Updated: Aug 22
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Back in 2018 when I was pregnant with H, I made what was (back then) a rather ‘out there’ decision, to use cloth nappies once she arrived. Before this decision, I wasn’t living a particularly eco lifestyle, not for any reason other than I hadn’t really thought about it.
Little did I know, that this one change would egnyte a complete shift not only in my lifestyle but also in my view of the world, and my whole philosophy. 18 months later, I’ve taken a look back at all of the changes I’ve made:
1. Cloth nappies, we decided to choose a modern all-in-one nappy instead of the traditional terry towel to make this switch as simple as possible, there really was very little difference between these and disposables, other than you washed them!
2. Reusable wipes, it isn’t an all or nothing combination, if nappies are a step too far wipes should not be. Not only are the majority of disposable wipes filled with plastic, but they are also pretty useless. We used disposable wipes in the beginning and would easily go through 6 or 7 of them trying to clean explosive, newborn milk poo, since switching over to Cheeky Wipes I’ve never used more than three to clean up, no matter how big the mess.
3. Powering my home, without thinking about it, this was one of the first switches we made. It was when we moved two years ago I first heard of green energy, it was cheaper than the big 6 - so a no-brainer. We currently use Octopus who offer 100% green electricity and you can carbon off-set your gas if you wish.
4. Refill, refill, refill, 2019 saw the rise of the refill shop (or at least in my area it did). As I finished the things they stocked I simply kept hold of the bottle or jar before heading to the shop. No need to buy anything special just re-use what you’ve got. Once you get to the shop refilling is simple: weigh your container, fill it, weigh it, pay.
5. Go containerless, another alternative to re-filling is to ditch the container all together. In the last year I have ditched hand wash, shower gel and hair conditioner in place for solid versions of each. Not only are these plastic-free, but I find they also last a lot longer than their liquid counterparts so another cost saving alternative.
6. Ditch the clingfilm, let's be honest clingfilm is a pain in the ass, you always end up being even more wasteful because it’s only one width and it takes multiple attempts of untangling to get what you need. I’ve found a few helpful alternatives, one simple one which doesn’t cost a penny - cover it over with a plate. If you need something a little more flexible we use a mix of beeswax wraps, and silicone bowl covers (these also work well for halves of fruit and vegetables.
7. Switch to cloths, I’ve always used kitchen roll out of habit and not given it a second thought - it’s paper after all? But all waste should be reduced as best possible, after all nothing decomposes properly in landfill and recycling creates it's own emissions. I collected up all of the cloths and rags I’d accumulated over the years and these became my new kitchen roll, after a few uses they go straight in the washing machine and are washed with the next load.
8. Reusable periods, much like nappies and baby wipes - there are copious amounts of plastic in the disposable versions of these products. Initially I always said that CSP was the one switch I wasn’t prepared to make, but as my journey continued I got there and now wish I’d made the switch sooner. Not only are these reusable products kinder to the environment and your pocket, they are also kinder to you - much less drying and irritable against your delicate skin.
9. Make your own, taking a leaf out of Emma Reed’s book, I recently started to take a look at which products around my home I could make myself. So far it has only stretched as far as surface cleaner and Micellar water, but I have big plans for more - not only do most of the products contain similar ingredients so I’m not buying lots of additional containers, but they are all chemical free as well.
10. Soapnuts, after seeing these in one of my local eco shops I had to give them a go. Soapnuts are a laundry detergent which grows on trees! You only need 5-6 nuts per load, and if you wash at 30 they can be used for 2-3 loads.
11. Natural dish washing, for years I used the popular yellow and green sponges without a second-thought of the bits of green plastic which I was washing down my plug hole. Another simple switch, we now use a bamboo scrubbing brush and loofa scrubbies, both of which can go in my compost when they are done.
12. Eco toilet paper, I’m yet to make the switch to family cloth (although it is on the cards), in the meantime we started a Who Gives a Crap subscription who supply us with 100% recycled paper, with no inks, dyes or stains, individually wrapped in paper and delivered in a cardboard box. If that’s not enough, they also donate 50% of their profits to build toilets for those in need.
13. Ditch the cotton buds, for ages I’d wondered why there wasn’t such a thing as a reusable cotton bud, but equally didn’t know what that would look like. Luckily for me Last Swab did and created silicon cotton buds which you wash and use again saving at least 1,000 disposable buds.
14. Buying pre-loved, I’d never had a problem with shopping in charity shops, however, I also could mainly not be bothered. Since learning more about the damage fast fashion does to the environment (it is the second only to oil for pollution), I have now made it my mission to avoid buying new, as much as possible - not only am I doing my bit but I’m grabbing some bargains too! (This one is still very much a work in progress - the clothes speak to me)
15. Going part vegetarian, I say part because while I have stopped buying meat or choosing meat when dining out, if I am being hosted I will eat what is being served - after all, asking my host to cook two separate meals is less environmentally friendly than eating meat.
16. Environmentally friendly gifting, I’ve always loved giving a gift, but since following this journey I have come to realise it is the thought that counts, not just showing you’ve given a thought to them, but about them too. Gifts should be something the person wants or needs, not something which may make them smile upon opening but has little use to them. That opening can be environmentally friendly too, but I’ll leave you to read all about this over on My Sustainable Christmas post.
Wow, that was a lot more than I had realised - if you are also making the journey towards a more eco lifestyle, why not list all of the changes you have made and give yourself a little boost? You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to do something.