How to be an ecomum without really trying (Part 1)

 In Eco Friendly, Plastic Free, Starting Out

When you hear someone talking about being eco-friendly, what do you usually think? Do you feel overwhelmed by all the ‘mum’ things you already have to do and think ‘that’s in the too hard basket for now’? Do you feel like you are just coping with everything on your plate and couldn’t possibly even think about adding another thing to the list?

Many people think that to be environmentally-friendly is a huge lifestyle change and that it is going to be expensive and time-consuming and completely change every aspect of their lives but… it turns out this isn’t actually the case! Living a more conscious life is not a difficult thing to do; there are heaps of changes that you can make in your everyday life without even really thinking about it or putting in extra effort. These changes will seem small and insignificant, but they can make a huge difference to the environment.

So check out my list below and turn yourself into an ecomum without really trying!

  1. Set up an eco-friendly home

There are lots of ‘set and forget’ changes you can make at home that have a big impact over time. Try some of the following to make a difference:

  • Choose a green electricity provider (these are sometimes cheaper or the same price as regular electricity plans)
  • Use reusable coffee pods, containers, bags, cups, straws and wraps.
  • Reduce plastic as much as you can by using stainless steel pegs, shampoo bars, bar soap, plant-based sponges and plastic-free packaging.
  • If you still have babies, invest in cloth nappies. They are way cheaper than buying disposables for years on end and really not that hard to wash and dry. All you need is a bucket to soak in before chucking them in for a wash.
  • Wash clothes only when you have a full load and dry everything in the sun (as much as possible).
  • Collect water from the shower, bath, sink when you are washing your hands and reuse it to water plants, wash the car, soak nappies etc.
  • Grocery shopping

If, like a lot of us, you can’t access a ‘bulk food/bring your own container’ store regularly and still do food shopping in the supermarket, the best advice I have heard is to ‘shop the perimeter’ to avoid plastic packaging. If you walk around the edges of most supermarkets you can access all the fresh food such as fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy and avoid the endless amounts of pre-packaged, preservative-filled snacks in the aisles. If you are buying pre-packaged items, always check the labels for the following things:

  • Is it made from recycled plastic?
  • Is it made from recycled paper not virgin paper?
  • Does it contain palm oil?
  • Can the packaging be recycled or reused?

Bring your own produce bags to avoid plastic bags or just leave fruit and veggies loose. If you or your kids like baking, stock up on the basics such as flour, eggs and sugar (not usually packaged in plastic) and get the kids to help bake some nutritious snacks each week for home and school.

  • School lunches

A few small changes to the way that you pack school lunches can make a huge difference for the environment; instead of wrapping sandwiches in cling wrap or putting them in single-use, plastic zip lock bags, invest in a good lunchbox that will keep sandwiches and other lunch options fresh. Avoid packaged foods and place fresh, homemade food in the lunch box instead. If you need to wrap food, grab some beeswax wraps and use those. They are reusable and last up to about a year with proper care and once you are finished with them, they can be composted. These small changes will reduce the amount of plastic waste ending up in landfill and save you money!

  • Compost bin or worm farm

Setting up a compost bin or worm farm using the scraps from your kitchen is a great way to help the environment. It greatly reduces the amount that goes into your landfill bin each week which is a huge plus because food waste that ends up in landfill gives off methane and damages the atmosphere. Compost bins and worm farms can be bought ready-made from hardware and gardening shops or can be built with old scraps of wood if you are handy.

The process is easy. You need:

  • an area to create it
  • soil and food scraps
  • some dry matter such as dry leaves or sugar cane mulch
  • to remember to turn it every few days

It won’t be long until all those scraps turn into beautiful, nutrient-rich soil for your garden. The great thing about this is that the kids can get involved as well! My kids love taking the compost down each night and it means I don’t have to do it!

  • Environmentally-friendly products

There are a variety of chemicals and additives in many of our day-to-day products that are having a huge effect on the environment when washed down the drain and could cause harm to your family if used in the home. Whether you are using a cleaning product, make up, toys or food, there is bound to be a product that is not 100% safe for you or the environment, so it is a great idea to switch to eco-friendly products where possible. There is a large range of eco-friendly cleaning products as well as kitchen and laundry products available and you will find some of them are cheaper than the mainstream products! I use and highly recommend Earth Choice products (from mainstream supermarkets) as well as the range on the Rebel Eco site. There are eco-friendly options for baby products, make up, toys, craft and pretty much anything you can think of. When purchasing toys, try to stick to wooden products or use hand-me-down/second-hand items to avoid purchasing new.

  • Walk or ride instead of driving

Being outdoors is a great way to encourage your children/family to appreciate and see the value of nature and what better way than to walk or ride your bike rather than using the car? The feeling of being outside and being able to appreciate nature and your surroundings will help your family realise that this is something that should be cherished and looked after and not taken for granted. Why not try a family challenge like this?

*If the location is less than 3km from home, walk or ride as a family rather than taking the car.

You avoid polluting the atmosphere and there is also the added bonus of exercise, so if you can find the time, get out there!

  • Homemade gifts

Another way to reduce the amount of packaging and plastic being produced and ultimately ending up in landfill, is by letting your children help you create handmade gifts to give as presents. Spend time inventing and creating together and enjoying the activity. Why not make handmade soap, body scrub or even shampoo bars? There are amazing recipes all over the internet to be tried, but if this doesn’t appeal to you, you can make a commitment to buy handmade from ethical, eco-friendly businesses to reduce your impact as a family.

  • Educate your children

Last but certainly not least! Everything starts with education and understanding. A great way to become an eco-parent is by teaching your children the importance of being eco-friendly and your reasons for making conscious choices. Instill those eco ideals from an early age. Chat with your children about the environment, choices they can make when it comes to the environment and the very real impact these choices will have. Teach your kids to live consciously and lead by example; believe me, once they get the hang of it, they will never use single-use plastic again!

So there you have it. Making a few small changes at home, becoming a conscious consumer, and educating your children can easily be done with little to no impact on your day-to-day life. Feel free to sign up below to get the latest tips and tricks (and a free ebook!) and to stay tuned for Part 2 of the ecomum series.

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