I don’t quite know how we are already near the end of another year, and what a year it has been. I shan’t be sad to see the back of 2020, although it has taught me many lessons, and I’ve certainly changed a lot, hopefully for the good! One thing I’ve focused on is becoming more environmentally aware and making changes to my lifestyle that are more sustainable. Here’s my top ten!
- Reusable Water Bottles and Coffee Cups
This was probably the first change that I made this year, when I decided in January that I HAD to drink more water! A reusable aluminium water bottle that can keep your drink cool all day is so useful, and is so much better for the environment than single-use plastic bottles. I actually have a few coffee cups and flasks. I do have a Costa one, which I know isn’t so eco-friendly as it’s still supporting a huge chain that almost certainly generates a huge amount of waste and carbon and more each year, but I felt it was a good start compared to using single-use cups. I also have an amazing bamboo cup now, which I can reuse for years and then break it down and put it in the compost heap. Both of these cups are also great for those days when I’ve actually been able to visit the office (I’m looking at you, Rona) where I could make a coffee at home and take it in, therefore not visiting anywhere on my way in, and also so that I could refill it at work – safer in a pandemic and saves excess energy use at work.
2. Reusable Straws
I’ve bought both metal and bamboo straws this year! Hubby prefers metal and I prefer bamboo, I generally don’t know why. Easy to clean with a wire brush, and a brilliant alternative to plastic. Of course, plastic straws have now been banned from being supplied in the UK which is an amazing step, and paper is on the rise, but paper straws are still single-use and let’s face it, start to dissolve very quickly! You can take your reusable straws with you to use when you’re out. Or not use straws at all of course!
I’m sneaking three products in here. I now only use a bamboo toothbrush, and have started using biodegradable floss and tooth tabs. It’s taken a while to start with the floss and the tabs I’ll confess, but that’s because I was already stocked up with normal tubes of toothpaste and plastic floss. Not great, but as I’d already brought them, it’s much better to actually make use of these products and use them up before buying new.
4. Washing Up
I’ve spoken a lot about Save Some Green but I just love their products! It’s a lovely small family business for you fellow Brits, so definitely worth checking out! I bought a dish wash soap bar, wooden scrubbing brush and coconut fibre scrub sponge. I do have a dishwasher but I’m trying to use it less and less, and these clean so well and are fully plastic free! You can find out more about these products in a previous post of mine, here.
5. Smol Laundry Tablets
I won’t say too much about these because I’ve already written an entire post previously, but I am super happy to have swapped to Smol. As well as using the washing tabs and the fabric conditioner, I’ve been using their dishwashing tablets for when I do use the dishwasher, and have recently received their newest product line – reusable ‘bottles for life’ for cleaning, with a tablet that dissolves in water to make a toxic-free cleaning solution. You then buy the tablets when you need them. I think it’s such a good initiative. I also love that Smol provide you of a breakdown about the difference you have made by using these products – how many tonnes of plastic, chemicals and the financial savings you have personally saved, which I think is fantastically motivational and encouraging.
Not the alcohol kind, especially not in these current times sadly! Bars instead of bottles, be it hand soap, face soap, shampoo bars, conditioner bars, washing up bars, shaving bars – you name it! Changing to bars of soap significantly reduces the amount of waste you use – dependent on the type and that it isn’t packaged in plastic of course! You can buy eco-friendly bars from many online stores or your local zero-waste shop. So easy and versatile! I like to store anything I might use in the shower in a glass jar, but there are many storage options available, such a soap savers or metal tins.
7. Make Up
Now anyone who knew me prior to this year knows that I have always loved creating fun makeup looks, and I used to be the kind of person who just had to have the latest eyeshadow palette and would have a full face of make up just to pop to the shop. I just felt so much more comfortable wearing a ton of makeup. I would spend so much money on make up, all in plastic of course! I was obsessed with beauty vloggers and YouTubers and would want whatever they had, in fact I started my blog to document many of these items! I’ve certainly changed it all round now though. As a result of being more environmentally conscious, I’ve really tried to be good at using up what I have and only buying new items if I need it. As I haven’t really been wearing so much makeup due to lockdown I haven’t used a great deal, but as and when I eventually use up powders and palettes and such I will ensure I do my research on sustainable brands before purchasing. I’m also going to aim to be much more minimalistic with what make up I do wear and as hard as it may be for me, I want to embrace my natural self more. I also use good old-fashioned flannels and water to remove my makeup (unless it’s a full face, then I’ll use coconut oil to dissolve it) rather than cotton pads.
8. Food Waste
I’m pretty sure the term ‘eyes bigger than your belly’ was created for me. I get super hungry and cook or fill up my plate with so much food and then realise halfway through that I am never going to finish it. I’ve learnt to only give myself a portion that I will eat, and save any leftovers for future meals in reusable tubs. I’m aiming to only buy what I need, and but locally as much as possible. I also try and pick up loose foods if I’m in a supermarket and have cut down on the amount of items I use that are in single-use plastic. Still a long way to go on this front, but I am working on it! I have started making a meal plan and then only buying items I need for those. I freeze fruit and vegetables before they go over to use in the future. There are so many brilliant tips online that help with reducing food waste, Pinterest is your friend! Things can only get better in this sustainable journey!
I am terrible for clothes shopping usually, be it online or in-store. But the so-called ‘fast fashion’ industry is so bad for this planet, and so I haven’t bought anything new since before I properly started this journey at the start of the pandemic. I have however still received ‘new’ clothes, new to me anyway, by receiving hand-me-downs from my mother and sister-in-law. New to me, not new to the environment, and that’s the way I want to focus going forwards. I’ve saved those clothes from potentially going to landfill and still ended up with an extension to my wardrobe. I’ve also donated all the clothes I have that I no longer like or that no longer fits to charity for re-use, I’ve re-used items that are a bit too worn to be given to charity by cutting them up for cleaning cloths. I’m also aiming to only shop in second hand stores going forwards!
10. Rainwater for plants
This year, we have installed a water butt in our garden, where rainwater is collected from the gutters of the shed and stored for use on both the garden and my indoor plants. Not only is this better for the plants as the water from my taps is very hard water, but you’re re-using and not wasting any water. Obviously there is still the risk of running out, but as this is rainy Britain it has yet to be an issue. My plants are relishing in this water too!
So there we have it, my top ten changes that i have made in my sustainable journey this year. I’m aiming to set a list of sustainable goals for 2021 which I will post in the next few weeks and i’ll look back at it next year to compare on how well i’ve done! I haven’t ben using all of these products long except the toothbrush and bottles/ cups, as i’ve had to use up everything i already have. That is probably the best sustainable tip i’ve learnt – use what you already have. Only buy the eco-friendly alternative when you run out or need a replacement, otherwise you’re just wasting the product that has used to much plastic or carbon to create.
Have you made any eco-friendly changes to your lifestyle this year? Let me know in the comments!