Tips from a shopaholic on how to be more sustainable. Hint: start small.
For someone who was the Queen of shopping, Covid-19 has really, dare I say it, transformed me a little. I was the one who would pop into the supermarket on the way home from work and succumb to the end-of-day hunger. And buy stuff even when I had a full press or cupboard at home. It was needless and ridiculous. I was buying stuff I just didn’t need.
It was the same with popping into clothes shops and fooling myself into thinking I needed that new dress or jacket. I have a wardrobe filled with beautiful pieces.
Since Covid-19 hit and things have changed and I’ve seen wonderful changes in everyone's lifestyle. There’s more walking, running and cycling. We’re getting fit with online classes, soaking up the sunshine and cooking more. In my craziest dreams, I never would have thought home-baked banana bread would become a regular thing in my gaff!
It’s the little things that I’m all about and the little ways we can become more sustainable amidst the new normal.
1. Cut down on plastic use
This is a tricky one as plastic is everywhere. Many supermarkets have now started stocking fruit and vegetables without the plastic packaging, so where possible, try and go for those. You can get some fantastic cloth bags designed for fruit and veg. Get yourself a keep cup for your takeaway coffees. Always look for a plastic-free option, where possible. You might be surprised at how many sustainable options are now available.
2. Clear out your wardrobe
I’m a big fan of this one! I absolutely love a good clear out. While I do find it tricky to part with certain things, I’ve become a bit more ruthless lately. If I don’t really like it, if it doesn’t fit or if I won’t wear it, it’s gone. Clearing out your wardrobe is a great way to take stock of what you have and what you’re missing. I always feel really good when I get rid of a bag of clothes and shoes, they either go to a charity shop or clothing bank. And if I know what’s in my closet, I’m less tempted to make frivolous purchases.
3. Support small businesses
Since Covid-19 hit, this is something that has really caught my attention and made me completely rethink my shopping habits. Any of the clothes or protective masks I’ve bought have been from Irish companies and brands. The quality is fantastic and I’m not just saying that. I have a short torso and good quality t-shirts are hard to find, they usually shrink in the wash. I’ve found two great local companies that I am in love with! Another way to support small businesses without making a purchase is by doing the following: Write a positive review, tell your friends and family, follow them on social media, engage with their posts, give them a shout out and sign up for their newsletter.
4. Separate your bins
We know space is tight, but for this, you could even just use three little buckets and separate your rubbish. One for food, one for all the bits you can recycle and one for rest. You can’t completely escape waste, we know that, but you’d be surprised the difference separating your rubbish can make. Plus, the bin men will thank you!
5. Reduce your energy use at home
We’re all spending a lot more time at home than before. To reduce the amount of additional energy you’re using, turn off and unplug stuff when you’re not using it. For example, devices like laptops or bedroom lights. We’re all guilty of this! Why not do a quick check before you leave the room? Another little trick is to install energy-efficient appliances. This includes things like washing machines, dishwashers. tumble dryers, washer-dryers, fridges, freezers, ovens and air conditioning. Yes, we all know some of these use a lot of water, but we can still be smart about it. Can you get away with putting on the dishwasher every two days? What about once a week? Once you start doing them, these things will come naturally. Open the windows to allow a breeze instead of turning on the air-con, hang your clothes to dry instead of putting them in the tumble dryer.
6. No more disposables
A really simple one here. Planning a hike, a trip to the beach or a picnic in the park? Why not bring cutlery from home instead of buying plastic ones that will just end up in a landfill?
7. Plant a few seeds
Before you’re like, what?!?! Hear me out. I bought a basil plant last weekend and come hell or high water, I’ll be keeping her alive! Fresh basil leaves will beat processed basil seasoning any day. I’m not saying everyone needs to become a modern farmer, but why not try and plant some seeds or try growing your own herbs or veg. You really don’t need much space at all, literally just a few plant pots. Oh, and set an alarm if you’re worried you won’t remember to water them. I’ll report back on my basil plant!
8. Reduce your water use
Tap water is always there but how much do you drink? I know many people aren’t crazy about tap water so why not invest in a filtration system or filter jug. Why not add some slices of lemon or orange or some basil leaves. If you like the familiarity of drinking out of a bottle, why not buy refillable bottles and just keep them in your fridge.
9. Take shorter Showers
As someone who’s hair is rapidly growing as long as Rapunzel’s, taking a quick shower is proving quite tricky these days – but I’m still trying! Try and reduce the time you spend in the shower. In and out, nice and quick. Don’t get me wrong, we all need one of those showers sometimes, you know the lovely long ones. We do a hair mask. We scrub and exfoliate to within an inch of our lives. But we don’t need one every day. We really don’t. Try and reduce your shower time by a few minutes and soon you’ll be a pro.
10. Meat Free Monday
This is a great one! One day a week, don’t eat meat and choose a vegetarian or vegan option for dinner. Then, try extending it to two days, or three days. Or even seven. There are so many incredible recipes online. Don’t be daunted, honestly! This is one of the easiest tips on this list to achieve. Maybe you’re doing it already and you didn’t even realise! We have a little more time on our hands right now, so go wild!
Experiment in the kitchen, play around with different combinations and flavours. One of my personal favourites is a vegetarian curry – recipe to follow – which you can make in a slow cooker to save time. Or you can pop on a playlist and dance around the kitchen as you cook. Or is that just us? Curries are a great one because you can bulk them up with LOADS of vegetables, I usually serve mine with brown rice. You could even freeze some of the sauce and have it another time.
11. Lastly, go easy on yourself
The internet and the world pump out lots of information. It’s hard to juggle it all, I know that. I like to think, if I can do my bit and play my part in some shape or form, I’m doing ok. Remember, the little things do add up!