More Love Less Waste Guide #5 – How to be Sustainable at Home

Welcome back to the More Love Less Waste blog series! We’re very excited to have you here with us. If you’re reading this then you’re probably (like us) very excited about living sustainably and protecting our environment. Or maybe you’ve been wondering what all the eco-living fuss is about and had a little snoop online and found us. Either way, we’re glad you’re here! More Love Less Waste is more than a tagline, it’s an ethos and this blog series will help you bring it to life in a way that suits YOU. This is our fifth entry, so if you’ve missed any and want to read from the start, then click here. Now, are you ready to learn how to be sustainable at home?

So far we’ve chatted about how to get started on your sustainability journey – and how it’s not as daunting as most people think! It all starts with little changes in your purchasing habits, before choosing the brands that suit you best. But it’s more than just buying sustainable products, it’s also about adjusting your daily routine to reduce waste and protect the environment. Fundamentally it’s about mindset; does this action create More Love and Less Waste? When you start to think in this way, you change habits, routines, conversations and so much more. 

Every fortnight we explore different topics around sustainability and give advice on what you can do to make a difference. In our last article we talked about eco-friendly products to help you and your kids live more sustainably (click here for more on that). Of course, there’s much more that can be done… sustainability is an absolutely huge topic! So this week we’re gonna do our best to go over lots of aspects of your life where you can improve your sustainability. You may be wondering how to be sustainable at home? More Love Less Waste isn’t just about toys, kid’s rooms, and the clothes they wear. It’s also about the gear around the house, the house itself, and creating an environment that promotes sustainable options!

With that in mind, here’s how to live a life of More Love, Less Waste around the house.

Food

Here’s a fun fact:

Did you know that one-fifth of all food brought into UK homes goes into the bin? That’s about £800 worth of delicious and nutritious produce!

It’s also the average cost of a utility bill. 

Did we say “fun”? I think we meant depressing…

But don’t worry! You’ll be pleased to hear there’s good news on this subject too. Food shopping’s one of the easiest ways to make a sustainable difference by lowering your household emissions.

These days, many food and drink brands embrace fair trade, renewable energy, and responsible farming. Here’s the lowdown on sustainable food brands to learn more about them.

Meal planning

As the old adage goes, failure to prepare is like preparing to fail.

And, when it comes to your meals, failure looks like food waste!

Indeed, one of the main reasons we throw so much food out in the UK is because we don’t always know what (or how much of it) we need. We also have a habit of picking things on the supermarket shelves that catch our eye, but that never make it into a meal.

Know what we’re talking about?

Meal planning is an effective way of making sure you don’t buy too much (and so don’t waste!). It also means you can pre-emptively choose more sustainable foods and save some money.

Well, it’s time to start meal planning! It’s the most effective way to take control of your shopping and create healthy, nutritious family meals. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the Lagom Chef – he shares some awesome tips on this topic with a generous helping of humour (and was also a guest on our podcast!). 

Eat Less Meat

Here’s another “fun” fact:

Did you know that eating beef once or twice a week for a year contributes an enormous 604kg to your annual greenhouse gas emissions? That’s equivalent to heating an average UK home for 95 days!

Throw in all the chicken, pork, and fish most families put on their plates and the environmental impact of being a carnivore is upsettingly big.

By the same token, eating less meat is a great way to have a positive impact on the environment.

Not only is industrial farming incredibly resource-intensive, but industrial production of meat and dairy also releases a shocking amount of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. As a result, even going veggie one or two days a week will make a sizeable difference.

Oh, and your body will thank you too! We wrote a blog about the Veg Pledge that runs every November, but the principles and benefits to the planet apply all year round. 

Use what you have

Do you struggle to eat everything you stock in the fridge and cupboards in your kitchen? Well, never fear!

Here are some of our favourite tips to turn the situation around, reduce kitchen waste, and increase the chance of getting through everything you buy:

  • Store fruit & vegetables in glass jars to make them last longer in the fridge.
  • Save veg scraps to make your own stock (store it in the freezer until there’s enough!)
  • Share things you won’t use up in time on the Olio app.
  • Freeze food that you won’t use before it goes off – you can freeze more than you think!
  • Purchase a Too good to go magic bag instead of a takeaway.
  • Compost anything you don’t eat.

For more tips, we have a guide on reducing your food waste (particularly during picnics and barbecues in the summer).

Shopping

Creating a more sustainable, eco-friendly environment at home can happen at every stage of consumption, especially shopping! There are SO many great brands and services these days that make it easy for us to choose environmentally-friendly options. With that in mind, here are some key things to consider when you next go shopping. 

Avoid Fast-Fashion

As tempting as these cheap and trendy clothes can be, they come with a host of environmental and social issues. The need for rapid production to accommodate ever-changing fashion trends, for example, puts major pressure on producers. That pressure then trickles down to the workers, many of whom end up being exploited in a bid to maximize profits.

Then there’s the scale of consumption to worry about.

According to Greenpeace, approximately 300,000 tonnes of used clothing gets burned or sent to landfill every year in the UK.

*Palms face*

300,000 tonnes?! That’s equivalent to 300,000 baby blue whales!

However, that’s hardly surprising when you consider that a third of young women consider clothes they’ve worn once or twice to be old. We’ll just let that hang there for a moment. As you can imagine, the vast quantity of clothes being made and thrown away takes its toll on the planet.

From the insane amounts of water and plastic used in production and the harmful dyes running into (and polluting) the world’s water systems to the carbon emissions released from shipping finished garments around the globe, the impact of fast fashion leaves a lot to be desired.

So put that £1 pair of Primark shorts back down!

Is there a more ethical and sustainable clothing store in town? Or, better still, could you forgo the shopping trip altogether?!

Don’t worry, we’re not saying you have to feel guilty for buying clothes or that you can’t enjoy a spot of retail therapy every now and again!

But perhaps you (like all of us!) could cut down a little?

…Or do things differently whenever you do hit the high street?

If we all work together to become more conscious consumers and start shifting our collective mindset on what we buy, where we buy from, and how often we indulge our love of shopping, then the world will soon be a much better place.

We have an article on how to avoid the traps of fast fashion. It can be easy to forget about the impacts, but as long as you’re aware, we’re sure you’ll make the right decision!

Personal care products

Personal care products have cropped up a few times in this series already. And for good reason! 

Households go through them like nothing else and, generally speaking, they’re always bad news from an environmental perspective.

These stats shed light on the situation:

1. Most women will use more than 11,000 disposable sanitary products, which is now the fifth most common item found on beaches around Europe

2.  Hundreds of millions of disposable razors are chucked out every year in the UK (and countless billions are thrown away around the world) 

The worst part? There’s not really any excuse for it!

So many personal care products now have more eco-friendly alternatives available! Supermarkets, pharmacies, and eco-stores are jam-packed with things like reusable makeup pads, period wear, and refillable deodorant sticks. The list goes on! Again, check out the appendix for a list of the brands we love (we’ve also highlighted those that give prizes to members of our Facebook Group!). Also, for more examples of great sustainable personal products, check out our guide here.

Of course, the environment isn’t the only thing that matters…

Mental health and self-care are crucial too! They’re also quite easy to overlook if we’re too busy worrying about the wellbeing of everyone else around us. Because only the lucky few have the time and money for indulgent spa days and expensive products, we wrote some tips on how to be kind to yourself (and the planet).

Cleaning products

Love them or hate them, every house needs a solid supply of effective cleaning products- particularly with children and pets around! From surface wipes to sprays, they help you keep the home clean and germ-free.

Unfortunately, they’re often downright atrocious for the environment! You only have to read the label on the back to get a sense of the harm they cause. Dangerous chemicals, single-use plastics, wipes and so on are all major culprits when it comes to polluting our precious waterways and oceans.

Fortunately, there are some first-rate alternatives to consider.

Cleaning products made of sustainable materials that can be reused are much better for the environment than the typical plastic choices. Also consider items that don’t have packaging, such as soap bars.

Most brands have plastic-free and recyclable packaging available now. You’ll find a wider variety of eco-friendly cleaning products on websites like Good Club. Then there are subscription services, like smol, to consider. They offer greener laundry capsules, dishwasher tablets, surface sprays, and more!

Check out this blog post to learn more about smol’s eco-friendly acumen.

Refill and zero waste stores

The UK throws away 468 million cleaning product spray bottles and 520 million shampoo bottles every year! If everyone switched just one product to a more eco-friendly alternative it would make a huge difference.

That’s why the refill and zero waste stores we’ve talked about before deserve special mention here too.

Many of them offer cleaning products in bulk! Take along your container, fill it up with whatever you want, and away you go. They’re also great for pantry and personal hygiene products.

Listen to our podcast with the founder of No Waste Jose (a circular economy refill service in London) about the benefits of refill and zero waste stores. You’ll also glean some top tips on preparing for your first visit.  

We’ve added some of these amazing stores to the appendix, but let us know of any others that you think we should include!

Get crafty

There’s nothing wrong with being a crafty devil (at least not from an environmental perspective!). Whenever you come to put something new in your shopping cart or click that tantalizing “buy button”, ask yourself:

Could I make this instead?

Arts and crafts of any kind are a tremendous way to reduce your consumption and limit the amount of waste you create as well. Of course, bonus points go to anyone who’s making things from recycled items they find from around the house! 

The best part of getting crafty is that you can get the kids involved with ease. Find novel uses for old packaging, make artistic inventions, and turn anything unwanted into a sight to behold.

As for the adults, it’s time to get your teeth stuck into something called upcycling. Basically, you take your old, weather-beaten items and give them a new lease of life! From painting old furniture to using old clothes to make a costume, it’s amazing how much difference some TLC can make. Don’t forget you can rent a sewing machine from Library of Things if you don’t know anyone that has one.

All of a sudden, you’ll realise you don’t need to buy so much! You can simply take what you’ve got and make it better.

Decorating your home  

Are you planning to redecorate your home at some point?

Well, the furniture, furnishings, fixtures and fittings you incorporate into the living space are other areas to think carefully about. As you’d expect, the items and practices available aren’t all made equal as far as the planet’s concerned!

Again, we encourage you to move away from any products that are unsustainable. We’ll go one step further and suggest you invest in recycled goods and furnishings, alongside energy-efficient fixtures (e.g. LED light bulbs)! From there, upcycling and renting are great ways to ensure you aren’t buying things unnecessarily. 

Summary

That’s a LOT of information to take in all at once, but here’s a quick overview of what we’ve covered this week.

Key points

  • Food waste is significant in most homes in the UK.
  • Many products for your cleaning, personal hygiene and meals now have more environmentally friendly alternatives.
  • Zero waste and refill stores are an easy way to shop without unnecessary packaging.
  • Opt for environmentally friendly brands when buying things like food and clothes.

Tips

  • Plan your meals and explore meatless recipes.
  • Reduce your pollution contribution by choosing green cleaning and personal hygiene products.
  • Rent products from places like Y’earn or the Library of Things to avoid buying new.
  • Before you throw out old furniture to replace it with new, see if you can get creative with upcycling.

Right, so now you hopefully have some good ideas about what you can change in your daily habits to live more sustainably. You shouldn’t have to seek how to be sustainable at home anymore. Of course you shouldn’t expect yourself to do everything we’ve suggested so far in this series, but any little changes here and there can make a huge difference!

Now that we’ve covered what you can do in your household, how about what you change outside? That’s what we’re going to dive into in the next article of this series. From how your garden can help save the planet, to hosting an eco-friendly BBQ and travelling with as little impact on Mother Nature as possible.

If you love what we’re trying to do, please spread the word and help us to grow as a community. Invite people to our More Love, Less Waste Facebook Group, share our podcast, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram, or become an Ambassador for our marketplace and earn rewards. 

P.S. Join our newsletter and get the series straight to your inbox, plus info about our eco-friendly giveaways. Or, if you’re like us and a little impatient, you can download the series as an E-Guide.

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Y'earn Baby & Kids

Y’earn is a parent-to-parent marketplace to rent Baby & Kids items from people and small businesses in your community or make some cash if you have items you don't need right now. We plant 🌲 and adopt 🐝, plus give to children’s charities.

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