Sustainable. It’s a BIG word and it gets used a lot but what does it mean for you and your home? It means making small shifts (this is not a competition remember) in your consumption habits, products and behaviour. Implementing these changes will ripple outwards and make a bigger, positive impact on our environment. Here are 7 suggestions for easy, sustainable home improvements. You're probably doing some of these already.
It’s a revelation to us how much more we recycle now we have two small bins in our bathroom. One for waste and one for bottles, cardboard tubes, cartons etc. If you’re a contact lens wearer, remember not to flush your ‘disposable’ lenses – they’re plastic. Acuvue.co.uk/recycle has info on a lens recycling box and opticians who will take it when it’s full.
Cutting your shower by just a minute will save around ten litres of water (multiply that by everyone in your family showering each day /week !) It will also save all the energy used to heat the water and the emissions from that. Set a kitchen timer if that helps.
WAVE BYE BYE TO WIPES
This is hard, especially for those with small children where wipes are literally delivered alongside our babies. Brands make all sorts of claims about how biodegradable/eco-friendly their wipes are but talk to any water company about what is causing enormous fat-bergs in our sewer systems and surfers who have to dodge them in the sea. For faces, there are many re-usable cotton pads (I’ve been using my set for over a year now and they’re absolutely great) and you can’t beat a muslin cloth. For surfaces, a set of washable cloths ( we use old tea-towels & T shirts cut in half) will do the same job with some cleaning spray as shop-bought anti-bac wipes.
I've seen someone selling 'reusable tissues' which I assume was an April Fools joke because everyone knows what a hanky is, don't they?
We have all made the effort to switch to more thoughtful brands like Ecover but they frustratingly still haunt our recycle bins in their giant plastic way. You can of course switch to refillable bottles and top up products when you need to (you’re here so I’m assuming you’ve already thought of that). Most shop-bought cleaning products are mainly WATER and you can actually make some of your own effective cleaners with just a few natural ingredients like bi-carb, cleaning vinegar and citric acid. Have a look at our previous blog posts for some recipes.
DON’T BE AN OLD BOILER
According to DEFRA, the UK’s kettle habit uses the same amount of electricity as running the entire country’s street lighting ! (Guilty as charged, I’m at least a 4-cups-a-morning person). Don’t fill the kettle for 6 cups if it’s only for one. A friend gave me the idea just to make a thermos flask and drink it throughout the morning rather than continually boiling the kettle.
REFILLABLE CUPS, BOTTLES & APPs
On a similar theme, reusable cups for our coffee, tea and water when we’re not at home are one of the best ways for reducing our personal waste. According to an article in the Times, our cups need to be used between 7 and 30 times to make them environmentally friendlier than a disposable one – taking into account the energy used to make it. Keep them somewhere you can see them or when cleaned and dry, pop them back in your work or hand bag not the cupboard, that way you wont forget them. The REFILL app has a handy alert which pings on your phone reminding you to take your water bottle with you as you leave the house ( as well as where it can be refilled local to you). Genius.
REACH FOR THE JARS
You need a set of jars and a little extra time to sort out one of the other main causes of our personal waste. Food packaging. Plastic-free or Zero-Waste shops where you can buy dry goods and groceries are a brilliant option for eliminating plastic packaging that is not accepted in our home recycling. I’m thinking pasta, rice, oats, breakfast cereals, raisins, beans etc which if you’re a family, you can go through quite a lot of. Re-purpose jars from home or treat yourself to a set you’re happy to have on view as you’ll be refilling them over and over. Harvest, Scoop and Refillable are shops in Bath where you can take your containers (paper bags, old take away tubs etc) and pick up all your essentials and not a plastic wrapper in sight (or in your bin / landfill).