In the middle of 2017 we found out that the average disposable nappy spends 500 decomposing in landfill. With that in mind, we knew that we simply couldn’t use disposables. In January 2018 the British government began to look applying a charge on disposable coffee cups, likewise, someone at our Church suggests we bring our own reusable cups rather than use the disposable ones that we presently use. In February we took a hard look at the number of disposable wipes we used to clean our kitchen, and we decided to invest in some eco-friendly and washable wipes. The point I’m trying to make is that going green is not something that is done overnight, it is a process, a gradual shift in mentality and practice.
The key to successfully going green is not throwing out everything you do in favour of eco-friendly living. Taking on too much at once can be overwhelming, and in truth you are most likely setting yourself up to fail. Taking on one or two changes at a time lets you find what works for you, and helps you develop a change that will last.
The problem however is that there are so many ways you can go green that it can often be difficult to know where to start. What follows are my tips for laying a firm foundation that will help you build a greener lifestyle in and around your home.
Recycle, recycle, recycle!
I simply cannot overstate that the best place to start when going green is recycling. It’s so easy to throw everything in the bin, out of sight out of mind, but recycling really is the backbone to green living. Separating out plastics, glass, metals and cardboard is really simple and can be done in no time at all. Food waste likewise can easily be disposed of in a green manner (and in the UK) is collected at the same time as the recycling. Now I know that many of you will recycle already, but by just thinking about what your doing, and occasionally checking what items are handled in your recycling collection you will quickly reduce the amount of stuff you’re putting in your bin.
Before we made the decision to go green we only made minimal effort to ensure that things were correctly recycled, but I cannot stress how simple it really is. Taking it to the next level, we are now trying to ensure that all our clothes that is beyond donation is being correctly recycled too. In all honesty our failure to recycle was born out of laziness, and that’s not really a good excuse.
Got a garden? Get a composter!
Speaking of food waste, waste vegetables and fruit can be thrown in there alongside your grass clippings. Likewise brown cardboard, newspapers, and even things like coffee ground and tea bags make excellent additions to a composter. While you most likely won’t be able to use the composter for at least 12 to 18 months, this does provide you with somewhere to dispose of waste easily. And eventually your garden will benefit from the compost you’ve cultivated. Think of it like a bank account, do a little today and your garden can flourish tomorrow.
When I moved into my house the first thing I did in the garden was get a composter. I was vaguely aware of the environmental benefits, but mostly I did it as somewhere to dispose of grass after I’d mowed the garden. As with recycling, it has become something that helps us live a green life much more effectively.
Stop buying plastic! Get a reusable bottle or cup!
I’m a huge fan of coffee, and raising a baby certainly makes it a necessity in my life from time to time. That is why I never leave the house without my trusty reusable coffee cup. No waste, and often better insulated that disposable cups these are a great way to help the environment. Likewise I have a glass bottle that I always ensure if filled with water before leaving the house. The benefit here is not only is it good for the environment, but it also saves me money too! If you are going out the house for more than an hour or so, you are likely to want a drink, so you might has well take one with you.
Stop buying disposable wipes, and go reusable!
Go into the cleaning aisle of any supermarket and you will see shelf after shelf of disposable kitchen cleaning cloths. It is actually staggering that these things are so popular. To me, nothing highlights the wasteful core of our convenience-focused society. These little wipes that come in a plastic wallet that keeps them damp are actually farcical if you really think about it. Get rid of them, you don’t need them. Instead buy a few decent reusable cloths (e-cloth have a great range of cloths for a variety of purposes), once they get dirty you simply toss them in your washing machine with the rest of your laundry. The amazing thing with these cloths is that because they are so much thicker they actually clean my kitchens and bathrooms better.
If its not dirty, wash it at 30!
A simple phrase, but one that I got hammered into me when our baby was born. It really is tempting to wash her clothes at 40c, or even 50c but it just isn’t necessary. Almost every detergent on the market works at 30c degrees (that’s roughly 80f if you’d rather have it in Fahrenheit). Once again, this is a green living tip that looks to save you money in the long run. The truth is it is simply cheaper to run your washing machine at a cooler temperature, and if it works just as well as higher ones then there really is no point in doing anything else.
And it really is as simple as that! Adopt one or two of these steps at a time, and you’ll soon be on your way to living a greener life. And not only will you be saving the planet, you’ll also be saving yourself some money too. Sure there will always be more that you can do, but if you nail down these basics then you’ll be onto something great.
If you want more bits on green living, especially from the perspective of a parent doing their best to give their little good a brighter tomorrow, then jump on over to reusablefamily.com where we look at all things green (and occasionally healthy) living, or follow us on Instagram @reusablefamily to see what we are up to.