For a while, I’ve tried to be more green. I wrote my dissertation 4 years ago on the environmental effect of touring a show, and it really opened my eyes as to how much energy I use – both directly and by proxy. Since then, I’ve come to realise that I, single-handedly cannot turn the theatre industry into a shining beacon of green eco-friendlyness. It’s just too much work. I can, however, do my little bit to try to reduce the effect I have on the planet.
Bit by bit, I’ve been changing my lifestyle choices to try to lower my footprint. There are so many wonderful blogs out there giving you handy hints and tips for reducing your waste, but obviously it’s easier said than done! As inspiring as these blogs are, only you truly know how easy and economical it would be for you to try to go green, and a lot of the posts assume certain things about the facilities around you, and your lifestyle. It’s not possible to put a solar-powered energy source in my home because I rent. I can’t compost my veg because I wouldn’t have a use for the compost. There are no refilling stations for things like cereals and fabric softener near me – in fact I don’t think there are any in England! Also, England is freezing, and I need to put the heating on, as inefficient as it might be, because I cannot put more insulation in my flat. Sometimes I forget to bring my water bottle or my thermal flask to work so I end up buying a few bottles of smart water or a cardboard coffee cup – but I’m trying! Many small changes over a period of time are easier than a huge lifestyle change – so this isn’t a handy hints post, or my advice to you. This is simply what I’m doing to try to change and get that bit greener!
No more cotton pads
I had a huge amount of face cloths and bath towels going spare, so I cut and hemmed them into smaller squares. Some are used for cleansing and toning my face, rather than using cotton wool pads while others are used as cleaning cloths in general, rather than using kitchen roll or Wilko’s wipes. I do feel that these would have been easier to make if I had a sewing machine, because hemming them by hand was so dull, so I don’t see myself making loads more of them at home – but they are useful, and they mean I’m not buying (and throwing away!) loads of plastic wrapped cotton pads!
Unwrapped fruit and veg
I’m not doing as well with this one. While I’m happy to take home things like bananas, avocado, oranges and melons in a tote bag, I’m still likely to pick bagged fruit and veg when it comes to things you’d eat the skin of. Peppers have to be in a packet. Apples have to be in a packet. Broccoli and cauliflower has to be in a packet….but I’m getting there. I find if I’m shopping at a farm shop, which I don’t do often because I live in the city centre but I do get the chance to do occasionally, I will buy a loose pepper etc, but the thought of all the city germs and Tesco bugs sitting on the skin of my veg is something I can’t quite get over yet. Maybe one day!
Carrying Tote Bags
The toxic plastic bag is well-known, and is probably the worst offender on the planet – but they’ll keep getting made, and they’ll keep getting tossed away, because people still use them. If I know I’m off out to do a shop, I’ll bring as many canvas tote bags as I can. I always have one or two in my work bag just in case I pop to the supermarket after a show. My issue is the unexpected shop – when you’ve had to go shopping without it being planned so you don’t have your bags. I’ve started leaving tote bags in my other bags, and some in work for when I run out on a lunch break. Of course, sometimes you do end up needing to buy a plastic bag, and I’m lucky in the sense that, should I have to buy a plastic bag, I know we will find a use for it in work but if I can help it, the plastic bag will be left on the shelf! I feel like reducing plastic useage is the number 1 green priority, so the sooner I go 100% carrier bag free, the better I will feel.
Make do and mend
I have huge thighs. The average high street pair of jeans isn’t really accommodating of large thighs*, and the average high street pair of jeans certainly isn’t accommodating of having to have your legs at 90 degrees while climbing over a bit of set. I ripped around four pairs of jeans over Christmas climbing over a very awkward set piece, and each time I had to buy a new pair because I was in work and didn’t have the time or the privacy to be able to whip my trousers off and repair them. In the past, I’d have thrown them away because they’re only cheap and because they’re for work, they’re also tax-deductible, but this time I really wanted to mend them. I know mending clothes seems like such an obvious thing to do, but when you have to sew by hand, and you’re pretty rubbish at it, and you live 3 minutes away from a Primark, buying a replacement item seems the easier option! Because of where the tears were, sewing the jeans back together wouldn’t have worked, so I got a pair of leggings that were earmarked for the bin because I’d spilt a lot of Indenden** on them, and used them to patch the jeans. It wasn’t the neatest fix, but it really worked. I don’t think my skills are enough for me to repair shirts or fancy items, but I’d like to think I’m on the right foot.
*I can’t buy a size up because then they’re too big. I can’t buy a size down because even though my waist would fit, my rugby legs woundn’t. It’s definitly the jeans at fault!
** An industrial rubber-paint mixture. It doesn’t half stink, and it never comes off cloth. It hangs around on your nails and cuticles for a long time too.
Of course, I recycle normal items. I always recycled at home, then I had a bit of a dodgy three years when I lived in flats which didn’t have recycling facilities, but now the city council have provided flats and apartments with handy recycling bags that get collected once a week, I’m back to recycling what I can. The council collect paper, card, plastic, and glass ; your usual household waste. However, a huge chunk of my household waste is batteries. (I get them for free from work half-used, and I squeeze every bit of juice I can from them.) Councils don’t let you chuck your AAs into your blue wheelie bin yet, and batteries are buggers. If binned, they run the risk of exploded or leaking battery acid into the environment and poisoning the soil, as well as contaminating other materials around them that could have been recycled otherwise. Batteries, like electricals, have to be taken to a local waste centre to be disposed of properly, but most people just chuck them in the bin. To combat this, lots of supermarkets actually have a battery recycling bin in their stores. While saving up your batteries and then carting them to your local shop can be a bit of an inconvenience, I think it’s better than the alternative! I have a small box that I keep out of sight, which I empty once every two weeks into my closest Tesco. It doesn’t seem like a big gesture, but it’s so much better for the planet!
(N.B – I know rechargeable batteries would be better in that they cut down on packaging waste too, but as mentioned, I don’t buy my batteries, I get them half-used from work so in a way, my packaging is down anyway!)
It’s very easy to feel guilty when you slip up, and don’t recycle something; or buy a bottle of water when you didn’t need to, but every little action has a huge effect. If everyone just brought a water bottle with them two days a week instead of buying bottled water, the impact would be huge. So don’t feel like you’ve made a mistake when you have to get a carrier bag, just be pleased with yourself the next time you remember to bring a canvas one! Every little helps!
Do you try to make the greener choice? What’s do you do that you think is the most useful?