Thursday 22nd April 2021 is Earth Day. It is an annual event that popped up on my calendar, and it is shameful to say that the day simply went by as another day in previous years.
This year, however, it caused a pause. You see, over the years, I’ve made changes that will help the environment in the long term. Not large actions, but a little can go a long way.
If you want passionate content written from practice and experience, I highly recommend reading content written by Caroline or Michelle. They have both written informative content about ways you can make a positive difference to the environment.
- Reusable bag
- Eco-friendly baking
- Rechargeable batteries
- No meat days
- Make do and mend
- Reusable water bottle
- Think about fashion
- Delivery options
I’m not the pillar of environmental actions, but I wanted to write this blog as I’m learning. So many times, we are bombarded with BIG steps we must take to make a difference; it can be overwhelming and frankly too expensive at times. I wanted to share the ways I’ve made changes that are realistic and affordable.
This blog post doesn’t come from a place of telling you what to do or saying ‘this is the way to live’. Instead, I wrote it because I didn’t think I could contribute or make changes that positively influence the environment. It felt like the small changes didn’t matter, but they do. If anything, I hope this blog post confirms that your actions, no matter how small matter, or give you an idea of how you can realistically start.
We all know by now that reusable bags are a must when going to the shops.
I always keep a spare fabric bag at the bottom of my purse, encase I nip to the shop. Plus, I don’t want to pay 10p for a bag that would probably break before I get home.
Keep a reusable bag by your door, in your car or even in your coat pocket.
Did you know baking from scratch is more eco-friendly? I didn’t actively think about it before, but it makes sense. Cupcakes, for example, the boxes you purchase from Poundland or B&M, where all you do is add water, milk or eggs, have so much needless packaging. I’ve noticed that when cooking from scratch, items such as flour, sugar and more come in paper packaging that is easy to recycle. Plus, the ingredients can be used to make more than one batch.
Recently, we ran out of paper cupcake cases, so we took this moment to purchase reusable silicone cupcake cases. The cupcakes slide right out and do not get stuck to the cupcakes, which is a bonus as well.
This change wasn’t one I thought about for so long, because we don’t use batteries much anymore. We have a few battery-operated remotes and controllers, but we still managed to go through a fair few. Many supermarkets, such as Tesco, have places where you can recycle used batteries. However, switching to rechargeable batteries reduces the number of batteries used, cost in the long term, and packaging.
No meat days
Did you know that food production and consumption are quickly degenerating the planet? I don’t think about what I eat, not really. I know I shouldn’t say that, especially in a blog post starting with ‘Earth Day’, but I wanted to be honest.
I wasn’t concerned with what I was eating until my last year of University (2018). Meat was a staple piece of every meal, as it was quick, cheap and efficient. I never want to push my eating habits on anyone else, but I understand why people sway away from Vegetarian meals. Without prior knowledge, it can seem daunting, expensive and less efficient than flinging nuggets in the oven. I know others might disagree, which is fine, but that is where I started. Even growing up, my parents were extremely busy with work and had to make ends meet, which meant chicken nuggets and chips a lot of the time. That wasn’t wrong; we were fed and happy, which is what matters.
Sorry for the tangent! When my partner and I had a bit more time and money, we began experimenting with our food and alternatives. When we have the means, we opt for meat-free days, which sounds like nothing, but little changes matter.
Like with anything, you have to test and try new things to see if you like them. Quorn is a lovely alternative we have found, which tastes better than many people give it credit.
If you are like me and don’t really feel comfortable in the kitchen, attempt a climate-friendly day each week, or start off small by finding alternatives for meals throughout the day.
Vegetarian or vegan, why not see what you can create?
Make do and mend
I loved the stories my Grandma would tell me about darning her socks and how she showed me how to sew on a button – the little things that keep your clothes from the textile bin.
If my clothes break, a thread is loose, or a button pops off, I sew it back on or back up. My stitches might be a bit wonky, but the clothes will still function and will serve their purpose for another day.
It isn’t just clothing though, always look at how you can repair something before throwing it away.
My dad is notorious for building things from scratch, seeing opportunity in the old and making it into something new. In fact, my sister and I shared a room growing up, and he built the bunk bed from scratch out of scrap wood. That bunk bed stood the test of time and lasted for years.
I also believe he used part of an old wardrobe to build my sister and me a desk when we lived with our parents. That desk still stands today, even though both my sister and I no longer live with our parents.
The point is, see how you can re-use things. It doesn’t have to be as big as a bunk bed; no one expects that unless you want to build one. Start small; for example, I recently sorted through my belongings and came across an old tote bag. Not entirely sure where it came from, but I knew it wasn’t sturdy enough for shopping or secure enough for a daily bag. Instead of getting rid, though, I made it into a cushion as I needed a new one. The stuffing consists of a collection of stuffing and old bits of scrap fabric.
Boxes are another versatile item to re-use. For example, since I couldn’t make it back to my parents for Christmas, they sent me some Christmas gifts, which meant an abundance of boxes and packing material. The boxes were either recycled or re-used to send Christmas presents to others. We had so much packaging, such as bubble wrap, that we asked if anyone wanted it on the local community Facebook page; someone snapped it up quite quickly.
Before you throw something away, see how it can be re-used, especially if it cannot be recycled. Others might need it, or you can re-use it yourself.
Reusable water bottle
I know this sounds strange, but a reusable water bottle is the best purchase I made in Lockdown. Not only do I drink more water, but I don’t purchase a drink while out. It means that I have a drink in my bag and won’t need to pop into a corner shop for a drink.
Think about fashion
This is the one I am still working on – fast fashion. I’ll be honest and hope this comes across as sincere. I wholeheartedly agree with eco-friendly brands that focus on the care of their employees, where and how they source their materials, but sometimes that is not possible.
Budget comes into this change; while I am trying to stay clear of fast fashion, I can only say I haven’t bought any new clothing since last year. I grew up in a household where I took the clothes that no longer fit my sister (and still rummage through things she doesn’t want now) and shopped in Charity shops.
In all honesty, I like the switch in perspectives about second-hand purchases, as it was looked down upon when I was growing up. I wish that more brands were affordable and environmentally friendly now. Charity shops, I believe, are for those that do not necessarily have an abundance of disposable income, but prices appear to increase due to demand. But that goes into a whole other subject.
Getting back on track. Think about fashion before you buy; if you have the means, seek environmentally conscious clothing brands. Donate items to those that need your old clothes that are in good condition, recycle clothes for arts and crafts projects if they cannot be donated. Make sure to periodically go through your wardrobe, see what you have, donate what you no longer wear, and create outfits. Sometimes we can forget what we have, and we end up buying more things that go unused.
One other clothing tip I incorporate is when you buy new clothing, for example, a new pair of shoes, see what they go within your current wardrobe first. I am guilty of buying new items and then realising I have nothing to pair them with in my wardrobe. It helps cut spending and stops me from buying something I don’t need.
I hope we can all agree on, though, is not to look down on others if they have to use fast fashion. At the end of the day, we can’t deny that it is affordable, and some don’t have the means to seek environmentally friendly and ethical clothing. (If you do know of any affordable brands, though, please mention them in the comments).
Throughout Lockdown, we had to opt for delivery options for groceries, so an easy change to make is clicking ‘no bags’. Many supermarkets have the option to have your groceries delivered without plastic bags—an easy switch to make.
I live in a flat, so I have a box and some bags on hand to put the groceries in, so I have no need for plastic bags.
I like virtual statements for two reasons, it reduces the amount of paper used, and I was a University student, so I moved property every year. I didn’t want statements turning up after moving.
You can opt for virtual bank statements, water bills, electric bills and more. On a similar subject, some self-checkouts ask if you would like a receipt printed, which will also save paper.
I mentioned how I received a few parcels at Christmas; some were wrapped in bubble wrap, others had parcel paper. Now, we all know that traditional birthday wrapping paper is not recyclable, so instead, I’ve been wrapping up gifts with the parcel paper and decorating the outside.
I have a collection of ribbons collected from gifts, clothing or when shops would wrap pyjamas with ribbon. The ribbon is tied around the parcel, and it looks great. I typically use the ribbons for the recipients that I know will re-use them.
I hope you liked my rambling blog post, where I do believe I went off course, a bit. I like sharing stories and how I am learning as I go. I’m not an expert, but I am trying with the little changes. It might not seem like a lot, and some might laugh, but I know that each day is a chance to learn how to make a little change to affect the future for the better.
I want to reinforce that you should check out the bloggers I mentioned at the beginning. They have more experience, understanding and passion regarding this subject and are two of the friendliest bloggers I have had the pleasure of interacting with online.
I’m still learning and discovering the changes I can make that positively affect the environment, which is okay. We all start somewhere.
Let’s add to this blog and share in the comments what change you have made that benefits the environment.