Small steps for sustainability

I’ve never really written about environmentalism, sustainability or climate change on my blog – but that’s not because I don’t care. In fact, the main reason I turned vegan was for the environment. However, I didn’t want to seem as though I was simply writing this post because it is currently a “trending topic”. But you know what, even if people do think that, I’d rather use my platform to promote a more sustainable lifestyle, than do nothing at all.

These are all small swaps that you can introduce into your life to help reduce your impact on the planet. I’m not perfect (no one is!), and I don’t want this post to come across as patronising. I just think that the environment has to be our top priority right now, because if it isn’t, we might not have a planet to live on in 30 years time. Scary, but true. I’ve divided this post into three subsections (food, fashion and lifestyle) to highlight the number of diverse ways we can all get involved.

Food

You know what’s coming, but it has to be said; reducing consumption of meat and opting for plant-based alternatives. I think what scares people a lot is the prospect of having to go “cold turkey”, and stop eating meat overnight. Realistically, though, this isn’t feasible for a variety of reasons. I don’t want people to feel guilty for eating meat, or feel pressured into eating a certain way – but I do want to encourage you to swap a few meat-based meals a week to plant-based ones. There are so many meat-alternatives out there nowadays that it’s super easy to do, especially if you’re concerned about protein. My personal favourites are tofu and tempeh, but there is something out there for everyone if they don’t float your boat.

my dad and brother didn’t even notice that this mince was vegan!

Other than that, swapping dairy for vegan alternatives is also hugely beneficial for the environment. The BBC shared an interactive article comparing all the milks/ milk alternatives which is worth checking out here. I love almond or oat milk the most!

dairy free yoghurt
Fashion

Fast-fashion and its detrimental effects on the environment has been in the media a lot lately, and for good reason. Until a few months ago, I wasn’t even aware of the term or its connotations. However, after listening to Venetia Falconer’s podcast (Talking Tastebuds, episode with Livia Firth) addressing the issue, I have been reading up on it to try to educate myself on the issue. In layman’s terms, fast fashion is the majority of the fashion we consume today; brands like H&M, Topshop and New Look, which release hundreds of clothing lines every year. More than we need and far more than we can consume, selling them at cheap prices that require slave labour to be achieved.

my new charity shop shorts!

What’s more, the materials they’re made out of are often synthetic, meaning they’re not durable and – when thrown away – end up in landfill. Where they do not – and basically NEVER will – biodegrade. Online brands such as ASOS, Missguided and PLT are the epitome of fast fashion, racking up packaging and fossil fuels due to the nature of virtual purchases and deliveries. A few things you can do – which work out cheaper! – to be more sustainable with your fashion include:

  • Not shopping. That’s right – 9 times out of 10, you probably don’t even need what you’re buying! Shopping is an addiction that we have learnt through capitalism and the compulsory consumerism it implies.
  • Depop – a great way to stop something being chucked away
  • Charity shopping – honestly my favourite thing right now. You can find some real bargains, and it’s also so much fun because you never know what you might find.
  • Repurposing old clothes – there are so many youtube videos out there showing you how to turn jeans into a skirt or a pair of shorts. Give your old clothes a new lease of life and learn a new skill too!
  • Clothes swaps – if you’re at uni, it’s worth checking if they have a sustainability society that organises one. Edinburgh does and it’s honestly the best thing ever. You basically bring items of clothing you no longer want, and exchange them for clothes brought in by others.
  • Unsubscribe from brands’ mailing lists and marketing emails. These are designed to make you buy more, using BS sales techniques such as “exclusive offers” for subscribers. They’re not exclusive, and they don’t care about you ( or the planet!). They literally just want your money.
  • If you do need to buy something, do research on the brand and try to invest in something that will last you a long time.
Lifestyle

Finally comes lifestyle. To be fair, food and fashion both come under this heading, but there was so much to say I had to give them their own spotlight. By lifestyle, I’m talking about things like travel, home practices and daily habits. I love travelling, and I’m sure a lot of you do too – easyJet has made it affordable and accessible for a lot of us. However, flying is definitely not eco-friendly. I feel hypocritical writing this, because I fly to and from Edinburgh, and my excuse is that it’s cheaper and quicker. But I’m committed to trying the train next year, because the planet has to come first. Reducing longhaul flights is also a must.

bamboo toothbrush

When I mentioned home practices, I’m referring to heating and fuel consumption. It can be pretty tempting in winter (or even in summer when it’s cold like it is now!) to blast the heating on all the time. Because, let’s be honest, no one enjoys being cold. If possible, though, try one of the following before using your central heating (you’ll also save money!):

  • Putting another layer on
  • Making yourself a hot drink
  • Moving (going for a brisk walk/ run/ yoga)
  • Hugging a hot water bottle
  • Wrapping yourself in a blanket

Lastly, for me, daily habits means always being prepared when out and about so you can refuse that plastic bag/ coffee cup/ straw (etc). For starters, I always bring a tote bag or two with me. They fold easily and weigh next to nothing. Secondly, if I know I’m going to a food market, I’ll bring my set of cutlery and a food box so I don’t need to take their packaging. A keepcup is also a must! If you’re a fan of straws, look into investing in a bamboo or stainless steel one. I’ve also bought myself a bamboo toothbrush after reading about the amount that end up in landfill every year (apparently it’s circa 50 million pounds in the US alone). Oh, and I never go anywhere without my chilly’s bottle!

so many vegan meat alternatives

I hope you’ve found this post useful, and I’d love to hear your own sustainability tips or if you have tried any of mine. I just wanted to highlight that this isn’t meant to guilt trip anyone – it’s literally just to encourage more eco-friendly living, since the planet is our home and thus we all share a responsibility to take care of it.

Emma ♥♥