Being more sustainable around the house is not an all or nothing thing. There is a, thankfully lessening, assumption that to consider yourself ‘sustainable’ you need to do everything right and to be sustainable in every aspect of your life. But that mentality ends up pushing people out of the fray, it leaves people thinking, well if I cannot do it all right, I won’t bother at all. And that is not what sustainability should be about. I think it’s probably a motto for our whole lives really, if we try and make little positive changes they all add up to something bigger. When it comes to sustainability, all our little efforts add up to a huge change.
We are far from perfect in our household but we do make an effort. Most of us are familiar with the obvious ways of being sustainable around the house so here are a few nice small changes you could make that won’t feel like a sacrifice, because to be sustainable it has to something that works for you and your family in the long run.
I recently switched out my own bottle of shampoo for a shampoo bar, it used three times less product in terms of volume so less chemicals used in the manufacture. It is also a fraction of the size so less energy spent in transportation, and it came in plastic free packaging so once the shampoo bar is gone, it is like it never existed. And all that good stuff aside it does just as good a job on my hair as the other shampoo I was already using. I have thick hair and was surprisingly pleased at how easily it lathered up and my hair looks great. If we ever get the opportunity to travel again (!) I can bring it along to so saves me buying a travel bottle of shampoo or dispensing a liquid shampoo into a travel bottle.
I have been meaning to do this for years now and this year I finally got around to making my own Elderflower cordial and it turned out beautifully. It is free to pick from hedges the length and breadth of the country (just maybe avoid ones right beside busy roads!). I made 1.5L of cordial from about 15 heads of elderflower which is great because it saves me buying bottles of cordial thus reducing my plastic consumption (only a little bit but every bit counts remember!). Plus there is the added satisfaction of having made something so simple, for free, to enjoy all summer long!
Blackberries are another nice one to forage in the autumn to use in jams and deserts and picking them is a nice thing to do with children. And in case it isn’t obvious, please don’t go foraging for mushrooms unless you are an expert!
Growing even one thing like herbs or lettuce on a window sill or in a pot outside is a very simple and rewarding way to be a little more sustainable. Aside from the sheer satisfaction of growing your own food, most supermarkets sell heads of lettuce inside plastic packaging so it is one, albeit small, but like I said earlier, every little bit counts.
I will admit we haven’t made the switch the bamboo toothbrushes fully in our house yet, the four children use them but I have braces at the moment so have opted for a sonic toothbrush, anyway I digress. One easy place to switch out plastic for a bamboo alternative is not just at the bathroom sink but at the kitchen sink. Many of us use plastic brushes for cleaning our pots and pans but we have a bamboo one that does the exact same job and won’t stick around for years to come. An extremely easy swap.
Speaking of cleaning, I do genuinely think one of the easiest areas to make a big switch that you would barely even notice is to cleaning products. It is so easy now to switch to an eco-friendly cleaning solution for everything from bathrooms, toilets, clothes and they genuinely do as good a job as their chemical alternative. Many of the main stream brands have eco friendly alternatives now making it easy to pick the sustainable option on your weekly shop in any supermarket.
Another simple change to make, all things being equal, is to choose the product based on packaging.
I was doing our shopping recently and there was a selection of toilet papers that were, for all intents and purposes, the same, but one came in a paper packaging, so I chose that.
I don’t know if your house it like mine but with four children we go through a lot of batteries in toys and games. We made the switch to rechargeable batteries some time ago and it has been great.
They charge up quickly and our electricity provider supplies energy from only renewable sources so it is a win win.