10 New Year's Resolutions for the Eco-Slacker
We're all busy. None of us has enough time, very few of us have any spare cash, so what can we do to help? The Chair of Sustainable Overton, Ali Zarecky, gives her personal tips on easy changes to make.
And if you're lucky enough to live in Overton (otherwise known as 'God's Own Village, Actually') we're doing all we can to make those changes a little easier.
1. Never Buy a Disposable Cup Again
7 million disposable cups end up in the incinerator or landfill each DAY in the UK. Decide you will not add to this problem in 2022. This is a no-brainer – the hard part is trying to remember your own refillable cup when you are travelling. Maybe keep one in the car or your handbag? Or, if you forget, and are in Overton, use an Overton Cup – just please remember to bring them back for your £1 refund.
If you are brewing at home, consider using Fairtrade tea or coffee. To sell Fairtrade products, farmers have to improve soil and water quality, manage pests, avoid using harmful chemicals, manage waste, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and protect biodiversity. It's a win all round.
2. Never buy bottled water again
How annoying is it when your family stops at a motorway services and you find 4 small bottles of water cost you £8! A reusable bottle is cheaper and better for the environment. If you bought a bottle of water a day last year, you could save yourself around £182 this year (a staggering £642 if you purchased them at a motorway services!).
Insulated bottles keep your water cold – great for the summer months.
You can also get bottles with a lid that doubles as a cup, so you can use for hot drinks. And if you look for the refill logo in windows or doors of cafes , pubs or even gyms, then you can ask for your bottle to be refilled.
3. Never Buy a New Plastic Bag Again
Over 1 billion single-use plastic bags are used in the UK each year. Most retailers now charge between 10p and 20p for a single use bag. This has already made a big change in people’s behaviours - in the last four years the annual number of single-use plastic carrier bags issued by Tesco dropped from 637 million to 12 million.
Plastic bags start out as fossil fuels and end up as deadly waste in landfill and the ocean. Birds often mistake shredded plastic bags for food, filling their stomachs with toxic debris. For hungry sea turtles, it's nearly impossible to distinguish between jellyfish and floating plastic shopping bags. Fish eat thousands of tons of plastic a year, transferring it up the food chain to bigger fish and marine mammals. Microplastics are also consumed by people through food and in the air. By 2050, it’s anticipated that there will be more plastic than fish in the sea.
How to remember the blasted things? Keep a couple of small fold-up bags in your car, or bag, or keep one hanging up near the coats. In Overton, you can use an Overton Bag, and bring it back to any participating shop next time.
4. Cut Back on Paper Towels
Why not use re-usable cloths for wiping up spills in the kitchen? Or washable cloth napkins if you use them for greasy food? A smallish outlay on cloths to start with, but then you will save money on the kichen roll - these can be in the region of £1.50 or more for a 2-pack, which can add up each week.
5. No More Disposable Wipes
Most wipes are 90% plastic. Granted, they're handy, but if you have a stash of reusable cloths ready to go, it can be a relatively easy swap. For babies – use a different colour for face and bums for hygiene. You can rent a reusable pack from our very own Overton Nappy Library.
For make-up, try swapping your cotton wool pads for reusable ones – you can order from Agne at www.fillthemup.com or at Café Pueblo in the village, or in many retail outlets. Alternatively, use a bar of face soap - Clinique does a great one that lasts for months.
If you do use wipes on occasion (for example for travelling) remember not to flush them down the loo! See our Unblocktober page for what happens to them otherwise…..
6. Don’t Buy a Plastic Milk Bottle Again
You can buy unhomogenised milk in bottles from Café Pueblo, or from a local milk delivery firm.
7. Use the Car Less. Bike or walk more.
It takes a certain amount of dedication to permanently give up a car in favour of a bike, but even an eco-slacker can make it work for short trips that don't require hauling a lot of stuff: picking up milk or bread at the local shop, walking to school. Ride your bike for trips shorter than 2 miles and you could cut your carbon footprint significantly, save money on fuel and car maintenance, and increase your fitness levels all at the same time.
Not used your bike in a while? Or got a puncture? If you live in Overton, bring it along to our Repair Café (8th January is the next one, 10-12 noon in the Community Centre) and get it looked at for a small donation, or whatever you can afford.
8. Use less Energy
Some easy wins:
Replace your lightbulbs with LED ones.
Turn down the thermostat by 1 degree, wear warmer clothes inside (snuggle up in a fleecy blanket while watching TV), use a hot water bottle.
Wash clothes at a lower temperature.
Line dry or dry wet clothes on an airer, rather than using a tumble dryer.
Boil only the water you need in the kettle.
Make sure your house is well insulated. Draw the blinds and curtains at night to keep in the heat - you can get thermal linings for these which make an enormous difference. And use a draft excluder under doors. Having the full 27cm of loft insulation is important too – nearly a quarter of the heat in a house escapes through the roof. This can be a DIY job, or get a professional in if you need to. If you have drafty windows or doors, or just need some advice, come along to the monthly Overton market and talk to our energy champions (the next one is in St. Mary’s Hall 10-12 Satuday 20th January). We will do our best to help you.
9. Become a Part-time Vegetarian
We’re not expecting the carnivores amongst you to become a vegan or vegetarian (unless you want to of course!). We believe that 10 imperfect vegetarians is better than one perfect one. Cutting your meat intake in half can decrease your carbon footprint by about a tonne each year — and coming up with meat-free meals isn't as hard as it sounds. Starting with a couple of meat-free days a week is a brilliant start. Try pancakes, yogurt and fruit for breakfast; fresh salads or roasted vegetable sandwiches for lunch; and veggie pizza, bean soups, and creamy risottos for dinner.
And if you save money on buying less meat, you might decide you can buy better quality, more eco-friendly meat and have it less often as a treat. We have Turners Butchers in the heart of our village, or Bere Mill Butchery open every Friday in Freefolk. Shopping locally will also decrease your carbon footprint.
10. Volunteer for Sustainable Overton!
Ok, a bit of a shameless plug, but if you’ve read this far, you might be interesting in joining our ever-expanding band of positive people who want to make a difference. Even if you have very little time, there is always something you can do to help. Make an Overton bag, write a couple of social media posts or take some cool photos or short videos for us to share on social media (we have Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram, and Twitter), or write a blog for our website. Or make tea/coffee or a cake for the Monthly Overton Market or repair café. Contact us via our website, or come along to meet some of us at a meeting in the Overton Community Centre 8-9pm - the next meeting is Monday 8th February 2022.