We’ve been thinking about sustainable living as 2020 is fresh upon us. The festivities are done. Finito. And it’s around this time of year that we at This Extra Life just love to have a good old deep clean and declutter. We’ve got to make room for all of those Christmas goodies, don’t we?
Don’t get us started on detoxing the household products! It’s really no fun trying to decipher the long list of ingredients to find out if they are safe for use in the kitchen. If they are bathroom only. If they are biodegradable or recyclable. And most importantly in our case, if they are safe to use around our little furballs.
We’re all about creating sparkling spaces to feel at home in. There’s nothing more satisfying than a clean and inviting home to relax and take pride in. And this did get us thinking a little bit about what we use in our homes that could be harming the environment.
Although climate change has been on the agenda for quite some time now, 2019 saw the emergence of Greta Thunberg as a force to be reckoned with. Unlike most 16-year-olds bunking off school, this lady has been hard at work changing the habits and mindsets of people all around the globe. She has faced jeering and resistance from some of her elders but she has handled herself like an absolute legend.
Therefore, taking a leaf out of Greta’s book, we have carried out a little investigation on how to improve our sustainable living. This, of course, includes what products to ditch in 2020 to make our homes more environmentally friendly!
Ditch the plastic straws for sustainable living
There have been many growing concerns over how harmful plastic is to the environment. Not to mention the sheer volume of plastic drinking straws that have been discarded inappropriately on a daily basis around the world.
Then, of course, the chemicals found in plastic drinking straws (BPA) have been linked to reproductive disorders, diabetes and heart disease.
If sustainable living is on your agenda this year then we recommend ditching the plastic and turning to some elegant, reusable stainless steel straws.
These little beauties are easy to clean, they don’t taint your drink and they are safe to use. They do not leak chemicals into your drinks and frankly, they just look classy.
Don’t forget, they will also save you some money in the long run. It’s a win-win in our book.
Avoid single-use wipes
Wet wipes, baby wipes and facial cleansing wipes are a very common find in our homes. However, these wipes are designed for single-use and then to be discarded. They are frequently misused and disposed of incorrectly. Many wet wipes are described as “flushable” however, this simply isn’t true. Water companies in the UK have stated that wet wipes are causing millions of pounds worth of blockages in the UK sewage systems. This is due to the fact that wet wipes, “flushable” or not, do not break down in our waters.
Therefore, for more sustainable living it’s a good idea to switch out the single-use wipes for microfiber cleaning cloths, cotton face cloths or reusable bamboo cloth wipes.
All of these options are washable and will last the distance. Again, they will save you money in the long term and who doesn’t want more money in the bank? Am I right?
Say “NO” to cling film & tin foil for sustainable living
Both cling film and tin or aluminium foil are standard staple kitchen items. Used to wrap food or for cooking these items do seem to find many uses. However, they are bad for our health and bad for the environment.
Cling film is another single-use plastic that can harbour many toxins. Unfortunately, cling film cannot be recycled so it ends up in a landfill for hundreds of years because as we all know, plastic takes a long time to break down.
Making tin foil has a huge effect on the planet. The bauxite rock is mined, then smelted to produce aluminium. This process destroys land, plants and natural habitats for wildlife.
Then, of course, pressing blocks of aluminium into thin sheeted rolls requires a lot of energy. All of this combined shows us that this product is unsustainable.
“So what’s the best alternative?” I hear you ask. Well, we would suggest using beeswax or silicone food covers to protect your food in storage.
Another option is to use glass storage jars or Tupperware boxes. Yes, they are plastic but they are reusable and sustainable in the long run.
Get rid of plastic sandwich bags
As I’m sure you’re getting the picture now that plastic is pretty bad for the environment. In fact, according to one study, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050 unless we change our ways. That’s a pretty bold statement and frankly, it’s quite frightening.
Sustainable living can make an impact on the volume of plastic in our seas though. Another household item to switch out is plastic sandwich bags.
Instead, pick up some silicone sandwich bags which are reusable, washable and airtight.
Back away from the disposable batteries
With so many of our personal and household items using rechargeable batteries these days, such as our mobile phones, laptops and tablets, it is a mystery why consumers still opt for the disposable forms of AAA, AA and 9-volt batteries.
Disposable batteries typically end up in the landfill. The damage here is that when these batteries end up in the landfill sites, as they breakdown they release mercury into the earth. Not good!
This year, ditch the disposable batteries and invest in some rechargeable batteries instead. They may initially be a little more expensive but they will save money in the long run.
Rechargeable batteries are either made with nickel or lithium and are completely recyclable which reduces hazardous chemicals into the earth.
They also work in every device that requires AAA, AA and 9 Volt batteries so it’s very easy to switch them out. It’s a no brainer to us!
Swap out the plastic toothbrush for sustainable living
As well as switching out your plastic drinking straws and sandwich bags it’s a good idea to consider an alternative to your plastic toothbrush.
If you follow the standard guidelines for changing your toothbrush every 3 months, that’s a LOT of plastic to discard. Which, you’ve probably guessed it, has a high chance of ending up in landfill or the ocean.
So, what should you use instead? You still have to clean your teeth right? Well, we recommend making the switch to bamboo toothbrushes.
The bamboo handles take around 6 months to compost and the bristles can be recycled. When compared with the standard plastic toothbrush which takes hundreds of years to breakdown, it makes sense to make the change.
Save some money without store-bought water
Ok, ok, now we know this one may be highly dependant on where you live. However, if it is possible, ditch the store-bought water and get yourself a rather snazzy reusable water bottle.
Bottled water is expensive and most of what you will find on the shelves is just filtered tap water. In the UK our water is pretty tasty for the most part. However, if you want peace of mind, then you could purchase a water filter such as Brita which is easily storable in the fridge.
We’re beginning to sound like a broken record here but again the issue is with the sheer volume of plastic being produced that ends up in landfill or the ocean. For sustainable living, it really makes sense to reduce the number of plastics in our home.
A classier alternative to takeaway coffee cups
We use 7 million disposable coffee cups per day in the UK. That’s 2.5 billion per year. However, the issues go far beyond the sheer number of cups being used. Technically the cups are recyclable, but less than 1% make it to a recycling facility due to a couple of factors.
Plastic Polyethene is used to make the cups watertight, but this can’t be separated in a normal recycling plant. Also, because the cups are contaminated with drink, they can only be recycled in one of the two specialist facilities in the UK.
So if you think you’re being diligent by ordering a paper takeaway coffee cup from your favourite coffee shop and popping the cup in the recycling bin, think again.
You would be far better off buying a reusable coffee mug like one of these beauties above. In fact, this can also be better for your wallet too. Some of your favourite coffee stores or lunch spots actually offer a discount if you bring your own cup.
Which of these changes do you think you could make to lead a more sustainable life? Drop us a comment and let us know!
Want more inspiration for a fresh happy home? Check out our essentials for a clean home this Winter!