In 2019, climate emergency was Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year – a sign that we can no longer ignore this imminent threat to our planet.
The climate emergency we are facing globally often feels uncontrollable, but I don’t feel like I can sit back and do nothing; we are running out of time to do something. So I am doing something – or more accurately, lots of little somethings – to help the planet in any way I can. These are my somethings, my promises to the planet, my ways to live sustainably.
The most conscious effort to be more sustainable comes for me in the form of eating. I have been vegetarian for six years and have adopted a more vegan lifestyle in the past couple of years. After reading BOSH: How to Live Vegan earlier this year I have made a promise to myself to be fully vegan before the year ends. Since 2019 I have been trying to cut out dairy cheese and chocolate, and have finally achieved that which feels like a small win. I’ve been kind and lenient with myself regarding progress, speed and expectations, meaning I have eliminated a lot of the stress I feared going vegan would bring.
Since reading Jen Chillingsworth’s Live Green: 52 Steps for a More Sustainable Life last year, I have tried to do more to actively be sustainable. Though I have recycled all the basics since household recycling bins were introduced in the UK, I haven’t paid much attention to what can and can’t be recycled. Now, I make sure tins, bottles and cans are cleaned before they are recycled. I also am aware of some of the main enemies of recycling such as cellotape on wrapping paper and greasy takeaway pizza boxes.
A couple of years ago, my mum gave me a pack of metal straws for Christmas. I probably wouldn’t have ever thought to buy them myself but they are so handy and I use them all the time. In late 2019 I attended a friend’s house party, armed with my reusable straws. I had a lot to drink that evening and ended up getting very drunk, barely aware of how I got home. I woke up the next morning without my bag or coat so was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that I had remembered to bring my straws home despite my drunken state. The straws are so easy to transport and they will definitely be accompanying me on pub trips post pandemic.
Sustainable shopping for me looks like searching charity shops for hidden gems and not buying things in excess. In recent years I have steered away from fast fashion, alternatively opting for charity shops to restock my wardrobe. This has made my wardrobe diverse, sustainable and saved me a lot of money in the process. With charity shop prices, it can be easy to accumulate items I don’t need nor will use so I am trying to ensure that my purchases are conscious ones and I’m not simply buying into consumerism. It’s important for me to really think about how much I need an item before buying it, regardless of the price.
When I am out shopping, I always have a reusable shopping bag with me, and it’s now second nature to pack it when I’m going out, regardless of where I’m going. My bags are a lot stronger than any plastic or paper bag a shop could give me so I don’t have to worry about them breaking under the weight of heavier purchases.
Education, learning and evolving
Above all else, one aspect of sustainable living that can help is education. Through the books I’ve already mentioned alongside articles and social media accounts, I know the best way for me to progress towards a more sustainable life is getting all the tips and advice possible. By immersing myself more in these communities such as second hand influencers on Instagram and vegan food groups on Facebook, I am filtering in sustainable options everyday into my own life. I am constantly learning new things and can use this knowledge to impact my choices moving forward.
The climate crisis really is a pressing issue, especially for my generation. The time to take action is now, and although sometimes it may feel like we as individuals cannot save the world, that doesn’t mean we have to do nothing.
I’ve already made a variety of changes to my lifestyle to help the planet but I am far from finished. There is always more to be done, this is just the beginning.
Image courtesy of Noah Buscher.