At first glance, we weren’t too sure about the BBC’s new series, ‘Shop Well for the Planet?’, a spin-off of the more established ‘Shop Well for Less’ and ‘Eat Well for Less’ on BBC One. The new programme is being aired under the BBC’s ‘Our Planet Now’ banner, described as “the BBC’s ongoing commitment to programming which explores the environment and the challenges facing the natural world.”
‘Shop Well for the Planet?’ began on 14 October with a look at how the Fortington-Neave family from Essex could reduce their footprint while at the same time possibly saving money. Episode one took us on a whistle stop tour from electric vehicles through to toilet roll and other bathroom items, cleaning products and what we eat.
Having not watched the aforementioned two series, the newly combined presenting line-up took us a little by surprise. Presenter Melanie Sykes is joined by Gavin & Stacey actress Joanna Page, Jordan Banjo who rose to fame as part of dance group Diversity and presenter and food expert (we had to check this one out) Chris Bavin.
Listening to the team and the family debating whether they could consider reducing their meat consumption by partaking in ‘meat free Mondays’ initially gave the feel that the bar wasn’t being set particularly high and by the end of the hour it didn’t feel that very much had been shaved off of the family’s footprint – the overall aim of the programme. And while it was good to see some familiar eco-friendly brands featuring, the range of products covered was often a little limited and slightly random, with some great options omitted.
The average carbon footprint per person in the UK is 12.7 tonnes CO2e per year. This means that in just the first half of January a person in the UK could have a greater carbon footprint than someone living in one of several African nations will have in an entire year.
Having just finished episode three, which aimed to identify ways to reduce a family from Shrewbury’s impact, I’m surprised to say that the series has grown on me. So much so, I was slightly disappointed to learn that that is in fact the end of the series already.
The presenters are generally likeable, even if (disappointingly) Joanna Page doesn’t say “That’s well lush” even once when reviewing sustainable swaps. They and the programme do a pretty good job of tackling an extremely broad and vitally important subject and providing viewers with simple and easy to engage with information and ideas alongside practical changes that everyone can consider making. Perhaps the programme’s biggest success is helping to dispel the myth that living more sustainably is an unaffordable option for most people. It also emphasises how the impact of making lots of smaller changes really can add up.
Ricky Cooper, BBC Commissioning Editor, commented during the programme’s launch: “Eat Well and Shop Well’s simple swaps and tests have already changed the way millions of us spend, so it’s incredibly exciting to bring these programmes together to tackle one of the biggest challenges we all face as a nation – going green.”
At Plastic Free Home we are often asked, “where do I start?” and what the “rules” when it comes to trying to live more sustainably. Does it mean ditching plastic? Are overseas holidays a thing of the past? Can you buy loved ones presents ever again? It can be somewhat overwhelming for sure.
Our simple advice is to narrow things down in one of two easy ways – either select a point in your daily routine or choose a room in your house. Work your way through your daily routine or your home, exploring the changes you could make and identifying potential swaps that suit you when it comes to your needs and tastes, availability and affordability.
Remember to only replace things once they have run out and been used to death – going on a shopping spree isn’t eco-friendly! Spend time testing these new products, which in some cases may take at least a few weeks. Be sure they meet your needs and expectations and that you are happy to stick with them going forward. If not, go back a step and consider other alternatives. If there are difficult compromises; for example the swaps are not easily available, less affordable or you simply don’t like them as much, you are far less likely to stick to the changes you have made. Take time to get this crucial step right to ensure that the changes you make are sustainable in every sense!
If you haven’t already, give ‘Shop Well for the Planet?’ a go and if you have any questions we might be able to help with, do get in touch…
You can find us on Facebook by searching for Plastic Free Home or at http://www.facebook.com/plasticfreehomeuk.
Image © Copyright BBC