Sustainable Living: Our big changes

Our earth - illustration by Elena Mozhvilo

How to have a big impact on the environment

In my mission to live a more considered and environmentally conscious life I’ve tried to make some significant changes but also plan to continue amplifying the impact of those changes. There are the simple things, some of which I’ve already discussed. Whilst in lockdown, I’ve decided it’s time to start planning some of the more consequential steps that I can take. They’ll need some research and some time and monetary investment. I expect they’ll need an emotional commitment to let go of passions and comforts I’ve known for the majority of my time on earth. In learning new more sustainable habits the hope is for my kids to grow up with a normalization of such habits,

1. Transport

The car is sounding tired and looking undervalued right now and we have an odd relationship where the convenience it usually provides is exchanged with an indifference to the experience. I love driving to get from a to b, to see the world move by and to anticipate the destination and what it may bring. I don’t love driving for the car. I don’t love airports or flying, it’s incredible to think we can travel such distances with such little effort but we leapfrog the experience in the middle. So we can and should cut down flying, less zooming around the world and more Zooming across the world. I’m happy for long distanced travel to be rationed or have regulation to offset the impact of those that need to travel more than others. On a more localised level my utopian view is for cities to adopt highly interconnected public transport and allow people to walk, run, scoot, skate and cycle rather than filling the roads with cars. What I’d like for the family is more of a contradiction. We get so much from the outdoors that the aim is to get a campervan, so the question is how can we do this in a sustainable way? Our next car will be electric and used for short commutes so there’s a bit of research to be done there too.

So, the plan…sustainable camper, electric car, don’t fly and keep it non-polluting when in cities. Time…3 years.

2. Home

We don’t use a great deal of energy currently and don’t live in a big home. It’s a Yorkshire stone terrace with country cottage character and a wild little garden. The desire is for a slightly bigger home to give the kids space to breath away from their mum and dad. To have a bit more garden to grow flowers, food and encourage bio diversity. To live in a more efficient home and to invest in solar energy to start to plug back in and give back to the grid. I’d like to understand the efficiency of homes and how to leave as small a footprint as possible. There’s no need for a grand design, just a home that gives back to its surroundings. In the meantime we use Bulb energy and have offset our carbon footprint with them. Here’s our referral link if you want to make the switch: Switch it up now!!!

The plan…a more efficient house, bigger garden for bio-diversity, solar panels, more veg, more wildlife and a climbing wall somewhere. Time…3 years.

3. Food

This is tricky, I’ve grown up with meat and enjoy eating a wide variety of foods. The aim is to cut down on the distance our food travels to the door. We are focused on buying local for weekly groceries and supporting local independent cafes and restaurants when we can. We’re still eating meat but are slowly cutting back to weekends only and ensuring it is locally sourced and well reared, supporting local butchers and making good meat a treat. We’ll try and grow more as we learn how to and keep things as organic as possible. I was lucky enough to grow up with a healthy veg garden within walking distance and fruit on the trees. A caterpillar in the lettuce or little tunnelling bug in an apple were just added protein and a surprise crunch. We aim to cook by the season and learn to make the most of the wide variety of produce grown and reared across Yorkshire.

The plan…keep it simple, local and seasonal. Only eat meat from around the corner and aim to reduce consumption to once or twice a week. Grow as much as we can organically.

4. Activities

Much of our entertainment includes the outdoors and this will continue. From running and climbing to camping and exploring nature, the most important element I want to introduce is being conscious of our impact from the activity we do and to help preserve the environment that we enjoy so much. We already donate to the Woodland Trust, support Fix the Fells when we can and Hannah is part of our local climate action and re-wilding groups. There’s more to be done with our natural environment and I’m going to research community energy projects, rural transportation links and developments within farming to help understand what more we can do. The final part of the plan will be to give time to people who don’t get the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors as much as I do. I’m keen to look at doing a mountain leader course and to help those in urban areas access and discover the outdoors.

The plan…stick to the places we love whilst continuing to give back and raise awareness of supportive projects and innovative solutions. Long term mountain leader course and support those less fortunate in accessing the beautiful countryside on our doorstep. Time…5-10 years.

5. Shopping

From now on I’m focussed on buying from independent, sustainable and where possible local producers. I don’t see this as a compromise from previous shopping habits. I know what I like to wear and what interior style we enjoy in the home. It’s important to appreciate artisan crafts, products that will last and timeless design. The main change will be to spend the time researching and replacing everyday products with better options whilst disposing of existing wasteful products in a responsible way.

Plan…buy for sustainability, longevity and quality. Time…Now.

It’s important to have a plan and I don’t think any of the above is unachievable. They’re relatively big changes to apply over the next few years but it’s critical to making what difference we can. I’m conscious there is compromise, we’re not choosing to live the quintessential sustainable life. That may come in time.

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