Ecofriendly Made Easy: Household Tips
It’s our responsibility to keep the planet we live on clean and avoid pollution to the best of our abilities. It’s terribly important that everyone does their part: even if that part feels insignificant.
So, what exactly can we do? Living environmentally-friendly is a lot easier than some may think. A good place to start: try to be aware of what and how much you buy when you’re shopping. After a while, you may notice what a big difference such a small gesture can make. Are ready to start living a more eco-friendly lifestyle right away? Then you’re in the right place! I’ve gathered a couple of simple, useful examples to get you started. For example, at comprigo, we take care to pay attention to the following:
- Waste Sorting: In 2014 the United Kingdom generated 202.8 million total tonnes of waste. 14% of this total waste generation came from “Household” activities. Waste recycling and sorting help the environment because fewer resources or materials have to be newly produced.
- Reuse: Since recycling itself can be a source of pollution, it’s even better to purchase items which can be reused several times. Did you know, for example, that cotton consumption is responsible for 2.6 percent of global water use? Make-up remover pads, bandages, clothing and many other everyday products are made using cotton. You can do the environment a big favour by buying reusable or biodegradable products, instead.
- Sustainability: Renewable or sustainable raw materials are particularly environmentally friendly because they regrow quickly and can be harvested without any long-term or harmful environmental consequences. Let’s take bamboo, for example: since this plant can grow up to a metre a day, it’s not only suitable as a beautiful home decoration but is also great for toothbrushes, dishes and even kitchen towels.
Who isn’t in a huge rush in the morning? Many of us prefer to sleep 10 minutes longer instead of getting up early to prepare a hearty breakfast. But what’s the problem with that, a coffee and snack on the way to work should suffice, right? Here’s the issue: the UK throws about 2.5 billion disposable cups away every year. But no worries, you won’t have to do without your caffeine kick!
The simplest solution is a reusable bamboo cup, such as this one from Ebos. This portable cup is made out of bamboo and cornstarch, which are renewable and compostable. Bamboo is also naturally free from the potentially harmful chemical BPA.
We have a similar solution for your snacks: this lunch box from ajaa! is 100% natural and made of renewable raw materials. Made out of sugar cane molasses, minerals and waxes, it’s easy to clean and even dishwasher-safe!
I’ve personally tested both of the aforementioned products and am very satisfied with them. The lunch box, however, is not suitable for liquid meals such as soups because it’s not completely sealed. I recommend using it exclusively for solid foods, such as sandwiches.
Let’s continue with something simple: waste separation. This trash bin from Songmics is beautifully designed and makes separation of plastic, paper and compost trash easy. The bin is easy to clean thanks to the removable inner buckets. The somewhat limited capacity of the individual bins isn’t necessarily a disadvantage: the rubbish has to be emptied out more often, which helps to avoid unpleasant odours.
Since only clean paper can be recycled, you won’t even need a bin bag for the paper bucket, as the bin shouldn’t get dirty.
Plastic rubbish, on the other hands, can make the bin dirty, which is why I recommend using bags that you already have at home instead of purchasing bin bags. Reusing the plastic packaging from toilet paper or vegetables is also a good alternative.
Biodegradable bin bags can also be used for compostable trash.
I also recommend living as plastic-free as possible. This material is neither good for our health (it’s extracted from crude oil), nor for the planet. A plastic bottle, for example, can take up to 450 years to decompose and has terrible effects on nature and wildlife. Proper waste separation can help prevent this.
Kitchen towels made out of bamboo are a real innovation: 100% free of wood fibre, they help prevent deforestation. Bamboo is an extremely diverse raw material, which makes it out of the most environmentally-friendly resources on Earth. Bamboo can be harvested without harmful consequences for our planet.
But what, exactly, is so ingenious about a bamboo towel? The towels are highly absorbent and durable. Unlike paper towels, which must be thrown away after a single use, bamboo towels can simply be washed in the washing machine and reused up to 100 times (and become even more absorbent and soft after each wash). In this way, a single bamboo towel roll replaces about 60 rolls of paper towels. Bamboo is hypoallergenic and antibacterial- a household product that’s good for the environment and your health at the same time!
I’ve tested the Pandoo washable bamboo towels and can highly recommend them. The only disadvantage I found: once the wipe has been torn off the roll, you can (understandably) no longer attach it to the roll again. The wipes can be kept in a box or any other appropriate container in your kitchen.
In case you’ve been disposing of your baking foil in the paper rubbish bin: unfortunately, it doesn’t belong there! Despite the fact that baking foil is made of paper, it also has an extra layer of silicone, which cannot be disposed of in the paper bin. On top of that, baking paper is another product, like paper towels, which must be thrown away after every single use. This creates an unnecessary amount of waste.
My suggestion: buy some reusable baking foil. It is made of durable Teflon which makes it easy to rinse. This makes it ready to use for each new baking project and also helps reduce waste.
FYI: I had to cut the Amazy permanent baking foil according to the size of my baking trays, because if the foil is folded, its shelf life is reduced.
Conventional sponges are made of small plastic fibres which dissolve with every wash and eventually end up in our oceans. For individuals who eat fish, these plastic remnants can also end up in our own digestive systems.
For the same reason, wooden and bamboo brushes are a better alternative to plastic products.
These eco sponges should be disposed of in the normal rubbish bin. However, they can be rewashed in the washing machine at up to 60° C and are therefore cost-effective and reduce waste production.
While some vegans may turn up their nose at this product, I gave beeswax wrap a try and can’t stop using it! These wraps are made out of organic cotton and beeswax and help you cut back on waste production. I no longer need to buy aluminium foil or plastic wrap: I can pack up my food worry-free. Plus, the beeswax doesn’t affect the taste of the food.
It’s super easy to use: while applying the wrap, the warmth of your hands lets the wrap form to the proper shape (and stays that way!). From meat to fish (and maybe even soup), these wraps are great for keeping all types of food fresh. You can rinse them off with cold water and a slightly soapy sponge (be sure to use the soft side).
These beeswax wraps from Bee's Wrap come in a set of 3 large sheets. While they can even be used as a lid for glass jars, you might want to consider a set of silicone stretch lids, as well.
Tired of having to rush while packing up your groceries in plastic bags? Take a look at these reusable trolley bags. When all four bags are empty, they are easy to roll up and don’t take up too much space. They carry up to 15 kilos and can be used over and over again. For smaller purchases, it’s always nice to use a small, foldable and reusable bag like this one from LOQI.
Nearly everyone is familiar with heartbreaking photos of sea turtles and other sea creatures tangled up in plastic nets or stuck in plastic bags. The plastic problem is no myth. According to Science Magazine, as of 2015, about 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste has been generated, 79% of which has accumulated in landfills or our natural environment. It takes about 20 years for a plastic shopping bag to biodegrade.
The use of plastic bags is reducing at a noticeable rate since more shops have stopped giving them out for free with every purchase. Many shop owners are now offering paper bags in lieu of plastic, which may biodegrade quicker, but still aren’t as environmentally-friendly as a reusable shopping bag. Use of paper bags can promote deforestation and cause harmful industrial gases during their production.
A large amount of plastic is generated due to vegetable bags. Transparent plastic bags are used for packaging in nearly every vegetable department. Unlike the shopping bags at checkout, these are still free of charge.
Just as practical but much less harmful to the environment are these reusable cotton vegetable bags from TreeBox. The net is see-through and the price labels are easy to detach. If the bags get dirty, you can simply put them in the washing machine and they'll look like new again.