As I grab a (second hand) copy of last night's Evening Standard on my way home last night the message was clear, there's a revolution taking place. This week the newspaper launches its 'The Last Straw' campaign, combatting the (highly) unnecessary use of plastic straws in bars, restaurants and home. And it seems they're not alone. Since the showing of David Attenborough's final episode of Blue Planet II, which brought to our attention the devastating effects of plastic on sea creatures, fish and birds, there has been a surge in environmental and sustainability talk across the media.
As I embark on my first year of making conscious decisions about my own consumption, I thought I'd share some resources that will hopefully inspire and help you to make your own sustainable and responsible choices. It's not about being perfect, but we all need to take responsibility for protecting the world we live in and that begins when we start making small changes.
1. SHOP ZERO PLASTIC
First and foremost, challenge yourself to a week of zero plastic whereby you stay clear of any foods and products that contain plastic. It encourages you to look elsewhere for your fruits and vegetables such as local farm shops and markets or, for those in London, the amazing street-side fruit and veg shops. It's not an easy thing to do and you're not expected to be perfect at it, but once you've given it a try it will certainly have you noticing that plastic is EVERYWHERE (supermarkets are the worst offenders). Believe me that once you've started to notice this, you will definitely naturally gravitate towards more environmentally-friendly food shopping and sources. Below I've shared some of my favourite places to shop, oh and don't forget to take your own bags!!
Streatham Hill: https://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/mediterranean-food-centre-london
Clapham Common: http://www.vennstreetmarket.co.uk/
Balham: https://www.lfm.org.uk/markets/balham/ OR https://www.timeout.com/london/shopping/hildreth-street-market
London Bridge (Borough Market): https://www.turnipsboroughmarket.com/
London Fields: http://broadwaymarket.co.uk/
2. EATING SUSTAINABLY
Perhaps the largest contributor to the global warming crisis is our excessive animal agriculture industry and the fact that countries are heavily dependent on foreign soil to meet their food consumption requirements. There's definitely no need to throw out all of the food from your kitchen cupboards in order to eat more sustainably (in fact the number one rule is to use up what you already have), instead a few little dietary adjustments can make a huge difference to your carbon footprint on the planet. More than anything else it's about increasing your awareness of where does your food come from and how the environments may have been affected. There will be more on this to come on the blog but, for the time being, here are three simple steps you can take:
Choose seasonal veg whenever possible
Doesn't need as much artificial help for growth and means you can eat more locally, reducing the carbon footprint of food sources
Reduce your animal product intake
You can cut your carbon footprint in half by going vegan - even just a few days a week has a huge impact on the health of the planet. There are so many amazing plant-based recipe blogs to inspire you along the way and you can find my guide to vegetarian/vegan proteins here.
Shop in bulk
An amazing way to reduce waste from foods such as cereals, grains, pulses, nuts and seeds is to buy in bulk. There are more and more shops popping up to make this easier for you - check out Hetu in Clapham Junction, Bulk Market in Hackney, or shop online at buywholefoodsonline, You can also find eco-friendly beauty and skincare solutions too.
3. SEPARATE YOUR WASTE
With every council having their own policies, recycling can be confusing. But this mustn't stop you from separating your waste and using the green systems that are in place. Set aside a few moments to educate yourself on what can/can't be recycled in your area and get started today:
Everything you need to know about recycling https://www.recyclenow.com/
What can I recycle? https://www.recycleforlondon.com/what-can-i-recycle
Put your recycling knowledge to the test http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42655319
You can also start composting, which is a really inexpensive and natural way to turn your kitchen and garden waste into a nutrient dense food source for your garden. They are really easy to make and to use. You can find more information and a link to a composting bin that arrives in sustainable packaging below:
A guide to composting https://www.recyclenow.com/reduce-waste/composting
Buying a bin https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blackwall-220L-Composter-Converter-Green/dp/B0030ZPC1O/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1516091461&sr=8-4&keywords=composter
4. GREEN ON-THE-GO
Plan ahead and say no to buying plastic bottles, coffee cups and packaged meals on the go. Investing in the below (and a comfortable bag) is worth every penny and will help to reduce your waste whilst you're out and about. Plus, with talks of a new 'coffee cup' charge, you're bank account will be thanking you as well as the planet (MPs call for 25p charge on takeaway coffee cups ahead of possible ban).
Ecoffee Cup: https://ecoffeecup.eco/
Swell Bottle (keeps it hot or cold): https://www.swellbottle.com/
Glass Food Containers (environmental and personal health benefits as they don't leach into food and contaminate it): http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/products/cookware/food-storage-organising/f%C3%B6rtrolig-food-container-clear-glass-art-30233786/
Read Ecoffee Cup's 'Nine Alarming Facts About Single Use Cups' here
5. TURN OUT THE LIGHTS (OR SWITCH TO LED)
It's simple, it's obvious and we've heard about it for years. If you're using incandescent or halogen lightbulbs, make sure you turn these off whenever you're not in the room. Incandescent lightbulbs give out 90% heat and 10% light, making them the least efficient lightbulb available. Alternatively, switch over to LED bulbs. Although they may cost a little more initially, they use less energy saving you money in the long run.
6. FIND YOUR INSPIRATION
Protection of the planet through reducing plastic, eating sustainably, and other measures is being talked about everywhere. As a result, there are so many resources out there to use as inspiration and for educating yourself. I've shared some with you below:
Mind Body Bowl
Step Into Sustainability
In the news:
What are supermarkets doing to fight plastic?
Iceland pledges to go 'plastic-free'
Theresa May proposes plastic-free supermarket aisles in green strategy
Michael Gove ‘haunted’ by plastic pollution seen in Blue Planet II
Theresa May vows to eliminate UK's plastic waste by 2042
Artist Dianna Cohen shares some tough truths about plastic pollution in the ocean and in our lives -- and some thoughts on how to free ourselves from the plastic gyre.
We've all been told that we should recycle plastic bottles and containers. But what actually happens to the plastic if we just throw it away? Emma Bryce traces the life cycles of three different plastic bottles, shedding light on the dangers these disposables present to our world.
Capt. Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch -- an endless floating waste of plastic trash. Now he's drawing attention to the growing, choking problem of plastic debris in our seas.