Updated: Oct 20, 2020
How you can live a more sustainable life.
When I started my journey to living more sustainably, I was focused on reducing single-use plastic in the home, trying to replace it with reusable or packaging free items instead. As well as being the inspiration behind opening Earthian, I have learnt a lot over the years and hope that through the blog (and chatting to you in the shop) I can share some of that with you.
If you’re interested in trying the same approach as I had, I’ll be briefly talking about the swaps I made in the first year here. I've listed 10 swaps for the bathroom and 10 for the kitchen below plus my three tops tips for getting started. I kept track of how much waste was saved from those initial first year swaps and it reached over 400 pieces of plastic saved! It just shows that even if you only do a few things at home to reduce waste, it can create a big impact over time.
My top three tips.
My first tip is to use what you have. This refers to so many things, including using the skills you already have to make, repair and repurpose. But really, the point of living a less wasteful life is not to just get rid of everything you have and replace it with sustainable alternatives. It is much better to use up what you have already, certainly don’t waste it to fast track your new lifestyle.
The second tip I have is to consider all the other ways waste is created. There is a huge focus on plastic at the moment, and it is a problem that must be tackled but it seems to get a large proportion of the media’s focus because its impact on the environment is visual and dramatic. As you start out on your journey, there are many other ways you can make a difference, like turning down your household heating, insulating your home, reducing food waste, turning off and unplugging electricals and changing the source of your electricity to a renewable supplier. All of these will have a great impact on your carbon footprint and can be just as valuable in supporting a sustainable lifestyle as the products you use.
Thirdly, switch up your media. This means two things, it can mean watching some documentaries, or reading a few books to start learning more about the environment and the reasons why certain materials or practices are harmful. I'm planning on doing some book review posts in the future, and a list of my favourite documentaries so please keep an eye out for that!
I also mean the content you follow online and what you subscribe to. You don't need to start unsubscribing to everything but it might help you to start following supportive, positive pages about sustainable living. We have some great local initiatives that you might want to follow that are focussed on sustainability. It is a great way to find out when there are events happening that you can support and get involved in.
10 Swaps For The Bathroom.
I started my journey in the bathroom as our recycling bin always seemed to be full of bottles and tubs. When I started to look into it I found there was a lot that I could either live without, or find a sustainable alternative to. It has been quite liberating as the amount of space saved is surprising, and after the initial investment the ongoing cost is very low too!
1. Shampoo and Conditioner to bars or refills: The very first thing I did was to get a shampoo bar and conditioner bar. I’ll be honest, I had some terrible hair days with the transition at the beginning. Now that I’m out the other side I don't think I'd go back to liquids again. However, if you really struggle with bars you can always refill your empty bottles again and again rather than buying new!
2. Shower gel to soap: At the same time, I swapped from shower gel to a soap bar. I now love buying handmade or interesting soaps. Since trying to be more sustainable I question so much of what I buy with one exception, a nice smelling bar of soap without any plastic packaging will get me nine times out of ten!
3. Shower puffs to flannels or loofahs: I also swapped out my plastic netting puff to a nice soft cotton flannel which I love. You can also get loofah sponges, cotton puffs or compostable cellulose sponges for cleaning your body.
4. Sanitary disposables to reusables: Next on the list of swaps I made was my menstrual products. Swapping to a menstrual cup will always be number one on my list of best changes I’ve made. One cup could last you up to 10 years with proper care, and in that time you could save 2,640 pads and tampons from being used and thrown away so it is really worth the investment.
5. Plastic toothbrush to a bamboo toothbrush: They clean just the same but they don't stay around for 100s of years after they've stopped being useful.
6. Toothpaste to toothpaste tablets: I also have swapped over from liquid toothpaste in a plastic tube to a refillable tin of toothpaste tablets. They work really well for cleaning but they don't froth up as much as toothpaste does meaning less mess!
7. Disposable razor to a safety razor: I ditched my disposable shaving equipment for a safety razor and shaving soap which was scary but absolutely worth it! The blades are fully recyclable so long as they are put in a sealed container such as a tin so that you are not hurting the collection and sorting people. They are also so cheap at 25p per replacement blade!
8. Cotton buds and pads for reusables or bamboo: The new ban on cotton buds in the UK is a great first step to reducing plastic pollution. You can now get them as reusable silicon buds or cotton with bamboo stems. Cotton pads can also be replaced with reusable/washable pads!
9. Dental Floss to plastic free floss: Many of the plastic free flosses on the market aren't vegan as they're made from silk. However, there are some new ones on the market now that are plant-based!
10. Creams and lotions: I've swapped my tubs of body butter out for face and body oil in glass bottles, and some solid butter bars in aluminium tins.
10 Swaps For The Kitchen.
Onto the kitchen, and I’ve started making some good swaps here but I’m far from finished on my journey.
1. Buy loose! The first thing I did was start buying loose fruit and vegetables. Some items are actually cheaper without the plastic wrap! This made a noticeable difference straight away which was really motivating.
2. Kitchen paper to reusable or compostable cloths: Next, I stopped buying kitchen paper. I used to clean everything with it and I’d get through tons. Of course it is paper not plastic, and I’d get the recycled type but I felt it was time to cut ties. I swapped this out for compostable sponges and cloths.
3. Cling film to reusables: I also swapped out cling film, there are lots of good alternatives out there now such as beeswax or vegan wax wraps, cotton bowl covers or reusable silicon pouches.
4. Plastic brushes to wooden and coconut coir: Our plastic washing up brush was replaced with a wooden one with cactus bristles, they have a replaceable head so you can keep the handle for a long time. I also started using a coconut coir brush for our reusable bottles!
5. Plastic sponges to loofahs: The yellow and green plastic sponge was replaced with a cotton cloth and a natural loofah cleaning pad. The loofah cleaning range is one of my favourites as it expands when it's wet and becomes quite soft so it won't scratch pans or worktops. It is fantastic at cleaning, 100% natural and can be composted as it is just the fibrous inside of a gourd plant.
6. Bottled cleaning to refillables or bars: You can find most of your household cleaning as a refillable at the shop but I also have washing up bars, I really like them as they're still easy to use and clean well.
7. Disposable cutlery to carrying your own: It doesn't need to take up much room in your bag or pocket but carrying your own straw, spoon or fork instead of picking up a disposable one will save a lot of waste and makes eating out feel like a picnic every time!
8. Food waste to composting: Even if you don't have a garden, you can collect your food scraps in a digester. Composting food scraps is better than landfill as without oxygen or light there isn't the environment for organic material to breakdown, it also releases a lot of methane.
9. Switch to compostable waste bags: You will still be throwing away things for a while at the beginning as you make those gradual changes but you can switch your normal waste bags for compostable ones at least!
10. Switch to recycled and recyclable baking: Aluminium is infinitely recyclable without degrading as a material, you can get recycled aluminium that is just as strong as normal. Switching to non-waxed recyclable parchment paper and baking cups will also make your creative kitchen moments more sustainable.
I will stop at 10 for each room as I only wanted to give a flavour of the kinds of changes you can make in your own home. The things you challenge yourself to do may be different from my list and I’d love to know what you achieve on your sustainable living journey. Please do share some of the fantastic tips you pick up along the way and your proud moments with me. You can follow me on facebook, instagram or drop me an email anytime.
Good luck on your journey, and take care.