Setting aside an afternoon of free time to buy and mix the ingredients to create environmentally friendly, non-toxic cleaning product substitutes is a noble pursuit.
But it requires a particular type of person.
Those with a laudable, singular commitment to the well-being of the environment, nascent terrorists and the bereaved.
But between environmental zeal and the fuckwit’s mantra that the planet will outlive me so fuck the planet, there’s a vast middle ground.
In the first of two parts we look at how, without doing anything drastic, we can alter our approach to fashion, food and beauty to significantly reduce our carbon emissions.
Creating, transporting and washing new clothes accounts for 5% of the UK’s annual carbon emissions, according to The Carbon Trust.
So while no one’s saying we should stop buying new stuff, we can definitely help the environment by doing more with what’s already out there.
The more committed members of the green movement advocate washing clothes and sheets in cold water by hand. But most of us don’t live virtuously enough to relinquish the boil wash.
But we can avoid the hellish roar of the tumble dryer, reduce our carbon emissions and simply let our clothes dry naturally.
This doesn’t mean you have to channel 2007 Sienna Miller or look like a Sotheby’s intern.
I was recently in pre-loved store Sellier Knightsbridge which had a bounty of pocket-friendly, killer gear, for women, by Dior, Givenchy, Prada, Lanvin and many others.
We could definitely be making more of pre-loved consignment fashion like this with stores dotted around London and the rest of the country.
Borrow and Beg
Tell your friends who have ludicrous amounts of clothes that if they don’t want their grandchildren to melt in acid rain, they should start lending you some of their stuff so you can reduce your carbon foot print on the high street.
Consignment and vintage stores are always hungry for product. They run a tight ship, but they pay cash-in-hand.
And don’t be shy about trying to flog embarrassing garments. There are people who will happily pay to look preposterous (I myself am one of them)
Go with a friend, sell some stuff and make a few quid.
Then spend your earnings on antique metal detectors, Edwardian letter openers and other such oddities you’ll discover for sale there.
But be careful not to set up store next to grown men selling comic books with their mothers (No good can come of it)
Instead of being a mercenary, you could ignore all the advice above and give your stuff away to charity stores.
It’s well known that the prodigious flatulence of cattle is almost single handedly destroying the planet.
According to a recent Government study, our meat consumption accounts for up to 20% of our green house omissions. 1/2 of this – or 10% of our total carbon footprint – is generated by our consumption of beef and lamb.
Meat Free Days
Most of us agree that we should cut back on meat – and on red meat in particular. Having just two meat free days a week – which really shouldn’t be so hard – would make a significant difference.
And it has the additional advantage of making it less likely that you’ll drop dead prematurely
Organic and Free Range
You don’t have to be a sanctimonious food bore with a hard on for Hugh Fearnley Whittingstal to advocate organic food.
And if you do reduce your overall intake of meat, it’s worth spending the money you’ll save on the good stuff.
By eating local, organic, free range produce, you’re cutting back on the environmental harm caused by transportation, methane and pesticides. And you’re also increasing the quality of your diet and improving the welfare of animals.
Use up Leftovers
At present, we throw out 13 billion pounds worth of food each year in Britain alone, according to gov.uk. The carbon foot print of this is huge. So for a start, we should be slightly less precious about sell by dates; if something is refrigerated and a day or two over, it ought to be fine.
It’s also worth bringing together the odds and ends we have lurking in our fridge and cupboard rather than binning them. So even if that means you’re eating baked beans, pasta and the last two take away spare ribs, so be it.
Grow Your Own
Typically, young people aren’t fervent subscribers to vegetable allotment plot schemes. And most don’t have the space or the inclination to plant and grow their own fruit and veg at home.
But you could buy a window vegetable box that could start yielding leaf lettuce within 30 days. And it could also spurn all manner of more exciting herbs and spices with minimal love and care.
SUSTAINABLE BEAUTY PRODUCTS
Many products cross continents to reach you. And they are frequently made from non-recyclable materials which take up plentiful space in landfill sites.
Especially problematic are deodorant cans and the propellant gas they release into the atmosphere.
As an alternative to this, there’s a committed movement of people who use natural lemon juice under their arms instead.
But remember: you’re not a salad.
There’s also a further group of people who decide to go “natural”. But if you don’t want to engender disgust in fellow commuters or get sexually assaulted by an Alsatian, you’ll need a different course of action.
Go Aluminium Free
Many deodorants contain potentially environmentally damaging chemicals such as aluminium compounds which are aimed at suppressing perspiration.
Try Weleda Sage Deodorant or Tom’s of Maine for much-revered non-aluminium alternatives.
Recycled and Recyclable
Most deodorants are made from plastic which will either end up inside a seagull or take about 450 years to biodegrade.
So it’s not just camper van owners from Newquay who ought to be legitimately concerned by such matters. A good port of call for eco-friendly packaging and materials is The Natural Deodorant Company.
Palm Oil Alert
Palm Oil extract is found in many beauty products and is the enemy of the environment given the deforestation that goes in to its extraction. Try and use products that are palm oil free or palm oil sustainable.
And keep in mind that the burning of fossil fuels is the only collective activity as ruinous as cutting down trees, so you really do want to minimise the part you play in that.