Easy and practical ways to be more eco-friendly

Last year in July, I shared with you my top tips for being more eco-friendly and reducing the use of plastic in my post 31 ways to use less plastic (31 for every day in July), as part of the #PlasticFreeJuly campaign. While the campaign was only for one month, we have comittted to be mindful of our impact on the planet pretty much every single day.

So reflecting on the past year, I wanted to share our observations on how easy it has been to reduce the use of plastic. We’re all on a huge journey when it comes to being more sustainable and eco-friendly so it’s important to remember that everyone does what they can and there’s no right or wrong. You can’t suddenly wake up and stop using plastic or start making everything from scratch, (modern) life pretty much gets in the way so rather than get overwhelmed, just start slow and easy, making a few commitments which you can stick to.

Easy and practical ways to be more eco-friendly

Here are our top 5 easy and practical ways to be more eco-friendly as a parent:

1. Switch to cloth (reusable) nappies and wipes.

The easiest thing (and with the largest impact) has been swapping disposable nappies to cloth nappies. In the past year we must have stopped hundreds of nappies going to landfill and it does feel amazing to realise how much difference to the environment such a simple switch has had. Imagine the millions of nappies that are being changed every single day and the piles and piles of dirty nappies rotting somewhere in landfill! Cleaning and washing them does take a bit getting used to but overall, we’ve found them really easy to use. Our favourite cloth nappy brands are: Close Parent, Tots Bots and Tickle Tots (they can all be bought from the ethical shop BabiPur).

Another biggest change that has been very easy to implement has been using cloth wipes – we love ours from Cheeky Wipes and Close Parent. Once again, it feels so good to know we’ve saved hundreds of disposable wipes ending up in landfill. Check out my review and get 15% off your £40 order.

Cloth nappies - All in Ones vs. All in Twos Cloth nappies - All in Ones vs. All in Twos

2. Get a reusable water bottle.

We continue to use our reusable water bottles, although sadly I recently lost my insulated Klean Kanteen bottle when out on the beach one day and afterwards I decided to buy one of the reusable Chilly’s bottles from Pret. The boys’ Klean Kanteens are truly battered as they keep dropping them on the floor so the stainless steel hasn’t been that durable. One of them doesn’t even stand on a flat surface properly anymore so we’ll probably have to buy another one. All in all though, using them for the past year has meant we haven’t had to buy bottled water when out and about.

3. Use stainless steel (or bamboo) straws.

Another brilliant and easy way to reduce the use of plastic has been using our Klean Kanteen stainless steel straws. My boys love drinking from them and the straws will be perfect when we go on holiday to France later this month as we can just carry them with us and use them whenever they’re needed.

31 ways to use less plastic

4. Buy loose fruit and vegetables.

Our final biggest commitment has been to reduce the plastic packaging that most fruit and vegetables come in. So we avoid packaged apples, bananas, potatoes, etc. and instead we just weigh them and pop them into our shopping bag. I honestly cringe at the excessive packaging that some fruit and vegetables come in – why do some avocados need to be put into a plastic tray and then wrapped in plastic, when loose avocados sit next to them perfectly fine on the shelf? We’re not perfect by all means – we’ve bought certain things packaged up in plastic like strawberries and grapes but we’re being more mindful than ever before and have definitely reduced the amount of packaged up produce.

5. Use soap nuts instead of conventional washing liquid/ powder.

As I said in my post Nuts about Ecozone soap nuts?, I’m completely obsessed with these little wonders of nature. We’ve been using them for more than two years now and I while I tested environmentally-friendly washing up liquids/ powders as well as the Eco-egg, I keep going back to soap nuts every single time. They can be reused approx. seven times and a whole 1kg bag (costing about £13) lasts for approx. 330 washes.

Is that all we’ve done?

No, there are of course other things we’ve been trying to do in our life but as I said earlier in this post, I just wanted to share our most successful swaps. If you’re just starting on your zero waste journey, then I hope you’ve found this useful. We’ve also done the following: reducing the amount of plastic bottles of skincare products and opting for glass containers, and making my own skincare re-using jars I already have; using reusable food wraps and sandwich wraps; using a menstrual cup or buying wooden toys for the boys (and as gifts for other children too).

But there’s still more to do be done.

So next year, I’d like to focus on the following things to go eco-friendly/ zero waste:

  1. Buy more produce in bulk. We live in London so there are quite a few bulk stores but none nearby but I know we need get into a habit of going there once in a while.
  2. Start a compost bin. Our council unfortunately doesn’t collect food waste so I’d like to do something about that. With two little children and little time and energy, I just couldn’t focus on that this year.
  3. Buy more ethical clothes/ reduce reliance on High Street brands/ buy second hand. This has been quite a difficult one as most organic clothes/ ethical brands are more pricey and sometimes (especially when buying for children who grow out of their clothes so quickly) I just can’t afford it/ can’t justify the extra cost. Luckily as we have two boys, reducing our clothing ‘footprint’ has been easy as Max has lots of hand-me-downs and we haven’t had to buy many new things for him. However, I’d like to create capsule wardrobes for all of us though because I used to buy way too many things that in the end didn’t go with anything.
Have that kind of Butterfly Effect on the planet – make a change because every small step counts! (Photo by Justin DoCanto on Unsplash)

What are other parents’ easy and practical tips to be more eco-friendly?

I’ve also asked my fellow bloggers about their easy tips for being more eco-friendly and zero waste, and these are their favourite ways of being kinder to our planet:

Victoria from Healthy Vix:

“Use washable cloths and spray (preferably concentrated you can add water to yourself) for cleaning and spills, instead of buying wipes and kitchen roll.” (Healthy Vix)

Kate from Ever After with Kids:

“Try reusable nappies, even just one a day saves seven disposables going in to landfill every week! Every little helps!” (Ever After with Kids)

Helen from Welsh Mum Writing:

“Reusable cloth sanitary products are fab, and use soft cloth wipes or flannels over baby wipes. Meal planning and writing shopping lists are a must for reducing food waste.” (Welsh Mum Writing)

Carla from Our Amanahs Our Futures:

“It’s the small things that make a big difference. We swapped all our liquid handsoap and shower gel for bars of soap. I take a water bottle everywhere and a coffee cup meaning no more plastic bottles and takeaway cups being made and thrown away ” (Our Amanahs Our Futures)

Eva from Captain Bobcat:

“Stop buying plastic bottles whenever you can. Even ketchup comes in a glass bottle. Reusable or biodegradable nappies. Recycled paper toilet paper, tissues, kitchen rolls. These are also not bleached. Eco-friendly cleaning products are widely available in supermarkets. But vinegar is a solution for almost every dirt! Use reusable shopping bags. Recycle everything you can. Don’t buy stupid little plastic collectible toys for the children.” (Captain Bobcat)

Sarah from Whimsical Mumblings:

“Say no to plastic straws. If you are out and about, just ask politely not to have one. Pubs, Bars, Cafes, Restaurant and Take Away places often automatically give straws (although they are gradually getting better) so be sure to say “no thanks!”. You can either drink without a straw or if you like or need to use straws, why not switch to bamboo or stainless steel instead! You can carry a couple around in your bag for emergencies! ” (Whimsical Mumblings)

Victoria from The Growing Mum:

“Reusable food wrap! Although I use tupperwares for most things, sometimes it’s easier to wrap sandwiches or bits of food and I’m increasingly growing to dislike the one-useness of cling film.” (The Growing Mum)

Katie from Living Life Our Way:

From a full renovation to simply changing a light bulb, there are lots of ways you can make your home more eco-friendly. Using LED lightbulbs, changing your shower head and toilet flush to low-flow and turning your water temperature down on your boiler are all fairly cheap and easy minor changes you can make. When it comes to buying new appliances, choose environmentally- friendly models with high energy efficiency ratings. Also opt for eco-friendly, ideally natural, products to clean your home so there are no nasty chemicals!” (Living Life Our Way)

Helen from Green Natured:

“Get milk and fruit juice from the milkman in glass bottles.” (Green Natured)

Lynne from A Day in the Life of a Mum of 6:

“We used cloth nappies, cloth wipes and I use reusable makeup remover pads. Change your plastic water bottles for reusable glass, wooden toothbrushes, reusable food wrap. I’m also a huge lover of ethical clothing and my children wear predominantly eco friendly clothing. There are so many ways to make small changes ” (A Day in the Life of a Mum of 6)

Han-Son from Daddi Life:

“For us it’s about creating new use out of plastics in particular. This post shows different ways dads have done it too.” (Daddi Life)

Becky from Family Budgeting:

“The best way to go zero waste is to totally minimise consumption – so encourage children to use both sides of the paper, use a pencil till it’s gone, eat up their dinners (and don’t plate out too much) avoid buying magazine (and read online instead) mend old clothes (rather than buying new ones.” (Family Budgeting)

Rose from Kent Mum Journey to Waste Free:

“Use reusable make-up removing wipes.They are easy to care for and they wash up like new!” (Kent Mum Journey to Waste Free)

I hope you’ve found this post useful. I’d love to hear about your ways to be more eco-friendly in your life as a parent? What’s an easy switch and what has been the biggest challenge for you?

Easy and practical ways to be more eco-friendly