No, I’m not talking about tripping over a plastic aubergine on the living room floor, or breaking up toddler fights over the play kitchen at playgroup. Although that’s an everyday challenge I face too.
There’s been palpable shock-waves on social media from people who watched the first episode of BBC’s The War on Plastic last week, presented by Anita Rani and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, particularly in relation to the truth about what’s happening to some of our kerbside recycling. A recycling bag from Essex finding its way into the Malaysian jungle is a staggeringly shocking thing.
We’re always been avid recyclers and I still believe there’s a place for recycling, with an improved understanding of the end-to-end process and taking full responsibility for our own waste. Exporting it to developing countries who don’t even have their own kerbside recycling (I had a reference for this in relation to Malaysia somewhere and…
Web design and technology is not my strongest skill – I like writing and researching and thinking, mainly. But I’ve had a sneaking suspicion for a while that the Everyday Radical website was looking a bit rubbish. Like all writers, I would love more people to read my work (I think some of it at least is a valuable contribution to the eco issues debate, and people keep telling me it’s quite good). But having a super basic blog home page doesn’t help with that mission. So I am learning VERY SLOWLY how to use WordPress to its full potential. I’ve got a long way to go, and very limited time these days, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve redesigned the blog so it looks a bit sexier. And also, WIDGETS! (These are little WordPress features that you can add to your site to aid navigation, provide links to your social media etc.) I thought they were very complicated, but actually they’re quite straightforward.
New on the blog page, down the right hand side – over here >>>>>>>>
You can click to like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter. The “follow my blog” button is easier to find and there’s a list of recent posts, and an archive menu by month too. And categories! So if you read a post about washing up, for example, and you want to read some more of my ramblings about kitchen-related eco switches, you can find the category and find all the blog posts. This was pretty fun to put together, sorting through the archive. Weirdly, the dish washing posts are some of the most popular posts I’ve written. My readership must be washing up liquid geeks.
Anyway, I’m pretty excited about the new look, and the new features. Let me know what you think. More to come when I learn how to create pages – not the same thing as posts, it seems!
Briefly too, on the subject of technology. I wrote about my email hoarding tendencies back in January, with a promise to change my ways due to the carbon footprint of storing thousands of emails. Also there was a significant mental load of having 5500 emails in my inbox, it felt like a massive to do list that would never get cleared. I promised you guys I would get it down to less than 100 by the end of March.
So as of today, it’s at 302. Which feels like progress… I also deleted a massive amount of archived work emails form years ago which I will never need. But I also have to confess that I moved a LOT out of my inbox into sub folders. I’m not going to tell you how many but I’ve just counted them up and I’m a bit shocked, as there’s still an enormous bunch of stuff sitting on servers whirring away because I’ve got some odd hoarding disorder and I can’t bring myself to delete them. Most of them I am saving for a reason (quite a lot, for example, are idea leads for this blog), but the reality of how much I still have left is a bit of a wake up call. I am really interested in the psychology of hoarding, so perhaps I need to have a bit of a closer look at myself! (Digital hoarding is a thing, by the way – not much studied, but definitely a thing, which is probably on the increase).
Back to the climate impact point though. Sending and receiving emails and storing files on the cloud all has a carbon footprint, due to the servers that it’s all held on and the power they use, the energy used to run computers themselves and send and receive messages. Sure, per message it’s microscopic, but it all adds up. So I repeat my challenge to you all, folks – use your lockdown downtime (if you have any!) to clear out your mailboxes and your saved files and unsubscribe to mailing lists that you’re not really reading (they just encourage you to buy stuff you don’t need anyway). You will feel mentally cleansed, I promise you, and help to save the planet too. Every little helps, as they say (and I bet you’ve got some emails in your archive from them too!)
This is just a quick post, completely unrelated to the Everyday Radical mission, but I wanted to share an exciting thing which has happened.
I have been working on crafting my skills as a writer in various different formats recently, and I submitted a piece of flash fiction – which may possibly be an excerpt from a forthcoming novel, in about ten years’ time – to the very excellent collaborative writers’ blog, The Finest Example (the guys who also published my article about “zero waste” as a troublesome concept).
And here it is, A King in Darkness. I’m very proud of it and super stoked that someone else thinks it’s worthy of publishing (yes, imposter syndrome having a field day here!) So if you like it, please flatter me and say nice things and share it far and wide! Also you might want to follow my other blog, Secret Scribbles in London (not so secret any more, kids!), where I share flash fiction, poetry and ramblings about my life. I have 10 followers, it’s practically a viral internet sensation already!
Just a small aside, to keep some relevance to the eco theme in case my shameless plugging is too annoying. I’ve written here about my deep and long-lasting love for stationery (which I have now learnt to spell correctly, at last). I have not, since that post, bought myself any new stationery at all. But I bought a new note-pad today for £2.49 from Ryman, because my note-pad I use for meal planning and budgeting and other fun adulting activities has just run out. The keeping of this “housewife” pad definitely contributes to reducing our food waste, so technically today’s purchase is saving the planet. And I’m a published author now, so it’s allowed. I didn’t buy any new pens though. So I still get to be smug about being zero waste. (Incidentally, they have Terracycle collections in Ryman branches now for recycling used up pens, so don’t bin your biros, folks!)
So I’ve been threatening to write something about the whole “zero waste” concept for a while. I wrote a piece for The Finest Example, a really great writers’ blog of creative collaboration, hosted by one of my favourite bloggers and writers, Peter Wyn Mosey Link to my article is here – it was fun to write and contains another Gruffalo reference, for those of you who remember my Terracycle post.
Essentially, the whole zero waste concept probably irrationally annoys me because of the way people have made it an aspirational, Instagrammable thing (and I’m a bit jealous of all the eco-blogs which are more successful than mine and look prettier and have ad revenue…) There are lots of useful zero waste groups on Facebook, where helpful information is shared, but they all have this propensity to descend into ridiculous bickering and one-upmanship. It usually goes like this:
“I found this great plastic free thing!” Often it’s a straw, so let’s use that example – “zero waste” straw options include paper, bamboo, glass, metal, silicone, pasta… endless possibilities. Half a million plastic straws are used across the world every day, so plastic-free options must be a good thing, right?
“Why do you need to use a straw anyway, are you a child? Just sip from a cup like a grown-up!”
Cue – flurry of posts about this being an ablist position and reminding us that a lot of disabled people need to use plastic straws. Some more posts about choice and how we all have vices and use stuff which is technically unnecessary to our basic survival sometimes (personally I don’t use straws but for a lot of people, it’s what makes life fun, apparently). Some more posts about the people who have died in metal straw-related injuries (this is a real, very rare but genuinely tragic story). Yet more posts about how stopping using plastic straws is a drop in the ocean (literally), and we should actually be giving up eating fish, as 20% of ocean plastic waste is from fishing equipment. (I’ve also read 46% in other places; how this can possibly be calculated accurately across the whole planet, I have no clue.)
Some of these debates get really vitriolic, and it honestly gives me playground flashbacks of nasty bullying girls making you feel like no matter what you do, it will never be good enough, and you won’t ever fit into the cool gang of eco-people who are “properly” zero waste. I’m sure this trigger isn’t universal and possibly says more about me than it does about them, but I’m sure I’m not entirely alone in feeling this way.
I think the absolutist nature of the statement is the most problematic for me. It’s intimidating and exclusionary and frankly unhelpful and I honestly don’t think there is any such thing as zero waste – as I outline in the article linked above. If you replace your plastic bottles with glass, they look prettier and you get to take pictures of your zero waste kitchen for Instagram, but glass uses more energy to produce, it’s heavier to transport and the glass recycling process is extremely energy-hungry. There’s a footprint to anything and everything we use and everything we do, every single day.
I thought about this earlier in the week as I sat with my husband at a concert of Beethoven symphonies at the absolutely amazing Southbank Centre. Tickets to this were my “zero waste” Christmas gift to him. But then I thought about the carbon footprint of 1000 people travelling into central London, of the power supply and heating for the auditorium, all the (presumably) single use plastic cups we were drinking our wine out of during the interval, the programmes given out for free on the door, the e-tickets I had to print out… Then I thought about all the “experience” gifts that people suggest buying for children as “zero waste” gifts, instead of the ubiquitous plastic toys. None of these will be without a carbon footprint of some kind.
So the concept of zero waste is massively flawed in my view (like any absolutist position really – any sentences that involve the words “you should always” or “you should never” make me suspicious in principle). Shoot me if you like, but I prefer “low waste” as a label, and a wider and more far-reaching view of the world than simply aspiring to be plastic-free.
Speaking of which… remember the great deodorant experiment? In which we compared the longevity and effectiveness of a £7 “natural” deodorant vs. a £1.99 “conventional” one – available in supermarkets, plastic packaging of questionable recyclability. Findings as follows: the natural deodorant I chose wasn’t really up to the job all summer long. I kept going with it for a good while, but felt pretty anti-socially aromatic at times. I reverted to my spare plastic one after my mother very politely informed me that I was extremely smelly (I had just been to the gym, to be fair). But now that one is used up so I’m in a bit of a quandry. I want to use up the natural one before I try another brand (otherwise it’s not really very zero waste at all, is it, boys and girls?), but I also want to keep my friends. So. I’ll keep you posted.
Coming up later in the week – how to “green” your cat. I’m sure he will still love me, no matter how bad I smell.
I’ve been struggling a bit with email etiquette in my current freelance gig. A lot of the people I’m in contact with are people I’ve never met in real life, which is pretty normal for freelance work – but these guys are all in substantive, mainly office-based jobs so I imagine aren’t often interacting with people they don’t know personally.
So I’m being really, really polite. Lots of emails saying things like, “thanks so much for coming back to me so quickly on this.”
I remembered reading an article a few months back about the climate impact of emails, and saving it to read later (more on my digital hoarding tendencies later). I reflected on this particularly over Christmas, when I read a lot about people sending e-cards instead of physical cards, as an environmental measure to reduce waste.
So I dug the articles out of the archive today and discovered the following facts, from a study by Ovo energy supplier in November:
Britons send 64 million unnecessary emails per day (just Britons… thinking about the global scale here is scary).
If each adult in Britain sent one less email per day, this would reduce annual carbon output by 16,433 tonnes. This is the equivalent of 81,152 flights from London to Madrid, or taking 3334 diesel cars off the road.
71% of Britons wouldn’t mind not receiving a “thank you” email if it helped the environment.
49% of Britons admit to sending emails daily to people who are within talking distance.
There’s a basic summary of the research here, and a slightly more interesting analytical piece in the Guardian here. Professor Mike Berners-Lee, a researcher and writer on carbon footprints at the University of Lancaster, advised OVO on the research, and he acknowledges that the numbers are crude estimates, but that the study emphasises the large and growing carbon footprint of IT. Your computer uses energy, the network through which you send emails uses energy and the storage of those emails on a cloud requires energy to run the data centre.
I haven’t quite worked out the solution to the conundrum of how to handle this situation in a freelance context – probably I need to get on the phone and work on building relationships, so it doesn’t feel like emailing strangers. But it seems sensible for most office-based folks to be working to reduce these pointless emails and replace them with conversations wherever possible. It doesn’t help when there’s documents to be shared, or an audit trail is required (but sometimes that’s a symptom of mistrust, which is interesting in itself). But if it’s just a quick “thanks” to Dave who sits in the next cubicle, you could say that as you walk past and offer to make him a coffee. Maybe if you’re worried about people thinking you’re a rude tosser, write a little footer for your emails like the ones people use asking you not to print their email to save trees: “If I don’t email back to say thanks for this email, I’m not being rude, I’m saving the planet!” Smiley face, thumbs up emoticon. Well, maybe not the emoticon. (Also, EverydayRad’s top email etiqeutte top tip – don’t put kisses on emails to your boss. Ever. Even if you love them. Even if it’s Friday night and you’ve had some wine.)
I’m procrastinating here on addressing the issue of my digital hoard. I’ve been reading around a bit on email culture and reflecting on my previous jobs – the always-on culture is damaging, for sure. Interesting article here on fixing our unhealthy obsession with work email (this is an HBR article, there’s a paywall after you’ve read 6 free articles). Another one here on the cost of continuously checking work emails and its impact on efficiency and creativity. Easier said than done to address this stuff, and I never managed it properly in a demanding full-time job, but it’s food for thought.
Anyway. Confession time. I currently have 5500 emails in my hotmail inbox. And I’m pathologically unable to just delete them all, despite my husband’s urging whenever he looks over my shoulder and sees the number on my screen, even though a lot of them are irrelevant now as they’ve been there so long. What if they’re really interesting? What if I miss something? I also have hundreds of articles and posts saved on Facebook – mainly things I want to blog about. It’s like a huge digital “to read” list and it actually makes me feel a bit anxious thinking about it. I’ve found a few questionable sources (which I’m not going to share because I think the research is a bit dodgy and I haven’t had time to check it out properly – oooh it’s that digital “to do” list again!) which says that the impact of storing an email is equivalent to one plastic bag, or 10g of carbon.
So, dear readers. I am accountable to you lot and I’m setting myself a target to get my inbox down to less than 100 by the end of March. It will help me feel cognitively clearer too, I know, as well as reducing the carbon footprint. As I go, I’m unsubscribing from loads of stuff – I’m trying to keep to the Buy Nothing principle in life, so emails showing me lovely organic children’s clothes are not very helpful. Also I get massive FOMO from all the galleries, museums and concerts I don’t have time to go to, so those mailing lists can go too. I’m going to try to tackle the archive too, and I’m not even going to admit to you all how big that is. But I don’t think I really need my work emails from 2012… really.
It’s been aaaaages since I last posted, so I will honestly be delighted if anyone reads this!
Happy 2020 anyway to whoever is reading, and I hope your festive season has been enjoyable.
SO many thoughts to share with you all! I want to have a rant about fabric gift wrap. And competitive Instagram zero waste Christmas nonsense. And snobbery about plastic toys (but I’ve already written tons on that, so I will leave that one for now at least).
Time is as ever at a premium though, as I still have a few other irons in the proverbial freelance fire. But I have noticed that since I stopped writing blog posts here regularly, I have been succumbing more and more to eco-anxiety and feeling increasingly depressed about the world in general. A certain major political event on December 12th may have contributed to that feeling, along with the overall awfulness of the global situation (predominantly, the horrendous and heart-breaking Australian forest fires).
On a personal level, it’s hard to feel any kind of empowerment against this scale of bad news (and if you don’t think a Tory majority is bad news, then maybe we will part company some day soon, because one of these days I’m going to write about austerity). I wrote some stuff on my personal Facebook page about the election and it got me into trouble with friends and family, so there’s a level of filtering required sometimes that becomes another ongoing pressure.
But what has become clear to me is that writing this blog, and doing the research that goes with it, followed by taking a definitive action, however small, makes me feel better and like I’m at least doing something to mitigate against the climate crisis that I firmly believe humanity is facing.
The internet is full of lists of resolutions for us all to follow to live more sustainably – in all honesty I haven’t read any of them yet, but I’ve saved a few to peruse throughout January. This one, for example, looks good. I’m pretty good at making huge lists of New Year’s resolutions, and less good at keeping them. I prefer to see life as a continuing journey of self-improvement… I’m not really a very relaxed or contented person in this sense, it seems.
But at least for you lucky, lucky people, that is likely to mean more blog posts to read. Hit me up with your requests of things for me to research, if you like. Not that I don’t have a pending list of 3947 things to write about….. Current obsessions here are reducing food waste, getting to grips with whether the fuss about plastic is just noise or worth really worrying about, and how to plan a house renovation without generating loads of waste and pollution (and avoiding a nervous breakdown in the process).
Back soon. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe every day in 2020! Who knows what can be achieved if I get up at 5am every day! #5amWritersClub (this is a thing, look it up on Twitter!)
Gosh, it’s nearly two weeks since I last posted. Sorry, people. I am a very good example of how NOT to maximise the success of a viral post… (this is the ragey post I wrote at the beginning of October which got retweeted a lot and nearly 1000 views – seems it resonated with a lot of people who are fed up of mothers and women in general being judged for every single thing they do).
Anyway… since we last met, dear reader, my very limited spare writing time has been taken up by some freelance work for the NHS, writing and rewriting a few business cases. I am enjoying it a lot – it’s not exactly got me hankering for the old days of 50+ hour weeks in a front-line operational job, but it’s good to get the brain cells whirring again (and earn some actual money, of course, which is always nice). So if you follow me on social media (Twitter or Facebook – no Instagram, ever), you’d have known there was a blog hiatus on the horizon, sorry if you missed it. I’ve also got another super secret writing thing going on, but it’s super secret and staying that way. Literally not one single human that I know in real life knows about it, so there.
I’m finding it a bit frustrating at the moment, to be honest, having so little time for writing. But it seems I can’t simultaneously do paid work, unpaid work, have a clean house and sleep, let alone keep a toddler alive and fed (and feed a husband too, of course). So something has to give at the moment, and it’s the clean house and the unpaid stuff, of course.
I have been plugging away at the eco switches in the background. I’ve been to SWOP today for Faith in Nature shampoo and conditioner. I confess I’ve given up on shampoo bars for now – fed up of looking like a scarecrow. I could have persevered but I didn’t want to spend tons of money on different bars to see what worked for me. I feel that refills is the next best thing – although it has occurred to me today to tweet SWOP to ask them what happens to the 5L bottles they get from their supplier and whether they’re sent back and refilled. I maintain that there’s no such thing as truly zero waste, I don’t think…
And dishwashing! The obsession continues. I took the plunge and switched to Splosh dishwasher tablets, and I’m really happy with them. They come in this snazzy little tub:
The tablets are covered in a water-soluble film, which looks a bit like plastic but definitely isn’t, and they are cruelty free. They came in a box padded with a bunch of things that looked alarmingly like styrofoam, but this apparently is a starch-based packing peanut, which is biodegradable.
I also bought hand wash, washing up liquid, kitchen and bathroom cleaner refills, to use in bottles I’ve kept, and refillable Splosh laundry liquid. I’m happy with the laundry liquid but it seems to be disappearing pretty fast, so I’m considering halving the amount I’m using per wash to see if it’s still effective, as I would with the dosage recommendations for powder or tablets.
My Splosh account tells me I’ve already saved 19 bottles. I was a bit concerned about the refill pouches, but the blurb on the website is convincing – the combined effort of using very concentrated products and pouches reduces plastic use by 90%, and the pouches can be returned for reprocessing with only a 2.5% waste rate from this process (they call this “zero waste”, but of course it’s not… but it’s miles better than new bottles every time, made out of virgin plastic then plunged into the over-burdened recycling system to end up goodness knows where). Splosh say that their customers have saved 257,511 plastic bottles from going into the waste system this year, and they’re aiming for one million next year.
I’m pretty happy with the Splosh switch. Nothing’s perfect, of course, except living in a cave and eschewing all modernity (tempting sometimes!) But it felt like the right choice, after quite a bit of research.
Next switch – not sure. Check out Tortoise Happy‘s blog if you want some inspiration while waiting for my next post. She’s doing well in her challenge to make 12 eco-switches before the end of the year.
There’s loads I want to write about – XR, climate change and feminism, eco-anxiety, Christmas… Anyone want to sponsor this blog so I can spend more time on it? (*wishes for fairy godmother*
Until next time – keep on truckin’.
(Here’s the Splosh refills all neat in the cupboard like a row of books).
So… the big news was that I was invited to be in the audience of the live filming of The Martin Lewis Money Show Live, on Tuesday evening in Wapping. I had a plus 1 and everything, and Mr EverydayRadical and I were excited about going for pizza afterwards. Almost as excited about the pizza as about the whole TV thing, to be perfectly honest.
BUT – we couldn’t go, for various dull reasons that I’m not going to bore you with. I wrote half this post before that decision though, so I’ve adapted it to hopefully be somehow interesting reading anyway.
I thought that the programme was going to be a Brexit special, discussing how Brexit is likely to impact various aspects of people’s household finances. Having watched it, the programme actually had a much broader brush than that, but anyhow… I think it’s an open process to apply for tickets or submit questions to be in the audience, but I was put onto it by a cat sitting client who’s read the blog, specifically my Brexit post, and thought I might be interested (I know! It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!). So I got in touch with the researcher and discussed potential questions to put to Martin.
He’s written a really interesting article about some of the possible financial ramifications of Brexit. But I was wondering about the cross-over between the financial impact and the environmental impact. So I started to think about two things – energy costs and overseas travel. I’m going to share my thoughts about renewable energy in this post.
We’re being told that we are likely to see increased energy bills after we leave the EU, especially if it’s a no deal Brexit. This is because we import increasing amounts of electricity from Europe (currently 7%, on track to increase to 20% by 2025), and the falling pound is making our bills higher already. There were pre-referendum warnings about the impact of leaving the EU Internal Energy market, but, y’know, boring experts, yadayadayada. According to this article, there’s also a possibility that in the event of a no deal Brexit, the UK could face third-party costs to use the power lines which connect Britain to European power markets, which would raise the overall cost of the energy. So far, so predictable.
What I didn’t quite understand is the impact on renewable energy – somewhere in my memory I have this belief that the EU subsidises renewable energy, so Brexit could impact on the cost and availability of this. I am particularly interested in this as we have just switched to a 100% renewable tariff with the Green Energy Network – this is quite an interesting thing in itself, as the supplier can’t guarantee that the power that goes into your house via the National Grid is actually from a renewable source, as this is dependent on demand and supply at any given time. But the Green Energy Network guarantees that for every unit your household uses, they will buy the equivalent amount in renewable energy. Here’s some good stuff about how the energy market works.
So anyway. It’s all quite depressing really. I don’t think the current government are taking climate crisis seriously enough and I think the Brexit show is distracting everyone from the most important stuff.
So I may not have been to the Money Show, but my top tip for this week is – get onto uSwitch and look for a fixed term renewable energy tariff, now, to lock in a price before the recession hits and prices start to increase. Our switch should save us £15 a month and we’re voting with our feet in favour of renewable energy. It sometimes feels to me that our only real power is as consumers. The other power is being well-informed – this is a good long read about the current and future state of the UK power industry, some of it quite uplifting.
Anyway, back to BBC Parliament… posts coming soon about how we’ve done in September on the No Buy strategy, my new plan for meat eating (or not) and yet another post about dishwashing. I also kind of want to write a rant about health visitors, but maybe I need to start another blog for that.
Sorry, I know everyone is sick to death of the B word. But I just can’t not write about it. I said the other day that the wider planetary climate crisis we are facing is more important than Brexit – I don’t think that’s in any doubt. But what’s happening at the moment – in Parliament today and over the weekend – is so unprecedented that if you have any interest whatsoever in current affairs or politics, you can’t help but be absorbed by it.
I’ve got to admit, I voted quite intuitively. I don’t have a degree in European politics (although Mr Everdayradical does), and there is a lot about the mechanics of the EU that I don’t understand. But I felt that the claims of unelected bureaucrats wielding too much power over us were not valid – not only are EU politicians elected in a more representative way than our own parliament (proportional representation rather than first past the post), but there’s also a ton of unelected people who have a lot of power in the UK – the House of Lords, the permanent staff in various ministries and government departments, and the civil service. So should we get rid of them too, in the name of “taking back control?” Also, I’ve got lots of European friends and I couldn’t ally myself with the frankly odious narrative of Farage and co. and the dodgy dealings of the Leave campaign.
Moreover, the world wars aren’t really that distant a memory – the “European project” has been successful in that we haven’t had another pan-European war, and I feel strongly that we are stronger together than we are apart. Anyway, I’m digressing from the point here and I’m sure some readers will feel I’m boring you with my own Remoaner views (actually, I’m a revoker, but it’s semantics really.)
I haven’t researched this super widely, but here’s my thoughts on the impact of Brexit on the environment and the climate crisis.
While our politicians are exclusively focussed on Brexit, they’re not doing anything about climate change, not tackling plastic pollution, not promoting renewable energy or alternative modes of transport. No deal planning is costing billions, which could be spent on much more useful issues. The UK has become the world’s biggest buyer of fridges, to stockpile medicines – this is according to the Health Minister, so it’s not Project Fear. And I’m pretty sure they’re not buying fridges on eBay or from car boot sales… Lorry queues from Dover could reach as far as Maidstone. All the traffic jams will increase air pollution – remember how much criticism Extinction Rebellion came under in London in the spring for their blockades causing congestion and increased pollution? (Sorry, it’s the Daily Express, don’t click it if you don’t want to read their particular brand of wisdom). This is going to be a whole different level.
There are some clearer-cut environmental reasons to be concerned about Brexit too. 80% of our environmental laws come from the EU – these could be lost, weakened or harder to enforce after Brexit. A no deal Brexit won’t allow time to update our environmental protection laws to function properly after exit day. Friends of the Earth outline on their Brexit campaign page the UK government’s poor track record on things like air pollution, and how the EU has intervened and enforced improvement. There’s also serious concerns about food safety and farming after Brexit. Chlorinated chicken aside, if EU migrant workers leave the UK in droves after Brexit, farmers will struggle to fill seasonal low-paid and insecure farming jobs, meaning that less produce can be grown and harvested in the UK. So more food will have to be imported, with an increased carbon footprint, whilst making a balanced and healthy diet more expensive and less accessible to all.
There’s another measured article from The Ecologist here. Personally, unlike Michael Gove, I quite like experts, and a lot of them are worried. The only silver lining I can see – and I’m scrabbling about here, really I am – is that a major economic crisis and recession, which many economists are predicting, might make us think twice about consumerism. What happens if loads of manufacturers go bust? Will we discover that we didn’t really need the stuff that they made anyway? I know it’s more complex than that, as people’s livelihoods are at stake, but I’m searching for a positive spin and this is the best I can manage.
So what can we do? Take to the streets to #StopTheCoup, if you’re braver than me. Sign this. Educate yourself on the potential environmental impact of Brexit. Think really deeply about who you’d vote for in a General Election. Stock up on beans. Watch BBC Parliament obsessively. Hope for the best.
(I’m going to try and write something slightly less depressing later in the week about businesses who are actually doing positive stuff to tackle plastic pollution. Hang on in there, kids.)
And you don’t need to be going back to school with a shiny new pencil case to make some September resolutions.
This blog is all about making small, sustainable lifestyle changes to help the environment. Some of the switches I’ve made so far include:
ditching shower gel and going back to the bar with The Good Soap.
I’ve also switched to refillable Faith in Nature shampoo and conditioner from the Shop Without Packaging, which is an amazing shop that I feel very fortunate enough to live within a bus journey of.
I’ve ditched furniture polish and swapped to damp dusting, and started using refills of cleaning products.
I’ve ditched clingfilm and embraced my Tupperware collection.
I’m making much more effort towards plastic-free food shopping.
I’m having a serious stab at Buy Nothing as a lifestyle change – this is my September/”rest of year” resolution.
There’s SO much more I could be doing, so much more we could all be doing. The choices seem overwhelming, and there are opposing views on so many things – are paper bags really better than plastic? Are compostable bags actually compostable? Do you need a degree in biochemistry to understand this stuff? Should we all go vegan, or is it enough just to boycott South American meat and buy local and organic? Should we all stop flying and using petrol/diesel cars? The challenges and the decisions are huge.
Can we as individuals really do anything to turn the tide on plastic pollution and climate change? Personally, I believe that we must put the pressure on our governments and corporations to lead the change, through voting, petitions, protests, and withdrawing our custom from environmental offenders. And by joining XR protests and being prepared to get arrested? Maybe.
So after the hiatus over the summer, I’m refocusing my attention on these thoughts and decisions and relaunching the blog. I have an absolutely HUGE list of things to research and write about, and I hope I can help people to think these decisions through, maybe make some changes in their own lives, and contribute to the voices already calling out for change.
SO. Competition time. Like and share the newly launched Everyday Radical Facebook page, or like and retweet this post and follow @TheEverydayRad1 on Twitter, for a change to win a £25 gift voucher from The Good Soap – bonus prize draw for new followers of the blog via WordPress too. Help me spread the word, and tell my your September eco resolutions!