Food & Home

Living green

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Little things we can all try as a family to do our bit for the planet!

Reading recent news articles, social media posts and blogs and celebrity sound-bites, I sat at my desk wondering if my generation is lazy. Not in the sense that we do nothing all day – I feel that generally speaking, our work-life balances are stretched as we try to fit everything into 24 hours – but in the sense that we like things to be convenient and easy.

Recycling, reusing, zero-waste, sustainability… all these words have been jumping out at me for the past few months. Major headlines have described how our planet is heading towards disaster with David Attenborough voicing that major change is needed now, to save future generations. And if the great man speaks, I think it’s time to listen.

Now without getting too serious, I sat and thought about manageable changes I could make to ‘do my bit’ as it were. I do feel that things are made to be easy for us, to grab and go without second thought, and it got me thinking about my lovely Gran.

She’s 86 now and she’s lived a significantly more ‘green’ life than I have, without even realising it. I’m guessing it was how she was raised, but we could all learn something from our wonderful older generation. She saved newspapers, string and jars to be reused, plastic bags were never thrown out. She always had reusable bags on her person if out shopping. The milkman delivered her milk in glass bottles, to be taken away the following day for another use. Little things, which could and do make a difference.

So, using a little inspiration from my Gran Eleanor, these are some steps to being that bit more green!

STRAWS! The UK Government is considering banning these, cotton buds and plastic stirrers. There are many alternatives to plastic straws; paper, metal and silicone for reuse – and I’ve recently seen a cocktail bar serving with pasta straws! These paper straws from Amazon are in lovely colours and don’t break the bank.

If you have plastic straws in your drawer, don’t just bin them. Nurseries can put them to good use for crafting activities and care homes can make use of them for their patients.

CUPS. Take-out cups are another major contributor to the build-up of waste. Some coffee shops offer money off your drink when using a reusable cup and they’re widely available. A couple of my favourites are:

Keep Cup – These come in all different sizes and colourways, and if you sign up to their newsletter you can get 15% off your first order.

Chilly’s Bottles – Bottles, tumblers and food pots in gorgeous designs, which brighten up your food or drink.

CLINGFILM. Something which didn’t really cross my mind until I stumbled across LucyCooperLoves on Instagram. She produces lovely beeswax wraps, which are reusable, washable
and a naturally antibacterial way to cover your food products. They come in a variety of patterns as well!

BAGS. I carry a cotton shopper but my lovely husband is a plastic bag addict. He never takes one with him when going to the shop and I always end up with drawers full. When I amass plenty, I usually take them to a charity shop so that they keep getting used.

WIPES. These are another item on the ‘to be banned’ list and one which I would struggle to see go. I use wipes with both girl – still do. I am trying to not use as many, but it’s tough! There are some amazing reusable wipes on the market, like Cheeky Wipes, which cut down on waste and are better for the environment. They have wet bags for when you’re out and about and they also do trial packs so you can find what works best.

TUPPERWARE. Now it’s reusable, but then it is plastic … so I have been replacing my plastic food boxes with glass ones. TK Maxx currently have some lovely coloured glass containers in their stores. I donated a lot of my plastic tubs to charity, but I could have repurposed them for storing things around the house. Also, some supermarkets are now allowing you to put meat
and fish from their fresh food counters into your own container to help cut down on plastic. How amazing is that!

PLASTIC WRAPPED FOOD. This appears to be a major bugbear for many a social media person lately. Bananas wrapped in plastic; skinned onions wrapped in clingfilm… just unnecessary plastic everywhere that only gets thrown into the bin when you get home! I’ve also consciously not bought any sauces or condiments in plastic jars recently, as I know glass is easily recycled.

If you’re lucky you may have a local greengrocer or a veg-box delivery service. I visit the monthly farmers market to buy loose veg and fruit and there may even be a zero-waste store in your hometown where you can take your own containers to be filled with pulses, grains, pasta and even honey.

DON’T THROW AWAY. Where possible reuse, recycle, upcycle or donate to charity (be it food, clothing or furniture). When we moved in, our little girl was left a wardrobe in her bedroom – so I painted it pink to contrast with her wallpaper and it looks fab!

I know there are many more ways to impact our environment and living space, but I thought small changes in our way of living as a family can only be a positive thing for long-term change. If we all did a little, imagine what it could do!

Danielle Starkie
Mama to 2 girls, B and Liv. Figure skating and fitness coach with a love for baking, clothes and updating and designing our new home. Balancing mum-life with work-life and life-life!

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