Green Living Inspiration from my Holidays! (A Summary in Pictures)

Green Living Inspiration from my Holidays! (A Summary in Pictures)

Now I’m well and truly back in Perth, Australia (having finally adjusted to being in the same time zone as everyone around me) I thought I’d do a bit of a recap of my holiday. No, I don’t mean a whole heap of holiday snaps featuring stunning sunsets, glorious landscapes or what I ate for dinner, but rather all the cool stuff I saw relating to living sustainably on the European and English side of the world. Far more interesting, don’t you think?!

I’ve only been away for two years, but I’d forgotten how much further along Europe and the UK are down the path of making sustainability a mainstream topic, and how much more people seem to embrace it! I found it hugely inspiring to see how individuals, community groups, small businesses and even big chains were trying to do their bit to reduce their impact on the environment. Hopefully this is a sign of what’s to come for this side of the world. Bring it on, I say!

Zero Waste and Plastic Free

My favourite topic! I’m always intrigued to see what can be done to reduce waste and there was plenty of inspiration to be found…

Refillable bulk oil and vinegar Bruges
Bulk stores pop up in surprising places, and more often than you might think, if you only keep your eyes open for them!
Bruges bulk vinegar store
Bulk buy spirits! These barrels contain cognac and other alcohols. You can find everything in bulk if you look hard enough!
Returnable bottle deposit scheme Belgium
“Leeggoed” means “empties” – Belgium has a refundable bottle deposit scheme! You are charged 10 cents when you buy a bottle, and get your money back when you return it. Such a great way to reduce waste : )
Bruges Dine In Only
Good for you, waffle shop! If you want to eat a waffle, sit down and enjoy it properly : )
Loose blooms no plastic in sight
Farmers Markets are always inspiring, but what I particularly loved about this one was all the loose blooms you could buy without all that unnecessary plastic to accompany them.
Blueberries and Raspberries in Metal Aluminium punnets
These berries at the market were packaged in aluminium foil punnets rather than plastic ones. These punnets have more potential for reuse than plastic ones, plus foil is far easier to recycle than plastic. Bonus points for signs made out of old cardboard!
Packaging Free Fruit and Veg London
I loved how much fruit and veg was available loose and unpackaged from this greengrocer in London. Even fancy mushrooms come without uneccessary plastic bags.
Bulk tea in York
Bulk buy tea at a shop in York. And my, what a lot of tea they had!
Faversham cafe Reusable Keepcups
KeepCups might have been invented in Australia, but it’s good to see that they are catching on across the other side of the world too.

Sustainable Transport

Bicycles in Bruges
Bicycles rule in Europe, regardless of the weather. Less cars and more bikes and everyone benefits!
Free air bike pump Bruges
Free air for pumping up your bike tyres! Cycle infrastructure at its best.

Building Community

Makers Workshops Bristol
There are so many community-led initiatives all over the UK, but it was particularly great to see new things popping up in my old haunt of Bristol.

Companies (and Organisations) Taking Responsibility

Recycling in Belgium Station
Bin systems like this one were almost everywhere in Europe and the UK, making it easier than ever for people to dispose of their waste responsibly. Much better than one “landfill” dumpster!
Free Hangers Reuse Upcycle Hate Waste
Even the local shopping centre was doing its bit, offering unwanted coat hangers to the public for free to stop them heading to landfill.
Eurostar Green Britain info 2
Almost every company, no matter their size or industry, has some kind of statement publicly available about how they try to be sustainable. Most people are aware than train travel has far less impact on the environment than flying, but its good to see companies addressing these issues and telling people what they are doing to make a difference.
Eurostar info board
I might not agree with the amount of waste being generated, but I was impressed that they are actually thinking about what they are doing – it’s a step in the right direction.
Eurostar Green Britain info 1
What can I say…it’s a start!
Charitable Water Project Thali Cafe Frank Plastic Free
I noticed that lots of restaurants offer filtered water in refillable glass bottles rather than plastic bottles. I loved this scheme at the Thali cafe in Bristol where customers pay a donation for filtered water, which goes to funding water projects in India.
Cafe Kino Waste and Recycling
The waste and recycling statement hanging proudly on the wall of a local Bristol cafe.
Yorkshire Dales 2
The Yorkshire Dales are beautiful, and surprisingly free of rubbish…
Yorkshire Dales National Park waste management
…but it’s something that’s actively worked towards. No litter bins encourages people to take their litter home.

…And the Not-So-Good Bits

Whilst there was so much good stuff to see, it wasn’t all perfect. Here are just a few examples of things that made me want to tear my hair out.

Apples from NZ in our hotel during British summer
We stayed in a hotel in Yorkshire that I chose because of its commitment to green principles, use of local produce and ethical credentials. It was the height of summer when British fruit is in abundance. So why on earth were they providing apples shipped all the way from New Zealand?!
My Worst Nightmare Plastic Shop Bruges
Arghh! This shop has to be my worst nightmare! Even the name sends a shiver down my spine!
Krispy Kreme Wasting Plastic Straws
Clearly not all companies have quite got the green message. Seriously, Krispy Kreme, quality is not measured by the number of disposable plastic straws you provide. I think you need a new marketing team : /

As you can see, there were so many things that made me feel really inspired. Most of them are little things, but all of these little things add up to make real change! It made me realise that increasingly, people, companies, businesses and groups “get” that they need to act more sustainably, and they are embracing it and having fun at the same time!

Of course, there are also those hair-pulling moments that make me realise whilst we are heading in the right direction, there is still plenty more work to be done!

Right, no more holiday snaps from me. Promise! : )

17 Responses to Green Living Inspiration from my Holidays! (A Summary in Pictures)

    • Well I noticed the rack, but you can see how many hangers were available! That was quite late in the evening though…

      Thanks for your cooment! My brother announced he is engaged whilst I was home, so there might be another trip back sooner than I was expecting! : )

  1. Excellent report !! So good to see people are willing to learn and they are encouraged to change . We need ambassadors like yourself to follow .Thanks for your endless work , courage and sharing . Could you please let me know where can i purchase vinegar and bicarb in bulk here in Perth ?

    Thanks again

    • Aw, thank you so much! I buy bulk vinegar at Planet Ark in Fremantle. My only frustration is their limited opening hours – they are only open for a few hours on Sat morning and not on Sundays. I think they sell bicarb in bulk too, but I’m still making my way through a big cardboard box I bought from (ahem) the supermarket that I have had forever. It’s on its last legs now though, so I will have to go and check!

    • Thanks! They were mostly on my camera phone so the quality isn’t great, but you get the idea! And glad to have you back Sandy! : )

  2. You can share all the holiday photos you want these were wonderful. I would give anything to have bulk food sections like you found, maybe closer to my new home but I won’t hold my breath.

    I’m with you on the apples. My state grows plenty of apples and even though it’s no apple season the stores are carrying apples from around the world instead. Just give me locally grown, imperfect apples like I grew up with.

    • Aw, thanks! I have more holiday photos of random plastic and green solutions than I do of my family and my partner – oops!

      The hotel had a feedback form and I wrote a huge response with all the things I thought they could improve (as well as the things they did well – and there was a lot of those too) and gave them my email address, but I didn’t hear back : (

      • Too funny. ;-) Feel free to share them. I am always curious how other countries are handling the environmental problems. Really hated the plastic store I didn’t expect that.

        I hope you hear back from the hotel. It would be nice if they took your comments seriously and made the changes.

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