If you met me in the supermarket or just passed me on the street, you probably wouldn’t put me in the eco-friendly/hippie/alternative category. I look like most mothers do – always a bit too busy, wearing a normal T-Shirt, a ponytail and a pair of jeans that probably should have been washed a few days ago. If you come to my house, you probably get an entirely different impression of me. My kids – well actually now only my daughter – are in cloth nappies, our kitchen paper, as well as our toilet paper (not in the guest toilet) is washable and our toys are mainly made out of wood. We try to live as eco-friendly as we can.
My point is, in the wake of global warming, of mountains of landfill and of our planet clearly changing for the worse, you no longer have to be a hippie or a treehugger to consider the environment. Instead of leaving it to the alternative people in the world, we all should start considering what changes we can make in order to ensure we keep this planet alive for as long as possible. If we don’t do it for us, we definitely have to do it for our children and all other future generations. If we don’t make a change now, they probably won’t have to, as it might be too late then.
This is not to say that you need to change the way you live overnight and by 180°, it is about being conscious, keeping an open mind and doing a bit of research every now and again. It’s also a work in progress, where you might find yourself going one step forward and two steps back. After all convenience products are lurking everywhere and sometimes the temptation is just too big and life is just too busy. So I think the most important part is, that you do what you feel you can do and not beat yourself up or declare yourself a failure when you put a disposable nappy on your child because you already feel like you will never get through those mountains of laundry. In that case: sort out your laundry and once you are all set, start again! Saving the planet and your sanity one step at a time, sometimes those steps are gigantic and sometimes they are just baby steps, but it doesn’t matter – it all counts!
Making small changes is very easy and if you don’t want to invest in any new equipment, utensils or alternative products, you can just be more conscious about using what you have. To do that you could go by the following principle: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! This could be you refusing unnecessary plastic wrapping, when you go shopping by bringing your own bags and containers, reducing the amount of kitchen paper you use, when wiping up spilled water, reusing packaging and envelopes you receive for your own post, and make sure that as many of the disposable items in your house as possible are actually made from recyclable material. If you keep this in mind you will already reduce your household waste. However, if you feel like you are able to make an even bigger difference by replacing everyday items with a more eco-friendly alternative, some of these might be suitable for you in order to get started!
1. Living without Plastic: Reusable Stainless Steel Straws
Straws are great – we love them here! But since I have grown more conscious of the amount of plastic pollution that is created by single-use plastic straws. We were only getting them out of our already open pack for special occasions. This pack of plastic straws is empty now, so recently the Made Sustained Knight Straws moved in. They are reusable straws made from stainless steel. There is absolutely no metal taste from them, they are non-chewable and super light, so there is no fear of them toppling over a kid’s beaker. This pack of four comes with two straight and two bent straws as well as a small cleaning brush, which you can quickly use, before popping the straws in the dishwasher for a thorough clean!
2. Living without Plastic: Reusable Produce Bags
Something I always hated, were those thin plastic bags you’ll find in almost every supermarket in the fruit and veg aisle. They are only used for 30 or 40 minutes, or however long it takes to get those apples and tomatoes home, and thrown into your recycling bin. Some supermarkets have started to provide paper bags to use instead, which is a bit kinder to the environment. However, reusable fabric produce bags are even better. You can use the Re-Sacks not only for carrying fruit and veg from the shop to your home but also for storing it in the fridge. The natural material is breathable, which means the contents inside are kept fresh for a lot longer than in a plastic bag. WIN WIN! You can also use a pillowcase made from cotton for buying and storing your bread.
3. Living without Plastic: Reusable Stainless Steel Water Bottles
I never liked to drink out of plastic bottles. Firstly because I was aware of the toxins that are released from the plastic into my water and secondly, because I really didn’t like the taste of it. So whenever possible I carried a glass bottle filled with water. Once my kids came along, this obviously wasn’t possible and we switched to plastic bottles and beakers because they were so readily available. However, I always kept an eye out for a non-breakable and child-friendly reusable water bottle, so once Baba Me started stocking the Punc Bottles
everyone in the family got their own to stay hydrated throughout a busy day. The reusable bottles are made from stainless steel, except the straw, which is plastic – but it’s kept to a minimum. Against common belief, there is no metal taste at all, instead, the water tastes fresh for a lot longer than in plastic bottles. They are also leak-proof when the straw is folded down, durable and thanks to the handle on top, they can be carried securely and attached to hooks or clasps on backpacks or similar.
4. Living without Plastic: Reusable Food Storage
When you have kids going to school or nursery, the morning is always a particularly busy and stressful time of the day. You are lucky to get all the lunches made in time, never mind thinking about packing them up – a bit of cling film or tin foil will do. However, this creates a lot of unnecessary plastic waste, as you definitely won’t be able to reuse the cling film and chances are the tin foil is going to be torn apart and thrown out as well. If you are not a fan of lunch boxes but are on the lookout for a truly reusable option to store your families sandwiches in, the Boc n Roll Wraps
or any of the Snack n Go
products might be perfect for you! They don’t only look fun but are also very easy to clean and use. If you have lots of lunches going out in your house, this small change can really make a huge difference! In case you prefer lunch boxes and are currently looking to kit your kids out for next term, have a look at the Made Sustained Range
. They have a set of two rectangular lunch boxes, which are entirely made from stainless steel and also a set of three round ones with a stainless steel box and a BPA-free plastic leak-proof lid. As stainless steel is very durable, chances are, those lunch boxes will accompany your child throughout many terms. For storing fruit slices or that other half of the onion you don’t need to use straight away, beeswax wraps
are a favourite here! They are completely natural, keep your food fresh for a long time and there is no honey or waxy taste of them. Bees wraps are available in many different sizes for convenience. The Abeego variety pack of 3
is a great way to start using them around your kitchen.
5. Living without Plastic: Reusable Coffee Cups
Another symptom of a busy morning is the disposable coffee to-go cup. It’s so convenient to just call into your favourite coffee shop and get a nice cappuccino for a bit of a break after the school run and before you go to work. What do you do with the cup, once it is empty? You throw it in the bin, after all, it is not reusable. Don’t worry, you are not alone in this, in fact, it is estimated that 2.5 billion (!!) coffee cups are thrown out every year in the UK alone. The sad thing about this figure is, that it is very easy to reduce it, by simply bringing your own mug and have it refilled by your barista. The UKonserve cups
look a lot prettier than any of the paper cups you are used to and come in different colours, so you can pick one for you and one for your other half for example. What’s more though is that these mugs are insulated! Yes, that is right - cold coffee will forever be a thing of the past! Also: More and more coffee shops are realising the massive waste problem they are creating by selling coffee in disposable cups – so in order to help reduce this, lots of cafes give a small discount when you bring your own cup. Depending on how much coffee you drink, you will be able to get the initial investment back after a couple of months!
6. Living without Plastic: Reusable Stainless Steel Party Cups
Disposable plastic cups, cutlery and plates are increasingly popular for children’s birthday parties. It is just so convenient, as there is always at least one cup of juice spilt and with plastic cups, you only have to deal with the mess and not with broken glass amidst a small herd of children – and once the party is over you can just pop it all in the waste bin. Instead of using plastic cups, which end up in landfill, you could also invest in a few UKonserve Tumblers
. Of course those reusable stainless steel cups are not only for kid’s parties, but also for adult parties or to be used by your family all year round – at home and out and about. They look cool, they don’t break, they are very light, there is no metal taste from them, they are pretty much indestructible and are even insulated! As for cleaning up after a massive party, they are also dishwasher proof!