One of the biggest headlines dominating our news cycles over the last few years has been the horror of climate change. And it should be dominating the headlines: all of humankind knows full well that there will come a day when we have pushed this planet that we call home, and it’s resources, too far to come back from the edge. For too many years we have operated without consideration of how we make, consume and discard things, and how that whole process affects the planet and the creatures who share it with us.
Single use plastics, carbon emissions, farming processes...all of these and many, many more things that we used to take for granted, have a huge impact on the health of our environment. Since the general public has become more aware of the crisis facing us (sadly, this has only been in the last few years, if we’re honest), there has been a massive shift towards sustainable living and conscious consumption. You may think that you’re only one person, and what you do can’t possibly make a difference for good or for bad...but I’m here to tell you that’s simply not true. Whether you believe that shopping online helps, changing your dishwashing liquid helps or switching from driving your car to taking the bus helps, every little bit counts.
Let's take a look at some ways that you can help the environment while you’re at home. Read on for a few ways that we can all do our bit for the planet in our own homes.
Although cleaning products leave our homes sparkling and often lemon scented, they haven't always been as friendly to the environment. The harsh chemicals found in most regular cleaning agents come out of the bottle, onto our counters or dishes and down our drains into the oceans and rivers that are home to many other life forms. Obviously, this is bad. Thankfully, these days we have access to lots of green, environmentally safe cleaning options which are sometimes sold in recycled/ biodegradable plastics. You need to do your research when purchasing green cleaning products for your home: some unscrupulous companies do something called “green washing”, where they say the right things and make the product look more sustainable.
A second option is to make your own cleaning products! Buy reusable glass spray bottles and containers and search the internet for one of the many recipes out there for genuinely environmentally friendly cleaning goods.
Switch to reusable items
One of the biggest issues that we face is the use and tossing out of single use items. Those straws that you get when you order take out, those sponges that almost disintegrate after a week in the sink, plastic toothbrushes and razors...these are some of the worst culprits. Yes, I know that some of these aren't technically single use items, but they are still plastics that are used, quickly discarded and then find their way into dumps where they never biodegrade. All it takes is a few minutes browsing on the web to source some items that are made of as little plastic as possible and will last for way, way longer. My favourite reusable home items are:
- Solid metal safety razor. Be careful with these as there are no guard wires!
- Metal straw pack. These usually come with little cleaners and a little bag that allows you to carry it around in your handbag or backpack.
- Coconut pot scrubbers.
- Handmade, natural fiber scrubbies.
- Washable makeup remover wipes.
- Wooden toothbrush.
- Material shopping bags. These are available in tote form, recycled materials and even some really beautiful handmade, crochet options. There's something for every style.
These items are all available at a relatively low price point, and even the ones that do cost a little more than their plastic counterparts end up costing less in the long run, because they don't need to be replaced as often. It's a win win.
Waste less food
This one is a no brainer, not only for sustainability but for your wallet too! Get yourself some BPA free (glass is best) containers for food storage in your fridge. Take a little time to research some food storage hacks, because every kind of food is different and decomposes or goes “off” at a different rate and due to different factors. Here are my favourite, most helpful food storage tips to date.
- Store tomatoes in the fridge in a closed glass container, not in the veggie rack.
- Store salad leaves in a closed container in the fridge (glass is best but plastic will do) with a piece of paper towel folded up at the bottom of the container to absorb the extra moisture that makes the leaves slimy.
- Wrap banana stems in some foil to slow down the ripening process. Reuse the foil if you can!
- Wash berries before refrigerating to avoid mould.
- Store leeks in a glass jar, half filled with water. They might even keep growing!
Another helpful preventor of food waste is to make a menu once a week (or however often you need to) before you go grocery shopping. This ensures that you buy the foods you need, when you need them. No over buying, less spoilage and maximizing your budget.
Sustainability and keeping our homes green are things that can be practiced at a wide range of income levels. There are things that every human being can and should do to make our homes greener, because the planet is depending on us! I hope this list of tips is helpful, best of luck with going green!