Small changes

It’s been a few weeks since my last post and what a busy time it’s been! Birthday celebrations, Father’s Day, dancing shows, pre-school parties, summer fairs… I haven’t really had time to give anything much thought. The pace is beginning to slow down again, which I’m grateful for. I’m ashamed to say that we haven’t been as mindful or as ethical as I would have liked. The chaos has meant that we’ve slipped back into old ways: plastic party bags for the Big One filled with plastic stuff and sweets, the odd bottle of water, plastic straws in take-away iced coffee, take-out coffee cups, carrier bags and conventional cleaning products bought from the 24/7 supermarket late at night because we’ve run out of one thing or another. We’ve been scraping through. It’s been a fun time but I’m not really very happy about our values being so compromised. I hadn’t realised just how busy June would be and I will plan to be more on top of June next year and to make sure that we have some alternative options for things such as party bags in place.

So, in order to get inspired and back on track I’ve been reading Béa Johnson’s amazing book Zero Waste Home (on my Kindle, of course). And wow, what an inspiring read.

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I was completely stunned to learn that her family of 4 produce on average just one 250ml Mason jar of rubbish per year. Her book is refreshingly honest and it’s fascinating to see her journey unfolding from a “conventional” mum with 2 kids living the all-american suburban dream in a huge home to eco-warrior extraordinaire setting the trend for zero waste living. I hugely recommend this book. Béa’s really made me question my own habits, and made me realise just how ingrained some of those habits are. For example, using kitchen disposables such as foil, cling film and kitchen roll; long showers; throwing food waste into the landfill bin; tampons; and teabags. I was also cheered to read that we’ve been doing loads of little things that she suggests such as re-selling unwanted items, gifting them, donating them to charity or repurposing them; using muslins as handkerchiefs and general toddler wipes in place of plastic wrapped tissues; using microfibre cloths instead of disposable cloths and sponges for cleaning; switching to paperless billing where possible; and using an alum stone instead of a regular deodorant.

I’m really intrigued by some of her cosmetic recipes and can’t wait to try out some of the make-up and skincare recipes. I also loved her approach to meal planning, which is so simple yet encourages variety and seasonal variation. I’m hoping to put something similar in place over the coming weeks.

In the spirit of seeing where we’re going wrong or where we’re over consuming, or simply where we could be doing a little bit more I’ve been keeping an eye on our rubbish bins this week. The bulk of it is plastic rubbish and food waste. Argh, back to the plastic! I was having a look at our Ocado shop the other day and feel pretty uncomfortable that the vast majority of items in the basket are wrapped in plastic. Yet it feels like such a huge mountain to climb to change our ways. So, it’s time to start tackling the rubbish mountain with the proverbial spoon. I’ve decided to pick 2 products that we consume regularly and try to find zero waste options. We get through a lot of bread and milk. Toast is the default breakfast, lunch and snack in our house and the girls love drinking milk plus I’m partial to a milky tea or coffee too. I’m going to start buying loaves of unwrapped bread or bake my own and I’ve set up a regular order with Milk & More so that we receive pints of milk in glass bottles, that can be returned for reuse.

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I’m even thinking that over the summer holiday we may do a Zero Waste Week. I think it could be a really worthwhile experiment and a fun one too. The girls will love the shopping and weighing, baking and cooking, and of course furoshiki wrapped picnics.

I’ve been thinking about the immediate changes that we can make and here is my list:

  • wear glasses more and contact lenses less;
  • buy a compost bin for the garden so that our food waste is put to good use;
  • use a shampoo bar instead of bottled shampoo;
  • bulk buy our regular eco washing powder (Bio-D Non-Bio Washing Powder).

So, thank you, Béa for your wonderfully inspiring blog and book. The cogs may turn slowly here but I’m hoping we can start to reduce our rubbish in a meaningful way with some simple changes.


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