Global crisis – local solutions

“Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time.”

How can we reduce our impact on the environment? Are there are any steps we can take locally? Wendy Edwards has some suggestions:

The advice: “Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time”  is possibly from 1950s America. The members of the Baltimore Grotto Caving Club were concerned to avoid harming the underground caves which they explored so the quotation was a helpful reminder for them.

I am a not a great photographer, so I am more likely to take away memories from any experience rather than photos.

I was brought up never to drop litter and to take my rubbish home with me. It seems that many would do well to adopt this habit. I find it scandalous that motorway litter-picking workers place their lives at risk on motorway verges, collecting litter thrown from cars near motorway service stations.  ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ seems to be the mentality of thoughtless car occupants when they lob their coffee cup or sandwich wrapper out of the car window.

I do my level best to recycle properly at home and at the dump and to be careful about what I put in my recycling bin and non-recycling (land waste) bin each week.

I am also a vegan.  I have enjoyed a healthy, varied plant-strong diet for five years now. As a vegan who wishes to further reduce her impact on the environment, I was delighted to discover the tiny but perfectly formed vegan café called Okomoko at 18 Downing Street, Farnham.

It has a Facebook page which you can find here, and it is open some evenings for themed evenings.

Upstairs there is a zero waste zone, run by the very helpful Annabel and Sarah. Here, at Keep (as in Keep Old Containers) you can take your own containers in to collect some of your weekly shop. For example, you can fill an airtight jar or biscuit tin from home with some beetroot/ mixed vegetable or potato crisps. In the UK, we munch our way through six billion packets of crisps a year and throw the non-recyclable plastic packets into our non-recyclable bins, so they end up in landfill and can take more than 30 years to decompose, sometimes much longer.

Walkers, our biggest crisp manufacturer, has pledged to make crisp packaging 100 per cent recyclable by 2025, but if you want to do your bit now, then do consider buying your crisps at Keep. They also try to help animals and the environment and prevent excess packaging by having various products e.g. fabric conditioner, washing-up liquid, floor cleaner and multi-surface cleaners in huge pump-action containers so you can fill up and re-use your existing containers.

When my Ecover washing up liquid at home runs out, I will keep the container ( I usually throw it away in my recycling bin and buy a new one but re-using it is much more sensible) and I will refill it with their environmentally friendly, vegan, washing-up liquid which is certified as not tested on or harmful to animals.

Some popular brands are harmful to fish. For reasons unknown to me, young fish never seem to have the popular appeal of puppies, lambs, piglets or kittens, but neither they nor their parents or siblings deserve to die because we humans wish to wash our dishes in a liquid which is but poisonous to fish or because we do not bother to look at the back label on the bottle. There is a warning on the back of many bottles – “harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects”.

The cost for the all-surface cleaner on sale in Keep, above Okomoko, is 30 pence per 100 ml (so just £1.50 for a 500 ml bottle I supply myself; not a bad price at all) and Annabel says that the Environment Agency was very impressed with the speed with which it killed bacteria as tested in the Okomoko café kitchen downstairs. The café has the maximum hygiene rating of 5. So, these products are effective at killing germs while saving the lives of the fish we may not give a second thought to as we plod on with our housework or washing up.

For Keep, visit the Facebook page here or follow the shop on Twitter (@keepzerowaste) and they do pop-up shops in various locations too, and are happy to give talks.

It may not cost you as much as you think to start buying environmentally friendly, animal friendly, effective cleaning products from a local supplier, while also reusing your old containers. Sounds like a win-win situation for humans, animals and our beautiful planet, and that gets my vote every time.

 

Wendy Edwards

 

Pictured are Annabel (left) and Sarah in Keep.

 

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