The SEA Change Challenge was conducted on Facebook from October 18-31, 2020. Each day, we posted a different challenge, encouraging individuals in our community to not only consider their current consumer habits but also to share great ideas on sustainable products and ethical places to shop. The feedback we received was that participants and observers got a lot out of the discussions and we have also been asked to keep the Facebook group ‘active.’ Below is a brief summary of the major points made on each topic, as well as links to products and stores that were suggested by participants…
Issues identified: Plastic packaging on even organic fruits and vegetables. Carbon footprints – how far have our food items travelled to reach our shopping cart?
Positive suggestions: Pickling and fermenting of vegetables is easy, inexpensive and great for preventing unnecessary food waste!
Another great link for shopping in general is: The Plastic Free Shop
Useful links for local food shopping:
East Coast Organics for terrific veg boxes, sourdough bread & much more
Skin and Haircare
Issues identified: Plastic packaging. Nasty chemicals.
Positive suggestions: shampoo and conditioner bars avoid single use plastic containers. Bee propolis for treating psoriasis. Making your own soap, using mixtures of hard and soft oils (ask Rebecca for more info!).
Issues identified: Unsustainable forms of packaging/labour exploitation in tea and coffee production and sales
Positive action: Christine contacted her favourite fair trade coffee manufacturer and asked when they will be switching to more sustainable forms of packaging. She was told they will in 2021. You’ve inspired us to be more proactive, Christine!
Useful links: Mr Eion was suggested as one of the more ethical tea/coffee suppliers in Edinburgh. If you check out the welcome page, you can see the measures they are putting in place to try to be more environmentally friendly…a good start!
McQueens Dairies delivers milk to your door in glass bottles
Issues identified: The ongoing pandemic is making public transport seem a great deal less desirable of an option than it usually is. However, there are many people who are unable to walk or cycle, so the question was raised…how do we create eco friendly transport that is accessible for everyone?
Useful links: For offsetting carbon footprint: Mossy Earth
For great information about train travel anywhere in the world: The Man in Seat 61
Issues Identified: Avoiding shopping in the big name supermarkets tends to make shopping more expensive. It also requires a substantial time commitment, as you then need to be organised enough to visit multiple smaller stores/order from ethical suppliers. Irritatingly, even organic foods often come wrapped in non-biodegradable packaging.
Positive Suggestions: Try to choose products with sustainable packaging, even in the big supermarkets. Save and reuse plastic packaging where possible. Veg boxes (see link below). Refill existing containers, to avoid continuously purchasing single use plastics. Buy clothes that will stand the test of time…quality over quantity. Using natural garden fertilisers, such as seaweed collected on a beach walk, instead of purchasing fertilisers in bags.
Useful Links: Veg Boxes which utilise only reusable, biodegradable materials: East Coast Organics
Sea Salt clothing, for long lasting clothing that is posted out in reusable brown paper packaging
Real Foods for reasonably-priced bulk buying options
Issues Identified: Disposable plastic pens
Positive Suggestions: Refillable fountain pens! We were fortunate to have our resident fountain pen enthusiast, Rebecca M, in our discussion to share the many benefits of opting for using fountain pens. She also shared a link (below) to the pinnafarina inkless pens, which last a lifetime and need no refills. In the discussion, shredding paper and using it in compost was suggested, as was re-using paper and ensuring that recycled paper is used in the printer.
Useful Links: The Green Stationery Company
Issues Identified: Our complicity when we shop in the many high street shops that profit from various forms of modern day slavery. The flower bouquet industry was mentioned, as were recent reports on Amazon’s unethical practices (eg. their employees being forced to urinate in bottles, as they aren’t allowed adequate bathroom breaks). It was noted that IKEA refused to sign up to the Rugmark scheme, which ensures that child labour is not being used in producing their carpets. Tea production was also mentioned in terms of ongoing issues around use of slave labour.
Positive Suggestions: Vadham Teas (link below) were mentioned as being a company committed to positively impacting the planet, educating children and benefitting growers. The Sri Lanka tea board was also mentioned as setting stricter protections in place for tea growers than some other countries (ask Rebecca for more info on Sri Lankan tea).
Useful links: Coffee production and slavery
Issues Identified: Fast fashion and its negative impact on our planet. Where are our clothes made? What are they made of and what are they dyed with? A simple look inside our own clothes cupboards often reveal that we are inadvertently contributing to polluting our planet through our clothing choices.
Positive Suggestions: In terms of caring for clothes – wash them less and at a lower temperature. Something as simple as swapping buttons can revamp an old item of clothing. Use local charity shops!
Useful Links: Love Your Clothes
Thrift Plus – a terrific online charity store
Issues Identified: “Greenwashing” by implying that a product is ethical even though it comes in a plastic container.
Positive Suggestions: Bicarb soda for cleaning. Vinegar and water for cleaning, particularly glass and bathrooms. Washing soda. Possibility of joining together to order from ethical places – could we do bulk orders for St Peter’s people?
Other Helpful Suggestions!
UK Made Vitamins and Supplements
Our SEA Change Challenge page remains open for conversation on these topics, particularly for sharing helpful links and ideas for ways for us all to shop more ethically. Feel free to join us: SEA Change Challenge Facebook Page.