Thursday, 27 October 2011

Being ego-friendly - why environmentalism has good effects on how you feel

Greetings NITC readers ... today's guest blog is brought to you from the wonderful Lisa, a totally green goddess and a contagiously happy bunny.

Most people equate environmentalism with not having fun, going without things and generally having a hair-shirt mentality. But this certainly doesn't have to be the case and I see myself as living proof that you can have varied experiences and laugh a lot at the same time as minimising harm to the world. So I am going to talk about some of the ways I have become a bit greener and how they have added value to my life.

There is of course no such thing as a carbon free lunch, but there is lots you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your shopping habits. As I'm sure you all know, reducing or stopping eating (particularly red) meat has health benefits, but also cuts down on your carbon footprint. Farming cattle causes the most environmental damage of any non-human species, causing deforestation, methane production and it just doesn't make sense to expend so much energy on growing soya and other products to feed to animals that we have to keep feeding to eventually eat. I stopped eating meat in 2003 and as well as feeling smug about my environmental impact reducing, I have been continuously healthy, spend less on food and never get food poisoning!

As the saying goes, the fruit does not fall far from the tree, but with so much of our fruit and vegetables being imported from thousands of miles away this is often not the case. Somehow it feels instinctively right to eat things that are in season; there is nothing better than a good squash or pumpkin soup now as it starts to get nippy outside or a crunchy salad at the height of summer. Plus eating things that are seasonally specific reduces pointless expending of carbon on flying or shipping things long distances. There is nothing that annoys me more than visiting the supermarket and seeing apples from New Zealand on the shelves, when the UK has well over 1000 native apple varieties. Plus different varieties are harvested at different times and some of the popular varieties can be stored easily for months to ensure that we never go without. It doesn't mean you can never have a treat or the odd exception, but with minimal changes to shopping habits you can vastly cut down on environmental impact. I find the easiest way is to have a vegetable box delivered weekly by a company that commits to the lowest possible food miles. This means guilt free eating, exposure to seasonal vegetables that challenge my cooking skills and taste buds, as well as a lovely present to open on my doorstep once a week. Jerulsalem artichoke burger anyone?!

If we were meant to fly we would've sprouted wings and there are a surprising number of places you can get to within a day without having to experience the joys of Easyjet. On average, travelling by rail results in about a third of the CO2 emissions of the equivalent domestic or short-haul flight in Europe. I have recently returned from the best holiday I have every had travelling around Spain and even visiting Morocco without my feet leaving the ground once. In addition to the means of travel having less impact on the environment, I saw wonderful sights that I wouldn't have seen if I'd just gone direct to one location, experienced no delays and felt an enormous sense of achievement putting together my itinerary. The best website for finding out how you can get anywhere in the world is:

These tiny changes benefits the environment, but also seem to benefit me. I would describe myself as one of the most contented and happy people I know and abstaining from eating meat, flying, driving and minimising my waste is part of that rather than in spite of it.

Hope it works for you!


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