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Making a start somewhere

October 23, 2009

I’ve finally got round to reading ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’, a book that my sister gave me several Christmases ago. I’d read bits previously, but now I’ve gone from cover to cover. And I have lifestyle envy. (Take a look at the website.)

It’s always been on my mind to try to be more mindful of the effect my actions will have on the environment and other people, and I don’t think I’ve done too badly compared to lots of people. Of course, it’s easier when you’ve only got yourself to look out for. The challenge comes when there’s other people in the picture too.

Anyway, after reading this book, I’ve rekindled my interest in the whole idea. (Better not start watching Grand Designs again, or living sustainably in an underground house in Wales will become my life’s aim.)

Transferring habits to a new country

When I was in London:

  • I was pretty good at not using plastic bags (fabric bags – not bought especially for this purpose, I might add – in my handbag the whole time for shopping);
  • I used public transport to get everywhere (great links, plus I couldn’t drive);
  • I tried to choose food produced in the UK (albeit from the supermarket, although before I left I did find a GREAT local Turkish grocer’s, which was also amazingly cheap – local’s more important to me than organic).

All those things are trickier now I’m in Mallorca. Chris does the food shopping (great) but insists we need plastic bags (‘and one person can’t make a difference’) – there have been a few discussions. I need to be more forceful here. The market is in Palma, which takes an hour and a half on the bus one way, so we use the supermarket. At least most of the stuff is from Spain (no change from shopping in the UK then!).

As you’ve guessed from the aforementioned bus, the transport’s pretty crap. I don’t tend to need the car much though, so I can just about get away with that. And once I’ve bought some non clip-in pedals for my bike, I can use that a lot more for going to, er… nowhere useful. (Yes, I’m a big cowardy custard – it’s a great bike and I’m terrified of the clips!)

Less make-up and better clothes

As for things like cosmetics and clothes… I haven’t worn make up regularly for years, and the last time I did (to a wedding in August, I think), I wondered why I’d bothered – more hassle involved in taking it off than it’s worth. I was using natural shampoos, shower gels, etc, that contained no petrochemicals and so on (mostly Weleda, which is great), but again I haven’t found them readily available here at the moment.

I don’t buy many clothes (I’m not a big follower of fashion, as some of you have probably noticed!) and am going to go with the mantra of spending a bit more on stuff that’ll last and buying less often. I’m also a fan of rummaging in second-hand shops too, so I’m meeting the first two parts of the ‘reduce, re-use, recycle’ mantra! Have used this as an excuse to look on some really cool ethical clothing websites like Howies and Patagonia. Not cheap, but certainly have responsible supply chains (i.e. no exploitation).

Less talking, more doing!

Crumbs, I could go on justifying myself for hours. But I’ll stop on packaging and food waste – we recycle as much plastic and card as we can (and if in doubt, stick it in as well!) and when it’s just the two of us we produce a small bin bag of rubbish for the landfill once a week or maybe less regularly.

It’d be great to reduce that further and I would love a compost heap to help do this. But we’re still in a rented house and it’s not really feasible at the moment. Plus I really want a wormery for either the scraps or the dog poo (or one for each, but you’re not meant to mix!), but again it could be tricky to move so we’ll wait until we’re somewhere more permanent.

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