Sustainability - Where am I on my journey?

Little note: I wrote this blog post a couple of weeks before lockdown, but when lockdown started I didn't feel able to post it. A lot has changed over the last few weeks, and for many people sustainability has had to take a back seat. I, for example, am high risk so haven't left my house. Which means I'm not food shopping so I have less choice over what I am eating, plus the food shortages. I know so many people have been even worse effected and my love goes out to you all right now.

But I decided to revisit it, made a couple of edits, and realised it was still something I wanted to share. Hopefully this blog can offer a little respite from what is going on at the moment. And you can still enjoy and feel inspired by this post, even if everything is not applicable to your life right now.

Sustainability can often be portrayed as this perfect lifestyle, full of mason jars, organised cupboards and fresh organic vegetables. But in reality sustainability is a journey full of mistakes and setbacks. Like forgetting your metal water bottle and being absolutely parched, caving and buying a plastic one instead, or having bad anxiety and having to order an Uber, rather than public transport, to get to a very important meeting.

Also when you start out on sustainability you are faced with a ton of costs. Although in the long run sustainable alternatives can be cheaper than their unsustainable counterparts, they can often have a higher price tag upfront.

Over the last couple of years I have made many many changes in my lifestyle to try and be more sustainable, but it's still a work in progress. I thought I would give you a reality check on where I am on my journey to try and be as sustainable human as possible.

Also just to add I think sustainability can also fluctuate due to circumstances in you life. Things like an illness, a new job, or travelling can totally throw off your routine, and cause you to make less than sustainable decisions and that's ok.

Diet

Successes

I am fully vegan, and try really hard to eat seasonally, and British grown as much as possible. I'm also conscious of buying fairtrade where I can.

Things to improve on

I used to cook from scratch a lot more, but recently my life has been very hectic. I've been trying to diversify this blog away from just food and I've started a new job, so cooking has taken a little bit of a backseat in my life. But I am trying to get back into cooking because I can take nice leftovers to my office for lunch. (or just when working from home cos ya no).

I also am definitely far from being plastic free when it comes to my food. A lot of that has to do with my budget, I can't afford to shop at plastic free bulk stores. However I could definitely make more effort sometimes, I often leave my food shopping till 10pm when I'm starving and the only thing open is co-op (who package everything in plastic even really unnecessary vegetables) when I should bother to visit the local market in the day. I do think however less of the pressure should be placed on consumers, and way way more should be placed on the supermarket giants who have the money to invest in plastic free packaging.

Clothes

Successes

I no longer buy fast fashion and haven't done for nearly two years. I shop mostly secondhand and anything I buy new I buy from an ethical and sustainable brand. In the photos on this article I'm wearing a handmade top from vintage material, from Laura Ralph designs, a vintage pair of jeans given to me by my mum, and ethically made earrings from Hummingbird Hawkmoth. I have also really reduced my consumption of even secondhand clothes, I shop a lot less than I did. I wash my clothes using a Guppy Friend Bag, and eco washing detergent.

Things to improve on

I think I'm doing very well with clothing, but I would like to work on my sewing skills so that I can make repairs to help clothing last longer.

Makeup

Successes

All my makeup is cruelty free and vegan. I did this by transitioning slowly, I replaced old makeup as I needed to with new vegan and cruelty free items. I use a lot of KVD makeup, I also recently purchased my first plastic free foundation and concealer from lush.

Things to improve on

I would like to keep replacing my makeup as it runs out with plastic free alternatives. Makeup is very expensive, and making it plastic free doesn't make it any cheaper, so I find purchasing things individually and slowly is a more affordable way to manage it.

Bathroom

Successes

I currently use a wooden toothbrush, and I recently discovered a plastic free toothpaste that contains fluoride from Anything But Plastic. I currently use a Lush shampoo that comes in a plastic bottle, but I can recycle the bottle at Lush. I also use a plastic free conditioner from.

I use a plastic free deodorant called Fit Pit from The Green Woman.

I use vegan and cruelty perfumes from Elementary Scents and Eden perfume, both of which are plastic free.

I get quite a lot of my other facial products from The Ordinary who are a vegan and cruelty free company. There products come in glass bottles, but do often have plastic lids/pippets.

When it comes to periods I use a mixture of reusable pads, period pants from Kora Mikino and plastic free natural tampons from Yoni.

Things to improve on

I still use a few products that are packaged in plastic, I also have a fair few lush products (like my moisturiser and shampoo) that can be recycled at Lush stores.

I also really need to switch to a good plastic free razor, I tried one before, that I won't recommend because I really just didn't like it. But that's meant going back to a plastic razor with disposable head. I'm currently not shaving very regularly cos you know winter, but before Summer come's around I need to invest in a good quality metal razor.

I would like to switch our toilet paper over to a sustainable toilet paper company. I don't tend to buy the toilet paper in my house (London rent problems: I still live at home), but I think this is something I could look into with my mum.

Cleaning

Successes

A couple of years ago I encouraged my mum to switch all our products over to eco products without the damaging chemicals. We also reuse old socks as rags, and try to avoid single use disposable products.

Things to improve on

Reducing the plastic we use. I would love to get more into making our own cleaning products, in the long run it's cheaper and dramatically decreases plastic usage.

Gardening

Successes

Last year was the first year I properly started gardening. I successfully grew a lot of our own food, planted bee friendly plants and wildflowers, and tried to use recycled materials as much as possible in the garden. This year I have planted sunflowers, more wildflowers, plenty of vegetables, and we brought a Cherry tree.

Things to improve on

This year in the garden I would love to add more bee friendly plants, a moss garden to capture carbon, and grow more of our veg. I would also like to use more recycled materials for containers.

Banking

Things to improve on

So I currently bank with Halifax who are not an ethical banking company, I chose them last year because they were giving away £100 for anyone who set up a current account with them. And if you didn't know your girl is always broke and she really couldn't turn down free money. At the time I did look into a triodos account but they cost money to have, and like I said I'm always broke. Anyway I recently read that Monzo are actually a pretty good alternative, and I've been considering getting a Monzo card for ages because I like their app. The great thing about a Monzo account is I don't need to close my current Halifax account to have one. Also as I never really have any money, and if the little I do have is imediately transferred to a Monzo account, Halifax can't invest my money in ecocide or anything.

Energy

Successes

At home my mum switched our energy provider to a renewable based one a few years ago. I can't say this was all down to me, but I would like to say I definitely helped sway the decision. I also try my best to turn lights and gadgets off whenever I remember!

Things To Improve On

As I don't pay the energy bills, it's hard to make improvements here. But I do want to try to encourage any future landlords I may have to also switch. I also need to always remember to switch things off!

Travel

Successes

Obviously not travelling anywhere right now but in general I don't drive, and I use public transport as much as possible. Last year I didn't go abroad at all, so had a whole year flight free. And my previous holiday before that was to Amsterdam and Paris by train.

Things to improve on

When I get very anxious I sometimes have to get a cab places because public transport just becomes too stressful. As I work on my anxiety in therapy I hope these times will become less frequent. As for flying looks like we are all grounded for the foreseeable future!

Activism

Successes

I write a blog all about veganism, sustainable and ethical living, which I hope is spreading the message about living this way. I also try to use my platform to highlight other social justice issues where I can. I try to attend marches against climate change. And I now work with Extinction Rebellion as part of the arrestee and legal support team.

Things to improve on

I would love to feel more confident talking about issues I know less about or that don't personally affect me. I try to listen and learn in spaces that I know less about, and sometimes feel anxious sharing things that don't affect me. I think responses online can be pretty harsh if you make a mistake sometimes and that makes me nervous sometimes. But I've realised climate justice is also social justice and I can't ignore this stuff. I would also love to get involved in marches that aren't just about climate change but social issues too. But as you probably know my anxiety is quite bad and I struggle to attend these things on my own. Anyway I'm working on it.

I've tried to list every area of sustainability I can think of, but let me know if I've missed any areas you would like to see me talk about. I hope you can see I'm no where near perfect, but I am aware of areas I need to work on, and I am trying to address them where possible. If you're no where near as far along on your journey, don't feel disheartened. Its taken me many years to get to this point, making small changes slowly. If you're just starting out, focus on the things you can do now, and don't stress the things you can't!


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