Happy new year and welcome to 2016, lovely readers!
What with this being the usual time of year for making resolutions, I thought it might be nice to put together some tips for people who are thinking about embarking on a greener, less waste creating, more eco-friendly 2016 but aren’t sure where to start (and If you aren’t, then why not?).
Like anything new, it can be a bit daunting to start with, and so I’d recommend starting light green before heading down the slippery slope to full on dark green eco enthusiast (although by all means come join us on the journey to darkest green! We are very nice.)
Everything I’m recommending below is done so with the aim that anyone, anywhere in the UK will be able to access, rather than local places. If you have a lovely local eco-friendly shop/co-op/group, please do consider supporting them!
Quick disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of the products or websites listed below, they’re simply things I like and these are just my recommendations, nothing more, nothing less!
Clean and green
Swap your existing cleaning products for equally easy-to-purchase products which are kinder to the environment, gentler on your hands and often come with a range of other benefits, such as being refillable and with good animal cruelty-free track records:
Cleaning sprays: A newer entrant to the market, YOU sprays all come in little concentrated refills, meaning you buy a full-size spray just once, and then top up with tiny little pots and water. Like buying in bulk or refilling in store, you’re saving loads of plastic, which is good for:
- You – easier and lighter to get home, not going to squash your bread or other soft bits in your shopping bag
- Your recycling bin – it takes up way less space and therefore requires less trips outside in the rain and the dark to the recycling bin (very important to lazy people who live on the third floor like me)
- Your environment – much less transport needed to get the stuff into the shops in the first place means less fuel used and less lorries on the road
YOU do refills for kitchen, bathroom, multi-purpose and window cleaners, although I used our kitchen spray in the bathroom with no alarming effects to report (I’m such a rebel), and they are on sale at Waitrose and online through their website linked above and Ocado.
Ideally, you can also use washable and reusable cloths for your cleaning too, for extra smug points. If you’re feeling ready, perhaps consider repurposing an old t-shirt as a cloth?
Washing-up liquid: The range of products you can clean your dishes with that may be kinder to wildlife once it’s disappeared down the drain is much easier to find in the local supermarket than it used to be. The brand you’re most likely to see is Ecover, which works perfectly well with hot water and a quick soak for the more stubborn stains. The bigger the size you buy, the more plastic you’ll be saving overall. Bonus points for buying giant packs in bulk from websites like Natural Collection or refilling your existing bottle – there are refill stations all over the UK, and you can find your nearest one on the Ecover website.
Ecover do laundry wash and fabric softener too and can be found in pretty much every supermarket. The softener can be harder to find in refills than the other products, but can be purchased online in a giant 15 litre size, assuming you have the space for it!
Lovely and green
Now your house is all nice and clean, you’re probably a mess from all the hard work making it beautiful. Let’s sort that out. I still pine for the days of Body Shop refills and all the awesome soaps they used to do in the shape of different fruits, but sadly, no more.
Stepping in to fill that gap, with shops that you can smell from several hundred yards away, is Lush. They have a huge range of soaps and solid bars of shampoo, all of which can be bought completely free of packaging, or in a little paper bag (tip: if you get a little paper bag, cut it up afterwards and pop in your sock drawer for a free drawer freshener). They also do conditioner in a bar, but I’ve yet to find one that works for me. (I’m still on the search for the perfect conditioner, in the meantime I’m buying Jason which come in a large bottle and so saves a bit of plastic).
If you prefer stuff in a pot, Lush’s black pots can be taken back to the shop once empty of their product where they are made into new black pots. A member of staff there once showed me that if you peel back the label on the bottom, there is a number printed on the base which shows what number life the pot is on. 10 is usually the last life before it can’t be recycled back into another pot, so if you get one with a 10, perhaps consider holding onto it to use as a refill for something else?
Pretty in green
When it comes to clothes, the first and best thing you can do is pick up a needle and thread! Sewing machines can be a bit daunting to begin with, so start small, and have a go at mending some holes by hand – if it’s already got a hole in it, how much worse can you make it by trying to fix it anyway? A good introductory guide to sewing can be found over at the Instructables website. Chances are you probably know someone who can show you the basics as well. If you’re ready for more of a challenge, Jen over at My Make Do and Mend Life has loaaads of ideas for you 🙂
The next green option is charity shops. Whilst these are everywhere, experience has taught me what is probably the bleeding obvious – the nicest clothes generally show up in areas where the posh shops/most expensive houses are, and the extra trip is usually worth it. Now is a great time of year to do a bit of charity shopping, as the post-Christmas clear-out and giveaway means more stock than usual. Perhaps consider taking down some of your own unwanted clothes at the same time?
If you’re looking for some new bits (second hand socks are probably not gong to be a popular option for many people), a few of my favourite online ethical clothing companies are:
The first thing you’ll likely notice is that the clothes on these websites are pricier than your average high street shop. There is a number of reasons for this, from the price of producing organic cotton to paying workers a higher wage. More details for those interested to read more can be found at this Treehugger article and via the Labour Behind the Label website. If you can afford to purchase more ethically produced clothing, please do so – pick and treat your clothes carefully and they will last for years.
If you’re looking to simplify your clothing choices (and certainly not buying is a greener option than any buying at all!), why not have a look at Project 333, where the aim is to pick 33 pieces of clothing to wear for 3 months?
I’d love to hear about your resolutions for 2016 and what plans you have in store. Whatever you’re up to, I wish you the happiest start to the year possible!