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The Future is Always Greener – Tips for a sustainable lifestyle

11 mins read

Have you ever heard or been in conversations about ethical consumption? Ever wondered how you could get fresher, more healthier food? Have you got a favourite cute hidden gem in town that you like to visit?

What if I told you it is possible to live more sustainably? Indeed, plenty of people have asked me for tips on sustainable living. And it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s expensive

So don’t worry if you’re a vegan, veggie, a meat-eater, or someone who likes a nice cold pint in a pub. This isn’t about labelling people using ethical or moral arguments.

If sustainability for all were a policy, I’d be advocating for it every single day. People, and the planet will benefit.

Because it’s too common to see these arguments about ethical consumption, often from a moral standpoint. I like to think of those arguments as if I was a politician wanting something for everybody.

Like economic policy, inequality is inevitable if people are not prepared to support policies that benefit all of society, not just those at the top that think they are doing something good.

Not everyone has the ability to transition into a vegan lifestyle for instance. That is because the human body is incredibly complex, and anyone with a medical condition or disability will make this complex further still.

This article is designed to provide tips that everyone can benefit from, including people who cannot transition to a veggie or vegan lifestyle, as well as people who still want to enjoy themselves.

What would a “sustainability for all” outlook look like? Here are some tips on a more sustainable lifestyle.

Food

Sustainable eating doesn’t  have to be about going on a diet, or boycotting a business you don’t like because of ethical reasons.

Eating sustainably can be done by everyone, if you know the ins and outs of your local area. The easiest place to begin is with farm shops and farmer’s markets.

These are your best bet for sourcing local food sustainably. They will especially be needing our support as we come out of the coronavirus lockdown.

If you’re a meat eater, start off by sourcing more grass fed cuts from beef, and fresh poultry. Check that you are not sourcing this from factory farming.

A wider range of meats will be found in your local butchers, who tend to source them from local farms. The downside to this method is that it is costly to start off with.

However, buying in bulk allows you to save money in the long run. For instance, having a packet of locally sourced porridge oats will last me about a month, so rather than having to keep shopping every week for a particular item, I actually save money the next time I shop

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An added bonus to this method is that you know exactly where your food is coming from. Supermarkets sometimes have to recall products because of health issues, but local food substantially reduces this risk.

In the long run, supporting your local food places will not only help you as a person, it will help the places you source from, and as an extra benefit, you will leave less of a carbon footprint, which helps the planet.

For the skint student, although this might not be the easiest option to start with, consider evaluating how much you might be spending on foods such as biscuits and cake, and then budgeting for local food that way.

Sustainable eating might also involve making a few sacrifices. If you’re the sort of person that loves a take away every so often, perhaps evaluate the cost of a take away per month, and seeing if you’d actually save more by eating locally.

And if you like your fast food places, you might consider reducing your frequency of fast food consumption, especially from companies that will be able to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

For the person who wants a list of places to source local food from, you have farm shops, farmer’s markets, greengrocers, butchers, fishmongers, independent run bakeries and cafes.

Look up food guides such as the MCS Fish Guide which will help you be able to pick sustainable options for fish consumption.

Growing your own food is also another option you have for eating locally and sustainably. Bear in mind that growing seasons will vary, and you may need to consider stocking up some foods in the winter (which will also save money).

Try some of these options and see if they work for you. Sometimes getting into a good mindset is a great way to make good food choices.

Plastic

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest global threats to the planet. And it’s not hard to see why. It is everywhere, from our food packaging, to our cutlery and plates we use when we’re camping, to our tupperware containers we get from our chinese takeaways that we now want to store our locally sourced food in.

Shopping locally reduces the consumption of plastic, so long as you’re not asking for a plastic bag at the checkout. This is because fresh meats are not sealed in plastic packaging, and fruit and veg is often shelved separately.

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But a Sustainability for All outlook doesn’t have to mean giving up those plastic straws. Actually, if you have a disability such as muscular dystrophy, you may rely on a plastic straw.

Being sustainable isn’t: ‘Stop using that straw!’

But it is: “If you know you don’t rely on a straw for your consumption (and therefore won’t dump it), you may consider switching your choice of straw.”

It is about recognising that everyone is different and will have different ways of promoting a sustainable lifestyle, including finding efficient use of plastic products that will not get thrown away.

If you use your tupperware containers all the time, then that’s great. If you don’t, maybe consider giving some away to someone who would find use out of them, rather than add it to the horrific amount of plastic waste we already generate.

That’s a great way to reduce plastic consumption. Reusing plastic that might prove beneficial to specific groups of people. Batch freezing food just became easier with that Tupperware you just got given! You just made the parent of a disabled child’s day by giving them that pack of plastic straws!

For those of us who do take plastic consumption for granted however, we have a much more difficult task ahead. You’re not going to want to spend the rest of your life cleaning up the huge ocean plastic gyres that are increasing in size every single day. But you can take part in local litter cleans or pick up plastic litter.

And you can choose to shop from businesses which do not source their food from unsustainable working environments that exploit migrant workers, and generate a heap of plastic which they will tell you is ‘too expensive’ for them to deal with, so it just gets left for the ocean.

Consider carefully if you can limit the amount of plastic consumption you contribute to.

Support local and independent businesses

No, I’m not going to tell you to boycott Wetherspoons or McDonald’s. But I am going to suggest ways of supporting your locally run establishments. The pandemic will have had major impacts on them.

There are a lot of hidden gems in towns like Stirling. And even sellers on Etsy will be especially thankful if you commission from them, so much so you might even get sweets with your product or a cute thank you note!

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But alongside our local food places, we might often not think of other really good sources of local information.

I’m talking places like independently owned bookshops and gift shops. Places which you won’t find anywhere else, making them unique.

And of course, charity shops, local markets and jumble sales are a brilliant way for you to source second hand products and cool items that don’t want to be left to landfill. Making these a very good sustainable way of living, as long as you know where to find them.

Let these businesses know that you support them, and you might just make someone’s day.

List of websites that you may find useful:

http://www.independentshops.co.uk/

https://www.farminguk.com/farm-shops-map

https://www.mcsuk.org/goodfishguide/search

Feature image credit: Pixabay

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