More Ideas for Sustainable Living

More Ideas for Sustainable Living

It’s frightening to think of all of the destruction and hurt that we have inflicted on our beautiful Planet Earth.  This is our shared catastrophe; we must act now to repair the damage we have caused our environment.  We all need to work together to tackle climate change, to heal the environmental damage we’ve inflamed, and make a positive difference to soothe and heal the planet.

It is soul destroying to see pictures of our oceans, rivers, and countryside, littered with plastic; it seems that every part of our being is now infiltrated with plastic.  I hate to witness the extent of the harm we have caused; it breaks my heart to hear of the poor animals that have been injured or killed by our actions.

What is obvious to one person is a new idea to someone else.  Please know that I make these suggestions with kindness in my heart, I only wish to be helpful.  I am far from perfect, I make many mistakes, but I won’t give up trying to find ways to improve my way of life.  I want to find ways to help to restore our planet.  I’ve created a section where you’ll find all of the articles I’ve written about sustainability.  Let’s work together, to take immediate action.  We can share our ideas, listen to each other, treat each other with respect and make a positive difference to the world.  There is much that we can do to be kinder to our Planet.  We should take time to consider and think through our actions and actively do more to avoid generating waste.  Let’s help each other and share our ideas of how to make things better.

Insects

Instead of using fly spray or other sprays that kill flies and other insects, why not grow a carnivorous plant?  I don’t use any pesticides or insecticides outside, as I don’t want to kill any of the insects in my garden.  To have a healthy garden and environment, we need a healthy food chain.

This is Sarracenia x Swaniana red form, a hardy carnivorous plant.

Flies are an important food source for birds, spiders, frogs, and other creatures.  They are also valuable pollinators, flies might not be as endearing as a cute bumble bee, but flies do us a great service by pollinating so many of our plants and crops.  When we use a spray or a treatment to try to kill one fly, we may actually end up inadvertently harming bees, ladybirds, butterflies, and other insects.

Adult hoverflies pollinate our plants.  While hoverfly larvae actually eat aphids, so these insects are our allies and should be celebrated, not swatted or sprayed.

A hoverfly larvae predating on an aphid, on a Lathyrus odoratus leaf. Pictured during my 2017 Sweet Pea Trial.

Houseplants

There’s no need to buy an air freshener.  Instead, clean or remove anything that has an unpleasant odour and open a window.

Houseplants can have a magical effect on your home, turning an ordinary room into a relaxing and inspiring oasis.  As well as looking attractive, houseplants take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.  Houseplants can also improve the air quality in your home, as many plants remove toxins from the air.  If you’re looking to buy a houseplant, here are some ideas.

Peace lilies, produce glossy green leaves and white and green flowers, which are known as spathes.

Trees

I’d love for people around the world, to work together to protect trees.  Let’s plan new tree plantings, choosing plants that are suited to the soil and the growing conditions that exist where they’re planted, including native trees.  We need to continue to care for and look after these young trees, as well as working together to protect and cherish the old trees of our towns and cities.  Seeing the destruction of the street trees, in Sheffield, broke my heart.  I was horrified when this misguided incident first unfolded in 2012, but witnessing this needless carnage continuing at such a rate, over such a protracted time period, was soul destroying.

We need to truly protect trees in Sheffield and protect the trees growing in all of our towns, cities, and villages, but as well as protecting these valuable established trees, let’s get together to create new areas of forest in the countryside and plant new street trees in our villages, towns, and cities.

Trees enhance our well being, our environment, and our landscape, as well as providing us with the air we need to breathe.

Some trees and plants have an amazing ability to filter pollution.  Climbers like Hedera helix (ivy) grow successfully in polluted areas.  While the Environmental Change Institute found that Carpinus betulus (hornbeam) trees absorbed more pollutants than the other trees in their trial.  Acer campestreAlnus glutinosaCorylus avellana, Mespilus germanica, and Taxus baccata all succeed in urban and polluted areas.

A look at the seating area in the Savills and David Harber Garden, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019. The Carpinus betulus tree at the back, was chosen for the garden, as the Environmental Change Institute found that this tree removed more pollutants from the air than other trees.

Travelling

We’re so fortunate to have so many options of different ways we can travel the world.  Airplane travel produces carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other harmful emissions that damage and pollute our environment and are bad for our health.  As well as generating pollution, many forms of travel generate noise, which drowns out the soothing sound of birdsong and the uplifting hum of bees’ buzzing.

Travel methods, like: travelling by train, tram, bus, bike, roller skates, scooter, skateboard, canoe, kayak, rowing boat, raft, or on foot, are kinder to the environment and they’re a lot of fun, too!  While, you might not be able to head into the landlocked city centre in a rowing boat, and it’s not always practical or possible to travel by roller skates (!) or tram, it’s important to think about the journeys we make and consider the impact of our travel on the environment.

Electric cars and vans are now available.  But you don’t need to buy a vehicle; cars and vans can be hired and used for specific journeys – this avoids unnecessary new production and saves you the costs of the upkeep, maintenance, and running of a car.

For anyone wanting to reduce their carbon footprint, public transport is an ideal way to travel.  Although, sadly public transport varies greatly from place to place.

Vehicle maintenance

It’s important to keep your car or van’s tyres at their recommended pressure.  Driving a vehicle with under or over inflated tyres will damage your tyres and wear out your tyres at a faster rate.  Journeys taken with under or over inflated tyres cause your car to use more fuel and your journeys will be less safe.  Tyres naturally lose pressure over time, so you need to regularly check and monitor your tyres.  Check your car’s tyres when they’re cold, in order to take an accurate reading.

Luggage

If you use a car or a van, it’s worth spending the time to assess any permanent luggage and supplies you store in your car and have a thorough clear out and sort out your vehicle.  You might be surprised as to how much extra weight you’re transporting.  It’s good to be prepared, but it’s all too easy to unwittingly get into the habit of permanently storing heavy items in your vehicle, which you might only use occasionally.  By reducing the equipment and materials that you carry in your car or van, you’ll reduce the amount of fuel you’ll use, as you drive around.

Thinking ahead and planning your journey

Can you combine your car journeys, to save yourself time and money and use less energy?  For example, if one week, if you’re planning to meet a friend, you need your hair cut, you have to collect a prescription, and you want to visit a shop, which all require car journeys.  Rather than making many separate journeys, can you combine your trips?  Perhaps on your drive to see your friend for lunch, you could pop to your hairdresser to get your hair done beforehand, collect your prescription and visit the shop, on your way home.

If you can, try to avoid setting off in your car at busy rush hour times, as your journey will take much longer and you’ll use more fuel.  Planning your week and your journeys in advance can save you a lot of time, plus money in fuel and wear and tear on your vehicle.

Car sharing

Car sharing can save the number of car journeys made, thereby reducing the effect on the environment.  Whether you’re offering a lift or gaining one, car sharing will save you money.  Lift Share is free to join: this website helps you find drivers travelling to your chosen destination, with room in their car for passengers; you can also find passengers to share your car journey and split the travel costs.

Go Car Share is another website designed to help avoid drivers travelling in cars with empty passenger seats.  You can publicise your planned journeys and find passengers to travel with you and share the travel costs.  You can also post details of any journeys you plan to take and ask for lifts, making arrangements in advance.

Holidays

A staycation or a holiday at home can be so much fun!  Plus you’ll save so much time, as you won’t need to pack beforehand and unpack afterwards.  You won’t be waiting around at an airport, or spending time driving to your destination, as you’re already there!

If you’re thinking of taking a holiday at home, why not plan your staycation to coincide with the Heritage Open Days?  An annual event, held every year in September, the Heritage Open Days allow visitors to experience history, culture, and architecture.  The Heritage Open Days provide a rather wonderful opportunity to visit interesting, historic, beautiful, and important places, which are normally closed to the public.  These special events also give visitors an opportunity to enjoy free entry to some rather lovely places that usually charge an admission fee.  For information about the Heritage Open Days, please click here.

If you’re more interested in spending your holidays visiting somewhere new, how about a walking, cycling, or kayaking holiday?  Or a trip seeing the sites or travelling to different continents by train or boat?

Flights

Airplanes use a lot of fuel and create a lot of pollution; train journeys, and many other forms of travel, are better for the environment.  If you’re making an airplane journey, if you can choose a non-stop flight – a journey without a stop over – this will use far less energy and cause less pollution than the equivalent journey, made with double the take offs and landings, as more fuel is consumed during take off and landing.

The Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, also known by its scientific name of Papilio rutulus.

Buying plants overseas

We inflict so much suffering on our plants, trees, and our landscapes, often without realising.  We may think it a harmless act to bring home a couple of plants or a few cuttings with us, from our holiday adventures or trips overseas, but sadly by collecting and transporting plant material, compost, or soil, we risk introducing pests and diseases from one country to another.  An introduced insect may seem harmless, but insects (and other creatures) have the ability to be far more destructive in a new environment, away from the predators or natural controls that keep their numbers in check, at home in their natural environment.

I often cannot see the miniature aphids and other insects on my orchids and other indoor plants, as these insects are so miniscule.  They might be tiny, but insects can cause a phenomenal amount of damage.  Insects can be transported as eggs on plant material, where they can pass unnoticed from one country to another.  Many insects are tiny, like a speck of dust, so they can easily go undetected.

The aphids on these Macroclinium manabinum flowers are miniature, I could only see these aphids when I took a close up photograph and then enlarged it.

When you’re holidaying or travelling, take heed of the old adage: ‘Take only memories and leave only footsteps’.  Although having said this, soil diseases which can have devastating effects on plants and trees, are often carried on our shoes, where they can be transmitted from one country to another, or one garden or forest to another.

Food

We receive our energy from the food we eat.  So much energy goes into growing our food, packaging our food, transporting our food, and cooking it.  Sadly, a frighteningly large percentage of all the food that’s grown and prepared goes to waste.  If this wasted food was shared before it was wasted it would be better for us and for the environment.  If we work together, we can avoid wasting food, but it doesn’t stop here, there are so many things we can do….

Batch cooking

I’ve long been a fan of batch cooking  – preparing meals in large batches, then dividing into meal size portions to freeze and enjoy another day – a home-made ready meal!  Batch cooking has so many advantages, it allows you to take advantage of an abundance of home-grown fruit and vegetables, and make the best use of special offers at the market, your local grocer, or supermarket.  Cooking your own ready meals is a great way to avoid single use plastic and prevent waste.  Batch cooking is a great time saver, but batch cooking also enables you to save money on gas or electricity, by cooking large quantities at once.

I know I’ve mentioned the glory and goodness of batch cooking before, but I thought that with our harvest season in full swing that this was a timely reminder.

On cold winter days or evenings, preparing meals for the freezer is a great way to warm up!

An apple and raspberry crumble ready to go in the oven.

Cooking methods

Oven cooking

When you’re next cooking a meal in your oven – towards the end of your cooking time – when your oven is nice and hot – could you turn your oven off, leaving the door closed, with your food inside?  This will allow your food to continue cooking inside your hot oven for five, ten, fifteen minutes, or more – before you open the door.  By turning your oven off, with your food inside and the oven door closed, you retain the heat and make the most of all of the power that your oven has generated.  So, you’ll make use of more of the energy your oven has expended.

Stove top cooking

If you’re next cooking in a pan on your hob, can you put a lid on your pan, to prevent as much heat escaping so quickly and to cook your food in a quicker time frame?

Cooking from frozen

It’s not always possible, for many reasons, but if you’re planning on cooking a frozen meal on a particular day, simply remembering to take your dish out of the freezer the night before, or a few hours earlier, so your food has the chance to defrost, will save you valuable cooking time.

Grow your own

There’s nothing like the joy of growing your own fruit, vegetables, and herbs.  Growing your own produce is a wonderfully uplifting thing to do.  If you’re wondering what to do in your garden or at your allotment each month, to be able to grow your own fruit and vegetables, you’ll find my monthly advice, in my dedicated sections for Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter gardening.

My Trugmakers Daffodil Trug and my Trugmakers Trug No. 7 filled with some of my home-grown tomatoes, which were grown for my Tomato Trial.

Donating, receiving, and sharing food

If you’ve bought a new cereal which wasn’t to your taste.  Or you’ve found yourself to be rather more successful at growing courgettes or runner beans than you expected, and as a consequence you now need to re-home 30 tons of courgettes or 22 tons of runner beans; don’t let these products go to waste.  You could give your spare food to your friends and family, or your neighbours.

Godalming has its own Community Fridge, a volunteer run initiative designed to prevent waste.  Shops, restaurants, families, and individuals, all take good quality food to the Community Fridge, to share the food with others and avoid wasting it.  This fridge is in the same location as Godalming’s Citizens Advice, at 36 Bridge Street, Godalming, Surrey, GU7 1HP.   Local residents can visit the Community Fridge as often as they like, to take home any food they would like for themselves or their family.  There is no charge whatsoever to use the Community Fridge – but there is a pot for donations – for those who wish to contribute to the running costs of the fridge.

Another option is to donate your spare food to a Food Bank.  If you don’t know of a local food bank, speak to your neighbours or your local church, your Citizens Advice, or another local organisation and find out how to make a donation.

If you’re short of funds yourself, you could sell your home-grown fruit and vegetables, or swap your produce for something else – barter with your friends, family, and neighbours.

Make Up

Recycling Make Up and Toiletries

If you’ve got unused, or lightly used, make up and toiletries that you’re not going to use yourself, why not gift them to someone in need?  Sadly, many people are in poverty, without the money to buy food or essential toiletries.  We can help each other in times of need, by donating products to organisations and charities.

Beauty Banks

In 2017, Sali Hughes and Jo Jones set up Beauty Banks, a non-profit beauty equivalent of a food bank, distributing essential care and beauty items to those who need them.

Please note that Beauty Banks only accept new items, this organisation are looking for:

  • Body wash
  • Deodorant
  • Face flannels
  • Head lice combs
  • Nappies
  • Personal hygiene and essential beauty items
  • Sanitary products
  • Shampoo
  • Shaving gel or cream
  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes

Beauty Banks are open from Monday to Friday, from 8.45am until 6pm.  There are instructions on Beauty Banks’ website of how to post items to the organisation, shipping costs from £3.49; this is the address:

Beauty Banks
2 Kensington square
London
W85HP

Alternatively, you can buy products for Beauty Banks, via this link.

Give and MakeUp

Give and MakeUp is a non profit initiative that was set up by Caroline Hirons in 2010, to support Refuge and Women’s Aid in London and Cardiff, by giving every day essentials to the women and children in need.  This initiative accepts both used and lightly used items, with the exceptions of mascara and lipgloss – which must be new and unused.

Give and MakeUp advise that if your spare make up and toiletries aren’t in good enough condition to give to your best friend, please don’t send them to their organisation, as they are looking for products that will help women and children to feel better.  So, please don’t send very old products, or products that are almost empty.

Give and MakeUp support women from birth onwards and male children from birth until around ten years of age.  Give and MakeUp are looking for donations of new and clean, washed, lightly used products such as:

  • Underwear
  • Bras
  • Children’s’ vests
  • Pyjamas
  • Trousers
  • Skirts
  • Tights
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Coats
  • Any clean, wearable clothing
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Nappies
  • Tampons
  • Sanitary towels
  • Baby products
  • Shower gel
  • Deodorant
  • Body lotion
  • Make up (every type of make up, except for used mascara and lipgloss)
  • Toys – all toys, except for toy guns or anything relating to violence or religion

Please take your parcels to your local post office, where you’ll pay the postage yourself.  Send your packages to:

Give and MakeUp
PO Box 855
London
W44AW

Alternatively, you can donate products to those in need in Wales, by taking your package of donated items to your local post office, where you’ll pay the postage charges yourself, to send your items to a company called Escentual.com at this address:

Give and MakeUp C/O
Escentual.com
63-67 Wellfield Road
Cardiff
Wales
CF24 3PA

For more information about Give and MakeUp, please visit Caroline Hirons’ website, here’s a link.

Lipsticks

Lush sell a wide range of lipsticks which are designed to fit inside any regular lipstick case, so you can use your old lipstick case but refill it with the same or different coloured lipsticks.  The lipsticks are sealed and coated in wax, so you can be sure that they are clean and fresh, but you’re not purchasing any new plastic from making a purchase.

I’ve noticed other make-up companies also offering refillable lipsticks, which is great.  Lipsticks do last for a considerable time so I don’t think of them as the greatest source of plastic, but it’s important that we look at all of our actions.  This is certainly an easy change to make – to buy a lipstick refill and re-use your lipstick cases.

Lush produce a range of plastic free ‘naked’ products, from face products, hair products, shampoo bars, shower products, to naked make-up.  To see Lush’s full range of plastic free products, please click here.

Tampons, sanitary towels, and pads

Sadly, many tampons, sanitary towels and pads contain plastics.

Organic Mondays is a new company, set up to provide women with plastic-free period pads, panty liners, and tampons, formed from organic cotton.  The company offer products that are free from plastics, super absorbent polymers (SAP), synthetics, dyes, perfumes, or chlorine.  Organic Mondays post their products to anywhere in Europe, America, and Australia.

Menstrual Cups

A menstrual cup or Moon Cup is a menstrual cups, made of soft silicone.  These cups work in a similar way to tampons, but rather than being thrown away, a Moon Cup can instead be emptied, washed, and reused; menstrual cups are a super invention, they last for a great many years.

Other articles that may interest you………………

For tips on celebrating life, love, and marriage, please click here.

For tips and ideas of how to use less plastic, please click here.

For more ideas of how to use less plastic, please click here.

For tips and ideas of how to garden more sustainably, please click here.

For ideas of how to celebrate life and special events, whilst respecting the environment, please click here.

Other articles you might like:

Your email will not be published. Name and Email fields are required