Living Recommends | Embracing the ‘ish’ of sustainable living

Living Recommends | Embracing the ‘ish’ of sustainable living
Copyright euronews
By Rosie Frost
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Jen Gale's didn't buy anything for a year. Her new book tells us all about small changes that make a big difference.


Facing the enormity of the climate crisis can often seem pretty bleak and the constant barrage of lifestyle changes we are being asked to make is overwhelming. It would be easy to let your eco-anxiety get the best of you but there are things that we can all do to make a difference and ease your sense of environmental guilt.

These everyday actions are what Jen Gale’s book is all about, breaking down the small steps you can take to reduce your impact on the planet. When her children were young, Gale decided to embark on a full year of not buying anything new. Using what she learned from this challenge, she has collected together all of her small, achievable successes to help you move on from your first steps towards sustainability. As well as writing books, she also runs a community aimed at helping those who are “imperfectly green”.

The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide covers everything from what you eat to how you dress but in a way that doesn’t make it feel like a chore. Despite being pretty comprehensive, Gale’s advice isn’t overwhelming. Instead, each section covers an area like food or family offering tips with an explanation of what impact you could have if you decide to make that change.

There is a surprising breadth of topics with instructions on some more technical aspects of plastic recycling all the way to finding ways to power your home that won’t leave you with such a big carbon footprint. Even if you are fully committed to reducing your environmental impact, Gale’s book is worth a read to remind yourself why you are doing it.

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Can individuals really make any difference?⠀ ⠀ This is a question that seems to come up every time I'm interviewed (because, you know, now I'm a world famous author ??) and I have the same answer each time:⠀ ⠀ You bloody bet we can (obviously I don't normally swear in interviews, just in case @bbcwomanshour are reading this and thinking they would get me on for a chat if only it wasn't for my potty mouth...)⠀ ⠀ Yes, we need massive action from government and businesses but that doesn't mean that our actions don't matter or count. ⠀ ⠀ We are more powerful than we know, or we think we are.⠀ Just look at the situation we're now in with single use plastics - the reactions that we've seen from governments, from businesses, has all been largely in response to us, as individuals, saying "we don't want this anymore". ⠀ That's how change happens.⠀ When enough people stand up and say "we don't want this anymore", vote with their feet, vote with their money, vote with their votes, change happens. It's people power in action. ⠀ ⠀ AND when we make one small, seemingly insignificant change, we also create ripples of change that we might not even see. When we remember our reusable coffee cup, maybe a colleague sees it and is more likely to remember theirs. When we do meat free Monday and our kids tell their friends, they might go home and ask their parents to do the same. When we switch energy suppliers to a renewable tariff and share our glee on social media, it might prompt a friend to switch too.⠀ ⠀ AND when we make one small change, we're more likely to then make another, and another.⠀ ⠀ So yes, individual choices do matter. ⠀ Just imagine if 7.7 billion of us believed that.

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“I firmly believe that’s what sustainable living is all about - making different choices. Getting informed, making a start, having a go. It’s about embracing the ‘ish’.” Gale acknowledges that there are no simple fixes, “the climate crisis is complex, and there’s no reason to think that the solutions will be any less so.”

Jen Gale's The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide is available from Green Tree for £12.99. More information can be found here.

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