As you might remember, our sister organisation Clifton Climate Action are 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 avoid Amazon for a month? As well as their dodgy tax practices, Amazon ship products all around the world and often use far more packaging than is needed. Try looking for the items 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 Remy Baudouin 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 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 isn't necessarily carbon neutral.
Photo by Melissa Walker Horn on Unsplash
Ideally, it would be great to buy alcohol 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, at least try to avoid wine from regions suffering from drought, such as South Africa, Australia or California.
For local vegan cheese, check out Food by Sumear's or Bath Culture House (the activated charcoal flavour is my favourite). For vegan ice cream, try Swoon Gelato or Oliver's Ice Cream.
Can you try to buy more locally produced food this month? I get a fortnightly veg box from Plowright Organic, full of fruit and veg which has been grown and packed in Somerset. Their apples, kale and broccoli are all especially delicious.
There are many more local and organic food sellers listed on our page about Better Food Options.
Another option is to go foraging in your local area. You may think that January and February are not the most fruitful months in the UK, but 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'll be fun and is certainly better for your health than watching yet another episode of the Crown! As Grant from Clifton Climate Action says: "Some of the benefits of foraging as we see them include:
✅Minimum of food miles
✅Zero packaging or manufacture
✅Fresh (though do ensure you wash anything you find!)
✅Organically grown if wild
✅Connection to nature
Check these Woodland Trust blogs 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. Just stick all the rubbish you find in a bag and put it into a bin when you find one. Or you might consider only picking up plastic rubbish, so you can recycle it all when you get home - perhaps you could do cans the next day.
Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash
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 we've bought more food than we can cook. But did you know that, as an example, 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, fruit or veg which you don’t think you’re going to get round to eating, why not message a neighbour and see if they want to take the food 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 the Clifton Climate Action challenges, check out their 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.