10 Eco Basics
Back to basics. It's been a while since I wrote one of these blogs, a sort of "Environmental 101".
Here are the 10 easy tips for reducing your use of non-renewable energy and single-use plastics.
- Buy a cute tote you'll want to take to the supermarket instead of bringing home plastic bags
I've got my trusty faithful Fairtrade bag from the 2015 Fairly Educated conference that I take with me anywhere. It's easily stuffed into a smaller bag, and I often just use it as my handbag with ample room for unexpected purchases to avoid unpredicted purchases that would otherwise cause me to grab a plastic bag.
- Ditch plastic produce bags in store, buy reusable bags or just go bagless
For years before I bought produce bags, I just went without! You don't need to invest in expensive purpose-made reusable bags. Just pop what you need in the basket, then at check out pop the items on the scale at the same time. It's really not that hard, and you really don't need to use plastic bags to keep your produce together. It probably adds an extra 30 seconds to your shop but makes a world of difference.
- Grow a collection of reusable coffee cups and water bottles of various sizes for various circumstances
Having a collection in different sizes keeps you covered for different crises, and different excuses for not using them!
- Buy things in bulk wherever possible
If the product is available in a bulk bin, use a bulk bin. If it's not available in a bulk bin, try to buy the largest volume of that product you can afford at once (assuming it's not a once off purchase, use your head here) to get the lowest product:packaging ratio possible. This one can be tricky for low-income earners to achieve, but if you know you need to use something wrapped in plastic buying it once every 6 months uses less plastic than buying it every month, for example.
- Store your products using cloths instead of glad wrap
One-third of all edible food produced in Australia is disposed of without being consumed. This is pretty horrifying, so this tip helps battle food-waste as well. Store your leftovers in the fridge without covering or wrapped in a tea towel, and remove the likelihood of you procrastinating finishing the leftovers off because they have less of a shelf life. Ditch gladwrap completely from your kitchen and eat what's perishable in your fridge first!
- Clean with vinegar and baking soda
It's really all you need. Both work a treat for cat poop, wall scuffs, bench tops, toilet bowls, anything you can think of! See my all-purpose cleaner recipe here. Baking soda works for everything you need to clean. Your bathroom drain, your teeth, your face, clothing stains, your white tabletop, whatevs! It's harm-free, non-abrasive and works for anything.
- Purchase packaging free bars of soap instead of plastic pump bottles
Head to your local markets, organic or bulk store and grab a packaging-free bar of soap. (Avoid Lush for undeclared palm-oil.) My fave is anything olive oil (castile soap) for it's gentleness on all skin types. Dr Bronner's castile soap is amazing, multi-purpose (I use it for hand washing and my face but others use it for their dishes!) and lasts forever, but isn't packaging-free. If you're in Melbourne, try Friends of the Earth on Smith St for their soap bars.
- Use reusable cloths instead of paper towel
No brainer. Adding small cloths to your regular wash uses a lot less energy than constantly cutting down trees and wrapping it in plastic to put paper towels on the supermarket shelf. Extra points if you cut up and hem old clothes for a completely zero-waste option.
- Buy paper-free toilet paper
You have two options here, Who Gives A Crap and Pure Planet. Who Gives A Crap has the humanitarian bonus of donating 50% of profits to sanitation projects. But if you already give money to charities and are therefore pretty poor like me, Pure Planet is a slightly more affordable and totally eco option. Our order is approximately 10% cheaper after postage which isn't included for Pure Planet, which adds up over a year and will really be significant for larger households.
- Wash on cold
I only use a warm wash for cat urine, everything else is cold cold cold! This is one I'm surprised more mums didn't pass onto their kids. If your detergent works, there's literally no reason to use energy to heat the water to wash your clothes with. Huge waste of money and non-renewable resources!
So these are just 10 of the basic eco-friendly tips that environmentally minded people use around the home. And this list is very far from exhaustive. Leave your own easy tips in the comments below for other readers to browse and get inspiration from!