If you've switched on the news recently you've probably heard about climate change. You've probably gotten down over carbon emissions. Global warming. Deforestation. It's just plain old doom and gloom out there right? Not true.
We're taking some time out from our ethical fashion store to go through 3 easy ways you can stay green in 2018. Even the busiest of people can do these 3 steps, and do your part for our only home, Earth!
1. Cut Down your Animal Products
Whether you're thinking of cutting down meat, eggs and dairy, or cutting it out entirely, reducing your animal product consumption is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and reduce animal exploitation.
Remember learning about the food chain in school? Growing all those delicious grains and veggies just to feed to livestock requires loads of energy. Why not cut out the middle man and feast on those veg yourself?!
Scientists have found it requires 40 times more energy to produce an equivalent ratio of beef protein compared to grain protein . Currently, livestock in the US consume 7 times more grains than us humans do!  Not only does it make sense scientifically, it will make you feel good ethically to reduce your meat consumption. Whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, make a protein rich and healthy alternative .
Tasty, healthy, and plant-based beans!
2. Buy Ethically
The power lies with you. As a consumer, you hold the key to making sure an ethical supply of products are available, by having a strong ethical demand. If you don't agree with it, you don't have to buy it. This includes not only animal derived fashion products like leather, fur and angora, but also products such as oil palm, exotic wood furniture, and products made of non-recyclable materials.
In 2000, consumers in the UK spent just £5 million on ethical clothing. This increased hugely by 2015 to over £29 million per year on ethical clothing alone! Overall, the UK market for ethical purchases was worth an estimated £38 billion in 2015, growing by 8.5% from the previous year . You can see from these figures that consumers are the most active force in changing the economic landscape in the UK, and you can play a powerful role in this ongoing environmental change, one you should be proud of!
However recent studies have shown that many consumers feel uncertain when making buying decisions, because companies aren't doing enough to say where their products come from, or what they contain . For large brands, you can check their environmental and ethical scores on useful websites such as 'thegoodshoppingguide.com'. For boutique companies and brands, like us, you should check out their 'about us' sections, their 'mission statements', and pay attention to where they ship from, where it's made, and what it's made from, to make sure they are being fully transparent with their information.
A good, ethical brand should be proud of their credentials and make you aware of what they stand for on their website, so that you can buy with confidence!
3. Choose Natural and Recyclable Materials
One of the biggest reasons we love cork so much here at Cortiça Boutique is because it's a natural, renewable and plant-based material . This means it's fully biodegradable! If your piece of jewellery has finally reached the end of its life, you could up-cycle the pretty beads and charms into new jewellery, and then simply throw the cork bits out with your compost. From there, all the millions of fungi and bugs that live in the soil will eat and break it down back to where it came from - the Earth!
Certain materials, for example plastics, take a long time to break down, and also a large degree of energy to produce. Plastics are a really useful material and most of us would be lost without them in the modern world, however, you should try and choose plastic products which can be recycled easily, and look out for the recycling symbol!
Packaging is a major problem in the 21st century. It's easy to look around and get overwhelmed by the amount of litter lying around and polluting the beautiful environment! Plastic packaging, in particular, finds it's way in to rivers and eventually the sea. Scientists predict that over 5 trillion plastic particles are floating on the surface of the ocean at this very minute! .
However, you can help end this, too. Choose to buy from suppliers who don't use unnecessary packaging materials, or use materials such as recycled paper, card, plastic and FSC certified wood (that includes cork!), or even better, don't use packaging at all. When you go to your local supermarket, choose fresh fruits and vegetables which come loose, and don't put them in those nasty plastic bags, just give them a good wash when you get them home!
With these three easy lifestyle choices, you will make a significant impact on your local and global environment. As a consumer, you have more choice than ever before to only purchase products which do their part for the environment, from companies which act in a responsible and ethical manner.
Thanks for reading, please share this article to help spread the word about how easy it is to change your environment for the better, for everyone, forever!
Elliot Hill is a PhD researcher in environmental science and a founder at Cortiça Boutique, he is committed to spreading scientifically relevant information and helping people understand how they can live sustainably in the 21st century.
References (click the numbers in the text above to go direct to the articles!)
 Sabate, J. and Soret, S. (2014). Sustainability of plant-based diets: back to the future. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 100(Supplement_1), pp.476S-482S.
 Pimentel, D. and Pimentel, M. (2003). Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment. [online] Ajcn.nutrition.org. Available at: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/660S.full.pdf+html [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017].
 Nutrition Facts.org (2017). Increased Lifespan from Beans | NutritionFacts.org. [online] Nutritionfacts.org. Available at: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/increased-lifespan-from-beans/ [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017].
 Triodos Bank (2016). Ethical Consumer Markets Report 2016. [online] Triodos Bank. Available at: http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/portals/0/downloads/ethical%20consumer%20markets%20report%202016.pdf [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017].
 Hassan, L., Shaw, D., Shiu, E., Walsh, G. and Parry, S. (2013). Uncertainty in ethical consumer choice: a conceptual model. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 12(3), pp.182-193.
 Gil, L. (2015). Cork: Sustainability and New Applications. Frontiers in Materials, 1.
 Kooi, M., Besseling, E., Kroeze, C., van Wenzel, A. and Koelmans, A. (2017). Modeling the Fate and Transport of Plastic Debris in Freshwaters: Review and Guidance. The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry, pp.125-152.