I’m never sure what the latest buzzword is when talking about being kinder to the planet – reducing my carbon footprint? Yes, I’m certainly trying to do that. Net zero carbon – feels like a made up BoJo phrase. Environmentally-friendly is good but a bit old-school, not to mention a pain to spell, so I’ve settled for eco-friendly.
Whatever the appropriate term, I’m trying to become more conscious of my (and my family’s) consumption and waste during lockdown. I know that makes it sound like I’m on poo-watch (only for the toddler) but I’m really taking a more general overview of our whole lives and boy, are we bad to the planet without even realising!
Here’s how I’m trying to combat that by making small, eco-friendly changes to our day to day lives.
(Any products mentioned are purely my opinion – I haven’t been paid or incentivised to use anything)
It really irks me that a lot of the beauty world care about creating products that are made naturally, with no animal products or testing, yet they are put into non-recyclable bottles, containers and packaging. I’m also aware that over the years I’ve been conditioned to believe I need stuff I don’t, and that the things I’ve been told are good for me, like a specific shampoo and conditioner set or aerosol deodorant, aren’t particularly good for the environment.
Shampoo/Conditioner – I tried some shampoo and conditioner bars from a local ethical food shop, Made Guid, which focuses on sustainable, low carbon products and local makers. However, this particular kind didn’t work well for me at all – I have long thick hair and I was there for half the day trying to get the bar through my hair, and it still never felt particularly clean after. But I will persevere and try and find another brand whilst still on lockdown – so nobody can see any greasy or frizzy side effects!
Deodorant – I already wrote a review about Native Unearthed Activated Charcoal deodorant balm, which I absolutely loved. It was a surprise tester product I received in a Birchbox months ago but I will be looking to purchase it again from another store or find a similar alternative locally.
Skincare – There have been horror stories about face wipes for years, but the fact they are convenient meant I usually kept a pack lying around the house. However, since using Liz Earle hot cloth polish for over a year, I’ve never felt the need to use wipes. The cloths are reusable, machine washable and lift off even the most stubborn makeup. The cleanser is brilliant and I’ve noticed much less breakouts since using. Plus I bought a big tube last autumn and I’m still using it daily – value and less packaging!
Kiddycare – I won’t lie, my child is still in disposable nappies which I know is a massive problem in terms of landfill and the fact they aren’t biodegradable. We are trying our damndest to potty train, but he’s not having it yet. I can’t conceive using cloth nappies because I think it’s more than my washing machine or household plumbing system could take rinsing poo into, but maybe they could make nappies that are more biodegradable?
We’ve also switched from using sponges to flannels to wash, again from the reusable/washable point and we try to stick to products in recycled packaging, not giving into demands for overly-plastic cartoon-looking bubble baths and the like.
Next steps – moving onto things like bamboo toothbrushes (we can do it!), hairbrushes etc and more natural body care products which can be refilled or use less packaging. I already have bamboo makeup brushes so we’re making progress! Plus find that ideal shampoo bar for my hair.
Less meat consumption – All the vegans out there will probably be outraged at the amount of meat we eat as a family. However, since the start of the year, we’ve been trying to change mindsets and attitudes. Having said that, it’s only really filtered to us parents for the moment as I want my child to be able to experience lots of different foods and nutrients and let him decide what he does and doesn’t like. I’m sure many toddler parents will attest to tantrums over food, and so taking away things he likes right now just feels like an unnecessary battle to us. Whilst he eats sausages (if he could have them for every meal, he would), we have been trying to eat one veggie and one vegan meal a week. Admittedly, this has become much harder in lockdown, with many of our regular foods suddenly not in stock (pasta-gate anyone?) but we are still trying nonetheless. I don’t think we’ll ever get to a place of complete veggie or vegan diet but we are also conscious to ensure the meat we do eat is Scottish, and locally produced where possible.
Sustainable food – This was previously a buzzword I used consistently for a catering client in a past life, but actually I’m focusing on caring more about where our food comes from and what it contributes in terms of carbon footprint, local economy and of course, health. Part of this is making changes such as using the local butcher for meat (easier in lockdown as I can walk to the shop in 2 minutes) and checking the origins of my food in the supermarket. Why buy raspberries from Spain when there’s a plentiful amount grown in Scotland? And do you really need a mango that’s travelled halfway around the world when there’s perfectly good fruit grown locally?
Additionally, by buying local from butchers, fishmongers (ew, maybe you, but not I!), bakers or greengrocers, we are contributing to the local economy (more buzzwords!) and more importantly, local people who’s livelihoods have no doubt been affected by coronavirus.
Food packaging – This has been a bugbear of mine for a while – why do you need to put something frozen, which is already sealed in a cardboard box, inside a plastic wrapper too? Some things are happily frozen in the cardboard without the plastic and that seems fine, so I’m not sure what the problem is. Also, things that come in foil trays or plastic tubs – with card sleeves over the top? Or mostly anything for kids – multipack cartons of juice wrapped in never-ending plastic for instance.
I’ve long since abandoned the little poly bags for loose fruit and veg and can safely say they taste no different having journeyed bareback in the trolley. And of course I use bags for life or reuse plastic ones from the ever-growing bag cupboard. Now I’m taking the next steps of consciously not buying heavily and unnecessarily wrapped products. Those little multipacks of fruit shoot? No thanks, diluting juice only (Travis may hate me but thems the breaks!). Plastic inside cardboard? You’re not clogging up my bin thanks!
Any packaging in fact
So anyone living in the UK will probably agree that it’s been surprising to see how much packaging – even recyclable stuff – we encounter on a weekly basis. The council have stopped collecting recycling bins, but I’ve still been filling my blue bin (lol, filled it weeks ago rather) and have been keeping the dry recycling in my house until the bins are collected again. The problem is, it’s made me see how much excess packaging there actually is. With everybody ordering online at the moment, everything comes with extra bubble wrap, plastic outers, and boxes within boxes (probably just Amazon) which are wholly unnecessary.
Next steps – I’m on a mission to reduce our packaging, and if that’s not possible then at least reuse or repurpose what we have. While we’re in lockdown we may as well attempt a few Blue Peter projects with all the boxes and loo rolls and egg cartons lying around. Or I may start using the boxes to pack away old things we don’t use very often, ever in the hope we may be able to move house once lockdown is over!
Tools – I bought a bamboo brush for the house a couple of months ago and I’ve found that it’s a pretty good, sturdy brush. Not like the cheap ones you get (even though it only cost me a fiver!). It’s also meant that I’m hoovering the kitchen/hall/other laminate floors less often which is a win in terms of electricity usage.
Products – I’ve made the conscious decision to buy less (and eventually no) disinfectant wipes. Admittedly this has been nudged along thanks to panic buying at the beginning of lockdown. I had been a massive fan of Flash Wipes for cleaning the toilet in particular (who wants to reuse a cloth full of the whole house’s pee?) but obviously this is terrible in terms of environment. So for the greater good I’ve got myself a ‘toilet cloth’ which shall be used, cleaned and reused for only the aforementioned.
I have also resisted “Hinching” because although I love a good hack as much as the next person, I don’t believe in needing 40 different cleaning products when just 4 will do. I’m not into the mass consumerism of cleaning and sometimes the old ways just are the best. Vinegar and water is fine to clean my windows with and one disinfectant spray can disinfect every room. I’m not a Mrs Hinch basher – I love Zoflora too, and think it’s a fantastic multi-purpose product but I don’t need 5 other things if I have that.
Next steps – I really want to try a laundry egg as I’ve heard a lot of good things about them. Plus from what I can tell, they save you money as well as the environment, so it’s a double winner.