Happy Saturday all! Following on from last week’s blog on eco-anxiety, this one will share some simple things people could try to feel more empowered and active in reducing their carbon footprint.
But please remember, it’s not about being perfect or changing everything at once.
I’ve been reflecting on this a lot since I wrote last week’s blog and I cannot stress enough it is not about putting loads of pressure on yourself. Everything we do, even if it seems small, counts and it is unrealistic to try and address everything in one go. There will be things we slip up on or forget or just simply aren’t in the position to address. It’s about doing what you can, when you can. It is not a thing to beat ourselves up about – trying to live more consciously is something we can do to empower ourselves, to connect more with the world around us and to have fun experimenting with!
So, keeping this in mind, here’s a few ideas:
1. Save energy
There’s lots of energy-saving things we can do around the home that take little to no effort, and that can help to reduce our monthly bills. There’s all the often-suggested stuff like turning lights off in rooms we aren’t using, turning electricals off at the wall rather than leaving them on standby or turning the heating off when we are out all day.
There are also simple changes we can make to household tasks. For example, our washing machine has an ‘Eco’ button that you can apply to most of the cycle options. It does increase the wash time by about 30 minutes and washes it at a slightly lower temperature, but the timing doesn’t really matter if we aren’t in a hurry and, providing they aren’t really dirty, most clothes are fine to be washed at 30 degrees. We also try to only use the washing machine when we have a full load, rather than doing multiple half loads.
Also, if you have control of your energy provider, you could also check out what deals you can get with companies who provide green energy (I’ve been with Tonik for a few years as I got a good deal and I have had no problems so far!)
2. Make do and mend
From replacing a fuse in a seemingly broken kettle to sewing up moth holes in a woollen jumper, learning how to make small repairs has helped me to keep lots of things that I love out of the bin! Google and YouTube are a big help, as well as asking more knowledgeable friends and family for advice. But, obviously, it’s important to know your limits and get someone professional to repair anything you can’t manage and please don’t attempt anything that could be dangerous like mains electricity!
I am genuinely emotionally attached to my thermos flask. It has seen me through many a frosty morning and tiring journey AND it gets me 25p off when I treat myself to a brew when I am out and about! Reusable stuff is not only handy, but they are great for reducing waste and there’s some affordable and nice designs out there! I picked up a bag-sized water bottle and stackable lunchbox from Homesense for about £12 all-in and they are both regulars on the draining board. They’ve also probably saved me a lot of money by encouraging me to prepare things at home.
You can also repurpose packaging from other things. For example, I save glass jars to store food, spices and other bits in, whilst one of my friends uses them as drinks glasses!
Before you throw anything away, see if you can recycle it first! Most people recycle household waste via council collections, but some also offer other recycling services for larger items, like furniture or electricals, for a small cost (check out their website). You could also pay a visit to your local recycling centre if you have access to a car.
If the objects are still decent, you could also donate them to a charity shops (some have collection services like the British Heart Foundation’s Furniture Collection Scheme), pass them on to friends and family, or even sell them online or at second-hand shops for some extra money.
Walking or cycling are obviously the eco-friendliest ways to get about, and they can be great for our physical and mental health too. However, its not always possible to travel in this way, especially for long or time-conscious journeys. Public transport is probably the next best thing, and you can also read at the same time which makes it a winner in my eyes! Where this isn’t viable and you need to use your car, you can maximise your fuel efficiency by ensuring your tyres are pumped up and keeping your car serviced, saving on both emissions and petrol costs. (If you are shit at looking after your car like me, this is a good incentive!!).
Then there’s flying. Planes obviously use a lot of energy and create a lot of emissions. Hopefully, in the future, we will develop some lovely sustainable fuels and aircrafts but, until then, there isn’t much we can do to get around this fact. So, what can we do?
I think its important to think about it in perspective. A recent article in the Guardian showed that 10% most frequent flyers in England took more than half of all international flights in 2018. So, taking a hard-earned holiday abroad or visiting family once a year isn’t the crux of the issue. Recognising air travel as a luxury and flying less (and forgoing the private jet!) are all things a lot of us already do, as well as addressing emissions in other areas of our lives. I think the best advice for many of us is just is to make sure you make every flight count! Take trips that are important to you, that will enrich your life or the communities you are visiting, and just have a bloody good time!
(NB: I did do some research into carbon offsetting for big flights or frequent flyers but it all looked a bit iffy. I did find this blog really useful and like the idea of creating your own scheme, where you calculate what you need to offset and donate it to an environmentally-active charity you know is legit!)
6. Use your voice
Individual actions are of course important but if we are to meet the scale of this challenge, we need to be inspiring change at a higher level. Supporting movements who are looking for genuine and effective solutions, writing to MPs and companies you buy from asking them to improve their environmental policies, signing petitions and getting involved with community groups or protests and strikes (we have a blog coming out about this soon!) can all help to make change happen. You can also use your voice to inspire improvement in your own immediate situations, such as asking your boss or school to improve recycling facilities.
Remember, everything you do is an awesome step forward!
Love, Jodie x