Eco- Friendly Options For Your Interiors

After recently finishing off decorating a room, it can sometimes feel like you could start over as it just isn’t looking how you imagined. But, constantly changing your home’s interior can not only be costly to your bank balance, it can also have a big environmental cost. Even when starting a new project from the ground up, there are a number of environmental considerations to make in each step.

Choosing interior design pieces that are environmentally friendly is definitely something that you should consider. Eco-chic is becoming a large part of many professional designers work and something they are beginning to actively promote. Of course, going eco-friendly doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on your design.

Reusing & Recycling

Book chair #reuse #upcycle

Before you make the decision to makeover your room with a great new design, you should take into consideration what is working already. Maybe you have a set of cabinets which are serving a purpose that couldn’t be replaced, so there is no need to remove them. Perhaps consider moving them to another place within the room. If you don’t like the colour, you can simple spruce them up with a few coats of paint to match your new interior colour scheme.

Another great idea is to switch around your curtains or drapes between rooms. If you have a set of curtains/drapes which will not match up with the new design, perhaps you can change them with another room in your house, rather than going out and purchasing a new pair. If you don’t have anything suitable in your own home, then why not see if you can swap with your friends?

Recycling Glass

Recycled glass table

With a number of suppliers coming up in the past few years offering recycled glass to be used in your home. A wide variety of design options are available for using glass within your home, with specialists even developing recycled glass into a source material used in wall tiles.

The tiles produced from this recycled glass give a great reflective sparkle and really catch the light in a unique way. This means that they are the perfect addition to any bathroom. These recycled glass products can also be used on your kitchen counters, lighting panels and even on your table top. If you are looking to use either a quartz or granite in your design, then you should consider replacing these with recycled glass, which makes for a smarter and more environmentally alternative.

Timber

When it comes to timber, you are best avoiding any furniture which uses hardwood (high density) within its construction. Hardwoods are mainly brought in from tropical rain forests, which are already being heavily depleted. There are a number of environmentally friendly options available in terms of wood furniture, so make sure you take a look around before deciding.

If you are wanting to go with a hardwood then you should make sure that you look out for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) mark. Eco furniture which is often made using reclaimed wood and saw dust, can often be a lot more stylish and fitting for a room than hardwood. So don’t go abandoning the idea straight away.

Other options to achieve a more wooden look whilst being environmentally friendly is to choose a real wood venetian blind for your window dressing. These blinds are made using wood from sustainable forests and have a very low impact on the environment throughout their production.

Hardwood floors

Eco-Chic Flooring

Choosing the right flooring for you interior can be challenging, especially when considering one that is made using a sustainable material. However, there are many suppliers who are seeing the demand for this style of flooring and the popularity it currently has. If you are looking for a floor that is hard wearing then bamboo is definitely a great choice! With bamboo having a high fiber rating than most hardwood flooring and being overall very strong.

As bamboo has a very short grow time which means that it can be harvested regularly unlike with hardwood. It has a great underfoot feeling and is a great natural material which can be recycled after it has been used. Another option would be to use interlocking eco floor tiles. These are made from hard wearing recycled material and look fantastic whether you use them in your kitchen or bathroom. With another benefit being that they give great thermal insulation.

Paint

VOC free paint logo

A number of paint products contain harmful chemicals, these are known as VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds). Therefore, it is important that you choose a paint which doesn’t contain these compounds (VOC Free), especially if you are painting your children’s bedrooms. Reusing your past paint trays are a better choice than going out and buying new ones. Of course, if you’re a first time buyer or have only just moved out of your parents home, you won’t have any old paint trays. Instead, you could select reusable paint trays, which are made using recycled cardboard.

*This is a collaborative post.

Zero Waste Week Round-Up

It was fantastic to see so many people taking part in Zero Waste Week, and there were so many inspiring, informative blogs to read! I have tried to include as many as possible, which is why it has taken me several days to write this post. No doubt I will have forgotten loads of other brilliant ones too, but here is a round-up of just some of my favourites…

Zero Waste Week Round-Up #zerowasteweek

Becster took part in my personal challenges I set. Yay, thank you for joining in! Read how she got on in the following posts:

Zero Waste Week (challenge 1)

Zero Waste Week – challenges 2 and 3

Zero Waste Week – challenges 4 and 5

See how The Real Meal Deal got on with their plastic-free day. They have also got posts about zero waste cleaning, make and mend Monday, the problem with plastics, and other fab posts!

Thoroughly Modern Grandma has lots of excellent posts, including how to achieve a zero waste party, tips for zero waste gardening, some of her favourite places to shop and her fave zero waste products, amongst other things.

Treading My Own Path has been plastic-free and living a zero waste lifestyle since 2012! She has tonnes of advice on her blog.

Emily at Grow Eat Gift wrote a post about 50 ways to go waste free for good, which has plenty of useful tips. She has also written other zero waste posts too, so do have a read through her lovely blog!

Inspire Create Educate has written about 7 ways you can ditch plastic. Also check out her post about reducing food waste too.

Pebble Mag has some interesting information and stats about plastic waste in their zero waste week article. Did you know 4 in 5 of us are now concerned about the amount of plastic we use? The message is certainly getting out there!

A Sustainable Life has plenty of tips for leading a sustainable(ish) lifestyle, including podcasts, free resources and a detailed e-guide.

No Serial Number are campaigning for plastic-free crafts, because they are concerned about the amount of plastics often currently used in crafts. Check them out!

The Mum Diaries wrote about 5 ways you can reduce your household waste.

Anna Pitt went a year without plastic waste. See how she got on!

Ethical Influencers shared their tips for zero waste week in an informative post.

Spot of Earth offers cleaning advice, tips for zero waste personal care, reviews an online zero waste shop and warns about greenwashing on the blog.

Gina at Gypsy Soul is one of my fave eco bloggers. She has handy make your own posts, such as toothpaste and reusable face wipes, and often writes about her eco product switches.

The EcoLogical has useful tips and advice too!

HuffPost also wrote about 5 ways you can get involved in zero waste week.

Sophie at A Considered Life wrote her advice for zero waste shopping.

And if that isn’t enough, you can also find the full list of Zero Waste Week Ambassadors here!

Zero Waste Week ambassador

Do you have a favourite zero waste post or top tip? Tell me in comments!

Did I Manage A Plastic-Free Birthday? #ZeroWasteWeek

So on Friday, for the final challenge of Zero Waste Week, I tried to manage a plastic- free day. Actually, I tried to manage a zero waste day! But how did I get on…

Did I Manage A Plastic-Free Birthday To End Zero Waste Week?

Day Out Struggles

We went to a local farm for a day out. We had a lovely time feeding the animals; of course this meant washing our hands afterwards for hygiene reasons! We had to use paper towels to dry our hands and Squiggle was the first to notice there were only landfill bins, no recycling. I guess this could be for sanitary purposes but it was still disappointing.

Potential solutions could have been to take our own cloth to dry our hands (I don’t know whether that could pose hygiene risks though, I suspect the farm might not allow it, if they saw us) or to take our paper towels home to recycle (same issue?) I am not really too convinced that we had much of an alternative in that scenario, unless we avoided feeding and stroking the animals, but depriving ourselves of such experiences is not really the idea! So sadly a few paper towels went to landfill.

Squiggle feeding goats at farm

My personal waste audit for the day:

Aluminium coke cans – recycled

Plastic container – reuse then recycle

Paper bag x 2 – recycled

Cardboard roll – recycled

Paper towels – landfill

Squiggle couldn’t go without her rice cakes, which come in packets, so that also created landfill.

Ok, so I didn’t manage an entirely zero waste, or even plastic-free, day. But I think I did pretty well! Now to find new and creative ways to tackle some more of those weak spots…

How did you get on with Zero Waste Week? What did you find most challenging? What is one thing you have improved on, thanks to these challenges? Let me know in comments!

My Zero Waste Week Challenge: Progress Update

Last week, ahead of Zero Waste Week, I set some challenges of my own. As promised, here is an update of how I am getting on so far!

My Zero Waste Week Challenge: Progress Update

Weak Spots and Improvements

I explained in my preparations post that just prior to Zero Waste Week I had already made some observations, noticed what my weak spots were/ are and started to make preparations to tackle them. I have mentioned some of these in various other posts, but here they are in more detail anyway…

Take Away Containers

We literally never eat out because Squiggle cannot cope with it. To make up for this, we probably get more than our fair share of take aways (we do usually opt for the same type of restaurants that most families would go to eat out though, and just order food to go, rather than actual fast food places!)

We would drastically reduce our waste if we took reusable containers with us. But we forget! So one of the things I have done to prepare for this week is to get some containers, and a reusable bag to put them in, to make a dedicated kit just for this purpose – in the hope that we will then remember to use them! But one of my challenges for this week (that I haven’t done yet!) is also to find out where will actually allow us to use them too, so I will see how I get on with that task!

Snacks in Packets and Wrappers

The issue of packet snacks, such as crisps, has come up alot in discussions throughout this week and is one of the main things I noticed in our rubbish to. My first thought for such items that currently have no alternative was to send them back to the manufacturer. It certainly helps to get the point across.

But if I sent them back what would they do with them… dump them in landfill anyway? So I have since had some other ideas; I could email the companies and ask what they will do with them beforehand. If they won’t recycle them I could get a Terra Cycle bin then send them the bill?! It is time the responsibility is put back to the manufacturers in some way I feel. Especially as these types of items are a common issue that keep cropping up.

I wonder what alternatives could be used? How could they be kept fresh? Could they be sold in zero waste shops?! This definitely needs more thought and further research!

Fruit and Veg

This was what inspired my shop thoughtfully, aka plastic-free packaging challenge. We used to be better at this one to be honest, but we have let it slide too much recently and it is a time we got back on track. Unfortunately, even the best laid plans sometimes go awry.

As I shared in my post yesterday, rather than reorder a fruit and veg box delivery from past companies I have used, which are usually low waste and plastic-free, I tried somewhere new. Big mistake! I have discovered a fab local place to visit with my reusable bags for next time we need more though, so I will do better next time. And if I need to order, I will stick to ones I can trust!

Zero Waste Shopper set Brighton Frog #zerowasteweek

Bathroom Supplies

I wrote a long time ago about buying huge Faith in Nature containers for shampoo and conditioner because we don’t personally get on too well with bars. But buying in bulk – having the funds up front and space to store – isn’t very practical and consequently we didn’t really manage it. We always recycled our bathroom plastics but that is not the point. When I observed our rubbish throughout the house, all that plastic jumped out at me – and I felt guilty as it was very much on my ‘I know I need to tackle this but not got round to it’ list – you know the ones!

However, as I wrote about in my Zero Waste Week Bathroom post, we were able to finally switch our shampoo, conditioner, handwash and shower gel to plastic-free versions thanks to our new local zero waste shop. So that is brilliant news! Happy about that!

The Refill Pantry reusable refillable aluminium dispensers for zero waste shampoo, conditioner, handwash and shower gel #zerowaste #plasticfree

So that is where I currently am with my personal challenges. Some have turned out to be bigger tasks than perhaps I thought, or maybe it is more the case that once I got thinking about them fully I decided I would rather do it properly, to make lasting changes and impact, rather than just focus on getting it ‘done’ this week. Either way, implementing the changes may go beyond Zero Waste Week, but it will happen. And I shall keep you updated!

Food and Drink: Reducing Plastic in the Kitchen

I made a mistake today. I made a wrong assumption, when I should have checked to be sure. I usually ask the right questions, but this time I didn’t. This arrived…

Fruit and veg box full of plastic packaging

This is what happened…

I knew we wouldn’t get a chance to go out to buy plastic-free fruit and veg this week, so I ordered a delivery from somewhere new; a local family business. I was thinking it is a nice thing to shop local and support independents. Other fruit and veg boxes that I have ordered from different companies before have been very low waste and no plastic, so I just expected it to be the same.

Sigh.

But I don’t want to dwell on it. I am gutted we now have more plastic waste than any other week, I won’t lie. But here’s the thing…

I am on a zero waste journey. I don’t pretend to literally be ‘zero waste.’ I don’t claim to have all the answers, or to get it right everytime. I will happily share my successes, and my failures too. Because we all make mistakes – but we can learn from them too.

“Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn.”

Today was a reminder for me; ask those important questions! And keep going, even when things go wrong. This was like a scene from a horror movie for a Zero Waste Ambassador to be honest lol! But I will get over my epic fail and keep trying – I got this!

Anyway, I don’t have any intention of naming and shaming the company or anything like that, I just feel that sharing my mistakes might help others feel better about theirs – zero waste can sound extreme, and very daunting, so I am keen to paint a clear picture of what it means for us in reality! We are just a family trying to do what we can to reduce waste, especially plastic.

Zero Waste Snacks

But let’s move onto celebrate our successes now! Look at these yummy plastic-free snacks I got from The Refill Pantry recently…

The Refill Pantry zero waste plastic-free shop #zerowasteweek

Zero Waste Shoppers – Brighton Frog

And the lovely people over at Brighton FRoG have sent me a Zero Waste Shopper Box. This fab set is currently onsale at £14 and includes a gorgeous aqua Turtle bag (which matches my bottle – love the colour!), as well as a mesh bag for fruit and veg, plus three different size canvas bags for pasta, bread and so on. They are 100% plastic free, organic cotton, ethical and fair. Also, they were sent in a small cardboard box with no excess packaging – really impressed!

Zero Waste Shopper - Brighton FRoG #plasticfree #zerowaste week

Living Life Our Way Selfie. Holding Zero Waste Shopper set from Brighton Frog. #plasticfree #zerowasteweek

The Refill Pantry

I will be using these bags to do a better job with my fruit and veg next time I go shopping! Also, another main reason I got them is that I want to stock up on more food from The Refill Pantry as and when our dried goods run out and need replacing – pasta, grains, and so on. So I am looking forward to putting them to good use very soon!

The Refill Pantry food stock - pasta, grains. Zero waste. Plastic-free. Zero Waste Week

Convenience vs Zero Waste

For us, the biggest challenge is balancing convenience (and sensory issues) with our mission to reduce plastic waste. It is difficult when so many snacks come in plastic wrappers! This was the main weak area I noticed immediately when I did my rubbish observations recently. That is why I am turning the responsibility back to the manufacturers for that one.

On The Go

We take food with us from home if we will be out for a while and will need to eat before we get back. The only snacks we ever buy on the go, rarely, are ones that we could only buy from a packet anyway, or the occasional ice-cream in summer!

Drinks

For drinks, we mainly use our reusables. Slight confession here; I admit, I am rather fond of diet coke as well – but I always recycle the cans and buy them in a cardboard box, so no plastic packaging! Not good for my health, but not as bad for the environment at least! I must get back to drinking more smoothies though – excellent for nutrition and reducing food waste too!

Summary

I have probably missed loads of stuff – but one thing at a time! Every small step in the right direction is a success. It is much more beneficial to focus on what you have done, and can do next, than try to tackle it all at once. So on that note…

#ZeroWasteWeek how can you reduce plastic in your kitchen?

What is the one thing you could do to reduce plastic in your kitchen? Tell me in comments!

Welcome To Zero Waste Week!

Hooray, Zero Waste Week has arrived! I am so proud, and very excited, to be an ambassador for this inspirational challenge! This year the focus is on reducing our use of (unnecessary) plastics.

Zero Waste Week Ambassador logo

Plastic has its uses. However, it is also designed to last for years, yet gets used for items that are only needed once for a few minutes! And much of our plastic packaging is excessive too. It is this reliance on single-use plastics and over-use of unnecessary plastic that we would like to reduce in particular.

The main concern with plastic is that it is not frequently recycled, and cannot be recycled many times over. Plastic is also not gentle on the environment either; it leaks toxic chemicals. It also breaks down into microplastics that harm our marine life and end up in our food chain. Not ideal.

Zero Waste Week - Microplastic facts

Read more about how plastic pollution is harming our environment.

So here is today’s question…

Why do you want to reduce your use of plastics?

There are lots of good reasons; caring about how we leave our planet for future generations, protecting our environment and saving wildlife, or saving money. Squiggle said it is important to be environmentally- friendly and not create landfill; it is just the right thing to do. That sounds like a good enough reason to me!

#zerowasteweek - why do you want to reduce plastic?

Read 10 ways reducing plastic can benefit you.

Tell me your reasons in comments!

Zero Waste Week: Our Preparations

As I mentioned in my Zero Waste Week Challenges post a couple of days back, our preparations are well underway and I am excited to share them! I have been busy reflecting on our current waste, considering where our weak spots are, and then thinking about what we can improve on, and how. So here are some of the things we have already done in advance to prepare for Zero Waste Week…

Zero Waste Week: Our Preparations

Observing Our Current Waste Habits

I have yet to fill out an actual audit sheet for the day, but I did a general observation of what we are throwing away into landfill, in order to determine what actions we could take next. Now, I will admit one thing from the outset; we have been slacking abit lately. After Squiggle had a prolonged bout of poor mental health (anxiety issues) earlier this year, we let some things slide. We needed to. And I don’t feel guilty for that, but I do see this as an opportunity for us to get back on track.

Looking through my landfill waste, it tends to be food packets that dominate my bin. The quick, easy to grab snacks. Rice cakes and Quorn veggie sausage rolls are a couple of examples. The frustrating thing is though, these can not easily be switched for the same product in plastic- free packaging either, because it doesn’t exist. Yet. And that is why I also intend to send the rubbish we do accumulate this coming week back to the companies, to encourage this change.

A zero waste lifestyle goes hand in hand with healthy, clean eating. When we opt for convenience food, our landfill waste automatically goes up. But whilst healthy eating is ideal, sometimes there are actual reasons (not just excuses!) why someone may genuinely need to opt for convenience at times. So I feel companies should be prepared to make more effort with their packaging too!

Click here for Zero Waste Week

Zero Waste Shopping

Other items are very easy to switch, and I started my shopping in advance so I would be ready to start the week off right! As well as stocking up supplies from our local zero waste shop (more about that in a later post!) I was also kindly sent some essentials to add to my zero waste kit…

Klean Kanteen reusable drinks - cup, straw set and insulated bottle

Klean Kanteen

If any of you watched my insta stories last week, you might have seen my eco fail! We went to Ikea, where Squiggle always gets a drink (it is literally the only place she gets one from, rather than just taking her own drink in her reusable cup from home!) We remembered our straw but forgot the lid is plastic too – doh! (And she does need a lid).

So when I spotted Klean Kanteen have a handy straw set that fits neatly onto their stainless steel cup, I thought how perfect it would be for Squiggle!

Klean Kanteen stainless steel cup and reusable straw set

I also love their insulated bottle, which keeps drinks hot for 14 hours and iced for 48 hours. Very useful to make sure I actually find time to drink it… eventually! I adore the colour too!

Klean Kanteen wide insulated bottle. Aqua

Both the steel cup and the insulated bottle come in different sizes. Klean Kanteen also have an excellent range of other eco- friendly bottles, cups, tumblers, accessories and canisters. See the website: www.kleankanteen.co.uk

Elephant Box

Elephant box and salad box - stainless steel - eco

I had specific ideas for these fab containers from Elephant Box. But Squiggle spied them and claimed them as her own! To be fair, they are ideal for eating on the go, as she often has food from home while we are out, so it does make perfect sense!

Stainless steel reusable Elephant Box

The larger box is the Elephant Box. It is deep, big and sturdy, with a capacity of 1.8L. Good for big appetites! It is freezer safe so helps with tackling food waste by freezing it to use later. Price: £29.50

Square salad box, stainless steel, eco, plastic-free, zero waste, Elephant Box

The Salad Box fits neatly inside the Elephant box, so handy for storing them when not in use, or for making compartments. The salad box has a capacity of 500ml and is perfect for sandwiches or snacks too! Price: £16

I also have a Brighton Frog Zero Waste Shopper Box on the way too, more on that in a later post!

So I am all set for tomorrow! Are you ready?! Join us for #ZeroWasteWeek

Passionate about a better future? Passion led us here. Join us for zero waste week. Zero Waste Week logo. #zerowasteweek https://www.zerowasteweek.co.uk

*Items kindly sent free in exchange for feature.

Zero Waste Week: Take the Challenge!

The concept of zero waste is an ideal, but is it realistic? Well, you decide just how far you can take it! The term ‘zero waste’ is frequently meant more as a journey than a destination itself. The key idea behind it is that as an individual, as a household, or even as a business, you actively try to reduce your waste, even if it is just one small thing at a time; it all helps!

With Zero Waste Week (founded by the lovely Rachelle Straus) looming in just a few short days, from 3rd – 7th September, I thought it would be fun to set some challenges of my own to help reduce landfill waste. And I would love for you to take part!

Click here for Zero Waste Week

(You can also sign up to the official Zero Waste Week emails here)

I have set 5 challenges in total, but you don’t have to complete every challenge to join in – do just one, some or all – it is up to you! Afterwards, let me know what you did – and how you got on – and I will share your stories (only if you would like me to obviously!) And of course I will be sharing how we get on too!

So here are the challenges…

Zero Waste Week: Take the Challenge! Faded background image of landfill

Challenge 1 – Audit your waste

Spend a day recording all of the rubbish you throw away. The wonderful folk over at Zero Waste Week have created an audit sheet for you to do this easily so grab yourself a copy and get auditing!

The audit sheet includes what item of rubbish it is, why is it being thrown away (remember: reuse if possible!) where it will end up (recycling is way better than landfill rubbish of course!) and what improvement can be made (e.g. could you have avoided this item of rubbish somehow?) This will help you to reflect on your current waste and identify small positive changes you could make.

Challenge 2 – Tackle a Weak Spot

Pick one thing that you know you could improve on and is something you can change immediately. We all have that one thing that jumps out at us – that we know we could better – we just haven’t got round to it… yet. Maybe you still grab your coffee to go in a disposable cup. Or perhaps you buy plastic water bottles. It could be something else entirely. Whatever it is, now is the time to make that switch – and stick to it!

For this challenge, you might need to make an investment – but baring in mind reusables are, well, reusable, it will be money worth spending. In many cases you might well find you will actually be saving money as you are no longer throwing it away (quite literally!)

I have a few weak spots that I am tackling for this challenge, so I will write a separate post sharing details very soon – my preparations are already well underway! (You might even have spotted some sneak previews on my social media?!)

Reusable insulated bottle - Klean Kanteen - Living Life Our Way selfie

Challenge 3 – Shop Thoughtfully (Aka Plastic- Free Packaging Challenge)

It is almost impossible to do an entirely plastic- free shop. However, you might find local independent shops that will help make this much more achievable!For example, use your local greengrocers if you have one nearby, or find out if there is a zero waste shop near you.

But even in mainstream supermarkets there are ways you can try to reduce the amount of plastic waste that you will create. For every item on your shopping list, choose options with less overall packaging and in particular little or no plastic where possible.

If you can find any alternative to plastic packaging then choose it, or decide how much you really need that item in the first place if not. (Obviously I am not suggesting you go without essentials or feel guilty if you do buy the items – we all have such things on our list – hence the next challenge!) Some stores allow you to take your own containers to the deli counter, and you can often take your own bags to buy loose fruit and veg too. So be organised and take your reusables with you!

The Refill Pantry - Zero Waste Shop - St Albans

Challenge 4 – Refuse and Return!

As consumers, we can only do so much to reduce our waste. We also need to put pressure on the companies themselves to change their habits, and provide more sustainable choices as well. But this particular challenge takes guts!

Actions speak louder than words. So either refuse the plastic packaging at the till straight after you pay – by removing it and handing it back to them immediately – or return it to the supermarket at a later date after you are done with the contents.

The alternative, if you find it is a particular brand you tend to use and gather landfill waste from, is to post it back to them direct along with a covering letter. Hopefully they might take a hint when it turns up back at their door!

Challenge 5 – Spread the Word

The last challenge is simply to spread the word. Let people know about your zero waste/ rubbish reduction efforts. Celebrate your successes. And remember, if you let me know, I will also share them too!

Good luck with the challenges – I look forward to finding out how you all get on! I will be posting about my own personal Zero Waste Week preparations in the next couple of days, then afterwards I will write about how we got on too, so look out for those posts coming soon!

Make Your Home Green: One Room at a Time (Guest Post)

It’s easy to say you want your family to go green and live a more socially responsible lifestyle, but when you start to actually think about putting a plan into action it becomes overwhelming. Many people’s first impressions of sustainable living include practicing recycling and refraining from leaving the water running while you brush your teeth. In reality, there is a lot more to living a completely environmentally friendly lifestyle.

A great starting place to focus on is your home. This is the place where your family gathers and where you spend a large amount of your time in your life, so it’s an important place to consider when you want to go green. In order to cut back on the intimidation factor, this guide will break down room-by-room how you can encourage more sustainable practices in your home…

Make Your Home Green: One Room at a Time

Living Room

Natural Lighting

The living room is one of the easiest places in your home where you can embrace natural lighting as an alternative to keeping bulbs burning. Keeping your curtains open and allowing natural sunlight to light up your living room will be better for energy efficiency and there’s also just something about natural lighting that makes you feel better.

If you can prepare for this while you’re building or choosing a house, look into floor-to-ceiling windows. These are a great interior piece that make your space appear larger and they allow for more natural lighting in your home. You can also consider skylights to provide an easier path for sun to come in through the top of your room.

A living room with huge windows flooding the room with natural light

Energy

A staple in American living rooms is a television. To reduce energy usage in your home, cut back on the tv or even eliminate it from your home. Encourage your family to play games together, spend time doing outdoor activities, or reading in the evenings.

Furniture

When furnishing your living room, or any part of your home, try to use recycled materials or repurpose materials in your home. For example, a chair or stool can serve another purpose as a side table. It takes less energy to manufacture goods from recycled materials than from scratch, so try use recycled furniture to help reduce energy consumption in the grand scheme of things.

If you’re buying new materials, purchase from companies that are certified for using sustainable materials. You can also find furniture made with bamboo, a super sustainable material held together by glue rather than toxic chemicals.

Paint

Speaking of toxic chemicals, make sure the paint you’re using for your walls contains low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC) or a paint that’s entirely VOC-free.

Plants

Part of healthy living includes having good indoor air quality (IAQ). A sustainable practice to help remove pollutants from your air and live in a cleaner environment is to place plants around your home. Some plants naturally purify air and can help eliminate toxins to improve your IAQ.

A shelf full of artwork with a green plant in the corner of the room

Kitchen

Groceries

Industrial farming practices are harmful to the environment because of the mass use of resources and the chemicals emitted, so when you’re shopping for groceries, shop locally. Knowing your food was farmed locally will make your meals even more meaningful and personal.

Recycling

The kitchen is the biggest area in your home to focus on your recycling efforts since your family will be consuming food daily. Some examples of waste that can be recycled are plastic containers from yogurt or sodas, cardboard cereal boxes, and aluminum cans. Learn about what materials are recyclable and then set up bins for designated items. Be conscious of the items you’re shopping for too so you can plan in advance to use recyclable materials more often.

Laundry Room

Would you be shocked to find out that 39% of a garment’s environmental impact comes from the care of the consumer? If you think making minor changes to your life to follow more eco-friendly practices isn’t making much of a difference on the world, this fact can prove you wrong.

Some simple steps to get you started are washing your clothes in cold water, reducing the amount of loads you’re doing by waiting longer to wash items like jeans, using toxic-free detergent, and line drying your clothes.

Washing hanging out to dry

If you’re ready to look into other changes, you can pre-treat your clothes with an enzyme spray to hold you over between washes. You can also soak your whites in oxygen cleaner to remove sweat stains without having to run the clothes through the washer.

Bedrooms

Your Bedding

The main factor defining your bedroom is your bed, so you should make sure it’s environmentally friendly. There are tons of factors to consider in a mattress to make sure you’re getting your best sleep for your best health, and the sustainability should be one of them.

Look for organic mattresses made from 100% natural materials, or companies that are approved by Oeko-Tex or have a GREENGUARD certification. There’s also a plethora of options for organic bedding materials to dress your mattress in so that your bed can be “green” from headboard to toe. And when it’s time to get rid of your mattress in about 7-10 years, be socially responsible and donate or recycle.

Bed and bedside table

Sleep Aids

Have trouble sleeping at night? Don’t turn to pharmaceuticals. Instead try natural sleep aids like a warm cup of herbal tea. You could also do nighttime yoga. Stretching your body out helps relax your muscles and your mind making you ready for your best ZZZs.

Bathrooms

Water Usage

You’re probably using water the most in your bathrooms, so it’s a great place to start when you’re looking to cut down your carbon footprint. Simple steps include taking shorter showers or using LED bulbs for your lighting. For shorter showers, try a 5-minute shower timer that sticks to your wall and helps you monitor your time spent scrubbing off.

Larger steps to take to be eco-friendly in the bathroom include investing in low-flow toilets and motion sensor sinks to cut back on water usage.

Outside

Decor

For your outdoor decor, use repurposed furniture from inside your home rather than purchasing new items. You can use old chairs you’re no longer interested in having in your home or give an old piece a new function by converting a coffee table into a planter.

Gardening

Create compost piles from the materials in your kitchen to help you start a garden. You can grow your own vegetables and herbs too.

A painted green hand holding a plant

Transportation

Instead of emitting gases from your car daily, ride a bike instead. Bikes are practical, environmentally friendly, and will give you more physical activity during the day to help your health.

Creating a Green Home

If you’re interested in getting used to environmentally friendly practices but you’re still new to sustainable living it may seem challenging and overwhelming. Taking it step-by-step will help you naturally progress into new practices. Don’t try to change your entire lifestyle in one day. It’s a process that takes time and research.

When deciding how to move towards a more eco-friendly life, adopt a minimalist mentality away from consumer culture. This will help you cut back to the essentials and be on your way to having a green home.

Author Bio

Laurie Larson is a freelance writer from Durham, NC. When she’s not busy writing, she enjoys spending time out in nature and reading her favorite books.

 

For more ideas on creating an eco-friendly home, see this guest post on Motherhood: Real Deal

Social Responsibility: Top Tips For Looking After Our Environment

We are all jointly responsible for our environment. Individuals and organisations need to all work together to protect our planet; we all have a part to play and even small actions help to make a big difference. Glasdon (a cool company who supply all sorts of recycling options, such as bins etc…) have released a really useful e-book all about being socially responsible. Here are some of their top tips for looking after our environment…

Social Responsibility: Top Tips For Looking After Our Environment

At Home

The first thing to do at home is reduce the amount of waste you create, such as food, packaging or even clothing. Try to buy items that use less packaging, meal plan and buy only the food you will use and opt for a capsule wardrobe of slow fashion items. Switch to reusable items as much as possible, freeze any leftover food and take old clothes to charity shops. Last but not least, recycle what is left wherever possible.

The second key thing to do at home is to save energy, which will conserve the Earth’s natural resources. Simply turning off light switches and plug sockets when not in use will help to reduce your power consumption. You can also help by switching to a clean energy supplier too.

Unplugged plug

On The Go

There are various ways you can help to protect the environment whilst on the go. One of the most highlighted ones here in the UK is reusable shopping bags. Plastic bags can take anywhere from 15 to 1000 years to decompose. It was reported that in 2014 over 7.6 billion single-use carrier bags were given to customers by major supermarkets in England. This equates to around 240 bags per person, the equivalent of around 61,000 tonnes. Since the 5p charge scheme was introduced the number of plastic bags used in England has reduced by 80%.

You can also ditch plastic straws in favour of more environmentally- friendly alternatives, switch to reusable coffee cups and water bottles, and opt out of single- use containers by taking your own. Last but not least, look for recycling bins whilst out in the community to discard recyclables.

Reuse bag surrounded by leaves and nature

At Work

Companies can make small changes, such as going paperless and recycling. They can also help financially by supporting local environmental charities and campaigns. Other ways that companies can make a positive impact is to celebrate key events, such as World Environment Day, using their social media to raise awareness, hold local community awareness events and also provide opportunities for employees to volunteer within the local community too. Whilst an individual employee may not be able to influence all of these ideas into action, you can certainly approach management to raise these suggestions.

Educating Our Children

We can teach our children social responsibility from a young age by setting a good example to them. Show them through your own actions and talk with them about why it is important. Encourage children to help with simple tasks, such as litter picking and sorting recycling. Shaping eco- friendly attitudes and behaviours from a young age is vital to the future of our planet.

In Summary

As Glasdon explain: “By adopting the mind-set that your individual changes can help to make the world a more sustainable place, you can inspire others around you to follow suit. Working together to make better, more mindful decisions surrounding sustainability will ensure we continue to protect and grow the environment for generations to come.”

What steps do you take to improve the environment? Tell me in comments! And don’t forget to join the conversation by using the hashtag #MySocialSpirit too.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.