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. I started following a great Instagram account recently, @small_sustainable_steps who is Amanda. She uses her account to cover the topic of ethical living and gives regular updates with examples of things she is going to help reduce plastic, live more sustainably, reduce her footprint etc . Her account has 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.
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 @the.harmless.kitchen (previously @nurturingnewfamilies) on Instagram who writes about being a vegan family and trying to live sustainably. Her posts really make me think about what I am eating. Earlier this year I stopped eating processed meat (I was living off of ham/salami sandwiches), I generally only order fish or vegetarian/vegan 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. We also eat a lot of vegetarian dishes most evenings (the husband isn’t always convinced, but that could be my cooking) which hopefully has less impact on the environment and better for our bodies. Whilst I haven’t stopped eating meat altogether, I’ve reduced what I was eating and that is a vast improvement.
Soap & shampoo bars
I wrote a post about these recently and whilst I have reverted back to Faith in Nature Shampoo and Conditioner for myself (ease of use & mostly because my hair just didn’t agree with them), I still use the bars on Olivia and they’re great. I’ve also started buying basic soap (Faith in Nature) from my local healthfood store, which comes without packaging and we use this in our bathrooms instead of the hand pump stuff (which often contains a metal spring which can’t be recycled)
Using Lush products
I am a complete Lush convert after switching to their deodorant bar about two years ago now. I switched after my miscarriage left me perspiring really heavily. I’d also started reading about reducing plastic waste, so decided to try the Lush Aromaco bar. It’s 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. My husband has also started using this too and really rates it. I also use their Eau Roma Water Toner (great for sensitive skin), Celestial moisturiser, their Banana Skin face oil (which smells insane) and their 9-2-5 Cleanser. All these products work really well with my super sensitive skin. With Lush, if you keep 5 pots/containers and take them back into store they’ll recycle them and give you a free face mask. Win. OK so it’s still using plastic essentially but you’re ensuring it stays in the system and gets reused.
Kitchen Cleaning products
For ages now I’ve been reading up on making your own cleaning products as 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 our bathrooms, and the vinegar smell disappears within a few minutes. I keep a mason jar in the cupboard with lemon peel in it, which I top up every now and again and this is my go-to kitchen spray (I don’t even know who I am anymore, I’ve changed!). I’ve started making my own hand soap for the kitchen, using Bronners Castille Liquid soap and whilst it is pretty runny (I’m yet to find a better recipe!), it’s just as good if not better than the chemical stuff. I’ve also started using an Ecoball in my washing machine. After the first wash I was sceptical as my washing and washing machine smelt pretty funny but I did some researching and read that happens due to your machine and washing being so used to being chemical laden. I’ve given my machine a good clean and have started using an eco fabric softener (something that was recommended) alongside the egg and now everything smells pretty darn good. The only complaint is stains are hard to get rid of so I have to use quite a bit of stain remover. Next stop is to buy a natural one!
I discovered Who Gives A Crap about a year ago now. 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 and making changes in the kitchen
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. 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 try and do simple things like reuse plastic food bags (I’m aiming to stop using these altogether). I used to throw them away straight after use, but now I’ll try and re-use them as many times as possible before disposing. I’ve recently bought some Beeswax wraps to replace cling film and I’ve bought some silicone cup cake holders so I don’t have to buy the paper ones anymore that always come in plastic containers. Next on my agenda is to check out this place near me where you can buy grains, rice etc plastic free. Small steps.
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, get rid of my electric toothbrush (but they’re so good, right?) 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.