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Choose your own adventure - trading up

The weather is beautiful today and I’m sitting writing in the sun having eaten a tasty picnic lunch.  My sandwich was wrapped in a sustainable food wrap (in this case locally made by a project as part of an offender rehabilitation programme) and it made me think about something that people don’t always associate with making green or sustainable changes.  This fabulous secret? That actually you can find that in making a change for ethical reasons can actually lead to you trading up. These wraps for example are a key feature of my life now – anything and everything that would have previously gone in cling film or a freezer bag now goes in one of these.  They are SO pleasing to use! 

It can be a bit of a quest though, and that’s the bit that might feel disheartening at times.  I suffered through several awful shampoo bars before finding 2 that make my hair shinier than anything else I’ve tried (My hairdresser has commented on it, and yes one of them is Och’s glorious ‘Brain Wash☺).  As with all good adventure stories though, the quest is partly the point.  We all fall into habits with the things we use and buy, and giving yourself a nudge to try something different can lead to a new and exciting outcome.

If we’re honest, jokes about vegan and green products can still have an air of ‘knitted from organic lentils’ about them, which can make you think that changing might be virtuous but not necessarily a joyful experience.  So I think we need to shout about the trading up options available (even though I kind of like having unlocked new levels by discovering my own secret treasures and bonuses!)

There are so many brilliant products available now (often from small businesses which is an added bonus and can let you shop more locally). I’ve genuinely found products which make life better and work more effectively with my body and I don’t think I would ever have found them if I hadn’t started with a green agenda.  For example, I had a perfectly functional deodorant but have discovered one wrapped in cardboard that (for me) works even better.  And I’m frankly evangelical about period pants – total game changer!

So when you’re thinking about your next swap for sustainable living, don’t do it with the air of a martyr like I used to.  Instead see it as a mission to uplevel your own experience and collect bonus points for the planet on the way.

My top trades (I now wouldn’t change back)

  1. Reusable food wraps
  2. Shampoo bars
  3. Period pants
  4. Paper-wrapped recycled toilet roll delivered to your door
  5. Reusable cotton cleansing pads

(I could go on, but don’t want to bore you ☺)

Picture of Susan Bannatyne

Susan Bannatyne

I live in the North of Glasgow in the same village where I grew up. I’m really lucky to have green space literally on my doorstep and getting out in the fresh air is a great thing.

When I’m not at my day job, I am usually doing something creative: I love to knit and sew but I also make things in fused glass, do a spot of silversmithing, lots of baking and have tried various other crafts along the way.

My happy places are the Scottish islands. I’m trying to visit them all, and for years my birthday treat was to visit and explore a new one by myself. My husband is allowed to come too now, and there is still nothing better than packing a bag of books, my walking boots and yoga mat and heading for a ferry. In fact I feel a bit cheated if my holidays don’t start with a Calmac safety announcement!

Fun fact: I won a Blue Peter badge as a child for designing a glove puppet! The creative urge must have been strong even then…

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