Top tips for living a more conscious life
Ed and I have always been proud of the way we live our lives, considering the impact of our choices and decisions on the planet. I guess in some ways we were early adopters of many things that are actually common place now, we had an allotment by our mid twenties, we live minimally in the sense that we don’t have a lot of material things and we tried to minimise our use of electricity etc etc. But recently I woke up to the fact that we could be doing so much more, perhaps it was the Blue Planet furore which has had us all shocked or as I became more involved in sustainability at work, either way I knew I wanted to try to make more changes this year.
It can feel quite daunting when you first start looking at how to live more sustainably, there is so much information out there and then there is always the question, will it make any difference? Well, think of it this way, if we all made that one small change, how big the difference would be. I always suggest starting with a few things that won’t massively disrupt your life, until they become a habit, rather than overhauling everything (although feel free to go ahead if that’s more you!). For me sustainable living is simply about making moves to reduce our demands on natural resources, this could be through the the brands I choose to buy, or it could be a reduction or elimination of a product from your lifestyle (such as plastic straws or clingfilm). Remember: it doesn’t matter how much or how you little you change, it will all make a difference in the long run.
Here are the changes I'm choosing to make this year:
No more wipes
This is something I should have done years ago, not now when Arlo is two. But I have made the change and I would now never go back to disposable wipes. The cloths I use are washable in your normal cycle (avoiding the connundrum of more washing being worse for the environment), kept in sealable boxes and even come with a handy pouch so you can take them with you when on the go. Aside from not throwing away piles and piles of wipes each week, we are also saving money too, it’s win win in my opinion.
2. Say no to plastic straws
This is such a simple change to make. I’m pretty sure a paper straw supplier has been doing the rounds at all the pubs and restaurants recently given the publicity around the danger plastic straws pose to wildlife. We went out twice this weekend and in both the cafe and local pub we were offered paper straws when we asked for kids drinks with no straws. This is a positive change and one that we should keep on driving by always saying “no straw thank you”.
3. One in one out
I have always tried to do this with clothes etc but this year, I have made a conscious effort to encourage the boys to do the same with toys. We regularly have sort outs where we recycle, give old books to Henry’s school and unwanted toys to charity. We do this before we allow any new toys or books in to the house, it teaches the boys a valuable lesson whilst also ensures our house doesn’t get cluttered and bogged down with too much stuff.
4. Making our garden nature friendly
We’ve always fed birds and with Ed being an ecologist he has encouraged me to leave out wood piles etc for wildlife. But this year we have gone a step further by using bee bricks in our planned extension as well patio planters that incorporate little holes for solitary bees to lay their eggs. Biodiversity has decreased by fifty eight percent since 1970 which is so worrying, I mean can you remember the last time you saw or heard a cricket? Or saw a lace wing or daddy long legs? I have such strong memories of our house filling with them when I was a girl but now I barely see them. WWF release a really interesting report called the Living Planet report which highlights this. And you can find these planters online with Green and Blue, they make their bricks and pots from concrete which makes them really durable - again great for sustainability!
5. Get a wormery
OK guys this one is a little odd and might not suit the faint hearted but they are brilliant! We actually picked ours up from the dump about 8 years ago, it sat in our garden empty until we came back from Amsterdam and I finally made the decision to google “what to do with a wormery”. One kilo of worms and a week later, we were up and running. We compost pretty much all our food waste (apart from animal products and citrus) and as a thank you from the worms each week we get a watering can full of the best fertiliser.
6. Changed our energy provider
We made the decision to move to an eco electricity provider towards the end of last year. Yes its costing us slightly more but its worth it, to know that every bit of energy we are consuming is coming from a renewable source makes us feel good.
7. Buying clothes wisely
Gone are the days when I used to spend a large percentage of my earnings on clothes. I simply don’t want to anymore, I don’t get the same pleasure that I used too and would much rather spend it on plants for the garden or a little something for the house. But the boys do continuously need new clothes as they grow and this is where we try to make better choices about the brands we buy. We seek out organic cotton (M&S are good for this as are H&M) but for those extra special pieces we look for small independent brands that are making a difference in this space. One such brand is Love and Honour from Cornwall. They make the most amazing cool clothes for kids, using either organic cotton or for their new swimming range (out soon) using a thread which is made from regenerated fishing nets. Don’t even ask me how they do it, but it sounds brilliant! They have a crowdfunder campaign running currently if you want to get a piece of their next collection, take a look here.
8. Quality over quantity
I’m not going to harp on about why we should eating less meat, there are valid reasons which are widely publicised so google if you wish to learn more! The choice we have made is to eat less and make sure it is of the best quality. On average the only meat we buy is one free range organic chicken to last us a week, we get 3 meals at least out of it: a roast on the day we cook, noodle soup from the broth we make by slow cooking the bones and then something like a curry or a chicken pie. The dogs get the scraps. We feel confident in that fact that not a morsel gets wasted.
So there you have it, the few simple ways we are making changes this year in an attempt to live a more conscious and responsible life.
I'd love to hear from you, if you have any tips you can share with me.