If you’ve been a reader for a while then you’ll know that I’ve always been very eco-minded. However, I’m a big believer in ‘every little helps’ (sorry Tesco, I’ve nicked that one I’m afraid!) and I think even the smallest of changes are a step in the right direction.
So, if you’re wondering where to begin or you’re looking to make some quick and easy changes, here’s some ideas to help get you started…
1. Instead of buying plastic bowls and plates for your toddler, see if you can find a bamboo or steel set for them.
2. Consider buying ‘naked’ alternatives to your body wash and shampoo/conditioner — i.e. bars without the packaging.
3. Use old scraps of material (or, if you’re me, your toddler’s outgrown knickers!) as dusters and cleaning wipes. When they’re dirty, I just chuck them in the wash so I can use them again.
4. If you’re going to somewhere nearby such as the park or the shops, walk with the pram instead of taking your car to save on fuel and lessen your impact on the environment. Similarly, if you and friends are taking your littles on a day out, carpool instead of taking separate vehicles.
5. Switch to cloth nappies and baby wipes instead of the usual disposables. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, consider single-use biodegradable alternatives from brands such as Kit and Kin or Naty.
6. Pop by your local charity shops to see if you can pick up some clothes or toys second-hand before splashing out on brand new products.
7. Don’t throw your baby food pouches in the bin. Instead, save them up and utilise the EllaCycle scheme to drop them off to be recycled instead. Even though the scheme has been set up by Ella’s Kitchen and TerraCycle, all brands of baby food pouches and lids are accepted.
8. Swap plastic straws for paper or metal alternatives.
9. Make your own cleaning products or switch to eco-friendly alternatives.
10. Check your local authority’s recycling options and order any new bins or boxes if you haven’t got them already. Thoroughly wash any recyclables and make sure they’re put in the right containers and show your munchkins how to do the same.
11. Swap clingfilm and plastic sandwich bags for reuseable covers and pouches.
12. Try and provide your children with more wooden toys. Not only is this more eco-friendly than plastic but wooden toys also have a high resale value and if looked after, can be passed on to other children when they’re finished with.
13. Swap books and hand-me-downs with friends and family to keep your bank balance in check and make sure everything is used as much as it can be before it gives up the ghost completely.
14. Make your own homemade playdough instead of buying the premade pots.
15. Swap plastic baby bottles for glass or metal alternatives.
16. Wash your family’s clothes at 40 degrees or lower.
17. Take a reusable cup to the coffee shop with you (they’ll usually knock some money off you know!)
18. Buy kitchen roll, toilet roll and tissues made from recycled paper.
19. Remember to take reuseable shopping bags to the supermarket so you don’t have to buy any new ones (I am terrible at this!)
20. Try loose tea leaves instead of tea bags.
21. Invest in some washable breast pads instead of the throw-away kind.
22. I’m very much of the opinion that we should all be free to choose to feed our children however we wish (and in the interests of disclosure, I didn’t get past 2 months when it came to breastfeeding with Lily) but there’s no denying that breastfeeding is the more environmentally-friendly and cheaper option — IF it’s right for you and your family. Please, don’t beat yourself up if it’s not for you or it doesn’t work (been there, done that, it’s not a nice place to be!)
23. Encourage your children to turn off the lights when they leave the room. You could also swap traditional bulbs for energy saving alternatives.
24. Make your own baby food in bulk where you can. This is usually much cheaper than buying lots of jars and pouches (but understandably much less convenient when you’re sleep-deprived I know!)
25. Save water by giving your kiddo a bath in the sink instead of using the ‘big bath’ every day. If they’re up for it, you could also consider letting them have a quick shower sometimes too!
26. Try and buy local produce where you can to help to reduce food miles (or even grow your own if you’ve got green fingers).
27. I’d be fibbing if I said I didn’t love the feel of a crisp, new book (who doesn’t?) but we do often visit the library instead of buying new or pick up preloved books from second-hand shops or charity shops. Whilst it probably won’t be suitable for your little ones, buying digital copies of books for yourself via the Kindle app is another quick switch you can make and it’s usually slightly cheaper too!
28. In the warmer months, choose the washing line or clothes airer over the tumble dryer. Hanging stained clothes outside and letting them the sun bleach them is an easy way to remove any stubborn marks as well.
29. When shopping, buy loose fruit and veg that covers just what you need (to avoid unnecessary food waste) and take your own cloth bags instead of using the flimsy plastic bags on the rolls. Some supermarkets offer ‘wonky veg’ boxes which are cheaper and perfectly fine (except for their mildy offensive shapes apparently!)
30. Consider an electric car if you can afford to upgrade when needed.
Do you have any ideas of your own to add to the list? I’d love to hear them!