Growing up, recycling, reusing, repurposing was the norm in my family, though my Mum did it more for financial reasons. I thought everybody used cereal boxes as shopping lists, you saved string, old tights (panty hose for Americans) held up plants (cut down of course!), you composted. Doors were kept shut in the winter, you closed the curtains to keep heat in at night, you turned off lights not in use (if you didn’t, you soon knew you didn’t!). During the winter, we had heating in the mornings and evenings, but if you were cold, you put an extra jumper on. My Dad grew vegetables in the summer (he also built our house, but that’s another story), my mum bulk shopped once a month and locally weekly for fruit and vegetables. She also made until I started high school a lot of my skirts, dresses and knitted jumpers, cardigans. She still knits, however says now she can’t make clothes cheaper than she can buy them (and I think she secretly welcomes she can’t now). Car boot sales, second hand vintage furniture shops were always a good source for repurposing. Another man’s trash is another mans treasure, though I’d like to point out there is a very fine line between repurposing and hoarding. Be realistic, if you’re not going to use it, recycle, regift, give it away, donate it.
In celebration of this years Earth Day, here are some of my tips to make everyday Earth Day!
Get Outdoors Our planet is amazing. At least once a day, go outside, soak up nature, go for a walk, feel the sun on your face, the wind in your hair (that’s if you have hair, if not then feel it!), listen to the birds.
Choose Natural Skincare Not only is it better for your skin, but it’s better for the enviorment too! No animal testing and less nasty chemicals on your skin, less nasty chemicals in the water system. Many non natural products contain contents derived from petroleum. Those micro bead scrubs are actually tiny plastic balls which cause havoc on water systems.
Reuse and Repurpose Newspaper dries out damp shoes. As does parcel packing paper and it makes great gift wrap. Plastic bags, I reuse as much as possible and make great plastic recycle bags along with paper bags for the paper bin.
Recycle. Fortunately now it’s easier to recycle or at least in Europe. For example in Barcelona, there’s no excuse not to. Every street has large bins, one each for paper, plastic and metal, glass, kitchen compost/organic, trastos (scrap, clothes, broken furniture etc) and one for everything that doesn’t go in the organic bin (cotton wool, cigarette butts, old clothes, shoes, cat litter etc). Not everyone does it and I’m not sure of if the contents do get all recycled but I know they burn some of the organic waste for electricity. Every barrio, once a week has a small electronic van do it’s rounds, collecting, batteries, printer cartridges, old tv’s etc. Larger electronic items, furniture etc can be taken to the punto vert/dump or left on a designated day and point for collection. Many supermarkets now have points for battery, water filter and printer cartridges, coffee pods, cork recycling. Every evening I see trasto vans and individual guys collecting cardboard boxes from shops and scrap metal left out. There’s money to be made recycling! Donate old or unwanted clothes to clothing banks and charity shops. H&M offer a money incentive recycling scheme. Every bag of donated clothes you get a €5 gift card.
Take Your Own Bag Grocery Shopping. Many European supermarkets by law charge 5c or 5-10p for a plastic bag. They also sell larger more durable ones for 50c/p that fold up small in your bag. Cotton bags work well too, but I find the handles dig in and are too long for heavy loads. There are also many cute fold up shopping bags available. Mine’s currently leopard print. Meow!
Buy What You Need. This one’s hard, especially for me as I love shopping (it’s modern day hunting and foraging), but it ultimately pays off and most of the time I just like to look at things in shops. Fortunately it’s easier grocery shopping!
Buy Local, Organic and in Season Produce. If you can and have the option too. I know this one is hard also. Less energy and pollution is produced as the food trucks have shorter distances to make. For example in the winter, sometimes my blueberries can be from Peru. Crazy. Organic means no pesisides used which can contaminate water systems, kill local wildlife and upset our bodies. Also try to buy FSC or even better recycled paper (printing paper, kitchen roll, toilet roll, note books etc). FSC means trees cut down are replaced.
Light Power Switch lights of when not in use, use energy saving light bulbs (which you can only buy now in Europe), buy if possible rechargeable batteries. I love my current bike lights. Recharging them’s easy with a USB lead and my mac. Unplug stand by goods too. Energy savings are lost there and it doesn’t take much effort to put a plug in a socket (I’m no angel, I forget at times!)!
Water Baby In my house we follow the rule, if it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow, let it mellow for a few trips! And strictly no running the tap while brushing your teeth! I’m trying to cut down my shower time. It doesn’t help I wash my hair daily and while I not the best swimmer, I love the water.
Go Veggie If people knew how the muscle they eat actually ended up on their plate, I’m sure more people would be vegetarian or vegan. It takes more land and water to grow seed for cattle than it does providing food for humans. I try not to vegan bash here, but our planet can’t sustain the current demand for meat, the treatment of livestock is inhumane (it’s just that, stock which is live). By eating more veggies, you have more energy than you ever knew you had to get outdoors and enjoy the planet we call Earth!
These are just a few tips you can use to make every day Earth Day. Do what you can realistically do. I’m no angel, but I do my best to make a difference. Small changes, big differences! A great source of information an more for tips is Jessica Alba’s book The Honest Life. A lady who speaks my language! I still refer back to it for advice and tips.
What are your make every day Earth day tips? Please share!