2023 is finally here! I predict a year of delightfully odd numbers and everything suddenly coming in 3s. New year, new plans, new start. Well… almost. It’s so easy to get caught up in the new year panic of how to start changing your life for the better. But how about we change the mindset. How about this year, instead of trying to change our lives we focus on the life of our beloved mama earth. Let’s change a few things for her instead, and make our planet a healthier home.
I have enlisted the help of award-winning, part 2 assistant architect, sustainability mastermind, and general badass, Sophie Zara James, to share with you some small changes that will make a big difference.
“I believe that the land gives us certain vegetables during certain times to ensure we are getting all the nutrients and vitamins we need to be healthy beings” – Sophie James
One of the simplest places to start is your food. Locally sourced food is the best way forward. Try and get friendly with your local greengrocer, who offers options with little to no packaging.
Most places, even small towns, will have eco-refill shops. Even though these shops can sometimes be small, they stock your grains, pastas and every day staples, which allow you to to bring your own reusable containers to fill at your own leisure! Yipee!
However, don’t worry too much if supermarkets are your only option. Even though they are taking their sweeeeeeet time, most supermarkets are attempting to move away from plastic wrapped goods. Try to find those products that are loose, or have cardboard wrapping instead. Anything you can recycle is a green thumbs up!
Depending on the space you have, buying in bulk could also be a good way to cut waste, but we understand this may not be the right fit for everyone.
So now we’ve got our food, what do we do with it?
- Buy and cook seasonally. For generations, people have known what was in season each year because it affected our harvesting and eating. As the years have passed, this way of living has altered significantly, due to so much processed food being readily available on our doorsteps.
- Try and reduce your food waste. At the end of each week take a look in that glorious fridge and see what it is you’re having to throw away or what’s going out of date. Make a mental note, and adjust your next shop accordingly. Any leftovers, EAT THEM! Jazz them up, mix them around, anything you can to make them seem that much more appealing!
There are also a ton of great leftover recipe ideas here on the BBC Good Food Website!
Have you ever walked past a neat little row of allotments and thought ‘yep, that’s for me’? Well if you have, I’d advise getting involved!
Allotments, especially in highly populated areas such as busy cities, are a great alternative to a garden! Why not volunteer at a local allotment or small vegetable farm to learn about growing your own produce. Plus, get some handy tips on what you can do with your own garden, balcony or adorable little window sill.
Here is a nifty little link to help you find your nearest allotment in London town!
Here are some links to amazing city farms in London Town! Why not check them out and get involved!
Hackney City Farm London
Reuse That Bag
How many times have we gone shopping only to reach the till and realise you’ve got to splash out a frustrating 10p on a plastic bag that you know will be placed in the bin merely hours later? Too many times. Sigh…too, too many times. But, here is the solution! A handy little reusable bag!
Get your hands on a couple of strong, sturdy reusable bags. A tote bag is an ideal example, and the nicer and more whimsical it is, the more likely you are to remember to use it!
Something you can keep at the bottom of your handbag, in your car, you can tie to your bike, anywhere! Those bad boys will not only save you a platter of pennies sooner than you think, but you’ll be doing your bit to limit the spread of plastic.
Here is a link where you can find some glorious options by Ecoduka, a great UK supplier of eco-friendly reusable products!
Eat Less Meat?
This is a tricky one because the argument of meat or no meat is still a little grey.
There is a vast amount of information online, along with constant propaganda on both sides of the coin. Which, to be blunt, can leave one a little… dazed.
So, here is some of Sophie’s best advice. She’s eaten vegan, veggie and meaty. She’s been around the entire block of food consumption and back, and this is what she’s found.
“Everything in moderation!”
Find out what works best for you and your body. If you’re a keen carnivore, maybe try and reduce your meat intake from 3 times a day to let’s say, a couple of times a week. Be mindful of the process of how it got to your plate. Where did it come from? How has it been processed? There are plenty of meat alternatives out there. However, to quote Sophie, “even if it has the actual texture of a delectable chicken breast”, certain meat alternatives can sometimes be overly processed and actually not that healthy for you.
Transportation is fairly simple, and you can already guess what I’m going to say. Road transport contributes to 20% of all emissions, making it one of the biggest sources of pollution. So, reduce car use if you can.
Public transport is your friend! And who knows – you may even make a friend! If it’s there and available to you, catch that bus and take that train!
Walk if you are able to, ride your bike, scoot down the road, unicycle to work! Keep active if you can. Not only will it help to reduce your own carbon footprint, but it will benefit your mental and physical health too!
It’s especially tricky these days to know the journey of your clothing. And I don’t mean from the wardrobe to your torso! I’m talking about its manufacturing journey. Where has it originated? Has it had to be flown to you? How has it been made? Who has made it? And what were the conditions of the workspace?
I’d say, where you can, buy second hand via Vinted or in charity shops. Understandably, you can’t get everything you need this way but, if you do need to buy something new, my advice is research.
There are so many companies and organisations which are working tirelessly to create clothing that is ethical, and environmentally and socially friendly.
Brothers We Stand is a great website to follow. They do all of the research on your clothing for you, plus you can read all you need to know about your nifty garment before purchasing it!
An Eco-Friendly Home
It’s time to start thinking about the appliances in your home. How much energy do they take up, and how are they impacting your carbon footprint? The smallest of changes to an eco-friendly appliance won’t just please the planet, it may actually lower your energy bill too! Winner winner! So, here are some simple changes to make.
Electric kettles are great energy savers, especially if they have an automatic switch off feature when your water hits the right temperature!
Air fryers are weirdly a great eco friendly appliance. Not only can it replace multiple other appliances in your home, but you can use it in place of an oven which soaks up a vast amount of energy.
Induction hobs use electromagnetic induction heat so your food is only heated up when a pot is placed on the cooktop. This allows you to only use the energy you need to heat your dinner.
– A manual coffee maker is so much better for the environment than any single use pod maker. Coffee pods are really bad for the environment, and ultimately end up collecting dust in a landfill.
Space heaters are amazing for heating rooms quickly and can usually double up as a cooling fan for the summer.
Be water smart. Be aware of how much water you use in the shower, wearing your clothes more than once before washing them, and make sure you wait until the dishwasher is full before using it. Don’t waste that precious H2O. You could also fit a simple rainwater catcher to your roof or gutter system, and use that to water plants!
Keeping toasty warm at home is of course key, so upgrade your single-glazed windows to double or even triple-glazed to help retain heat. Also, making sure your roof is insulated property is super important.
If you’re able to, do some more in-depth research on how to retrofit your home. Here is a helpful little link that will tell you all about it!
Introducing eco friendly products into your home is also 100% the vibe when striving for a greener lifestyle! Using eco-friendly detergents and cleaning products, along with avoiding harsh chemicals is a must.
This is the brand I use for all my detergents, and even though my skin is super sensitive, it helps keep my skin soothed even during the worst seasons!
Ecover is a brilliant brand when it comes to sustainability, and they’re available in many supermarkets like Tesco, ASDA, Sainsburys, along with refill shops too, check it out!
“What’s healthy for us is healthy for the world and the environment around us.” – Sophie James
A huge thank you to the incredible Sophie Zara James for all her helpful tips and hints and sustainable tricks to live a greener life!
Please check out her award-winning company RE-FABRICATE to see more of the amazing work she and her colleagues are doing to make the world a better place.
“Re-Fabricate is a collective focused on eradicating waste through promoting circular economy in the built environment and beyond.
We are radically practical in our approach, running education workshops, research programmes and live-builds to generate awareness and real-world solutions. Our platform is intended to create, promote and share work that aligns with our circular ethos.”
Regardless of how your carbon footprint is looking right now, we all know that our beautiful planet is crying out for help. All we can do is try our best to keep her healthy and thriving once more. So no matter whether it’s taking a shorter shower, or growing your own produce, let’s let mother earth know that we’ve all got her back!
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