Ever since reading about Zero Waste Home I have been trying to cultivate a lifestyle that is more natural and less wasteful. Although I’m a long way from getting all my non recyclables in a Kilner jar I feel I am about a third better than I was when I did my Waste Not Want Not post in September. I thought I’d share some of the things that have really helped me along the way. But first, my latest discovery…..
Its just a joy to say it, “Soap nuts!” Go on say it out loud and I bet you’re smiling. They’re not even really nuts they’re berries but ‘soap berries’ aren’t nearly as much fun are they? They have been used in India for laundry for years and are completely natural. I ordered mine from Salveo and they really work! You just put them in the little bag and pop it in the washing machine and they clean without chemicals – super good for my sensitive skinned family.
There are many other uses for soap nuts that I haven’t tried yet but if you want to find out more I found Sustainable Baby Steps have done a lot of experimenting and have some good guides .
Anyway, I’ll let you know as I experiment. For now, here are 6 super easy things that have had the most impact on reducing our household waste over the last few months.
1. Carrying a water bottle
This one is so simple! By having a metal water bottles that I can fill from the tap and take with me on the train I no longer have the need to buy water at the station. Get me, I’m saving money and the environment in one go. There has been a lot written about how you shouldn’t reuse the plastic water bottles as they can leak cancer causing chemicals. Everyday we hear of a zillion unexpected things that can give you cancer so I don’t know if this is true or not. However, it doesn’t take a science degree to work out that plastic bottles are going to be around a lot longer than me and are polluting our oceans at an alarming rate.
2. Smaller portions for children (especially other people’s)
Now, I’m not going all Oliver Twist on them but food waste is a massive problem environmentally and children are a big part of this. I know my own children’s appetites and serve up accordingly but it has become apparent that my son has a MUCH larger appetite than, well, all other children. By comparison we thought that my daughter was a fussy eater, then we met her friends! I find the best solution is to serve all children (except my son) small portions with the option of more if they want it. Anything left in the pan can be used in other dishes (todays bolognaise is the base for tomorrows chilli) and I really love leftover recipes.
3. Getting a milk man (or woman but in this case it is a man)
This is has really improved my quality of life as seeing the milk on the doorstep just makes me happy. Putting the bottles out to be picked up and refilled is a no brainer when it comes to waste. I know the totally pure environmentalists reading this are straining their organic almonds through unbleached muslin to make their own milk product but have you seen the price of almonds? Find your local milkman here.
4. Onya bags
These are brilliant. While UK supermarkets have recently brought in the 5p charge for plastic carrier bags at the checkout there are still only plastic bags available for buying loose fruit and veg. I usually buy my fresh products at my local Veg Hut where they pack it into brown paper bags. But, when I do need to chuck in some veg at the supermarket these are really useful. I thought the cashiers would think I was a bit weird, they are a conversation starter but there’s not much that can faze someone who works on the checkout of a British supermarket (They’ve seen it all and more)
5. Castile soap and a dispenser
Castile soap is better for the environment, wont irritate sensitive skin and you can buy it in bulk. Also, pretty soap dispensers look infinitely better than plastic bottles of hand wash from the supermarket. Easy peasy lemon and lime squeezy!
6. Fairy cakes!
Who doesn’t love a fairy cake? I used to buy those 2 for £3.50 cakes in a plastic containers but I have started baking. After some initial problems (the children kindly called them biscakes – “It’s a sort of crunchy cake mummy”) I have become quite good at fairy cakes and little buns. I feel these delights have been side lined in recent years by their larger siblings – muffins and cupcakes. I’ve developed an unnatural hatred for those cupcake show offs – you know the ones where the lurid topping is the same size as the sponge. They dominate every farmers market and come in twee boxes to the office (If you want to celebrate or say thank you buy us booze – we’re all grown ups). My children beg for them, lick the icing off the top and hand you the bald wet sponge, then you’re in the weird position of shouting at them to, “Finish your cake!”. They make me feel sick. With little fairy cakes you can use a muffin recipe but get twice as many and they satisfy a sweet craving without pigging out. My favourites are Mary Berry’s lemon cakes – even I couldn’t get these wrong.
If you have any tips for being less wasteful I am always open to new ideas and if you’ve enjoyed reading this please like and share X