In my previous post, I shared a few ideas, products and simple changes that I’ve made to reduce consumption of single-use and throwaway plastics around the home.
I live with my two children and I try to include them as much as possible in decision-making and discussions around reducing waste at home as well as broader environmental concerns. We are a very regular family – my son loves his Nintendo Switch, my daughter loves watching tween shows on Netfllix and we have had more than our fair share of overseas holidays over the years.
However, if there’s one thing the ongoing global pandemic and the mounting climate crisis has taught me, it’s that humans are adaptable – we can form new habits, make sacrifices, improve and evolve our ideas over time, and most importantly, we can, we must, move away from a competition-based mindset to one of collective consciousness. Like everyone else, my household has a long way to go and there are other priorities that we are all facing right now, but I sense the mounting urgency not only to make seemingly minor adjustments to our lifestyles, but to be prepared to make radical changes in the very near future too.
Alongside making more mindful choices around household purchases, here are some of the other topics that we are working on and often discuss in our home, following this quietly radical philosophy;
”Live simply so others can simply live” – Mahatma Gandhi
Reduce meat and dairy consumption as much as possible
We are by no means perfect or ‘militant’ in our veganism, but an 80% reduction in meat and dairy consumption is something to feel proud of. I encourage my children to make healthy choices regardless of what or where they eat (if we are guests at someone’s home we eat what we are served and when eating out which is very occasionally, we will sometimes choose a meat option), but on the whole we’re doing great and enjoying a healthy and varied diet.
One of our favourite vegan meals is this lovely lentil lasagne dish;
Spend more time in nature
This year we’ve spent more time than ever going for muddy walks in our local woodlands – it’s one of our favourite things to do, and it’s free! As our visits became more and more frequent throughout the summer months I began to notice that unstructured play – bounding through the woods, building dens, hugging trees (yes we do this!), is one of the healthiest things we can do for our minds and bodies; after a one or two hour walk, my children seem happier and tired out (in a good way) from the fresh air; spending time around big ancient trees has reminded us of our own innate connection to nature, which we are learning to treat with more respect, and frankly, having a break from commercialised ‘leisure’ (characterised by timetables, neon lights and loud interiors) has been thoroughly welcomed.
Only buy what you need
Ultimately, we know that humanity is suffocating itself due to over-consumption and we are all learning too well that western decadence has no bearing on human happiness.
‘Affluenza‘ had a profound influence on me when I read it over 12 years ago (ironically I was working in a corporate marketing job at the time), pointing out that our sense of self should not derived by the products we surround ourselves with, our lifestyle choices or our identities as homo-consumens – and if we ignore this truth, our collective psyche and the external world which we rely on for our very survival will suffer greatly.
And the book ‘Ends‘ left a strong impression on me as well, reinforcing the notion that we should take responsibility for every single item that comes in to our homes – considering in equal measure where it came from, how it will be disposed of and where it will end up once we’ve finished with it.
Fast forward a decade and these topics are now ongoing discussion points at the dinner table – especially as we are bombarded by TV adverts for plastic toys wrapped in plastic packaging, or toxic (in more ways than one) tween fashion dolls and accessories.
And we try to err on the side of frugal when it comes to Christmas and birthdays as well. I encourage my children to really think about something they would love to receive and appreciate. We don’t go too mad on presents ultimately because toys and gadgets only have a short lifespan – kids get bored and grow out of things quickly, we know that. And everything that we no longer need gets passed on to charity shops or schemes to help underprivileged families so that someone else can enjoy them too.
Align with Slow Fashion
This is an area that I feel quite strongly about. The fashion industry is one of the world’s major polluters, contributing to 10% of all carbon emissions on the planet. There is an unavoidable link between fast fashion, environmental destruction and feminism. And when I mention feminism in relation to the fashion industry, I am not referring to hollow empowerment through conspicuous consumption – I am talking about some of the world’s poorest women (and men and children too) being under-paid and mistreated as they produce the garments that western women feel pressurised to buy in greater and greater quantities. If you feel motivated to learn more about this important topic, here are some brilliant resources.
https://goodonyou.eco/ – an App (available on both Apple and Android) to track the sustainability and ethical credentials of high street and online clothing brands.
https://safia-minney.com/slave-to-fashion/ – Saffia Minney is the founder of People Tree and her book (and online space) ‘Slave to Fashion’ provides a comprehensive guide to the global drive for slave-free fashion.
https://www.kerrywilde.com/ – based in Northants, Kerry Wilde is a soul-led stylist and female mentor. Her teachings get to the core of personal embodiment – circular living, our innate nature as cyclical beings and yes, our relationship with our clothing and adornments. Kerry won’t give you style tips and tricks – her teachings and workshops go much deeper and will help you to get in touch with your inner self, and from this point, life, life choices and creative joy will manifest positively in your external world in a way that benefits you and all those around you.
Support clean energy
I will be honest, I feel mostly powerless and uninformed when it comes to how my car and home are fuelled and what I can do about it. We are in good habits; ‘turn off lights when you leave a room, keep doors closed when the heating is on…’ (this stuff was drilled in to me when I was small!) but the political and corporate forces driving the way fuel is harvested and our infrastructure, which in turn drives our habits and preferences, seem beyond our control most of the time. The government has committed the UK to a net zero emissions target by 2050. To get behind this en masse, the best things we can do, as voters, home-owners, car-drivers and consumers include lobbying our politicians, signing petitions and supporting groups who will hold governments and organisations to account on our behalf.
Here’s some more information from The Energy Saving Trust which is a good place to learn more;
Raise Your Consciousness
”We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” – Albert Einstein
This is where the real ‘work’ begins – before the new habits are formed, before you rush out and buy new books on frugal living or decide to join a climate change march – this is about developing conscious awareness beyond the constructs of the mind and being prepared to ask yourself challenging questions. It’s about listening to the answers with honesty and patience and tapping in to what truly motivates you as you navigate this world.
Listen to that quiet voice inside that tells you’re too busy to care, you have too many commitments, why shouldn’t you treat yourself? Watch how your mind reacts with cynicism when you see climate change protesters on the news; ask yourself how attached are you to the status quo; ponder how much your ego is invested in material possessions? What trajectory are you on – work, consume, work harder, consume bigger and better, then what? Do you really need that upgrade? Who are you trying to impress? What is the frequency of that designer bag you’re carrying? Does it feed your soul? How does your energy feel in the hours and days after a splurge? Is all of this rushing around serving you well?
When you start to lean in to these confronting questions, and really find out what feels good for you – not your ego but the real you, the spark of conscious awareness; then you can begin to step forward… and always remember first and foremost, you are not a human doing, you are a human BEING.
Links and Resources;
Before The Flood – https://www.beforetheflood.com/
Cowspiracy – https://www.cowspiracy.com/
What The Health – https://www.whatthehealthfilm.com/
Affluenza by Oliver James – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Affluenza-Oliver-James/dp/0091900115
Ends by Joe Macleod – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ends-overlook-products-services-shouldnt/dp/9163936445
Slave to Fashion by Saffia Minney – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Slave-Fashion-Safia-Minney/dp/1780263988