Out with the Old and In with the New
This is the time of year when we are urged to make our New Year Resolutions. No doubt you have already seen lists and tips on self-improvement: how to lose half a stone, how to reduce your drinking and how to fit more exercise into your life.
These are all excellent aims, and if you can stick to them, we salute you.
We rather like the T.S.Eliot quote,
"Every moment is a fresh beginning."
But that's not to say that we don't feel that a new year is as good a time as any to contemplate our habits and consider a change or two. However, rather than improving ourselves, we want to think of improving the planet.
As has been repeated many times, 2020 was a year like no other. While the restrictions around COVID were just that - restricting our normal lives (if you can think back to what normal actually is!) -in some ways those very restrictions pushed us into doing things differently have had a positive effect.
Did you see the headlines from the Global Carbon Project, released at the beginning of December?
The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic has driven the biggest annual fall in CO2 emissions since World War Two. Emissions have declined by around 7% this year, with the UK and France seeing the greatest falls, mainly due to severe shutdowns in response to a second wave of infections.
We don't want to burst our own bubble, but we should point out that 7% is not nearly enough. Richard Betts, head of climate impacts research at the Met Office says this will barely make a dent in the ongoing build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
He says that we need to stop putting CO2 into the atmosphere altogether, not just put it there more slowly, and says it's like filling a bath. We have turned the tap down slightly, but not turned it off. The water is still rising, just not as fast.
So we need to do more, but let's start by noticing changes we have made due to the pandemic.
We are cycling more now than pre-COVID.
We are not driving long distances
We have more time to shop locally for food and more time to cook from scratch.
And we have not stepped on to a plane at all this year.
So, that's all good, but let's not stop there. What else might we do this coming year?
Number 1: Veganuary
This is really a no-brainer. It has been said that eating a vegan diet could be the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on earth. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce your carbon footprint from food by up to 73%.
And, even better, help is easily at hand. Just sign up at the Veganuary website.
We like the idea of committing to something new for a month, rather than a whole year. It's long enough to feel worthwhile, but not so long that you feel doomed to failure before you even begin.
Once we are established on our vegan diet, we can turn our attention to
Number 2: Visible Mending
This one will probably be a bit more trial and error.
Clothing is another huge contributor to our carbon footprint and we decided long ago to buy new clothes only when absolutely necessary. That's not to say you see us wearing the same thing day after day. No, no, no, but more than 90% of our clothes are second hand. So, we have already extended the life of those clothes, but we also carry out little repairs when necessary so we can wear them even longer - or pass them on to someone else.
But here's the thing. Our sewing and mending skills are pretty basic really. We can sew on a button, take up a hem and have recently learned to darn a hole, but that's about the extent of it.
It's the darning that got us on to visible mending. What is visible mending? It is just what it says. Instead of hiding the mending stitches, you use contrasting coloured thread and make a feature of the mending.
This is fairly new to us but we can show you an example from our Community Wardrobe. We received a lovely lambswool jumper that had a whole at the neck.
Darning it in the traditional sense would have led to a rather ugly and very visible repair that we couldn't hope to hide. But look what we did.
Blanket stitching not only mended the hole, it made the jumper so much more stylish.
Not quite the same thing, but when we ripped our jacket, carelessly carrying a sharp piece of wood while wearing it, we knew we could never sew that very thin material.
So we covered up the rip with a Harris Tweed label. Harris Tweed is such an iconic label, we love it. And if anyone from the Harris Tweed Authority is reading this, we assure you we are not trying to mislead anyone on the provenance of our jacket!
For more help with invisible mending, look at one of our favourite websites, Love Your Clothes.
So that's what we are planning, but to get a bit more encouragement, we asked around to see if anyone else was making any green resolutions. Turns out they are!
I am not going to buy bread this year, I am going to make my own. This will cut down on plastic
I am changing my toilet roll to one made with plant based or recycled materials. Remember if you buy one with twice as much paper on each toilet roll you are reducing the number of cardboard cores needed. And if it's wrapped in paper, rather than plastic, even better.
I am getting my milk delivered to my doorstep Ah, the original recycling. Does anyone else remember washing out the milk bottle and leaving them on the doorstop? If you can't get your milk delivered, you may be able to buy it from an independent, possibly zero waste shop, where you can take back the bottle
I am going to use refillable cleaning products. Another great way to cut down on plastic. You will probably also get more environmentally-friendly products
I have just started work in a new office and am going to give everyone there a mug so they don't buy their coffee in a disposable cup every single day. This one was said with feeling! It's a great way to encourage everyone when just mentioning their very un-environmentally friendly habit has not worked