What’s The Point?
It’s probably worth taking a step back and having a quick think about why this is important.
On a very simple level, in the West, we consume way more resources than the planet can sustain.
Earth Overshoot Day tells us, each year, the day in which we have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the whole year – through overfishing, overharvesting forests and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than forests can absorb. This year, it was 2nd August globally, but 4th May for the UK, showing we have a way to go. This isn’t about making you feel bad – but we have to be realistic about where we’re at before we can look at how to improve!
Where To Start - Three Things You Can Do
This month is all about having a think and taking stock of where you’re at. We promise that this isn’t about deprivation – your life doesn’t need to be less, because you choose to live with less. By getting rid of all the unnecessary stuff we all accumulate, you can free up your time, & money, to focus on the really important things.
The 5R’s are a great a way to think about how to make changes. First, and most important, is Refuse and we’ll be showing you in future blogs how to refuse all sorts of junk that clutters up your life. After that comes Reduce – what are the things you can get rid of that you don’t really need? Reuse is really important – there are all sorts of things you can reuse, for example your own containers at the Unpackaged section in Planet’s Muswell Hill branch. Recycling comes much further down the list of priorities than people think, as prevention is much better; in future blogs we’ll be showing you all sorts of services for recycling every day items you never knew existed. And finally Rot – that’s composting, or food waste to you and me, and there are lots of ways you can do it at home, if you’re not already.
A great film to watch is The Story of Stuff – a 20 minute online film that makes the link between how we consume and a huge number of environmental & social issues. It’s not all depressing, promise - it will make you laugh too so if you only do one thing this month, why not sit down with your flatmates or family to watch it together and use it to spark a discussion about what you really care about, and how you can work together to achieve it.
By this stage, you might be looking around your house and wondering how to tackle the clutter. So, we have a couple of ideas to start:
As its Zero Waste Week (4th – 10th Sept), why not have a go at seeing how much waste you produce – you can download their handy DIY Bin Audit and use it to start keeping track of your waste – their newsletter is full of handy tips to reduce.
Also, why not buy (a second hand or eBook) copy of Marie Kondo’s book – The Life Changing Magic of Tidying? We’ve used her method to declutter and can’t recommend it enough. According to Kondo, anything that doesn’t make you happy, or isn’t absolutely necessary should be touched, thanked & sent on its way. Although the trick isn’t then to replenish with loads more stuff (watch the film and you won’t!)
We’ll be back in a month with a focus on sustainable food shopping - please do share your comments or suggestions below as we’d love to know how you’re getting on. If you have any specific questions ,or things you’d like help with, please leave a comment below and we’ll help you out as best we can!
Catherine Conway is the founder of Unpackaged, the first Zero Waste grocery which she opened in London in 2006 and now operates as part of Planet Organic Muswell Hill.