Whilst there is a growing trend for environmental awareness, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to living a more eco-friendly life. Initiatives such as the five pence plastic bag charge, have significantly reduced the use of plastic bags across England show that simple ideas can absolutely have a large impact. I am a great believer that small steps, across time are key to any lasting and sustainable change, so here are five simple ideas to make your home a greener place:
Watch what you flush:
From tampons to flushable wipes and cotton buds, we are flushing waste down the toilet that really shouldn’t be there. What may seem like a fairly harmless habit actually has massive implications for the environment and for your wallet. Our current sewer systems are not designed to cope with anything other than poop, wee and paper being flushed, so blockages are costing us both as individuals and tax payers hundreds of pounds.
Even products that are marketed as flushable are problematic and really should be avoided at all costs, despite what the brands may say. A recent campaign from the Marine conservation society, highlighting how “Wet wipes turn nasty” and end up polluting our beaches and harming marine life is asking for clearer labelling by retailers and reminds us not to flush any kind of wipe.
Don’t bin it, compost it:
Composting food scraps can be an easy way to reduce your home waste and gives you a useful product to use at the same time. Most councils in the UK offer discounts on essential equipment for composting such as bins and caddies, although if you prefer you can make your own from discarded pallets for example. Lot’s of everyday kitchen essentials that would otherwise go to landfill can be composted including vegetable peelings, coffee granules, teabags, cardboard and egg shells.
Ban the bead:
There has been a huge amount of talk in the press about microbeads and possible plans for them to be banned in the UK. Whilst America has already taken steps to ban microplastics in common household items such as toothpaste, face and body scrubs and even lipstick, the easiest way to ensure you are not using items with microbeads is to read the ingredients label, look for the words Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and Nylon, if you see these pop it back on the shelf. The green beauty community was ahead of the trend when it comes to microbead free products, offering lot’s of biodegradable and natural alternatives such as sugar or jojoba beads, this one area where going as natural as possible is best for you and the planet. Edit – Manufacturing of products with microbeads for rinse off products is now banned in the UK, but other micro-plastics are still allowed and products with microbeads may till be on the shelf, so always check the label.
Reuse, reuse, reuse – Say no to single use products:
We have become a disposable society where commodities are relatively cheap and therefore everything from nappies to coffee cups come as single use options. Whilst a disposable coffee cup every now and again doesn’t seem like a big deal, when you look at the numbers used across a year or a lifetime you are looking at mountains of needless waste. By switching commonly used items from disposable to reusable, the environmental impact will be significant. Need some inspiration? Why not pick one item per month to switch to reusable, try a reusable coffee cup, glass water bottle, traditional hanky, washable nappies or wipes if you have children (See my post on why I love cloth nappies here) or a menstrual cup to save on tampon and sanitary towel waste, the options are endless.
Switch it off:
We all know this one, but somehow it is easy to leave lights and appliances we aren’t using switched on, harming not just the planet but our wallet too. If you have kids get them used to switching off lights from a young age, with my son when he was younger we would ask him to be a hero and save the planet, which meant he had to run around the house switching off any lights that were left on unnecessarily. According to the Energy saving trust Britons could save £1.7 Billion pounds a year, just by taking appliances off standby and turning them completely.
Do you practise any of these tips? Feel free to share the ways you have made your home greener in the comments!