This blog was originally featured at www.teamhope.ie/news
At the beginning of last year I decided that I wanted to take my response to climate change more seriously. We are seeing the effects of climate change in the countries that we work in at Team Hope and while drastic changes are needed at government and policy level, there are also lots of ways we can help on an individual level, even at home.
We have small children and not a whole lot of spare time but we committed to getting started, even if it was just small changes and that’s where the idea of one change a month came from. There’s a certain amount of research time needed so one topic month what I found manageable!
A year on, I am no expert in eco-friendly living and there are definitely more changes we want to make, but we have started and we have learned so, so much along the way. We have even learned a lot about how eco-friendly products affect our health and well-being, something that we hadn’t really thought about before!
So, I should start with the fact that, our changes do not include going vegan (I know!). We made this choice as it is the best one for us as a family at the moment. In saying that our first change was to cut down on meat in our diets. We found a local source for the beef and eggs that we do eat at a farm where animals are pasture raised (we live in Dublin so it shouldn’t be too difficult to do this no matter where you are). This choice also saves us money and is better for our health! We have loved introducing loads of beans, nuts and new veggies to our diets too.
We live in a small apartment and so we don’t have a lot of space to grow our own food or to keep a cow! We do have a very, very small outdoor space (a 4ft x 2ft “balcony” sort of thing) and we have found that you can do a lot with a small space! Instead of buying grow bags (more buying!), we used old worn reusable shopping bags to grow onions and potatoes and we also fit in a tomato planter. We used hanging flower boxes to grow herbs as we have no windows in our kitchen so can’t grow anything in there. Now it was a bit hit and miss, the potatoes got a disease of some kind despite being on the 1st floor away from other plants and trees, so that was disappointing but the tomatoes did great and the herbs too. If we can do it anyone can!
Is recycling the answer?
We started with this one and have made several changes to our mindset along the way. We weren’t great at it due to the lack of space but we have introduced more bins. More recently we have been focusing on reducing and reusing and not relying on recycling to get get rid of our waste. If we don’t need it we don’t buy it and if we do need it we try to reuse.
Examples: Bread wrappers for bringing lunch to work or as veg bags in the supermarket, saving jars and tubs for storage and using milk cartons to grow herbs. We pass on or donate clothes and we get clothes passed on to us.
Buying and buying LESS
We do a lot of our grocery shopping and other shopping online to cut down the number of cars on the road. This has saved us money too!
We really didn’t want to fall into the trap of buying unnecessary replacements because they are labelled eco-friendly and look nice! We have so far avoided the beeswax wraps (sandwiches are already going into a lunchbox!), special jars for storing rice and things (we use washed out peanut butter jars for almost everything!) & metal straws (we just say no to straws). The changes we made taught us to be mindful of consumerism along the way. We have also focused on buying Irish too. We have loved finding small retailers that we can support and learn from.
Switching energy provider
This is one I’m actually going to tackle this month! It turns out it’s such an easy switch to make! We have used Switcher.ie’s green energy comparison to compare energy providers and have found that we can save money by switching too!
Mine: Start slowly and enjoy it. Climate change is something to take seriously but these changes will also benefit you right now.
Talk to people because there is a community of people out there, all doing the same things, alone. If you find others, it’s so much more fun to take this journey together!
TV: We found David Attenborough’s ‘Our Planet’ on Netflix really hard-hitting, we would definitely recommend it. Watch the short behind-the-scenes portions at the end of each episode too!
Advice: https://www.facebook.com/365EcoDecisions/ . This Facebook blog has been a wealth of information. If you’re short on time and wish someone would do all of the product and idea testing for you, this is for you!
Recipes: The Happy Pear website and the library. I get loads of vegan cookbooks from the library and haven’t had to buy ANY! The Part-time Vegan is one I really like at the moment.