The words I always expected to write across my door frame, of my super-eco-super-sustainable-super-self-sufficient-self-build you understand, was “It’s not easy being green” perhaps with a sexy muppet frog face for fun. I was at least aware that so much of green living took awhile to get the hang of and would take some effort, but so many good things in life do. This year, even without the aforementioned house and slogan we decided to make a real effort to tackle our environmental impact, particularly plastic and our overall level of waste. We have found this is mainly difficult when taking on children. Everything is plastic, disposable, wrapped in multiple layers of packaging or just plain pointless (therefore sold in classically guilt-tripping ways to parents the world over).
However, with a little work we found a few alternatives to the usual which I thought I would share so if you are trying to do similarly it’s just a little bit easier, first up:
This is a new find but one my husband is very glad about. In my more extreme moments of fear that my grandchildren will be wading through plastic to find fish or breathing in toxic fumes I do consider a toilet-paper-free existence. Currently, it’s one of my lower priorities but I do know that the paper used means that trees are being continuously grown and cut down. Bamboo is a far more sustainable option because it’s basically a grass which can be cut and regrown over and over again.
That is just one of the reasons I bought a bulk of toilet paper and tissue from Who gives a crap? Another is their use of 50% of their profit to help with sanitation in the developing world. Another is their funky packaging. Another is that due to their increased length their price is pretty fantastic, and I’m hoping that I won’t have to worry about running out for a reeeeally long time.
I first saw the eco egg on a strange advertising video – y’know the ones that automatically seem to good to be true and normally are? It suggested the common strands of sales: low price, long life, great functionality, all in one small deliverable package. I didn’t really believe it at first, but I pinned it to come back to later. I read reviews and decided it was worth a shot.
Wonderfully it has worked really well. Even with mustard-yellow stains on our reusable nappies, this little egg thing has coped well. With two young children we probably go through more washing than most but even the cost seems to be working out. I bought one in November, and have only refilled it once recently. I have 9 more little bags of refills left which should mean I won’t be buying anything else for my washing (powder, liquid or pods) for approximately a year and a half. That cuts down on costs, and importantly for us: packaging. I haven’t had to recycle or bin card, plastic, or anything else created by my washing for months. That is a great result.
Our family has used and recommended reusable nappies for a long time and I was ashamed to say that my eldest daughter got to a point where she was neither potty-trained nor fitting into reusable nappies anymore. The waste is horrendous and if anyone has suggestions for what will hopefully only be an interim couple of months I’d appreciate the suggestion. One thing I could change though was wipes.
People often, wrongly, believe wipes are flushable and biodegradable like paper toilet tissue. They are not. Therefore they are piling up in landfill or blocking drains everywhere. Going one step further than our nappies seemed a sensible solution; Cheeky Wipes offers reusable wipes, made of cotton and bamboo (soon becoming my favourite material), as well as boxes and essential oils for their storage, and bags for their mobility. Since adopting them we have only slipped back into disposable wipes occasionally and normally due to family disorder more than actual need.
They are washed regularly, aren’t as likely to smear as disposables, smell lovely, and will last for an age. One day they may just be useful cleaning materials, but for now I am really glad we switched.
Update: use this link to get 15% off any order over £40!
I have been a fan of Lush for a long time, all the way back to silly teen adventures into the muddy business of henna hair dye. So when attempting to take on our most regular plastic purchases – those in our bathroom – Lush seemed like the obvious option.
We are going slowly with our bathroom because I am aware that we had to use up each product first before replacing it in order to keep waste as low as possible. So far that has meant shampoo and conditioner bars were bought instead of the large bottles of supermarket equivalent, and I love it!
Having shorter hair probably helps but a quick lather of a shampoo bar cleans my locks, and a stroke of the conditioner bar has given me the softest feeling I’ve had for an age. They are wrapped in a small piece of paper, but can be ordered naked. Lush is 100% vegetarian, against animal testing, ethical, handmade, and smell gorgeous. Why would I go back?
I have also bought a small option of toothpaste equivalent but it has not yet replaced my dwindling supplies of tubes so I will try to update when I know better.
Veg & Meat Boxes
An ongoing experiment is with boxed groceries. I hate shopping and so deliveries of food are so welcome. If I can avoid the plastic packaging, get better produce, support small business farmers, and challenge the waste of supermarkets simultaneously, then I’m happy.
So far I tried a local regularly veg box from Sarah Green Organics which were good value and free of packaging excluding occasional paper bags and reusable/returnable crate. My only issue was the lack of variety, but that’s to be expected with super small options.
I also simultaneously bought a meat box from Everfield and was surprisingly impressed. I wanted to lower our meat intake and getting a selection of ethically-farmed produce meant we made it last and did without meat semi-regularly. Their delivery was also great, coming in a wool-insulated cardboard box! There was still plastic wrap around meat product but that’s not surprising and perhaps a reason I will have to attend a butchers (when I find one nearby) or farmers market with reusable packaging in the future.
My third experiment was a full meat, fish, and veg delivery from Bearfaced intended to last at least 2 weeks for our family. Cost was great, variety was perfect, and little seasonal extras made me smile. Packaging is my main issue here but it was far less than a supermarket and would mean less bags, fuel, etc were used in the gathering.
Update: Bearfaced are also offering a referral deal so I thought I’d open it up to anyone reading this. Anyone who uses this link will get £10 off an order, which is nice!
I am still working it out bit by bit, but so far each company definitely has some impressive environmental positives. Of course, with spring also comes our opportunity to grow our own so watch this space!
What do you do differently to cut down?
Please share your suggestions so the rest of us can do better!