I recently ran a poll on Instagram asking fellow parents if they’d been looking at ways to reduce their family’s environmental impact over the past year. And of the 1,000 or so people that responded, 90% said they were. Which got me thinking about all the changes we’ve been making as a family to try and be greener, more sustainable and reduce the amount of waste we produce at home.
Now, I should state from the outset that we’re far from perfect and could never describe ourselves as eco warriors. But we do what we can. We recycle, use our food waste bin religiously and compost whenever possible. We stopped buying or using plastic bags, avoid plastic straws like the plague and won’t turn on the central heating unless it’s positively arctic outside.
But probably the biggest change we’ve made this year is being more conscious about what we buy and how we shop. So, I thought I’d share on here some of the more sustainable products and new ways of shopping that we’ve been trying in case anyone else in the same boat wanted to give them a go.
6 changes we’ve made at home to be more sustainable
Switching to reusable washable wet wipes
Mindful that millions of nappies and wipes that go into landfill every year, we made the positive decision earlier this year to switch to reusable washable wipes for baby Hugh. Although we were initially nervous about how it would all work (and putting poo-covered wipes in the washing machine) it’s actually been seriously easy and nowhere near as messy as we first thought. Let me introduce you to Cheeky Wipes…
They come with one clean box (the Fresh one), which you fill with water, a dash of essential oils and a pile of clean cotton terry cloth wipes, which soak up all the good stuff ready for you to use at the next nappy change.
Once your baby has done its business and you’ve cleaned their bum with the cotton wipe (you usually only need one per change too), you then put the dirty cloth in the second box to soak (the Mucky one!) which is again filled with water and a few drops of cleansing Tea Tree oil, which removes all the worst stuff so they are ready (and poo free!) to wash once the mucky box is full up.
They even come with a clever waterproof travel bag so you can use them when you are out and about.
The whole experience has been surprisingly simple and in the past year alone has prevented thousands of disposable wipes from going in our bin, which is pretty amazing when you think about it. Check out their full range of sustainable sanitary products here!
Baby food pouches, but better
With our first baby, we regularly bought food pouches to feed him when we were out and about. But unfortunately the vast majority of these products – while really convenient – are not recyclable, so just end up in landfill when you’re finished with them.
So, this time around we’ve been using a much more sustainable option from the brilliant makers of DoddleBags reusable eco pouches.
They’re essentially the same style of food pouches that we all know but, crucially, are washable and refillable. This means you can make your own purées and baby food, fill your DoddleBag pouches and put them in the fridge or even freeze them for later. Then, once they’ve been used, you just open them up (like a zip lock bag), wash them and then they’re ready to go again.
So easy and sustainable, with the added benefit of always knowing exactly what’s in the food you’re giving your baby. They were particularly useful when we went away over the summer, as Rosie made a whole bag of purée pouches to take with us on the trip!
Sustainable laundry and dishwasher capsules from Smol
With two little ones at home, we do a lot of laundry every week and often have the dishwasher on the go too, so have been looking for more sustainable and cost effective options than our previous detergent and dishwasher tablet brands (so many of which still wrap their tablets individually in plastic…um seriously?!).
But a couple of months ago my sister introduced us to Smol…a really clever new brand of concentrated laundry capsules and dishwasher tablets, that are delivered in a streamline package through your letterbox by your regular postman (so no more heavy boxes of washing detergent to lug around or find a place to store). And best of all, they’re not only significantly cheaper than the brands you get in the supermarket (at just 16p a wash!), but they also have brilliant sustainability credentials too.
Unlike the other big brands, Smol’s packaging is made from 90% recycled materials and is 100% recyclable. Their laundry capsules and dishwasher tablets are both 100% water soluble and biodegradable. They’re suitable for vegans, and are passionately against animal testing. Plus, they use lower levels of added chemicals per wash when compared to the other tablet brands, so are better for the environment all round!
Needless to say, we are well and truly converted. And they’re so confident that you’ll love their product too that they let you try out the service for free! Just request your free trial via this affiliate link and get 9 free washes delivered to your door (all you need to do is cover the £1 for postage)!
Beeswax wraps instead of cling film
Every day we cook for the kids, which means that our fridge is always full of little bowls of leftovers saved for meals later in the week. We realised a while back that with all these leftovers, we were using quite a lot of cling film over each bowl to keep the food fresh, which is just more single use plastic that will end up in the landfill.
So earlier this year we made the switch to a more sustainable option…these beeswax wraps from Lucy Cooper Loves; an eco-friendly, handmade alternative to cling film!
Made from 100% cotton, beeswax, pine resin and jojoba oil, they wrap around any bowl, container or even food itself (just like cling film) and you can use them over and over again. Just wash them in cool water with a little soap, leave to dry and they’re good as new.
The beeswax and pine resin have natural anti-bacterial properties, so they’re food safe and 100% biodegradable, so can be tossed in your compost bin once you’ve used them to the max. We’ve been using ours for more than four months and they’re still going strong!
Shopping smarter and more sustainably
We’ve all grown up in a consumer society where we are bombarded with advertising telling us to buy the latest ‘must have’ products on a daily basis. From fast fashion and unmissable Black Friday deals to the ‘best toys’ for the kids this Christmas (which, let’s be honest, are usually just plastic tat that they’ll be bored of by New Year’s), we’re encouraged to fill our lives with ‘stuff’ that quite often we don’t really need.
So this year we’ve taken a step back from always buying new, and instead focused more on buying second hand, shopping locally, avoiding plastic products, toys and packaging, while adopting more of a ‘make do and mend’ approach to our lives generally.
There are so many great charity shops on every high street where you can find some amazing treasures at a fraction of the price, while most recycling centres across the country have excellent shops attached to them (called Revive shops in our local area) where you can buy unwanted second hand furniture, toys and sports equipment, which otherwise would have ended up in landfill.
We’ve also discovered a number of great refill/zero waste shops in our area, where you bring your own containers, bottles and dispensers, which you can fill up in store with everything from hand wash, shampoo and washing up liquid, to pantry staples like nuts, seeds, dried fruit, cereals, grains, flours, beans and pulses. Such a brilliant innovation on the high street, which is preventing huge amounts of unnecessary packaging from entering the system.
We’ve been using these refillable glass dispensers for handwash, shampoo and shower gel throughout the house, which have been great.
Eating less meat
There’s been a lot in the press about the damaging impact that the global meat industry is having on the environment, principally around the vast carbon footprint associated with livestock farming. From what I’ve read up about it, livestock farming for meat not only contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss and deforestation. It also contributes around 20% of human produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Basically the message we are all getting from this is, the world would benefit if we all ate less meat.
As a family of meat lovers, we haven’t gone full vegan…yet! But what we have done is significantly cut down on the amount of meat we buy each month, eating more sustainable alternatives like fish, veggies, pulses and most recently tofu (which has been a revelation). Rosie found a great chef on Instagram called @todaywecooked who makes this incredible honey sesame tofu recipe, which is my new favourite thing.
Even if you aren’t a confident cook, nowadays there are also lots of great ready-made vegetarian and vegan options that you can get in the supermarket and online. We were recently gifted a few freezer meals from the brilliant allplants, who specialise in frozen vegan and vegetarian ready meals, and they were all ACE!
Most memorable was their meat-free Rigatoni Bolognese – a hearty minced mushroom, lentil and walnut ragu, folded through rigatoni pasta and sprinkled with an almond parmesan crumb – which proved to me, once and for all, just how good vegetarian cooking can be…
Have you also been trying anything new to be more sustainable at home and reduce your family’s environmental impact? We‘d love to hear from you, so if you have any other tips or recommendations that people would find useful, please do share them in the comments section below!