It is clear that we need to change our everyday lives drastically.
In the wake of COP26, G7, the Earthshot Prize and the (ongoing) Covid crisis, we have been thinking about sustainability more than ever and how the actions we take each day affect the planet.
It is overwhelming - and sometimes really depressing! - to think about. However, we should not be intimidated. We believe that every little change we make individually, collectively adds up to something significant!
There is an art to sustainability that - should we all embrace it - will mean a brighter future.
Below are some of the ideas that have been swimming around in our heads here at Retrospecced. So have a read and join in the conversation!
First things first. Start small
When you put sustainability and small in the same sentence, certain things spring to mind. Yes, we mean switch lights off when you leave a room but we also mean small-scale, nearby, LOCAL.
Supporting that which is on your doorstep is a fantastic step towards sustainability. By choosing local produce you are not only eating food grown in nearby soil but choosing to avoid supermaket products often shipped thousands of miles.
Local business also means less unethical labour. When you buy something from a global brand or multinational company, there is no way of knowing how that product was made, who made it and how much they were paid. Whilst shopping locally and from small businesses can never guarantee moral working conditions, there is a far higher chance of it. You may know the seller, you may have a link to the product or you may even have a personal connection with someone on the supply chain!
Perhaps most importantly, local buying and selling creates the best form of business as people are proud of the products they sell and who they sell them to. By supporting the businesses around you, you are advocating for local community and, in turn, encouraging transparent business models and sustainable practices.
Look out your window!
Whilst on the subject of local, this doesn't just have to apply to product consumption. As poignantly illustrated by the pandemic, travelling locally also helps the environment out.
For example, a train journey from London to Cornwall is around 250 miles and releases approximately 0.00025 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere whereas a plane journey of roughly 1400 miles from London to Greece emits up to 2.13 tonnes of CO2 (check it out here).
There is so much to see on our doorstep and if Covid has taught us anything, it's that holidays don't need to be in far flung, foreign places. In fact, the planet will benefit from us getting to know the incredible sights and sounds that live nearby.
Waste not want not
As we have said on multiple occasions, here at Retrospecced we are passionate about waste reduction and it's at the core of what we do. Our glasses are all pre-loved, the cases we use are all recycled and we even try to reuse our packaging as much as possible! We believe that we should be striving to limit what we throw away and advocating instead for reusing, donating and treasuring what we already own and love the most!
In an article by YouGov, it was found that '45% of smart phone users would rather upgrade than repair' and this sums up the world we live in perfectly. What's more, 'Seven out of ten British smartphone owners (70%) replace their phone within four years' and that means incredible amounts of waste! Most of us are guilty of then keeping these phones in a drawer at home, whereas we can actually recycle them for cash! Compare and Recycle is a website that lets you compare different deals.
We must treasure what we own and encourage practical skills in the next generation as it is this hands on approach that will make the most difference in the end. Prioritising sewing, darning, soldering and electrical skills could change the way in which we view consumption as we should be able to mend our broken possessions - or at least try!
Think outside the box
Thinking outside of the box doesn't mean that you have to be a hipster! All of us can make a difference by consciously opting for the less popular brands that are smaller scale and actively advocating for the environment, or it could mean physical acts that give back, reduce waste and encourage further sustainability.
What's clear is that it is important to see the potential in everything. For example, utilising the outdoor space you have - no matter how small! Growing your own herbs and fruit and veg means less air miles, less trips to the shops and less waste. Gardening is also fantastic for your mental health AND it physically gives back to the planet, increasing local biodiversity.
You could try a new green energy company, give a piece of old furniture a lick of paint, or even use natural plants and foods to die your old T-shirts and give them new life!
Thinking of different ways to carry out life's mundanities is going to get us a brighter future.
Keep it simple. Strip it back
If you're still reading, thank you for sticking around! There are lots of potential do's and don'ts when it comes to sustainability. However, at the end of the day, it should be about simplicity.
In this fast paced and highly connected world, there is a beauty in minimalism. We shouldn't focus on manmade, industrial and mass-produced products and processes. Instead, we should ask for little more than food, water, shelter and love.
Looking for the ways that we can make life as simple as possible is one potential way to combat the climate crisis. By limiting the amount of stuff we own and by making sacrifices where we can, we could make a difference.
Wear a jumper instead of turning the heating on, or choose to not own a car. Walk to work everyday, or live in a home that may be smaller but is more environmentally sound. Donate the clothes that you don't wear! It's these things little things that can help.
We hope that the concept of sustainability feels a little less daunting after reading this... Maybe not! But it's a HUGE, complex word and it's meaning is only going to shift and change as we continue in our efforts to save the environment over the next few years.
There is work to be done but we can start small, stay local, reduce waste, come up with creative solutions and just try and keep it simple.