I never thought I’d be the person to become an eco-warrior. Yet nowadays I frequently am concerned about the environment and the legacy we are leaving future generations. It was not always this way. But somehow, over the past years, I’ve become more and more worried about our impact on the earth. Perhaps I could be described as an accidental environmentalist, I have always been keen on saving pennies, which conveniently also involved less consumption and waste.
In the past, you’d rarely hear me describe myself as environmentally conscious, perhaps due to the global warming branding. The idea of global warming seemed almost farcical when you lived in a wet and cold country like the UK. Moreover, I’ve always been a believer in the big bang theory of evolution. Hence, knowing there had been an ice age previously, made me naively believe that any global warming was just part of the Earths natural cycle. As we only live for ~ 85 years, therefore we can only experience a tiny amount of the Earths lifespan. How are we to know if this is normal? And hence make that big distinction – is climate change natural or man-made?
From saving money
One thing I’ve always been good at, as detailed in my financial evolution post, is saving money. One of the first personal finance blogs I found was Mr Money Mustache or MMM to those in the cult. Despite a few attributes that I don’t like, I was very receptive to MMM’s financial philosophy. I finally found my home money wise and had found myself a great role model. Random aside: nowadays I am troubled that most of my financial role models were male, as detailed in this post on female financial mentors for International Women’s Day.
So fully bought into MMM’s money beliefs, I noticed his focused moved to the environment. Initially, the environmentalism used to grate on me – I just didn’t get it. So there I was very keen on saving pennies and living a healthy life, yet I was not able to engage or understand his environmental concerns. I was one of those readers that baulked at the heavy “save the earth” type posts, such as this MMM article on leaving a small footprint.
To saving the planet
Eventually, I then started realising frugality and environmental concerns were kinda aligned. Saving money is also saving the environment in a lot of ways. As an example, buying second hand is a no-brainer financially, and is also much more sustainable for the planet.
Also as I’ve got older, and more socially responsible my priorities have changed. What us humans have done to the planet is horrific. Pictures such as that plastic strewn beach in the South Pacific really frighten me. Moreover, as I’ve never ever littered – I just don’t understand those who just chuck their rubbish out of car windows or fly-tip in the countryside. It’s abhorrent and disrespectful, and I simply cannot fathom how people find this acceptable.
My Lifestyle Nowadays
It’s not surprising to hear how old-fashioned thrifty habits, such as using cloth rather than disposable are better for the environment and create less waste. I’m fully bought into the phrase below, that the intersection between frugality and environmental awareness is very closely correlated.
Thrift = Eco
I’m never going to win any eco-warrior prizes, but I am secretly quite impressed about the following l do automatically without thinking.
- Buy clothes second hand
- Use all energy saving light bulbs
- No disposable wipes/J-cloths etc
- Switch everything electrical off at mains
- No cling film or tin foil – I use Tupperware when possible
- Use flasks to take tea/coffee out of the house
- Rarely get coffee out or takeaway food with packing
- Bring my own bottle for water in the summer
- Don’t bag fruit and veg such as bananas and melons that come with natural protective packaging
- I always carry a reusable bag and never use disposable plastic bags
Moreover, I avoid disposable culture generally and don’t tend to buy a lot or have a lot of packaging etc. But lately, I’ve been on an anti-disposable tirade. The number of plastic cups used once and then sent to landfill is frightening. And plastic cutlery seems to on the rise – now I rebel and carry my own cutlery which I wash and reuse. In addition to personally not using disposable items, I have become of those who guilts people who use plastic cups all day to reduce their consumption or use a bottle. I’m slowly becoming an anti-plastic evangelist.
Maybe one of the reasons I’ve been slow to adopt the environmental cause is that I was never a horrifically bad person environmentally? I’ve never been a big buyer or user of disposable items, due to my kinda frugal nature. Hence my impact on the environment was perhaps not as steep as others? I don’t tend to generate much waste and recycle and compost at home automatically without thinking.
But we’re not talking perfection.
On the other hand, I do love to travel. And I’ll happily jump on a plane without a second thought. I do also own a car – a Prius – which is not strictly necessary. I could still live, work and play without the car. So why do I have it? It makes some things much easier; like going camping. All the best campsites are remote in my opinion, in the countryside. And gardening must be harder without a car – how do you buy compost? Or bark? And day trips to the countryside, National Trust visits and interesting country hikes would be much harder.
My car does have a zone 3 rule.
I do own a car when I don’t actually need a car. I live in outer London, with amazing public transport. It’s no doubt my car is a luxury. It is not allowed to go into Zone 3 London – if I’m heading that way, I need to take public transport. No excuses. As who really want to be stuck in traffic? Not to mention the car makes getting to the airport much easier. And makes day trips to France a possibility.
I love nature
Another reason that I want to do my bit for the environment due to my adoration of nature. I absolutely love getting to the country. Hiking is a fabulous weekend activity. Scaling a mountain and marvelling at its just pure damn amazingness is my kind of fun. The way nature cycles is fascinating – following daily and annual rhythms by itself, without any need for human intervention. I am still amazed that a small seed can grow into a massive tree. That a caterpillar becomes a pretty butterfly. And surely we all remember the story of the Ugly Duckling’s transformation?
So I’ve become an accidental environmentalist. I didn’t mean to land here. Or to be honest I don’t really know how I got here. But here I am, the woman who now chastises people for plastic waste. And religiously practises reduce, reuse and recycling. And you know what, I’m happy playing the eco-conscious hippy. I think it suits me.
Over to you
- What’s your position on climate change?
- Has your position changed over the years?
- How would you rate your current efforts?
Looking forward to your thoughts and ideas – all are welcome.