I decided at the start of the year (not particularly consciously, and not on January 1st) that I wanted to feel a bit better, in myself and about myself.
Which sounds a bit wanky.
But I was fed up of feeling tired, and I was tired of feeling sluggish.
That, combined with the influx of information of the consequences that human beings have had on the planet.
I’m as blasé as can be, not to mention flippant. But all this stuff just seems so pointless.
WHY are we consuming meat the way we do? WHY do we repeatedly produce and use plastic that can’t be recycled? WHY do some people not even bother to recycle? WHY do we buy so much that we don’t really need? WHY do we drink the milk of another animal, which is meant for their babies, not us? WHY do we expect to pay so little for some things, and yet will spend hundreds on cigarettes, alcohol, humongous TVs and branded clothing?
I expect the answer to the majority of those questions could be answered with ‘habit’, ‘cost’, ‘because I can’.
Now I’m not one to take the weight of the world on my shoulders (which seems inherently pointless anyway). But once you start thinking about those things ☝🏻 and when you do actually care, it’s not easy to just stop.
We all know the answer to the question of ‘what difference can just one person make?’.
So that is what I am trying to do, make small, sustainable changes; the kind of changes, that if a few people adopted, they really would make a difference. The kind of changes that I hope my children will ‘do’ as normal, and maybe give my friends and family a little pause for thought. The ripple of change.
I am lucky to work with an eclectic bunch of people, most of whom have solid eco-friendly outlooks. It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know. Without my work colleagues I wouldn’t yet have had an actual real life conversation with someone about the practicalities of using a moon cup. Or had the lightbulb moment of reusable bamboo pads instead of cotton wool. I wouldn’t have been introduced to wax paper seals. There would never have been a conversation about slaughter-free wool and natural dyes. I would never have tried dairy-free milk or discussed the difficulties of being vegan, and the reasons why one would choose to be vegan.
The ripples of change, right there.
Over the last year I have been making more conscious decisions.
- Plastic Along with a lot of people I really am trying to cut back on plastic by taking my own bags and buying unpackaged fruit and vegetables.
- Non-recyclable Waste no.1. Using a moon cup has been a total game changer (FYI a silicone cup which you insert to collect your menstrual flow), and over the last year I have been using it I have felt so proud (doesn’t seem like quite the right word, but it kind of is) of the amount of sanitary waste I have saved. I honestly would never go back, for the environment, and myself.
- Non-recyclable Waste no.2 Reusable bamboo pads instead of cotton wool are now my normal, and they’re so large I only use 3 a week – hardly a hindrance on my washing pile.
- Need, not Want. I’ve also really started to challenge myself on what I need. I got out of the habit of clothes shopping when I didn’t work for three years – it was an expense I simply couldn’t afford, but I noticed I’d slowly started spending again since returning to work two years ago. I work in retail and I have to wear current stock of the brand I work for, and get given my clothing for free because of this. However. It’s not what I would choose to wear, so it gets worn for the five days a week I’m at work, and once it’s out of the shop it gets donated to charity. So I already have guilt over the quick turnaround of my work wardrobe, but it also means that I only have two days a week where I need my own clothes, which, when you have two children, usually involves the park/woods/beach/cleaning the house. So I live in jeans and sweatshirts. I really, really don’t need to buy new clothes. So I haven’t. And I’ve taken a stance against disposable fashion. If I am going to buy something, I want it to be ethically produced and something that is going to stand the test of time, not to be something that will be in the charity bag or the bin by the end of the year.
Then, in January, The Big One.
I decided I wanted to try Veganuary. I’d spent a fair amount of time chatting to a work colleague, who is fairly vehement in her opinions. I’d also started reading about the impact of dairy cows, and the meat industry on the environment, and I just started to feel a bit uncomfortable about how much our meat consumption has changed, and how unnecessary it was for me to eat and drink the way I was. And, as already mentioned it was a selfish reason – to see if eating better made me feel better.
I started a week late as there was so much cheese and chocolate in the house, I felt I needed to remove some of the temptation, as well as not let it go to waste! The intention was always just for January, but now Veganuary is done, I feel like this how I should be.
I feel so much better. I haven’t got that horrid bloated, sluggish feeling that I’d gotten so used too. I’ve lost the half a stone that I always struggle to lose – but always feel more like ‘me’ when it’s gone.
I have always said (along with most people) that I could never be vegan because I love cheese too much. Here’s a shocker; I’ve not missed it at all. I’ve not missed meat, and I’ve never been a vegetarian ever in my life. It’s made me better at planning meals, and remembering to prepare food for lunch. I snack more, but on fruit – not calorie-laden junk. And I have found the best recipe for vegan brownies, so I’ve found my chocolate fix. I’m not going to say I will never consume meat or dairy ever again (after all there’s a bottle of salted caramel Bailey’s with my name on it), but I want it to be the exception rather than the rule.
Picking your battles is more sustainable than trying to do everything; I genuinely didn’t think I’d have enjoyed it, or stuck to it so well. This battle I’m winning. But when I look at the plastic that comes out of this house, well, there’s some way to go. But I know that whilst I’m speaking with people who know their stuff, and researching as best I can, I’ll do what I can, because we are all accountable to ourselves, if no one else.
No one can change the world on their own, but maybe if we all start picking a few battles each, together we’ll notice a difference.