Top tips to live more sustainably in London…

I must say I’m not brilliant with sustainability, but what I’ve tried to do is to try a few changes at a time. Otherwise it gets too overwhelming. This is what I started with. These simple changes actually saved us a few pounds too!

We use brown packing paper instead of wrapping paper. It started at Christmas but has carried on for birthdays too. Sometimes we’ll add a piece of ribbon for colour, or sometimes the children will add a personalised drawing. Not only is it recyclable, unlike the majority of wrapping paper, but it’s far cheaper too!

I now carry a reusable coffee cup in the changing bag—many coffee shops offer small discounts when using your own, Costa, Starbucks, Pret, as it saves them using a disposable cup.

We slowly changed our shopping habits

  • We use bars of soap or refills instead of buying new bottles every time
  • We use reusable shopping bags including the new fruit & veg bags made of netting material that you can now buy from most supermarkets as they are (finally) doing away with the plastic ones.
  • We often make our own bread to save on plastic wrapping (plus it tastes better!)

We switched to a green energy provider

Switching to a green energy provider is a simple change all households can make with very little effort.

We recently opted for a local countryside holiday rather than flying abroad

It felt good to know that a one-off travel decision to stay local can have as big an impact as many months of small, daily sustainability efforts. Living in the city, we rarely get the chance to show our kids where their food comes from so this was also a unique chance to let them see the chickens that laid the eggs we had for breakfast. It opened our eyes to the impact our consumption choices have and inspired us to try to cook and eat more local and seasonal food.

We went car-free

Did you know that on an individual impact basis, it’s one of the biggest contributions we can make? Our family hasn’t owned a car for 8 years and haven’t looked back! We do depend on Uber/Gett/Kapten and use a combination of Zip Car and Blue City for longer or pre-planned drives. Weekend car travel takes a bit of forward planning, but we think not owning a car is a worthwhile trade off since we only use a car once or twice month. Not only is it greener but we estimate it saves us net £2000-£2500 per year vs owning a car.

To avoid wasting food

We stew and freeze over ripe fruits in ice cube trays to use with morning porridge/ muesli/granola etc. We also stew and freeze over ripe vegies in ice cube trays to use to add flavour for pasta sauces.

To save paper

Cut up or rip any papers/colourful advertising leaflets into strips and fill empty cardboard tissue box, it will provide hours of fun.

To use less chemicals

I use white vinegar for conditioning in laundry. Using inexpensive distilled white vinegar in laundry will whiten, brighten, reduce odour and soften clothes without harsh chemicals

Re-usable Menstrual cup

I have been using the Menstrual cup for 8 years now. At the beginning it could be intimidating and uncomfortable, but once you get used to it, it is as comfortable and practical as a tampon, you can have it for longer inside (12hours), it is healthier, cheaper and more sustainable. Just clean it and ready to use it again and again avoiding tons of plastics damaging the environment. Widely available now.

Parties plastic free

You can now hire a full set of re-usables, eco-friendly and good-looking party tableware made of bamboo. It is a great way to cut on plastic waste.

Internet

  • Every action in the Internet such as emails, social media uploads, messages etc creates a huge amount of data that are processed and stored in massive data centres which need a vast amount of energy, half coming from fossil fuels.
  • Activate the data saving option from your web browser.
  • The mobile network uses more energy than wi-fi so even if you have cheap data on your mobile phone try to use wi-fi where you can.
  • Sign up if you can, for fibre broadband, as pushing data along a fibre network uses less energy than copper lines.
  • Limit what you store in the cloud (you don’t need all those copies of the same photo taken seconds apart)
  • Send links rather than attachments in emails.
  • Limit your streaming and using SD rather than HD halves the amount of data.

Did you know teabags contain plastic?

  • Very few brands are compostable and most end up in landfill. Not to mention the potential build up of micro plastics in your body. Switch now to loose tea and or switch brand.
  • Many people still flush their contact lenses down the toilet or sink, unknowingly polluting our oceans and endangering wildlife. Thankfully a collaboration between Accuvue and TerraCycle.com enables you to collect your contact lens waste and safely dispose in collection boxes at participating Opticians (Boots, Specsavers etc ) regardless of which brand or service you use.

Packed lunches

can present a real challenge with so many popular brands focusing on convenience over sustainability. Refuse to buy anything individually wrapped and try to home bake treats. I absolutely love the bento style which removes the need to package anything at all as it holds hummus, dips and yoghurt with its unique leak proof seal. If you do need to wrap the odd sandwich, opt for beeswax wraps over foil/plastic film and substitute drinks cartons with a reusable sports bottle.

I used to be a big consumer of plastic snack bags

One day I found great patterned, reusable cloth ones! My daughter loved having something funky with her snack in it and it could be used again and again and washed if the snack left a stain or smell. I admit I do still use some plastic but also love the reusable ones too!

Reduce Reuse and Recycle

As a family we’re doing our best to infuse sustainability into our everyday lives. My love for slow fashion, ethical trade, cruelty free products and mindful living has introduced me to amazing local independent brands

Reuse and Recycle

As a mum of two I’ve built up a lot of clothes, toys and books over the years and had to give outgrown items to charity shops or to friends. As the years have gone by I realised how important this was and have tried to make a point of swapping or buying second hand off eBay (they have some amazing bundles if you have Fireman Sam, Peppa Pig or Paw Patrol fans!).

We use cloth nappies and wipes

I am using cloth nappies with my second one as I felt bad thinking about where our waste ends up. It was quite overwhelming doing the research and finally taking the plunge. There are Facebook groups for cloth nappy users. I also met a lady through the group who became my mentor. It was useful to chat with someone who knows more about it.

Share your tips with us.


First printed in Families South West’s Jan/Feb 2020 issue.  It was compiled by their team of local Roving Mums. Families is celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2020. Pick up your free issue locally or see their latest issue here http://bit.ly/FSWJan-Feb20