As part of our Lent challenges, Emma Nichols, a member of our congregation, writes about how she and her family started making small changes in their lifestyle to try and live more sustainably, and provides some top tips on how to get started.

Is it all a bit overwhelming?

Looking at these Lent challenges can be a bit overwhelming.  And when we are overwhelmed, inaction rather action often prevails.
Sam and I started trying to change the way we lived about 10 years ago.  We started simply with bread.  That has developed into eco-paint, eco-detergents, a woodburning stove and solar panels on our roof!  When you come into our home, you do not enter an eco-paradise, but we are trying to make conscious choices that consider products from their construction to the end.  Hopefully we may have some hints and tips that can help you choose your own way to create good habits that benefit the whole world.

Make one small change to start

When we started to change our habits, we started with food.  As much as we’d have liked to go organic and fair-trade overnight, that simply wasn’t affordable.  So we opted to change the bread we bought.  We decided to only buy organic bread made with British flour.
Why organic?  Although the evidence for greater nutritional value in organic products is lacking, (the research says there is little or no direct nutritional advantage), if we can grow grains to make flour without using pesticides, shouldn’t we doing so?  Also, organic farming is amazing for supporting research into sustainable, healthy farming techniques and we wanted to support that even if it was only through loaves of bread.  The overall increase to our weekly shop was something we could afford and it’s something we have largely stuck to.
Next followed organic milk.  Dairy farming is a difficult business.  The margins for dairy farmers are really slim.  Organic milk seems to give them that much more chance to survive.  The welfare standards for organically farmed animals is higher, so that animals are generally better treated. Cows are also fed lots of hormones and are often on continuous antibiotics if they aren’t organic.
Change happens when we make sustainable choices.  Making one small change until it becomes a habit makes that choice one that is likely to stick.  Choose what is achievable and what is important to you.

Ideas for change:

  1. Change one of your foodstuffs.  Go fair-trade or organic.
  2. Change your washing up liquid.  Ecover, Method, and Earth Friendly are all good brands who work to improve their products and reduce waste.
  3. Eat less meat, eat more veg.  Replacing one of your meals each week doesn’t even require an addition of protein.  Most of us eat more than we need anyway!