Ok, you’ve decided it’s time for a more environmentally friendly approach. With Australia’s black Summer of fires, Covid-19 playing on your mind and your teenage daughter telling you she wants to be a vegan, you’re keen to make changes. But where do you start? Well, here’s what we have done so far and we are still learning what works for our family.
Bring your own straw, cutlery, napkin, coffee cup, water bottle… these are all items that easily fit into our handbag, work, or schoolbag, and have the ability to reduce the amount of waste we leave behind whenever we have a take away drink or meal. Well worth the investment.
Say no to plastic bags from shops. Just bring your own. Cotton tote bags are everywhere and are generally inexpensive. Purchase them, wash them when they get dirty and use them at least 100 times.
And while you’re at it
Do bananas, apples, oranges or potatoes really need to come home in plastic? Why not invest in reusable produce bags. Ours are made of recycled plastic - a lovely example of putting waste to good use – and I use them whenever I go grocery shopping. They can even be handwashed if they get stained or dirty. A really useful product!
No more clingwrap
Beeswax wraps are readily available and do the trick of covering food just as well as old fashioned cling wrap. My favourite beeswax wraps are as sticky as cling and do a fantastic job of keeping food fresh. In between uses clean them in cool soapy water and leave them to completely dry. They will last a year to eighteen months.
Unsliced bread – the best idea?
Before Covid-19 our bakery was happy for me to bring my own reusable bread bags but these days they prefer to use their own bags. Not to worry though: I now buy unsliced loaves and ask for a paper bag. The bread stays fresher longer if it’s not sliced anyway. And I still use my reusable bread bags for bread that goes into the freezer.
Do we really need all the stuff we’re buying? I have personally been guilty of this many, many times over – I’m happy to admit it. But in recent years I’ve become much better at convincing myself that, actually, I don’t need that fantastic looking pair of jeans, or the fresh white t-shirt, the pretty salad bowl, or the fluffy cushion, but will keep enjoying what I already own instead. It gets easier every time. Good for the budget, good for the planet.
Likewise: do all the lights in our homes need be switched on all the time? Do we really need a tv in the bedroom? Do we need to eat meat every day? Does the air conditioner need to be on when opening doors and windows would also do the job? Do we have to drive the kids to school every day? There are a myriad of small, seemingly insignificant ways in which we can reduce the pressure on the environment. All tiny bits add up.
Ditch the chemicals
About two years ago we decided to stop buying microfibre cloths and instead repurpose our old tea towels and t-shirts for cleaning the house. We also increasingly swapped store bought cleaning products and chemicals for home made products which we learned to make up from Castile soap, dishwashing detergent, bicarb of soda & vinegar, and essential oils. And lo and behold: the house is still clean!
A compost heap is easy to create. If you haven’t got the space for a lot of compost you might still be able to fit a smaller compost bin or a worm farm in your yard. All three have the ability to keep a lot of organic matter away from your general waste bin and generously give back if you’re a gardener.
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