Best Boot Forward – Change

This week’s #BestBootForward comes from Indigo Wilderness.

As 2018 marks the centenary of the passing of the Representation of the People act in 1918, we are taking a look at change. 100 years ago women won the right to vote. It was a huge mark in history and a change that was very much for the best. Unfortunately only women over the age of 30 were allowed to vote, and those with qualifications. Many women were still not allowed to vote, but that all changed in 1928.

Fast forward 100 years, and there are lots more important problems that need tackling NOW. Today I am answering questions from Kate, who wants to know what I would like to change.

If you could change one thing, and one thing only about the world we live in today, what would that be?

Packaging. Packaging is vile and quite often unnecessary. Humans are killing the Earth, animals and plants because of excessive use of packaging. So many of the items that we buy now have all kinds of crazy packaging, that really is not needed. Why do bananas need plastic bags? Why do eggs need plastic egg boxes? Why does everything need to be shrink-wrapped? We need to encourage more shops to sell loose items and ditch the awful packaging.

Luckily we are seeing a huge shift in the way we view plastic. Many people in 2018 are choosing to live a plastic free lifestyle- or at least have a good go at it! It could be a fashionable fad, but I’m hoping people will stick to it. I would love to see more ‘weigh-and-save’ style shops on the high street and the supermarkets cutting back on the amount of non-recyclable packaging used. Unfortunately even the recyclable stuff uses lots of energy and causes air miles just to re-use and turn into something else. While recycling is great, it still has far more of an affect on our planet than just not having recyclable items made in the first place.

Everywhere we look, we find trash. It breaks my heart to see humans so careless and reliant on this kind of thing. Once upon a time (and not too long ago either) we would walk to our market town, buy exactly what we needed and cart it home in a reusable basket. All of the items would be loose and fresh. Most of the items would have been locally grown or locally handmade. Nothing would be in plastic packaging, but paper or cardboard. We reused bottles and cartons. Now, we take home our goods in plastic bags (not giving a hoot if we paid 5p for the privilege), rip open the packaging and throw it in the bin. No second thoughts given. Don’t even get me started on online shopping!

How do you think making that change would affect you personally?

 I would just have to change the way I shop. I already use reusable canvas shopping bags, and try to buy loose items as much as I can. But, if we lived in a world where packaging was drastically reduced, I would see a prettier Earth. I would see less litter rolling down the street and I would see less plastic lining roads, beaches and fields. I would be happy for my children’s future.  I would feel optimistic for the future. Unfortunately I think people are so stuck in their ways and unwilling to change, I really don’t believe it will ever happen. I genuinely know someone who freaks out at the thought of buying loose veg, for fear of germs. I suppose they would have to starve.

If we wound the clock back 100 or so years, would you see yourself as a Suffragist, a Suffragette or neither? 

Suffragist, by far! The Suffragettes believed in violence and shock. Suffragists were peaceful. The Suffragists also allowed men to help with their cause and I am a firm believer that men can share the same views as women, and be right! 100 years ago a large group of men and women, standing together for change, was far more affective to prove a point than a few violent women. There is enough carnage in this world, without adding more to it.

Best

4 Ways To Make Your Family Accounting Greener

Anyone with even half an eye on what’s happening with the environment and climate can’t help but realise our attitude to disposable goods is a big part of the problem.

Finding ways to complete mundane tasks in a greener way often makes small improvements that can turn into big ones when enough people also make changes.

Eco-Friendly Cloud Accounting

We do so much with cloud computing without thinking about it that running family accounts in the cloud will be an easy switch for most people. If you have an Internet account, you likely have free cloud storage through your provider, and you can use this for far more than family photos.

Alternatives to the data storage space that comes from your ISP include Dropbox or Google Drive. The advantage of using one of these services is that they stay the same even if your Internet provider changes.

You can:

  • Scan or photograph receipts you want to keep and upload the digital files instead.
  • Use Excel or Google Sheets to keep tabs on daily spending.
  • Start a subscription with online accounting software (Freeagent or Quickbooks are two examples and there are several more) if your accounting needs are more complex than simple income and expenses.

Mobile banking apps and the ability to easily move money between accounts all make staying on top of the family budget easier, without resorting to using more paper or adding to landfill.

Greener Tax Returns

Anyone who runs a business or who has income that doesn’t come from straight employment where all tax and national insurance is dealt with by their employer, needs to file a tax return.

That invariably means lots of paperwork, storage and endless numbers of receipts and invoices. Aside from business accounts, you might also have income that comes from investments, dividends, inheritances or stocks and bonds that you need to inform HMRC about.

If you find you’re faced with a mass of paperwork every time you come to file a return, switch to doing it online. The online submission process is very streamlined and easy these days, and you can even include digital files for some documentation if you need to back up your claims.

For those who do have more complicated accounting, bookkeepers and accountants can save more than they cost in the long run. They can advise you how to set up your accounts so you minimise your physical paper and have a more organised system.

A Green Home Office

Adopting a greener lifestyle not only means generating less waste, it also means finding ways to use fewer resources in the first place. The two go hand in hand.

  • Install solar window coatings. They can help conserve or reduce heat, keeping rooms more comfortable and energy efficient. There are also window films that increase privacy and safety, as well as reducing fading from sunlight, so your furniture and carpets look fresh for longer too.
  • Use energy efficient bulbs in desk and overhead lamps. It’s also a good idea to install motion sensors so lights turn off when they’re no longer needed.
  • Shun filing cabinets in favour of digital document storage.

Going Paperless

If the companies you deal with offer digital versions of documents, take them up on the offer. Examples could include getting your bank statements online, opting for PDF, print on demand versions of car and other insurances, or switching magazine subscriptions to email versions rather than paper ones.

We’re not quite at the stage yet where the office (or home) is completely paperless, but we’re getting there. The more of us who reject paper documents in favour of digital versions, the more the companies we deal with will also reduce their paper usage and that will be good for all of us, and the environment.