Discover a few realistic ways you can go green without going into the red.
We are an ordinary family, living in an ordinary town in England and we would like to share with you our ‘going green’ journey which we have recently started.
One thing that drew us to our area was how we could walk pretty much everywhere we needed such as shops, play park, hospital and schools. In a nut shell we have for some time been considering ways we can be more resourceful and considerate to the environment but of late we have taken a much closer look at household products, our families consumerism – the impact these have on our home and the wider environment.
Why now? You might ask, well there isn’t a clear answer to this, perhaps it’s because we have our child’s future smack bang in the middle of our thinking, or perhaps the mainstream media have started to have an impact on our thinking, encouraging us to make changes before (cliché alert) ‘its too late’. The first reason is a definite and I am always hopeful about the latter!
So, what are these realistic changes you can make that won’t wine you up living in a tent and stitching leaves together for pants. Let’s get going…
Ways to be mindful with your buying
Okay so this might start off with us sounding like control freaks but, recently we have slowed our thinking down when it comes to purchasing ‘things’ for instance questioning, do we need it, is it the best option, how long will we use it for, will it go on and have a second life? (with the whole reduce, reuse, recycle notion in mind).
Our thoughts have been multifaceted in terms of trying to become more ethical but also wanting to reduce the number of toxic products in our lives such as household sprays and day to day items that leach chemicals into your food… cooking pans for instance.
With all of this in mind, we have come across a company called Wakecup who are producers of sustainable multiuse bags and travel cups. If we put our cards on the table we have to be honest and say, that one of our kitchen cupboards is pretty full of plastic reusable cups…and yes we do use them, but we have started to recognise that chemicals can leach into the drink, not nice! So, where do we go from here? We don’t want to throw away our cups and add more plastic to landfill. So we are now also scrunching our faces up at the whole chemical issue. Problem solved! We have a recyclable glass and bamboo tea diffuser and now use our plastic reusable cups as planters.
We also have a Wakecup rucksack that we use for trips to the shops for all our fruit and veg. Both products are stylish and will live on and on within our family. Another pull for us was that Wakeup give 10% of profits will go directly to our eco-charity partners – The Marine Conservation Society and Plastic Oceans
Consider the quantity of what you are buying
You can purchase large quantity of shampoo, hair conditioner, washing liquids and so on which you can decant into empty bottles that you have kept and cleaned out, reducing the amount of plastic you are consuming and disposing of. Better still, see if there are any local stores that sell loose stock that can be decanted into your recycled jars, tubs, bottles and bags again and again. Consider reducing the amount of day to day products that are being used in your home. We have come to realise that we don’t need several
versions of the same cleaning product or shampoo.
Be a little more ethical
Try to find products that are ethical with more natural ingredients in them. Be mindful about the source, with this we mean… issues like the horrors of deforestation and unfair trade.
Look out for Fair trade products and products free from harmful chemicals which will not only impact on your own health and immediate environment but can be harmful to those producing it and the planet.
Can you reuse it?
Ok, so many people have already jumped on washable nappies and a part of us wonders why we didn’t use these sooner but if we’re completely honest, we knew if we’d started earlier we probably wouldn’t have continued. Mainly because we needed to get to grips with our new baby and the learning that comes with this. And now, we know that we are comfortable with our routine we can ensure that we continue with this. Another point that was important to us and required a fair amount of research was finding nappies that were made from mainly natural products.
After reading an article on disposable nappies we learnt how they can affect a babies’ wellbeing with chemicals absorbing into the babies skin – and the other well-known issue which is environmental damage and landfill. Additionally, we use cloths and flannels instead of wipes which helps to reduce the money flying out of our bank accounts and reducing the amount of rubbish we are producing.
Reuse your bags like our rucksack from Wakecup rather than buying them from the shops, clearly this will save you a lot of 10 pence’s but it will also help reduce the amount of plastic you are consuming and putting into landfill. It’s easy to forget, we’ll give you that, so we have found putting shopping bags at the front door after we have unpacked leaves us with one less thing to think about when venturing out of the house.
Take away drinks cups are also creating a nightmare for landfill- they are literally rubbish at breaking down. So put your reusable cup from Wakeup with our bags. If you are feeling completely inspired get yourself a cup that is free from toxic chemicals, giving you a break from the chemical onslaught that your body goes through – even better one that can be recycled at the end of its’ life. Some cafés will also give discount on your drink if you take your own cup… winner!
Toxicity in your home
We find this difficult to digest, mainly because we have known about this issue for some time, ‘common sense’- we would go as far to say. But lately the penny has dropped along with the other considerations listed above. It’s as simple as this…Food, personal care products, clothing, cookware, home furnishings and goodness knows what else contain some harmful chemical and, in some cases, if used incorrectly can be harmful to your health such as some non-stick cookware and food packaging. To address this issue in a realistic way, as much as possible, there are a few things that can be done. Try to buy organic clothing and bedding, doing so should reduce your family’s exposure to certain chemicals such as retardant chemicals but on the flip side it is also worth noting how the materials are sourced and produced. Reconsider the type of cookware you use as you could have several nasty toxins and chemicals leaching into you food when you cook such as Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), Teflon (PTFE) and Bisphenol-A (BPA). If you click here you will find a really useful blog specifically about this issue.
Make your own cleaning products to help minimalise chemicals in your home. Remembering that killing all germs in your home isn’t necessarily a good thing, in fact killing good germs can be detrimental. We recently used soap nuts purchased from our local health store, we boiled them up added lemon juice and tea tree leaving up with a perfect and safe household spray. And yep, we decanted into a recycled spray bottle. We have also removed liquid hand wash which contain chemical that can be unpleasant to your skin and replaced them with natural hand soap which is made locally.
We have changed our skin creams, deodorant, shampoos and soaps to products which are natural and made in the UK (to reduce our footprint). When reading the ingredients, we can now understand what each one is. This is one thing we would promote- look up what the ingredients are in some of your products and gain an awareness of which to avoid and those that are safer.
Additionally, we have started making our own face washes and tooth pastes which we were a little unsure about initially, but both are natural, we know what is going into them, they are more economical for us and work just as effectively as shop bought products. To make household and personal care products, you would benefit from having a few basic ingredients in your cupboards including, bicarbonate of soda, lemon juice, peppermint oil, coconut oil, honey and organic soap nuts. These seem to be staple ingredients and can be used in many ways. Since using our homemade products we have noticed such a positive difference.
Many of us have made these changes over time, some will be contemplating change, and others will have made these positive changes way before we were even weighing them up. We hope that you can take something from our experiences even if it’s a notion that bit by bit, person by person we can create a more positive existence on our planet and help to create healthier environments to live in – and this change doesn’t need to cost a fortune!
We still have a long way to go, we find ourselves frustrated by national decisions around renewable energy and debatable practises with recycling but as a family, we can take responsibility and be as ethical as possible, aware and informed. In fact, we are enjoying our protest against the marketing of cleaning products, where we are being told we need endless wipes and sprays in our lives, the question is do we really need these products like the companies say, or do they need us?
Thank you for reading about our journey…