6 Ways Young Scots Are Making Lifestyle Changes

Young people are influential in their activism and when it comes to the environment getting involved is key. But how can you take action? 

We asked young people in Scotland, through our Young Scot Membership platform, for their best tips when it comes to being sustainable and looking after the environment. Here are the most suggested!

1. Eat Less Meat

A lot of young Scots said eating less meat or adopting a plant-based diet was one of the main ways to be environmentally friendly. We have a number of articles on reducing how much meat you eat, from the basic facts around being vegan to recipe ideas for people wanting to give it a go!

Check out our plant based diet campaign, Keep Your Plants On, in partnership with Co-op, if you're interested.

2. Use Cars Less and Walk Instead

Try car sharing on journeys with friends. Don't use cars and if you don't need to, instead walk, run, jog or cycle to save the world.

Walking, running or cycling can be a great way to get out and about while also being environmentally friendly. If you're looking for walks near you then look no further! We've created a list of walks in your area that you should know about as part of our Scottish forestry campaign.

If the route is too far to go by foot or bike try to opt for public transport or car share with a friend to reduce the number of cars on the roads. 

3. Avoid Single-Use Plastics

Use reusable cups or bottles to hold water rather than buying a plastic bottle every day! I love using reusable dishes to store leftover food, such as the glass bamboo dishes. They look great, work well, useful to have around the house, microwaveable, and they're better for the planet!

You may have heard the term 'single-use plastics' before. Single-use plastic products are used once, or for a short period of time, before being thrown away. These are things like cotton bud sticks, plastic cutlery, plates, straws, food containers, cups, bottles and plastic bags. The impacts of this plastic waste on the environment and our health are global and can be extreme. The UK government has already taken steps to tackle plastic pollution, dramatically reducing the number of plastic bags being used and restricting the supply of single-use plastic straws.

Where possible use an eco-friendly version of single-use plastics. This could be a reusable water bottle or coffee cup, glass dishes to store food and reusable bags so you're not buying carrier bags at the shops all the time.

Young Scot offer money off on eco-friendly items, check out our Discounts pages!

4. Recycle Your Clothing

"I like to be more sustainable by buying clothes from charity shops and thinking before I purchase clothes items. Shops online can make you feel like your getting a lot for your money but in reality people end up buying more than they need and this leads to lots of waste. I think people should keep in mind where their clothes are coming from and when they can, buy from local businesses and charity shops to stop the waste."

Making new things uses up loads of energy. So why not see what you can do when you cut down on the new, and reduce, reuse and recycle. When it comes to clothing you can take action by shopping in charity shops or doing clothes swaps with friends and family. If you feel like getting hands-on you could upcycle your old clothes to give them a new lease of life!

5. Batch Cook, Waste Less

To batch cook meals, make bigger portions and freeze then to have through the week. You use less fuel in cooking appliances and save a lot of money!

Cooking up a big batch of food can help you reduce waste and save time and energy throughout the week. If possible use ingredients that are in season to ensure you're getting fresh produce from the UK as some of the environmental impacts caused by human consumption of food can be made less by buying local and in season.

As produce from the UK doesn't have to travel as far there are fewer carbon emissions from vehicles in the food supply chain, and shorter refrigeration or freezing periods for food will also lower the carbon output. When growing food out of season, it's likely there will be extra environmental impact caused by artificial heating and lighting, so that gets cut out by growing food in the best conditions provided naturally by the seasons.

Find out more about seasonal eating, the benefits of fresh, locally sourced food along with a number of recipes you can use to batch cook!

6. Buy Products With Less Packaging and Go Paperless

Buy products which have little to no packaging, I also choose cardboard packaging where possible. Try and reduce paper, use emails instead of letters and only print out things you need to! Keep letters and other documents and use as scrap paper.

You can reduce the packaging you use by planning ahead. This could be taking your own containers when shopping like reusable bags for your fruit and veg or having a reusable coffee cup. Buying in bulk or buying refills of products can also reduce packaging. Even small actions like opting for cardboard packaging which is much easier to recycle can make a difference. 

Look in your local area for farmers markets or farm shops and similar small businesses where items are not pre-packaged. This way you can buy most things without packaging plus you can buy just the amount you need which also reduces food waste. You could try making or growing your own products, this completely cuts out all packaging and can be fun! You don't need a big space, you can grow herbs on your kitchen windowsill or strawberries in a hanging basket. Have a look at our guide on growing your own fruit and veg.

Visit our dedicated pages for more information about COP26 or to learn about the environment, climate change and the climate crisis.