I wrote a post at the beginning of the year about wanting to make changes within our family to benefit the environment and most important of all, to try and reduce the insane thing that is plastic waste. Whilst it isn’t something way at the top of my everyday life, because, well, life, I really think about every plastic item I throw in the bin now because I know it’s heading straight to landfill. When I throw something away, I wonder whether I actually needed it at all or whether I could find a more earth-friendly replacement for it. I’ve been feeling like I could and should do more and started following two great Instagram accounts recently, @ohhelloface and @small_sustainable_steps. Both use their accounts to cover the topic of ethical living and their regular updates and examples of things they are doing or trying are really useful. They’ve given me some great ideas and quite frankly, motivation. Thinking about what else I could do, got me thinking about the positive things I am doing already. Small changes that I should be happy with. Here is what I have done so far.
I usually do an online delivery, which up until now has worked really well. However I’ve recently been getting more and more frustrated with the fact that despite requesting my (Sainsburys) shop is sent with no plastic bags, any loose fruit or vegetables, or items that might leak are put in to additional plastic bags. This means I end up with a huge surplus of additional bags, most of which can’t be used again because they’ve been ripped or leaked on. After getting annoyed about this and also with the quality of items that were being picked for me, I decided to switch back to good old shopping in store. I did this for the first time recently, using my newly acquired string bags to put all my fruit and veg into, which I weighed and labelled as I went along. I came away with only two additional plastic bags, which I know I can use again. It’s apparent I need a few more string bags as two didn’t really cut it and I know I need to re-think some items I buy, like crisps and fizzy water, that come housed in plastic, but this is a start.
Eating Less Meat
For about two or so years I have started to feel very differently about eating meat. I follow a brilliant lady called @nurturingnewfamilies on Instagram who converted to Veganism a while back and her posts really make me think about what I am eating and where it has come from. Earlier this year I stopped eating processed meat (I was living off of ham sandwiches), I generally only order fish or vegetarian dishes when eating out and after consuming a lot of red meat whilst living with my parents over the summer, we took a month off when we moved home in August (which felt amazing and is something we will try again) For now however we stick to chicken, mince and fish. I try and buy organic meat and with the chicken left-overs I make stock to use in any dishes for the following week (makes the house stink but it’s worth it). We also quite a lot of vegetarian dishes most evenings (the husband isn’t always convinced, but that could be my cooking) which is all hopefully less impactful on the environment and better for our bodies. Whilst I haven’t stopped eating meat altogether, I’ve personally reduced what I was eating and that is a vast improvement.
Shampoo & Body Bars & Hair rinse
I wrote a post about these recently and having used the products for three months it’s safe to say I won’t ever switch back to plastic bottled nonsense ever again. The hair rinse took the most adjustment – I had savage Worzel Gummidge hair for a month – but now I make my own (I know, who am I?!) out of Apple Cider Vinegar and Aromatherapy oil, which means I’m no longer spending out on a conditioner. A win situation all round and happier, healthier (hopefully) hair. The products are great on Olivia too, I only use a shampoo bar on her, she doesn’t need the rinse bit.
I switched to a deodorant bar earlier this year, after my miscarriage left me perspiring so heavily that my crystal deodorant literally couldn’t handle it anymore. I’d also started reading around this time about reducing plastic waste, so decided to try the Lush Aromaco bar. It’s bloody brilliant and lasts all day (near-enough) I buy it as a block in-store and just keep in my bathroom cabinet. No more spray containers or plastic waste. It’s a great find and something I will use forever more.
Kitchen Cleaning products
Recently I’ve switched to more natural, shop bought cleaning products which are great but I use these alongside other, chemical laden products, oh and everything comes in throw-away plastic. For ages now I’ve been reading up on making your own and was waiting until I had finished off all my various bottles of potions, but after cleaning the house yesterday and getting fed up with the chemical smell, which often makes me cough, I made my own spray using half water/half vinegar and ten drops each of lemon and tea tree oil. So far it’s been fabulous for cleaning the kitchen surfaces and the vinegar smell disappears within a few minutes. With a bit of vinegar, water, bicarb of soda and lemon you can essentially re-create the chemicals laden stuff. Here are some tips for making your own.
I discovered Who Gives A Crap via @nurturingnewfamilies. It’s a company that makes bog roll using recycled paper – no trees are harmed – and they donate 50% of their profit to help build toilets for those in need. I’ve ordered from them three times now. I get their Premium Bamboo Toilet Paper as we found their 3 ply product too crumbly on the bottom (lols) For £40 you get 48 rolls of loo paper. I ordered a box back in August and we still have around nineteen or so rolls left, which is pretty awesome. Go on, treat your bum and the planet!
Recycling & Re-using plastic within the home
We are quite lucky in that we can recycle a huge amount in our area including food waste (it pains me to see friends scraping food contents into their bins) cardboard, most plastics, small electrical items and clothes, and things that I can’t recycle at the kerbside like Tetra Paks, I keep and take to a local recycling point. I take unwanted clothes or items either to a charity shop (although @small_sustainable_steps has examples on her Instagram page of where else we can give unwanted goods too, not just charity shops) or clothes bank and we often have clear outs trying to reduce what we have in our little house. I also try and do simple things like reuse plastic food bags. I used to throw them away straight after use, but now if it’s housed something plain and not smelly, I’ll use it as many times as possible before disposing of it. I know ideally I wouldn’t use these at all, perhaps switching to Tupperwear or another method (suggestions please?), but for now this is how I make it work for our family.
Using a Mooncup
I can’t sing the praises of this product enough, I think they are brilliant. I switched back in 2012 and haven’t looked back. Non toxic, completely safe and re-usable, why would you even bother with tampons when you can use these? OK they take some getting used too and do require you to get to know your period but when I think of the money I am saving, no more risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome and no more waste flushed into the sea, that is brilliant.
There is so much more that I would love to do, like changing to a natural toothpaste that comes in a glass bottle, stopping buying hand soap in plastic pump bottles (the pump often has a metal spring that can’t be recycled) stopping buying multipacks of crisps that come in un-recyclable packaging, stopping using plastic scrubbing brushes that go in the bin when they’re finished, only buying products in store that come in Tetra Paks or non-plastic items – this is a hard one as we really need the product sellers to change the way they package essential items. Obviously changing items within the home and buying things online costs money, so I can only change bits here and there, but little by little hopefully I can change the way we do things and hopefully lessen our impact on this planet.