Australia is on fire, still, after 4 months. This is what awaits the world if we continue as we are. This week scientists have said that the Australian bush fires are a harbinger for the world. With an estimated one billion animals killed, 6 million hectares of land of land burnt, turned to ash, 2000 homes decimated and 27 people killed, it's end of days stuff. These fires are bigger than the Amazon and California fires combined.
But what can we do about it, as individuals? Conscious Consumerism mate, that's where it's at.
To assess where we can change things often doesn't cost much, or even take a lot of time it is more about changing our mindset towards things such as second hand (or even 3rd or 4th hand) goods, shopping local, shopping ethical etc etc.
We all need to be doing more than buying reusable coffee cups and bamboo toothbrushes :) It's a start but there is so so much more we can all do, with so little effort as well!
We are consumers, most of us buy without even thinking about things. We've become so unattuned to what we actually need that we need to strip it back a little. Take time. I'm not saying don't treat yourself or your family but try and do it with thought and intent. Experiences over stuff and all that jazz.
I'm so fed up of reading articles and looking at magazines that offer sustainability, but at a huge price. To be truly sustainable isn't cheap, I get it. There are reasons for that. We aren't being had, most sustainable businesses are much like ourselves, are small and looking at the product and efficacy, not the cheapest option available for our shareholders to make a mint.
Sustainable practices are more thought out, take time, money, investment, certifications, decent wages for workers, small scale production.
However, there is a massive gap in the middle, simple practices in our every day lives, that are not often spoken about or written about unless you're in an Eco or Green social media forum or group.
Very few of us can buy an electric car, eat purely organic, buy purely organic or buy clothing from sustainable sources or some designers new 'Eco' line. Tesla home batteries have even become the thing to have - which is amazing, but these are not attainable for the majority of the population. I only found out about Tesla home batteries a few years ago, I've become a bit obsessed with them... they're amazing, however, they are out of the majority of the populations price range. Mine included.
So, what are these magical things we can do to lessen our impact? Some you may have heard of some you may not, its about moderation mate....
1. This one is THE most important thing we should ALL be doing. But rarely do people think of it. RENEWABLE ENERGY. Switch your standard supplier to a purely renewables biz such as Octopus, Bulb or Ecotricity. It's not a difficult thing to do and it's not expensive. There are so many options to choose from now to suit every budget. Imagine if every household in the UK went renewable. The impact that would make is immense. If you're worrying about plastic but haven't switched your energy to renewable's then you need to get ON IT.
2. Moderation. With everything, from clothing to food. Buy less. Consume less. Easy peesy.
3. Can't buy organic? buy natural, buy local, buy ethical. If somethings costs more, use it less, us it differently.
4. Reducing your meat intake? brilliant. Well done. But what about Fish? we are all so focused on the carbon footprint of cattle farming that we forgot about what over fishing is doing to our oceans. Marine eco systems are being changed, and not for the better due to overfishing to meet our consumption demands.
5. This one kinda ties into the above because it's about fish again. Worried about plastic in our oceans, buying as much glass and cardboard packaged items as possible? what about fishing? did you know that broken fishing nets make up for most of the large plastic waste in our oceans?
More than 640,000 tonnes of nets, lines, pots and traps used in commercial fishing are dumped and discarded in the sea every year, the same weight as 55,000 double-decker buses.
This impacts again on marine life killing anything that comes entangled in these 'ghost' nets and gear dies. So called mega plastics make up more than 10% of all ocean plastic.
Give up the fish peeps!
6. Don't always go for the lowest priced product. I know, this sounds mental right? But again, there's research to this theory. Firstly, if you spend a bit more on an item, say a body wash, you're more likely to use it wisely. Use it sparingly so to speak. But if you buy something for a pound. It doesn't matter if it's rubbish, if it doesn't work, or if you use loads just because you can, it's cheap right? so wasting it doesn't matter. But it does. It impacts the earth.
7. Organic and Natural products are more expensive, and they are not physically viable for a lot of people, I get that. But, if you can spend on these products please do.
It's no shock that I spend way more on cosmetic items like skincare and dental because I'm in this industry, I know what's in things and what's gone into brands. It's something I'm passionate about and I offset that by not buying other things.
But again, Organic and Natural brands are more likely to have sustainable ingredients in their products, ingredients that work well, that you get a lot of use out of, their packaging is more likely to be sustainable. Start small and work your way up. Buy a natural or organic toothpaste firstly, if dental products are important to you, then buy other products when you can. Every little helps.
8. Packaging. Such a huge topic so I'll just mention a few points on this one. Don't always discount plastic packaged items. There I said it. Controversial.
Processing cardboard and paper can use more resources than certain plastic production. Not to mention, where has it come from? is it from sustainable sources? is it FSC approved and certified?
Glass is heavy, shipped around the world and rarely produced in the UK unless the company you've purchased it from can provide info on their supplier. It uses way more carbon to ship glass than it does to ship lighter plastic items.
Not to mention, where does all the recycled glass go? I've spoken to many skincare brands who cannot get hold of recycled glass. I too cannot find any manufacturer that offers recycled glass for packaging. So where is it?
With bioplastics such as sugarcane and cornstarch on the rise not all plastics are equal.
Unrecyclable plastics, single use plastics, obviously, they are the devil, however, recyclable plastics, recycled plastics and bioplastics are often the best option for packaging at this given moment.
As I said above, packaging, much like ingredients, is a massive massive complex topic so keep your eye out for videos, lives and posts on social media that we do t on tihs.
Just one takeaway from this point, sometimes, by trying to be zero waste in our product purchases making it purely about the packaging, we are increasing our carbon output.... scary right?
9. Petition your local MP about your councils green recycling processes, about investment in local green initiatives. Anything you think your council and MP can do better with reducing carbon output, write to them. Make your voice heard.
10. Spread awareness, not only on social media but in person. Open the conversation with family and friends. Speak to local businesses and groups about how to better your area, how to get involved in making you local area as green and sustainable as is possible.
As you can tell from the above, things aren't black and white. What works for one person may not work for another. Someone who has gone vegan may not give two hoots about what's in their skincare products whilst on the other hand, a meat eater may be buying organic, locally sourced meat and looking at what's in their skincare. Neither are right or wrong, sustainbly speaking, they are just different.
Conscious Consumerism is for all of us. It's easy to look at people like the Kardashians and think what the hell can I do when they're flying about the world and buying so much. Which is the argument I've heard regularly when people are fearful of change.
Well, you can make a difference, quite frankly, f*ck people like the Kardashians, their choices are their choices, yours are yours. Imagine if you change one thing, then you tell someone how easy it was, that they can do it too, then they do it, and so on.
Then we've got a friggin Conscious Consumer society. A potential closed loop, or as closed as it can be, system. We do what we can, when we can, because we can.
If we can lessen the global carbon impact with our choices so that Australia and other countries don't experience the devastating effects.. now isn't that magical?
That's your superpower.
If you want to know more, or get involved in the conversation please do comment below. I will also be presenting at Vegan Life Live at Alexandra Place, London on the 15th March at 10.45 on Conscious Consumerism within Cosmetics where I will expand on some of the points above and engage with the audience. It would be great to see you there.
Thanks for reading,