Our January sustainability resolutions

Sarah, Communication Manager; Aisling, Projects Coordinator (Energy); Vanessa, Committees & Projects Officer; and Kerry, Projects Coordinator – Sustainability and Festivals, reflect on their personal sustainability resolutions.

Sarah Ford-Hutchinson: simplifying my belongings

This January, I jumped on the Netflix-induced Sort Your Life Out bandwagon to:

The motivation? My double life. I spend as much time as possible out in the sticks – snorkelling, hiking, and camping/campervanning my way around Scotland. I take very little stuff because there’s not a lot I actually need – waterproofs, warm clothes, reusable containers. The waste you create out there is more obvious – because you have to physically carry it back to civilisation – so it makes sense not to create any in the first place.

When I come back home, put my clothes in the wash and pop my moisturizer back on the bathroom shelf, I’m reminded about all my other belongings that for the past 48 hours I haven’t missed once. That’s why all month I’ve been giving away things I no longer want or need. And why when things need replacing, I’ve been buying more sustainable alternatives.

The penny has finally dropped for me… less stuff and less waste = happier me and happier planet. 2019 is the year my resolution finally stuck.

Aisling O’Reilly: vegetarianuary

For January I decided to become vegetarian. I saw it as a chance to reduce my environmental impact and try out some new recipes. There were some great successes, I made some great vegan and vegetarian dishes over the month and discovered new foods and meat substitutes that I loved. There were bumps along the way though. The main one being kicking the cravings for bacon and fried chicken. Another bump was dining out when we were hosting family in Edinburgh. Finding a Scottish Restaurant that serves vegetarian options was tough, unless you want to eat veggie haggis seven days a week.

From February onwards, I will eat meat again but will continue to be conscious about the environmental impact and ethics behind my choices. The Flexitarian diet to feed 10bn is something I’ll use to guide me.

Some recipes I tried:

Vanessa McCorquodale: switching to sustainable sponges

One thing has been nagging me in 2018 is waste from kitchen sponges… ugh what a waste. So my resolution for 2019 was to remove this self-nag from my mind.  Almost at the end of January and I can say, my solution will stay with me, not just for 2019 but forever. Who knew it could be so easy!

I’ve bought reusable kitchen sponges that go into your washing machine up to 300 times. They are made by e-cloth and are called ‘Washing up Pads’ and only cost a couple of pounds for one. Other manufacturers are of course available and I’m sure are also good, these just happened to be what I tried. They have the usual rough side for hard to clean bits and a soft side. They wash very well and I bought two so my sponges are being changed roughly weekly… so are likely to not hold all that nasty bacteria that comes from hanging onto kitchen sponges too long. My only disappointment is that they are made of plastic too, just more hard wearing, so when these reach the end of their life, I hope to replace them with full natural sponges so that they can be composted. I have heard there are some made from bamboo material, so any recommendations are gratefully received!

Kerry Cheek: vegetarianuary

Vegetarian breakfast of sweet potato and feta on toast
Vegetarian breakfast of sweet potato and feta on toast

It’s not a resolution if it doesn’t have a cute name, right? While it doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easily as ‘veganuary’, I wanted to start off the year by reducing my meat consumption and thought this was the perfect opportunity. I had already stopped cooking with meat a few years back, so the switch to completely meatless only affected my meals when dining out. Most places now offer great vegetarian options and there are tons of delicious recipes to keep you full even in the winter.

The only point at which my resolution faltered was after a disastrous day of travelling. I was in a new city and there were hardly any veggie options at the restaurant, a combination which led to my caving and ordering fish and chips. I wasn’t even disappointed; the food was great and in that moment I had needed some comfort in my day. So, as we near the end of January, my takeaway is that we can all easily reduce our meat consumption and that guilt does not need to be a part of that change. In fact, eating mostly vegetarian made the rare choice to eat meat even more enjoyable!

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