My sustainable lifestyle audit: where I am, where I want to be

by Hanna Pumfrey

Inspired by my The People Label colleague Hannah Theisen of lifestylejustice.com I have decided to carry out a ‘lifestyle audit’, something I plan to do every quarter, to plot my progress towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Hopefully there will be some easy to implement changes/switches that you guys will find useful too!

I started this journey in early 2017 and since then I have been constantly researching, learning and re-evaluating my lifestyle to better align with my values and pledge to live a sustainable life. For the audit, I have broken my lifestyle up into what I believe are the six key areas of my life; food, clothing, hygiene and beauty, household activity and waste.

So, audit one, here we come, let’s see how we’re doing just over 6 months in!

FOOD

farmshop vegetables

What’s going well?

 Now it’s no coincidence that food is at the top of the audit list. For one, I love food, but for two this is the area where I feel I have made the most progress. Six months ago, I was a supermarket shopping omnivore who, although never a big meat eater, gave little to zero thought to where her food was coming from, the impact of pesticides and fertilisers on either the environment or health, and plastic waste? Well, that’s not something that I needed to be worried about, right? Well, wrong, and six months later, after consuming a multitude of enlightening Netflix documentaries and some rather poignant literature I am now completely vegan at home. I say at home because in the UK my experience is that finding tasty vegan options in restaurants is still limited. So, in the interest of not killing all the fun of eating out I tend to relax the rules to vegetarianism when in a restaurant. We have also made the switch to organic and feel so much better for it.

What could be improved?

 As a busy twenty something with a demanding full time job and a small side project of a sustainable lifestyle platform to manage planning my meals is still a challenge. Where possible, my boyfriend and I try to do weekly shops from ethical grocers such as Farmdrop or to visit farmer’s markets on the weekend to stock up on locally sourced, seasonal veg. Inevitably though, there is something we have forgotten and we end up in the local supermarket grabbing the most convenient item to make a simple meal when we arrive home exhausted from the day. Often the veg we end up buying on these supermarket trips is not seasonal nor locally sourced. This is an area I need to work on and hope to be able to say we are eating only seasonal produce at home by my next audit!

CLOTHING

What’s going well?

people tree jumpsuit Hanna Pumfrey

Unlike with food, I have always been acutely aware of both the human rights and environmental effects of the fast fashion industry. As a strapped for cash student and then a graduate living in London, ethical fashion brands were way out of my price range. I am now lucky enough to have a job that allows me to invest in ethical brands and build a sustainable wardrobe that I can be proud of. To date, my favourite purchases have been a People Tree jumpsuit that has served me in all manner of situations from a boardroom meeting with heels to a casual Sunday brunch with pumps. Next on the list, it is time to replace my extremely holey basic t-shirts. If I don’t get rid soon I fear the boyfriend may get rid of me! I’m going to be trying basics from Les Sublimes, an eco-friendly French brand.

What could be improved?

 My wardrobe is currently a complete mix of high street, charity shop, vintage shop and ethical brands. I won’t be throwing out any of my fast fashion items and will continue to get as much wear out of them as possible. What I have vowed though is that I will replace all worn out fast fashion items with purchases from responsible brands.

Favourite new brands to date:

HYGIENE AND BEAUTY

 What’s going well?

 Well, I’ve stopped using Bobbi Brown makeup… that is a huge step forwards. Until recently I was completely ignorant to the harmful effects of the chemicals used in Bobbi Brown’s or that they test on animals (if I could use the monkey covering its face emoji here I would!). Until I started this journey, I just didn’t even think to consider this but as soon as I did I knew I need to make a change.

I am now using:

soap.jpeg
  • Kjaer Weiss foundation, all natural and super light, it comes in a refillable pot (massive tick!)
  • Lily Lolo bronzer, a UK cruelty free certified brand using only natural ingredients that are impact free on both your face and the environment
  • W3ll People Mascara, uses natural ingredients and handcrafts all its products in small batches to limit waste
  • Madara moisturiser, an ECOCERT brand from Latvia.

I have also made the switch to soap bars instead of shower gel and shampoo.

What could be improved?

 Although overall my beauty products have a much more positive impact on both my face and the environment, bar the Kjaer Weiss refillable foundation, they all still come in single use plastic bottles. So, I’ll be continuing to research other alternatives! If you have any suggestions, please do pop them in the comments below.

Although I’ve purchased a bamboo toothbrush, I am still using a plastic razer, single use dental floss, and standard toothpaste etc. As these products run out I am slowly replacing them all with sustainable and zero waste options so that by the time I do my next audit I hope to be able to say my bathroom activities are 100% zero waste.

HOUSEHOLD ACTIVITY

What’s going well?

 Since moving in together, my boyfriend and I have been making a concerted effort to cut down our household waste. We have trialled going to farmer’s markets, local low waste shops and ordering online to see what works best for us.

cleaning essentials cleaning products

The reality is, we both lead busy lives and although we love the experience of going to a farmer’s market at the weekend and handpicking our groceries this just isn’t possible, so we made the decision to shop online with ethical and sustainable grocer Farmdrop. Farmdrop source all their fresh products in the UK, use electric vehicles to deliver your produce and use minimal packaging.

We are also starting to make our own cleaning products using natural ingredients and recipes and reusable bottles from Cleaning Essentials. Cleaning Essentials make it super easy to make your own by providing reusable containers with amounts and ingredients on the side of the container.

What could be improved?

 Our energy consumption, we moved into our new flat a couple of months ago and are still getting set up. High on my list of priorities is to switch to a green energy supplier.

 

WASTE

 What’s going well?

When I think about where I was 6 months ago, buying take out coffee in disposable cups, buying lunch out in single use packaging, shopping in mainstream supermarkets that individually wrap aubergines then I have taken a massive step forward!

I now own a keepcup and a reusable water bottle that I use every time I buy a drink out or in the office. I have also cut down buying lunch out to just 1 or 2 times a week and endeavour to bring my own knife and fork to try and minimise that waste. Still having to chuck the wrapping though!!

At home, we have reduced our waste to a 1 litre (biodegradable) bag a week, plus food waste.

What could be improved?

Although I am pleased with my progress, I still have waste so there is a long way to go.

be for change bag

Ana, of Be for Change, recently said an interesting thing to me, that perhaps it is not that we need to stop buying lunch out at work it is just that we need a cultural shift. Rather than buying a takeout, why not sit in. That way you are avoiding single use containers and taking the time to have a break from the screen and refresh yourself. So, this is my plan!

At home, we are unable to compost ourselves, so we need to start regularly saving our food scraps and either using them for something else like veg stock or taking them to our local city farm for composting.

 

And I think that covers it! I’ll revisit this "audit" in a few months, to mark the improvements I've made since writing this. I'd love to hear where you are at in your own journey to sustainability, either here in the comments or over on Instagram @florandcesta! 

 

 

 

RELATED POSTS