It is so easy for us to think, that because we cannot fix all the many issues facing the plant, we might as well not try; but every small contribution does help, after all, we can only move a mountain by shifting one stone at a time.
Here are some of the ways my family and I are trying to help the planet. I left out things like drive an electric vehicle (as that does not apply to so many people who either don’t drive or who simply cannot afford a vehicle like that):
- Cut down on food waste – we are getting better at calculating the amount of ingredients required for a meal. I often cook one meal that will do for two dinners (I am not a brilliant cook and work long hours, so some evenings it is really nice to be able to reheat rather than cook from scratch). We always keep ingredients for a quick meal, especially if the leftovers are not sufficient for everyone. I love lentils and am happy to cook a one-pot lentil meal using canned lentils.
At the moment, I feel colossal guilt if we throw any edible food away as I know so many people, in so many countries, are experiencing hunger and starvation.
- Plan trips, so commuting happens less frequently – In the past, it was so easy to hop in the car and go somewhere for one item. I now try really hard to run errands once, or at a push, twice a week and run an accumulation of tasks in one go. I have also discovered internet shopping for my art supplies saves me travelling into the CBD (which is always stressful), saves petrol (which is horrifically expensive) and arrives on my doorstep in just a few days. I only do an online order if I am buying several items too, so keep a shopping list. I am fortunate that I work from home, so spend very little time or expense traveling. Even so, I am far more careful than I used to be.
- Buy second-hand clothes or good quality, natural fibre garments that will last. I see an increasing number of second-hand clothing shops opening at the moment. I think this is great. Often the garments sold there have only been worn a couple of times and sometimes never! I do put my foot down when it comes to undies though – they need to be new! By buying second-hand clothes, you ARE preventing garments being dumped in landfill. Most garments are synthetic, and therefore, non-biodegradable. They contribute massively to land pollution in our own countries but also in many third world nations, who are paid to dump clothes from first world nations!
If you wish to buy new, please consider buying excellent quality natural garments that will have great longevity and which will biodegrade at the end of their useful life. Buying fewer, better-quality garments can make a HUGE difference to landfills. You can read more about why buying natural fibre clothing is healthier for you and the planet – https://auntiebettyillustration.wordpress.com/2021/09/01/my-decision-to-buy-natural-fibre-clothing-from-now-on/
Really take on board REUSE-RECYCLE-REPURPOSE-RELOVE and BIODEGRADE or COMPOSTABLE; and if you cannot, maybe the item should not be bought.
- Buy second-hand books, etc. – This is not a sacrifice for me, or that I love vintage furniture and don’t mind buying second-hand there either. I LOVE reading and read as much as I can. Reading has always been my happy place and I have realise that I decompress when I do. I am always thrilled when I can find a desired book second-hand, not only because it is cheaper (I can buy about 7 second-hand books for the price of one new paperback), but also, I am saving trees by buying second-hand. Like many booklovers, I adore the scent of many old books and the cover art is often more interesting than many current books!
My favourite second-hand books stores are:
Though vintage furniture is not for everyone, for those who do like it, check out fellow Kiwi artist, Bella O’Mahony’s Instagram page, to see how it can be done: https://www.instagram.com/bellamaryomahony/
- Wherever possible, buy plastic free! I know that it is isn’t possible for everything, but I am dedicated to trying to do so and really hope more manufacturers take onboard plastic-free packaging, like Heintz has with their tomato sauce! https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10812593/Heinz-tomato-ketchup-come-PAPER-bottles-wood-pulp.html
My favourite plastic free brand is Ethique (https://ethiqueworld.com/) manufactured here in Christchurch. I love their products, especially their solid deodorant sticks and lip balm in cardboard tubes and their solid shampoo bars. Their products are all very environmentally friendly and natural (palm oil and mineral oil free); and are also ethically produced. Most importantly, they work – I do not smell bad! Ethique proves that a business can tick all the right boxes, still turn a profit and give back to the planet.
- Support small, local businesses – I am seeing small and micro businesses in my area are often more environmentally-minded than the big businesses. When I see a small business going out of their way to use recyclable/biodegradable/compostable packaging, etc., I support them.
Two businesses in my area I would like to shoutout are:
- SweetArgentos – the most delicious Argentinian alfajores, packaged in biodegradable boxes – https://www.sweetargentos.co.nz/
- Flaming Pizza – mouth-watering artisan pizza. This place is full of atmosphere. I love that they furnished the restaurant with vintage pieces (old telephones, record players, cameras, etc.) – a very successful application of REUSE and REPURPOSE . Another point in their favour is that none of the pizzas contain pork and they cater for vegetarians and vegans.
- Understand and implement recycling – in New Zealand, different regions differ on what can be recycled and how the waste needs to be disposed. Research what your local council requires of you and do it! Many loads of recycling go to landfill because dirty items are placed in recycling bins. All that might be required of us is to wash everything before it is dust binned.
What ways do you care for the planet? Please share your contributions.
Until next time…