First published January 2021
As some of you might remember, we're running a series of monthly challenges designed to enable us all to take tangible steps to fight the climate and ecological emergency.
This month, the challenge is all about being local. Just as charity begins at home, climate and ecological action begins in your local area. The challengers have suggested a few actions you could take… here’s a look at some of my favourites.
Can you set yourself the challenge of avoiding Amazon for a month? As well as their dodgy tax practices, Amazon ship and drive products all around the world and often use far more packaging than is needed.
Try looking for the items you would normally buy from Amazon from local shops or sellers instead. My fella loves Facebook Marketplace, where you can pick up second-hand items from people who live nearby, killing two environmental birds with one stone. (Hmm, maybe that metaphor needs a little bit of work. Don’t kill any birds, planet-fans!)
Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash
You might also want to try writing down every single thing you buy in a week. Have a look at what you bought locally and what came from further afield. Are there any habits you could change?
I tried this challenge and found that I had a mixed bag. While I bought a card and some cakes for a friend from a UK seller and supported a Bristol-based yoga teacher by booking an online workshop, I also bought wine from Italy and Argentina, vegan feta from Greece and vegan ice cream from Sweden - a reminder that just because something is vegan, it doesn’t mean it’s carbon neutral.
deally, it would be great to buy wine and beer from the UK, such as Quoins wine or the Bristol-based Butcombe Beer (which we’re fans of in this house).
However, if home-grown booze is a little out of your budget or you can’t find any in your local shop, it’s best to at least avoid wine from regions suffering from drought, such as South Africa, Australia or California.
There are also lots of great gins made here in Bristol, including Bristol Dry Gin, Psychopomp and 6 O'Clock Gin.
Can you try to buy more locally produced food this month? We get a fortnightly veg box from Plowright Organic, full of fruit and veg grown and packed in Somerset, which I can recommend.
Their apples, kale and broccoli are all especially delicious. There are many more local and organic food sellers - see those listed on our page about Better Food Options.
Another option is to go foraging in your local area. You might think that January and February are not the most fruitful months in our freezing climate, but in fact, if you head outside, you might be able to find beech nuts, blackberries, sloes, pine nuts, nettles and wild garlic. Of course, you can’t entirely feed yourself by foraging, but it might be quite fun and is certainly a better bet for your health than watching yet another episode of the Crown!
As Grant from West Bristol Climate Action says, some of the benefits of foraging include:
✅Minimum of food miles
✅Zero packaging or manufacture
✅Fresh (though do wash)
✅Organically grown if wild
✅Connection to nature
✅Self reliance / independence
Check these Woodland Trust blogs on foraging in January and February for some great tips and recipe ideas.
Many of us are doing more walking in these strange and troubled times. Something we could all commit to doing is picking up rubbish as we walk. This will not only make your local area prettier for the next walker, but could also save some wildlife from getting hurt or even killed by the plastic and tin cans that litter our streets. I often take a pair of sturdy gloves and a roll of bin bags with me when I go out walking, and it is satisfying in the extreme to do the same route a few days later and notice the difference.
Are you close to any of your neighbours? If so, could you consider food swapping with them? Even with all the planning and best intentions of the world, we sometimes realise that the food we have might go off if it’s not cooked quickly - and, for whatever reason, we don’t have time to do that cooking.
For example, did you know that 20 million slices of bread are wasted in the UK every day, creating greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 140,000 cars? Therefore, anything we can do to avoid food waste is a must.
If you have some bread or veg you don’t think you’re going to get round to eating, why not message a neighbour and see if they want to take it off your hands?
Play your cards right and they might even
bring you round a portion of whatever they make! Everyone’s a winner.
If you want to join in our monthly challenges, check out our great Instagram feed, which has a plethora of pictures and tips for each challenge.
Do you have any ideas for better local living we can all take part in? If so, do comment below.