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S'up fellas! I'm Mikey the Monkey and even though I live in the jungle, you'll see me whizzing around on my e-scooter.. yeh! It's a lot easier on the arms than swinging from tree to tree, ya know?! 

 

I used to live my life without much thought as to how my choices and actions affect the environment. It wasn't that I didn't care but more that I didn't know that the actions of one little monkey would make such a big difference, the world is so big right? 

My mindset completely changed though when I started reading lots of books and watching documentaries such as Living the Change. and Tomorrow. I then became curious (like my cousin Curious George!) about the impact of my lifestyle on the environment. With a few easy clicks I calculated my ecological footprint to get a rough idea...and boy was I shocked! It said, if everyone lived like me, we would need 4 earths! 

 

I decided from then on to make simple and gradual changes to my lifestyle and I became much more ecologically aware of my actions, choices and personal habits. After all, the clock's ticking and we don't have time for any more monkey business!

What's the story?

It's sometimes easy to forget that practically all of our daily activities depend on the planet's natural resources such as water, air, wood, soil, metals and minerals which are finite and running out. Taking a shower, flushing the toilet, washing clothes or dishes, cooking food, buying products, travelling to work, using and charging electronic devices..the list goes on and on! 

 

The issue is that we've gotten so used to living our lives without much awareness of the negative environmental effects. However, the latest science and facts about global warming and the ecological crisis are now unequivocal. It's clear we need to make changes at both individual and systematic level to help save our planet.

 

The good news is that we can start with individual change RIGHT NOW! By making simple, gradual adaptations to our habits and behaviours we can significantly reduce our personal ecological footprint and feel good about taking positive action. 

What is Green Living?

Green living is about living a low impact lifestyle connected to nature and the earth. It's about being mindful and conscious of our daily choices so that we live harmoniously and compassionately together with nature. 

Where do I start?

A great place to start is to calculate your own ecological footprint in order to become aware of just how much our daily activities impact the planet. This might be quite a shock at first. It was for us when we realised how extravagant and unsustainable our lifestyle was in comparison to the world average. From that baseline we are able to assess the areas where short-term changes are feasible (e.g. conserving water, reducing consumption) and those that may take some more time (e.g. transitioning to a largely plant-based diet, changing our transportation habits).

Below is a well-researched list of actions that will help significantly reduce our personal ecological footprint and move us towards a much greener and more conscious way of living. Keep in my the motto "progress not perfection". We ourselves have not yet implemented all these changes, but we try to be mindful about choosing green-living alternatives in every area of our lives. Every change makes a difference. Start with a change that inspires you or is easiest for you to implement. Mikey and all his animal friends are here to cheer you on!

Green Energy

Electricity

  • Switch to a green energy provider to support renewable energy sources (e.g. wind and solar). It can save you money on bills too.

  • Turn appliances off instead of leaving them on stand-by. Especially energy suckers such as computers, printers, TVs and sound systems. 

  • Change traditional filament lightbulbs/ halogen lights to energy efficient Fluorescent or LED lights.

Water

  • Take shorter/ timed showers (e.g. 3 mins. maximum).

  • Install low-flow tap and shower head adapters.

  • Don't leave the tap running unnecessarily e.g. when brushing your teeth, shampooing your hair etc.

  • Run the dishwasher only when full.

  • Limit baths to a maximum of once per week.

Heating

Short term, simple & free

  • Set thermostat to maximum of 19 degrees Celsius during winter. Put on another layer of clothing if you feel cold instead of turning up the thermostat. One of the biggest energy and cost savers in the home!

  • Turn off the heating when away from home for an extended period of time e.g. when travelling for work or going on holiday.

Longer-term, investment

  • Reduce heat loss by investing in loft and cavity wall insulation; this can reduce heat consumption at home by up to 40%. 

  • Replacing fossil fuel heaters with electrical heat pumps which can reduce the energy required by up to 25%.

Cleaning Products/ Washing

  • Washing powder, detergents and cleaning products often contain toxins, chemicals and microplastics. Switch to eco-friendly alternatives or if you can, make your own! Basic natural ingredients such as vinegar, lemon, baking soda and essential oils will do the job just fine and you can save money & packaging! Check out Low Impact Movement for ideas and recipes for natural products.

  • Use a clothes drying rack instead of a tumble dryer.

  • Wash laundry in colder water (30 degrees celsius). It's less harsh on your clothes and they'll last longer.

  • Use a microplastic filter bag e.g. Guppyfriend when washing synthetic fabrics (polyester, nylon or acrylic) to prevent microplastics from entering the water system.

Reducing and Recycling Household Waste

  • Check out the 7Rs as guiding principles to reduce and better manage individual and household waste.

Let's go!

  • Buy organic produce to reduce the amount of pesticides and chemical fertilizers in our water and food.

  • Transition to a largely plant-based diet - one of the most impactful ways to reduce your ecological footprint. See our Vegan section for a starter guide and some yummy whole-food plant-based recipes.  

  • Prepare food at home and use reusable containers instead of buying takeaway food in single-use packaging.

  • Buy mainly local & seasonal, if possible directly from farmers.

  • Prevent food waste! Support initiatives that sell 'ugly' fruit & veg. or sign up to a food-sharing app like Too Good To Go.

  • Reduce the amount of flying per year - one of the most impactful ways to reduce your ecological footprint. 

  • Whenever you can, walk, cycle and use public transport (trains, trams, buses) instead of flying or driving.

  • If possible, go car-free or use car sharing

  • If you need a car, consider going hybrid or electric.

  • ​Buy less stuff! See the Minimalism section for more inspiration.

  • Check out second hand shops or platforms before buying something new.

  • Buy organic/ fair trade and locally produced where possible.

  • Support local shops instead of ordering online, which usually has a higher transportation & waste impact.

  • Support packaging free (e.g. bulk stores) and avoid buying things wrapped in excess packaging.

  • Think about who, where and what your money supports each time you spend or save it. Support services that are transparent, fair and environmentally responsible.

  • Invest in local green projects/ initiatives e.g. urban gardening or allotments.

  • Choose ethical banking to avoid investing in activities that you morally and ethically don't agree with, for example continued fossil fuel exploration.

  • Invest in personal education through books, courses and acquiring self-sufficiency skills. For example a permaculture design course.

Summary

There are so many positive changes we can make and it starts with each and every one of us taking responsibility and making a start

 

We found it helpful to visualise just how wonderful the outcome of this transition can actually be if we were to all make changes towards a greener lifestyle. Imagine local communities supporting each other, car-free and less-polluted city centres, cleaner air, plastic-free oceans full of life, rejuvenated fertile soils, forests and natural habitats where wildlife thrives. So what are we waiting for? As Mikey says..Let's Go!   

Mikey recommends:

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© 2019 Reconnect with Nature.

Artwork by Jon Gilbert

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