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Let’s celebrate unspending

17 Nov

All of my American friends and family have been talking up Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving when shops open crazy early offering mad discounts and people lose their heads in the rush to spend, spend spend. Quite frankly, it sounds pretty hellish.

So this year I’ll be happily celebrating conscious unspending instead. Who needs Black Friday when you can have Buy Nothing Day 2012 instead? Just think of all the lovely unshopping you can do, all the brilliant free things in your life which are so much more fun than frantically shopping just because our economy depends on it…Hug someone you love. Read a book (even better if it’s from a library!). Take a walk and look at the sky. Cloud spotting is good for the soul. Or examine a tree. Especially good if the leaves are off and you can actually see the shape of the branches. Mmmm, I’m looking forward to Friday already!

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Easy eco resolutions

4 Jan

The new year is a time of making (and breaking!) resolutions. I think that resolutions can be great – taking the time to review your habits or lifestyle and deciding what you’d like to do differently is interesting and productive. But I don’t like how resolutions can set you up for failure. There’s nothing worse that making a long list of resolutions about the “new you” only to then feel terrible when you wake up in February having not changed anything!

Resolutions should be realistic and achievable. Setting realistic goals then gives you the great satisfaction of achieving them. And small steps can take you on a long journey, if you’re prepared to take it slow.
So here are some my top five easy eco resolutions that will help you have a greener 2012:
1. Bin bottled mineral water. Give up buying bottled mineral water. It’s tremendously expensive compared to tap water and eats up oil to package, store and transport. Not to mention that the bottles are usually sent to landfill so hang around the planet far too long. So buy a reusable BPA-free water bottle (we’ve got some lovely ones from One Green Bottle) and go tap. Chill it overnight in the fridge and bring it to work. Flavour it with slices of lemon or lime. And enjoy all the money you’re saving while you avoid the environmental pollution associated with the bottled water industry.
2. Go cold turkey on plastic bags.  This is perhaps a controversial one, as it takes a lot more energy to make a resusable bags (see Wikipedia for more info) so you need to use your bags as much as possible. But I just hate single use plastic bags. I hate the mindset it encourages – use something once and then chuck it. I hate seeing plastic bags blowing in the street or hanging off trees. And I just love my resuable bags. I use envirosax and I’m a huge fan of them. They’re lightweight but super sturdy – I have two that I’ve used for 4 and half years and they’re still going strong – and very easy to stash in handbags/car/work desk drawer/bike bag so you’re never without a resuable bag. If you do end up with plastic bags, try to reuse them when you’re shopping and recycle them via your supermarket.
3. Consume less. Buying less stuff is a great way to help save the planet. Becoming more conscious in what and how you consume will help you to minimise your waste. In our house we’ve resolved to have (at least) two “buy-nothing days” a week. This should be super easy, with just a little bit of planning in terms of bringing lunch to work and having a dinner meal planned, and will hopefully help us (by saving money) while we help the planet.
4. Avoid meat at least one day a week. Food production is a huge component of global green house gas emissions, with livestock being responsible for most of that (see Meat Free Mondays for more info). So the more meat you eat the bigger your carbon footprint will be. Avoiding meat helps to cut your carbon footprint, with added benefits for your health and your wallet.
5.  Turn down the thermostat. Turning down the thermostat on your heating is a really great way to save both money and energy (see the Energy Saving Trust for more info). If it’s not appealing then consider turning it down gradually, so you can adjust to the heat. So reach for a jumper or cardy if you feel a little chilly. Keep throws and blankets handy for when you’re sitting on the couch. And rediscover the joys of warm flannel pjs.
Small changes can add up to big benefits, so I hope this provides some inspiration on how to make 2012 a greener year. And if you have any eco resolutions or tips I’d love to hear them.

Buy Nothing Day: Give your wallet a rest!

17 Nov
https://i0.wp.com/www.adbusters.org/files/downloads/jpgs/bnd2010-black.jpg

Source: Adbusters

Buy Nothing Day is on 27 November and it’s as simple as it sounds – the aim is to not spend any money for 24 hours. It’s a great way to remember that weekends shouldn’t just be all about shopping, especially with Christmas looming and TV groaning with adverts to try and get us to spend, spend, spend.

Buy Nothing Day highlights the environmental and ethical consequences of consumerism. Particularly the fact that those of us in the developed countries – only 20% of the world’s population – are consuming over 80% of our planet’s resources. Anything that tries to get that message out is A Good Thing in my book.

I try to regularly have buy nothing days, though this isn’t so much a choice as the simple fact that I don’t have much time for shopping on my daily home/work/childminder/home loop! But Buy Nothing Day is a day to celebrate conscious unspending. And unspending is fun if you get creative about it.

We’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving, London-style, this Buy Nothing Day (my husband’s American). So we’ll have to be sure that we don’t run out of anything last minute or we’ll be doing without!