So, it’s already May, five months into the new year and those resolutions we’ve endeavored to keep are already waning in their typical fashion.
So, it’s already May, five months into the new year and those resolutions we’ve endeavoured to keep are already waning in their typical fashion. Those new running shoes are already starting to gather dust and your garden is still overgrown. Perhaps one of the most daunting goals for everyone this year is becoming more sustainable. Despite the growing awareness of climate change and sustainability, it can be difficult to know where to start. Buy this, don’t buy this, don’t throw this away, don’t support this business. With all these mixed messages, it can be hard to know what the right things to do is.
It is also interesting to note the increasing cost of being sustainable. Sure, buying organic, ethically sourced products and shopping in local businesses is ultimately ideal but when you don’t have a lot of money that accessibility is taken away from you. This leaves a lot of people feeling guilty for not doing enough for the planet. I think it’s important to recognise that even if you can only do small sustainable things, it’s still valuable and much appreciated by the environment. You don’t have to do a million big things in order to make a difference. In this blog, I’ve highlighted my favourite ways to be sustainable whilst being on a budget.
- Clothing (second-hand, repairing, upcycling)
It is worthy to note that over eighty billion garments are made a year by the fashion industry and is one of the most highly polluting sectors in the world. This is even before you consider ethical issues such as forced and child labour as well as animal cruelty. Fast fashion is all around us and it can quickly become very expensive to purchase completely ethical and sustainable clothes from small businesses. When buying fast fashion can’t be avoided then being mindful is important and only buying new when you need to is essential. Buying second-hand clothing is a wonderful way to be both sustainable and ethical. Online websites like eBay, Depop, Vinted and Thread-up are more popular now than ever for purchasing a wide variety of items including clothing. Highstreet retailers can be swapped with second-hand stores and charity shops where you can find some seriously unique and funky fashion.
Alternatively, you can learn to sew! If you’re new to making clothes and the idea of making a whole new wardrobe scared the bees out of you then you can always start with simple alterations. Turning an old top into a bandana or repairing a hole in your favourite jumper. You can always ask a friend to help or take a look on YouTube for some really helpful and simple tutorials.
Sometimes you just don’t like some of your clothes anymore and that’s perfectly normal! Everyone changes style as they grow (you wouldn’t catch me wearing what I wore when I was 15 now!). Instead of throwing away old clothing try donating to charity shops or taking them to local recycling centres as many places have clothing bins. However, if you have a top that’s beyond repair, stained or just not good quality enough to donate then you can always turn it into rags for cleaning or if you have a few items you can cut them up and use them as stuffing for pillows.
- Use what you have first!
When it comes to storage, particularly in your home, many people try to opt for the most aesthetically pleasing option, and this can lead to unnecessary purchasing of things you don’t really need such as glass jars or plastic containers. In reality, there any many things you can use that you’ve already got! Reusing pasta/jam jars for other things such as food storage, making homemade jam, pencil pots is a great way to use what you’ve got, and it doesn’t need to be pretty! You can always decorate jars with stickers or paint them to match the colour scheme you like best.
Additionally, you can use these containers to grow new things! By cutting up old milk cartons you can turn them into flowerpots to grow a variety of seeds on your windowsill! Herbs are a personal favourite to grow as they’re super low maintenance and they smell amazing in your kitchen.
- Don’t buy new bags every time you shop!
Sometimes it can be hard to remember to bring a shopping bag with you when you go out, especially when you didn’t plan to buy anything. Something I find to be a lifesaver when I’m at the checkout without a bag is to always keep a foldable bag with me in my purse or backpack. They’re super easy to store, take up minimal room and you can get some of the loveliest designs on them!
Also, if you have a car you can always keep larger shopping bags in the boot so that wherever you are you don’t have to worry about buying plastic ones. Of course, nobody is perfect and on the odd chance that you have to purchase a plastic bag KEEP IT! You can use them as bin-liners in small wastepaper baskets in your home, kids’ projects, and even to store household goods such as cleaning products and decorating tools.
Fortunately, recycling is one of the many things here in Wales that is already in place and can be done free of charge. Local Councils will provide you with wheelie bins for general and garden waste as well as food waste bins and bags for general recycling. If you’re already doing this then you’re taking one step in the right direction already! It might not feel like much but it’s the little things that count so instead of throwing jam jars in the general why don’t you wash it out and put it in the recycling?
Have you got lots of peelings that need to be thrown in the food waste bin after making dinner? Well, if you’ve got a garden you can always invest in a compost bin! They’re relatively cheap and provide you with insane amounts of compost for your plants as well as being a great source of nitrogen and food for garden critters.
- Food shopping and transport!
If you live far from the local supermarket or have mobility difficulties then why not get your food delivered! This argument may seem counterproductive environmentally but if you think about how only one van will be needed to deliver shopping to multiple homes compared to each of those individuals driving their own car it makes sense.
Additionally, getting food delivered saves times and overspending as you don’t end up browsing for things you may not actually need. It can also be beneficial for individuals who find shopping stressful due to disability or mental health struggles. Having your food delivered to you saves you taking a bus, car or a taxi to the supermarket and adding more cars onto the road than necessary.
I hope these tips were useful and that they’ve inspired you to incorporate some great ways to be sustainable into your daily life! Why don’t you challenge yourself to try one new sustainable thing this week from this list? We’ve lived on this planet for over 200,000 years, let’s start looking after it!