I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how being busy everyday can affect how green you live. If I’m strapped for time then I take short cuts I wouldn’t take if I could be a bit more leisurely and those short cuts are not always eco friendly.
I guess they key is to work green habits into your daily routines. I’m not talking about grand gestures like buying a hybrid car or holidaying in an expensive eco-retreat, that’s not realistic for most of us. I’m talking about those things that we can do all the time in our own home and garden.
Here’s a quick run down of 10 of the things we do in our house. I’d love to learn more so do share your everyday eco habits with us.
1. Benevolent Brands?
I’ve put this one first because I think its the most important here and I’ve been doing this since I could spend my own pocket money. Get to know which brands are lacking in positive eco & ethical credentials and show them that you don’t approve by avoiding their products in your weekly shop. I’m a great believer in consumer power and there’s nothing easier than not doing something, not buying something. Online ethical shopping tool Gooshing can help you know the score.
2. Keep it Fresh
Instead of buying foil, cling film or plastic sandwich bags which will just get thrown away, wash out and save a couple of ice cream and margarine tubs to keep food fresh in your fridge.
3. White Vinegar is Your Friend
I have always been a bit dubious about eco cleaning products but one that is a definite winner and as cheap as chips (tastes good on chips too!) is vinegar. There’s nothing like white vinegar to get rid of grease and make surfaces lovely and shiny. I use it on stainless steel, windows and mirrors and I don’t have to worry about breathing in nasty chemicals when I’m using it.
4. Nature’s Bodyguards
Instead of using pesticides to keep aphids from munching on your beloved tomatoes and cucumbers, let nature do the work for you. For some reason a lot of creepy crawlies that like your veggie plants hate marigolds so plant them alongside and let them protect the fruits of your labours.
5. Home Made Labels
Whilst we’re talking gardens, here are a few ways you can recycle bits and bobs from indoors to use outdoors – Keep bottle tops to put on the end of garden canes to protect yourself (especially your eyes) from the sharp edges. Cut yoghurt pots into strips and use them as washable plant labels. Keep a tub or container handy in your kitchen to chuck in tea bags and veg peelings, ready to take out to the compost bin.
6. Old Fashioned Washing
I love hanging washing on the line – I think it’s because it’s one of those jobs that tells us the fine weather is finally here. Although, as us UK based folks know, fine weather is elusive here. So rather than heading to the tumble dryer (we don’t own one), get yourself a clothes horse to dry your washing indoors when it’s rainy outdoors.
7. Sweet Scent
There are so many air fresheners on the market right now I couldn’t possibly name them all. They’re so sophisticated too, spraying out a smell on a timer or whenever you walk in the room, but they’re just unnecessary. Goodness knows what chemicals they’re spurting at you and the amount of plastic that must go into making them makes my head spin. We keep a pretty wooden box (recycled from a wine case) near the front door with a handful of potpourri in it. When the smell fades, just sprinkle a little of your favourite essential oil in there. You could even get some lemon juice or sprigs of lovely smelling herbs like Rosemary. Hmmmmm…
8. Cut Down on the Meat
Until I met Sophie from Food For Change I thought I knew the implications of agriculture, especially farming for meat. I knew nothing. The amount of resources that go into feeding and keeping animals for food is mind blowing. It’s a devastating industry, not only for the animals but for the environment and humans too. Cutting down or cutting out animal products from your diet truly can help relieve this. Read my interview with Sophie or visit www.foodforchange.org.uk to find out more.
9. Make Second Hand First
This is my favourite tip because its about shopping – shopping and feeling good about it. OK, let me just spit it out. If you have hang-ups about second hand get over it! Antiques are second hand and no-one has issues with that. Whether looking for large items like furniture or small things like tea cups or clothes I always go for second hand first. Lots of the furniture in our house is second hand, was very cheap or free and, after a little restoration, beautiful. Buying second hand means you are not using more of the world’s resources to get something that’s new for you. Charity shops are the best because they are full of hidden gems and buying them contributes to something really worthwhile. Why line greedy companies’ pockets only to buy the same old beige, uniform items? Get creative, mix and match and have fun.
10. Take Your Time
I have to confess, I’m working on this one. Rushing around causes me to take short cuts and make decisions that aren’t good for the environment, like driving to the shops because its quicker than walking and grabbing a take-away rather than cooking a home made meal.
I’m far from perfect on the green front but I’d like to learn more. Share your ‘everyday eco’ and let’s make a habit of it.