12 Simple Swaps to (start to) Save the world

It sounds a bit crazy right? As if its that easy?!…but it could be… Because in reality thats all it takes, enough people making small changes. And once you start..who knows where you’ll go!

You Make A Difference!

We all made a difference getting us to this point and each time someone makes a change, however small it may seem, it tips the scales a little the other way.
Tip those scales. You know you want to!

1. Eat less meat.

Studies show that the number one thing that we can all do that will have the biggest positive impact on climate change is to eat less meat.
You don’t have to cut it out entirely, but reducing by maybe having one or two veggie or vegan days a week is a great start.

2. Reuseable drinks Containers

In the UK we use 13 BILLION plastic water bottles a year, and 2.5 BILLION single use coffee cups.  By getting a reusable water bottle and coffee cup you would certainly be part of the solution. Try these

3. Avoid Single use Plastic.

We are set to be known as the plastic age. Is it just me that finds that rather depressing, when you think of all the other amazing stuff we have going on?

It can be a challenge getting out of the single use plastic habit but it is do-able. Refusing plastic straws, stirrers, buying loose fruit and veg , taking your own containers for meat, fish etc. Is a great place to start.
Seeing if you have a refill shop or zero waste shop near you and switching your shop to there, is great too!

Or you could just start here – In the UK we use 745,000 Miles of clingfilm a year, enough to go around the world 30x! A simple switch to Beeswax Wraps could save many of those miles.  You can find out more about them HERE.

4. Swap Your toiletries.

There are some great zero waste options for toiletries now available, from
shampoo bars to toothpaste jarsFriendly Soap Lavender & Geranium Shampoo Bar
And deodorants too.
The great news is that they are also *usually* made with more natural ingredients and fewer chemicals, making them better for you and the environment too.
Switching your toothbrush for a bamboo or beech wood toothbrush is another great swap for the environment.

5. Avoid Fast fashion.

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting on the planet. And is a triple threat, being damaging to the land, the air and the water. Fast fashion creates a huge extra demand on resources that is simply unsustainable, and often exploits workers too. By opting for better quality items they last longer, look better and can easily be mixed and matched to give a timeless look.

6. Litter

One man’s trash…is probably yours too, but if you see some please pick it up.

For my recent birthday, we took a trip to the coast to see the seals. This is the time of year when they are all up on the beaches to have their young.  It was lovely to see them, but it was very sad to see the litter that they were having to put up with.  And not all of it was a result of having been washed up from the sea. There were disposable coffee cups dropped by other visitors, chocolate bar wrappers and drinks cans.

If you have some spare time you could see about collecting some litter near you, or if you are already walking combine it with a litter pick.  You and I both know that it is not glamorous or even a particularly appealing prospect. But you could literally be saving a life, Keep Britain Tidy estimates that around 2.9 million small mammals die each year as a result of litter.

I don’t know why people litter, if you do, please stop, there are things id rather be doing than picking it up.

7. Make your laundry, cleaner.

We have written extensively about how changing your laundry products can have a big environmental impact, so if me just saying switch up your laundry products for more environmentally friendly ones, (you can find them HERE) isn’t enough then you can read more about it in these blogs-  Laundry1, Laundry2, Laundry3!

8. Grow your Own.

Any amount of fruit or veg you can grow at home is great. It adds some biodiversity to the lawn culture and it has been shown to improve health and happiness.

As well as giving you some great tasting and fresh food. It is educational for children and has literally zero food miles.

If you don’t have a big garden then you can grow in pots (strawberries, potatoes, beans for example) if you don’t have a garden at all then you can grow some crops in window boxes (herbs, lettuce, spinach, strawberries for example)

9. Cleaning Up.

How many cleaning products do you use around your home? How many chemicals are under your kitchen sink? With a few swaps to more eco friendly alternatives you can – Save money, cut the chemicals going into the water ways, reduce the air pollution in your home, which is often worse than outside!  Simple swaps like – white vinegar, a real wonder product. If you would like more info on this and the simple swaps you can make you can find it HERE and HERE.

10. Go Wild.

Help out wildlife in your area by setting aside some of your garden, for some wildflowers.

It can be easily done just by scattering some Seedballs, they contain seeds, compost and natural pest deterrent to help as many seeds grow as possible.  You could also set up a some wildlife homes, using some stacked logs, bird houses or bug hotels. If you dont have room in your garden, or a garden at all, then you can always spread a little wildflower love out and about!

11. Have a waste free period.

Long Panty Liners WrappedProbably safe to say that this is nobodies favourite time of the month. But should the whole world suffer for it? (Not including your other half, they should of course suffer right along with you! 😉 )

The average woman uses 11,000 sanitary products in her lifetime and many of those products end up in our oceans and on our beaches.

Mooncup Size A

They also contain a surprising amount of plastic and synthetic fibres which are not always the best for your body. There are some great alternatives from Mooncups, to reusable pads to natural pads and tampons. To find out more Click Here.

12. Single use wipes.

A source of ‘hidden plastic’ in the home. Single wipes often end up in the
environment by being flushed or blown away, and if sent to landfill will not decompose.  You can make your own reusable wipes, from old clothes or towels.

You could also use Bamboo towels which are washable and reusable up to 85x!
Or there are Biodegradable wipes like THESE from Ecozone. Although we still don’t recommend you flush them.

So there you go, whether you change one thing or 12, do all at once or one a month for 12 months, you will have made a positive difference and as cliched as it sounds, changed the world.

But it’s just so convenient!

And that right there, dear reader is the problem.

I’m not going to lie to you, this has been a tricky post to write because it would be very easy to write it in such a way to leave you picturing me walking down the street wearing a ‘The End Is Nigh’ sandwich board, and I really don’t think I would pull that look off.

So, here we go…

There have been many many apocalyptic films, books, tv dramas, computer games, from meteors to apes, even at least one about global warming… it seems us humans like to fantasise about how the world might end, or at least be changed beyond recognition.

But in reality what might be our greatest undoing has crept up on us. And I think it is because we have been on a quest for ever greater convenience in our lives. Ways to speed up and hassle down the day-to-day jobs.  We all Love convenience, but is convenience killing us?

The medical profession might be nodding their heads, we are all too sedentary these days, spending too much of our time sitting – at work, in cars, in front of the TV leading to less fitness more illness. But that (although a problem for many societies) is not exactly what I mean.

So what do I mean?

We live life at an increasingly fast pace, there is ever more to cram into a day and we embrace anything that is going to shave time off tasks so that we can cram more and more into our days. More work, more time with kids, more social media time, more holidays, more learning, more DIY, more TV! Whatever, we want more.

But in this quest, have we taken convenience too far, to a point where it is doing more harm than good?

Don’t want to go to the well to fetch water? Let’s pipe it straight into people’s homes! – Pretty convenient, time saving and on the face of it no massive environmental impact.  (once all ground works have been done)

bottles on beachNot wanting to use that water that’s conveniently piped into your home, because it’s more convenient to buy it in a plastic bottle?

More expensive, more damaging to health and more damaging to the environment.  Really, I see no upside. And is it actually more convenient or is it just perceived convenience?

Throwing away worn or damaged clothes Vs Mending…Sure it might save you some time but the environmental impact is massive.

You don’t want to grow your own food? Or you don’t have time to grow your own food? Ok we have farmers to do that, you ready mealcan buy it from them.  – pretty convenient.

You don’t want to cook your own food, ok we will make you a ready meal.  Result – excess (plastic) packaging, excess salt, millions who don’t know how to cook!

I could go on and on. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve been just as bad as anyone.

It is our need for convenience that has driven our need for plastics, for fossil fuels, for fast fashion.  We drive when we could walk, we tumble dry when we could line dry, we hit social media when we could pick up the phone for a chat or write an email…

Our need for convenience influences every part of our lives, but my (probably unpopular) opinion is that we have taken convenience too far and when taken too far it is perhaps no longer a force for good.

Plastic pollution, micro-plastics, global warming, mental health issues, obesity…  Change can be very inconvenient, but not getting on top of these issues, not finding ways to stop, reduce or tackle them…. that could end up being the most inconvenient of all.


The Family-iar war on waste

There are times for everyone I am sure when the ‘ideal’ just goes out of the window, when all the best laid plans just refuse to come together. And you know what? That’s ok. What I personally have to pull myself up on is not letting that be an excuse that starts us off on a slippery slope. I have to be self-disciplined enough to keep making those plans, and keep striving for the ideal.

So in the last post I mentioned that we were going to be tackling our rubbish, the volume of which had started to creep up over the last few weeks/couple of months. I can make all the excuses, baby not sleeping, so a very tired me (so very very tired!), low energy, thinking through fog, school holidays – so our structure/routine is off etc, you get the idea. So we had fallen back on the supermarket a few times because I hadn’t made it to the greengrocers in time, or we had not been planning our meals as our days were more spontaneous so bread had been left to go rather hard… little things like this.

Two of the easiest ways we have found to cut down on our waste, is switching the supermarket for the greengrocers,

butchers etc. Fewer plastic trays, plastic bags, horrible orange netting… Actually the packaging of fruit and veg is one thing that annoys me the most. Especially when I see people putting bananas in those little almost clear plastic bags… they come in their own handy packaging! They are even handily pre-tied (bunched) together for you! Why do they need to be in a little bag? What is the bag going to protect them from??

I digress! So yes, the greengrocers or farmers market has saved us a lot of packaging. I also like the feel of fruit and veg more from here. Is it just me? It is perhaps a psychological thing? But the fruit and veg from a supermarket always seems a little… sterile? Perhaps because of the uniformity or the extra packaging, or just the chilled clean supermarket environment? (Not saying that my local greengrocers is not clean!) it just seems another step away from nature somehow.

This is something that has been easier for me for the last couple of years, because I have been on (at least part time) maternity leave or a part time stay at home mum I suppose. So I have been able to pop out with the kiddilies during the day. When I had previously been office bound, this was harder to do and when I go back to being full time, I will have to have a think about how to make sure I don’t slip back to relying on the supermarket and their later opening hours. However, we intend to make our working life more flexible to fit in with the girls so with some intention and planning, I don’t see it being a problem.

The other thing we did which had a massive impact on our waste, specifically food waste, was to plan our meals for a week. The thought of this horrifies my mum as she says she couldn’t stand to just know what she is going to be eating and be tied to it – she likes to get into the kitchen and be creative. But you do not have to be tied to it. If it is Tuesday and we were supposed to have spaghetti bolognaise, but no one fancies it, we will just swap it for Thursday’s risotto instead. And with some store cupboard basics always on standby there is room for some creativity too. Also, no two weeks need be the same. You can get all creative still, just not quite so spontaneously.

Not only does planning our menu save on waste in the form of throwing away food that has gone bad whilst waiting to be swept up in your creativity. It also saves money – not buying food you then throw away. And Time – wondering round the shops trying to think of what to buy and wondering round your shelves/cupboards trying to think of what to make! Yes, at some point you need to sit down and plan your menu, and that can be done in one fail swoop, or just left on the side and added to over a couple of days. We have been doing this for a couple of years now, and honestly it must have saved us tens or maybe even hundreds of hours.

As  anyone reading this has little people in their lives, you know those hours are precious. It also gives us the chance to include them in the weeks food, we can ask them if there are any meals they would like next week – Our 3 year olds favourite food is currently prawns! And when shopping they get a better idea about where their food is actually coming from, rather than just seeing everything as coming in a neat little plastic package.

Getting back on track with just these two things has dropped the amount of rubbish we are producing down along way.

Any food waste we do have we compost. We have in the past grown

some of our fruit and veggies, this is something that has gone by the wayside a little again over the last 2 years, but we still do some.

This year we had Tomatoes, Runner Beans, French beans, Strawberries and Raspberries. And the herb patch, which apart from some taming, mostly takes care of itself!

Again the girls love it and there is something so satisfying about eating something you have grown.

Any cardboard waste we have (eg egg boxes) or yoghurt pots generally gets re purposed as arts and crafts materials by our eldest, or taken to nursery so that they can do likewise before it gets recycled. We have several beautiful sculptures adorning our surfaces that look (almost) like a rocket, or a house, or a …doggy?

This is of course an ongoing thing and I would love to hear any ideas you have come up with for reducing waste around your home.

One step at a time

I am the world’s worst at beating myself up over small things. It’s a habit I am trying to let go of, but I do seem to rather delight in self critique.
Even little things like going out to get some groceries and forgetting the shopping bags – never mind that we had a day bordering on insanely busy, or that my usually delightful girls had decided to have some fun with Mummy and so leaving the house had been like trying to herd cats, (seriously how can such little people remove shoes so fast?!) or that the bag I had to use has already been put to use many times over, and will continue to be used until it finds its way to being recycled – I wasn’t about to cut myself any slack for neglecting the most basic of eco practices.

However, when an acquaintance asked me if I really felt I could advise on eco matters if I still did things/bought things/used things that were not eco friendly it got me to thinking. Thinking that led me to the conclusion that actually, it is not about beating myself up for the things that I or my family don’t do, guilt is rarely a good motivator, but rather about celebrating and giving ourselves the odd high five for the things that we do do (I would also like to add at this juncture that I do not feel like it is my place to give advice! Merely to share, experiences, knowledge, mistakes, finds etc.if any of that ends up helping anyone then, yay!)

We have come a long way in our efforts to live in a more sustainable way, but I am under no illusions that we still have a long way to go. It takes a very special person to decide that they are going the whole hog approach when it comes to changing lifestyle and if you are one of those people, then I wholeheartedly take my hat off to you. But a lot of people are adverse to change, myself included and so the only way this was going to work was for us was to take it slowly, one step at a time.

We started really simply, by changing the kinds of bags we used, from bin bags to shopping bags (before we were charged for using plastic shopping bags). Out went the usual off the shelf bags and in came some lovely degradable ones for the rubbish and cotton string bags for the shopping.

Then a month or so later we started swapping our toiletries, shampoos, soaps, moiturisers etc, as the brands we had used for years ran out so they were replaced. A little while after that we swapped out our laundry products, then cleaning and so on.

With some products it took some trial and error before we found the ones that worked for us, (I will do some quick comparison posts later on to try and help you if you are having trouble deciding what to switch to. For example, switching your Persil for soap nuts ((which literally grow on trees)) might seem a bit of a stretch for you, maybe not, but if so then perhaps a laundry powder or liquid without chemicals will be a better fit…) but we were amazed by the options out there, that we had just never known about because they are not stocked in the supermarkets (generally speaking) or advertised on TV.

Sometimes it can be hard knowing where to start. What is the first step to take? So it can be surprising how once you do start, the way opens up in front of you and it can take you much further and in more directions than you ever imagined. It’s one of the things that gets me really excited about what we do and about helping people when they are just starting out. Even if you only change one thing a month, that will make a huge difference after a year. Pick something that speaks to you the most, and go from there.

One of the areas that we are still working on changing, but is also a great example of how your horizons and point of view can change as you go, is our diet. When we first started this I would have sworn that I would never be vegan, you could not have induced me to go down that road for love nor money and my husband even more so…but now… well, we are not there yet, but we do not eat much meat at all now, our diets are certainly much healthier. We are more aware and make more conscious choices about where any meat, diary products etc come from, and I can see it being a distinct possibility that we will be slipping more and more into that lifestyle choice, it just seems to be a natural progression

Another great example is re-usable menstrual products. When we first started stocking them I was horrified! I couldn’t think of many things worse! However a few years on and I cant imagine what I was making such a fuss about, I wouldn’t be without them now!

So now, as a family we do quite a bit to lessen our footprint upon this world, we’ve done it slowly, nothing has been a shock to the system. Is it all we can do? No. But next week we will be doing a little more than today. Our next personal project is to cut down on waste as it has started creeping up a bit lately. Sometimes I think we all need to cut ourselves some slack and celebrate the things that we do that are great. Whether they be big small, green, kind, thoughtful, or just ordinary and every-day. So wherever you are now, take a moment to celebrate and congratulate yourself for the effort you are already making, then think of the next thing you are going to change and when, and go tackle that goal with a spring in your step.

Action Steps – Make it Happen! 

  • Choose some first products to start swapping. It can be overwhelming to swap everything over straight away, so pick an area you would like to start with, Cleaning? Laundry? Personal care? And get some more eco choices in to try.
  • Have a look around your home for the amount of products you use that could be swapped out. It can be quite surprsing!
  • Have a look into the options avaliable to you. A great place to start could be with ECO EGGBIODFAITH IN NATURE ,  D2W BAGS, Or more generally with CLEANING or LAUNDRY to see the wide range of options available to you
  • If you have any questions or are unsure about where to start, please get in touch with us or your local Wikaniko consultant for a no obligation chat. We are always excited to talk eco and we would be happy to help you.