“If one cares about the earth – if one respects nature – it is better to consume vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains. If you care about the planet and wish to adopt an earth-friendly lifestyle, it is advisable to focus only secondarily on the car that you drive, or recycling, or turning off lights and turning down heat, and primarily on what you buy at the grocery store. What we eat has a much greater impact on the environment.”
– Lisa Kemmerer
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the very special edition of Royal Endeavors, a one-of-the-kind episode but the first-from-many to follow, exclusively dedicated to promoting sustainability and the art of circular living.
For this meaningful episode I have teamed up with Absolut Vodka, whose vision of environmental protection manifests through the official launch of the limited edition Absolut Comeback bottles, made out of 41% recycled glass, just like all Absolut bottles.
Together with Absolut and empowered by their step-by-step guide to circular living, I have embarked on a personal journey to support the mission of all Recycling Heros around the world seeking to make a positive difference and bring their valuable environmentally friendly contribution to the world.
Please feel free and confident to implement any of the following small but important steps suggested by The Guide to Circular Living – the collective effort of Absolut and other inspirational minds from across the sustainability and creative industries, which brings together hacks and insights from Recycling Heros, such as zero waste pioneer Lauren Singer, environmental journalist Lucy Siegle and the founders behind brands from across the globe including Veja, Courri, Dandy Buenos Aires, The Green Hustle, Karma, Ocean Bottle, House of P and The Van Effect.
“All the human and animal manure which the world wastes, if returned to the land, instead of being thrown into the sea, would suffice to nourish the world.”
– Victor Hugo
We will dive deeply into the Celebration of Recycling Guide by pointing out the pressure our beautiful planet is under and that every effort, even the smallest step taken into the direction of environmental responsibility counts decisively to the Greater Good of Society.
Thanks to the dedication and perseverance of Recycling Heros – brands and organisations working around the world to make life more fair, circular and clean, as well as more stylish and enjoyable, we are presented a collection of easy-to-implement life hacks, which will also remind us of the opportunity to think differently about our resources and how we consume products, as we are all invited to approach behavioral change with creativity and flair.
We will start over with some simple wins and progressing to more challenging commitments along the way.
🥤 We can all avoid single use plastic by investing in reusable water bottles and coffee cups. If they are made by steel, like The Ocean Bottle, designed in Norway, it can be reused 1000s of times. What is even cooler about The Ocean Bottle is that every bottle funds the collection of 1000 ocean-bound plastic bottles in rivers and coastal communities around the world. Win-Win! Also, you don’t really need that plastic straw when you go out to drink responsibly, do you?
👚 There is no need to compromise our fashion style when we seek to support environmental care, but we could plan to rewear each piece multiple times, a small hack to avoid energy and water consumption so we should get ready to set a new personal record for number of wears before the pieces hit the laundry.
👜 A new popular trend in Romania is the the intent to drive single-use plastic shopping bags to extinction. This can be done by carrying our own cloth foldable version in our pockets, not only for shopping groceries, but for clothes and household items, too.
🍊 In order to avoid plastic use for wrapper fruits and vegetable, we can try buying directly from a local farm and farmer’s market that is plastic free.
🦷 Unfortunately, almost every disposable plastic toothbrush we’ve ever owned still exists, therefore a good solution would be swapping out the plastic disposable toothbrush for a bamboo version, whose nylon bristles could be cut off in order for it to be also used as a plant market, when we need to replace it.
🚴♀️ The best choice in the line of low impact to environment is cycling, which also proves to be very beneficial in the transformation of cities towards a safety driven approach to transportation.
🚰 There is no need to buy water bottles when the municipal one is treated to drinkable standards, a detail which can always be checked with the local water company if we are unsure. Moreover, if prefer water cold but intend to prevent the waste of tap water until it is cool, we can always pop the glass in the fridge.
🛒 Another simple measure we can take is to prioritize glass, paper and aluminum when we are shopping, because glass jars can be rinsed clean and reused or put into recycling when we have finished with them, while paper and aluminium are often more easily recycled than different types of plastic. To ‘live circular’, we need to choose simple materials that we know can be recycled into other products.
🚃 We can commit to making three journeys pollution-free every week by walking, cycling, taking the bus or using public transport, instead of jumping into a taxi or our own petrol or diesel car.
🌳There are many opportunities to support positive change with every step we take or even with every click we make, such as using a search engine that does something positive for the planet. For example, the revenue from searches made on Ecosia goes to planting trees. There are also music festivals and gatherings around the world supporting this movement.
🤳 We should take every opportunity we can to save energy. Mobile phones are more energy efficient than TVs or laptops, so we can use the phone for streaming. Also, streaming from Wi-fi uses less energy than using 3G or 4G.
🍓 Given the unfortunate fact nearly 50% of all the fruit and vegetables grown in the world are wasted, we can initiate a zero waste approach by starting small. As it is easy to forget to eat fruit, we can give it a second change when it goes past its best by chopping it up and freezing it to be used later in smoothies. Whether we’re pickling, fermenting or just simply freezing, we can all learn to respect our ingredients, live seasonal, buy local and preserve.
🍽 A life hack to little waste is the investment in store-cupboard essentials that are multi functional and natural, such as baking soda, which is one of the most versatile tools and totally plastic free, an antibacterial and a salt which can be used for everything from a spot treatment to a scuff remover and deodorant.
👓 Eye glasses can be both a fashion statement and an eco-friendly alternative to disposable contact lenses. Research from Arizona University shows that billions of contact lenses are being washed into waterways each year, where they degrade into tiny pieces of plastic called micro plastics.
👗 Taking into consideration the world produces over 100 billion new garments using resources like water, energy, cotton and oil and we’re increasingly trashing our clothes after they’ve hardly been worn, we can devote to cherish them more by using the ‘30 wears rule’ to slow down the cycle. If we can’t commit to wearing a new piece of wardrobe we intend to buy for more than 30 times as an absolute minimum, we don’t really need it and must walk on by.
🍔 Meat and dairy can be stretched by mixing with other ingredients; for instance, when making hand-make burgers, meat can be mixed with half seasoned and cooked mushrooms; butter can go further by mixing in olive oil.
👞 If something gets broken, we should make three attempts to get it repaired, whether we are talking about hair straighteners, a bicycle or a sports shoes where the sole has fallen off. Keeping stuff in circulation is key in our mission towards a more circular world, which also empowers small organizations like Community Repair Cafes, where those who are good at mending volunteer their time.
💆♀️ Beauty routine can be made more circular by swapping out single-use cotton wool pads (which normally contain some plastic) with reusable pads or cloths made from from organic cotton. We can also exclude wet wipes from the routine, as they are made of plastic polymers, do not degrade and can cause havoc when flushed into sewerage systems.
👔 Laundry habits can be changed by using grated laundry soap instead of commercial powder, and white vinegar instead of fabric softener to make a standard wash greener. Given the fact the delicate wash cycle in a washing machine can release up to 800,000 tiny fragments of microplastics into waterways and use twice as much water as a standard laundry cycle, it is also recommended to hand wash our delicate pieces of clothing in the sink.
🧖🏻♀️ Changing the beauty consumers’ behavior can proceed by swapping in a good old fashioned bar of soap and shampoo and conditioning bars, instead of taking in a multitude of different plastic bottles. Please remember planet-friendly showers are 3-5 minutes long!
🌴 A great environmental awareness skill we should start developing is taking note of the ingredients labels on food, clothes and cosmetics. As palm oil – an ingredient
in so many of our consumer products, including soap and potato chips – is connected with driving deforestation and habitat loss, we can avoid using it by checking the words Palm, Stear, Laur or Glyc on the labels.
🍶 To be truly circular we not only need to recover and recycle materials but transform the recycled content into new things. Absolut celebrates recycling with the new limited edition bottle that is made with more than 41% recycled glass, just like all Absolut bottles. Finding value for other types of waste is also a commitment made by environmental initiative Healthy Seas, which works with volunteer divers to recover lost fishing nets made from plastic that are then regenerated into brand new yarn (everything from socks to jackets made from recovered marine plastics).
We have to make the best of what we have in order to achieve our true potential are words to live by in what concerns sustainability, a movement which spans larger than just being resourceful about food. If we want something to be sustainable we need balance, making sure the resources needed don’t outstrip
the resources available.
🧶 Knowing how to sew a hem or mend your trousers is empowering! Once we are able to make simple alterations, a whole world of second hand thrift-store clothing opens up to you because we don’t need to search for the exact size anymore.
To be noted, the secondhand economy – a $24 billion market as of 2018 – is projected to grow to nearly 1.5 times the size of fast fashion (retailers with high turnaround and lower prices, like Zara and H&M) within the next 10 years, hitting a $64 billion evaluation, thredUp reports.
🌊 We can all contribute to cleaning movements and initiatives happening in our areas, whether in cities or at the beach, since 8-12 million tons of plastic enter the global ocean system every year. Far from being just litter picking, the initiative of the international beach clean movement brings people together to collect and analyse rubbish from beaches all over the world, their valuable collected data being used to turn the tide on plastic waste around the world.
🥦 Every kitchen needs a bit of greenery, so why not grow herbs at home in a simple plan pot? They can last for months and regrow nicely. And let’s not forget the decorative factor, too.
✈️ By planning purchases ahead and being a less demanding online shopper, when choosing a longer delivery time, we contribute less to the increased demand for carbon-intensive air freighted goods provided through the super fast, premium delivery services.
👖 As jeans are thirsty items, using 919 gallons of water in their lifetime per pair, we should wear them as long as possible between washes. Nearly a quarter of that water consumption depends on how we wear them and for how long. The tip to freshen up jeans some re-wearers swear by is putting jeans in the freezer to freshen or hanging them outside to diminish bacteria.
👣 We are also encouraged to travel local and take it slow, while exploring our surrounding landscape or local attractions without having to use the plane to enjoy nice spots and visit places.
👘 Unfortunately fashion is one of the most polluting industries on earth therefore we all could use creativity to add value to old pieces by transforming them, for instance using eco-friendly dyes to create a pattern on a stained T-shirt.
💨 Another way to stay fresh, natural and keep a zero-waste standard is by making your own deodorant in a reusable glass jar, by mixing 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, 1 tablespoon of shea butter and adding 5-10 drops of essential oils, as per Lauren Singer’s recipe.
🍂 As the humble backyard compost bin is the unsung hero of sustainable living, it is also where we can convert coffee and tea grounds, leaves and fresh grass into rich mulch that can be dug back into soil during the growing season.
💻 It is important to be keep ourselves informed from reliable and scientific sources about the environmental politics of our national government and how it is taking action to confront the climate crisis. We can always demand change and actions to be taken if we feel there isn’t enough progress.
👨👩👧👦 When we have done everything we can individually, we should think of how we can be part of something bigger, by plugging into local and global campaigns for change, as collective action is how we can get greater results.
I will also add my personal contribution to support sustainable fashion by bringing to light some aspects everybody should hear in order to be stylish and still lower the impact fashion has on the environment. We have already discussed how to avoid resources consumption, the 30 wears rule of new items and the involvement of creativity and the impact of transformation in giving clothing a new opportunity to shine.
Although I do not refrain from buying new fashion items, I prefer pre-owned and vintage clothing as it had already proved to be quality high and resistant in time.
I refresh thrift garments by bringing them to eco-friendly professional washing and treating soft materials with lanolin in order to span their lifetime in my wardrobe.
I also do not throw away clothing – I either donate it or use certain natural fabrics as cleaning cloth.
🕯Since we have discussed washing clothes already takes a toll on the environment through the use of water, electricity and toxic detergents, we can always switch to green laundry detergents.
💡 We can always show appreciation to brands which are considerate of humanity and environment by knowing which philosophy to support through our purchases.
💰 Whether through swapping items or making pre-owned shopping choices, we can save the negative impact of production, as the items we buy already exist. Quality is key in slow fashion, an environment friendly movement as it involves the production of fewer items. Of course, it is a rather difficult approach if we change styles, but that is why smart investments should be made in items that never go out of fashion.
🎓 Ensuring fair wages supports education and directly improves worker’s quality of life, promoting happiness and less conflicts in the world. It is always wise to check a brand’s “About Me” website section to see how well treating employees fairly fits into their philosophy.
🍄 The negative environmental impact caused by animals dying and suffering for the sake of fashion can be prevented by going vegan. Of course, this requires a bit of awareness and further label checking, as only innovative materials like pinatex, lenzing tencil, cork, seacell, mycoworks (mushroom skin) and brands that use recycled materials do have a positive impact on the environment. Plastic and non biodegradable alternative fibers used to replace animal based products don’t.
🛫 Local production proves to be environmentally friendly as well in the line of fashion, as it involves less CO2 put out by transportation and supports small businesses and local designers.
🥋Although I am not a great fan of Minimalism, having as little as possible drives less consumption. The only possible way to do it right is not by discarding the non-essential but by wearing what you already have as much time until you need another item of the same kind.
👕 Organic (cotton) is always better, as well as tencil, lensing, and hemp which offer comparable qualities and need less water for production. Organic cotton saves us from pesticides, it is better for our health, the land of the farmers and wildlife, if it is not dyed and treated with toxic chemicals. It still involves a significant water consumption. For example, producing just one kilogram of cotton takes 20 thousand liters of water.
🤷♀️ Recycled materials, however, are waste reducing. With recycled PET we become less reliant on on fossil fuels, which leads to the reduction of GHG emissions. Since these can sometimes use as much water and chemicals as producing new items, we should deeply consider if the quality of the new item made of recycled fabrics will last more than just a few seasons and it is not a time bound design.
💯 Only 100% materials can be recycled, as there is no technology at the moment to separate blended fibers (mixed materials). This means we should turn away from pieces which are, for example, 80% cotton/wool/anything and 20% something else.
These being said, I hope you have enjoyed this powerful read on sustainability and find the lifestyle hacks easy to implement. Every action towards environmental responsibility makes a difference and together we are even more powerful and committed to come forward to rejoice, as by every choice we make, the Earth is becoming greener.
“The paradox of life lies exactly in this: its resources are finite, but it itself is endless. Such a contradictory state of affairs is feasible only because the resources accessible to life can be used over and over again.”
– I.I. Gitelson
The Queen of All Queens,
Your beloved Highness,