With the clocks turned back and our lives all just a smidgen slower than that in the summer, I wanted to shine the light on a few of the mindful living practices that we’ve adopted in our household of late.
There’s never been a greater time to really start doing good and making a positive impact on the globe, especially with the broadcast of damning documentaries that highlight the extent to which we’re ruining our own precious planet. (Scarier than Halloween, amirite?!)
Fast fashion, polluting our waters and exploiting third-world countries for their labour, environment and time. Plastic, clogging up the oceans and encouraging a disposable lifestyle. I could go on, but I’m hoping this post will shed some light into why I’ve been trying so hard to change my ways this year.
At the risk of sounding preachy, which I’d never knowingly do, here are some of the things we’ve introduced recently…
After watching Blue Planet II last year, I felt very strongly encouraged to assess my own use of plastic.
When I first moved to Hong Kong in 2014, they’d just implemented the carrier bag charge and I quickly learned to shove a canvas tote into my handbag or pockets when heading out.
It applied to pretty much everything and you’d only be given a ‘free’ bag for things like fresh produce., but luckily fruit and veg was pick-your-own within supermarkets and much of my grocery shopping was already plastic-free.
Within a matter of weeks, I’d gotten great at taking my own bags out and thankfully I continued that trend upon my return home.
However, what I’ve noticed in England is that everything in a regular supermarket comes sealed in a plastic wrapper. Fruit, vegetables, bread… Everything is pre-wrapped. While some chains like Waitrose have pledged to dramatically reduce their plastic use by 2020, an easier method is to cut the middle man and hand your money to the start of the chain and visit the greengrocers wherever you can. It’s often cheaper, you’ll feel great for supporting the smaller businesses, and you can hand-pick your produce, popping it right into your canvas bag!
Back to the High Street
More so than in recent years, I’ve been conscious that retail shops are closing left, right and centre. Big name multi-retailers like Debenhams and House of Fraser have been hit, and it’s surely because of the increase in digital and new digitally native brands.
If you’re seeking a clothes fix or any other non-specialist purchase, head to your local High Street. Hop on the bus or walk there, and actually try pieces on to ensure the perfect fit. How many times have you ordered 3 of the same dress from ASOS to ensure you get the right size? Torn open three plastic bags and shoved them aside? Returned two, for ASOS to need to repackage them in another plastic bag?
Shopping on your actual, physical High Street allows you to reduce all of that. You can check out the garment labels to see what you’re getting fabric-wise and source-wise. You can minimise packaging by popping your new buy straight into a canvas bag, instead of waste garment bags, sealing tape and shipping bags. You can often even ask for an email receipt instead of a physical one (receipt paper can’t be recycled!).
Slow down your wardrobe
On that note, I’ve also employed a slow wardrobe approach since I moved home in 2016. In part, this was due to lack of wardrobe space (my brother took my old room and, subsequently, the two double wardrobes!), but also because it felt incredibly wasteful to even have two double wardrobes’ worth of clothing. I’m definitely a sentimental clothing kinda girl: I feel incredibly attached to certain pieces, and as a fashion copywriter, I also know enough about my clothes and their origins, quality, fabric standard, cut, etc. to feel I make pretty solid investments.
My favourite jeans I’ve had for around 5 years, my knitwear is frequently refreshed by snipping off bobbles, I have white Oxford shirts, gym leggings made from recycled bottles and pure wool knits that have withstood the test of time.
(On a side note, if you’d like me to talk about my best wardrobe investments, sustainable or otherwise, do let me know!)
I also recently downloaded a handy app called Good On You which has been fab for quickly researching how well my favourite brands are doing in terms of labour, environment and animal sustainability. It’s great not only for seeing how well they’re doing, but tracking who is in your wardrobe that you should avoid, and discovering new ones too!
Reducing my car use
Lastly, I’ve been trying my hardest to reduce my car use! This has probably been the toughest step of all thus far, because I live around a 50 minute walk from my town’s town centre, train station and where my gym is. While 50 minutes isn’t the longest of walks, it does eat into my day and often I end up driving just to save myself the 3-hour round trip of running errands!