As a far-too avid watcher of Netflix, combined with my perhaps obsessive interest in sustainability, I’ve seen many documentaries on the topic which have inspired me to continue living more sustainably. Perhaps more importantly they have also shown me things I did not previously know, such as appalling facts about waste and ethical questions within the fast fashion industry.
The documentaries below are all focused on sustainability and highlighting the need for change within our lifestyles, whether that’s through different fashion choices, our diet, or general buying and living habits. Something I particularly like with these is that the majority of them have websites linked to the documentaries with more info, resources and facts, which are really useful and I think a great way to ensure that their impact is as wide as possible.
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret – Largely based on explaining the need for a more veganised approach to our diets, Cowspiracy illustrates the huge damage that large-scale farming is creating through pollution and destruction. Much like The True Cost, their website also has some resources and facts about the issue, which are worth a read too.
The True Cost – focused on the fashion industry, this documentary really opened my eyes to the need for a new system of fashion and buying clothes, not only due to the huge waste that the industry creates but also due to the often poor conditions workers creating clothes live in. The website also has a number of extra videos annd resrouces which I found really interesting.
Food, Inc – This is somewhat similar to Cowspiracy in it’s focus on food, particularly meat and wheat farming as unsustainable and damaging. It’s slightly more USA-centric in it’s viewpoint, but the illustration of big corporations influencing the food industry caught my attention in particular, as it was something I hadn’t considered as much previously.
No Impact Man – This documentary honestly gave me so many feelings all at once. At first I was unsure I liked it, it seemed very extreme and not really sustainable for the majority of people at all – one family go entirely ‘no impact’ for a year, including no electricity, long-distance travel, or food from long-distances (such as coffee). But by the end of the documentary I felt I was left with a perfect message – it’s all about doing what you can and that individual differences can make an impact. As summed up by Colin in the documentary, ‘it’s not about deprivation, it’s not about not taking care of yourself, it’s the opposite. It’s about seeing: is it possible to have a good life without wasting so much?’
Watching the BBC’s Planet Earth and Blue Planet series (and the more recent second series which are both stunning) also highlighted the impact of pollution and global warming on wildlife and the world’s ecosystems, which I hadn’t thought so much about – these series combined with the recent photo of the seahorse and plastic cotton bud really made me consider how much waste I am creating without even thinking
In the past few months I’ve really got into using alternative shopping channels to buy things either brand new or in good condition, which has not only meant I’ve saved money but has also meant less is likely to have been thrown away due to lack of want – fitting perfectly with my zero waste mindset.
Whether they’re second hand or new things people don’t want – that they’ve won, recieved as a gift or are no longer wanted but unreturnable, the internet makes buying and selling things easier than ever before.
While I’m not advocating mad shopping sprees (following a more minimalist approach) , if you do need or want specific new things, these sites and places are great ways to start and are likely to save you lots too! A large part of what I own is second-hand, and this is something I love, the idea that things are being reused and thus giving value to more than one person.
You could also use this list the other way around – as a list to get you started selling your own things that you no longer want, and maybe earning some money too while decluttering.
Depop – I often buy second-hand clothes, books and jewellery on here, and sell my own things I no longer need too. The fact that it’s an app means it’s easy to check while I’m out and about, so feels less effort than perhaps listing things on ebay does.
Ebay – often branded things are easily findable and sellable
Gumtree – this might be better for more expensive and bigger things maybe, I bought my camera and 2 lenses on here brand new from someone who no longer wanted it – and for under half the price they should have been from a shop!
Etsy – for second-hand and vintage clothes, books, jewellery etc. (as well as much else that’s new and handmade!)
Car boots and fairs are less likely to be fruitful if you’re looking for something specific, but can be a great way to declutter yourself or have a browse for second-hand gifts and things
Events like vintage sales done by weight or for £1 per item are also good for cheap, second-hand (and often vintage) clothes
Charity shops – possibly my favourite form of second-hand buying, but again not so much for specific things. I bought my mugs, purse and many of my clothes from charity shops, all in great condition and for cheap! Some charity shops like Oxfam also have online shops, which make finding things really easy
Vestaire is also a shop I’ve recently come across, and is a way to resell higher-end fashion, which looks interesting
Amazon also often sell used books, which are great and of course easily accessible
Sites like Asos Marketplace also do a range of vintage clothes, which, while expensive, are still second-hand and thus reducing waste
Happy second hand shopping! x
Recently I’ve been getting much more into zero waste, and have made a few transitions already to products that are much more sustainable, as my instagram shows. The opening of 2 bulk and zero waste shops accessible to me has really urged me on, as well as hearing about lots of shops like Iceland starting to consider using less plastic packaging.
However I feel that I can make even more transitions to sustainable products once my current items are used up – so I’ve made a list of things I already do and a list of things I would like switch to this year!
For a free printable download of my 2018 zero waste checklist head to the bottom of the page!x
Things I already use or do:
- Period Cup & Reusable Period Pad
- Block soap with paper packaging/unpackaged
- Bamboo Biodegradable Toothbrush
- Handkerchiefs where possible over tissues. Tissues in a cardboard box are also better than ones in plastic wrappers!
- Body Brush and salt scrub rather than microbeads or a plastic loofah
- Using re-selling sites like ebay/gumtree – I found my camera and lense on gumtree brand new for far cheaper than normal!
- Using charity shops – how I’ve bought my purse, many clothes, some of my mugs
- Using a refillable water bottle rather than buying single-use ones. Mine is metal & a fun pattern which I love
- Reusing gift wrap or using recyclable gift wrap
- Using a reusable coffee cup instead of single use ones
- Having online bank statements and shop updates rather than paper ones
- Using more glass than plastic, e.g. buying honey in a glass jar not a squeezy plastic bottle
- Using a cafetiere (french press) rather than one-use coffee filters
- Keeping a scrap paper pile + use both sides of paper/receipts etc. before recycling. This also means less notebooks/pads/sticky notes to buy!
- Using tote bags/bags for life/making bags out of old fabric or t shirts to do groceries
- Walking or using public transport instead of driving
- Washing things when they are actually dirty, not every time I’ve worn them
Things I would like to look into using or doing:
- Reusable cotton wool pads, e.g. for makeup removal
- Using biodegradable or reusable cottonbuds instead of plastic ones
- Going to bulk supermarkets and stalls more frequently, and bringing my own containers
- Using coconut oil from a glass jar as a makeup remover
- Finding recycled and plastic free toilet roll, maybe from Who Gives a Crap
- Using glass spray perfumes rather than aerosols/plastic sprays
- No straw! I’m also looking into metal/glass ones
- Swapping things with friends/family and taking them to car boots before donating them. Charity shops are great, but often things don’t get sold – for example coats/socks might be useful at a homeless shelter, or a local playgroup might want second-hand toys, instead of everything ending up in one unspecific shop
- Scrapping plastic packaged face masks and opting for ones in glass jars, or better still, diying them. Same with things like lip balm
- Carpooling is also rising in popularity and is something I’d like to look at
- Buying things in paper if I can’t buy them in my own containers – bread and mushrooms are some examples
- Adopting a much more minimalist approach when buying – do I really need 25 t-shirts?
- Getting rid of single-use kitchen items: cling film, single-use washing up liquid bottles, cleaning sprays, paper kitchen towel
- Making my own or bulk buying washing powder
A downloadable checklist: 2018 Zero Waste Checklist