Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Small steps in the right direction

The endless murmur of traffic passing on the nearby dual carriageway has been muted.  There are no vapour trails crossing the blue sky overhead, and the sound of birds singing seems clearer than ever before.  The world has suddenly become a much quieter place.



It turns out that we can change our habits and cut carbon dioxide emissions - for reasons that no one would have wanted, and a human and economic cost that we don't yet know.  The EU may achieve a 9% decrease in emissions in 2020 due to the coronavirus lockdown, but the big question is what happens afterwards.  Will this be a blip, or the start of a downward trend?

Meanwhile, this period of enforced inactivity has given us an opportunity to reflect on the changes we have made so far, and maybe given some of us time to make a few more.  I just thought I'd share a few of mine - not to show off, as a lot of people are way ahead of me, but to give us all a little more hope and inspiration to keep making our own small steps, while the big changes happen around us.

Kitchen

We cut the amount of plastic in the veg drawer when we started getting veg boxes delivered.  We recently changed supplier to a local farmer who delivers fruit as well, but as soon as lockdown started she was inundated with people wanting deliveries, so I've been supplementing it slightly from the supermarket.  Having a veg box means we have to wade through rather more cabbage and cauliflower than we might choose to, but that's what local produce looks like around here.



I've been so impressed by this Greener Cleaner dish brush that I ordered several more for my cafe from the Ethical Superstore.  We've had it for ages, and the bristles are still as good as new, not all splayed out and flattened down.  It's made from wood pulp and recycled plastic.

Sadly, our local farm shop and butchery has been a casualty of the lockdown.  There are some other possibilities for eggs and meat, but obviously I don't want to go shopping around too much right now.  I discovered this recipe for vegan burgers which is brilliant - easy to make, perfect texture, and I even got the boys to eat them!

black bean burger


Household

The ecoegg Laundry Egg seems to be doing a pretty good job cleaning our clothes.  The mineral pellets stand in for detergent and are apparently much better for the environment.  It does make a bit of noise, thumping around inside the machine, though.



I like this paper tape from &Keep - it has just the right amount of stick.  We haven't finished the roll I bought for Christmas yet, despite the boys constantly finding projects which involve taping things all over their bedroom walls (or the rest of the house!)

Toby's bedroom wall

I'm also feeling extremely virtuous because I've finally got round to making hankies from one of Graham's old shirts, thus recycling and avoiding paper tissue waste all in one go!  My sewing skills are not up to much, you understand, but I figure even I can hem a handkerchief.



Personal care

I've been using soap in the shower for a while now, and my lovely sister-in-law gave me a Lush shampoo bar and conditioner bar, which work really well.  I need a better solution for storing all these bars though - any tips?



Washable sanitary pads from Cheeky Wipes take me back to Toby's cloth diaper days - they're made of the same kind of stuff.  For light periods, they're fine; mine used to be much heavier, and I think I would have struggled with cloth pads then.  Admittedly, these are about as cheap and simple as you get.

Another lockdown win was making my own deodorant (and getting to test it before too many people have to smell me!)  Eco-friendly deodorants are generally really expensive, but this recipe from Sustainable(ish) used ingredients I mostly had already.  The only thing I had to buy was coconut oil.  I mixed it up, bunged it in an old salsa jar, and so far - sniffs - so good.




We tried toothpaste tablets, but that didn't work out so well.  They were kind of gritty and not very minty, and then the rest of the tin got damp and they all just turned into a sludge.  Besides, my kids are very specific about their toothpaste, so for now we're sticking to the normal kind.

Energy and Economy

Switching our energy supplier to Bulb hasn't done our energy bills any harm, and hopefully helps the environment too.  Be prepared for an expensive switchover month though, because Bulb takes payment in advance, so you effectively pay for two months in one go.  Then we got a refund from our old supplier and a referral bonus from Bulb, so it all evened out again the following month.

I find it hard enough to keep track of our pensions at the best of times, never mind trying to work out if they're invested sustainably.  I've cautiously added in a few ethical funds to the mix, but of course the economy is all over the place right now, so it's hard to tell if that was a good idea.  Also, the labels ethical and sustainable cover a wide range of investment options, from avoiding tobacco and alcohol to only investing in companies which help to generate renewable energy.  It's not always easy to tell what you're getting.

When it comes to ethical bank accounts, building societies tend to come higher up the rankings.  So I've tried to favour those when I've been shopping around for savings accounts.  It might not be a perfect solution, but again, it's a small step in the right direction.

Have you made any eco-friendly changes lately?  What would you like to do next?



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