This year is one many of us would like to forget. As the devastation of the pandemic continues to affect families around the world, it is hard to look for opportunities. However this is a rare event. The traditional hustle and bustle created by the capitalist machine has somewhat slowed. This is the breathing space many of us need to adjust our lives, reduce our environmental impact and start to build a healthier future.
I was chatting with one of my best friends the other day and we remarked that 2020 is the year of the ‘forced slow down’. For many, the pace of change has intensified but for others, including myself, my time is less rushed. The fear of missing out is not looming large and I have the space to figure out what I really want. My state of perpetual rush caused a distinct lack of mindfulness in my life.
Recently I found myself just standing in my house. So I wrote about it. You can read the reflection ‘Slowing Down’ below. It inspired the latest series of Planet B Insights which, called ‘The Sustainable Slow Down’. As we begin to transition into the next phase of whatever 2020 holds, we have a bit of breathing space. Reducing energy usage and switching to solar is one of the top 5 ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Travel, everyday transport, plant based diets and having less children are are a few of the others.
So the next few blogs will explore sustainable switching of food, transport, work and energy to name a few.
Sustainable Switching and Slowing Down
Sustainable switching is the process of reflecting on actions, purchases and preferences to understand if there is a more sustainable alternative.
It really is about mindful consumption and living.
No doubt, many of us aim to live in this state. We try to prioritise minimising our impact on the environment. However, for me, it became a regular occurrence to prioritise convenience over sustainability. In my mad rush to live an unnecessarily busy lifestyle, I often cut corners.
Over the past few weeks, I have spent time pausing and reflecting. Now, I am most definitely not some mindful warrior who is constantly in some meditative trance. But I am just taking some smaller breaks in my day to think about where I am, what I am doing and if there is a better way.
The Tortilla Moment of 2020
One of the first things I did to slow down was look at my shopping list. I decided that week I wanted to make burritos. So tortillas went on the shopping list. However, instead of mindlessly purchasing them, I asked myself if I could make them. After a quick search I found a simple recipe.
Although it probably took 30 minutes extra, it saved a piece of plastic that would probably exist on this planet for 300 years.
These wraps reminded me of my time in Italy last year where I met a slow food farmer. Giuseppe believed in bringing the farm to plate story to his community. He made everything by hand and knew exactly where his food came from. Read the Planet B Insights interview with Giuseppe from Lecce, Italy here.
Giving New Life to Food Scraps
I’ve also started growing my own food from food scraps. It’s a great way to save a few dollars, reduce food waste that leads to methane in landfill and learn a bit more about growing food. I started with the ends of spring onions and then moved onto celery. I just popped the celery in a shallow bowl of water and changed the every few days for about a week. Then I put it in the ground and it’s growing so nicely! At the shops, Celery often has a lot of scraps that end up in bin or even worse comes wrapped in plastic. So this little sustainable switch is a bit of fun but also a win for the environment. Look how cute it is!
Below is my reflection from that moment where I found myself randomly standing still in my house. As life begins to shift again and some areas move out of lockdown, it’s a time for to reflect on what worked and which habits to hold onto!
I’m standing still in my house. This is a relatively new phenomenon to me.
Usually I am rushing.
I usually move between rooms in order to get out the door. Bedroom, bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, study, kitchen, bathroom, front door.
This swift movement usually takes about 40 minutes. Now it’s takes about 10 hours.
Everything is slower.
My routine is elongated. My life is in my home.
Previously, if my routine took 10 hours I would be a frustrated, flustered mess.
However, this is my new reality.
I don’t see people anymore, I tend to my plants instead.
I don’t eat out anymore, I cook to pass the time instead.
I don’t buy as many vegetables anymore, I grow my own instead.
I don’t drive anywhere anymore, I walk to shops and enjoy nature instead.
I don’t buy as much plastic, I actively look for alternatives instead.
I don’t go into the workplace, I work from my beautiful and peaceful study instead.
I don’t go out drinking, I have a few quiet beers in front of a video call instead.
I don’t watch Netflix to wind down, I read books and write instead.
My habits are starting to match my values.
Slowing down is helping me adjust. My days aren’t perfect. However, this time is allowing me to shift.
Slowing down wasn’t intentional. The first few weeks of isolation were full of takeaway, Netflix and drinking. I was figuring out how to adjust. However as time ticks on, I’m seeing some changes to my life that I want to keep.