Are you looking to make some easy everyday eco-friendly swaps?
One of the good things to come from COVID-19 has been the huge impact on consumer habits, with a growth in more conscientious buying. Spending more time at home than ever before we as a family have been saving money by replacing disposable single use items with purposeful reusable products. (And buy second hand wherever possible.)
Whilst I know that I am never going to be someone who can achieve a zero-waste lifestyle that should not be an excuse to making positive changes. So, where to start? Living a greener life is easier than you think. It is NOT difficult or expensive to be eco-friendly. It just takes a lifestyle change, breaking old habits and practice. We have been making our everyday ethical by reviewing products we use in our home on a daily basis that we should be swapping for more eco-friendly alternatives.
The easiest way to transition to a sustainable and eco-friendly way of living is to look at your rubbish. Your bin will tell you what area of your life is contributing the most waste. Is it your your bathroom, or your kitchen, or both like us?
In every room in your house there are earth friendly swaps to be made. This does not mean throwing everything you own away and buying sustainable alternatives.
Here are 10 sustainable swaps we have made over the last few months.
#SWAP your single use plastics like straws for reusable ones.
Are you working towards your kitchen becoming plastic free? We have made the most swaps with our kitchenware, perhaps because the products are the most available. Buying jute shopping bags, that are washable and kept in your car, so you never forget them at home. Did you know that roughly 2,480,000 tons of plastic bottles and other containers are tossed out (and not recycled) every year? We have stainless steel bottles; reusable coffee cups and the children’s tableware and lunchboxes are bamboo. Do not put this in the microwave btw! Reusable straws are such an easy way to get away from single-use plastic. My favourite are made from metal, but they are also available in silicone. Sous Chef 4 pack of straight gold metal straws look fantastic in any drink and come with a hygienic handy cleaning brush. They are lightweight, long lasting and a great price at £5.99. They do not go soggy like paper alternatives. The kids love them, they reduce their exposure to BPA plastic and are durable, not breaking if dropped by little hands. Instead of buying jay cloths I have been making rags of clothes that are not good enough to send to the charity shop. Our next steps are moving on to a wooden washing brush and reusable dish sponges!
#SWAP cheap impulse buying with sensible shopping.
We have not removed all plastics from the house as some products I have yet to find suitable alternatives too. This is ok, you can still shop smart – avoid buying cheap plastics and aim for intuitive products and brands that are quality – built to last with lifetime guarantees. Norah for example loves plastic toys, we buy second-hand and pass them back to charity shops afterward. I find that the children’s water bottles often crack, or you can’t clean them properly, so they get mouldy and not fit for use. Made from FDA-approved, BPA-free materials Drinkware brand, Contigo uses innovative technologies in its colourfully designed bottles. The 420ml Gizmo Flip bottles have been specifically designed with adventurous younger drinkers in mind. As it is simple to use by pressing a button to open the pop-up straw. The bottles ergonomic design and carrying riff, fits most car seats and is spill proof thanks to the trademark AUTOSPOUT™ technology. The easy clean lid is hygienic and easily disassembles for full-access cleaning. All parts are dishwasher safe. The Contigo £17.99 water bottle with clip on handle; has a large 720 ml capacity and measuring markings.
#SWAP synthetic fabrics for wool (help out those farmers!)
Call us middle age but my partner and I both live in slippers. Blame having very few carpets. Austrian family business Giesswein is run by Markus and Johannes who have been dealing with wool since childhood. They select only hand-picked wool according to high ethical and ecological standards so its easy to understand how they are Europe’s largest producer of 100% virgin wool clothing. Sustainable production means – 0% scraps – up to 90% recycled water in production and – 100% use of renewable resources. In short you are buying quality. The gorgeous NEUENSTEIN crossbred wool slippers sell for £36 with free shipping. The cheerful polka-dot design and super soft foot bed make the perfect gift, for yourself or someone else! The Neuenstein quality slippers literally feel like they have moulded to your feet, are super comfortable and the reliable rubber sole gives their wearer additional security throughout the day. They are washable at 30 degrees so are also practical and long lasting.
#SWAP your rucksack for brands that have committed to being green.
Most of us will have ditched plastic shopping bags but have you investigated better buying of your everyday items? Think – your handbag, work satchel and school rucksacks. We always try take care of our things, so they last longer but haven’t given the purchasing of bags the same consideration as we do clothes. Enter Targus. My not so little cousin is headed off to university and I wanted to buy a laptop friendly backpack for a gift. Targus has created the Cypress EcoSmart collection to minimise your carbon footprint. The 15.6 Convertible Backpack is made by using GRS-certified recycled materials- 24 recycled plastic water bottles in fact! Designed for multiple carrying options, this bag can either be worn as a backpack or carried as a briefcase. Offering both top and side handles, it also boasts ergonomic shoulder straps and air-mesh padded back panel for comfortable carrying. Retailing for £59.99 with free shipping has a dedicated padded laptop compartment, with pockets for smaller accessories and front, quick-stash pocket. This bag was designed with the environment in mind, and I love its simple aesthetic look.
#SWAP your everyday toiletries for conscious cosmetics.
The room with the most bottles to replace is the bathroom. Every year, over 80 billion plastic bottles are being disposed of, from just shampoo and conditioner alone globally. Solid shampoo and conditioner bars from Biovène Barcelona come in eco-friendly packaging and are biodegradable. Packed with powerful natural ingredients & essential oils they are gentle enough to be used daily and perfect for the children to use and not get lots of lather in sensitive eyes. They are soap free! If you think shampoo bars have no variety then Biovène will impress you with Hydrate Repair, Damage Control, Moisture Volume, Clear Protect & Nourish Restore options. Suitable for all hair types Biovène bars are dermatologist tested, pH-balanced, vegetarian – without sulfates, parabens and palm oil. The are also are not tested on animals. I am a big fan of apple cider and shea butter, used in the Moisture Volume bar. Readers can get 15% on all orders using CODE: BEAUTY2020 at checkout. For our family these bars are perfect for travel or for the children so excess shampoo lather doesn’t go into sensitive eyes, and they can easily use the bars themselves. With my long, very thick hair I love bar conditioner but do find that bar soap can leave a bit of a residue at first on the hair so have started to research glass bottles that can be refilled like those from Wearth London.
#SWAP toothpaste…for toothpaste – finally!
For ages I have been trying eco toothpaste alternatives, including cinnamon flavour to avoid those pesky single use plastic tubes but haven’t yet found a brand a like. Household favourites Colgate have released a ground-breaking new toothpaste called Smile for Good, which has been certified by the Vegan Society, comes in the first ever recyclable toothpaste tube and contains just a handful of ingredients that are 99.7% natural. In an industry first, each ingredient is clearly listed, and its purpose explained on the front of the pack. Available in two varieties: Whitening and Protection, the toothpaste is now available from Waitrose. RRP £4.99. Still boxed (I am hoping that will be next to go) it is now recyclable and is sold alongside the new Colgate® biodegradable Bamboo Charcoal Toothbrush (£4.00). The brush features tapered slim-tip bristles infused with Binchotan charcoal which get to those hard-to-reach places whilst gently cleaning the gums and gives a really thorough, comfortable clean. The stylish design of the brush has etching on the handle, acting as a thumb grip, and is coated in natural beeswax to prevent the bamboo from getting water damaged in the bathroom.
#SWAP spray bottles of bleach for natural cleaning.
What about all those single use plastic bottles under the sink? Make your own home cleaning products with vinegar, baking soda, lemon and essential oils instead of cleaning with chemicals. Essential oils don’t just smell appealing, many also offer antibacterial properties, like tea tree. If you do not fancy concocting your own, Squeeky sell 100% Natural, Organic, vegan friendly cleaning products. Offering a full range from Bathroom, glass, floor cleaners etc they are sold in 500ml refillable Aluminium bottles for life. Sold with concentrate refills you simply add water and start cleaning. There are no toxic chemicals in the products. Good news for children, allergy sufferers, pets and the planet. At £7.99 for a refill bottle that fills Squeeky Life bottle twice prices are exceptionally reasonable. Special offer: Get 20% off 3 or more Life Bottle Bundles. We tried out the multipurpose cleaner and have to comment that the smell is gorgeous, sometimes I find them to be a tad medicinal, but this was gentle and smelled like a bubble bath! Unlike when using bleach my hands have not been dry or sore after using this cleaner.
#SWAP tampons and pads for sustainable periods.
This has been something I have been putting off for a long time. On average, one person will go through 11,000 single-use period products in their lifetime. Its time to take the leap and make more sustainable period choices. Saalt, a new brand of menstrual cups is made using medical grade silicone and lasts for 10 years. If you are put off by the idea of them being complicated, I was surprised at the process being easier than using tampons. A quiz helps you pick the right size, if you find tampons uncomfortable, I suggest choosing a soft cup. Prepared to need a Doctorate to correctly insert the cup after reading the simple instructions I found it well, simple. If you feel its not comfortable there are lots of Google videos offering suggestions on placement – i.e. you may have pushed it a bit too high, when you put it in push the cup tilted back and not up, and you can trim the stem like I did if you find that uncomfortable. By the second day I had putting it in sorted. My main concerns were leaking and how do you change it say in a public restroom etc without things looking like a scene from Saw. I had no issues with leaking but if you are worried then pair with some period pants and as the cup does not need changing for up to 12 hours then you are very likely not to need to change it during the day. You can run around and be active with no worries. I find that I can relax a lot more at night times wearing it. At £25 you can choose between two colours and it arrives perfectly packages with a little carry bag.
#SWAP one use plasters in your everyday home first-aid kit.
Having two small children I am constantly dealing with bumps, scrapes and cries for plasters. Yes, you can pick up a box for 99p but if you think of all the plastic that comes with just one singularly wrapped plaster, it’s a bit horrid. PATCH plasters will make your everyday home first-aid kit more sustainable. Refusing to compromise on performance or the planet, they’re made from bamboo and are specially enriched with natural ingredients which promote healing (such as Charcoal and Aloe Vera which mean no need to try and get Germaline on cut knees) whilst also being plastic-free, vegan-friendly and 100% home-compostable! I admit I have completely fallen in love as everything from the plaster itself from the packaging is simply, but wonderfully designed. PATCH take pride in using natural, organic, biodegradable, and sustainable resources, free of any irritating chemicals for even the most sensitive skin types. At £6.99 for a tube of 25 you cannot go wrong. My skin reacts to common plasters but did not with the PATCH brand, and they also stick well. Norah loves the KIDS which is enriched with coconut oil in the gauze to help soothe and the cute panda print, designed to comfort children in life’s little emergencies.
#SWAP plastic toys for bioplastic and sugarcane.
Danish brand Dantoy designs and produces innovative, colourful and safe toys for children. Whilst we have often tried to purchase wooden toys from brands like Hape there are other sustainable options available. Dantoy want people to buy less, buy well, embrace toys, and look after the environment. Their toxin free toys really stand out and do not contain PVC or phthalates. Norah loves the eco-friendly 22 Piece playset which promotes child and adult interaction through imaginative role play! We have even used it for a picnic lunch! The bio-toys are made with sugarcane, a sustainable raw plant material that reduces carbon emissions. They are durable and sturdy designed for long lasting play. What I really like is that they are also dishwasher safe a godsend with toddler toys and are also frost-proof and microwave! The whole set is available on Amazon for £19.49 which is fantastic value!
#SWAP everyday invisible items like sunglasses!
Invisible items are things we use every day that you do not give a second thought to. For example, being summer the kids and I are grabbing our sunglasses every day, we lose them, we buy more. But even with everyday accessories you can make better choices. When the littlest snapped my partners glasses, we got a replacement pair from Danish Trendhim, a site focused on selling jewellery and accessories for men. You will find everything from leather bags, ties, bracelets and shaving sets. We love the Scandinavian influence and fell in love with the wooden framed shades. Selling for £69 the Paul Riley classic D frame sunglasses will suit all face shapes. We were impressed by the really quick delivery and how well made they were. Again, it is about choosing quality products that will last and wood over plastic wins any day. As an added plus the polarized lenses deliver full UVA/UVB protection.
Do away with single-use plastics and instead opt for recyclable packaging, plus choosing natural products over harsh chemicals and shopping brands that source their ingredients in a sustainable way.
#AD These items were gifted for inclusion in this feature.