As we enter our second national lockdown, it’s important for us to consider how our actions will affect the planet. Since the first national lockdown in March, researchers have explored the possibility of a green recovery from coronavirus for the economy, society and the environment. There are several ways that individuals can contribute to a green and sustainable city, and this blog post will help you to consider your consumption habits and their wider impacts.
Alternative Food Networks/Sustainable Food Suppliers
When it comes to changing your shopping habits to support local initiatives, food is an easy place to start. Leeds has a huge network of alternative food providers, offering a grocery shopping experience that differs from traditional supermarkets. Take a look at the resources below to discover some shops you’ve never heard of before:
- Waste-free and ethical shops like Ecotopia are still open for business despite lockdown – just check their social media for updates about whether they’re trading solely online, offering deliveries, or operating at restricted hours.
- Out of this World sells zero-waste and organic food and toiletries. If you read our skincare blogpost from last week and want to swap to some plastic-free products, shampoo bars and soaps sold here are generally very affordable!
- Rainbow Junktion is a pay-as-you-feel cafe using redirected food waste to make tasty meals. Throughout the last lockdown, they remained open and offered a take-out service. Take a look at their website for the most recent menus and for useful resources about food waste.
Here’s a list of traders at Leeds markets who are still trading despite the national lockdown (taken from @LeedsMarkets Twitter):
Your Shopping Habits
You can contribute to a green and sustainable economy by considering where and how you consume. As we approach Christmas in lockdown, it is likely that most of our shopping will be done online, rather than visiting shops in person. It’s easy to purchase cheaper products that clearly have a higher impact, with externalised costs to the environment and those who are employed by manufacturers.
You’ve probably heard of Kirkgate Market; it is the biggest covered market in Europe and it’s filled with independent sellers offering anything from fruit and veg, to fabric and wool. At the moment, the market is open as usual despite lockdown, and their traders are here to stay for now. So if you would like to get out of the house, away from your screens, and support independent business-owners this could be a great place to start! (And of course, don’t forget your mask and reusable bags).
An easy way to adopt more sustainable shopping practices is to reflect on what you already have, and what you really need. By reflecting on whether you need a new item, and what you are going to do with the items you already may open your eyes to the wasteful consumption that many of us take part in without even thinking twice! Especially with Black Friday looming, it’s tempting to buy into cheap deals and startling discounts, but when you think about the value this will really add to your life, is it really worth it?
The 15 Minute Neighbourhood is a concept where you are no more than 15 minutes away from accessing your basic needs, school, work and open spaces by bike or on foot. This is a great way to encourage active transport throughout a city, with planning and designing based around mobility that does not require finite energy resources or emit harmful toxins. Now that another lockdown has been announced, we’ll be inside our homes for more of our days than we’re used to – this gives you a chance to take advantage of the outdoors. Why not walk or cycle to do your food shop instead of driving, or explore the nearest green spaces you never knew surrounded you (see our blogpost from Week 2 to discover walking or running routes near you).
If you’d like to give cycling a go but you don’t own a bike, Leeds University’s Bike Hub provides a bike hire service! Simply book an appointment to collect a bike on their Eventbrite page, and return it when you want (just make sure you email them beforehand). If you have an old bike that’s in need of some TLC, the Bike Hub offers maintenance appointments and their website also directs you to some useful videos about how to care for your bike yourself. Once you’ve got your bike don’t forget to take a look at this week’s blogpost, Life is Better on Two Wheels, for some cycle route inspiration and to learn about the advantages of cycling!
Where Does Your Energy Come From?
As students, many of us opt to have our bills sorted by a third party. But do you really know where the energy that contributes to so much of your everyday life really comes from? Although the stats tell us that renewable sources are being added into the UK’s energy mix each year, do you know what powers your house? Although you may be tied into a contract for this year, if you’re planning on staying in Leeds or even moving to an entirely new city, take some time to research the best green energy suppliers for next year!
Do You Recycle?
If you look out your window, how many items can you count on the ground that could be recycled? It’s startling how many items go to landfill or end up in general bins, when they could actually be recycled. If you’re stuck on what to put in your bin, there are loads of resources available to show you how you should be separating your waste, which could make a huge difference to your environmental impact. Encourage your entire household to recycle properly, and maybe you’ll notice how little you’re strolling around the roads around your house trying to find an empty bin! For those items that are harder to dispose of, visit the recycling centre by Aldi in Kirkstall that takes all different materials (also useful for textiles recycling).