It's all too late of course. Half London will be underwater within a decade and climate catastrophe plus capitalist catastrophe is going to render most aspects of living extremely difficult even for someone in my comfortable situation. So I'm not making a difference to anything but my own conscience, but it's always been my conscience that I've followed.
What I'm doing is continuing to use fewer resources and generally make less of an impact on the planet in a few little ways. About 10 years ago I started replacing eg.
- Household paper products with recycled paper products (kitchen roll etc)
- Disposable period pads with cloth reusables
- Tampons with a mooncup
- Tissues with handkerchiefs
- Paper towels with cloth napkins
- Choosing organic more often
I was already using vegan cleaning products, soaps etc. which also tend to lack environmentally damaging chemicals. When I got dogs, I bought biodegradeable poo bags.
Five years ago I was living in a part of London where garden waste and kitchen compost was collected by the Council weekly, but when I moved to Lewisham a couple of years ago I had to sort this out for myself. The Council did provide free compost bins, so I got one for my garden which I use for compost and garden waste. When it started to get full, I ordered another and installed it at the front of my building. I wrote on it with a Posca paint pen that it was the compost for the whole building and a short list of what to include and not include. I was very happy to see that it worked and some neighbours started using it as well.
My current home is the first permanent home I've had since I left my parents, and settling in meant I also got to do lots of gardening. I've been gradually improving my green fingers and this year have successfully grown some fruit and vegetables and kept flowers alive as well. My building is surrounded by some unloved patches of ground so with mixed success I've planted sunflowers and wildflowers, picked up rubbish, weeded and watered.
In my garden I have a few bug hotels and birdfeeders around. Today I saw a moth there for the first time! I made a container pond in a washing up bucket and 2 of the 3 plants I put in to keep it aerated have flourished amazingly. I have lots of nice scented things growing - lavendar, jasmines and honeysuckles and this summer there have been lots of bees. I saw two yesterday drinking from one of my 2 bird baths. There is a blackbird that loves to get in there and splash around. I got a water butt that keeps the garden ticking over for most of the year without needing to use the tap.
I thought I was pretty good at bringing along my own shopping bag, but the Government bringing in the .5p bag charge had a noticeable impact on my bag use. Apart from carrying extra bags, I also stopped using carrier bags for my recycling. When the Council finally provided kitchen containers that could be emptied into the street recycling bins, that was a great help. Around this time I was becoming increasingly conscious of all the packaging I throw away/put in the recycling bin.
A few months back there were stories in the news of dead whales found on the North Sea coast with stomachs full of plastic, and that was a big push for me to change my behaviour more. Most of my best ideas have come from Pinterest for the past year or so. It's the first place I look for recipes, and I started taking more notice of DIY cleaning and toiletry options. Recent changes:
- Going out of my way to get fruit and veg without packaging
- Making oat milk at home instead of buying packaged vegan milk. It's unbelievalbly easy - soak the oats for an hour then put it in the blender with a bit of salt & vanilla for flavour if I want. I make enough to last about 4 days which is a tiny amount of oats.
- Making deodorant out of bicarb, cornflour, coconut oil and essential oil: much more effective, cheaper and more pleasant on my skin than anything I've ever bought. http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/ultimate-guide-to-diy-hygiene/
- Making toothpaste also out of bicarb, coconut oil, stevia and peppermint oil: still experimenting with this and not using every day - I've read bicarb can damage the enamel.
- Soap bars rather than liquid soap, or diluted Dr. Bronners in refillable containers
- Continuing to experiment with growing my own salad at home
- Only getting Europe-grown apples, and almost always English apples.
- Buying Splosh refillable cleaning products https://www.splosh.com/
. Really happy with this as I was getting through a lot of plastic containers before. It's also saved me lots of shopping trips
- Microfiber towels for cleaning the house which mean I can use fewer cleaning products and less hot water
- Getting big pots of yogurt and mixing stuff in at home instead of individual serving sizes
- Making tahini-based sauce instead of buying ready-made sandwich spread, dip or salad dressing. With a fork I mix in vinegar or lemon juice, olive oil, and then water to the desired consistency. Any mix of herbs & spices goes in depending on what flavour I want.
- Making coffee at home to bring to work - hot or iced. I got 2 sizes of double-insulated bottles which keep the temperatured pretty much constant for a whole day. I did this to save money, but I'm increasingly conscious of how much packaging I'm saving from not occasionally getting takeaway drinks.
It's actually become a game now to figure out ways of using less, replacing, making things at home etc. I feel more self-reliant and autonomous.
- Doing more cooking from scratch and buying less convenience ingredients eg. jars of curry paste
- Making my own nut butter using our Nutribullet blender
- Making my own hoummous
- Finding a local bread supplier that doesn't use plastic bags or charge £3 for a tiny half loaf
- Making juice at home more often and giving up packaged juice
- DIY shampoo and conditioner
- Acclimatising better to cold weather so I can keep the heating lower.