Towards a sustainable life | A 12-months challenge

At the beginning of last year, I set myself the challenge to make a change towards a more sustainable lifestyle each month. Since going vegan, leading a more environmentally conscious life had been high on my list but admittedly, I did not quite know where to start. To make this mission less daunting, I decided to make at least one change a month, however small that may be. Because in the end, many small changes can jointly create a bigger one. That statement does not just apply to me but to every one – if 8 billion people make small changes to their lifestyle, imagine how big the impact would be. With climate change and the destruction of the planet representing pressing issues, we can all ask ourselves what we can do to cut down on waste, reduce our carbon footprint and preserve resources.

Anyway, after setting myself goals I went on to write a blog post introducing the sustainability challenge and listing ways we can help the environment. So now that the year has passed, I thought it would be a great opportunity to review my journey towards a more sustainable life and to share the ideas that came to my mind. Maybe this list can inspire to think about sustainability or make the whole concept appear a bit less overwhelming. Next to it being for a good cause, this challenge has been fun and rewarding and I am absolutely continuing it in 2019. So why not join me?

January | Buying a moon cup

Although switching to a moon cup can feel odd at first, I definitely wouldn’t go back now. Moon cups are a sustainable alternative to tampons and pads and a cheaper one as well – they can last you 10 years. Additionally, they cause less irritation and dryness and only require changing about every 12 hours, meaning less worries about public bathrooms when you’re on your period. Anyway, I ordered a Ruby Cup which was pricier than other menstrual cups but for every cup that you buy they donate one to a girl in need, helping women around the world.

February | Switching to vegan toothpaste

This one is pretty much self-explanatory. Although I had switched to cruelty-free and vegan products a while ago, I was still using up toothpaste that wasn’t certified cruelty-free. When I ran out in February, I officially switched to vegan and natural toothpaste (which I randomly bought in Stockholm by the way).

March | A reusable water bottle & a bamboo toothbrush

March was a good month in terms about my journey towards a more sustainable life. First of all my friend got me a reusable water bottle for my birthday – not only is it healthier than using plastic bottles, it also reduces waste and (extra bonus!) keeps my water cool. Apart from my switch to a reusable water bottle, I also bought a bamboo toothbrush. Billions of plastic toothbrushes are produced each year and a huge part of the plastic ends up in landfills our the oceans. Bamboo is a sustainable material, being both the fastest growing plant on earth and naturally antibacterial, removing the need for toxins. More and more shops are offering bamboo toothbrushes – I really like the Humble Brush from Holland and Barrett (which retails for 4 quid).

April | Reusable makeup wipes

Something I have been wanting to change for a long time was my use of makeup wipes and wet wipes. Instead of throwing them away after use, I invested in reusable cotton wipes that you can easily put in your washing machine. I bought 10 wipes from Boobalou (which is a fantastic website for sustainable products!) and they even came with a little wash bag. This year I am thinking of investigating in wipes that don’t require any makeup remover so I’ll make sure to keep you updated!

May | Getting a bread bag

Again a product I bought from Boobalou. This may not be the biggest change of all but I love buying fresh bread, either from my local market or a bakery and decided to reduce my waste by investigating in a bread bag. I also feel like my bread stays fresher when I use it.

June | Joining the local library

This one not only helps the environment, it also helps my bank account. If you know me you know how much I love reading. However, my book shelves in my room are filled to the brim and although I love owning books, I am also trying to cut down on my use of paper. I know e-books are an idea and although I love them for travelling, I’d usually pick a physical book over an electronic copy any time. So joining the library happened and I am honestly so glad that it did, walking around and discovering new books reminds me of the best days of my childhood.

July | Sustainable travel

As I was away in Bali in July I did not make any sustainable lifestyle changes per se. However, I tried my best to travel more sustainably, by taking public transport, trying to opt for products with less packaging and also walking a lot. Admittedly, I still have a long way to go when it comes to sustainable travel and I’d love to hear your suggestions below!

August | Switching to vegan hair dye

Hair dye were the last products I had to switch out for vegan ones – so after using up my bleach and hair products, I made sure to buy vegan/cruelty-free ones. One of my favourite brands are Bleach London and Ion, both of which are cruelty-free (and to my knowledge vegan as well).

September | Borough Market

In September I made an effort to buy a lot of my fresh products from a local market. Not only does this support local businesses, it also reduces transport and often packaging. Plus if you shop at Borough Market (which is generally on the expensive side), you can save a lot of money by shopping just before the market shuts. Not only does Borough Market sell amazing bread (which by the way gets reduced at pretty much exactly 4.20pm if you’re a broke student like me and wondering about this), they also sell a large variety of veggies including artichokes and very big portions of spinach.

October | Our flat is recycling

Better late than never, am I right? When I moved in I assumed recycling wasn’t an option, especially as neither my former flatmates or neighbours had ever recycled. Anyway, recycling is not only an option in my area, it is also extremely easy and I wish I had discovered this sooner. Apart from recycling at home, it’s great to recycle when you’re out and about and have the chance to do so e.g. at university.

November | Sustainable shaving

Who else has spent a lot of money on disposable razors and packets of 3 razor blades that then cost about 15 quid? Swapping to a bamboo safety razor is not only a sustainable alternative, it is also saving me a lot of money. If you take good care of your razor, it can last you many years. I bought the Bambaw Safety Razor but there are many different options out there. I also investigated in a big pot of natural shaving cream – I have had this for a few months and it basically still looks new.

December | Deodorant

Last but not least, I switched to natural deodorant in sustainable packaging – my favourite one so far is the Earth Conscious Natural Deodorant that basically works as a roll-on deodorant. However, I am still looking for cheaper options and even thinking about making my own version.

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Although this list is fairly long, it is by no means exhaustive. There are many creative ways to lead a more sustainable life, whether that may be choosing to walk or use public transport, going vegan, ditching packaging or simply switching to Ecosia, a search engine that uses money gained from ads to plant trees. Since I am continuing the Sustainability Challenge this year, I will hopefully come up with many more ideas and be living an even more sustainable life at the end of 2019. Feel free to join my in this challenge and send all of your advice my way – what are your suggestions for living a more sustainable life? xx