Being ‘green’ is not exactly a snap descision to make, it’s not black and white. As with manythings, there is a scale of how eco friendly you are. Maybe you follow reuse and recycle, but you have yet to reduce. But really, to be ‘green’ is to have a harmony of these three things in your life. They are listed in importance: reduce, reuse, recycle. Even just doing a little bit of recycling is going to help a lot.
I have always been a bit of a hippy, being concerned I was hurting the grass that I walk upon, and wanting to know about every ingredient and its origins in my food. The biggest descision I have made in which to make the world a better place, is to become a Vegan.
I write more about Veganism here.
Putting aside the more obvious Animal rights, Veganims does wonders for the environment. From reesearch I have found that:
- Studies indicate that a varied vegan diet requires about a third of the land needed for conventional Western diets. Quite simply, we do not have enough land to feed everyone on an animal-based diet
- The expansion of agricultural land accounts for more than 60 per cent of worldwide deforestation. Most of this land is used to graze beef cattle
- Although statistics vary, it is safe to say that it takes at least three times the amount of water to feed a meat eater compared with that used to feed a vegan
- The livestock sector is a major player, responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent. This is a higher share than transport.)
There are so many other benefits to a Vegan diet on the environment, but I just wanted to highlight the main ones here.
Obviously I know that a vegan diet is not a possibility for some people, perhaps from very poor communities where they have drought and live off their own livestock. But a lot of people do not wish to become vegan as they are ‘not used’ to it. This is why I love schemes such as ‘Vegitarian monday’ and ‘Vegan week’, and cooking for people, as it demonstrates how tasty and diverse the Vegan diet can be and how benificial to the environment it is.
Something that is luckily good for the environment that I do is hoarding. I hate to throw away things that easily could be remade into something usable. My sewing room is full of bags of off cuts and old mattress stuffing, this not only saves me money on buying stuffing, but also stops landfill sites getting hold of perfectly usable threads. Hot chocolate packs easily convert to storage tubs, a foam bed turns into three useful floor cushions that the cat loves, old curtains turn into dresses and shirts. Really, reusing is a cheapskates paradise.
‘Making your own’ or buying from local producers is a great way to reduce the transport footprint of items that you buy. Unfortunatly with my joints the way they are at the moment, I need to drive everywhere *sigh*. But when my joints are ok, I love to cycle everywhere. Pack up your cycle with pannier bags and stick a backpack on and you can go get the weekly shop, waitrose will even lend you a bike trailer to take your groceries home if you are cycling. Cycling is not only good for you, it wakes you up and releases ‘happy hormones’ hopefully meaning that by the time you get to work in the morning you are pumped and ready to work.
Another environmental issue is cleaning. The whole society is cleaning obsessed, though we can see that as we clean more allergies, skin problems and asthma goes up. As the Dettol advert says ‘there are more germs on your chopping board than on your loo seat’, which means surely, that it doesn’t matter too much. Disinfecting everything just prevents our immune system from developing properly, as well as putting nasty chemicals in our environments. I try to avoid chemical cleaners as much as possible, often a little more elbow grease is required, but the results can be even better than its chemical counterparts.
Before I invested in some ‘eco cloths’ I would clean my windows and mirrors with a half half vinigar water solution. This gives a better finish than windowleane ever did, and it is a fraction of the price. I also use bicarbonate of soda a lot, especially good for neutralizing odors, getting rid of stains and removing tough dirt (alongside spirit vinigar). It is also an excellent shampoo. Half a lemon works wonders on stainless steel, a wet cloth is better than spray polish anyday, salt rubbed on right away gets rid of grease spots. There is a never ending list. I am in the process of trying to remove all chemical cleaners from the house, which is a hard feat as I have to persuade everyone to it and try to create products that in use and effectiveness are close to their chemical counterparts. Wish me luck.
I still have a way to go, but education and determinedness will slowly get me more and more environmentally friendly.
The thing that is the biggest priority at the moment is making a composter to put behind the shed, to hold in the compost and stop it accumulating next to, and rotting the shed wall. Composting your food scraps, old cardboard and garden waste is a great (and again cheap) way of creating your own organic compost for your garden. Also, by composting you are greatly reducing the amount of methane that your household produces. When food waste goe to landfill, oxygen cannot get to it, and so when it breaks down instead of producing friendly carbon dioxide, it makes greenhouse gas methane. In your compost bin, air can circulate around the waste, breaking it down environmental style.