A-Z of Sustainability

In this article we thought we would chat through a full A-Z of Sustainability, sometimes it’s hard to see how our individual actions can make a difference, but they do.

Sustainability is a bit of a buzz word at the moment and quite rightly so, we are living in a world where business has little excuse to operate sustainable, or at least be moving towards more sustainable operations. Here at Lil Creative Studio we take pride in our ethical design seeking to use design to influence people’s behaviour to help our society as whole.

It’s the little things that make a change.

(This article was inspired by an Instagram series I did a few years ago to remind people our everyday actions do make a difference. Each of the of the headings link to the original Instagram post).

We have all heard the quote

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Everything we do makes a difference. Whether you recycle, walk instead of drive, bring your own cup, or subscribe to sustainable energy company. Every positive action we take brings us one step closer to changing the world.

#SustainableTips – Take little steps to make a difference and don’t wait for action, you can take those little steps to action right now.

Loss of habitat is affecting bee population worldwide. We can all help by planting bee friendly plants in our gardens, balconies and window boxes. Search online to find the plants that will suit your garden space.

In our garden we have a slug problem, however, we have found a selection of herbs that the slugs leave alone. And we have the added benefit of eating the handpicked flavours in our meals. Yum! Or follow the lead of my oldest daughter and her friends – rescue tired bees. The kids all carry sugar packets in their pockets, and when they see a struggling bee they leave a solution of sugar and water for revive the exhausted bee.

#SustainableTips – You don’t need a huge garden to create a welcoming habitat for bees, even the smallest of backyards can have a selection of bee friendly potted plants.

There has been a lot in the news recently about fast fashion. Fashion that travels quickly from the catwalk, to the store, to the consumer, and finally to the bin. We all have a hand in creating and accelerating this cycle, but what can we do to slow it down?

1. Shop sustainable brands

2. Shop second hand

3. Only buy items that you will wear often

4. Look after your clothing

5. Swap your clothing

6. Donate your clothing to charity

#SustainableTips – when you think you have nothing to wear, take a step back and have a real good look at your wardrobe, take the time to experiment a little, you might find a new lease of life in the clothes you’ve got rather than buying new ones!

​Our fast paced consumer culture has lead to mass single use products and packaging. We live in a time where we are consumed by Fast Fashion, it is cheaper to buy new than repair, technology is obsolete within a few years and so we must continuously upgrade, and everything comes packaged – whether it needs to or not.

I don’t have an answer for this. As a designer I consider the lifespan of everything I design. As a consumer I am trying to make conscious decisions when buying. But it’s hard, the sheer pace of life means I don’t have time to make sure the leaflet is on the right paper, darn the hole in my jumper, to get to the only shop that refills my food and cleaning products, to buy only unpackaged food. All I can say is keep trying, together we can make a difference.

#SustainableTips – take a weekend to get organised; containers for package free food, make sure you have reusable bags in every bag and car door, take some time to meal prep some lunches that easy to grab. All these little changes will mean that you can smarter choices even when you are busy and rushed off your feet.

Ethical Living is a personal choice, but it has the feeling of gaining momentum as a social movement. It is not about consumerism v minimalism, rather it is about making the ethical choices when buying.

Many people make the decision to start living ethically by recycling, buying fair-trade and local produce. My care for the world around me began in primary school during an aluminium recycling fundraiser. We all designed posters and I can still remember mine (looking back – maybe that’s a sign!) It has instilled in me a passion for waste. I hate it. I reuse and upcycle before recycling what I can in our house. I don’t throw items away in case they can be used again. This in turn has lead to other areas of work and our lives.

How to live ethically? Start small. Make the easy changes first and then look around and see what bigger steps you can take. We are in the process of changing some of our daily behaviour cycles to accommodate the bigger steps. And don’t be discouraged. It’s not easy as much of our fast paced moderns lives are not geared up for ethical living.

#SustainableTips – worried about space and storing things to reuse? Dedicate an area of the house to storing items for reusing. Trust me us you won’t regret it.

“Fairtrade sets social, economic and environmental standards for both companies and the farmers and workers who grow the food we love. For farmers and workers the standards include protection of workers’ rights and the environment, for companies they include the payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community projects of the community’s choice.”

How can I help? chose to buy products with the Fairtrade badge, there are more than 6,000 products available in the UK.

#SustainableTips – make a change to Fairtrade from today, swap out a new item each week and replace it with Fairtrade.

Simple changes to your home can have a positive impact.

Reduce

•  Packaging you purchase with products

•  Waste, carefully consider the need for your purchases, use up food, eat up left overs.

Reuse

•  Repair

•  Give to charity

•  Hand down, items do not always need to be new

•  Buy from charity shops, second hand.

Recycle

•  Where packaging is needed ensure it is recyclable.

•  Some items can only be recycled at specialist points, find them, use them.

#SustainableTips – it might seem a lot at first but once you’ve formed a new habit having a green home will actually be easier in the long run.

Did you know the amount of household waste could fill Britain’s largest lake, Lake Windermere in 8 months?

 •  Only 7% of plastic bottle are recycled globally*

 •  One third of all food produced across the globe is lost or wasted*

 •  1 truck of plastic is dumped in the sea every minute*

 •  1 billion black food trays go to landfill ever year in the UK*

Recycling is no longer enough. As consumers we need to consider everything we purchase

What can we do to waste less?

 •  Reduce the amount of plastic packaging you buy

 •  Cut your food waste down by only buying the food you need

 •  Repair items rather than buying new

 •  Buy secondhand, not everything needs to be new.

#SustainableTips – Small steps by many people will make a difference, encourage family and friends to join you in your household waste reducing mission!

The present defines the future. The future builds on the foundation of the past. – Lailah Gifty Akita

Sustainable Innovation is the key. The key to the way we do business; integrating sustainability considerations from idea generation, research & development to commercialisation. This applies to all areas of business from products, services, processes to technologies. We need to search and embrace new methods, systems and technologies. Quite simply we need to change the way we work and we live.

#SustainableTips – take a little time to explore other ways you can operate your business, thinking outside the box and networking with other business owners will help with this.

Recycled in a closed loop. Glass is a natural material that can be produced spontaneously even without human intervention when intense heat melts sand. Even though the production of glass has evolved significantly, it is still made from natural abundant materials such as sand, soda ash (sodium carbonate) and limestone. It is a very safe material to the environment as it does not leak any substance into the soil, water or air.

#SustainableTips – save jars you find and take them to a refill store for all your essentials. Jars can be used for all sort of wild and wonderful things!

Kidfluence refers to the influence that children exert, directly and indirectly, on consumer decisions made by their parents. Kids can change the world. Whilst some Kidfluencers simply sell products on YouTube, Greta Thunberg has made a huge impact as an environmental influencer (or kidfluencer). What first started out as asking her parents to adopt sustainable life-style choices, then a lone protest outside the Swedish Parliament, has turned into a world-wide ‘School Climate Strike’ bringing kids and adults together, to encourage world leaders to wake up to Climate Change. Kids really are the future and we should be listening to them.

#SustainableTips – share your sustainability knowledge with your offspring, the more informed they are, the smarter the choices they can make.

SHOP LOCAL, EAT LOCAL, SPEND LOCAL, ENJOY LOCAL

It takes you to start the trend. It feels like our local communities are disappearing before our eyes. It is important to shop locally and support small businesses in our areas.

Shopping local helps to:

1. Strengthen your local economy

2. Reduce carbon footprint

3. Support the local communities

4. Keep your community unique

5. Create local jobs

Remember every time you buy from a small business a real person does a happy dance

#SustainableTips – explore your Instagram for local sellers and support local makers, bakers and businesses.

Your are half way through the A-Z of Sustainability! Keep going there is much more to read.

A glass milk bottle is used around 13 times before it is recycled. Best of all it is made from an abundant raw natural material: sand, or from recycled glass.  An extra bonus, if you use your local dairy to deliver your milk, it is probably local and so has had to travel fewer miles to get to your door. As a result your milk should be fresher and you have supported local businesses. The benefits seem endless…

#SustainableTips – as an extra bonus why not see if your local milkman can deliver cheese, butter and yogurt too?

Natural Resource Management refers to the wide range of activities concerned with managing our natural resources such as rivers, groundwater, soils, vegetation and fauna and so forth*.

Be aware of:

•  Litter on the ground that makes its way into our waterways and oceans

•  Chemicals that enter our waterways through our drains

•  Erosion caused by walking, cycling and vehicles

•  Erosion caused by poor land management

•  Damage to flora by outdoor activities and human-led expansion

•  Loss of fauna due to loss of habitat

Everyone plays their part in keeping our world clean and to have a positive impact on the environment for future generations to enjoy.

#SustainableTips – consider volunteering for a conservation project that helps with habitats or erosion.

Did you know the ocean produces over half of the world’s oxygen and absorbs 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere? Yet our oceans are facing a wide range of threats; from climate change, pollution, habitat and biodiversity loss, plus 90% of global fish stocks are either fully or over-exploited*. Fish farming (aquaculture) is expanding to meet this increase in demand but this in turn is creating its own problems.

As an individual what can we do to help? Eating sustainably sourced fish is a start, but how do you know which fish is sustainably sourced as you cannot always trust the packaging. The Marine Conservation Society in the UK have developed a Good Fish Guide to help you to navigate which fish to choose www.mcsuk.org/goodfishguide. And looking online I can see Marine Conservation Society’s in other countries have done the same. So when buying fish check the Good Fish Guide in your country to make sure you are eating only sustainably sourced fish, and help protect our oceans for the future.

#SustainableTips – It’s not just eating sustainably sourced fish that is going to help to keep our oceans clean, making sure to cut down on our plastic use can also help with this.

In 1950, the world’s population of 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tons of plastic; in 2016, a global population of more than 7 billion produced over 320 million tons of plastic.* According to reports, less than half of the plastic we put out for recycling is actually recycled. So what happens to the rest? News stories have suggested the rest is taken to third world countries to be dumped! These countries neither want nor should be responsible for ‘our’ plastics. The end result – more than 8 Million tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year. A distressing statistic is 90% of seabirds are found to have plastic in their stomachs.

So what can we do?

We need to use less of it, companies need to find packaging alternatives and do away completely with single use plastics. As consumers we need to make conscious decisions about what we are buying, and to move away from convenience items.

#SustainableTips – Look around your office, your home, your shopping. What can you replace with reusable items? Don’t try to do it all at once. Start with one item and move to the next when ready. It is as much about behaviour change as anything else.

Sustainability does not mean living without luxuries, but rather being aware of your resource consumption and committed to reducing unnecessary waste. But how to do that? It comes through asking questions of:

Ourselves
Can I fix this? Do I need that? Can this item live on somewhere else?

Business
What action are you taking? How can you make your product last? Can you package the product different?

Government
What is the long term plan for the country? How are you addressing social inequality? How will you hold business/people accountable?

#SustainableTips – Knowledge is power. And it will be the power to change for better.

Did you know that one wind turbine can generate enough electricity to power 1,400 homes?*

We live in a work reliant on energy. From turning the light on in the morning to brushing your teeth before bed everything we do is powered by electricity, gas or fuel. Turning off lights or electrical items when not using them is a good start towards sustainable living, but it is not enough. We need to look towards generating clean energy from renewable sources; wind, sunshine and water. Whilst fossil fuels are still heavily subsidised, the cost renewable energy is falling all the time.

#SustainableTips – Have a look around, find the best renewable supplier to suit you. I promise you will make yourself feel good and the earth smile.

Sharing Economy is a different way of distributing goods and services to that of the traditional model of corporations. In the sharing economy individuals rent or share their items rather than companies hiring employees and selling products to consumers.

There are two main sharing economy enterprises:

1. A ‘Commercial Model’ where a company (for a fee) brings together suppliers and customers to buy and sell goods

2. A ‘Non-Profit Initiative’ which is based on the concept of a lending library, where goods and services are provided free for a small fee (I still remember the toy library we used to visit every few weeks as a child).

The second model is the sharing economy we should be focusing on.

#SustainableTips – find some local businesses that operate this way and share and support them

“A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.”
― Gustavo Petro

Sustainable transport strategies have immediate health benefits for the majority of the world’s population, and equity benefits for vulnerable groups. Well-designed transport policies and infrastructure investment lead to reductions in traffic-related health risks and injuries.*

I grew up in Melbourne. I spent many years catching trains and buses to school, university and finally work. I also spent time in Singapore and marvelled at the efficiency of their public transport. When I moved to the UK I caught the bus or walked to work for years… until we moved to a rural location and my public transport use declined.

I now live in an area where the trains are infrequent, and the buses almost nonexistent. Last summer in London reminded me of how fantastic public transport can be when the infrastructure is there. I dream of the day that public transport for rural areas is considered part of the sustainable transport strategy and services are reinstated.

#SustainableTips – many city centre locations are easier by train, you don’t have to deal with parking and when booked in advance you can get great deals on tickets.

“Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy and habitable by all species”
– Sir David Attenborough

What a better way to start than with the lighter side of recent months. By far my favourite news stories have been the animals wandering back into Urban Spaces. Pictures of goats, deer, wolves, geese, monkeys, boars… you name it there seems to be a photograph.

As our need for land expands we push the flora and fauna further into whatever space is left over. Often to the detriment of the species as their habitat and food source disappears. But there is no reason why we cannot share the space and make sure our Urban Environment is habitable for all.

#SustainableTips – Have a look around you, what could you do? How about a garden habitable for wildlife, pot plants on your window sill with flowers to attract pollinating insects, or feeders for animals whose home is slowly disappearing.

Did you ever stop and think : maybe coffee is addicted to me? Like many coffee drinkers I worship coffee. My initiation was 7 years working in cafés in Melbourne. Now we have multiple coffee machines; plunger, stove top, espresso, and also a burr grinder. I even did a uni project all about the history coffee shop design (yes I am that sad).

However, I cringe to think of all the disposable coffee cups I have thrown away over the years. Most of them unable to be recycled as they are lined with plastic. I have been using reusable takeaway coffee cups for a while now. I even have a collection going; bamboo, ceramic but my favourite by far is my glass Keep Cup.

Using a reusable coffee cup is easy, and if we all did so it would make a huge difference to landfill. So next time you buy a takeaway coffee please remember to use a reusable cup.

#SustainableTips – keep a reusable cup in your car and then if you are ever out and about and fancy a drink you know you always have one with you. Remember to put it back in the car when you’ve washed it out.

Hands up if you have ever used a Furoshiki.  Furoshiki are a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth used for gifts or to transport goods. I discovered them around 20 years ago and have not used new wrapping paper since (we do keep wrapping paper and gift bags given to us and reuse them).

I love them. Not only because you can purchase them in the most beautiful fabrics, but because they save so much waste when wrapping presents. No paper, sticky tape, string etc. Simply a piece of fabric that you fold up and can use again. 

So if you only try one sustainable action this year – let it be a Furoshiki. You can buy them online, or use a piece of fabric or a square scarf that you have at home. Place your present in the centre and tie the opposing corners together (look online for some amazing ways to tie Furoshiki).

Let’s start a wrapping paper revolution!

#SustainableTips – Think of inventive ways of wrapping your kids presents this year and it really will aid in their Christmas experience!

The process of landscaping or gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation. Xeriscaping is promoted in regions that do not have accessible, plentiful or reliable supplies of fresh water.

I’ll admit – X almost stumped me for the A-Z then I discovered Xeriscaping! However, it is not a practice that is new to me. Growing up in the dry heat of Australia the relationship of water and your garden was so important. My parents are garden obsessives and quickly realised the English Country Cottage gardens they grew up with were never going to work. They set about learning all they could of Australia flora and have created a beautiful Australian Bush garden. They only plant flora indigenous to the area and have ingenious systems to make the most of any water around.

#SustainableTips – Understand the indigenous flora of your area is key to Xeriscaping. They are the plants that will thrive and create a balance between the earth, flora, the fauna.

A philosophy that aims to reduce personal and societal impact by making lifestyle changes to counteract climate change. I’m in awe of the people who commit to taking a year out to focusing on Sustainable Living. It sounds idyllic but I think the reality is harder than you think. Also for most people taking a year out is not an option. But we can still live by that philosophy. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed but the sheer number of lifestyle changes we want to make so we focused on a few this year to make the changes habits.

What changes have we made this year?

We committed to reducing single use plastic in our house; focusing on the bathroom and the kitchen. I’ve started making cleaning and beauty products. The smell is amazing! My husband committed to no shop bought bread and is a master baker now. 

Our goal for next year is to source local vegetables, hopefully through a veg box scheme. Unfortunately, as we live rurally this is not as easy as it sounds.

#SustainableTips – Focus on a couple of changes each year, a little counts up to a lot.

“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” 
– Anne Marie Bonneau.

Like many people I often suffer from imposter syndrome. Here I am advocating sustainable living, yet I feel like I am falling short of the ideal. It is difficult thinking through the consequences of each and every action and decision. However, the more people I listen to I realise that everyone feels like they are falling short. Sustainable living hard, our current world is not set up for it. So we all need to make small actions, more frequently and keep our fingers crossed they will become mainstream.

#SustainableTips – Talk to friends, talk to family, talk about it on social media. Give people tips. The more we talk about sustainability the more mainstream it will become.

A-Z of Sustainability – the end!

If you’ve got to the end of this very long A-Z Sustainability well done, it shows you care about making a difference. For more sustainability ideas follow us on our Instagram

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One Comment

Sustainable Paper | Lil Creative Studio | #designtips
September 9, 2022 12:45 pm

[…] these sustainable practices in your everyday business life. We recently wrote a blog outlining the A-Z of sustainability, which you can find here, and it got us thinking more about sustainable […]

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