2021 marks my 10th year of being a green vegan chick! So I thought of posting 10 things that can help you be a green vegan.
1. Eat more plant-based
In 2011, I realised the food on my plate has the power to hurt or help heal the planet.
I have a deep love for all animals and know that animal agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Being vegan is kind of like having superpowers as I get to save animals, protect the environment and be healthier in the process. #triplethreat
Veganuary is a non-profit that inspires people across the world to try the vegan lifestyle for the month of January, or even permanently. If you are interested in eating plant-based this January, you can sign up here. Veganuary will provide you with easy meal plans, recipes, as well as helpful tips.
I created my blog in 2018 because I wanted to catalogue recipes, resources and all the green vegan products I love, in order to showcase that the green vegan lifestyle is not as hard as people think.
2. Reduce your waste
In 2018 I switched to zero waste living. It was inevitable that my green vegan journey would lead me to zero waste living, as it is one of the biggest ways to positively impact waste pollution, which not only poisons the earth but kills countless of animals.
The goal of zero waste living is not to generate zero waste, but to rather constantly strive toward reducing the waste you are personally responsible for. I no longer buy fruit and veggies in plastic packaging, and I buy most of the dry goods in my pantry packaging free. If you would like to know of places where you can shop zero waste, have a look here.
Zero waste living is a part of every aspect of my life. On my blog’s food and drink section, I share products I personally love that are packaging-free or packaged in sustainable packaging. I also have a section where I post about the on the go reusables that I like to use, as well as sections where I share the home & garden, and body & beauty products that I love.
3. Compost your food waste
When you throw organic waste in the bin, it will end up in a landfill where decomposition is anaerobic, which will produce methane – a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and climate change. During the biodegrading process in a landfill, there is very little dirt or oxygen, and hardly any micro-organisms. So, in order for aerobic biodegration to take place, organic waste needs to be placed in soil where micro-organisms, light, water, and oxygen can help break it down without causing environmental damage.
I have been trying to reduce the amount of food waste I am responsible for. One way is to buy less. Because I buy packaging-free fresh fruit and veg weekly, I can control the amount I buy of each item. I know I go through tomatoes quickly so I buy a lot, but I don’t always get to all the onions so I buy less. And, instead of throwing the food waste, I do create, together with the offcuts, into the bin, I’ve invested in Earth Probiotic Bokashi bins which, when full, I take to a local farm where it can be composted.
Bokashi bins basically allow a pre-composting fermentation process to happen, which accelerates the breakdown process. We use bokashi bins because we have a paved courtyard, and not a garden, so we can’t compost in a garden bed. We are looking into alternatives. Read more about bokashi bins here.
4. avoid fast fashion
In 2019 I made a decision to no longer support fast fashion clothing brands.
Fast fashion is basically the cheap clothing, large retailers produce quickly, to keep up with the latest trends. But what it also refers to is how quickly that clothing, once out of fashion, ends up as waste. The fast fashion industry is responsible for polluting of the oceans with micro-plastics, and contributes approx. 10% carbon emissions to the environment. Fast fashion is often made by garment workers who get paid very little, are treated unfairly and work excessive hours in horrible conditions.
Slow Fashion on the other hand, refers to good quality, timeless clothing, that is locally made, with a lower carbon footprint, which often includes aiming for zero waste. Slow fashion costs more, because it is made to last, by people who are treated fairly.
Here in South Africa we have so many amazing local clothing brands to support. I have created a fashion section on my blog so I can showcase some of these brands.
5. switch to natural ingredients
Did you know that 60% of the everyday beauty and personal care products that we use, is absorbed by our bodies? They contain harmful synthetic chemical ingredients, like petrochemical-derived ingredients, parabens, sulphates, fluoride, aluminium, and synthetic colourants and fragrances. To most, they might just be technical words written on the label of the product, but it is really important to know what they are, and how they negatively affect your body and the environment.
By using green and eco personal care products we can help decrease the toxic load on our bodies & the environment. These products contain no synthetic chemicals and use only naturally derived ingredients.
I’ve been using natural ingredient products for longer than I’ve been vegan, and have created a body & beauty section on my blog so I can share all the amazing local all-natural, cruelty-free products I love.
Thrifting is an amazing way to reduce waste, and save money! It takes a lot of resources and energy to make something, so buying something that already exists will reduce your carbon footprint.
I’m a huge supporter of buying second hand – most of our house is filled with pre-loved furniture and decor, and most of my clothes are second hand, if not local. A lot of the pieces in our home were passed on to us, so we saved tons of money. We regularly shop in antique stores, charity stores, on Facebook marketplace, and at thrift markets like the thrift fest.
I share a lot of the thrifted items we have in our home on my Instagram, so be sure to have a look there.
7. donate your unwanted items
When my husband and I merged our households, we had double of everything. Both of us had lots of second-hand furniture, appliances, and other bits and bobs. Our house is small, so we also had to pare down all the items in our home. What we didn’t sell on Facebook Marketplace, we donated to charity stores – mainly the Tears Charity Centre in Tokai. This way, instead of throwing it in a landfill where it will be wasted and cause harm to the environment, it can be reused by someone else, and the charity shop makes some money.
We often joke about the amount of stuff we have donated, having dropped off numerous cars full. But the truth is that it is no laughing matter. In today’s world, while so many people are struggling to survive, there are many that have much more than they need. We buy into the consumerism culture, which is filled with items that are not made to last. Living in a smaller house and living a zero-waste life has taught us to only have pieces that we love and use. Keeping something simply for the sake of it doesn’t make sense. Now we tend to buy less stuff and choose items that will last.
Donating second-hand clothing is also important, as a very small percentage of unwanted clothes actually get’s recycled. If you want to make some extra money, you could sell your clothes on Yaga, Facebook Marketplace, or to a second-hand clothing small business. And also consider mending damaged clothes instead of throwing them in the bin. And if there is something in your cupboard you no longer wear because of something you would like to change to make it fit better, then why not take it to a tailor.
8. buy local
Buying local not only helps to support the local economy but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. If you buy something made or grown in a faraway country it has to travel a significant distance. The further the distance the more greenhouse gas emissions are generated. And you also have to consider the greenhouse gas emissions involved in the storage of that product, as it will be stored on both sides of the transport.
I love buying local because I get to talk to the creators themselves. The small local businesses I support are all owned by people who care about reducing animal cruelty and protecting our environment. And they are open to evolving. I have just recently had a discussion with a small business that has agreed to take back their packaging and refill it for me, when I run out, instead of having to buy the packaging again.
My blog is full of amazing products made by local brands.
9. save water & energy
Water is a renewable resource, that is under threat. The National Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Areas (NFEPAs ) state that 60% of our SA river ecosystems are threatened, whilst 23% are critically endangered. 65% of our wetlands are threatened, and 48% are critically endangered. We must urgently act to protect our water resources, and we must also all use water wisely.
A healthy water resource is one that has a rich natural diversity of plants and animals, and is free from harmful pollution. According to WWF Africa, the top threats to our water sources are: climate change, land degradation, coal mining, alien plants, fires, plantations, and large scale cultivation. I have also read that South Africa is approaching physical water scarcity by 2025, so we must all reduce our water consumption now, and urge our fellow South African’s to care for our waterways. I will be sharing ways that we save water at home on my blog,
Most of South Africa’s electricity is produced from coal, which releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change. We must insist on large scale change by reaching out to our local government. We desperately need them to invest in sustainable energy solutions that reduce harmful carbon emissions. Personally, each of us can save energy at home, and switch to greener alternatives. I will be sharing ways that we save energy at home on my blog,
10. share what you are doing
Be the person who creates positive ripple effects” – Camilla Kragius. By sharing what you are doing to be a green vegan, you can inspire others.
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