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Sustainable and Free!

Sustainable and Free!

What does sustainability mean to you? 

The dictionary definition of sustainability is ‘the use of natural products and energy in a way that does not harm the environment’ and ‘the ability to continue or be continued for a long time’ *

For me, sustainability is complex, but the underlying principle is to have as minimal an impact on our environment as possible, be that in the resources we use or the waste we leave behind. 

There can also be a cost to environmentally friendly alternatives, which are not accessible to all.  There are also sustainable changes that can be made that will not cost you anything, may save you money, and will lessen the impact you have on the environment.

These are some of my favourite ways to make changes without spending a penny.

  • Re-use what you already have. Reducing single use plastic is a great way to reduce your impact, but single use doesn’t have to be single use.  Cleaning product bottles, handwash bottles etc may be bought as single use, but they will still work after the product has run out and can be refilled.  Preventing anything from going to landfill is a win, and often refills are cheaper or equal in price than packaged products.
  • Use old cloths as cleaning cloths. If you have old towels or clothes that are beyond repair or donation, using them as cloths round the house is free, extends the life of the fabric and will save on purchasing new ones.
  • Unsubscribe from emails (and clean up your inbox) – emails have a carbon footprint. The ‘cloud’ is actually super powered servers, dotted around the globe, storing mammoth amounts of data.  The servers are powered by electricity, as are the routers, the devices we use, the devices use to create them.  Unsubscribing from marketing emails you don’t read, and don’t want can make a difference.  (There is also the added bonus of not having to delete them all every morning 😊)
  • Toilet Flushing – I wont dwell on this one, but skip a flush each time you pee 😊
  • Eat Less Meat – vegetarian and vegan lifestyles are not for everyone but reducing meat consumption does have a positive impact on the environment. Livestock farming has a significant carbon footprint, so by cutting meat (especially red meat) from your meals 2 or 3 days a week will have a positive impact.
  • Food Waste Awareness. According to Love Food Hate Waste** UK Household dispose of 4.5million tons of edible food waste every year.  As well as wasting the food, the resource cost to get that from source to plate is huge, then there are the emissions from landfill as our waste decomposes (there is also the packaging to consider)

Planning meals, controlling portions and only buying what you need can not only save you money, but will reduce the environmental impact of wasted food.

Love Food Hate Waste is an incredible resource for guidance on portion sizes, recipes and tips and advice on reducing food waste.  Check their resources at www.lovefoodhatewaste.com

  • Borrow and Lend. I remember being a teen and we borrowed everything from each other – shoes, clothes, make-up (although I am not sure I would share make up now) and it was great.  At some point that changed, if I needed something I bought it and I fell into a terrible trap of treating belongings as if they were disposable.

Borrowing from friends and family or being willing to lend something is such a great way to reduce consumption.  If you have an event to go to and need a new outfit, does a friend have one you can borrow?  Do have a wallpaper stripper you can lend to a friend or neighbour?  There are so many things we use rarely, but are handy to have, that someone else could benefit from for a short time.  There are also ‘Library of Things’ dotted around the country – always worth a look out to see if you can borrow not purchase.

  • Use Ecosia as your search engine. Ecosia was founded in 2009, and they use the revenue from paid ads to plant trees globally, where they are needed the most.  As I write this blog, Ecosia’s website shows they have planted over 123 million trees!  123,308,70 to be exact.

This is a change of habit that costs you nothing but has a positive impact.  Next time you need to ‘Google’ something, go to Ecosia instead

 *source https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/sustainability

** source https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/why-save-food#:~:text=It's%20a%20social%20activity%2C%20a,million%20of%20which%20is%20edible.&text=Those%204.5%20million%20tonnes%20are,the%20power%20to%20change%20this.

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