Back in the days of WWII, when British people were faced with adapting or starving, they came up with ingenius ways to cope. From drinking coltsfoot instead of Ceylon tea to girls using gravy-browning and eyeliner on their legs to fake seamed stockings, our grandparents were nothing if not adaptable. Without knowing it, they became the first environmentally-friendly generation.
To eat healthily during rationing, many people turned their gardens into vegetable patches and kept chickens. Food waste was collected and used to feed pigs, and any surplus harvest was pickled, chutneyed or dried. Anything that could be re-used, such as bottles and jars, was. Even scraps of paper were kept, neatly folded, for some unspecified future use.
The resources to replicate their environmentally-friendly lifestyle haven’t evaporated. Things just got easier for us. With anything we want available online, with disposable packaging so freely used in manufacturing, and water, energy and fuel so ‘on tap’ that we don’t even think about it, it’s understandable that we take it all for granted. But it won’t be here forever. If we use all these resources at the rate we are, they will eventually fail. No news there.
When we think about the number of people, and industries, putting pressure on the planet it’s hard to imagine how one individual can change anything. And we can’t. Not one individual. But if a large number of individuals make small changes to their lives, and think about how they use everyday resources, then change can happen.
The point is, we are all, individually, responsible for the future of the planet, and there’s a lot of advice online about just how to do it.
As well as these useful tips, simple things like re-using packaging can help. I use fruit punets as planting trays for my herbs. Microwaveable take-away containers can be washed, kept and used over and over. Re-using things is the best solution for packaging, recycling is the next. The landfil bin is the last resort for any of your waste.
Re-use carrier bags, or better still, purchase dedicated bags for your shopping.
Re-use foil trays as baking or freezer trays.
Put your grass clippings in a corner of the garden, so it can rot down to form mulch to feed your flower/veggie patch.
Plant insect-friendly herbs and flowers.
Don’t buy more food than you can use.
Buy local grown.
Get a dehydrator and dry any surplus fruit or veg to keep for later.
Eat more fruit and veg. It takes less energy to grow vegetables than to grow an animal for food.
With these changes, you reduce your carbon footprint, and every little step will eventually turn into a long, fruitful journey.