I've always cared about nature and animals, even if I'm not at all "outdoorsy". I've always paid attention to environmental issues and one of the main reasons why I'm vegan is because of the environmental benefits of a veggie diet. But even I have my limits.
Like that time in my hometown of Stockholm, when a friend of a friend visiting my house had just eaten a banana and, wanting to toss the peel, asked me if I had "a compost where I can put this this".
Those of you that don't know what a compost is, click here.
I have to say this really threw me. She was right: surely someone as eco-minded as I came off should have a compost? But I didn't because it's just too much of a hassle. All I could manage to respond was, "uhm, no but I have a trash can".
This episode was years ago, but I thought of it again last night when I came home and David had turned the heating up to about eight hundred thousand degrees. As much as I hate feeling cold, I only approve of sweating in the bedroom when working out and when...you know. Unfortunately the perennially t-shirt-wearing man I live with has yet to grasp this and as result, whenever I do yoga at home these days, it feels like Bikram yoga. I expressed how irked I was by giving him a lecture on global warming and "don't you care about the POLAR BEARS?" His reply was, "but I forget to switch it off and then it gets really hot". There it is again. Comfort.
It started me thinking about how many people think that green living is too bothersome to even try and make an effort. So, with that in mind, I created a list of eco advice for those who have more fun things to do on Friday night than composting.
1. Buy a water purifier.
I got mine at Tesco (which, for those of you that aren't from the UK, would be the supermarket) for £16 and I love it! It spares me the unwanted workout of carrying water bottles home and saves me from the inevitable little presents you get from tap water: kidney stones. You have to change the filter about once a month, but you save the environment lots of unnecessary plastic bottles.
2. Make walking your workout.
You'll be surprised to learn I've never driven a car in my life. One of the reasons why I don't have a license is because I feel that there are enough cars polluting the world already. Plus, I love walking! You don't have to ditch your car altogether, but how about the bus every once in a while. Or better yet, walk! Here in London, people bike everywhere (or "cycle" as they call it). I'm not quite there yet - I have a feeling that for me personally, heading out into London traffic on a bike is a surefire way not to make it to 30.
3. Say no to plastic.
My local supermarket cashiers know me as "that girl who hates plastic bags". I don't know why, as soon as you utter the words "no bag for me please", every Tesco cashier looks at you like you just said his/her baby's ugly, but trying to lessen the littering of our planet with unnecessary plastic is a small heroic act to me. Bring your own shopping bags to supermarkets and re-use the plastic bags you have.
4. Click "shut down".
Leaving your computer plugged in and in "sleep" mode is a huge energy waste. And I don't know about you, but I just feel lighter and clearer when my room or workspace isn't filled with cables everywhere.
5. Napkins, the devil's work.
One thing that sometimes bothers me is when restaurants give you heaps of napkins. How dirty do you think I get when I eat? Plus, most of these napkins just get thrown away unused. So just get one napkin and leave the rest behind. Or better yet, go to one of those places that have fabric napkins.
On that note...
6. Don't take the receipt.
I hate receipts. They are that tiny everyday annoyance that just irk the heck out of me. They just end up floating around my bag forever to create little annoying mountains of paper. My general attitude towards them is that if it's not something I could want to return, like clothes, or something I can use for tax deductions, then no thanks. Fortunately many London coffee shop staff now ask if you want the receipt, meaning you can - and should - say no.
7. Buy used books.
I have to say I'm not a fan of vintage fashion. I never find anything I like and...well, it tends to smell a bit. But I'm teaching myself to love it as I'm intrigued by the fact that every garment has a story. One thing I love are used books. Except for the fact that they're ridiculously cheap - I've come across gems like Tina Fey's Bossypants for £1 - they're also a great way to reuse and pass on the gift of a good book!
8. Upcycle and donate.
Even if my style is ever-changing, I almost never throw clothes out. The old things that I don't keep for sentimental value, I almost always donate to charity. And I always find new uses for old things - tights gone holey? I wear them underneath my jeans when it's freezing out. If you're good with DIY, you can find countless ways to upcycle your old stuff - all you need is a needle and thread, a pair of scissors and some creativity.
9. Turn the lights off.
I'm afraid of the dark. I've always hated darkness and I love the fact that when I turn the light off to go to sleep, lots of light from the street comes in, never making it completely black. Even so, at my house I'm the lights police. Why? Because leaving the light on in rooms, bathrooms, kitchens and hallways you're not using is just plain wasteful.
10. Eat less animal products.
I know this sounds like I just want to promote the veggie life. And of course I do - going vegan is one of the best things I've ever done! But before you put your fingers in your ears and starting singing "la la laaaa HAMBURGERS!", hear me out. I'm not saying you have to go vegan right now and overnight. I'm not even saying you have to be a vegetarian. But just every once in a while, have a veggie dinner. This is why. And if you're wondering "well, when what the heck should I eat?", look no further than amazing websites like Green Kitchen Stories and Oh She Glows for recipes and ideas.
...having said all this, I still live in an area of London that doesn't recycle! I really hate that. But at least I know that I'm doing bits and pieces here and there, even if of course we could all do more.
Feel free to share your best eco tip in the comments!
Feel free to share your best eco tip in the comments!
picture from my Instagram