I definitely wouldn’t say that I am an expert on ethical living, being environmental conscious or doing things 100% right, 100% of the time. No, I wouldn’t say that at all. What I do know is that when I started out on this journey I had no idea where to start OR what I was doing. That’s when I came across The Ethical Unicorn. I found her style of writing non-preachy and like she was there to help me find my way step by step. I highly recommend her blog. She’s got a post on there called The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Ethical Living, where she has listed out a range of tips and tricks to help make ethical living possible. In this post I’d like to talk through some of the things that I’ve done off that list and how it’s made me feel.
She made a really good point about habits and processes that we all have set up – they are based around convenience and what we’re used to. Our systems or habits are designed by us to make our lives easy. The Ethical Unicorn was 100% right, I cared about doing something and about making positive ethical change for years but I didn’t make the time for it because I knew that it would be mean upsetting my established routine. Then it hit me, I had to ‘change’ and I had to accept that with change comes a change in the status quo BUT if I was doing it for the right reasons then the benefit to me would be huge. I knew I had to change but I needed to firstly find where I could make quick wins.
I started by breaking down my days…
I woke up with my heating coming on around 6am, showered (sometimes those showers could be up to 20 minutes), I’d use shampoo, conditioner and then a body scrub, followed by a towel dry off, moisturising using an array of lotions and potions before commencing my daily skin routine and then drying my hair.
Now this is probably just an hour of my day but there were some huge changes that I could and have made.
Firstly, my heating ONLY comes on in the winter, otherwise I put on a jumper and it’s only on while I am in the house. I’m moving house in a few months but we’ve ensured that we’ve solar panels on the roof of our house and the plan is to opt for an energy supplier that offers renewable energy.
Then we get to the shower… I’ve changed from plastic bottled shampoo/conditioner to shampoo blocks from LUSH alongside that I’ve changed my body scrub to a natural block body scrub too. Again, these are from LUSH as I find I love the smells and they work really well. I’ve also started to change my shower habits… I’d wash my hair every day and now I’m down to three times a week, firstly that’s better for my hair but it also means that I am using less water. However, I do work out daily and I do believe in washing my body every day so instead of leaving the shower running while I apply my scrub/wash, I turn the shower off and do what I need to do and then rinse off. That way I am wasting a lot less water.
Again, these are small changes – BUT I’ve gone from using plastic bottles to eliminating plastic out of my shower completely and I’ve reduced the amount of water I’m using, all by just being a bit more aware.
Then we get to skin routines and moisturising. The funny thing is, this is a habit that I have really struggled with. For me moisturising is important for my overall body maintenance but now it has become about choosing the right products that sit well with me. I’ve gone down the route of cruelty-free and recyclable packaging. The Body Shop do a great range of products and their Almond Milk Body Yogurt is a firm favourite of mine. The Body Shop prides itself on being cruelty-free and additionally offer a recycling service which means that I can take my pots back into the store and they will recycle them for me. In terms of my skin products, I used to use Kiehl’s, it was beautifully packaged and smelled so lovely HOWEVER after researching into the products themselves, I discovered that Kiehl’s sell into China which means that their products are not cruelty-free. Now I suffer from really bad adult acne which meant that it’s taken time for me to find the right products that are cruelty free but that support my skin. I went down the route of Envrion, The Body Shop, REN, Dermalogica, Alpha-H and Evolve. All of these are cruelty free and additionally some of the products can be recycled/or are made from recycled materials. This again is a work in progress but at least now I know everything that I use it NOT tested on animals and the packaging can be recycled. Finally, I’ve just invested in NATIVE deodorant rather than using high street brands as I wanted to go for a natural product that was cruelty-free.
Now let’s look at drying my hair. I’ve made an active choice to let my hair dry naturally as much as I possible can. There are occasions when I need to use a hair dryer but I am really mindful of the impact of a hair dyer on the environment. I invested in a Dyson Supersonic, quite simply because I have a lot of hair and it dries it quickly so it’s efficient but also because having read the Dyson CSR Overview, there was a lot in there about what they are doing to combat their environmental impact comparatively to other brands. While I appreciate that there is still an impact on the environment, I’ve gone for a brand that I think is doing their bit in comparison to other companies and it is possible to recycle my Dyson appliance too. I’m also choosing to dry my hair A LOT less which in turn is going to add value. I also chose the Dyson hair dyer with the aim of longevity, hoping that this hair dyer will last me a long time and not need continually replacing.
It’s incredible that within one hour of my day there were so many small changes that I could make that were easy enough to do.
Then when I examined the rest of my day, I saw there were other changes that I could make.
I have to drive 60 minutes to work each day which I can do nothing about at the moment. I live in the countryside and have to drive to get anywhere BUT what I have chosen to do is offset my carbon footprint each month using the Woodland Trust Carbon Calculator and each month now, I use part of my salary to offset my carbon footprint with my drive to work. In fact, I do that with most of the journeys that I make. The money given to the Woodland Trust is used to plant trees or maintain forests.
When I started on this journey, my sister kindly bought me my own set of wooden cutlery, a bamboo straw & metal straw, metal water bottle and reusable coffee cup. All of which I take with me everywhere. I now no longer use cling film, opting for beeswax wraps instead and my lunch resides in my Bamboo lunchbox or my stainless steel tupperware. I’ve also chosen to meal prep each week to ensure that I reduce my food wastage and ensure that I used everything in my fridge. Instead of choosing to buy food from the supermarket – as much as possible, I’ve started to buy local. Choosing to go to the market on a Saturday morning to get all my fresh produce.
These are just the basics to help me towards a zero waste and ethical lifestyle and there is plenty more that I could do and will do.