Eco audit: results in

I may not have quite filled the month with posts. But February has come to an end, and I thought it would be worth rounding out the audit by seeing what I thought of the results.

Some of what I felt self-important about in my teens – like basic recycling – is now mainstream. Some of it is growing in public consciousness – and also public action: like buying locally.

There’s a whole set of eco behaviours around food. Some feel like second nature – and some I could do better at. And others are in that complicated area where eco principles and world trade meet.

I’ve found the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra a helpful one when looking at different areas of activity. I feel quite happy on reuse, generally, but I realise that reduce is the one that is often hardest to do.

Some areas have been debated a lot in the press – like flying. And others, like heating, have come up higher up the news cycle, as heating costs rise, and fuel poverty with it.

I realised that many of these eco behaviours are also frugal behaviours. When there’s not a lot of money to go round, you do what you can with what you have – and often find it satisfying in the process.

Making your own entertainment. Crafting. Mending. Not glamorous, but, increasingly, a source of pride for those who are going back to it more.

Equally, when we have a bit more money in our pockets, it’s easy to spend – and to be driven by societal expectations. I still think that this is the area my teenage self would be the most shocked by – the growing monetarisation of lifestyle, the increase of brands, and the temptation of luxury.

Sometimes, equally, we seem to rebel against plenty, and go off to find ways to live more simply – even if it’s just a week or two away.

At other times, our decisions to simplify are carried along on a wave of governmental concern: increase walking, not necessarily to cut down on carbon emissions, but because it may reduce obesity.

Sometimes my thinking moves on a stage, as a result of writing on a theme for a month. Sometimes, life circumstances combine with a theme, and help it have particular resonance. We can reduce, but we can also take up opportunities to renew – to gain a new mindset, and new permission to change.

Although I still want to nudge myself on a few behaviours, I recognise that gaining momentum for change is even more important. Yes, it can help to tick some boxes, and know that things are different. But it is even more freeing to think bigger than this – and find the capacity to change is still within us.

It remains hard to watch the news at times. To see the reality of environmental change. But the experience that change is possible – and that we can act on it – means that we don’t have to feel we are drowning.

Others are acting, in unique ways, in their own parts of the world. As with so many things, starting locally – as locally as our own homes – can mean that we begin to change how we feel about environmental issues.

My ongoing challenge to myself is to continue to change: and to use each step forward as an incentive to keep going. Stop by again, and ask me how it’s going in the months ahead.