By Ella Mansfield, who has volunteered and worked in the charity sector for 10 years. Ella is a new member to CA-WN but has been on a personal sustainability journey for 3 years.
I started making sustainable changes about 3 years ago during the pandemic, like everyone else I all of a sudden had a lot of free time on my hands.
One of the biggest overall things is a mindset shift of not putting 'me' in the centre but to look at the impacts and bigger picture and one thing at a time. I have been making lots of small changes as I go along but definitely have a long way to go.
One of the first sustainable things I became aware / conscious of was the conditions of people who made clothing particularly in countries like China and Bangladesh. I was already a lover of charity shops with about 50-75% of my wardrobe being second-hand so it wasn't as daunting to go fully second-hand with a few items from sustainable brands (I try and look for third party certification). Moving on from that I have really reduced my wardrobe to only the things I like and fit, and when it comes to buying new (second-hand) clothes if it's not a 'yes I love it' it's a 'no'.
I really enjoy giving gifts to people but hate the waste associated with wrapping paper particularly once I found out it's often coated in plastic and not recyclable.
I started off buying recycled, recyclable brown paper and tape and using up what I had left over. Now I reuse wrapping paper from gifts I have received, packaging paper, old calendar pictures, and have made my own material gift bags out of old clothes and second-hand fabric scraps and ribbon. I noticed family members starting to use brown paper last Christmas which was a big win.
My third thing is toilet paper, this is something that blows my mind. We are all told to plant trees to save the world to then just cut some other trees down to.... well you know what I mean. So I now only use recycled toilet paper which supports the recycling industry not the logging industry.
What I love about the sustainability journey is that it's constantly evolving and that different people take different paths.