Sustainable Living – Behind the Scenes with Green Soul Weddings

Sustainability… it’s no big news to you that this is something I am passionate about in the wedding world, but (believe it or not!) I have a life outside of weddings too, and I’m just as passionate about sustainable living. As a small independent one-woman business, Green Soul Weddings is practically an extension of me. My business embodies my personal passion for sustainability and enables me to help others wherever they may be on their sustainable journey, but it is only one of the many ways I try to make a difference and reduce my footprint.

Try is the operative word there however, because … newsflash … I’m far from perfect! When it comes to sustainable living I love the term perfectly imperfect, because that’s just what it is. I do my best, but I fully embrace the fact that I’m not perfect because that means there’s always space to learn, to improve, and to be able to make a bigger impact. I’m a firm believer that the small changes we each make can accumulate and create a much bigger change.

For that reason I felt I would welcome you into my world and reflect on my sustainable lifestyle. By looking to the past, present and future, I hope we can share ideas and inspire each other with ways we could each make another change and another sustainable step forward. The end of the year seems like a great time to reflect and decide where I’d like to progress my sustainable journey to next … who’s with me?

Sustainable Living – The Things I’ve Always Done

Some things we do in our everyday lives might help us to be more sustainable without us even realising or giving it a second thought. For me these are as follows:

Shopping in Charity Shops

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a big fan of charity shops. Growing up my Nan was the charity shop queen, finding the most amazing clothes in her local charity shops as well as always turning to them when handmaking the various fancy dress costumes childhood necessitated. This made shopping in charity shops the norm for me from a young age, and I still love to donate to and browse from them as much as I can today. Giving to charity and giving clothing a second life, what’s not to love?

Lady stood amongst rails of clothing in a charity shop

Meal Planning

I very rarely do my food shopping without a list! Right from my first days of independent living at university, I’ve always planned my meals and only bought what I needed (okay, maybe a few treats slip in here and now). This helps so much and in so many ways; I absolutely hate food waste, so knowing what I’m cooking and when ensures I get long enough dates or freeze the ingredients (and can set reminders to defrost things too); it means I can plan to use something up across a few different meals; and importantly it also saves money by not being distracted by other offers, temptations and not buying anything that will go to waste.

Use Tupperware and Clips

Reusable Tupperware boxes in a wide range of sizes are probably the most used thing in my kitchen, second only to the crockery and cutlery! Whether it’s to box up leftovers to reheat the next day, store opened packets, make a packed lunch, or freeze portion sized amounts of ingredients, I love all of the Tupperware boxes I’ve gathered over the years. To add to the collection, I’m always saving useful sized glass jars, plastic pots and various containers too. Combined with plastic reusable clips, they help to ensure everything stays fresh for as long as possible, is ready when I need it, and has helped me to pretty much abandon all need for single use cling film.

7 Sustainable Swaps from This Year

I’m always striving to improve, and this year I have made quite a few swaps and changes. Here are some of the key steps I’ve taken in 2020:

2 glass milk bottles full of milk, one glass bottle of apple juice and another empty glass bottle on the doorstep ready to return for refilling. Sustainable milkman delivery service.

1. Having a Milkman

Okay, so this one started just over a year ago now, but it still deserves a big mention. I use Milk and More to deliver milk and fruit juice to my doorstep because they deliver in glass bottles and then collect them afterwards for cleaning and reuse. I love that this year I haven’t thrown away a single milk carton!

2. Using Terracycle

I’ve started using a Terracycle collection point in a local village, saving up crisp packets, chocolate wrappers and toothpaste packaging to be sent off for recycling. Terracycle recycle, upcycle or reuse almost everything, so check out their website for collection places near you or host your own collection. This is a great option for those hard to avoid pieces of packaging whilst you try to work out other ways of avoiding packaging altogether.

A laptop showing the Ecosia search engine on the screen

3. Using Ecosia

It might only be small, but we spend so much of our time online now so why not try and make that more sustainable too. I’ve switched to using Ecosia as my search engine instead of google, both on my computer and phone. They use the profit generated from your searching to plant trees, and they have a system for highlighting more ecologically friendly search results too.

4. Carbon Offsetting

Having done my research I decided I would invest in a carbon offsetting scheme purely to compliment my everyday efforts to be more sustainable and reduce my footprint. I use Ecologi, a UK based carbon offsetting scheme who get involved in sustainable tree planting and projects around the world. So far I’ve helped to offset 8.17 tonnes of carbon, plus many more via my own everyday efforts too!

glass jars filled with produce from a zero waste shop, including rice, chickpeas and coffee beans

5. Using Zero Waste Shops

We were lucky enough to have a refill shop open near us at the beginning of the year and I have become a regular shopper! I love that I can get so many ingredients completely packaging free, refilling my own jars and tubs with pasta, rice, soap, shampoo, oil, washing powder, the list goes on. This has made the biggest noticeable difference to my year without a doubt and has saved a LOT of packaging making its way to landfill. They sell a fantastic range of eco-friendly products too. I’d highly recommend seeing if you have one near you!

6. Using Reusable Teabags

I love a good cuppa, and now I can enjoy one guilt free with my reusable teabags! Purchased from local sustainable business Cotton Lily, mine have become beautifully tea-stained and very well loved this year, plus with loose leaf tea from the refill shop my morning brews are completely zero waste now with just the tea leaves making it to the compost bin!

7. Joined Sustainable Groups

We aren’t in this alone and finding other likeminded people to bounce ideas around with and be inspired by has been fantastic this year. Facebook is a great hub of sustainable and zero waste activity, I’d recommend checking out the Journey to Zero Waste UK group and I’ve recently set one up for the East of England too, so pop over and join us for support in living sustainably.

Sustainable Living – The Barriers

It’s not always plain sailing and easy to make sustainable swaps and pursue a more sustainable lifestyle. This year I’ve noticed the following:

Farm Shop Fortunes

I absolutely love farm shops, they have such an amazing atmosphere, so fresh and friendly. In an ideal world I would do all of my shopping in a farm shop, but it is true that they can sometimes work out more expensive. At one point this year my other half banned me from a farm shop after I managed to spend a ridiculous amount on chicken breasts! Needless to say my love for them remains and I continue to use them when I can, having recently found one that is more affordable for me currently which has become a regular haunt.

Wagon with fruit and vegetables outside a shop

Overwhelm

It’s not easy is it?! There’s so many options, so many different points of views and perspectives about what is the ‘ultimate’ when it comes to sustainable living. At times I’ve found it off-putting, but then I’ve reminded myself that anything is better than nothing. Making an informed sustainable change that is right for you and your lifestyle is a step in the right direction, no matter how big or small the change. Constantly having a desire to make changes and improvements is the real winner here!

My Sustainable Next Steps

I love to continue learning and improving in all aspects of my life, and sustainable living is definitely a journey and a never-ending one at that! Over the next year these are some of the areas I’d like to make changes in:

Feminine Hygiene

A natural process with a far from nature-friendly solution currently, I hate how much feminine hygiene products contribute to landfill. As I continue to do my research I’m assessing the options and shall be making some sustainable swaps for this aspect of my life soon.

lady wearing apron whilst mixing a cake batter

Tasty Treats

I really enjoy baking, and I love eating the results, but I don’t make enough time for it. Biscuits, cakes, they all come in packaging which, yes I can recycle via Terracycle, but reducing the need for it in the first place is a more desirable step. I hope to start buying more ingredients from our refill shop and baking more, from which I’ll benefit from the enjoyment of baking, the health benefits of homemade vs bought, as well as reducing my waste.

Actively Make a Difference

Reducing my own waste and carbon footprint is my first step, but I’d also like to start making more of an effort to make a wider difference. I enjoyed taking part in the Great British September Clean this year but unfortunately life has got in the way and I didn’t keep my litter picking up beyond that fortnight, so next year I hope to make community action groups and litter picking a part of my diary.

person holding plastic bottles and other litter they've collected

So, there we have it, a behind the scenes look at my sustainable living efforts: past, present, and future. It was fun reviewing my efforts and taking time to see how much progress I’ve made, and I hope this might have inspired you to consider your own living habits too. If this inspires you to make any changes, add sustainable steps to your New Year’s resolutions, or if you have any suggestions for me, I’d love to hear, get in touch or leave a comment.

(Disclaimer, none of these mentions are sponsored, I have shared the names of businesses and links that I have personally chosen to use and recommend)

All non-labelled images are my own or from the stock websites Pexels, Unsplash and Pixabay

- Hannah -

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