Since the lockdown came into effect, as a nation we’ve been spending a lot more time at home. During this time, we have focused on our diet, health and fitness. However, our diet doesn’t just include what we eat. Our overall diet encompasses what we surround ourselves with and also what we absorb into our lives. This has really made us think about the products we use at home and how environmentally friendly they are.
In fact, sustainable living has been on our minds a lot recently. We decided to have a look around our home to find products that we can swap for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly home.Follow This Extra Life with Bloglovin
Searching around our home to gather the products we use on a daily basis was a bit of an eye-opening experience.
We can wholeheartedly say it’s really no fun trying to decipher the long list of ingredients belonging to some items. It’s almost a bit of a minefield gazing at a list of components to figure out if they are safe for use – if they contain nasty chemicals, or whether they are biodegradable or recyclable.
This was also one of the reasons we decided to carry out this investigation to try to improve our sustainable living. We found quite a few items that we use on a daily basis that aren’t too environmentally friendly or sustainable.
Keep reading to find out which household products to ditch and switch to make our homes more environmentally friendly.
Ditch the plastic straws for sustainable living
Over the last few years, 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.
Chemicals found in plastic drinking straws (BPA) have been linked to reproductive disorders, diabetes and heart disease. Naturally, we all want to avoid ingesting such chemicals.
If sustainable living is on your agenda this year then we recommend ditching the plastic straws and instead turn 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.
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 a one time 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 a more environmentally friendly approach to 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. In fact, it wasn’t until we started this investigation in our home that we really thought about how much we rely on these two items.
Typically used to wrap food or for cooking, these products do seem to find many uses. However, they are bad for our health and are not environmentally friendly.
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.
Get rid of plastic sandwich bags
As I’m sure you’re getting the picture now that plastic is not environmentally friendly. 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.
Considering our 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 far more environmentally friendly. These silicone bags are reusable, washable and airtight. They can also store food in the freezer and lay flat so that they take up less space.
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 surprising to find so many disposable forms of AAA, AA and 9-volt batteries in our homes.
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 toxins into the earth. This is really not environmentally friendly at all.
We recommend ditching the disposable batteries and investing 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 reusable water bottle.
Water is so important to our health. So we would advocate drinking at least 2 litres per day. Just ditched the overpriced bottled water.
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. 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!
Are metal straws safe?
Stainless steel straws are safe to use and are a more sustainable option to plastic straws. They are affordable and made of food-grade material. They also will not taint your drink with chemicals.
What is the best alternative to tin foil, aluminium foil or cling film?
Both cling film and tin or aluminium foil are standard staple kitchen items. Typically 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.
The better alternative would be to use beeswax or silicone food covers to protect your food in storage. Glass storage jars are a more suitable option for storing cupboard foods. Tupperware boxes and silicone storage bags are equally good for storing food in a freezer.
What should I use instead of plastic sandwich bags?
Plastic sandwich bags aren’t great for the environment. They can also leak chemicals into our food. Silicone sandwich bags are a much better option. They are reusable, washable and airtight. They can also store food in the freezer and by laying flat, they take up less space.