• Claire Best

A little bit of climate action

Sustainability and a Free Gift

When the UN and IPCC are giving us less than 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe and it feels that the big powers are not listening, it is easy to feel despondent. While I admire Greta and Extinction Rebellion, not all of us feel we have the time to become climate protestors - some of us have school runs, most of us are employed by a company. So what can we do?

My view on all this sounds like that saying about 'charity beginning at home' but it's true, it can be enough to do your own little thing from the side lines, perhaps even influencing friends - after all someone had to sew the suffragettes' sashes and badges, not everyone could chain themselves to a railing. I am waiting to hear if I'm wanted in the well-being tent during the October protest but if home, school or clients want me, that will always be my priority.

Personally I find a lot of comfort in the choices and actions that are within my own control. This might be planting a tree, reducing food waste, knitting scouring pads (I do, yes). And who knows what power many, many consumers may have over the big companies and government?

Family Best plc, which includes my home-based massage business (www.clairebest-holisticmassage.co.uk), his home-based surveying business (www.londonpropertysurveyor.com) and a carbon-generating 6-year old, embarked on a plastic reduction experiment 18 months ago which, if you are interested, I have been sharing on Facebook (The Fantastic, No Plastic Experiment).

Recently, I have been thinking specifically about the sustainability of my massage business. I'm not perfect but I'm trying and here's what's been considered so far:

1. Energy - it was easy to swap over to a renewable energy firm for the home. We chose So Energy (www.soenergy.com/) but there are many options.

2. Transport - easy, there is no commuting involved in me working from home and therefore my little low-emission car is driven once in a blue moon.

3. Food and drinks - simple, I make my own coffee and my own lunch which means I can consider how I shop and avoid packaging and food waste

4. Heating - fortunately, the south-facing massage room is the warmest room in the house but when it does need heating in the Winter I do try to limit it to that room during the day and often use a combination of hot water bottles and an electric blanket as an alternative on days where it makes no sense to heat the room. My intention when I reach the end of my endless to-do list is to invest in some nice blankets too.

5. Washing - ah, the towels, the mountains of towels, my nemeses! I'm working on an alternative solution but I have absolutely no choice but to wash towels between clients. One thing though, they are all line-dried - partly because the tumble dryer broke a long time ago and now partly because I'd feel guilty using a tumble dryer to excess. I have also switched over to a large box of washing powder to minimise the plastic in the recycling.

6. Hand-washing and hygiene - as a family we no longer have plastic in the bathroom (ask me, if you are interested), except the toothbrushes and toothpaste, and so you will find natural, packaging-free soap when you and I go to wash our hands.

7. Water - no bottles here I'm afraid, only tap water, maybe with a slice of lemon which wasn't bought in a net bag and a sprig of mint from the garden

8. Cleaning - all rooms in the house, including the massage room and the bathroom, are cleaned with various combinations of Ecover washing up liquid, water, white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, the latter of which I am bulk buying from Naked Larder (www.nakedlarder.co.uk) in Herne Hill. I am more than happy to share my recipes.

9. Massage oil - blimey, this is the tough one because of health and safety. I have put a lot of research into finding a company offering a refill service for my massage oil without any success. Currently I bulk buy 1 litre bottles of carrier oils from a small company in Croydon called Naturally Thinking (www.naturallythinking.com/). Each bottle would probably last up to 100 massages. I believe Naturally Thinking are considering a refill service in the future and when they do I will use it. The alternative would be a company like Lush who produce solid massage bars but since I can only use one bar per person for hygiene reasons, I would have to factor the price into the cost of the massage. If this interests you, you are very welcome to bring a massage bar of your own to your next appointment.

10. Ummm, apart from that, I've planted a tree in the front garden and two in the back plus a butterfly bush and lots of lavender. I'm also trying to adopt a make-do-and-mend approach to consumption from food to clothing to recycling.

So there you go, my aiming-for-sustainable business and life plan. As I said, we have actually changed lots more at home regarding plastic and waste reduction and you are more than welcome to join my Facebook group - The Fantastic, No Plastic Experiment - to pick up and exchange ideas.

In the meantime, for October and November, I'm offering a small jar of my home-made deodorant when you book in for a massage. Do let me know if you'd like one so I can make one up for you. Please note that I am not allowed to sell them, they are purely gifts and you should be aware that they've only been tested on the armpits of me, my husband and a few close friends.

Hopefully see you and your glorious armpits soon!

PS. In case you are interested, I passed my massage observation at St George's Hospital and am now moving into the mentoring phase. Thank you for your support.

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Claire Best

Holistic Massage Therapy
Herne Hill, London
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