‘Sustainable’ is not a very exciting word, but given the choice between a tree hugger and a trash monkey, I am hugging trees. You don’t need me to preach about living more sustainably, being eco friendly and cutting down on plastic. You’ve seen the news, you’ve seen Netflix documentaries and you’ve seen the Halley Bay penguins disaster. You know you don’t want to be a penguin murdered, you don’t want your plastic waste stuck in some poor sea turtle’s nostrail and even more so, you don’t want your kid being accused at school of having dumb parents.
So to the point, here are three simple, easy swaps that you can make today. They will save you money, make you and your home just a touch more environment friendly and will be better for your health too.
I use a lot of soap, especially hand soap. But there are a couple of issues with the liquid stuff so I swapped to the old school bars of soap. If you are not sure what’s wrong with the liquid ones, all of them come in plastic packaging and we are people – we don’t always recycle. Most of them contain some form of SLS – the stuff is a cheap foaming chemical which is also used as an industrial stripper and makes our skin dry. Swapping out to a bar of soap is easy, it removes the above two from your list of ‘all the problems which I don’t want to be bothered by’, it makes your bathroom or a kitchen sink look chic and it does not cause your skin to dry out as much.
Bars of soap can be purchased for as little as £0.20-£0.30 per bar in multipacks and each bar lasts for a good while.
If you are feeling brave, change the liquid shower gel to a bar soap too.
You don’t need a separate multi-purpose cleaner, window cleaner, bathroom cleaner, whatever cleaner. Seriously, you’ll be fine with just distilled white vinegar and if the dirt is really stubborn, some baking soda. If you think about your cleaning routine, you’re likely starting with getting dressed for the occasion – clothes that you don’t mind damaging but which will make sure none of the chemicals you use around the house will touch your skin. Because if you were to put that oven cleaner on your hand, it’ll likely burn a hole through your palm.
Sooo… ditch the harsh chemicals which can cost a ton and try using just plain ole distilled vinegar (the clear kind, not the dark one, £0.30 – £0.40 per pint depending where you shop) and a rag. Yes, it doesn’t smell all that nice when in use but it also won’t hurt your kid who likes to lick worktops when you’re not looking. For anything which needs scrubbing, just use a sprinkle of baking soda (aka bicarbonate of soda) and then rinse off with vinegar if you want to see some fizzing, or just water if you don’t care for special effects. Vinegar is a remarkably good kitchen, bathroom and glass cleaner – it cuts through grease and limescale like nobody’s business and does not bleach or discolour surfaces. It’s also an anti-fungal, antimicrobial and if you fancy drinking your cleaner, it’s also known to reduce blood sugar level.
The last straw
I have sensitive teeth – there are straws in my house. There are probably some straws in your house too, likely the plastic kind. The metal ones as well as glass straws are super fashionable now. Paper is all over the place too, even McDonalds switched to that. But all of them have their flaws, so I’ll be different and suggest that if you don’t want to ditch the straws altogether, switch to bamboo because they carry no taste, the texture is ok on the lips, they don’t disintegrate into your drink and their carbon footprint is neutral.
This article is a little bit about saving money too – they’re cheap AND reusable which makes them great. I won’t tell you to change your cutlery to bamboo forks, but honestly, the straws, if you use them, are worth the switch. And if you are really not keen to ditch the plastic one, remember that picture of a sea turtle with a straw stuck up it’s nostrail and just be human, ok?
I have done some maths on the above and the biggest saving by far in my home has been on the vinegar swap. One pint bottle lasts me around 8 weeks and I do clean frequently – this one bottle has replaced approx £12 of cleaning products covering the same period. The savings on hand soap less impressive because I like the expensive stuff, but I am still looking at around £4 in every 8 week period. I’ve switched the straws recently and can’t provide a figure just yet – they’re the only ‘long term investment’ swap in this article and aren’t necessarily suitable for an assessment over just 8 weeks, other than I still have the full set and they’re holding up fine.
What easy swaps do you recommend to make your life cheaper and more sustainable?