Eimear Hutchinson: How to be more sustainable around the house

Eimear Hutchinson shares some simple ways to live a bit more 'greener' at home
Eimear Hutchinson: How to be more sustainable around the house

GIVE FURNITURE A NEW LIFE: Repurpose or upcycle old furniture instead of replacing it, says Eimear. Picture: Stock

WE have organised our wardrobes, decluttered the toys, cut the grass and tackled all those household jobs we’d been putting off.

As we settle into our new normal under lockdown, perhaps some of us are now scratching our heads looking for the next project to do around the house.

How about taking a step back from the big jobs to be tackled for a moment and considering making changes that might have a long term impact not just within your home but also on the wider world?

For so long, the narrative around sustainability and tackling climate change has been negative, we are bombarded with facts and figures that are both mind-blowing and frightening at the same time. It can sometimes seem completely overwhelming and you would be forgiven for wondering how one small change you might make in your home can possibly solve the massive problem of rising sea levels.

But it can, I read a quote a while back that read like this: “It’s only one straw... said 7.5 billion people...” I thought it was a very powerful line. It’s time to celebrate the small changes people make everyday because cumulatively, every small change can have a massive impact.

Ditch the straws, plastic bottles and coffee cups — some easy switches we are probably all familiar with already include moving from plastic straws, bottles and coffee cups to more sustainable, long lasting alternatives. Bamboo straws are a fantastic alternative to plastic straws and metal, often insulated, bottles, flasks or cups that can be used instead of disposable coffee cups or plastic water bottles to keep drinks hot or cold over and over again.

Who supplies your electricity?
Who supplies your electricity?

Electricity supply: We all know that we should switch off lights when we leave a room and that we shouldn’t leave sockets plugged in or on over night but have you ever considered who supplies your electricity?

There are numerous suppliers in Ireland that supply energy created purely from renewable sources. The price point between all suppliers of electricity is generally competitive so if you are looking to switch, take into account the source of the energy supply when making your final decision.

Shop local...
Shop local...

Shop locally and seasonally — this one will become increasingly more important as we look to the future and really give thought to where we spend our money. Keeping it in our local economy is so important, it keeps local people in jobs and it keeps shops in our local towns open.

For us, shopping local means doing our grocery shop in one of the big retailers like Aldi or Supervalu, then we get our meat from the local butcher, our fruit and vegetables from the local green grocer and cheese from local suppliers via .ie.

Repurpose or upcycle old furniture instead of replacing it, if there is any piece of furniture that you were thinking of replacing, and consider giving it a new lease of life with some paint before getting rid of it and replacing it with something new. It never fails to amaze me the difference paint can make.

You can even great creative and use stencils to create pattern or glue wallpaper to drawer fronts to make them really pop.

Material alternatives to wipes — I leave a little jar beside the sink in the kitchen and fill it with little cotton squares or cut up big muslin squares into smaller ones and use them to wipe my smallest lady’s hands and face after meals. These are often softer and therefore kinder to babies’ skin and the environment especially too when it’s just water you’re using to clean, no chemicals involved.

Consider the packaging — if you are to choose between two products and there is effectively no difference between the price or the quality of the two, look at the packaging and ask yourself, can it be recycled or maybe repurposed or reused? Does it come with unnecessary plastic wrapping?

Ditch the wipes.
Ditch the wipes.

Reusable make up pads and bamboo cotton buds — I switched to using reusable make-up pads several years ago and find them fantastic primarily because they are much kinder on the delicate skin around my eyes than disposable cotton rounds. Disposable cotton pads don’t biodegrade due to the bleaching and mixing processes used to create them therefore they will end up in landfill.

Cotton buds are set to be banned in the UK and it’s likely other countries will follow suit, mainly because they are a single use plastic but also because around 10% of cotton buds are flushed down the toilet causing unnecessary damage to marine life. Bamboo cotton buds work the exact same as their plastic alternative but they are biodegradable so they can be put in your organic waste bin.

There are so many easy changes we can make to be more sustainable around the house and I think it’s safe to say investing in quality products that last longer, are produced locally or sustainably are often far more economical in the long run.

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