Sustainability Secrets

By Rose Langbein

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Sustainability Secrets

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about climate change. It feels very real and very scary, especially here in Portugal where there have been so many heat waves and wildfires. It’s so easy to get lost in despair and feel powerless. I often find myself thinking — is it just going to get hotter and hotter?! How will we survive!? When will it end!? At which stage I want to get into a ball and go back to bed for the day.

As an antidote to that, I like to think of small changes you can make in your own life everyday that can make you feel a little less powerless. To those who say “but one person makes no difference” — if the only thing you can control is your own actions, then you owe it to yourself, and to others, to do your best. No-one will ever be perfect or completely consistent — sometimes I do drink coffee in a takeaway cup :( but trying is better than giving up entirely.

I’m not going to lecture you on all the ways you could be acting differently when it comes to sustainability. Rather, here’s some things I have found to be useful. Compost! Eat less meat and dairy! Eat local! If something has come all the way from the other side of the world, then try to avoid it! Change your energy provider to one that is regeneratively sourced! Think about packaging when buying food — the less plastic, the better. Think of all the little decisions you make as small wins — one less thing to end up in landfill.

As most of you probably know, eating less meat and dairy is one really easy way to reduce your food footprint. I really struggle with dairy — I love cheese so much. So, I try to buy goat and sheep cheeses, and cheeses from small, local, organic producers. If you love red meat, then try switching to local lamb or venison.

Reducing the amount of food you waste is another great way to cut down on your food footprint. Having a couple of good recipes up your sleeve is an excellent way to save sad vegetables — try throwing them into a frittata, fried rice, or soup, to ensure that nothing gets wasted.

You can still have the things you love — just enjoy them mindfully, buy the best that you can afford, try not to have them everyday, and save them as a treat (they taste better that way too).

Some Ideas on How to Use Less and Reduce Waste in Your Home

• Make your own household cleaner by mixing 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda with 8 cups water in a spray bottle.

• Composting your food scraps is one of the simplest and most effective actions you can take to reduce the amount of rubbish that ends up in landfill. If you can't compost at home, find a local program you can get involved with. I like to keep my compost in the freezer to minimise odour.

• Invest in a few reusable items that will help you be more sustainable when you are eating and drinking on the go (keep cup, waterbottle, lunchbox, cutlery, straw).

• Research brands before you buy, and try support local sustainable companies whenever you can.

• The more you can cook or craft at home from scratch, the less packaging you’ll be bringing into your house. Making yoghurt and cheeses is very easy, and you’ll never buy plastic boxes of sprouts and microgreens again once you know how easy it is to grow them on the windowsill.

• Remember to use your own carry bags to the supermarket so you don’t take single use bags—don’t forget smaller bags for fruit and vegetables.

• Support farming families in your community and build relationships with the people who grow your food by shopping at local farmers markets.

• Next time you declutter, don’t throw out household items that you no longer use. Give them another life and reduce waste doing into landfill by reselling them online, donating them to a charity shop, or local Facebook page.


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