Can you feel the change?
Your inner wisdom calls out!
Watch the news instead.
Disclaimer: Do not follow our example. We are far from perfect. I wish we were, but we are work in progress. Also, I babble a little today. I blame chemo brain fog ;-).
Yesterday, I promised to tell you how we have changed our behaviour to do our bit to save this planet. While Extinction Rebellion says that individual change in behaviour isn’t enough anymore, I believe it is a good start. Once you change your way of thinking the “putting pressure on governments and corporations” comes by itself.
Before I tell about our journey, I want to let you know some simple guidelines or mantras that help you change your lifestyle.
- sustainability not convenience
- Less is more
- Re-use, Re-use, Re-use
- God gave us working brains, let’s start to use them
Sustainability not convenience
We have been told all our lives that what we need to strive for is convenience: No home-cooking – get ready meals or takeaways. Cleaning is terribly hard – get this and that new cleaning gadget. Walking or cycling isn’t hip – get a new car as often as you can.
We get promised by advertising that these ready meals are so healthy. We get promised that all these cleaning gadgets give us so much more time to do what we want. We also get promised that this new car will get us adventure and freedom.
But do they? We should know by now that ready meals and take-aways include much too high levels of sugar and salt hat give us enormous health problems. And we usually do not have the money to buy these new gadgets or cars. So we get ourselves into debt to afford them, which in turn means we have less time because we have to work overtime or more than one job to pay it off. So no time saved to do what we want to and no adventure in our snazzy cars either.
Acting sustainable sometimes means more work, but it also means you are saving money because you buy less. This gives you less work time and in turn, more time for other things. Plus fewer bills to pay certainly is less stressful so good for your mental health.
Less is more
This does tie into the “Sustainability vs Convenience”. When you are forced to cut down your spending because you lost your job or you can’t work because of your mental health, you are forced to realise with how much less you can get along. You can only wear one jumper and one pair of shoes. Seven jumpers and pairs of shoes are absolutely enough. Even if you work in an environment where you have to look different every day. Just juggle with your outfits or with a few accessories.
Fewer snacks are healthier and make your shopping bag lighter. Fewer gadgets mean less debt and often more physical activity which is very beneficial. Less of whatever means less expense. You see, it does make sense.
Re-use, Re-use, Re-use
The only way we can stop waste piling up in incinerators, landfill or in our environments is simply to find new and double, triple etc. uses for whatever we have. The only way we can preserve our freshwater resources is to use less of it. Just take a moment today and check-in whenever you use water what you use it for. Cleaning a pot before putting it in the dishwasher. Instead of letting it run down the drain, use it to rinse the next piece of crockery. Boiling eggs the old-fashioned way? Can you use the cooled down water to water some plants? Hot water bottles ~ can you use the water when you want to clean your sink?
Re-using doesn’t only mean finding new ways of use for stuff we have like keeping toothbrushes for cleaning. It also means to find double uses of our resources like water.
God gave us a working brain, let’s start to use it.
We are all different. Our lives look different, and we have different needs. Someone in a wheelchair can’t walk stairs to avoid the lift and use less energy. Someone who works nights needs to use more power. Someone with OCD might not be able to stop washing their hands and using lots of water. That is just the nature of things and our life. But most of us have been given working brains and a lot of creativity so you can find your own unique solutions to use less and save more. I encourage you to use these abilities.
Flowerbeds in window
Bee food in city deserts
giving me such pride
It’s not that difficult to create change in your life if you allow yourself to follow these principles. And by all means, create your own. I am sure you have expertise in other areas than we have and can bring in even more ideas.
Where we started from
Are you still with me or have I already bored you to death? I hope not 😉
I would say our “save this planet” journey started in 2013 originally as a “Save our health” journey. By accident, I stumbled over the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) “Dirty Dozen” in fruit and veg. Until then, I mainly shopped what looked like having reasonable price and quality. Even though we also tried to buy organic as much as we could.
When I saw that list and apples (my favourite fruit) were on top of it, I was shocked. It put me directly into action, and I researched organic veg box schemes. There weren’t that many yet where we lived, but I thought it’s worth to try out Riverford which turned out to be extremely good value for money. We used them until 2018 when I had to stop working. We mainly had cash then, and Riverford didn’t offer to pay with cash. We then discovered a farm shop close to where children from another mother lived. Their prices are brilliant, and while they do not advertise for being organic, the farmer tries to use as fewer pesticides as possible, which worked for us.
The best husband (Jeremy Clarkson voice) in the world eats vegetarian since at least 30 years and has been a vegan for some time too. His love for cheese brought him back to be Vegetarian, though. I am pescetarian since 2009 and Vegetarian since 2018. And we have always baked our own bread. Andy anyway and I on and off before I met him.
Even with both of us working we never had much spare money which meant we didn’t bother with too many gadgets like coffee machines or dishwashers. And our hoover is at least 40 years old. The husband got it from a job he had many many moons ago. It’s brilliant, you can still repair it and gives me some much-needed exercise because of its weight. LOL.
We will stay with it until the bitter end even though the energy use is probably ginormous. But we do not feel that modern hoovers with their plastic are as good value and just adds to the plastic pollution. So we balance our approach out there.
This old hoover does its job
We hope forever.
We are “supermarket traumatised.”
The next step came from our experience of working in a supermarket. While they tell you continuously that they have your health, convenience, and your wallet on their mind, the reality looked slightly different.
The so-called “healthy” options often are much more expensive or simply lie to you about their contents. What they produce themselves often have ingredients that no-one knows what it really is, which made it really difficult to answer questions of customers who had to deal with allergies. And they started to safe more and more on staff which meant those who stayed had to do more and more jobs. This, in turn, made customers having to wait longer at check-outs or at the departments where they needed help.
Having no income made me realise how much advertising brainwashes us.
In 2018 I had to stop working because my mental health went really down the drain. Even though I had worked in the UK for 11 years and paid my taxes, I would only have been able to get job seekers allowance for a couple of months. However, I would only get it if I could prove to the jobcentre how often I had left the country since 2007, had worked and paid taxes and where I lived all these years. Proving means to show paper evidence. Who the heck keeps their holiday expenses for all their lives? Immigrants to the UK apparently who want some benefits. My mental health wouldn’t allow getting through a conversation like that, so we decided to get along with what we had.
Luckily the best husband is the best husband and knows how to grow veg and works like a donkey. Otherwise, we certainly would have lost our home in those days.
The less we could buy, the more I realised how advertising is brainwashing us in needing things that we don’t need. I knew that, but I didn’t know if that makes sense. Connecting all these things that we are told we need and starting to realise with how little you can be happy made me hear all those lines in advertising that pushes into feeling you need the things. It never occurred to me before so clearly.
We became radical home cooks.
While we never used much processed food or went out for a meal, not having much money meant to become utterly frugal in that respect. Our experience showed that cooking at home enabled us to be adequately fed despite the money trouble. I learned to make some mean baked beans with dried beans, tried out many cookie recipes to satisfy our sweet tooth and we changed to dark chocolate. What did not work was our try to become vegans. Well, at least not yet. So far we haven’t found a vegan cheese recipe that tastes and feels acceptable to us, and my menopausal and now cancer problem bowels brought me back to eating tons of yoghurt.
We are also avoiding margarine because most kinds of margarine contain palm oil. Palm oil is one of the biggest reasons for rainforests to be cut down and in turn the climate to heat up. And we don’t want that.
The harmful impact of palm oil on our environment and the fact it is basically in everything today was another reason why we try to make as much as we can ourselves. This way, we know what’s in it and do not support the destruction of rainforests or the climate.
Pandemic accelerated Change
The pandemic and my cancer accelerated some changes we had planned but could not get around to do. Two of them are our chicken and shopping online rather than doing a weekly grocery shop.
Now that is probably quite controversial because we buy most of our groceries from BuyWholeFoodsOnline which use plastics as their packaging and Amazon, which does not have many green credentials nor are fair to their employees. I did try to get online shopping with all supermarkets who would deliver to us. However, the only delivery slots I could manage to get even after I had the letter from the government that I fall into the COVID vulnerable group was two months later. That didn’t do. Several people offered to do the shopping for us, but that’s always tricky, and we did not want to endanger them more than necessary. So that is another compromise. However, I try to only get products that have green credentials, chose products in glass jars rather than plastic packaging and have signed up for the “subscribe” option.
That means you get bulk products you choose sent to you regularly. It’s not as convenient as it sounds as you need to change your budgeting from weekly to monthly or bi-monthly, which I find a bit difficult. You also need to review your orders to make sure you really need them at the time. But I feel once we have working time frames, it will be quite useful.
No weekly shopping
and a little saving too
The best husband (Jeremy Clarkson voice) in the world took his time off work to build a wonderful chicken house and enclosure. Then he went and rescued 12 chicken and a cockerel. They are happy but apparently not happy enough yet to lay many eggs. I bet coming from an industrial chicken farm didn’t do them any good so I feel for them.
But all these changes mean we have hardly any household waste anymore. Our bin is tiny now, and we mainly have recycling rubbish. I am pretty proud of that. The chicken can eat most of our food waste, and we always cook with our left-overs too. It is so practical.
And what else?
Whoa, I did not mean to write such a long post. And I am getting tired, so I end this with a little list.
~ we have now soap bars from a fairly local producer instead of liquid soap in a plastic bottle
~ we wear jumpers and cuddle under a duvet rather than having the heating on too much
~ I shower every two days unless I am sweaty or smelly. A wash down is usually enough. It saves water and soap.
~ Besides underwear I tend to wear my clothes for at least two days to save on washing unless its dirty, I was at the hospital or they smell
~ We use our hot water bottle water for watering plants
~ I consider changing bank to one that does no support the fossil fuel industry
~ I have a bamboo toothbrush
~ We are trying out eco-friendly toothpaste. Unfortunately, the local producer used palm oil, so the search goes on.
There you have it, dear readers:
Our long journey to save the planet.
And it is not over yet.
I can only urge you to re-think your lifestyle and opinions about the climate crisis. What you do about it is entirely up to you.
Actions you can do today to make a difference:
Thought Catalogue has a brilliant list of what you can do to make a difference: 20 simple things you can do to save our planet.
Please find some more ideas about what you can do today in this blog post.
Thanks my dears, for staying with me until the end.
I appreciate your presence.
Please stay safe, stay kind and remember
that you rock!
And here a summary of yesterdays UK XR Rebellion.