Thursday, 7 September 2017

Am I really green because ...

I am not a vegan?

But what about all those vegan foods that are imported from the other side of the world.  Maybe I should only ...

Shop Locally?

But what if I can only get non organic produce or factor farmed meat locally.  I need to ...

Only Eat Organic

But you know what?  My organic shop sells a lot of processed foods, non local foods and those made with palm oil.  So let's go ...

Palm Oil Free

Looking good until you realise that the only palm oil free peanut butter you can buy comes in a plastic jar.  So the answer must be to ...

Go Zero-Waste

Sounds great until I tell you that the nearest bulk store for me is miles away without any public transport so think of all that fuel I'd use to get there.  So I need to become ...

Self Sufficient

Now in fairness I do grow a lot of my own produce.  And so it is local .... and organic ... and palm oil free and very low on waste.  BUT, I raise and eat my own animals (and use their manure to fertilise the soil) so I am well and truly not a vegan which takes me neatly back to the start of this post.

I have always done the best that I can to try and be green.  But I also know that I would need to do a lot more to really reduce down my carbon footprint.  Take transport.  I live in the middle of the countryside which means I can have my smallholding but I have to drive to get to most places.  I also drive far more than I would like taking the boys to and from sports training most evenings ... but I have 2 very fit and healthy boys and I am not about to say to them that they cannot go to their chosen sports as I use too much fuel to get them there.  We car share when we can, double up doing other jobs at the same time or hang around town rather than coming home and going back an hour and a half later to get them.  But the bottom line is I use the car far more than I would like to.

There have been lots of other instances too, when I have been reminded yet again how difficult it is to be totally green.  Leta, who blogs at Attachment Mummy, mentioned the palm oil free peanut butter in plastic pots issue whilst another comment on this blog pointed out that the non plastic bags that French supermarkets offer for loose produce are probably made from GM maize which is grown with high levels of pesticides applied.  I see recipes inspiring us to cook with fresh ingredients but with produce that is not in season together.  Parsnip and courgette curry will need one or other of the main ingredients to be imported. I own cats which some say is far from green ... but they keep my rodent population down without the need for poisons.  I got some figs from the market today but whilst I popped them into my own bag, they came out of a box lined with a plastic tray. I could go on but you get the picture.

Everyone has a negative impact on the planet. Every action we take, whether it be perceived as green or otherwise has all sorts of hidden effects we cannot always calculate.  However this does not mean we should do nothing to help and each and every positive step we take is a huge step in the right direction.  There are hundreds of pages written about ways to be green - take my blog post on 100 ways to reduce plastic - these are all great examples but it is impossible for everyone to follow all these 100 ideas all the time.

What it boils down to is making the best green decisions you can for you and your family situation.    However if you start by applying the following 8 principles to the way you live your life you may well find you can make a great deal more progress than you ever thought possible:

  • Consume less - do you actually need what ever it is you are about to add to your real or virtual shopping basket? 
  • Question everything - do not believe the greenwash that manufacturers would have us all believe, read labels, research things, listen to experts.
  • Be prepared to make mistakes and re-evaluate
  • Be prepared to be different
  • Inspire others with your achievements and help them to find green solutions that work for them
  • Support others to make changes
  • Accept your limitations but also ...
  • Push yourself to be the change. 

Our strength lies in our collective ability to make a difference.  Not accepting one straw in a drink won't change the world but refusing, explaining why and sharing knowledge will see the ripple effect starting to work.  Not long ago no baby was kept dry with disposable nappies but over a very short period of time the manufacturers changed the attitude of western parents.  If it can be changed one way it can be changed back again.

Are you with me?  Could you apply these 8 principles to your life?  Have you any others to add? Let's throw those stones and let's see those ripples growww.


  1. Nodding away as I read this post. I make compromises all the time, but I do keep trying. The more changes we individually make, the more likely that others will follow, which might eventually mean more local sources and less packaging. To do nothing is the worse option.#pocolo

    1. Exactly. Research has indicated that only 10% of a population needs to take an idea on board for it to become acceptable by the majority.

  2. Well said!  A lot of people I've spoken to claim there's no point doing any of it because of this, but I believe that every small change we make does make a difference, as you say. However, we have to accept that we live in an imperfect world, but within that we still can make a difference, however small.

    I started recycling and campaigning in the early 80s and was roundly mocked, then bought organic, avoided palm etc etc.  Every time there are dozens of mocking voices and detractors, what difference does it make etc etc.  But we keep on.  Now I'm raising three mini eco-warriors, who tut at recyclables in bins, collect litter wherever we go, and do everything they can to make a difference.  If they're there at 7, 5 and 3, they might well be the ones who do change the world - or at least give it a damn good go!  In the meantime, we just do whatever we can, and make the best decisions and choices we can, even in an imperfect world.

    1. I took my degree in Environmental Science in the mid eighties and many people thought I was a bit odd ... many probably still think I am odd but I that won't stop me pushing for what I know is right. I am far from perfect, I know that, but I do what I think is the best for the world within the confines of my life and I will change to anything I hope is better when and where I can. I am sure many people never thought slavery would end, or women would get the vote, but thanks to those who believed in their causes these were achieved. It will be the same with the environment.

  3. What a wonderful post! Besides the quote from Mother Theresa, I love your advice "Be prepared to make mistakes". Large companies have very tricky marketing methods. We love our little flock of hens, who help immensely with insect control! 'Great entertainment, too! We frequently spend our evenings just watching them graze and forage. -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures


  4. I forgot to add this link for an up cycle you might like. ;-) Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  5. Hi Rosie,
    Good article. Going green is a way of life but it is something I think we have to do in steps and what fits into our lifestyle as far were we live what is available and the conditions and resources that we are able to use. I do as much as possible to make sure I live green, but I can not say that I am totally green. First I am not a vegan and will never be. Not everyone can live and survive on a vegan diet - it has do with your body make, your genes and many other factors. I would die it I try to live on a vegan diet due to my many food allergies. Truthfully I think we should all live sustainably but meat can be sustainable too.
    I am certainly with in living green and support it totally. Pinning and tweeting - sharing on Google. Live green and be healthy.

    1. I agree - it we do it is steps we are much more likely to succeed. Thank you for sharing.

  6. When I feel overwhelmed by all the things I'm not going, I try to take a moment to reflect on all the changes I HAVE made and how far I've come. It helps me to not feel so guilty and upset about what we could do. Thanks for sharing on the #WasteLessWednesday blog hop!

  7. Since I already commented I'll just say congratulations on being featured on #WasteLessWednesday ! Have a healthy, happy & blessed day!

  8. Those principles are great Rosie - and I agree starting small and doing what's right for your family/household has to be the way to go. Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

  9. I so know what you mean!! I have these dilemmas all the time. Eg. to support a local shop but it's not organic. To get organic but it's packaged. For me, I have to go with MY most important values and respect that everyone has these in a different order. It's better to be purchasing deliberately and with consideration than mindlessly and without any thought as to where things have come from. In East London (UK) we have just had a new Zero Waste store open, with organic products in bulk so this is going to help me get products that meet more of my values at the same time!

  10. "There's a hole in my bucket dear Henry, dear Henry...." this post has made me think of this song, going round and round! We can only be as green as is possible within the confines of our particular circumstances, but every little really does help. It's hard to get it all right, well in fact you've illustrated it's nigh on impossible, but raising awareness and educating people is a good first step. Thanks for making us think!!!!