I started making drastic changes to my lifestyle a year ago in the summer of 2018, and you can read about my progress in various posts including 10 Simple Ways to Reduce Waste and Single-use Plastic Consumption (Part 2) and Zero Waste Toiletries. Since “going zero waste” and trying to live sustainably is a journey, I thought I’d update you on ten changes I’ve made in 2019 to live more sustainably in celebration of Plastic Free July. I’m not saying that you need to do these things too, because sustainable looks different for everyone. We are each responsible for taking action within our own means.
Let me know if you’ve been able to make changes recently! Some recent examples of action I’ve seen from friends/colleagues include: turning plastic waste into Eco bricks and meatless May, all the way to getting arrested with Extinction Rebellion. Yet, these changes also aren’t a solution to the planet’s climate, plastic, and ecological emergencies. We need to change at a global level. Nonetheless, individual action is better than inaction and complacency!
Here are ten changes I’ve made in 2019 to live more sustainably:
- Reduced my dairy. We switched to oat milk. The only time we have dairy milk in the house now is if we have guests. I’m lactose intolerant, but we buy lactose free cheese. I’ve reduced my cheese intake by around 50%, and now enjoy it on the occasional pizza, or sprinkled on pasta.
- Adopted a plant based diet. We’ve gone from having meat (poultry or fish) several nights a week, to 2-3 times a month. The rest of my meals are primarily whole food plant based.
- Stopped buying fast fashion. I’m trying not to buy any new clothes. The clothes (or gifted clothes) I do buy are either second-hand or from sustainable brands. If you haven’t seen The True Cost (available on Netflix), I highly recommend you do so. This short documentary on YouTube about the world’s most polluted river is also an eye opener to the toxic textile industry.
- Shorter showers and fewer baths. I used to have a bath once a week and now it’s around once a month in a half filled tub. My showers aren’t longer than 5 minutes.
- Wash clothes in 30˚C on a short cycle. My clothes aren’t that dirty so a quick wash on 30˚C does the trick. We also buy SESI refillable laundry detergent.
- Making my own deodorant. I’m a sweaty human and switching from an antiperspirant was something I thought I’d never been able to do. I decided to give it a go, and I had no problems whatsoever switching! In fact, I feel cheated that my sweating was exacerbated by the antiperspirant. My underarms were also horribly itchy and now they are moisturised and itch-free. Do I smell? Nope – well, only of coconut. Do I sweat? Yes, but no more so than when I was slathering myself in antiperspirant.
- Cut down the snacks. I rarely buy packaged snacks anymore to reduce my plastic waste. We buy Fairtrade chocolate in cardboard packaging as a treat!
- Engaging in politics. Although I’m restricted by my visa from engaging in protests and signing petitions, I closely follow and support the efforts of environmental activists. For the first time in my life, I’m scrutinizing every single political and economics headline I come across. I’ve written to my MP. I’ve also emailed my Council as well as several brands to question their environmental policies.
- Stopped buying stuff. This includes makeup, home décor, books etc. Basically, apart from essentials, I’ve told myself that I need to really think about a purchase and avoid impulse buying (some people use the 30 day rule). When I do buy things, they are either second-hand, serve a purpose, come from an ethical shop and manufacturer, and/or contain minimum packaging.
- Educating myself. Finally, the best way to take action is to be aware of the problem. I’m reading news stories, going to lectures, watching documentaries, following people on social media who are environmental activists or sustainability experts, and I’m reading books on sustainability and the climate crisis. Knowledge is power!
Three things I’m going to try to do next:
- I’m still working on not relying on the car. Sometimes Lucy drives me to the bus in the morning because I’m tired at 6:50 AM and too lazy to walk the 15 minutes. My goal is to walk every day!
- I’m going to try to make my own hummus and oat milk so that I don’t have to buy plastic packaging. UPDATE: I made hummus! Once I perfect the recipe, I’ll share! Here it is in an old cashew nut jar (which incidentally is also delicious).
- I’m going to look into carbon offsets for my summer trip to Vancouver.
For more tips see “50 simple ways to live more sustainably”.