What I’ve switched to doing is mainly using them for dry goods like bread or snacks or leftover waffles. The snacks just get refilled with the same type of snack until they wear out. The other ones get the crumbs shaken out and reused until they get dirty enough I’m not comfortable using them further.
My thought is that we are only going to make significant change when policy and the people start to approach climate change in the same manner as a home front war effort.
What happened in the WWs?
People turned their front yards to gardens
Certain materials especially petroleum based,were rationed
Reusing and repurposing was required due to rationing
People who cheated on these things were socially shamed because they knew it had impact on their loved ones.
I don’t want people’s freedoms infringed upon, however it hurts to see how erratic global weather is RIGHT NOW and how little fear there is because of it. I totally believe there will be water wars in my lifetime. If you have any science background you know the crazy amount of energy required to heat just the moisture in the volume of air around the entire globe and it’s mind boggling. People are literally dying because of the way modern life is structured, with processes and results so broken down to efficient single step parts so you don’t have to live with immediate consequences.
So I try my best. I don’t use plastic wrap, baggies, sponges. I don’t own a car, live small*, and buy secondhand first, or well made long lasting products new. But I also live somewhere that is stupidly cold and far away and I’m sure all effort is moot when considering the extra heating (mostly hydro at least) fuel to drive up food and other products, and airline flights involved with living here.
I’m any case, the million bit and small things I do feel futile. Everytime I recycle and look in the dumpster next to it and see things that could have gone in one of the bins next to it with an extra 2 seconds of care. Or choose to live small but see enitire suburbs of 4000sqft on acreage hallway up a mountain for 2 people, and knowing one of them, they fly to another county once a week for work.
At a personal level, you are fighting against a huge weight of human history that has lead you to the current lifestyle, products, etc. Some of it is habit, some is systems you can’t avoid and still live a full life. If the city hasn’t been built to accommodate walking, and you refuse to drive, you can’t buy food. If the city is based on feeding it’s citizens via shipping in food, you’re out of other options to stay alive, and then there you are stuck at step one.
**** Housing is the #1 thing you can do imo because it’s passive. Live small because every day you are heating that space by burning fuel and filling it with object you probably don’t really need. Even hydro has deisel or coal back or infill. Live close to work and choose places that have transit option. Choose to retrofit old buildings or build brownfield because they already have embodied energy inherent to them even if it’s more expensive that greenfield or teardown.
If there is a like button for an entire thread, I want to select it!
On a personal level, I’m aiming to:
fly less <— doing ‘ok’ this year, but it’s an ongoing challenge due to international family/close friends
Eat no or almost no factory farmed meat, chicken or dairy <— doing very well on meat/chicken, doing ok but not nearly good enough on this for dairy for myself or at all for Muppet (because of cost/laziness on my end)
Be zero waste or at least zero plastic waste <— improving, still a long way to go (I have less than 1 trash bag per week right now)
These are the things likely to matter the most. I do a lot of “little” ticket things:
Driving a hybrid & steadily reducing mileage driven
Mindful use of household electricity (bulbs, not leaving things on, running appliances when full, etc.)
Reusing bags at store
Predominantly vegetarian diet
Living in location that require less climate control and no AC
Living in location that supports/promotes policies (getting rid of single use plastics, supporting recycling, composting, etc.)
I agree that pushing for larger change is way more important than any of the individual things. I agree with people who have pointed out that it was a calculated capitalistic decision to shift environmental and sustainability choice/blame to the individual, which allows larger corporations to avoid paying for the damage they are causing. I’m definitely not doing enough as an activist or even concerned citizen to join others taking on this cause.
I haven’t had a chance to fully read/process all of the replies but I want to jump in here so I remember to come back later as this is something I think about a lot and I’m happy to see so many nuanced and respectful responses. Like many people here I struggle with the small things I can do vs the larger systematic things I can advocate for. I’m also on my way to Trader Joes in a few minutes and the plastic there drives me crazy but it’s in walking distance whereas I’d have to drive to a place with bins of nuts/grains/etc.
One of the things I’ve done recently is to start composting (vermicomposting in my apartment…I love my little worms!!). We also live in a pretty temperate climate and only turn on heating or cooling for about 2 weeks a year when the indoor temperatures get above 85F or below 55F.
Since we’re thinking about buying a house in the next year or so my biggest debate has been whether it’s more environmentally friendly to buy a condo in our city center or a SFH a few miles away.
Overall I support denser housing and it would keep us a little closer to public transportation and restaurants/groceries/etc. but most of the places around here have insane condo fees with pools and ‘nice’ landscaping that is water intensive. Plus there’s a lack of space to DIY things and a lack of control since you have to go through a condo board to make changes.
If we bought a single family home we could xeroscape, add solar panels, get an electric vehicle, have storage for tools so I could build more things, have a garden to offset some food transportation and possibly have a back house with renters that would add some density (and income!). I dislike biking (I know… ) but it’s possible that I could get an ebike and replace my walks to the grocery story in the city center with a bike ride instead.
…So clearly I have lots of thoughts but not many answers!
My partner and I have been working on this for about a year or so now… I have been vegan for about 12 years, but I discovered that my carbon footprint was still Not Great
We live just the two of us (well, us and the animals) in a semi-detached house. My partner has stopped eating non-fish meat, and mostly eats vegan in the house (since I do the cooking).
Some other stuff we have done/are doing:
- We are SO lucky to have a local community co-op where we get re-fills on washing-up-liquid, and laundry liquid/fabric conditioner. We can also buy a lot of zero-waste stuff (rice, dried things, bar soap, etc).
- I use solid shampoo and conditioner after a bit of a hit & miss period of trying new ones out.
- I’m using Lush henna on my hair now instead of dye and honestly it’s amazing and I’m never going back.
- I am failing at deodorant though - I tried a bar one from Lush and I was smelly in about 28 hours. So I’m still using a plastic stick one for now because I draw the line at body odour.
- We’ve switched to Tupperware and paper bags for sandwiches.
- We’ve switched to an eco-friendly energy provider. This is actually cheaper because the company generates so much electricity via wind power that it can sell it back to the grid.
- My partner and I both have blogs hosted with a wind-powered company
- We don’t have a car and both use bikes (I use an e-bike because I have Various Health Conditions). My partner hired an electric cargo bike a while back when he needed to shift a huge thing from one place to another.
- We’re resolving not to fly anymore except super long haul (my partner wants to visit Japan for his 50th in 3 years which I’m saving up for). We’re planning a rail trip around Europe this year and my partner is biking the Outer Hebrides for 10 days next month.
- We’re trying to buy less ‘stuff’ generally
- We get a seasonal veg box delivered weekly (and try not to waste any of it! I am terrible for this.)
- We recycle everything our local council allows (which isn’t everything so there is some stuff going to landfill).
- A self-imposed rule not to buy new stationery, books, or tech unless I used up what I have first. (Or, if I REALLY want a book, library or Kindle.)
- I got rid of my coffee pod machine and use a cafetiere now.
- Allllll the tote bags.
- Recently we switched to more environmentally cat food! I used Ethical Consumer to figure out what was best. (Also “Carbon Pawprint” is the cutest.)
I still have guilty pleasures like Violife vegan cheese (so much plastic) and yoghurts and out of season produce. We are VERY lucky to have such great resources (we’re just north of Manchester, UK) and we do try our best.
I agree with those above saying that advocating for systemic change is pretty much the most vital thing, though I still hear David Attenborough in my ear whenever I’m about to splurge on something with a massive carbon footprint… I prefer to do what I can within my means and that also influences the people around me if I’m lucky
One of the best articles about being more eco-friendly that I read recently is this one: https://moralfibres.co.uk/why-you-shouldnt-throw-things-away-in-the-name-of-sustainability/