I lead a busy life, in a busy city, surrounded by busy people. I have a car, take flights now and then, buy things, charge my phone, eat out, buy coffee… agh, I am killing the planet!
It is very easy (and tempting) to think, sod it, it’s too hard to make changes that will help the planet, but this week’s blog is about easy things we can all do.
Yes, there are people who are really good at this stuff. They cycle everywhere, never go abroad, eat vegan food, and recycle everything. This blog is for those of us who know we could do a bit more. Sounds like you? Here are 10 painless ways to make a difference:
This week’s blog is written by Becky Alexander, food columnist for The Herts Advertiser.
1. Get involved with the Sustainability Festival starting this week (11 May until 1 June). There are 160 events across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages. Most are free.
2. If you do one thing, make it the Market Takeover on Sunday 19th May on St Peter’s Street. The food will be great – Peddling Pizza, Farr Brew, Pudding Stop, Tara’s Vegan Treats, The Green Kitchen, Redbournbury Mill, Rainforest Creations, Crumbs n’ All and many more. There will be live music, shopping, try out an electric bike, see electric cars and more. The market is on 11-5 – see you there!
3. Book at least one of the cool events during SustFest. How about Dining with a Conscience at Lussmanns St Albans with Rubies in the Rubble; Bread-making for beginners; Bee-keeping; Vegan buffet and quiz night; or the Eat vegan cookery lesson. Dates and info are on sustainablestalbans.org.
4. Try a refill shop. I love The Refill Pantry on London Road – you fill up paper bags or your own containers with all sorts of goodies, from chocolate buttons to granola. Eat WholeFoods in Fleetville and on the market is great too. It’s an easy way to cut back on the amount of single-use packaging you buyBuy your veggies from a local box scheme or farm shop – Box Local are offering a Sustainable Local Produce Box for £16 during SustFest and Carpenters have a 10% discount on all their fruit and veg if you take in a SustFest programme – these are fab places to shop for super-fresh veggies and fruit, so low food miles.
What difference does one water bottle make? Ask 69 million people. *
5. Stop buying water and drinks in plastic bottles. We are lucky to have freely available tap water in our homes and offices; if you don’t like the taste (really?) add cucumber, squash or lemon. Take an old bottle out with you; many places will refill it for you – and if you download the Refill app you can find places around St Albans that have signed up to do this. Did you know St Pancras station has a policy that you can ask any outlet for a water refill?
6. If you’re feeling really guilty take yourself off to a local litter pick or do a beach clean this summer – it’s an eye opener to see how much plastic rubbish lines our streets.
7. If you work in an office do you really need to buy a take-out coffee in a single-use cup? It doesn’t make you look busy and buzzy like in an American police drama; it just looks wasteful. You could save, what, 200 disposable cups a year by taking your own? Even if the cups say they can be recycled or composted, we don’t have enough facilities in the UK. Most are going to landfill and incineration – look it up.
8. Eat veggie and vegan food more often. See my last blog for ideas, but this one is pretty easy. Apparently, Brits eat twice as much protein as we need and eating cows is even worse for the planet than flying. Stop eating beef and that’s an easy change.
9. Recycle your food waste. I do this by putting it in my green caddy in plastic bread bags (you don’t need to buy special bags, the machine shakes it all out). It all goes to the Agrivert site over by Willows Farm. I’ve been on the tour around there and it’s magic. The food waste gets used to make electricity and fertiliser. Easy win. If you fancy the tour to see how they do it sign up during SustFest.
10. Try and grow something. I went to an open edible garden a couple of years back and was inspired; I am not a natural gardener but we now have an apple tree, raspberries, blackcurrants and herbs (borage for your Pimms this summer?). You’ll be chuffed, and its good for wildlife (the slugs loved all my salad leaves). Visit one of the open gardens and allotments during the festival, and ask any questions you like.
I’m still working on stuff, but if we all do something, it’s a start. It’s much easier than gluing yourself to a building.
* Population of the UK, 2019