5 Baby Steps To Save The Planet: A Dog People Guide
Are you bee people or dog people? One group is busy saving the planet, the other is lying by the fire hoping someone else will do it. Me? Dog People! Let me explain…
My mum called me on her way home from London last week, amid a traffic jam caused by environmental protestors.
Mum: Nightmare! I’ve ended up in Islington because of those bloody bee people!
Me: Bee people?
Mum: Oh, you know. The ones protesting about species extinction. I’ve been driving for 3 f**king hours!
Okay, so she just used this term because she knew it was something to do with bees but don’t you think that ‘Bee People’ is an excellent way to describe the Extinction Rebellion protestors? They are impassioned about their cause, busy getting shit done, working together as a community for a greater cause, so very bee-like in their single minded determination. Go Bee People!
Me? I am more … ‘Dog People’: chilled out, lying by the fire, only really interested in my immediate environment. And food. When it comes to the planet I certainly suffer from ‘someone-else-will-do-it-itus.’
But it’s time for a change!
So, here are 5 super simple ideas we can all do now. NOTE: If you currently grow all your food and make your own clothes then you’re Bee People and this post will seem very last decade to you. Lovely to have you though and do please share this with any Dog People you may know!
1. Compost Your Raw Waste And Grow Your Own Food
Buy a compost tub and have it near where you peel your vegetables and fruit. When it’s full you can take it outside to your compost heap or bin and then spread it on your garden. Not everyone has a garden but you can grow salad, herbs, strawberries, tomatoes and loads more in pots.
Growing your own food also encourages insects. You’ll be a Bee Person before you know it!
There are plenty of great drinks you can make at home too so you can avoid all those plastic bottles. Kombucha, cordials, apple juice and cider are all fun to make and pretty straight forward. Plus, glass jars and bottles look lovely lined up on your shelves. Use your home grown fruit or forage the hedgerows for local flavours.
2. Make A No-Plastic-Bag Rule And Stick To It
I have so many of those cloth and hessian bags for life, simply because I always forget to put them in my car when I go shopping. I end up buying more each time I shop or using the 10p plastic bags at the shop counter. No more! I am committed to this. Plastic bags are not an option, which means I will have to be organised – something my dog nature struggles with.
If you use this plastic calculator you will see what a huge impact your weekly shop can have on your yearly consumption if you use plastic bags. Last week I un-ticked the box which says ‘deliver my shopping in plastic bags’. Instead of grabbing a handful of plastic bag handles and unloading the shopping in under 2 minutes, I had to unload each item, one at a time. It took 10 minutes. The delivery guy seemed fine with it, especially when I told him I was doing it for the walruses.
3. Stop Supporting Single Use Plastic
This one is surprisingly tough. Single use plastic is everywhere! In Pret A Manger last week I had a salad and coffee. I actually wanted the coffee to go but changed my plans when I realised I’d get a plastic lid on the takeaway cup. Feeling all smug with my new green credentials I went to eat my salad (cardboard boxed) only to realise that the cutlery is all plastic. As is the tiny container for the salad dressing. All single use plastic. Disappointing.
The solution? You could avoid fast food restaurants until they commit to wooden cutlery, paper wrapping or returnable boxes. Pret does actually allow customers to use their own travel cups for drinks. It’s a start.
Another option is to decline any of the plastic elements in your order. For example don’t accept plastic straws or plastic lids at the counter. Instead of throwing them in the bin just say, no thanks.
Of course, Bee People wouldn’t even eat at MacDonald’s or Pret in the first place, or maybe they would carry their own cutlery. For Dog People like me however, making small changes to my bad habits will reap the most sustainable rewards. Baby steps!
4. Do Less Washing And Hang It Out When You Do
If you have one, the tumble dryer is probably the biggest energy sapper in your house. Actually, scratch that! The biggest energy sapper in my house is the teenager!
When I think of a teenager’s attitude to their environment, I think: waste, throwaway, convenience. Single-use is the teenage mantra – wear it once, leave it on the floor to be picked up and washed. Enough of that! As a family we’re changing our ways. You can read more of my bitching about my teens in this article I wrote for Elephant Journal.
And I know that my message is getting through to my boys because it is getting reflected back at me. When I point out that something has been worn only once and therefore can go back in the cupboard, I get,
Oh my god, you are obsessed with the environment!
Winning! So from now on, if it’s clean but on the floor it goes back in the cupboard and all washing dries on the clothes line. It’s a ball ache for Dog People like me but the average household uses 200 litres of drinking water a week to wash clothes (4 loads). Could we half that? Wouldn’t that feel good?
Microfibres released into the oceans from man made fibres in clothes and detergents all add to a filthy habit we need to cut down on. Use eco-friendly washing liquids and where possible, buy natural fabrics. And don’t send your washing machine round half full. If it’s on then make the most of that energy and water but getting a full load in.
5. Ban Plastic From Your Fridge
Using bees wax wraps is very satisfying. They are natural, compostable, plastic free and much easier to use than cling film. Yes, they are pricey but that’s because they last a whole year and at the moment are relatively niche. The only issue with these is that they can’t be used for raw meat. (Yes, I still eat meat but locally sourced – or do I mean sauced?)
Another cool thing I bought is a plastic pouch, which can be washed and re-used. It’s plastic but it’s multi use and a great alternative to cling film for items like raw chicken and fish.
There are so many more things that we can all do but the key message here is that we have to start somewhere. There’s lots more information on Earth Day here: how you can help save energy, encourage insects and cut down your plastic usage.