By Marina Sergeeva
Ask most people what they do in their spare time, and they’ll probably either name something computer based (like watching TV, blogging, gaming, etc) or, more than likely, they may exclaim: ‘what spare time?’
And that’s a shame.
New research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology shows that investing your time in worthy activity leads to greater wellbeing. And by ‘worthy’, they mean spending time with friends, family, or on a hobby.
But what are hobbies anyway? Watching Netflix and doing your nails doesn’t count – a hobby is something you do regularly and become good at; it’s something that’s actually fulfilling, rather than a way of killing time. It can be a mechanism for us to bring out our deep passion and creativity. Ideally, a hobby can even help others – as is the case for these six eco friendly hobbies that will improve your life, the planet, and make you and other people happy, too. What better way to spend your time?
1. Vegan Cooking
Even if you’re not fully vegan, if you start learning vegan recipes and incorporating them into your weekly menus, it will make a difference to the planet. By reducing the amount of animal products you eat, you will be also reducing the impact of climate change, rainforest destruction and pollution, whilst saving on precious resources like water and food. I mean, ONE hamburger takes 60 gallons of water to produce, and 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every minute to clear land for cattle ranching, according to Cowspiracy. And that’s just cows! Don’t even get me started on the horrendous environmental impact of pigs.
Luckily, vegan cooking has never been more delicious or easier! There are loads of YouTube cooking classes to get you started on recipes ranging from easy pasta and rice recipes to more complex tarts and casseroles. And you can even make vegan versions of your usual favourites, like cheesecake and hamburgers!
2. Gardening of All Kinds
Growing your own fruits and vegetables has huge benefits not only for the environment, but for your tummy too! Home grown food tastes better and it’s great to know there are zero chemicals in what you’re eating. Plus, planted vegetation absorbs atmospheric carbon, so by gardening, you’re offsetting your own carbon footprint to some extent.
You don’t even need to have much outdoor space to start gardening, and you don’t need to grow food, necessarily: any kind of gardening has been proven to fight stress, improve your mental health and lower your risk of dementia.
Basically, if you want to start small, begin with a few herbs in the kitchen, or some pollution-cleaning indoor plants. Want to go bigger? If you have outdoor space or a balcony, try growing a mix of food and flowers in sacks like these. And if you really want to put your green thumbs to work, you could try growing a green wall in or outdoors.
3. Interior Designing Through Upcycling
Need something new in your home? A lamp, table or headboard? Don’t buy it, upcycle it! There are plenty of ways you can make what’s old new again. Lamp shades can be made from pretty much anything, from spoons (yes, really) to actual musical drums. Headboards can be sourced from old tables or even doors, and there are amazing things you can do with Mason Jars…just check out our article for some suggestions! Tired of your old furniture, but don’t want to change it because it still functions perfectly well? Give it a makeover with some paint or stencils. There are lots of sites you can visit for upcycling inspo, such as this and this.
See? Upcycling is pretty easy, and this hobby not only saves money, but also landfill space as well. Now, take something shabby, and make it chic!
4. Moving Around Outdoors
Whether you live in a big city or the countryside, there are bound to be walking, jogging, hiking, and cycling routes in the area. Find out where these are and embrace the nature around you, which we almost always take for granted! This is not only a great idea to visit places you’ve never been to before, but also stay fit and healthy as well. You can also make a good family day out of it or enjoy some one-on-one time with your partner outside of your home. And who knows what you may find on the way? It may be a lovely veggie cafe on the route, or a new species of tree…why not learn more about the wildlife around you? Plenty of apps can help teach you.
And speaking of apps, if you’re really not sure where to go, there are lots of apps you can download that will tell you the best routes, plus how far you’ve walked or hiked and how many calories you’ve burned. Check them out here.
5. Sewing 101
Maybe your gran taught you a bit about how to sew on buttons and mend holes. If so, great! That means there’s no excuse to ever toss out clothing just because it’s gone through a bit of wear. But if you want to go a bit beyond the basics (and beautify your wardrobe!) why not learn a bit more?
You could embellish your clothing with embroidery – there are lots of YouTube tutorials for that. And don’t think for one minute that this means your wardrobe is going to look like you grew up in rural Godknowswhere – there are some seriously chic, arty embroidery patterns going on today! (see below).
Or if you’re feeling really ambitious, why not buy a machine and start making your own clothes? All you need is a good old fashioned sewing pattern and some (preferably eco friendly) textiles (you can find plenty on eBay), and you’re good to go! If something drapes on your body particularly well, why not make it again in a different fabric or colour? You’ll not only save money with this hobby, but you’ll also create a unique wardrobe that fits you perfectly. And why stop at clothes? You can also make bedding, toys and curtains, to name a few things!
6. Helping Others
There are so many in need – both humans and animals – that any time you can spare to help will surely be welcome! Volunteer as a dog walker at a local shelter; donate old magazines and makeup you didn’t quite love to a women’s shelter; volunteer your time at an old age home, just chillin’ with the elders…there’s little that’s more fulfilling in this life than knowing your presence has made a huge difference to someone’s life, and there’s nothing better you could do for the inhabitants of this planet than to play it forward.
Main image: explorefiber.com