Recently I (Tamara) have been struggling to manage my depression. It has risen up and engulfed me and my outlook, which usually presents outwardly as positive and energetic, has been bleak, joyless, and stationary. 

In the last few days, I have reluctantly dragged myself out of the murky treacle that I have been residing horizontally in. Some of the things I needed to do before this depressive episode hit still need to be done. This blog post is one of those things.

Now,  Emma and I are a team and she has occasionally in the past filled in for me when I have been unwell. But this time,  I didn’t ask her as I know she is swamped with work (it’s why there was no blog post earlier this month) and anyway, I want to write my post. 

But my brain interferes, telling me that I am a terrible Green who is not doing enough and the world is burning.  Not very conducive to writing a cheery post about eco bathroom tips and tricks. Not conducive at all! 

A tool I keep in my mental health toolkit is counting the small achievements. Usually, brushing my teeth and taking a shower are daily actions that don’t require much thought. During a depressive episode, these can take an inordinate amount of energy and are a major achievement. Recognising this helps me change my thinking, which then helps lift me out of depression’s grip. (Together with therapy, antidepressants, love and support from friends and family, getting exercise, trying not to face plant into potato (crisps and chips are my go-to depression food), occasionally leaving the house, and lots of light-TV binging).

Image of a sunny and sandy beach
Clearly not Southsea seafront

So this post contains no tips on how to green up your bathroom, instead, it is a list of the green minutiae, the daily eco tasks I have accomplished that all add up. It is celebrating the drops of water that make up the ocean. Cheesy, yes. True, also yes!

And if you have that voice telling you that you are not doing enough, saying this is all pointless and how are these small actions changing anything? –  I hope you will list all your small accomplishments and see that each and every action is helping to create a culture of change. 

Ok pep talk over, let us celebrate the joy of the tiny green action! Here’s my top 10!

person wearing face mask and doing the thumbs up sign
Not me or Emma, but we beg of you: wear a mask! (in places where social distancing is impossible and provided you are not medically exempt due to a disability)
  1. Refilled 

I trotted down to Herbies, the independent health food shop on Albert Road to refill my cleaning liquids (laundry, washing up, and hand soap). At the time, this was on a Wednesday and they were closed. This is not their fault. My brain was depressed goo. The real win was that I returned when they were open! (Alert: Herbies have recently changed their opening hours and are now open on a Wednesday!)

  1. Supported Local Independents

My hubby (The Dutchman) and I celebrated an anniversary by gifting each other a book. We had a lovely, safe, and socially-distanced look round Pigeon Books, our local independent book store on Albert Road and left two books richer. What is not to like? Say I love you with a book!

  1. Grew Something

Earlier in May, I wrote about my difficulties keeping seedlings alive. I am pleased and proud to report that my honeywort – my last man standing – is still alive!!!!! No one is more surprised than me! (Scroll to the end to see evidence of this great feat!)

  1. Cooked Food Waste

This is a two-part win as I made soup from the broccoli and cauliflower stalks and leaves which I used to compost. When I am low, I do not want to cook or eat nutritious food. This made so much I froze some, so Future-Depressed-Me can eat better. She won’t be happy about it, but I know she’ll be glad in the end.

  1. Composted Food Waste

I do not currently have a compost bin in my garden (it is on my list… Actually, hold on, I am going to post a Wanted ad on a local group right now…. Ok done! Hopefully, I will get a flood of replies!) 

So while I am compost bin-less, some friends of mine are kindly letting me use their Food Waste bin as they are one of the lucky few who were part of the council’s food waste collection trial. I walked over to their place and deposited my offerings into their box. (Hahah, I love how dodgy that sounds!)

  1. Hung Laundry Outside

That’s basically it. Chores tend not to get done when I am depressed so doing laundry meant I was winning at life! And with a 20°C wash cycle and hanging the clothes outside, I was also winning at my green life!

  1. Connected with the Green Community

Prior to Covid-19, Portsmouth Green Drinks gathered once a month at The Southsea Village – an informal meet-up for people interested in environmental issues. During the lockdown, these monthly meet-ups moved online and there were quizzes and various themed talks.

I attended a recent talk given by local Passivhaus designer, Rachel Mitchell of GreenBox Associates. It was nice to see smiling, familiar faces, listen to an interesting talk by a passionate, inspiring local entrepreneur and environmentalist and also immediately use some information on insulation gained from her talk in my next win.

  1. Chose the Greener Product

Sometimes, living a green life and making choices based on eco-values can be cheaper than the norm. But sometimes, and to be honest, I find a lot of the time, it isn’t cheaper. Case and point – my attic insulation. 

Insulating our very draughty and dusty attic in our new house is a project The Dutchman has recently tackled while I have been languishing horizontally. I have not been involved in it at all apart from as a cheerleader and giving the odd opinion. When presented with the choice of cheaper insulation or ethically sourced and more expensive wool insulation, I winced at the extra cost, but, as we could afford it, decided it was worth installing the eco insulation. Not everyone can spend out on more environmentally friendly products, but I was able to and so I did.

  1. Bought Ethical Fish

Though still a vegetarian in my head, I am not an actual official vegetarian any more and haven’t been for a while. My secret shame made public! (Bonus: Emma still is very much a vegetarian though and will be writing about it next month!)

I have Type-2 diabetes and have been controlling it for the last year with a low-ish-carbohydrate diet, so I have been eating MSC certified sustainable fish. Except, when it comes to sashimi. I bloody love local restaurants’ Sakura’s and Rakuzen’s sashimi and it has been a delightful guilty treat over the lockdown months. So to counterbalance this, I recently made a purchase of frozen ethical sashimi for me to chow down on at home. 

  1. Wrote a Blog Post About Celebrating the Small Green Wins

So meta. But this blog post is a massive achievement. I love writing it and look forward to it every month. This month was harder than usual and thank you for reading. It makes it worth the times when it is a struggle.

And here is the moment you have been waiting for. I present to you for her Shades of Green debut – my last-man-standing, my precious, my honeywort!