Many of the choices we make in life are purely due to convenience. We lead such busy lives and we are always on the lookout for things that could make our lives easier, to enable us to do things quicker so we can fit more and more into our day. Unfortunately, our environment is suffering as a result of this. Many of us feel we would like to be more environmentally friendly, but it seems such a daunting task and until laws and regulations are put into place, we often feel like there is very little we can do or what we can do will have no impact. The price can also often have a huge impact on our decision-making process, so I wanted to try to gradually implement changes that didn’t cost much more, if anything, than what we usually spend.
We must accept that we are all part of the problem. If we collectively try to do our bit, however small, these changes can really add up and make a difference. They also teach our children to except the more environmentally friendly processes as the norm and ensure their mindset is to help the planet and not take it for granted.
One of my goals for this year was to really focus on trying to be more environmentally friendly. It is only a few weeks into January, but I have already started making important changes and I can see how my children are changing too. These are some of the small changes we have implemented already:
1- When we buy vegetables or fruit from the store, where possible we don’t buy the pre-packaged versions (it doesn’t seem to be possible to buy spinach unpackaged for example, hence why I say where possible). I haven’t invested in special bags to put them in, I just put them straight in my basket.
2- I have also signed up to a weekly fruit and veg box called imperfect products which are 30% cheaper and would otherwise potentially be going to waste which results in a loss for the farmers and a waste of manufacturing. Our first box arrived this week and I honestly couldn’t believe the great quality at such a low price, and you can customise it, so you don’t end up with food you don’t like. (www.imperfectproduce.com)
3- Straws are a big deal over here in America, much more than in the UK I feel. I don’t use a straw (unless I’m having a mojito!) but my kids and husband use them at home, so we have invested in some metal reusable straws from Healthy Human (www.healthyhumanlife.com). We also don’t use straws and lids when we have soda in fast food restaurants.
4- I am gradually swapping my cleaning products for more environmentally friendly brands and I having been buying online from Grove Collaborative where you can get some products cheaper than in the stores, you can also set it up to send them to you monthly, so you don’t even have to think about it. They state that everything they sell has ‘met standards for non-toxicity, efficacy and sustainability, and is cruelty-free’. I try to buy refillable bottles to reduce packaging too.
5- Packed lunches – This really is a tough one for me, but I have stopped using zip lock bags and use either re-usable tubs or paper bags. When my daughter brought home her paper bag because they don’t have recycling bins in the playground, I knew that us talking about this and making changes as a family was really working.
6- Dish Brush – we seem to be always replacing the horrible plastic dish cleaning brush but this time we replaced it with a Lola brush (lolaproducts.com), made with eco-friendly renewable birch hardwood and natural Tampico fibre. You can also just replace the head instead of the whole thing although I am not sure what we will do with the old head once it has worn out. Maybe there is a way to re-use or recycle? I am not sure, I am still learning.
7- Take re-usable bags to the store. I always have a supply in the car for food shopping and at least one in my bag that I can use for other stores.
This is just a very small start and to be honest I still find it very confusing at times, but I am trying to gradually introduce more and more ways that my household can nurture the environment instead of destroying it. Keep reading, keep researching and keep making changes because small changes can influence people around you and end up having a big impact. I will update you in a few months to let you know of any other changes we have managed to make but if you have any suggestions, please pass them on.