Part 2 of my posts on living an eco-friendly lifestyle: the first post was on how what we eat can be more environmentally friendly, this one is on all the other things we buy and spend our money on. These posts are a mixture of things I already do but also things I’ve researched and would like to do more of. Living eco-friendly not only helps our wildlife (by reducing pollution, land use, waste…) but it also improves our own lives in ways we often can’t predict – hopefully some of the things below will give you an idea!
Buying has become the way of our modern culture – big companies want us to buy more and more, thats how our economy works. But stopping and thinking every time you are about to hand over money for something will make sure you know exactly why you need it, what its made of and how long its going to last.
Fixing something that’s broken
This can give you the greatest sense of achievement and satisfaction, and again, its cheaper. It also makes you understand and appreciate the items you own, you look at them differently, and potentially have to think creatively to fix something. See below on skill sharing if you’re not sure how to fix something, or ask the company you bought the item from if you can get a replacement part rather than an entirely new item. Or read about the recent Leeds Repair Cafe event, designed to bring together people who have broken things with people who just LOVE to fix things!
This is a great way to avoid creating more waste, every single village, town and city has charity shops now so there’s always somewhere you can go. Or of course there’s the entire internet you can browse if its something more specialised, though its also good to consider the carbon footprint of postage. Jen Gale of the great blog My Make Do and Mend Life completed her No New Clothes For a Year challenge last year and you can watch her TED talk here:
Sharing rather than buying
Avoid accumulating more stuff in your house, save money and reduce waste! This works especially well with tools, things you don’t need everyday. Maybe your neighbour has a hedge trimmer you can borrow, in exchange for them borrowing your pasta maker every so often? Some places have swap shops, such as SHARE in Frome, or read about different shorts of libraries. You could even share skills as well as tools – if you need to take up some curtains, ask a friend to show you how in exchange for teaching them a skill you have. Much more sociable, free and you learn a new skill too. Whats not to like?
This is something I’ve become more and more aware of. Consuming so much of a man-made material has a big footprint on the planet – the production of it takes a lot of energy and often uses polluting materials, and its often shipped all round the world. It leaches its chemicals out to us as we use them (especially in cooking) and it can’t be disposed of, seeing the amount of plastic on a beach or in our oceans should be enough for humanity to ban such a product. Plastic also has a much shorter life and lower sense of value – buying a metal watering can will last you a lifetime (and more), they are aesthetically pleasing and you are much less likely to chuck it away (you’d probably rather fix it than bin it). Have you seen the stories recently about take away containers made from bread so you can eat them afterwards, or the water bottles made from algae? Science is coming up with some AMAZING solutions to our plastic-obsession!