Let's face it, I likely have average (at best) knowledge of all things environmental, although that's really just a guess of where I am on the scale. I haven't conducted an in depth survey on this, hats off to the people who do this sort of thing. I'm always pretty jealous and in awe of spreadsheet whizzes and I do love a good pie chart. It also won't shock anyone to know that I haven't done extensive research for this blog piece, or any of my others if I'm being honest- why change a habit of a lifetime? When I say lifetime, I mean fortnight (the length of time which has lapsed since my first blog). I just set out to be totally authentic, inquisitive and I don't worry too much about sounding stupid- that ship sailed (and sunk) a long time ago! I'm the first to admit when I don't know something, in fact I'll normally pester someone who does know until I do too.
Many can attest to this, particularly one of my good friends who lives and breathes all things environmental. Luckily, this is someone I've spent a lot of time out on hills with so what better and longer time to have a slightly irritating but enthusiastic, thirsty for knowledge companion to bend your ear? Come to think of it, he's not been out with me in a while and way before Covid restrictions were imposed... He may also be horrified at some of the content and ideas in this blog so it's important to state that they're all my own and basically a low down of how I try to use loving the planet, and here's the confession ...to my advantage!
We're always encouraged to try to take the positive out of any situation, so why not in our efforts to combat climate change? You may gain nothing from this blog (and if that's the case I apologise if you've lost a few precious moments of your life), but who knows; you might just find some idea or resource that you think is groundbreaking (jokes) but perhaps realistic and achievable.
Being more consciously environmentally aware does come with an internal dialogue, or angel/devil on each shoulder, if you will. It's kind of like "I really want to do that...I know I shouldn't...but it will look nice and people will like it (in the short term),...BUT people and the planet may suffer in the long term"...mmm decisions. I'm not saying these thoughts completely plague my life or anything and I really don't recommend letting this take over yours or greatly impacting your mental health. Climate Anxiety is very real and I personally think no good or positive results can ever come from shaming anyone or beating yourself up about not doing enough.
Congratulate yourself on anything you are doing and build on that.
Most of my ideas come from being totally frugal (resourceful I like to call it), enjoying being organised and rejoicing in small victories. I will try to articulate some of these small victories and ideas of mine here, maybe give you a few giggles and perhaps you'll even try a few. Basically I'm going to try to show how swaggering about the supermarket and having nights in with your pals can contribute to your environmental efforts, and make you feel really good at the same time. So, here goes...
"Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?" No Katy Perry, I do not. But I do genuinely feel like I'm winning at life if I remember my plastic (reusable) bags when I go to the supermarket. In fact, last time I visited I remembered my bags, coupons AND points card and the lovely cashier told me I was "doing well today!" Oh, how I swaggered out of there! Go on, admit it, you've all felt the thrill of either avoiding the 10p (or is it 20 now?) carrier bag charge or worse doing your best Cirque de Soleil (minus tightrope) impression to stubbornly and bag-free export your shopping to safety. In this instance, I'd say (again what you're probably not supposed to say), buy the bag and of course reuse it next time if possible. I'm sure the cashiers hench their bets on success or failure in these pursuits and probably secretly do a victory dance when you've refused the bag they've encouraged you to take and then your dinner becomes road (or aisle) kill.
You're at the gym, desperately thirsty and have forgotten your reusable water bottle, we've all been there. You really don't want to, but feel it's a toss up between purchasing a plastic one or dying of thirst (slightly dramatic), just buy the bloody bottle, recycle it responsibly (or even reuse) and pat yourself on the back for the majority of the time that you do remember your own. There may be a biodegradable version or one that's traveled a shorter distance to reach where you are so it's worth checking for that and again pat yourself on the back for even considering that. If you still don't feel worthy why not make yourself work a bit harder in your workout since you have the privilege of hydration? It won't save the world but the endorphins will make you feel good and you'll forget your 'crime' soon enough! Buying a plastic water bottle is not the end of the world and anyone who shames people if they are carrying one, please stop doing this. If they're approachable why not chat to them constructively about it? If you really like them, buy them a reusable one and then you'll feel good about all the bottles they won't use and throw away, all because of you. Move over, Greta!
I absolutely HATE wasting food, it genuinely can ruin my day or week, not even joking. I just feel so guilty to the extent that I'll binge something to save it going to waste which is a totally stupid logic but I'm sure a few can relate. So, I've discovered some really cool money saving, food waste reduction apps and ideas. I won't go into too much detail about each one but all are definitely worth checking out. The penny pincher in me would love if you'd share any of your own in the comments. I'd love to create an "Environmental hacks for an easy life" (or such like) section on my website!
Up the Mums! Check out this fun, money saving hack! https://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/mum-shares-simple-lolly-stick-23285990
Too Good To Go app https://toogoodtogo.org/en
And my new favourite... Kitche I've always said "it smells fine, looks good? I'm eating it" and now there's proof. https://kitche.co/
How to host a celebration guilt(ish) free
I am absolutely a hostess and this is one of the things where my angel and devil battle big time. So here's just a few tips that I use when throwing parties:
Minimal balloons- enough to look nice but not too much to use up your single use plastic quota for the year and minimal, preferably no helium. This is my compromise on this one. Many would say it doesn't go far enough and I agree but remember what I said about small steps?
Buy generic decorations (think rainbows, nice colours and patterns)- If you don't include ages or even words, then you can reuse and save time going to the shops, money buying the same thing again and prevent waste. Win, win ,win. You can even lend them to people to save them money too.
Be organised. Purchase gifts in advance and if you must use gift wrap and bags, try use ones you already have. Anyone else feel delighted when someone gives them a bag and they've not written on the card? No? Just me then. I still reuse one without the tag but everyone knows that you've done that, but then it's cool to be environmental friendly nowadays, right? Reputation in tact...phew!
Gifts- If you must order from Amazon, or the like why not use Amazon Smile and nominate a charity of your choice (https://smile.amazon.co.uk), I personally support local charity Neil's Hugs (https://www.neilshugsfoundation.com/) and there's lots of amazing others to choose from.
Buffet- Who doesn't love a good buffet but do you really need all the plastic? Can you bake the cakes on your own to save on packaging? Wash the dishes instead of disposables? This just may not be practical and that's ok. Purely ideas. If you save one plastic plate only through thinking like this, then it's a start, say it with me "small steps"! I feel it does some justice to touch on meat consumption here and as a meat eater I am just going to say that having meat free days and reducing the meat products you purchase is a good start. Cater for the vegis and vegans, come on they're good people who deserve to eat as well! And no, opening the door and telling them to eat the grass is NOT an acceptable suggestion- a wee 'joke' someone made in a meeting I was once in.
Confession time! I travel all over Scotland (when permitted) to be blown about up a hill a minimum height of 3,000ft, aka a Munro. Giving this up is out of the question but considering how I'm getting there is not. Can I car share? Can I use public transport? Basically what is the most eco-friendly, but also convenient (as in won't ruin my day out or dent my bank balance) way to do it? I also made a strong start on the steps required to make any trips my hill walking club made, carbon neutral. Covid has delayed this but I'll go out on a whim here and say we've had the most carbon neutral year since cars were invented- woohoo go us! Seriously tho, we intend to pick this project up, which is code for I just don't stop banging on about things, when restrictions ease. It's worth saying I have pretty limited knowledge in this area and any knowledge I do have is from my hill-walking, environmental giant buddy, mentioned earlier. He 'educated' me (loose term) in a non-judgmental way despite undoubtedly lots of ridiculous questions and now I have the power to make change. How cool is that? What a way to resume our activities when we can, in an environmentally conscious way which shows love and protection for beautiful country, and wider world that we are lucky enough to roam. This sort of thing excites me if you can't tell!
Another note on travel is being more conscious about the flights which are being taken. No judgement here whatsoever. I LOVE to travel and I want to see as much of the world as possible. I flew to New Zealand in 2019 and I chose to offset my carbon footprint by making a donation to an environmental charity. If I remember correctly it was around £50. I could afford it and it felt good and right. Up the moral advantages! I understand that not everyone is in the financial position to do this or necessarily wants to but it is worth considering. There are lots of schemes out there where you can do a lot of good with not a lot of money.
"Second hand is the new 'New'!
Ok I coined that phrase myself for the purpose of this blog and don't think it will catch on but I am claiming it if it does. We all love treating ourselves to something new. Christ, I have emotional scars from being the youngest sister of three and wearing exclusively 'hand-me-downs' but now I absolutely LOVE a 'hand-me-down'! Saves me a tonne of money, extends the life of a much loved outfit or gives life to one which wasn't appreciated. Sorry, I've suddenly turned myself into the Mother Theresa of the fashion world. That's where the comparison began and very swiftly ended, apologies to all involved! In my opinion, it's stressful having too many clothes, there's just too much choice! There's nowhere to go just now either so what's the point in buying so much. Obviously treat yourself sometimes. I mean I'm planning on wearing a ball gown on my next post-covid night out which may coincide with my retirement do at this point! If you really want something new (to you), root through your friends' cast offs- make a night in of it, when allowed. I'm thinking "Carrie's closet in SATC the movie"! Oh, I miss my girls...Zoom isn't quite cutting it right now! Check out charity shops and buy something really unique and different. If you really want to purchase something actually new and ethical, my friend and her bestie have recently launched this website and the collection is simply stunning, the kids stuff is adorable and you can teach them the ethics around it.
Heartwarming ethics originating from friendship. Strut your stuff, either in the living room or the street and only in your bubble, but you'll be looking fab and feeling even better.
The kids are alright!
Listening to all people is so important but I feel that tackling the climate emergency is something that young people will lead the way on so tune in, and listen to them. Get everyone involved and most of all make it fun. My 5 year old niece has been asking me for some time to take her litter picking/rubbish collecting and this weekend a whole bunch of individuals and families are taking part, in their own way, in #OrlasPick. Shameless plug-another advantage! For my particular council area, you can place collected rubbish next to local council bins and email them with a photo and the location and they'll collect it...easy peasy! Check out what the system is in your area or try to petition/initiate one. Good bit of healthy positive activism! I believe that if you do this sort of activity with your children/young relatives/wee pals, it will be a lasting memory for them, and they'll think your pretty cool too. Remember, caring about the planet is SO in right now! You'll also feel good about it, mentally and physically and have total social media bragging rights for your efforts. Result: ego and self esteem boosted! See, I told you this can work to your advantage! Also, people need a break from pics of the lock down banana loaf efforts. Come on folks, it's been a year!
Ok, so that has been my very random roundup of the things that I am doing to try to be environmentally conscious and considerate. I personally have so much capacity to learn more, change my practices and generally DO better and BE better when it comes to caring for the planet but I can honestly say that I DO try. Small steps, but still moving forward. Sometimes when I start talking about these issues I start to feel anxious and paranoid as if people will look at me and think "what does she know with her dyed blonde hair, petrol car" and the many other 'sins' which I'm guilty of?
I think this type of culture of 'shaming' people really needs to change as it suggests that environmental issues are reserved business for the 'educated', the elite, the confident, the 'saints' who do nothing wrong. Maybe it's just me, but I have experienced a level of aloofness when speaking with a minority of self proclaimed 'Eco-Warriors'. This is not to tar any one or group with that brush but, in my opinion this curses the cause and makes it seem unattainable and inaccessible to someone like me. That's not to put myself down and certainly not to diminish the education and science which really clever, remarkable people make their life's work. BUT ordinary people (for the record, everyone is extraordinary) should feel like they can really participate and contribute positively too- this is a global problem which requires a global solution- no blame or shame! I'll continue to grow, evolve and become more confident with how I live my life and when the time comes that I can educate others I'll do so with no judgement. I've likely missed a lot from this blog and it is void of stats or scientific findings but I figured there are lots of blogs out there which focus on that but there are none specifically from me. And now there is.