I was thinking about this the other day while trying to work out what I could shave off our monthly grocery bill. There are some things that I will swap, or do without, if I need to cut costs (or for convenience) but these are the things I won’t do:
1. Swap free range eggs for factory farmed
Well this is a bit of a no-brainer. I would rather go without eggs than buy cheaper products produced by caged animals. Where we live we are lucky enough to either get eggs from a local smallholding, or free range ones from the newspaper shop (you get a discount for reusing your egg box)
2. Buy plastic bags at supermarkets
So occasionally I may buy a ‘bag for life’ but I really wouldn’t buy a plastic bag from a shop. As I tend to have a supermarket delivery and veg box there is very little need to use plastic bags. I also use my trusty net produce bags when shopping in the greengrocers (or they provide paper bags) and take loads of cloth bags with me when shopping.
3. Buy first hand
After all this blog is called ‘second-hand tales’! Over the past few years we have made a conscious decision to try to buy second-hand. Rather than automatically going to Ikea, Currys or B&Q to buy a new item of furniture, or electrical item, we have scoured charity shops, facebook sales and ebay to pick up a pre-loved alternative. Not only is this cheaper it is also extending the life of the object. I love the fact that we aren’t buying into the First World mantra that you must buy shiny and new, and buy it often.
4. Buy a second car, or drive when we can walk
I’ve written here about how we manage without a second car living in a small rural village. However owning a second car is just a complete no-no. Not only can we not afford it, or find anywhere to park it, it makes no environmental sense. I like the fact that I have to be resourceful when being car-less and that, during the school holidays, the children and I use the local bus service (which still costs over a tenner for an eight mile journey!). Even when we do have the car we have to garage it quite a distance from the house. To be honest I’d rather walk than have to get the car out, anyway.
5. Not recycle
This may seem like quite an obvious one but, yes, I do know people who still don’t recycle! Saying that, I have tried very hard to not need to recycle in the first place. That is, to reduce the packaging and other items that come into our house that can then be recycled. We try to avoid plastic bottles and containers where possible and reply on a doorstep milk delivery in returnable glass bottles, bars of soap and refillable washing up liquid and cleaners, to name a few.
Isn’t this the most important one? I know that, living in rural Wiltshire, it often feels like my vote doesn’t count. But I can hardly moan about it if I don’t at least try to change the voting results, or let the other candidates know that the environmental issue is an important one. If you read this blog regularly you may also know that my husband has stood for the Green Party in both local and national elections. And last year – for the first time ever – the Greens had a candidate standing in every constituency in our county.
There are plenty more things I would like to do on a regular basis, or commit to permanently. Sometimes I feel like a ‘green’ fraud when I think of the things we haven’t done – or could do better.
Top of this ‘could do better’ list is:
1. Switch to green energy provider
2. Refuse plastic straws at all times
3. Remember to always take refillable water bottle (we went to London last Saturday and got caught out by the heat and had to buy a bottle of water)
4. Use refillable coffee cup – or refuse takeaways
5. When shopping first hand, buy from more ethical suppliers (esp. clothing)
There’s always far more to do, than I’ve actually done. I admire those people who can completely give up plastic, live without producing waste, or devote their time (and purse) to causes such as avoiding palm oil products. But I must always remember that I can only do what is possible at the time and, when I look at how our behaviour has changed (especially since having children) we have come a long way in those things we do – and don’t do – to reduce our impact on the environment.
But over to you: what would you do/not do to lessen your impact on the earth?