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Making a change for the better by Susan

I’m a big believer in ‘do what you can’.  In all aspects of life, we have limitations linked to our personal situations in terms of things like our current skills, money, time and let’s face it, headspace:  there are only so many things we can manage at any one time.  ‘I’ll do what I can’ has become something of a mantra as I try to reduce my plastic footprint and find more sustainable ways to live and means that I have small and achievable goals to work towards.


For example, having read the somewhat alarming statement that every toothbrush I’ve ever owned if probably still somewhere on the planet, dental care felt like a quick win.  However, although bamboo and other natural material toothbrushes are now a familiar solution, I had recently bought a new electric toothbrush.  It felt wasteful to abandon this, given the energy and resources involved in making it.  So for now, I’m doing what I can:  sourcing recycled and recyclable toothbrush heads which are not packaged in plastic.  There’s still the problem of using electricity to charge it, so I’ve swapped my electricity tariff to a fully green one.  

For me, (like my colleague Klaudia and her Grandparents), doing what I can means I can make small steps that make a tiny difference and will hopefully add up to big strides in the longer term.    This plan also has the bonus of being addictive – if you can find one successful change, it might spur you on to another (non-plastic dental floss in a glass or metal bottle) and other (resusable cotton cosmetic pads instead of disposables) and another (resuable sandwich wrappers to replace bags and clingfilm).

If you’re looking for an easy starting point, I highly recommend changing to bar soap instead of liquids.  This was a ‘cheat change’ for me as I always tried to buy nice bars of soap from interesting places I visited.  Now it is an established habit, and given all the extra handwashing over the past year or so, I’m glad it is. However, the important thing is to find something a small change that works for you and feels do-able as that will help to make it stick.  Some suggestions are below, but I bet you have your own ideas.  Please tell us about them – it might be just the thing I need for my next small step.

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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