Thursday, 8 May 2014

Being Green


After reading Its not easy being Green by Dick Stawbridge last month, I became a bit green obsessed and was (and still am) determined to make my everyday life as green as possible. While I'm not quite ready to move to a remote farm in Cornwall and live off the land (Although if someone paid me I would totally do this fyi - any tv producers or book publishers listening?) I do want to take more care in my everyday life and try and do my bit for the environment.

At the start of the book Dick and his family undergo a green audit, to look at their lives as they were, and work out how they could do better. They then did a review at the end of the year to see how far they'd come. I decided to do my own mini green audit, and look at someways I can improve.


Starting with a category I am hopefully not too bad at. Living in London means neither James or I have a car, and we use public transport almost exclusively to get around. I also have a bike, although I mainly ride for fun rather than to get from A to B. Neither of us have been on a longhaul flight since about 2008 (and that was just me - I don't think James has ever flown long haul!) and in the last couple of  years I have only flown for work, to Ireland and the Isle of Man.

Before sounding too virtuous though, we do want to travel, we just haven't had the funds recently as James has been a student and we were saving to buy the house. 

Use my bike more for transport, and look into carbon offsetting or other methods of reducing emissions when we do travel. Continue to travel abroad sparingly, and avoid planes where possible.

Household and Energy

Our house is significantly larger than the flat we used to live in, and the open plan living area means it is a bit of a pain to heat. I am firmly in the 'If you are cold that means you aren't wearing enough jumpers' brigade, so we do keep the heating off most of the time, but it is inevitable in winter. The house is a Victorian terrace, and things like insulation is ok but not great, I think it could certainly be improved.

One thing I did start doing after I read the book is using the eco settings on our dishwasher and washing machine, and we still hand wash a good proportion of our washing up anyway, since we don't have loads of cutlery and we run out before the dishwasher is full! We try to dry our washing outside wherever possible, and it helps that the tumble dryer smells horrible so we never use it.

Look into insulating the house better. Find less toxic alternatives to my current cleaning products.


I definitely am not as green as I could be when it comes to food. I always end up throwing things away that have gone off not matter how hard I try to plan my meals, and I'm not great at buying organic. Plus the amount of packaging which comes with the food is probably 90% of what I throw away each week.

We usually have our food delivered as we don't have a car, but this means we end up with mountains of plastic bags (many more than we would use on a trip to the shops) which I store in an overflowing cupboard as I don't want to throw them away!

Get better at meal planning so I don't end up throwing so much away. Reorganise the fridge so I can see what is going out of date and actually eat it before it does. Choose less perishable foods where possible eg frozen veg. No more bagged salad! Choose loose or recyclable packaging where possible.


In terms of reduce, reuse and recycle, I am ok at recycling but pretty poor at the other two. Most of our waste comes from food and other packaging, and although I'm ok at separating out the recyclables and food waste into different bins, I could be more scrupulous.

Make sure everything which can be recycled is recycled. As above try and buy food and other things with minimal packaging. When we redo the garden, get a compost bin going.

Clothes & Furnishing

Being a lover of vintage the majority of our furniture is second hand. I try and not buy things from too far afield to save on transport (and costs) and I'm furnishing our house slowly, to avoid making mistakes and buying things we don't need.

Clothing wise I haven't been great in the past when it comes to disposable fashion, and I have bought a lot of clothes which have been worn to death fairly quickly. This is something I've talked about trying to change and I want to buy more quality pieces which will actually last.

I always charity shop, car boot or ebay old clothes that I don't want, unless they are completely wrecked, in which case they go to the textile recycling bank nearby.

Invest in good quality lasting clothes and furniture, which are ethically made where possible or second hand. Stop buying heap disposable things completely.

I know that my goals are just scratching the surface of what I probably should be doing, but it is a start, and if you have any tips or suggestions for me as I start to try and live a more sustainable life I'd definitely appreciate it in the comments.


Sarah said...

Hi Harriet! I really enjoyed this post, lately I have been starting to feel like I need to do more towards leading a greener life and this has really inspired me! I think everyone should look at how they can make even just little changes in their lifestyle as they can make a difference. I look forward to seeing how you get on with your goals. Good luck!:)

char said...

This is a really great idea, I haven't read the book but it sounds like one to read. I could do with some goals like this, as well.

Chloe Martin-Brown said...

A pretty cool sentiment, and we should probably all be more mindful of how green or not our lifestyles are. I'm pretty sure I get most of my points in cycling for my commute and about generally, and we're now growing a lot of our own salad... or attempting to at least.

Lily Lipstick said...

I am trying to be better about recycling rather than shoving everything in the same bin out of laziness! Although I've stopped drinking ridiculous quantities of Diet Coke now so I don't have as many empty cans as I used to! x

Charlotte {theteapotexplodes} said...

I try to live a relatively green and sustainable lifestyle but the food packaging is what drives me insane! Try an organic veg box from Riverford or Able & Cole as they're great and not more expensive than regular supermarkets. x Charlotte

Matthew Pike said...

i think that it's great that you can recongise where you can improve, setting goals like this is a good idea.

i cycle a lot, everywhere as i don't have a car. hollie drives but she works out of town. plastic bags are pretty bad, especially when you order in. one tin of beans in one bag, ahhhh!!!

Buckets & Spades

SJP said...

These all sound like great goals! For energy you might want to try switching providers - we switched to Good Energy last year as they are a lot greener. We also got our roof insulated for around £30 after spotting a deal on Groupon - worth looking out on those kinds of sites for eco deals :)

Style Eyes said...

Some great goals. I agree it is not always easy but every little helps! I am not so good on the transport thing as I live a way from work and have to drive and definitely need to try and shop more locally for food.