Updated: Mar 8
Can we live sustainably? Looking at the planet today, you might be forgiven to think "OMG, it's too big a task. What can I do? Nothing..." Yes, we are faced with a colossal task if we want to save the planet we call home. BUT: there is not just one of us, there are billions of us that all together are one humankind. If we all become one task force, we can easily pull it off. I am a big fan of Bruce Lipton who says that we create our reality with our beliefs, so the first essential requirement to pull this off would be to actually believe we can.
I’ve gradually become more conscious of the impact my daily shopping decisions have on the planet and I thought I’ll share some of the things I’ve done. Please comment below with other ideas - together, we can do this!
As humans, we are creatures of habit. We buy the same washing powder without thinking, we eat roughly the same food every week, we choose the same things, out of habit. So all it’s going to take is a change of habit, a conscious effort to make better choices for us and the planet every day. These conscious choices, repeated often enough, will quickly form new habits. Just as each one of us does stuff today that's not good for Mother Earth or our own well-being, each one of us can do the right thing easily every day once these new habits have been formed.
So here is a list of things to start with, just some ideas that you may or may not already be doing anyway.
Switch your energy supplier
If you’re not already with a green energy supplier, make 2021 the year you switch. You might be surprised to find that as a new customer your rates will actually be cheaper than what you’re currently on. Once the first year is over, green rates can be slightly higher, but for us it was around £19 a month, which I was prepared to pay if it meant our energy was 100% green. I realize not everyone will be able to afford this monthly surplus, but even if just those that can do it, the planet will be better off. Green energy suppliers still use the same National Grid, so it is just a question of who you get your bill from, nothing else changes.
Just as with energy suppliers in general, it’s worth checking every year before you renew, that your conditions are still the best available. There is a lot of competition even if you go totally green and it’s worth checking out different suppliers or renegotiating your contract. WHICH Best Buy UK green energy supplier is Octopus Energy. We switched to them last year and they have been outstanding. Their billing is really clear and their customer service is excellent.
Most of us use an incredible amount of cleaning products round the house. Many are not only not good for the environment, but also an absolute health hazard. Bleach and drain cleaners are the worst offenders! Switch to sustainable brands, which most supermarkets do now offer, such as Ecover or Method.
The cheapest option by far is to go back to the old fashioned way of using vinegar and bicarbonate soda to clean. There is a slight vinegar smell, which dissipates within 30 minutes however. Alternatively add some essential oils to mask the vinegar smell.
A quick google search will find you lots of companies producing green cleaning products (most will contain bicarbonate soda, a true powerhouse for all cleansing tasks).
Depending on where you live, there might be Health Shops or independent shops offering refills. We have two shops in our village that allow you to bring in your bottles and refill your laundry liquid, fabric softener, hand soap, shower gels, shampoo, conditioner, washing up liquid, toilet cleaner, kitchen and bathroom cleaners – pretty much everything you use round the house. I simply kept some old bottles I had, labelled them and I now refill them, so I don’t have to buy any more plastic bottles.
There is an Austrian Company called Enjo, that produces special fibre cloths that clean with just water. The design of the cloths means they absorb dirt, grease and smudges much better than ordinary cleaning cloths, no chemicals required. The initial investment is pricey, but I have a friend who has used her Enjo cloths for 14 years, so in the long run it’s definitely cheaper. I’ve just ordered my first set, so will find out soon.
Their UK website is https://www.enjo.com/uk/ or check out the lovely Sarah Pagan’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/queenofthegreenclean. Sarah will do online demos so you can get an idea of how the products work before you buy.
There are various options available and new things come out pretty much constantly at the moment. Ecover is the easiest one, available in all major UK supermarkets. There is a thing called “washnuts”, which mum remembers using already in the 70s, literally nuts you add to your washing and they kind of foam up and help clean your laundry. You can reuse the same nuts quite a few times.
There is a Canadian Company called Tru Earth that has developed laundry strips you add to your washing. They come in an envelope, so cut down on packaging as well as being eco-friendly. There are two varieties, one that smells really fresh and one no-perfume one for those with allergies.
My absolute favourite so far is a laundry egg. I got mine in Aldi on one of their special buys weeks, but have seen them in other places. You can certainly get them online. In terms of cleaning efficiency and smell, this is my winner so far.
If like me you have sons who play football or rugby and come home absolutely caked in mud, you may want to not quite say goodbye to your regular laundry powder yet. Most eco options are fabulous with general clothing, but don’t produce best results when the dirt gets super heavy. I also find whites tend to not get quite so white. I do wonder if adding a bit of bicarbonate soda to the drum might help – comment if you’ve tried that! However, switching to eco options on your normal laundry piles while still washing your muddy sports gear in the old powder, you would already reduce the environmental impact of your laundry a lot.
For those of you who are super keen and have a little more time on their hands in lockdown, there is always the option of making your own cleaning products. There are plenty of sites out there where you can get recipes, this is just one of many:
For more ideas on living sustainably, visit:
Toilet paper: “Who gives a crap” sells non plastic toilet paper rolls. My local hardware store actually sells them, but here is where to get them online:
Switching all your clothing to natural fibres will definitely be healthier for your body, but can be a pricy thing to do. When I was healing from Endometriosis and started learning all about energy fields around our body, I went “cold turkey” and had a huge clear out. Anything with artificial fibres like acrylic or polyester went. It was a great way of getting rid of stuff I hadn’t worn for ages anyway.
I then slowly restocked, carefully checking the labels as I shopped. I mostly buy my things in Charity Shops anyway, so that is a great way of not paying too much for your natural wardrobe and you’re giving clothes an extended life. My basics such as socks, underwear and T-Shirts, I buy online from organic producers, my favourite currently is
If doing it all in one go is too much, why not do it gradually over time. Decide to just buy natural fibres from today onwards, so when items need replacing, you always check the label and unless it is 100% natural, don’t buy it. Apart from the environmental impact it’s also a great way of not buying too many clothes, as most items you buy off the rail have artificial fibres worked into them. The most common natural fibres to look out for are cotton, linen, and various varieties of wool. Being natural it also means when they do eventually end up in landfill, they will decompose naturally.
Organic and sustainable food
When I talk to people about buying organic food, the main objection I get is price. Yes, organic food is more expensive than non-organic food (although when you actually look you will find it’s often a matter of 20-30 pence when it comes to vegetables and if you keep an eye on supermarkets’ offer, there may at times not be any difference at all). It’s also worth bearing in mind that food has become incredibly cheap. When you compare the price of food as a percentage of our earnings, we’ve never in all our history spend so little on the thing that sustains us.
So it’s not price, it’s a value issue. Nobody seems to question the price of a mobile phone, which when you look at it objectively is actually not good on so many levels for our health (radiation, stress levels). Food, which puts energy and nutrients into our body and enables us to live and is paramount to our health, however, is not regarded important enough to spend money on. That in my opinion sums up the predicament our society finds itself in at present. We’ve turned common sense on its head.
Please take a moment to think about a plant, let’s say a broccoli. A seed gets planted in spring, it then grows, absorbing nutrients contained in the soil, water and the energy of sunlight. After months of growing like this, it is harvested and eaten. We eat it, because our body needs the energy contained within it. Our digestive process converts all those nutrients and fibers back in to energy.
Non-organic vegetables often grow on fields that are devoid of many nutrients in the soil due to extensive farming methods. There is no variety in a field, it’s often one crop, which means all the plants take the same type of nutrients out of the soil and if there is an attack (insects or fungal for instance), it attacks everything in that field. The plants can’t defend themselves and have no other plants to shield them. What do we do? We spray insecticides or other poisons that we know will kill the attacker. So now, not only are there not many nutrients in the soil, we’ve added toxins to the mix, which our broccoli absorbs. They might be tiny amounts, but they are there.
On your plate you now have a broccoli that looks just like any broccoli, but actually is a very poor sample of its species. The energy our body gets from it is a lot less that it should get from it. And in addition our body needs to use extra energy to filter out the bits of toxic residue, which often it can’t do properly because it has actually been designed to deal with natural substances, not artificial substances.
If you want to be healthy, put your money where it actually counts and that is not in cheap plastic rubbish you don’t truly need from China but in the food you eat.
The best organic box scheme in the UK, in my humble opinion, is Riverford. They are not just organic, but also one of the most ethical companies I know. Their website is www.riverford.co.uk – also a great source of recipes if you need inspiration.
Otherwise, most supermarkets have a very good organic range. Try to buy as much UK grown food as you can and eat seasonal. We eat because our body needs the energy contained within the food. If you harvest your fruit before it’s ripe so it can survive the long journey to your plate, there is a lot less energy within it. The most energy is in the plant or fruit when it has fully ripened, right after picking. The less time it takes to get to your plate, the better.
I know that there might be people reading this, who genuinely cannot afford the extra for organic. If you can't buy organic, at least eat more veg and fruit and reduce your meat intake. Bring balance into your diet. Eating meat and fish (i.e. animal protein) every day is not actually healthy for our bodies. Switching to a mainly vegetarian or vegan diet will mean you can then buy good quality organic meat or wild fish (as supposed to farmed) maybe once or twice a week. This is better for us and the planet.
When I suggest reducing meat or fish consumption, I often hear “but I need the protein”. Yes, we do. But our body actually using a lot less energy digesting plant based protein, which means more energy left for the system. Watch “Game Changers” on Netflix, a documentary about Olympic athletes achieving much better results after switching to a plant based diet.
If we’re truly honest with ourselves, we all know that we cannot carry on exploiting the earth as we have done in the last 5 decades. As humans, we are not above nature, we’re an integral part of it. If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves. Invest in yourself by switching to organic food wherever possible. Your body (and mother Earth) will thank you for it!