10 Tips for a More Eco-Lifestyle.

10 Tips for a More Eco-Lifestyle.

Wanting to leave your print on the planet can seem like a pretty overwhelming feat. The more I delve into the dangers impacting our world, the less I feel as if a solution is within grasp.

Rather, the solution is there. It just needs mass implementation to start reversing the damage.

It’s all too easy to say “It isn’t my problem” or “It’s too impossible a task – why even try?”

And yet… there’s only one thing we can control in life, isn’t there?

Our actions. Our beliefs. Our journey.

That bigger story? It isn’t ours to write. And whether or not we believe our own choices to alter our behaviour for the good of the planet will help, you can guarantee the impact of our choice NOT to do anything.

A big fat nothing. Zilch. Impact of 0.

This doesn’t have to mean anything radical. If you want to drop everything to travel the oceans with the Sea Shepherds or simply make a small change in your diet, you can do as much or as little as you want to create an eco-friendly lifestyle.

To get you started I’ve rounded up my top 10 tips to ease yourself in. See it as some simple sustainability to dip your toes into a more environmentally conscious life!

1. Get on your bike!

Easy peasy. And now the Spring sunshine is starting to peak its face out from behind the clouds, it really is the ideal time. Of course it isn’t ideal for everyone to cycle EVERYWHERE. But if you can change just a few of your driven journeys per week to a cycle (or even a walk!), you’re immediately reducing your carbon footprint.

Plus, cycling gives you KILL-AH thighs and butt. My legs have never felt so rock hard. Winning all round.

2. Purchase less.

Right, this is the one I personally am still working on (this month is my total commitment to it).

We live in a society of “stuff”. Look around you. How many items that you’ve purchased do you really need? How many were impulse buys? How much clutter is bursting out at the seams?

Product production can have a huge impact on the environment, let alone the further impacts of product disposal and getting rid of all that packaging. So try and push yourself into the 14 day test – give it a fortnight after the moment you decide you REAAAAAALLY want that new pair of shoes or Moleskin notebook to commit.

And if you do still feel the need to buy it, try to steer towards fair-trade, ethical stores. Many of these will be independent as well, so you can rest easy knowing you’re helping the smaller guys.

3. Go to a clothes swap.

Leading on from that, if you do look around and realise you’ve got more clothes than a Kardashian photo shoot, why not pull the bits you don’t need together and take them to a clothes swap?

You get to recycle your old items AND pick up new (to you) ones on the way. Pretty cushty, really.

They’re easy to find with a quick google search of clothes swaps in your area. Southampton followers, there’s a great one coming up on April 22 in Gods House Tower. Check out more details here.

4. Buy used when possible.

… another way to reduce the problem of the purchase is by doing to second hand. I grab all my books from charity stores and Amazon (which also tends to reduce to price a ton).

For bigger items, eBay is also a goldmine for furniture. We kitted out our whole living room for about £30 and it looks and feels fab-u-lous. Chuck a vibrant cover over a sofa, upcycle a table and you’re sorted.

5. Cut out the plastic bags.

I’m sure you’ve heard this one over, and over, and over again.

It’s certainly coming more to the forefront of people’s minds since the 5p carrier bags were enforced in supermarkets. Bravo for that one, folks. But it really is SUCH an easy adjustment to keep a canvas bag on you to use instead of shopping carrier bags.

I keep one under my desk at work, one at home and a squishy one (good adjective) slotted into my handbag. Always ready and raring to go… just like WonderWoman.

6. Get a re-usable coffee cup.

Drink a lot of coffee (*cough* obscene amount *cough*)? A lot of coffee cups from stores aren’t bio-degradable, and it’s been revealed that 2.5 billion supposedly paper coffee cups are being thrown away in the UK every year. Whilst we might be led to believe that these cups are recyclable, the reality is actually a different story.

And whilst you will find coffee shops (normally the more independent stores) with biodegradable cups (I’ll be carrying out some research on those that do in Southampton soon) it’s well worth keeping hold of a re-usable cup that you can just get the barista to fill up for you.

Hungry City Hippy (one of my fave eco bloggers who did an awesome roundup of 10 coffee shops in Cardiff, my old home, that do biodegradable cups) recommends these lush little bamboo reusable coffee cups from Surfers against Sewage. I’ve ordered the pink one, obvs.

7. Buy cruelty-free makeup.

This one doesn’t need much explaining.

I’m in the process of re-purchasing all my skin care and makeup to that which I know is 100% cruelty free. Unfortunately many of the makeup brands who claim to be cruelty-free are, along the line, still taking part in animal testing. This is because the actual ingredients that go into the products may be manufactured in factories that do test on animals.

Despite the controversy recently surrounding The Body Shop, it has come through from PETA that the company is and will remain 100% cruelty free. I can also say that my skin has never been clearer since moving over to their natural products.

The Vegan Kind is also a great resource for finding out about cruelty-free, vegan cosmetics. They also run two subscription boxes (one for food, one for cosmetic products) which are both brilliant for finding out about ethical brands. Plus, all packaging is totally recyclable. What’s not to love?

8. Go meat-free.

When people ask why I’ve gone vegetarian (and gradually transitioning to vegan), the answer is always three fold. The first is of course the ethical side of it – and that one is self-explanatory, really. The second is health. And oh lord, have I felt the benefits already in my energy, skin and mental well being. The third? The environment.

An animal-free (vegan ideally) diet is a hugely powerful way to help protect our planet. The livestock sector is one of the most significant contributors to our most critical environmental issues, at every end of the spectrum from local impact to global climate change. It’s one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas as well as the extreme amounts of grain required to feed livestock reducing the amount of food available for the world’s starving.

I pulled together 5 brilliant documentaries that dig deeper into all of this, which you can read here. Believe me, coming from someone who used to be a huge meat eater, they will seriously open your eyes.

9. Get involved in the Real Junk Food Project.

The Real Junk Food Project is a national movement that intercepts food before it goes to landfill or incineration and distributes it to the community or uses it to cater events.

These projects normally crop up within “cafes” with a “pay as you feel” ethos. It’s all totally safe and works to create a more ethical approach to food by avoiding chucking food out that is still entirely fit for purpose.

You can see if there are any cafes near you on their website. For Southampton folk, The Curb Kitchen will pop up regularly in the city so check them out and pay them a visit.

10. Join a local green group.

And finally, why not suss out the local eco groups in your community? They’re easy to find – I mean, these guys tend to be a tad vocal. So whether it is something like a Real Junk Food café, a local division of Greenpeace or just a meetup, this is a great opportunity to meet with like-minded people and work together to initiate tangible change.

Do you have any tips you’d add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Netflix Documentaries To Change The Way You Think About Food.

5 Netflix Documentaries To Change The Way You Think About Food.

Since officially turning vegetarian at the beginning of 2017 (I say officially because I spent most of my Australia and South East Asia travels vegetarian before consciously cutting down my meat intake on my return to the UK) I’ve been continuously trying to educate myself on the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. Not so much to convince myself it’s the “right” thing to do, but more so to widen my awareness of the bigger picture. Because being vegetarian goes far beyond the want to “not eat animals”.

More recently I’ve been looking more into taking that step into vegan life. I suppose this conscious effort to expand my knowledge on the impacts of a meat based diet has quickly been drip fed facts on animal-based produce in general. There’s so much I didn’t realise before opening myself up to this information. So much that has drastically changed the way I look at the food I’m putting into my body.

And I will never be one of those people that preach for everyone to turn vegetarian. I will never judge anyone for eating meat and I will never intentionally make anyone feel uncomfortable for doing so.

We are all individuals. We all have our own needs and wants in life.

What I do want to do, and what I hope to do through posts on this blog, is to encourage others to simply take the time to explore other options. Even if it simply pushes your awareness… knowledge is power, after all.

Luckily Netflix features a whole host of documentaries to help you do this. The site has reams of environmental and food-based full length documentary films, and I’ve rounded up my top 4 (plus an BBC IPlayer must see – soz for the misleading title) that cover most bases and provide an insightful and inspiring insight into the world of veggie-life.

1. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

cowspiracy_cow

ph cr: Cowspiracy

I couldn’t do a list and not start with Cowspiracy. This documentary totally blew me away… although that won’t come as a surprise due to its key focus on the environmental impact of animal agriculture.

Its glaring message comes down to how animal agriculture is one of the most destructive industries facing the planet. The documentary describes why it is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean “dead zones,” and virtually every other environmental ill.

It also, perhaps most surprisingly, brings attention to the international refusal amongst environmental groups worldwide to address this.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom. The documentary also rounds off with an alternative: a path to global sustainability for a growing population.

2. Vegucated

vegucated-documentary

ph cr: Plant based recipes

Vegucated follows three meat and cheese loving New Yorkers as they embark on a 6 week challenge to go totally vegan.

Compared to other vegan documentaries, it’s pretty lighthearted. Although it does give a disturbing insight into the food industry (with some pretty uncomfortable scenes) it mostly focuses on the trio’s journey as they realise that, actually, vegan life isn’t all that crazy.

They’re taken to farms (both organic and factory) and educated on the reality of animal-based food production and why it’s paramount to really think about where your food is coming from.

I’d recommend this one for those wondering how difficult a vegan transition is on lifestyle: the film shows snippets of the three as they take to family occasions, holidays and meals out. It’s these situations that concern me personally when I think of turning 100% vegan. This documentary reduced those concerns, a little at least.

A good introduction to vegan living with a strong, uplifting message attached.

3. Food inc.

foodinc-648x330

ph cr: PBS

Food inc gets down and dirty with exactly what is in our food and how little we really know about the potentially life threatening things we’re unintentionally putting into our bodies. Yes the documentary draws in on the inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals, but its focal point is the dangers of GMOs and the environmental implications of mass meat production.

It educates on the role animal-based food has on obesity, cancer and diabetes and unveils some pretty shocking facts on e-coli. Basically? It’s the whole, gritty picture.

4. Fork Over Knives.

forks-over-knives1

ph cr: The Vegan Road

Fork Over Knives is all over the health angle on meat consumption. It argues how most, if not all, degenerative diseases can be controlled (or even reversed) by cutting out animal-based and processed foods.

Like Food inc, it pulls together evidence on diabetes and heart disease presenting the case that a whole food, plant based diet could be the primary approach to treat many of the serious ailments associated with them. It follows a range of individuals with such illnesses (as well as someone packed to the brink with drug prescriptions) and tracks their health improvements as they move to a carefully controlled diet away from these food types.

It’s packed full of research and stats with nutritional scientists and pioneering researches pleading their findings and beliefs. A heavy going documentary, this is a great one for anyone looking to fully dig beneath the surface.

5. Carnage

p04tmjd3

ph cr: BBC

Needless to say, all the above are pretty exhausting if taken in at the same time. I mean, educating yourself is crucial. And I adore it. But you can find yourself a tad deflated by the end knowing we may never find ourselves in a time when everyone is on the same page. You almost find yourself feeling defeated.

So why not end on a high? And okay, this isn’t a Netflix jobby but you can catch it on BBC IPlayer. Created by comedy hero Simon Amstell, Carnage is a mockumentary around a utopian future where society has all gone the big V.

Despite being laugh out loud funny (my favourite bit had to be the AA style meeting where everyone had to call out a cheese they had eaten in their youth whilst fighting breakdowns), the underlying message is seriously inspiring and shows a glimmer of hope for the future (albeit, the far far future…).

For something more lighthearted, this is the number 1.

Would you add any to the list? Let me know in the comments below!

Review: Before the Flood.

Review: Before the Flood.

“Clean air, water and a liveable climate are inalienable human rights. And solving this crisis is not a question of politics it is a question of our own survival.”

LEONARDO DICAPRIO

U.N. Messenger of Peace for the Climate

I’d been meaning to watch it since it came out in October. Wanted to. Needed to. But something stopped me. Some niggle, deep below the surface pushing me away from it. Keeping me still, ever so slightly, in the shadows.

And now, after watching it, I know why.

I was scared.

I was scared of reality.

Because Before the Flood is exactly that. Reality. Global reality.

I pride myself on being all too aware of the critical implications of climate change on our environment. I’ve seen them firsthand diving into the grey coral of the Great Barrier Reef that once glowed in a kaleidoscope of colour. I’ve studied it during my degree. I’ve always had a deep interest in it.

The tears I wept when Trump became President (amongst SO many things) were fiercely rooted in his stance on climate change (or the “myth” of it as he foolishly promotes). The implications of his influence on public opinion and international development left me defeated and, in all honesty, despairing of the future of our planet.

Yet despite all of this I avoided the National Geographic film. Because I knew it would be a raw and frankly harrowing portrait of the damage we are all doing, each and every day.

Now I’ve seen it? I couldn’t be gladder.

I mean, yes it was raw. Yes it was harrowing. And yes, I cried A LOT.

But it was needed. It was an urgent reminder that whilst there is extreme change needed to repair the damage… it is achievable. It can be done.

And as a documentary, Before the Flood is flawless. With unparalleled direction from Academy Award winning film maker Fisher Stevens and camera work that needs to be seen to be believed, it really is a piece of film that you simply cannot take your eyes away from.

Following Leonardo DiCaprio as he travels across five continents and the Arctic to witness climate change first hand, the documentary takes you on expeditions with scientists working to reveal the reality of climate change, meetings with political leaders fighting inaction as well as the terrifying truth behind calculated disinformation campaigns led by some of the world’s most powerful figures to confuse the public about the urgency of the growing climate crisis.

It’s both frightening and inspiring in equal parts. The frank glimpse into the work being done to deny climate change is simply unbearable to accept. And yet the consistent campaigning and research to counteract that…

It’s hope. It’s something to cling on to.

Before the Flood is perfectly positioned regardless of your knowledge on climate change. And that is why I recommend it wholeheartedly.

If, like me, you need a reminder that change is possible and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel: watch it.

If you think that one person can’t make a difference:watch it.

If you’ve been pulled into the “myth” analogy and need convincing that this issue is real and it is here: watch it.

Educate yourself. Drive yourself to make some simple changes in your life for the future of our world.

*The carbon emissions from Before The Flood were offset through a voluntary carbon tax. Learn how you can offset your own carbon emissions by going to CarboTax.org.