“Climate change is the single biggest thing that humans have ever done on this planet. The one thing that needs to be bigger is our movement to stop it.” Bill McKibben
I’ve learnt a lot on my journey to becoming more environmentally aware/conscious… It started from a place of desperation- realising I wasn’t doing enough to help the planet and I wanted to change immediately. I think a lot of people can relate to this, so please let me know in the comments if this is something that sounds familiar to you?
However, 2 years in and some things have come to light which I wish I’d known before starting and I’m going to write them here to hopefully help others who are looking to make drastic changes in life to help both the environment and themselves.
1. Think POSITIVE
This is literally so important, I started off my journey from a place of depression & sadness. This mindset thing was not good, it sort of made me spiral into a black hole of realising there was so much more to be done and that I still wasn’t doing enough. Add that with all of the negative headlines we see in the news regarding “climate crisis” “environmental emergency” etc and you can actually end up feeling really quite helpless and depressed if you’re prone to those sorts of thoughts anyway. It’s taken a few years, a year of travelling and lots of motivational videos on YouTube etc for me to realise this is just not the right way to go about making a fundamental lifestyle change.
You need to go in with a positive mindset, of course there’s always more to be done, but even just starting out is amazing. That first tiny decision you make e.g. buying the organic version of something, choosing a plant based meal over a meat one or anything is SO important and you should be proud of yourself. Think positive and don’t let people tell you you aren’t doing enough, which leads me onto the next point.
2. Stay in your own lane
What I mean by this is that don’t take any notice of what others might say about you. Yes, look to others for inspiration and motivation but remember you’re not where they are on their journey, and they’re not where you are. When I first started out I was constantly comparing myself to others and this just isn’t the way to go about things. Stay on your on path, and whenever you feel yourself drifting away remember why you started in the first place (see point 3 for an expansion on that).
How many of us get road rage when we are trying to get somewhere in a massive hurry? I know in the UK it’s a big problem and I actually noticed road rage isn’t really a thing in a lot of other countries! Pete George talks in his blog about how much people in NZ love cars, and it’s very similar in the UK. Maybe it’s the high stress fast paced lifestyle a lot of people here lead, but it definitely comes out in our driving. It’s really not good to be that stressed and it can cause accidents, but it’s also worse for the environment. If you thrash your car about slamming the brakes on and accelerating too fast then you’re actually burning more fuel! So you’re also spending more money filling your car up. Try to drive more calmly and just give yourself plenty of time to get somewhere, you’ll feel a lot less stressed and you’re likely to prolong your car needing new tyres.
Buy From Carbon-Neutral Companies
Do a bit of research into companies you’re buying from and see what their production/transportation process is like. If they aren’t being transparent with their information on their website chances are they probably aren’t carbon neutral yet. Email any companies you regularly buy from and see what stage they are at with going carbon neutral! There are lots of companies just now who seem to be making that positive change which is great. Some of my favourites right now (not sponsored)
www.bambaw.com – see my recent post on a collab I did with them for a bamboo cutlery set!!
Do everything in your power to support local businesses – even just changing one product at a time. It can definitely be more pricey and this isn’t attainable for everybody, but even if you can just try! You’ll be surprised at what you can find and it’s really nice to see local entrepeneurs come up with amazing products. I recently found a nut butter from my local area which is amazing, it’s called Hungry Squirrel, so I’ve decided to buy this now instead of supermarket brands. It is more expensive but I can afford to buy it so I will. See if you can find a local replacement for one of your favourite branded food items. I bet you’d really appreciate it if people in your area were supporting you instead of big commercial brands. Buying locally not only helps people in your surrounding area but it also means the food most likely travelled a lot less of a distance to get to you. This means saving carbon emissions from big lorries/planes – it’s totally worth it 🙂
Buy Less Stuff, But Better Quality
As a complete believer in quality over quantity this is something to start living by which will help you in different areas of your lifestyle!! Opting for a more minimalist based approach can not only make you feel less stressed out in general life, but it can help towards saving the planet too. Sometimes spending a little extra goes a long way – how about changing from face wipes to reusable face pads? Yes it might be more expensive short term but in the long run you’ll end up saving money AND a whole lot of unnecessary waste. How about changing from tampons to a menstrual cup?? Ok that might not work for everybody but just give it a shot and see what happens. Try things out and if they don’t work then you can change back and try to switch something else! This also goes for clothes, even if you are buying fast fashion products from high street shops why not make sure the things you’re buying are better quality/you can see yourself wearing for years to come.
Drink Plant Milk Instead of Cows Milk!
Agriculture is one of the leading emitters of greenhouse gases in the USA, and although in the UK it accounts for around 10% overall it’s still important to be mindful of this. In agriculture, carbon footprint is measured by the CO2, N2O and CH4 emissions from different processes which take part such as fermentation. Nitrous oxide and methane are the bigger problems, as they are a much more concentrated gas than carbon dioxide. Although aims are in place to reduce these emissions it’s probably still better to just opt for plant milk more often than not. My personal favourites are Oatly (oat milk) which you can buy from almost any supermarket now! And brand new on the market, Sproud, a scandanavian brand of milk which is made from peas.. Sounds gross but it’s not! My barista friends have told me it’s perfect for frothing up to make latte’s etc. Getting into the habit of asking for milk alternatives when you get your daily Costa/Starbucks/Tim Hortons or whatever is such an achievement and you should be proud of yourself if you manage to make this fundamental change in your life!
Can’t stress this enough – if you are fit and able – walk, wherever is reasonable to walk to! The majority of people spend all day at a desk so try to walk some of your journey to or from work. I always refer to Shona Vertue cause I’m slightly obsessed with her – but she suggests moving around every 45 minutes from your seat. Although you wouldn’t be driving around your office building, getting into a habit of walking everywhere is actually kind of addictive and you’ll feel so much better. This is obviously location dependant, like if you’re living in London where it might be impossible to walk to work then don’t do that haha. But just decide whether a car is really necessary for certain journeys.
I hope some of these were helpful! You’re probably already doing some of those which is great. Please leave a comment below if you have other ideas 🙂