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.

Cleaner Laundry – Part 2 – Fabric Conditioners

Originally I was going to include fabric conditioners in with the detergents in part 1, but it was getting very long! And really fabric conditioners need a space to themselves because, well, you’ll see!

Considering how long people have been washing clothes, fabric conditioners as we know them today have not been around all that long. They rose to popularity with the tumble dryer, and the rise of synthetic fabrics use in clothing, both produce static and smell pretty bad when heated.

The solution? Along came fabric conditioners, their job is to ‘coat’ the clothes in, well, basically a soup of chemicals to make them feel soft, and prevent the build up of static. Great! Except for the tiny problem that these chemicals also smell pretty bad, the solution to this? The heady perfume fabric conditioners are known for is added, using… a few more chemicals.

I will admit that I have a fairly sensitive sense of smell but sometimes peoples fabric conditioner on their clothes is so strong that it will make my eyes water and make it a little harder for me to breathe just standing next to them. But the chemicals made to make this fragrance could actually be doing us some real harm.

They release VOC’s or Volatile organic compounds many of these are actually classified as toxic or hazardous air pollutants, they contribute massively to air pollution in the home (which is often actually many times higher than air pollution outside the home) and can cause or exacerbate respiratory disorders such as asthma (VOCs can be and are released from many sources inside the home not just fabric conditioner, but this is a major contributor). Some of them are also suspected hormone disruptors.

But the regulations state that product manufacturers do not have to declare what makes up the fragrance of their product because it would leave them open to being copied by competitors. This means that in some cases no-one outside the manufacturer actually knows what chemicals they are using to give the fragrance.

The softness provided to your clothes is largely provided by a group of chemicals whose name is shortened to quarts. The Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, a leading international authority on asthma, calls these chemicals “asthmagens,” substances that can cause asthma to develop in otherwise healthy people. With Instances of asthma on the rise (especially in children) is this something we should or can afford to ignore?

By their very nature the chemicals are designed to stay on the clothes that you have on your skin, so some of them will be absorbed into your skin. For some people they can even cause contact dermatitis, eczema and body acne.

It’s quite amusing, and at the same time horrifying that the adverts for these products often focus on the natural, their imaging is of hillside, mountains, festivals (!) people taking deep deep breaths of their wonderful clean and fresh fragrances….

I hadn’t realised before we started our eco journey but Fabric softener is actually bad for quite a few materials;

Firstly because it makes them less absorbent, so at the very least you should stop using them on your towels! But also sports wear, which is designed to wick moisture away from your skin and allow your skin to breathe,(and is probably a large part of the reason you bought it in the first place!) is prevented from doing this by the film that is put on them by the fabric conditioner.

Also anything that contains spandex aka elastane – leggings, some jeans and ‘control shape wear’, swimming costumes anything that has ‘stretch’ are all likely to be weakened by the use of fabric conditioner and have a shorter lifespan.

Secondly because it makes them more flammable. Even if you buy fabrics that have been treated or made to be flame retardant (usually children’s clothes/costumes) then adding fabric conditioner to them will reduce their effectiveness by up to 7 times according to the Department of Chemistry at McGill University.

So in a lot of cases, fabric conditioner is actually completely unnecessary and a big fat waste of money!

So that’s the bad news! What of the good? What if you love your fabric conditioner? What if you are old friends going back years and you love smelling like spring mountain dew on the delicate petal of an alpine flower damn it!

Well the good news is: You can still have lovely soft clothes, you can even get them to smell pretty good (perhaps a more subtle fragrance, which is probably, upon reflection, what spring mountain dew on the delicate petal of an alpine flower was going for anyway….) 😉 without the chemicals!

The original fabric conditioners were made with olive oil but you do not even need to go that far.

If you are really not ready to kick the fabric conditioner habit then we have 2 great choices of fabric conditioners that are far more eco friendly and use natural fragrances.

Bio D

This comes as unscented or with a lavender fragrance (so your clothes can be a source of calm in your day!) As mentioned in Part 1, 100% of their range is hypoallergenic, they are also 100% natural, plant based products, they are committed to sustainable practices and are credited with the 14001 standard and are vegan.

If you do not wish to use fabric conditioners at all, then the easiest way to keep your clothes soft and nice smelling is to line dry them when possible. (I appreciate that in the UK this equates to roughly 5 days a year! But on those days go for it!)

At the very least keep synthetic fabrics out of the tumble dryer as they are the main culprits for static production.

But fear not for the other 360 days a year there are still options;

Ecoegg Dryer Egg.

They soften clothes and reduce drying time (by up to 28%) but also impart a subtle, natural fragrance to your clothes. The eggs should last…well for ages, you just need to change the scent sticks when they become less… scenty.

 

 

White Vinegar

You can also try adding some white vinegar to your washing machine during the rinse cycle. – The smell will not last, but it will make your clothes feel soft soft soft.

 

Essential Oils

You can use essential oil to give a lovely subtle fragrance, and its super easy to change the scent when ever you want! You can either add it to your fabric conditioner draw of your washing machine or make up a spray bottle of distilled white vinegar and essential oil and spray on your clothes before adding them to the dryer.  –
To 250ml of White Vinegar add 1.5 tsp of Eucalyptus essential oil (Lavender, lemongrass also work well or experiment with your own favourite scent!) and spray!

It is highly recommended that you swap out your detergent (see part 1) for one of the more natural alternatives if you are going to swap or stop altogether your fabric conditioner. Because the detergents and the fabric conditioners you have been using will be on your clothes still, and it may take a few washes for them to come out. This may lead to them feeling a bit stiffer and starchier than usual for a little while. It is also worth giving your washing machine a bit of a detox to get any residue out of it.
(THESE handy little tabs can help with that)

Phew, so there you have it, and now you know why fabric softeners needed their own post! In the 3rd and final part of this laundry series we will have a look at what we can do to tackle any particularly stubborn stains in an more eco way.

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.