Buy Well for the planet
We as consumers in the last 300 years have become addicted to growth and consumption. In the 1900’s words like “conspicuous consumption” and “built-in-obsolescence” appeared. Conspicuous consumption is buying things we do not really need to “show off” our wealth. Built-in obsolescence is buying things designed to break down and force us to buy new. The problem is that each time we buy things, the factories where they make them will possibly be emitting carbon dioxide, and when they are destroyed, they may enter the landfill, where methane is emitted into the atmosphere.
So we need to change our buying habits in favour of thinking about the impact on our planet.
The following video, from a TED talk by Kate Raworth, brilliantly illustrates the problems that our economies face with the addiction to growth:
Under this category, we mean TVs, Washing Machines, Mobile phones and all sorts of electrical goods that we buy from time to time. A key component of Fridges, Washing machines, and Tumble Dryers is steel, and steel comes from iron ore. Steel is made in China and India, which rely on coal in its manufacture. Hence if we make sure that we buy less often (look to make them last longer), we can make an impact on the emissions of CO2.
When buying a washing machine, we need to think of the carbon emissions embedded in the machine as a result of the manufacturing process; the C02 eq for a washing machine is around 300-400 kg. You then need to consider the cost of washing and drying the laundry each time. A load of laundry washed at 400 C and dried on the line emits around 0.54 kg CO2 eq. But if the same load is washed and tumble dried, then the emissions shoot up to 2 kg CO2eq. So if you do a wash every fortnight, you will emit around 25 kg per year if you dry it “naturally” rather than 100 kg if you tumble dry. You can also see that a lot of the environmental damage comes from the initial purchase, so we should buy machines to last, and ideally get them repaired if possible.
Which? magazine has created reports on “Eco-Buys”. You can look up their recommendations for Washing machines, Dishwashers and Kettles by clicking on the following button before you buy.
We buy clothes to protect ourselves and show off fashions. But the production and distribution of clothes and disposal have a huge impact on the climate. Fashion is estimated to cause around 10 % of the world’s carbon emissions. The carbon emissions come from the production processes in China and India and transportation worldwide. Polyester, used widely in making clothes, uses around 70 mn barrels of oil a year in its manufacture. All of this leads to some fairly simple actions:
- Buy less and wear more, and buy what you need.
- Read the label. Avoid Polyester, and buy cotton instead – that halves carbon emissions, and gets rid of fossil fuels
- Buy brands committed to recycling and making clothes, for instance, from recycled polyester
- Don’t throw clothes away. Donate to shops which recycle clothes. Use less more times.
- Hire clothes, rather than buy new ones for a special occasion (like a wedding). But beware of transportation costs.
- Watch your washing. Washing can release fibres into the environment.
Click on the following button to find a useful article on making fashion climate-friendly.
We buy all sorts of products for daily consumption, normally bought in plastic or similar packaging, which we then throw away. The packaging causes carbon dioxide emissions in their manufacture, but also end up in landfill or the sea causing further damage to the environment and sea life.
Also, much personal care and similar products contain palm oil in their production, which has dramatic impacts on palm oil forests in the Far East.
Simple actions to take when buying products are:
- Avoid products in (single-use) plastic containers
- Check the labels for products which are not environmentally-friendly
- Buy locally from shops which sell concentrated products that can be refilled.
Click on the following button to find a fantastic guide to shops in Shrewsbury (selling consumables and much more besides) that will help you buy in a climate-friendly way
Our society is set up to take natural resources, make them into things, and then dispose of them when they’re no longer deemed useful. This is known as the linear economy.
People talk more and more about the circular economy. This means creating and using products designed to go from earth to earth with minimum environmental impact. It’s about keeping materials and products in use for as long as possible by making them durable, repairable and upgradeable. When they are finally no longer wanted, the ‘waste’ material is used to make new products or, for organic material, returned to the soil. And everything is powered by renewable energy. The following video is a great explanation of the fundamental change required.
What is a Repair Café?
We throw away vast amounts of stuff. Even things with almost nothing wrong could get a new lease on life after a simple repair. The trouble is, lots of people have forgotten that they can repair things themselves. Especially younger generations no longer know how to do that. Knowing how to make repairs is a skill quickly lost. This is a threat to a sustainable future and to the circular economy, in which raw materials can be reused again and again.
Repair Cafés are free meeting places, and they’re all about repairing things (together). In the place where a Repair Café is located, you’ll find tools and materials to help you make any repairs you need. On clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, toys, et cetera. You’ll also find expert volunteers, with repair skills in all kinds of fields. There are three repair cafes in Shropshire
Visitors bring their broken items from home. Together with the specialists, they start making their repairs in the Repair Café. It’s an ongoing learning process. You can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee if you have nothing to repair. Or you can lend a hand with someone else’s repair job. You can also get inspired at the reading table – by leafing through books on repairs and DIY.
The Repair Café was initiated by Martine Postma. Since 2007, she has been striving for sustainability at a local level in many ways. Martine organised the very first Repair Café in Amsterdam, on October 18, 2009. It was a great success.
This prompted Martine to start the Repair Café Foundation. Since 2011, this non-profit organisation has provided professional support to local groups in the Netherlands and other countries wishing to start their own Repair Café.
If you want to find out more about the repair cafe organisation, and get some help in setting one up (there is a fee of Eur 49.00) then click on the following button: