Just some ideas to make the world that little bit nicer....
5 quick swaps
1. Fancy a coffee? You probably already have a reusable coffee mug, but did you know that lots of places offer discounts on take-away coffees when you bring in your own reusable cup or flask?
2. Plastic veg bags vs cloth bags made from recycled material. I think the age of the plastic shopping bag is well and truly over, but did you know (fun fact) that plastic bags were actually invented to save the environment instead of wasteful single use paper bags? How much of a mind flip is that?
I have always favoured paper bags because I can compost them at home after use, but this is a stark reminder that we not only have to think of the death of a product (paper beats plastic), but also the birth of a product, as in how much energy/resources did it take to create the thing and for how many uses? (in this example - plastic beats paper).
In the endless game of cloth, paper, plastic... nothing beats using what you already have. So I made some fabric produce bags out of some old material I had lying around and I plan on making a few more too!
3. Bamboo toothbrush. Do you throw out your toothbrush every 3 months?! No, neither do I. But if you do, you can find some bamboo ones at your local zero-waste store.
4. Period paraphernalia. Mooncup = lifechanging, money-saving, god send.
5. Plant-Based Burger vs Animal-Based Burger. If you haven't tried Iceland's No Bull Plant-Based Burger yet, you're in for a treat. This one is a tasty swap that no-one has to die for.
5 more long-term changes
6. Hooray for second-hand! I went through the Nantwich charity shops a few Sundays ago and oh my goodness they were next level. I literally walked in, tralalala 4 items straight to the till, and out again. A party dress, a pair of jeans, a pair of black work trousers and a jumper. Highly recommend.
If you're more of a recluse, apps like Vinted are especially good for second hand clothes.
7. Grow your own. Pick up some cheap seeds, start with courgettes and radishes if you're a complete beginner. You'll soon get addicted as your thumbs turn green.
8. Learn to batch-cook. I'm still learning this one! Sunday night we cook a huge casserole or curry and portion it off into tupperware. Not only does this seem to save on food waste (I'm not sure how but my compost bin is always less full if we food prep than if we cook individual meals), but it saves us using the hob or the oven every day. Not to mention the amount of time, money and mental exhaustion it saves us too. Win, win, win.
9. Home compost. You leave all of your vegetable scraps in a bin for the council to take and transport and burn into compost to transport to sell which you then drive to the shop and spend money to buy compost for your garden?! - cut out the middle man and start your own compost bin. Read this blog post written by our resident gardener for how to get started.
10. DIY everything. Get creative, get ingenuitive (not a real word), get imaginative. The power of the internet is that a tutorial for any idea is available at the click of a button, but really what I mean by Do It Yourself is to sit in that gross and uncomfortable empty space between boredom and frustration until the possibilities spark out in endless array.
5 'let's look at the big picture' tips
11. Overseas vs local goods. Of course, shop local & save the world! Shopping local reduces carbon emissions, reduces the need for transportation and storage (think of a warehouse the size of a football field) and perhaps most importantly reduces the risk that people on the other side of the world have been woefully mistreated in order to make this item for us.
Of course our mission is to make it as easy as possible to find local eco-friendly products, but there's also buying local veg, supporting local (independent) cafes and restaurants that share the same ethos as you, buying locally grown flowers and so on.
12. Holidays abroad vs Luxury UK holidays. Hey, if you can afford a bit of luxury, go for it... but why not keep it local. Here's a cool carbon calculator that shows you how much carbon a flight abroad would take. Plus today the BBC revealed that "About half of the flights taken last year by 20-45 year-old men were for stag dos, and that generates a lot of emissions". Half of the flights! That's so much!
13. Switch to a Renewable Energy Supplier - we are with Ecotricity, but a few new ones have come out since we made the swap so it's worth doing a quick google. You can also go to the Gridwatch site to see how much renewable energy the UK is generating at any point and compare it to demand. Hint: recently the renewable energy from wind sources has been through the roof!
14. Plant a tree - "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in" Ancient Greek Proverb.
15. Climb a hill (maybe Frodsham Hill?) and literally take a look at the big picture. Get some perspective. We're a confusing species, we can see in a heartbeat how a minuscule action can change an entire planet. We can zoom in about an issue (plastic straws anyone?) and then zoom out with the next breath (8 million pieces of plastic in the ocean every day!) and it's enough to make you dizzy. So go somewhere local, where you can sit but see far away, go in real life and take a little notebook with you.
5 thoughts for a brighter future
16. Get Active. Write to your MP, heck become your local MP if you are so inclined. Show up at the causes that matter most to you. Join Extinction Rebellion Chester or the Cheshire Wounded Badger Patrol.
17. Volunteer. If you've always wanted to volunteer but are not sure what would be required, here's the full council list of volunteering roles for Cheshire West and Chester.
18. Start a community action group/tool library/shared resource list - with social media, it's easier than ever. Start talking to people, reach out, ask them if you can borrow or rent their ladders or their hedge trimmer, you know, the sort of items we desperately need once in a blue moon.
19. Challenge Onwards and Upwards - it's a human condition, we seek growth, whether that means doing more, being more productive, earning more, creating more, reading more, feeling more, experiencing more, you get the picture. Quite frankly, it's ruined us. It's the definition of unsustainable. See how comfortable you can get with doing less. Feeling less. Being less productive... It already sounds negative doesn't it? See if you can challenge that association. Try and use the phrase "backwards and upwards" or "onwards and downwards" in conversation - you'll get some funny looks!
20. Is it the end or the beginning? - Scientists have just figured out how to compost the human body in just 30 days, saving tonnes of carbon (compared to cremation) and eliminating land use (burial sites). Is this too macabre for the end of a post? Well maybe it's just the beginning.