How we are teaching learning about sustainability

When you spend as much time in nature as we do you get really passionate about sustainability. I think it is the greater sense of awe and wonder along with the visibility of the human impact on the landscape?

This post is not about teaching you to suck eggs, we are not on any kind of moral high ground.

Quite the opposite.

In fact we feel terrible that for so many years we have had such a negative impact on the planet and are now trying to make amends and some amendments to how we love our lives.

1. Laundry detergent

We now use ‘soap nuts’ to do our laundry. These are actual nuts, from a tree, that you can buy for £13 from Amazon. (We were gifted ours in January) we are still on THE SAME BAG six months later! There are five of us!

You put 3-6 nuts in a laundry bag and directly into your wash. The nuts are then dried afterwards and can be used 5 times before discarding.

For heavy staining we Pre soak (but we always did this) with bicarbonate of soda or oxy10.

2. Shampoo and conditioner

We use shampoo bars and conditioner bars to wash our hair. They come from the local bio shop at the moment, but can also be bought on Amazon etc. they come in cardboard packaging rather than plastic.

My current soap bar has been used every day since we were in Sicily (9 weeks) and is just about to run out. It was €5

3. Cleaning spray

We use vinegar and water mixed together (1:4 ratio) with some lavender in the bottle to clean surfaces, sinks, windows etc.

For persistent stains add a bit of bicarbonate if soda and rub in, leave to soak up wet stain, then clean with the mixture.

The smell takes some getting used to, but the cleanliness is the same!

4. We only buy organic

We are on a very tight budget, but think that anything we out into or on our bodies should be herbicide, pesticide and fungicide free. So, we prioritize buying organic by shopping at an organic only supermarket. Our weekly shop is about €200 as a result.

We are also all vegan / vegetarian.

5. We don’t buy anything new

As a way to work within the budget, and also as a way of being more environmentally friendly we hardly buy anything new. We use charity shops. The only things we have bought this year can be counted on one hand. Gym shoes, yoga mats, swimming costumes and underwear.

We reduce, repair, reuse, up cycle, recycle rather than replace wherever physically possible. For example all of Freya’s birthday gifts were hand made this year, and she loved them 🙂 imperfections and all.

6. We don’t buy plastic

My favorite solution is our local bio shop which has a refillery – we use old glass jars to store dried goods bought from huge containers. They have biodegradable paper bags that you fill with:

  • Oats
  • Raisins
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Couscous
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • dried fruit
  • Shredded coconut
  • Etc.

We then store them in recycled glass jars at home.

For wet food, we choose the glass container or tin or tetra packs wherever possible . Of plastic comes into the house it has to be reused over and over! For example olive containers hold the soap as a soap dish, old cleaning spray is filled with the new environmental solution and fruit and vegetable trays are used as toy storage.

7. We make things

We harvest the apples and make apple sauce, putting it in jars when hot so it pops the lid back in and is heat sealed for storage. We collect plums and blackberries, we knit, we sew, we crochet, we bake, we cook from scratch from raw ingredients. All of which reduces waste, reduces spending, let’s us know where everything is coming from, makes it clear what ingredients are used and helps with allergies and diets.

To make time to do this I batch cook and store things using the ‘canning’ method above which helps with fridge space.

8. Next steps

We are already using refillable washing up liquid but are going to try making our own

We need to find a toothpaste solution.

We want to buy toilet roll and kitchen roll wrapped in paper.

There are SO many things we haven’t manage to get a grip on, we have so far still to go, but hopefully this has helped motivate or inspire even one person to make one small change.

It doesn’t take one person being environmentally friendly perfectly to change the world, it takes everyone being environmentally imperfectly!

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