Eco Mum

Being Eco – one step at a time

We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly. – Anne Marie Bonneau aka The Zero Waste Chef

This is one of my favourite quotes when it comes to trying to be eco-friendly. Its small steps, done one at a time; eco-friendly living can be intimidating, and think a lot of people can be put off by that, so don’t make the effort. I think it’s really important just to realise that every step you do make, is a step forward.

I’m writing this blog to help others understand simple and cost effective ways to help you ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’. I think people think plastic is ‘the enemy, and long term it’s one of the enemies, but a plastic item you will reuse time after time is a keeper- so many people seem to be ‘disposing’ of plastic, to buy a ‘plastic free alternative’ without realising that’s the problem – stop wasting, and stop buying stuff you don’t need.

I’m not perfect, I’m far from it- this blog isn’t coming from a righteous position! I can’t afford to, have time to, or truly want to do all things that being an true ‘eco-warrior’ involves. I drive a diesel- although I’d love a hybrid or electric car, we still use disposable nappies (although I hate the waste we produce) as I cannot find any time in my life to do more washing, and I’m a pescatarian not vegan, nor do I want to be. Oh and I best say; otherwise they’ll be a comment from my husband, my worst habit is leaving the lights on!

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.” —Jane Goodall

Here’s some simple, cost saving or cost effective ways of reducing your impact on the earth.

Reduce:

• Do you really need this??? Don’t need it don’t buy it.

  • Reduce waste by using reusables instead! My faves are below
  • Make your own cleaning products, or buy refillable/eco options

• Buy in bulk. Even if you buy items in plastic buy the bigger bottle/bags etc. it’ll be less plastic in the long run. I buy the giant packs of dishwasher tabs, washing capsules etc.

• Avoid tiny, travel sized bottles- more plastic, more waste. If you travel, then get reusable travel size kits and fill up with you at home products.

• Don’t waste food; buy less (don’t buy multipack plastic wrapped veg, buy loose instead), freeze left overs or use the Olio app to giveaway unwanted food insert link

Reuse:

• Reuse your plastic bottles and get refills where possible, lots of products have refills which you can get in supermarkets- hand wash and washing up liquid are common; and means less plastic waste overall.

• Hand down, sell on or do swaps. Clothes, kids toys and household appliances generally get disposed of before their life is over; donate to charity shops, friends, use random acts of kindness groups on facebook, use *Thrift to sell on your clothes, sell your kids stuff at preloved sales or have swap parties with your friends.

• Fix fix fix; fix it don’t chuck it. Not skilled to fix it yourself, do a quick search and you’ll probably find local fixer cafes.

• Hoard what you’d normally waste if it can be reused; I wash and keep any glass or plastic jars and zippy bags. And use it to organise my food cupboards, craft cupboards and take to refill revolution at *Harborough Eco Village

• Hoard what you’d normally waste if it can be used for craft activities; (great if you have kids or can be donated to childminders/nurseries)loo roll inserts, packaging from parcels (shredded paper/bubble wrap/ polystyrene.

*links below

Recycle:

Do your research and find out what you can recycle locally. Think beyond your refuse collection or local tip (but obviously use these too)

• Some opticians can recycle you contact lens packaging

• Some shops offer recycling for crisp packets, squeezy pouch packaging, plastic bags.

• Use your local free-cycle page- you’ll find allsorts

‘Be part of the solution, not part of the pollution.’ – Unknown
When to buy???
When there are good plastic free or reusable items you will actually use.
    Everyone needs a nice water bottle I like klean canteen, chillys and life factory again Harborough eco village have a great range .
    If you buy a lot of coffee/tea then grab a reusable hot drinks cup – I find starbucks have the best leak proof ones.
    Stop buying kitchen roll and get reusable washable ones instead from Avocado handmade
    I do use disposable baby wipes, but only when out the house- in home we have two sets of cheeky wipes one for bums and one for hands/faces
    Make packed lunches or like picnics; grab some reusable sandwich wraps, snack bags etc. my faves are planet picnic and keep leaf available from Harborough eco village
    Period products- yes I’m going there! I love my organicup, I’ve also used a moon cup before (but lost it- somewhere in the house), honestly give them a couple of months and you won’t look back. Don’t fancy it? Why not try reusable/washable period pant or pads.
  • If it’s preloved or ethically/eco-friendly made:

    • I feel at my most smug when I’ve picked up some great clothes from a charity shop, Facebook marketplace or preloved shop. If you’re local to Market Harborough you’ve gotta try The attic, little raine or a good mooch of the charity shops
      I love Thrift + to sell and buy- when selling on thrift you can either use your credit to buy preloved clothes and accessories OR for John Lewis vouchers. You also get to choose a charity to donate some of the taking too.
      Buy eco friendly toys: my favourite are tender leaf or le toy van from The growing tree shop (use ‘ivfninja’ for discount) , Lanka kade from westlodge farm shop, plan toys or petit collage from Kidly.
      Buy well, buy once- don’t go for cheap trends. I try to buy investment buys; I’d rather buy one item that will last for years at £100 than 6 items for the same price that won’t last.
      Mooch a car boot; I hate buying plastic toys for Dorothea, but shes a toddler and loves them- I’ve bought pretty much all our Duplo from the car boot and love a mooch when the weather is good

    We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. – Howard Zinn

    Last but not least; shop local, shop small, support local businesses/individuals and organisations that are making eco efforts. Join in on that local litter pic, buy from your local farm or green grocer, support your local eco-village or refill shop- mine is Harborough eco village and its wonderful.

    Eco Mum, Guest Blogs, Other fabulous ladies

    5 eco-swaps for parents- Guest blog

    Whether you are a first time Mummy or Daddy or are experiencing parenthood for the second or third time, looking after a baby is all consuming and whilst it is a magical time, caring for a newborn can also be exhausting! However, you can still be your best eco self whilst caring for small children, it just takes a little thought and planning. Anything you can do to cut back on plastic usage and overall waste is better than before and models the way for the next generation!

    Not sure where to begin?

    Here are my top 5 eco swaps for new parents.

    1 .Toys, Clothes and Baby Equipment 

    I would personally find it impossible to cut out all plastic toys from my children’s lives! On the other hand, cheap plastic tat is simply a waste of money as it ends up breaking and being thrown away, where it then ends up in landfill. I dread to think how much plastic landfill waste is made up of discarded toys. To reduce your plastic toy footprint, there are a few things you can do:

    -Make a list for family and friends when it’s birthday time. On it include wooden toys, gift vouchers, experiences and money for the children’s piggy banks. One of my 5-year old daughter’s most prized possessions is a fabric sparkly sequin bag she asked for last Christmas. It has had so much more use than some of the plastic toys she was gifted.

    Shop preloved– my 3-year old son absolutely loves our local charity shop! (And so do I!)

    Opt for wooden toys. We have lots of wooden toys from push alongs, building blocks and drums to our much loved wooden play kitchen. We also have a handmade mud kitchen in the garden which my Dad and husband put together one weekend out of old pallets. Check out Pinterest for ideas! (Note: they are not builders and it looks fantastic!) Once you use your imagination, the sky is the limit!

    For clothes and equipment, check out Ebay, local Facebook selling sites, charity shops, and nearly new sales. All offer excellent quality second hand items. If friends and family members offer you hand me downs, take them and say thank you! Babies grow at an extraordinary rate, so are in their clothes for approx 3 months before they outgrow them. This means that second hand items are almost always nearly new and will have plenty of life left in them. You can buy baby bundles for a few pounds on Ebay. When you are finished with them, sell them on or donate to charity. 

    Equipment-wise, you can pick up buggies, Moses baskets and play mats all second hand, which will do just as good a job as brand new items. (Note: If buying second hand cots or Moses baskets, it’s worth buying your own new mattresses.) If you are having a baby shower, why not ask for handmade gifts, bunting for the nursery, money or vouchers for a pre-baby spa day!

    2. Bathroom productsBathrooms can be absolutely full of unnecessary plastic bottles. Mine used to be, but with a few tweaks, we have cut back on loads of plastic waste. Instead of bottles of children’s bubble bath, we swapped to bubble wands from http://www.lush.com.

    They last ages and smell fantastic! To my children’s delight, we also swapped out liquid soap in a plastic bottle to a chocolate flavour shampoo bar by Lamazuna. We also got rid of our plastic sponges and swapped to linen and cotton versions. Shampoo bars and sponges are available at: http://www.plasticconsciousmama.co.uk/shop.                                

    3. Drink bottles and Cups

     

    We never leave the house without Mummy’s reusable coffee cup or the children’s metal water bottles from http://www.kleankanteen.co.uk. As they are metal, they are more sustainable than plastic and do not contain any of the nasty BPAs found in plastic alternatives. We also try to sit down rather than take out at cafes so we can have drinks in reusable cups. Don’t get me wrong, my children love a plastic bottle of juice as much as the next child, but it’s all about reducing consumption wherever possible. The amount of disposable coffee cups I have saved from landfill since starting my plastic conscious journey is amazing!

    4. Nappies and wipes

    This is perhaps the most obvious one, and the one people seem to struggle with the most. I didn’t switch to reusable nappies until the birth of my third baby, but I really wish I had swapped sooner! 8 million disposable nappies are sent to UK landfill EVERY DAY. 8 million! With each nappy taking an eye watering 400-500 years to break down, it’s never been a better time to make the switch to cloth nappies.

    People always ask me whether or not washing reusable nappies is eco-friendly because of all the water, the short answer is yes! The process of making disposables uses an astronomical amount of water – according to Baba and Boo, washing three loads of nappies a week uses about 200 litres of water whereas manufacturing enough single-use nappies for a week uses 1,550 litres.

    Cloth nappies really aren’t that scary to switch to. Once you have your stash of nappies (around 15-20), washing them just becomes a part of your normal routine. My advice is to start small, why not trial cloth nappies before making a permanent commitment, or agree to use them during the day until they become more familiar? Many councils offer money off or free nappy schemes. Why? Because it is in their interest to reduce waste, particularly the smelly nappy kind! There are lots of nappy libraries and preloved groups on Facebook. I would definitely recommend giving them a try before you dismiss the idea of trialling cloth nappies. Like me, you may surprise yourself!

    One of my most favourite swaps was to ditch disposable wipes for washable cloth wipes. I cannot emphasise enough how much I love this swap, mainly because I was SO sceptical about it to begin with. After a few of my friends telling me how much nicer cloth wipes were I dubiously decided to make the leap myself and have never looked back. I had to try them to believe them!

    To get set up. I spent just under £40 on an all in one kit from http://www.cheekywipes.com. The kits have everything you need to get started – 25 wipes, 2 containers (for clean and mucky wipes), essential oil and 2 out and about wet bags for wipe storage (clean and mucky.) The system makes it so easy and you will soon discover that you use far less cloth wipes than disposables – yes even for messy poos! Each day, I pop used wipes in the wash with my usual load of washing. If there are poo wipes, you can either give them a rinse under the tap first or save them up in a mesh bag and do a special nappy and wipe wash. I like to wash my soiled cloth wipes at 60 degrees, but 40 also does the trick if they have just been used for sticky hands and faces.

    If this swap seems unrealistic, why not do it in stages, first transition with one pack of back-up disposables alongside your cloth wipes until you are ready for a complete switch. If you need any further convincing, why not calculate how much you spend on disposable wipes in one year? £3 per week adds up to £156 a year – a lot more than £40!

    5. Host Eco-Friendly Birthday Parties

    Children’s birthday parties can create a ridiculous amount of unnecessary plastic waste. Plastic cups, plates and cutlery can all be easily swapped for paper and wooden versions. Cheap paper bags can also be bought online to replace plastic loot party bags. Sustainable wooden party bag fillers can also be found online. Even better, than party bags, why not buy a pack of books to divvy up?

    When choosing sweets, think about those that come in cardboard tubes or boxes rather than plastic bags. All these swaps are eco-friendly, easily recyclable as well as being cost effective.

    It’s also worth investigating whether or not there are companies who offer eco-friendly parties in your area. In Hertfordshire, you can hire reusable plastic cups and plates from The Little Green Party Company (check them out on Instagram.) They deliver to your door and take away all the dirty plates afterwards. Zero waste and super easy!

     

     

    Eco-parenting needn’t be much different from any other kind of parenting. With just a few mindful swaps, you could save yourself money whilst helping the planet at the same time. One of my favourite quotes goes something along the lines of:

    “The world needs lots of people making a few swaps, rather than a few people making lots of swaps.”

    It’s far better to work your way up to something that will last and become a habit rather than setting yourself unrealistic expectations. My advice is to start small, make swaps where you can, one at a time and be kind to yourself. Aim to be better than before and just keep going! We can all make a difference if we try.

    For more eco advice, tips and ideas check out my blog and plastic-free online shop

    www.plasticconsciousmama.co.uk.

    You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram.