It’s been nearly 3 months since I decided to reduce my families carbon footprint, and I thought I’d write a little review on how we’re getting on, and what I’ve learnt.
In the UK, 275,000 tonnes of plastic are used each year, which includes 13 billion plastic bottles. Unfortunately only 7.5 billion are recycled, the remaining 5.5 billion are sent to landfilled, littered, or incinerated.
I’ve made a real effort to reduce the amount of plastic we buy, and I can really see the difference already.
Items we always take with us when we go out
- Reusable bags – we keep a few in our cars, and I have a fold away one in my bag (just incase).
- Reusable coffee cups – We each have our own reusable cups, my son too (for hot chocolate). Some coffee shops offer a discount if you take your own reusable cup, Costa drinks are £0.25 cheaper!
- Reusable bottles – We also all have our own water bottles, I found some really good ones made in the UK from recycled food grade plastics.
Household items we now use
- Safety razor – I wish I’d been brave enough to buy this before, I’ve written a blog about my experience of using one. Unlike disposable razor cartridges, the blades in a safety razor are recyclable and are a lot cheaper. A packet of Gillette Venus Classic Women’s 4 Razor Blade Refills costs roughly £8.75, whereas 10 safety razor blades cost £2.50.
- Various soaps – I’ve also written a review of the soap, shampoo, conditioner and deodorant soaps which I’ve been using. In three months, I think I would have already gone through 2 bottles of shampoo and conditioner, and we would have gone through 1 bottle of shower gel and a deodorant. That’s 6 items of plastic we no longer use.
- Bamboo toothbrush – Toothbrushes should be replaced every 3 months, so potentially 264 million brushes thrown away every year in the UK. We’ve swapped our plastic brushes for lovely bamboo ones.
- Toothpaste soap and tabs – I bought some toothpaste tabs and toothpaste soap.
- The toothpaste tabs are spearmint flavour and come in a recyclable bottle. My teeth feel very clean after using them. You basically chew a tab and then brush your teeth, super easy and it lathers up like “normal” toothpaste.
- The toothpaste soap is peppermint flavour and is totally plastic free. Even though it doesn’t lather up as much as the tabs, it makes my teeth feel super clean, but I find that it tastes a little bit of soap…
- Meat – About 14.5% of global greenhouse gases comes from livestock, so we’re not doing Meat Free Mondays, we started doing Meaty Sunday’s, but now we have meat every few weeks, we’ve become “flexitarian” which has made us experiment more with our cooking.
- Fruit and Veg – If a plant-based diet was primarily consumed, emissions could be reduced by up to 80%. We buy (when and where) possible organic, locally/or UK grown, in season fruit and veg. And when I do, I try to make sure there is as little plastic packaging as possible.
- Beeswax wraps – In 2011, the total estimated household plastic film used in the UK was 560,000 tonnes. I’ve bought some beeswax wraps, and I love them. Wraps can be expensive to buy, but quickly pay for themselves when you think that you’ll get a year’s use from each wrap.
- Glass ware – When shopping we try to buy items that come in glass jars and bottles. The containers can be reused to store nuts, grains, cereals and spices until they break and can be recycled indefinitely unlike plastic which can only be recycled a few times.
- Bulk in buying – When we can, we bulk buy. It reduces packaging waste and single-use plastic. Making the switch to buying in bulk will make a dramatic impact on your weekly waste and encourage you to be more mindful about consumption choices in general.
- Plant based cleaning products – I thought I’d try out some plant based cleaning products from our local supermarkets. They have been brilliant, not only do they clean really well, but they are also reducing the amount of internal and external toxic chemicals being released. However, the packaging for these Eco products is still plastic (even though recycled and recyclable), and plastic should always be avoided.
Biodiversity is important as it ensures the continuation of life within an environment. Every living thing on Earth is connected in some way to other living things. If one species becomes endangered or extinct, it will affect all of the other species.
We’ve tried to make our garden that encourages as much biodiversity as possible .
Next Step – making my own
The next step for me, is to try reduce my footprint even further and try and make some of the things which I’ve mentioned above myself.
I’ve recently bought some organic liquid castile soap, and once my cleaning products and some of my toiletries run out, I will be attempting to make the following:
- Hand Wash
- Laundry Detergent
- All Purpose Cleaner
- Glass Cleaner
- Homemade Shampoo
I’ve got loads of space material, so I decided to make some produce bags for all my loose fruit and vegetables. I found a really good video that I’m going to use.
The wraps only last about a year, so when the wax has finally come off and they can no longer be used, I’ll still have the cut out material that I can re-wax.
Grow our own
Our garden is in the process of being levelled, and so it’s been pretty much impossible to properly grow anything that we would eat, but we’ve nearly finished the work and so hope to start growing a lot of our vegetables. I’ll keep you posted on how we get on!