Well it’s been nearly a year since I set myself some carbon goals, and I thought I ought to check in on my progress, to try and keep myself accountable.
Carbon & Plastic Goal 1: Try to purchase more local fruit and in-season vegetables, and be conscious where they are imported from.
This one has not gone well. Frankly I am failing completely. Since becoming a mum I tend to fling stuff in the trolley as fast as possible and definitely do not stop and look at any of the labels to see where anything is from. To make it worse, I have also been buying a lot more out-of-season fruit like berries and watermelon etc as I’m trying to get a 2-year old to eat more fruit and try everything. I count this one as a complete fail as I am probably buying less locally than I was a year ago!
Carbon & Plastic Goal 2: Try to only buy loose fruit and vegetables that are not wrapped in plastic.
This one is also not going so great. Although I do try to buy loose stuff when I can, again, for speed and cost I am more often buying bags of carrots or satsumas instead of loose. Also Tesco’s which is my nearest supermarket does not offer a lot of loose fruit and veg, which is a shame.
Carbon & Plastic Goal 3: When Polly my beloved Polo dies, try to buy an electric or hybrid car next (if I can afford it), or one with a much smaller engine. Or consider converting my car to LPG fuel?
This one hasn’t come up yet. Polly is a legend and has many years left in her!
Carbon & Plastic Goal 4: Make more effort to remember my reusable bags every time I go shopping
This one I am actually finally managing to do pretty much every time I go shopping. It has taken a while but now I am finally in the groove and use to remembering them. Although I have now used up all my plastic bags and I do occasionally miss them, such as when I’m donating clothes to the charity shop, it’s awkward to stand there emptying my reusable bags onto the floor/counter instead of just leaving a bag with them…
Carbon & Plastic Goal 5: Check all lightbulbs in the house are energy-efficient, and that heating settings are as eco-friendly as possible.
This one is going well, I think all of my bulbs are now as eco-friendly as they could be, mostly LED ones, and my heating is on the most eco-friendly settings possible.
Carbon & Plastic Goal 6: Buy all my toilet paper either as 100% recycled or bamboo alternatives
Yes – this is now a habit and I have been doing so consistently. This one has been achieved fully!
Carbon & Plastic Goal 7: Go to the Fairtrade shop in Headington to refill my Ecover laundry detergent and fabric softener bottles instead of buying new ones. Ditto refill washing up liquid bottles once the current ones run out. (I have already tried this and am very happy I can get all these bottles refilled instead of buying new ones all the time – one of the only really TANGIBLE reductions in plastic usage in my life so far!).
This one is going even better than expected. Instead of schlepping to Headington with my empty bottles there is now a refill shop at the park near my house where my daughter goes to nursery, and I have been successfully refilling my laundry soap, fabric softener, toilet cleaner, household multipurpose cleaner, hand soap, dishwashing soap and even pasta and rice. It’s very convenient as I am there regularly with my daughter and they have a really excellent range of products which they are adding to all the time. Goal achieved!
Carbon & Plastic Goal 8: Switch to an energy company where 100% of my electricity will come from renewable sources – done this already and it’s cheaper than my old energy supplier!
I am really happy that I switched to Bulb – my bills are now much cheaper than they were before when I was with NPower and it has helped me to offset the additional laundry and electricity usage since becoming a mum.
Carbon & Plastic Goal 9: Drive less often, only when necessary – try to walk or cycle as much as possible.
This one is a bit hit and miss. Over the summer it was easier to walk everywhere anyway, but since winter has set in I must admit to driving more often than I should for shorter trips. It’s partly because it’s harder to manage an umbrella and a buggy at the same time so I end up getting soaked! And sadly I have said goodbye to Clarissa my bike. I’m not confident enough a cyclist to put my kid on the back or in a trailer, and Oxford is not very cycle-friendly so most of the roads around me would be terrifying with a kid! Rather than leave my bike (which is stored outside) to rust for a few years until the kid learns to ride a bike, I decided to give Clarissa away to someone who might use her. I am hoping once spring rolls around we’ll be walking more and more again though.
Carbon & Plastic Goal 10: Aim to eat less red meat – track and keep a diary of how often I am eating red meat, and aim to reduce this to 2-3 times a month.
This one did not go to plan. As soon as I started trying to write down and track my red meat consumption, I found myself thinking of red meat more often, and thus craving it, and suddenly eating a lot more red meat than I used to! Total backfire. Goal failed.
Carbon & Plastic Goal 11: Buy more fairtrade products where possible.
This one has made me more reflective and I do now always check the label before buying things like teabags – I was surprised to see that some well-known brands like Clipper no longer have the fairtrade mark on their classic tea brand, so I have switched to other teas.
Carbon & Plastic Goal 12: When I have my kid, I will try within reason to use reusable nappies and baby wipes and keep disposable ones to a minimum (obviously I won’t be able to manage this all of the time, but I can at least try as much as possible).
This one I have mostly achieved. I did try out and really like reusable nappies, so we use them most of the time at home, but when travelling to other people’s houses we revert to disposables, or occasionally if she gets a bad nappy rash etc. Overall these have been worth the investment and I am glad I did it, though it has taken a while to figure out the wash routines and it has added to my daily laundry significantly! Ditto the cloth wipes are amazing and I much prefer them to disposable ones, they are brilliant. Obviously I am doing more laundry now, which has it’s own carbon footprint, but as all my energy is renewable I feel it is mainly offset.
I have also add a new goal – Number 13: Ensure that my money is being used ethically.
In opening my daughter a savings account I did some research and realised some banks are more ethical than others – so I decided to open her an account with Triodos which seems to be one of the best out there. At least she can start out with an ethical bank! I looked at switching my own current account but they don’t yet offer all the services I need so will check back in later and see if they are able to add those in.
Similarly I contacted Aviva, who currently hold my pension fund, and requested some information on which investment funds are ethical, so I can choose to move my pension funds if I want to (the ethical funds are generally slightly higher risk investments so I have moved half of my pension pot as a compromise for now and will monitor and see how it goes).