeswax wraps or a SodaStream at home instead of buying fizzy water. No one says you have to get everything at once, it took us months to assemble a zero waste kit like this one.

Bamboo Cutlery

Pick up a lightweight set of bamboo cutlery to avoid throwaway plastic

14. Light body, light mind, light soul

“Easily let go of things that no longer serve your body, mind and soul by either repurposing them or offering them to someone who might need them” says Anca Stefania Iorgulescu, founder of new ethical fashion brand, DAS MATIA.'

15. Embrace the plants

Even if you want to support organic farming, cutting down on factory farmed meat and fish sends a message to supermarkets that industrial farming isn’t the answer consumers demand. Need some plant recipe inspiration? Here are our favourite vegan cookbooks.

Best Vegan Cookbooks

Do you need some plant based recipe inspiration for 2019?

16. Don’t be afraid to ask brands questions and challenge their assertions

Does your favourite brand have an ethical supply chain? Do they use plastic packaging? Do they support properly paid workers? The power is in your pocket to make a change. Spend your money on brands that give a shit like you do.

17. Can you challenge yourself to buy no new clothes for a year? 

There are so many ways to shop vintage (here are our buying tips from a vintage stylist) and secondhand now - from pop up second shops and charity shops to reselling websites (hello Depop and Etsy) to Vintage Boxed, a vintage on demand subscription box. Follow the hashtag #NoNew19 for the campaign to buy nothing new.

Are you a vintage fashion lover?

One of the most sustainable - and budget friendly - things you can do is not buy any new clothes

18. Embrace the make and mend mindset

Visit a local Repair Cafe where experts in tailoring, bikes, furniture meding and upcycling and more will give you their time for free to show you how to mend everything from a dress to a dresser.

19. Conquer your carbon footprint

Calculate your carbon footprint and find actionable ways to reduce it this year advises ethical blogger, Besma Whayeb from Curiously Conscious. "I love using the simple carbon footprint calculator that Spark Sustainability have created, which takes into account the size of your home, how much you drive, your air miles, your diet, and your shopping habits. By reducing just one or two of these, you can save a measurable amount of CO2 emissions!"

And an extra one...

Look around you

What decisions today could you do differently tomorrow that would use less plastic, less carbon, less energy, just less? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed but focus on the local, the everyday and make small pledges to yourself on simple things to change. Work towards, tick if off. Take the time to think about your impact and how much waste you create. Remember #pebblesmakeripples.

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