What changes can my family & I make to be more sustainable?

Charles Baughan in the Garden., Westaway Sausages

In the office at Westaways we have been drawing up our top tips to become more sustainable.

I wrote a wider piece a couple of months ago.  But in our view the public want to know what feasible steps they can take to do their bit to reduce the impact society is having on the environment.

So often when I think about this, I think about the past, as always there are lessons that we can learn from the past. The challenge today is to be prepared to change and to share good practise and to collaborate and pass on knowledge. Society is very different today to 60 years ago.

As an example, I was looking at the rations for an adult in the period just after World War 2, in this period rationing was stricter in some respects than during the war. The meat ration was the equivalent of two chops and three rashers of Bacon per week, just one Egg and 50g of Cheese. Petrol was rationed to 90 miles per month.  It is not surprising that there was not so much food waste then as there is today!

The Ministry of Food was a government department set up from the start of the war to the end of all rationing in 1958.  Its aim was to regulate food production and usage.  The Ministry of Food used numerous ways to help people make the most of their rations without wasting food, while at the same time giving them ideas to help make mealtimes more interesting.  They introduced various campaigns, radio broadcasts and literature to educate the public. I find these campaigns fascinating if only to show the huge difference between the values of that era and those of today.

So please forgive the twinge of nostalgia with these tips from Westaways office staff on how we can do our bit. And have a bit of fun

  1. Reduce food waste. The number one priority. We must plan our food use better, and if we do need to throw it away ensure that it does not end up in landfill and produce further damage with Greenhouse gas emissions. We will produce and publish on our website several exciting easy recipes to use up left overs and odds and sods from the fridge. Please do not overbuy and make best use of what you do buy!!
  2. Buy less, make more (and make do more). For example, clothing is surprisingly unsustainable, textile production produces more Carbon Dioxide than international airlines and maritime shipping combined. Vintage is now mainstream.
  3. Drive less. Fly less, walk and bike. We must stop our addiction to jumping in the car, if you use the car plan those trips. A shopping trip to the supermarket should be a big shop of at least 24 items, we have worked this out. Going for an outing, what else can you do on the same trip. Remember rationing post war, how would you get on with a 90 mile limit a month? We have cut our annual average flying from over 50,000 miles a year to zero. There are great apps to find walks to suit anyone anywhere, and more and more dedicated cycle paths. We love the fact a cycle path is planned from near our factory to the beach.
  4. Refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, recycle and upcycle. Make some choices, be prepared to change. Collaborate within your community, a venture with a group of likeminded individuals can be fun and provide a real way to make a difference.
  5. Eat local, seasonal food. It is easy enough to make a calendar of food available locally, and when it is at its best. The first local strawberries ripened by the sun and full of flavour, the unique Dittisham plum available in first two weeks of August. The first flush of wild mushrooms. These are events to be celebrated. Let’s try to avoid the exotics flown in from the tropics.
  6. Make compost. We love composting turning household and garden waste into black gold, must be one of the most satisfying things a household can do. If you do not have a garden, then see if there is a local community composting area, or check to see if there are local allotments that collect compostables.
  7. Plant more trees. The UK lags the EU and the rest of the world in forest cover at Westaway Sausages we have a forest of over 250 oak saplings that we are growing on in compost made from our packaging ready to plant out next Autumn. We can all help to plant more trees, if you have not got room then join a scheme online
  8. If you eat meat and dairy make it local. There are plenty of arguments about the environmental impact of diets that include meat and dairy. Agriculture is not an industry, and diversity will always have benefits above those of monoculture. In Devon we have a huge variety of landscapes and in turn a huge range of splendid meats and cheeses made by over 2,000 local farmers and producers. These producers are the custodians of the amenities we all enjoy let’s support them, reduce food miles, and support this diversity.
  9. Make best use of your utilities. We all hate opening bills for our electrics, heating, and water. With planning we can reduce our use without too much hardship. Our top tips are: Choose energy efficient appliances, add insulation, get a new boiler, change to LED lightbulbs, install and use central heating controls, turn off items on standby, and use less hot water