With the new year there comes the consideration of “What can I do to be better?” for some people it’s dry January or exercise goals to try and be healthier.
For me, every year I try to keep educating myself of new simple ways to make small changes to products I use or things I do to gradually adopt a more sustainable lifetsyle.
For the last few years I’ve kicked off the new year by doing Veganuary but due to my living circumstances at the moment I’m not doing it this year, but I’m hoping to do it a different month later in the year.
I’m not saying you have to go vegan for a month to be more sustainable, there are some small swaps that I have made over the years that haven’t drastically changed my lifestyle or put a dent in my bank account, they are small simple swaps I’ve made that enable me to be more eco friendly.
I’m by no means perfect, I’m making small changes to be a little bit better which is ultimatley an imporvement than on not trying.
So over the years these are the thing I’ve tried;
As I said before, I normally try and do veganuary but outside of that I try and swap some of my everyday food items to more sustainable ones:
My main food swap is using alternative plant based milk in my tea and cereal (my fave is soya milk). You wouldn’t believe how much of an affect that has on the environment:
“Producing a glass of dairy milk every day for a year requires 650 sq m (7,000 sq ft) of land, the equivalent of two tennis courts and more than 10 times as much as the same amount of oat milk“Climate change: Which vegan milk is best?
By Clara Guibourg and Helen Briggs
When I was cooking for myself at university and living at home, I also used plant based cooking staples like margarine and tried to opt for dairy free products like hot chocolate and yoghurt.
Not to make excuses but due to my living circumstances I am not doing that at the moment but that’s kinda the point, you don’t have to be perfect at doing it all the time, just little bits here and there still makes a difference to your impact on our environment.
Ultimately that’s the whole point, it’s like the quote by Anne-Marie Bonneau;
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly“Anne-Marie Bonneau
My lovely friend Hannah Clay runs an Instagram account called The Guilty Environmentalist and she uses the account to encourage exactly this: small changes with achievable goals to make little adaptations to your habits in order to be more environmentally sustainable.
I started ‘The Guilty Environmentalist’ in order to try and address the guilt we all feel about our environmental impact which can often overwhelm us and stop us from making any actual changes. I often feel so overwhelmed by influencers which show their ‘perfect’ meals and lifestyles, that I can’t even think about how to change my life to match theirs. I therefore thought I would start the page with the same thought as the ‘The Guilty Feminist’ which admits we are flawed but that we should still work towards improving ourselves and the world around us. I thought I could use the page to give myself and others some small goals and realistic views of what trying to reach those goals would look like; weird food experiments, small habitual changes and a few bad photos of myself. I realise that my influence is only small, with around 200 followers (and most of them are other people trying to do the same thing as me), but I know that when it comes to the environment if everyone was able to influence a handful of people to make small changes- then overall the impact would be huge.Hannah Clay – founder of The Guilty Environmentalist
Hannah has also created ‘Step it up Monday’s’ to challenge people to try a different more environmentally friendly diet for the day.
This year I am going to get more involved with ‘Step it up Monday’s’ and make sure I cook meat free vegetarian meals and hopefully some vegan meals for Will’s family (as long as I’m still living here) on Monday’s.
Health and Beauty Products:
Lets start with periods.
For me (in my humble opinion); Period cups are amaze. Period pants are amaze.
We all know your bog standard plastic period products are damaging to our environment and it’s crazy how much using a cup can save;
“The lifespan of the cup means potentially saving the environment for the packaging and material waste of more than 2400 pads or tampons per user. To put that into context, one OrganiCup will save the environment for one truckload of waste in 10 years for every single person who switches to a cup.“OrganiCup.com (although I do use a Saalt period cup but they are all very similar)
I’ve have written about my experiences with both in a lot more detail in their own separate blog posts: Using a Menstrual Cup for the first time and Trying out period pants from ModiBodi
Also there’s make up.
Back in the days before corona and lockdown when I was still wearing and buying make up products I opted for using Revolution products that are vegan and cruelty free and work just as well as other make up options and are still high-street affordable. It wasn’t a difficult swap to make, I just bought a different mascara or foundation when my old ones ran out.
I’m looking a purchasing, for when I do start popping makeup on again for more than just a Christmas Zoom party, reusable make up wipes from my friends sister in law Sew Lovely By Lauren who makes the cutest face wipes:
I’ve also tried out different natural deodorants.
First I tried Native but quickly switched to WILD simply because the deoderant works better for me and the whole thing is more recycleable
“Wild is the world’s first zero-plastic deodorant refill. Made from plants, packaged in plants and can be composted down to feed new plants!“wearewild.com
You buy a one time case, and then you just buy the refills as and when you need them, I’m set up on a subscription so I won’t get caught short but you can change your scents AND cancel it at anytime (#wildpleasesponser/collabwithme). In all seriousness, the postal packaging is cardboard and the refill case is also cardboard so everything that isn’t the deodorant your using can be recycled.
I do actually have a referral code that will save you some monies if any of you fancy giving this one a go: https://mention-me.com/m/ol/lq7og-299e93387d
I’ve also adopted a more sustainable approach to oral hygine.
I’ve tried a variation of bamboo toothbrushes but my favourite has to be the one I have on the go at the moment which is Colgate as the bristles are a little firmer.
Saying that I’m soon to try out some recyclable electric toothbrush heads.
I’ve been wanting to invest in an electric toothbrush (I know how adult of me) but have obviously wanted to make it a sustainable choice. I’ve been looking a a couple of options including Georganics electric sonic toothbrush or an standard oral B one but separately buying recyclable heads that fit on it.
In the end for Christmas Will gave me some heads that are recyclable and fit on his electric toothbrush that we can now share whilst I’m living here. The Live Coco brush heads have a closed loop recycling system so they’ll deal with making sure their products are recycled properly and can be used again.
For Christmas, I also received some natural soap made by Elizabeth and Ernest which I’m excited to use !
Fashion and clothing
We all are now well educated in the fact fast fashion is daming to the enviornment:
“The continual drive of ‘fast fashion’ adds to the waste problem, amounting to a staggering 10,000 items of clothing being sent to landfill every five minutes“Keep Britain Tidy
For this reason I’ve tried to cut down on the amount of clothes I purchase every year.
Admittedly the last few months I’ve slipped recently in my good habits but this year one of my new years goal is to only buy clothes from charity shops or second hand shops like Depop. I’m granting myself the exceptions of things that I will guarantee that I need and will get a long lifespan of wear out of but even then will only buy new from more environmentally conscious brands.
So I’m going to stick to my advice that I wrote in a piece for the Everyday Magazine called How I’m Saving the Planet with my Clothes and think before I shop.
I’m by no means perfect and am defiantly not trying to blow my own trumpet, I’m simply sharing some of my swaps to hopefully inspire some of you to find some more swaps. This year as well as the face wipes and thinking of finding a plastic free razor and trying not to buy new clothes.
What swaps have you made? What swaps do you want to make? Let me know in the comments
Love to you all and even though I said it last week; Happy New Year!