We’ve made some big, exciting changes to some areas of family life in the last few months, beginning with a January of zero consumption. No Spend January gave us a chance to really reflect on where our money was going and how much of it was being spent ethically. During January we only spent money on food and bills, this meant that we simply had to go without anything else we might have ‘needed’. At the same time, a new Facebook site has opened up in our area – a Buy Nothing group -which allows us to offer items to our community which we don’t need and resource items for free from our community. This group has been a wonderful boon when our breadmaker finally gave up ( swiftly replaced by a marvellous 1990s model somebody had in the back of a cupboard) and we decided that we needed another compost bin for all the extra vegetable peelings due to switching to a plant based diet. We were also able to pass things on responsibly when we cleared out our shed- more on that later..
Greening our transport
Since we live within walking distance of some local amenities, most of our short range journeys are on foot, via the sea wall path, or the shoreline. However, our ferry has not run for quite some time over the lockdown period, CC’s daily commute has had, by necessity, to be by car with no chance of cycling and using the ferry ( something he was managing to do at least once a week prior to lockdown) . We took a long look at the air pollution data for the UK ( some 40, 000 deaths per year from air pollution) and the percentage of emissions from transport and decided that we had to go electric.
We’ve always had to be resourceful when finding space in our small, terraced house and locating a place to charge an EV car hasn’t been easy. We do have a good sized rear garden and with a little ingenuity on CC’s part , we managed to create a rear charging point by cutting down our timber building and using the wood to create gates. We’ve saved the rest of the wood as we will build more planters for the boys and I to use this spring.
Tree Planting and a more durable surface for the garden
Our lawn sustained some serious damage during the past year with two active boys using the garden every day and hosting an outdoor toddler group! Going into the Autumn, we knew that the inevitable wet weather would mean our garden turning into a swamp and a constant trail of muddy boots in the house. We were inspired by our local Steiner School who use bark to cover their playground surface. We ordered two enormous bulk bags and covered the lawn. Since our fruit trees are bare in the winter, we decided to plant some evergreen trees to add a little winter colour and add to the biodiversity in the garden. The bark is hard-wearing and great for cushioning falls from tractors etc! Most importantly, it has withstood periods of torrential rain over many weeks, draining quickly and providing a community resource by absorbing some potential flood water, something fake grass or non-porous surfaces couldn’t deliver.
Going fully organic
When we began our Zero Waste journey back in 2013 we often faced a choice of either loose food or organic fruit and vegetables in plastic. With our soils in such poor states that a recent UN report estimated that we have a mere 60 harvests left globally, we are no longer prepared to buy food sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. Added to this, there are significant health concerns surrounding conventionally grown fruit and vegetables and exposure to pesticides and herbicides. Happily, we no longer have to make that difficult choice. There are now so many delivery options available for organic, Zero Waste fruit and vegetables that we’ve been able to shop with virtually no plastic.
Two local Zero Waste shops have recently opened near to us, meaning that we can now purchase all of our dry goods loose and organic. Our local Zero One shop is such a beautiful Aladdin’s cave of gorgeous food, toys, cleaning supplies and beauty essentials. We now shop with the wonderful Pikt and Riverford Organic who deliver right to our door and Rachael at Zero One ( who also delivers a wide range of goods). We even found a company who deliver organic bamboo, plastic free toilet paper !
We have gradually transitioned the whole family to a plant-based diet after researching the health and environmental implications. Beginning with some meat substitutes such a soya mince, bean based fish fingers and a whole lot of vegetables the family has been enjoying a wide range of familiar favourites with some new tastes thrown in for interest. As always, we’ve spent a lot of time cooking and preparing food together as the boys love to help in the kitchen.
We have enjoyed plant-based picnics…
… and even managed to keep Friday night as pizza night. We loved a pizza shared by our energy supplier Ecotricity, the video for which is shared below.
So this is our progress so far, tackling the key areas of Transport, Food and Waste. What changes have you made this year ? Has anything changed in your life as a result of a small change in another area?