Don't get me wrong, I think recycling is a great tool and, by now, I feel it should be an ingrained habit. However, we also need to be aware of the impact our consuming habits have on our environment. We absolutely need to put our 5 cents of consciousness at work for the sake of both our planet and humanity. In fact, I believe that at the end of the day the planet will be fine. We, on the other hand may well disappear if we do not take better care of our precious environment. Nature is resilient, wise and wonderfully creative in the face of adversity. We possess all those qualities as well. Now is the time for us to truly embrace them. Let us lead by example. Let us be responsible and coherent adults. Let's at least try for the sake of our children!
So although recycling is the first conscious step, the ultimate goal is to understand that we have the power to considerably lower the production of waste worldwide by really paying attention to how we consume in the first place. Consumers have the ultimate power and neither corporations nor governments can truly function without the back up of our hard earned money.
Money is neither good nor bad, it just is. However, there are conscious and unconscious ways of spending it.
A conversation I had with my mum, actually sparked the idea behind this post. My mum is a florist. She recently told me that she stopped offering plastic bags to her clients. She has cardboard boxes for people who buy large quantities and that's it. She says that her clients just got used to it and now come to her stand prepared. She hasn't seen a decline in her clientele and says she is not interested in serving the kind of people who would find her initiative a nuisance anyhow. I love her attitude! That, my friends, is acting in a coherent way: saying yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no. Because let's face it: what is more important, the future of our planet and species or people pleasing?
I would much rather be spending my money at an environmentally conscious shop or corporation than supporting ones that still seem to think that producing heaps of unnecessary waste and putting the recycling logo on it is still ok.
A FEW BRIEF FACTS ON RECYCLING:
You might think that recycling is enough. However, it is not.
Let´s just take a look at plastic alone. Much of the plastic dropped in recycling bins isn’t even recycled. "In 2014, 22% of PET plastic collected for recycling was exported out of the United States as facilities can’t keep up: Plastic production surged from 15 million tons in 1964 to 311 million tons in 2014—an increase of more than 2,000 per cent. Currently, more than 300 million tons of new plastic is produced annually and less than 10% is recycled".
8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year. And that plastic dear friends, literally ends up on your plate, as it is now part of the current fish diet. The United Nations Ocean Conference even estimated that the oceans might contain more weight in plastics than fish by the year 2050. Plenty of room for thought there, huh?
Now let's take a quick look at clothing. The fashion industry is another major waste producer. The clothing and textile industry is the largest polluter in the world, second to oil. On top of that most clothing is such poor quality nowadays that second hand shops & charities have to rag a big percentage of the items they receive. Most of these end up in landfills.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
By now, I believe that most of us know that recycling is not the answer to our problems. Questioning what we consume is. Big changes often happen with small consistent shifts. I am not saying that you have to necessarily go zero waste all at once, but there are little shifts you can make that will make a big difference in the long run. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Say no to plastic bags, it's the least you can do. Some countries have already banned plastic bags (Africa is at the top of the list interestingly enough). Let's make sure it happens sooner than later in our countries as well. Get yourself a couple of cute, lightweight, easy to carry around cotton bags (if they are made of recycled fabric even better) and make use of them. When the shopkeeper offers you a bag, politely refuse. You never know, your action and/or stylish bag might even inspire the person standing behind you.
2. If you are a shop owner take example on my mum or look for alternative packaging solutions. There are plenty of alternatives on the market now. Here is an example of a UK based oral care company that I love who has done away with unfriendly packaging.
3. When possible, avoid buying already packed fruit and veg. Prefer shops that sell them in bulk. I personally try not to buy any fresh produce from supermarkets. In fact, I tend to avoid supermarkets as much as possible as I want to invest my money in smaller, eco-friendlier companies. I generally prefer farmers markets and I am a big fan of Riverford. This UK based company delivers organic produce to my doorstep, on a weekly basis. I have been using them ever since I moved to the UK and absolutely love what they stand for. They also advocate minimal packaging and although there is still some plastic involved for meat etc., the produce comes in reusable boxes that are sent back weekly. They have carried out extensive studies on packaging and have plenty of valuable information on their website.
4. Leave unnecessary packaging at the shop counter. There have been campaigns where people consistently left all the packaging of the items they bought at the cash register and walked out. The idea is to raise awareness. Supermarkets had to dispose of the waste or send it back to suppliers. What a great idea!
5. Try to buy local and seasonal when possible. Buying an organic avocado at Whole Foods that has been shipped all the way from Mexico is not all that environmentally friendly if you really think about it. Learn to read the labels, ask your local shopkeepers and choose wisely. Fun fact: city produced honey is considered to be one of the best as bees feed off private garden flowers and pot plants that are usually pesticide free. Here is a UK based company that I personally like: The Local Honey Man.
5. Invest in a good water filter and say goodbye to plastic bottles. I believe this is one of the best investments I have made so far to get round the water issue. Living in a major city like London often implies that your tap water is a no go. Personally, I really had an issue with the amount of plastic bottles I was consuming as a result. A BRITA filter is a first step. However, there is a limit as to what it can filter and the filters need to be changed quite often so it is not a sustainable, long-term solution. After much research, I decided to invest in a Berkey filter. Although, the filter is non recyclable, it lasts for an average of 11 years and really filters the water well. I got the travel Berkey and love it. Even though it is an investment, it quickly pays off. For me it was a no brainer! I would also advise you to invest in a reusable glass or copper water bottle that you can carry around with you.
6. Ladies, turn your period into an environmentally friendly one by using a Mooncup. It has seriously changed my life. It is hygienic, easy to use, environmentally friendly and cost effective. What is there not to love! There are also reusable, washable pads out there and special period underwear. To find out more check out this blog post by the lovely Claire Baker.
7. Be savvy when choosing cosmetics and household products. Your shampoo and other products are flushed down your waste system and eventually end up in the sea. So it is important to know what is in them, both for the environment and your own health. If you read the back of most laundry detergent brands, it literally says: "harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects" (what the what!!!). Bicarbonate of Soda is a great & cheap alternative. I have also started adding responsibly sourced soap nuts and am really happy with the result. You can find out more about them in this informative blog post by 1millionwomen.com.au.
There are more and more environmentally friendly companies and information out there. Just learn to look at the ingredients and don't be fooled by fancy green washing packaging. A UK based company I love is Suneeta Cosmetics. It is a family run company with good core values and affordable products. They even offer you the possibility of bringing your own containers at their pop up stores in London's Brixton village market, Portobello Road Market and Brick Lane Market.
8. If you are feeling adventurous & creative you can make your own cosmetics and house products. I love essential oils and have learned how to make my own face concoctions. There is lots of information available on the Web and my go to book is the fragrant pharmacy by Valerie Ann Wordwood. For essential oils, I would recommend using Doterra. I recently found out about them and really like what they stand for. From the information I gathered they are an incredibly sustainable company. Vinegar and lemon essential oil are a great combo for cleaning your house as well and there are many other effective natural alternatives out there you can look up.
9. Try to purchase clothes in second hand shops. There are so many good finds out there. I find it really fun to shop second hand and have spotted some great pieces. Another quirky way to recycle clothes without always feeding into the high street fashion industry is to organise a clothes swap with your girlfriends. Just get together for a fun gathering and bring clothes that you no longer wear. Some of my favourite items and memories come from those clothes swaps!
10. When possible, leave your car at home and instead of spending money on petrol, use public transport, walk or cycle. Just imagine how much carbon emissions we could reduce if every single one of us were more mindful about how we used our cars. Living in a big city like London, I feel owning a car is often unnecessary. I cycle everywhere and the added bonus is that I save money on my gym membership. Now I know this is not possible for everyone, but I am sure many of us can reduce the time we spend in our cars, even if it is just a couple of hours a week. Remember, a little can go a long way. I am also an advocate of rideshares. I have often used them when travelling and have met some great people that way. It is safe, fun, cost effective and environmentally friendly as it reduces the amount of cars on the road. This is the UK version of a website I have used for years when living in Spain and travelling to France: Blablacar.
The above are just a few tips that I apply to my own life in order to gain some power back, by being more coherent with the way I consume. You might already be applying some of these to your own life and there is so much more we can do. I believe the key is to start somewhere. Baby steps often lead to giant leaps. I feel awareness really is key and it is our duty to be more responsible when it comes to taking care of this beautiful planet we are so lucky to be living on.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Did you find any of these tips valuable? What do you do to be a responsible consumer? Please feel free to add your own suggestions and tips to this list so we can all learn and grow together.
Meanwhile, may something inspiring happen to you today!
With all my love,
As a BioNeuroEmotion (BNE) practitioner, I help consciously aware people identify the emotional root cause of any re-occurring pattern, issue or physical ailment they might have, so they can shift their perception and show up as their best selves.
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Hi, I´m Dannie
A fellow soul seeker, blogger & certified BioNeuroEmotion® (BNE) practitioner who is passionate about growing, self actualising & learning in order to lead a more coherent/conscious life and help others do the same.