I have a lovely view of Snowdon – Wales’ highest mountain – from my doorstep. My partner and I started Battle Green (battlegreen.co.uk) in 2018. Like many people, we were feeling demoralised by the stream of reports about the negative impact humans are having on the natural world. A 2018 study found that 91% of plastic is never recycled. These items can end up in our waterways, streets and natural landscapes, with devastating results: annually, around 100 million marine mammals die from plastic pollution, and the RSPCA receive around 5000 calls to rescue animals injured by litter. As an individual, you can feel helpless in the face of this, particularly when big businesses and politicians generally seem slow to respond.
Many small businesses have been born from this frustration in recent years, which is great to see. For us, Battle Green offers a way of creating the products we want to use: vegan friendly, cruelty free cosmetics with minimal packaging, and sustainably-made reusables that help cut down on plastic waste. We wanted to use our business to support causes that are important to us, including tree-planting initiatives and animal welfare charities. We’re also members of the Surfers Against Sewage scheme for businesses that want to support SAS’s vital work to clean up our beaches and seas.
It’s a cliché, and with good reason, but few things can help boost mental wellbeing like being around animals and nature…and it’s free! Whether this means walking on the beach and looking at the different rocks and shells, wandering through the woods and listening the birds, or visiting your local park to look at the flowers – I’ve never come back from a walk and regretted it. One of my favourite things to do is to walk at night with my torch. I’ve met frogs, mountain goats, lizards, foxes, and cats grateful for belly rubs!
Another good one is putting on some music – David Bowie in particular – and feeling your mood lift.
We are extending our range of plastic-free cosmetics over the coming year. This includes more shampoo bars for different hair types; dry shampoo in recycled cardboard shaker pots; and organic lip balms paper tubes. We will also be working more with talented makers in our area to help create our products. We recently launched a range of hand-thrown ceramic shampoo bar dishes and reusable make-up pad storage jars, made by a Snowdonia-based ceramic artist who has been making pottery for over fifty years.
Just before the lockdown, we were developing some upcycled reusable products with a fantastic local charity that takes a ‘person-centred’ approach to involving individuals with learning difficulties in their community. The charity regularly receives donations of unwanted clothes, fabric and sewing materials. We would love to grow this aspect of our business, and become part of a more circular economy.
WAYS TO LIVE MORE SUSTAINABLY
Living more sustainably doesn’t need to be expensive. Many people already own items that can help them cut down on waste: from plates and jam jars to cover and contain food, and using odd socks for cleaning cloths, to keeping shopping bags by your front door so you don’t keep buying more. Following on from this point, if you’re thinking of investing in a sustainable alternative, weigh up how much use you will get from it and the savings you can make long-term. For example, a menstrual cup may seem expensive compared to a pack of tampons or pads. However, this one-off purchase replaces the staggering 12,000 to 16,000 disposable menstrual products that a person typically buys and throws away in their lifetime.
Finally, choosing a more sustainable way of life shouldn’t feel restrictive. We can only do our best with what’s available to us. There are many helpful social media accounts and blogs dedicated to sustainable living, and online groups where you can share ideas and experiences. But more than ever, this movement is being driven by community-based action that helps build better communities in every sense. This is facilitated by apps like Olio that connect neighbours and business who want to share unwanted food (that would otherwise be wasted) with each other, and organised group beach cleans and litter picks.