When I entered the Ecover competition I said that, to me, being ‘green’ meant ‘doing no harm’, like a Dr. Looking after the planet and leaving it in the same beautiful state as we found it. I realise that already as a human I have to admit we are failing badly. Climate change, land fill, pollution, famines, wars, and extinction of animals spring to mind as just a few ways we are failing.
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So anyway – what do I do, and can I improve on what I do already?
First things first, big discussions on twitter about nappies (diapers to you US readers) and are cotton washables really any more ‘green’ than disposables? When I had my DD 13 years ago it was a clear choice to use cotton towelling squares predominantly , they were cheap, easy to use (with a couple of plastic wraps) quick to wash and dry, and disposables were full of chemicals, never broke down in landfill, were really expensive and were just nasty (causing nappy rash for DD among other things!). But today the choice is wider – cotton nappies are stupidly expensive and in a myriad of shapes and types, disposables are now available that are made of wood pulp so they can be chucked onto the compost! Maybe today I’d opt for compostable disposables? I certainly wouldn’t pay some of the prices quoted on twitter for some fancy shaped cotton nappy! So for nappies I was pretty green.
Sanitary protection (men and squeamish types look away now) I didn’t discover the Mooncup until I was well into my 30s and so I dread to think how much landfill I caused of used sanitary protection, I used pure cotton tampons mostly as was convinced by the brands of the time that this was fairly eco friendly. No bleach was used and only cardboard applicators. But now I have my mooncup my sanitary protection landfill each month is zero. Like nappies I think there are flushable biodegradable sanitary towel options but they don’t seem to have really caught on and can be hard to find. I was recently sent a sample of a new product – softcup but they can’t be used by IUD users and also they appear to be another ‘throw away’ item (I checked and they are indeed non-recyclable and a landfill product) .
Cleaning products. I use Ecover for some things and the more I read about their plastic manufacture, the revolutionary idea that not only can we stop using petroleum based plastic in favour of plant based, and not only can we recycle plastics direct from home, but that we can clean up the seas too, I think maybe I should use more. I also think I need to look more at beauty products – I remember fondly in the days prior to The Body Shop being bought up by multimillion pound company L’Oreal (Nestle) , when you could take bottles back to the shop to be refilled or recycled. Lush seem closest to eco-friendly in the packaging stakes, with solid shampoo bars and bubble bath wands. Do you know of any other ‘green’ beauty product companies?
I run a small car, petrol consumption being high on my list of priorities. I drive quite a bit but I hope that by using a smaller car (Fiat Panda – still loving it!) with a good CO2 score I’m doing my ‘bit’ there. I should probably cycle more when I do local trips. I holiday abroad very rarely. DD and I did one big trip to the USA and we have had about 3 trips to Spain in all of the 13 years she’s been here. We camp a lot. Using second hand recycled tents.
I shop at charity shops a lot! In fact my long suffering husband will attest to the fact that I like them more than regular shops. I use ebay and buy lots of things second hand. I use freecycle to give things away rather than landfill. I donate to charity (WorldVision since you ask) with a monthly direct debit so I can’t forget, I donate extra to a homeless shelter each winter and other charities when I have any ‘spare’ money.
I’m not a vegetarian and have no plans to become one (despite being vege for lent) I wear leather, I own rabbit fur items, I’d draw the line at wearing endangered species. I own three Victorian Stuffed Squirrels and love taxidermy (I see no reason to kill any more animals simply for decoration however). I ‘ve added one extra person to the world’s population. (she is a bit great though)
I’m not trying to pat myself on the back, I’m just trying to look at my life and see how green it really is. How much of a footprint am I leaving? Am I the hippy I’d like to be or a middle class mum playing at it? Or somewhere in between? Being green can be expensive, but it can be cheaper too, and maybe if you save money on one green thing you could use it on another? How green are you? And do you care?