I’m gonna come straight out and say it – if you aren’t making some sustainable changes to your life, what the heck are you doing? I’m not on about turning your life upside down, living in a vegan tree-house in the forest, and turning your toilet into a compost pile. I mean, smaller, more realistic changes.
For the last six months or so, I’ve been trying to live much more sustainably. In all honesty, this planet is starting to go to shit, and I don’t want to play a part in that. So, I took stock of my failings (fast fashion, overuse of plastic etc) and worked out what I could do better! Enter, little sustainable baby steps. Alongside switching to metal straws, and carrying totes instead of carrier bags (mine is book themed, of course), I’ve done my research and had plenty of trial-and-error. Let me tell you about some of the changes I’ve made – maybe you’ll find some that you can implement in your daily life.
Bamboo Face Pads
With every trip that I used to take to Primark, I’d end up picking up a roll of 100 cotton face pads – you know, the ones you use to take off makeup and put on toner. And then I’d end up losing them somewhere in the house. So I’d buy more, lose more, and the wasteful cycle continued. I would end up using so many rounds each time I did my skin care routine, that I would go through them like nobody’s business. Ya’ll, I had enough.
I made the decision to look into a reusable alternative, and I came across these Bamboo Face Pads on Amazon. They come in a pack of twenty, and are super reusable. Not only can you chuck them in their cotton wash bag and give them a spin in the washing machine to clean them, it doesn’t soak up the product, so each round can be used twice before a wash, sometimes even more! I’ve washed these about ten times since I’ve bought them, and they are still looking as good as new. Also, they are soft but slightly tough, so really gets your face cleansed and toned – those cheap-ass cotton rounds could never.
Buying clean skin and hair brands
This was probably the biggest swap I made this year – only buying skin and hair care from green and sustainable brands. This change came about because I finally took notice of my curls and decided to look after them. After reading up on The Curly Girl Method (which I’m sure I’ll talk about in another post), I learnt that chemicals and nasties hide everywhere in the hair care world. So I waited until I used up my current shampoo and conditioner, and pulled myself to my favourite skincare brand, to see what they could do for hair. That’s right, I’m talking about The Body Shop.
I was looking for something that was sulphate free, nourishing, and moisturising, and came away with their Shea Butter range. It’s done wonders for my hair and curls, better than any fake-scented, ‘hair colour protect’ brand has ever done. Plus, I love how open and honest TBS is with their ingredients list – they aren’t hiding anything. I always recommend them, and would thoroughly recommend Lush as a brand too (especially for anything bath and shower related). I’m already head over heels for clean skin care, and now I’m loving it for my hair too. The next step is slowly converting my make-up collection to the same level.
Grow Your Own Herbs
I am a newly obsessed plant mum, and I have no qualms in saying that. Looking after my plants has become one of the highlights of my day (becoming Poison Ivy up in here). As well as collecting ferns and aloes to keep me company, I have also started growing my own herbs.
As someone whose favourite hobby is cooking, I use a lot of herbs. Dried herbs don’t pack too much flavour, and buying herbs from the shop comes with unnecessary plastic. So, I decided to grow my own! It all started out with this growing kit called Herb Your Enthusiasm, which came with bags of seeds and biodegradable pots. I sowed the seeds, cared for them, watched them sprout (I seriously have cried with joy over these bad boys), and then repotted them into bigger pots. Now, after a few months, I have healthy basil, sage, parsley, thyme, and mint plants, both in pots in the kitchen, and outside in a planter.
Whilst they are nowhere near ready to harvest from yet, each plant is starting to sprout actual herbs leaves. They no longer just look like generic green plants, they legitimately look like baby herbs! My favourite has to be the basil; every time I walk by the pot, I can get the faintest scent of basil rising up. Ugh, it’s just a joy! Anyway, I think I’ve waffled on about my plant children enough…
Consume less meat
Hold your horses, this is not about going vegan. To put it simply, I cannot go vegan. I have a life-threatening nut allergy, and a lot of the vegan diet involves nuts, or the foods involved end up with nut traces. I’m also intolerant to coconut, so there goes a lot of substitutes. Finally, I’ve got a mystery condition with my stomach, and have been advised by doctors not to change up my diet as it could cause some kind of flare up. Whilst I can’t go vegan for the sake of my life and pain level, I can reduce the amount of meat I eat.
Honestly, it’s a really easy thing to do. I just look at the meals I eat, and consider ‘can this be made without meat?’ Enter veggie stir fries, pasta dishes, buddha bowls, and more. I still make my chicken fajitas, shepherd’s pie, and the like, but I make sure that I only have meat based dinners three or four times a week. There are so many delicious foods out there, that not only taste good, but we can get our nutrients from, so it’s not hard to swap a few meals out a week. Obviously, this may be harder if you have children who are picky eaters.
Don’t buy into fast fashion
If the clothes are cheap and trendy, it’s fast fashion, my friends. If you can get a bag full of items for under £50, it’s highly likely you are not buying sustainably. I’m talking Primark, Boohoo, Shein; you get the jist. Most of these retailers don’t care about sustainability and have been accused using slave labour at some point. If you want to live more sustainably, it’s time to jack in fast fashion, and start shopping differently.
Buy clothes that are better quality and will last longer than some flimsy pieces of fabric made in a sweatshop. Don’t impulse buy; you can love fashion and style without buying hundreds of clothing items a year. Consider shopping vintage or secondhand – you can get some great, good quality items in charity shops, thrift sales, and one places like Depop.
Shopping sustainably has been the biggest and hardest change for me. I love style, and love having a wardrobe full of new clothes that make me feel fire. But it’s important to remember the impact buying a cheap-ass piece of clothing can have. If you are in a place where you can afford to shop sustainably and take time to think about where you shop, please do.
So, those are the five small but sustainable changes I’ve made to my life over the last few months. Like with everything, practice makes perfect, and it does take some time for you to get used to a new way of living, even in the small details.
My next steps on my journey to sustainability will involve looking into beeswax coverings instead of clingfilm, and buying fruit and vegetables form my local market. Let me know what you are doing to start living more sustainably! I’d love to know and learn.