Take things slow and make small changes at a time - the best changes you can make are ones you stick with and that means taking it one day at a time. Sustainability can be really overwhelming as a concept, and if making gradual changes means you’re more likely to stick with those changes then we say "absolutely"! Try reducing the plastic in your shopping by shopping at bulk food shops where you can bring your own bags or jars, bring reusable bags for your veggies, perhaps look for a local milk delivery that offer glass bottles. Once this becomes second nature you can introduce ideas like switching out your shampoos and bottle soap for solid bars or bottling your own house cleaners using eco-store concentrate..... Habits take time to develop so don’t be too hard on yourself, you’ll get there!
Other than being a huge help to many small business during a particularly tough year (or two...), shopping local reduces the carbon footprint of what you buy. The closer to the source you can be to what you buy, the less impact you have on the planet with your purchase. It’s also a great opportunity to get to know your local producers and makers! Although there are amazing options from across the World, it is so important to have a circular economy and support local business. Nurturing your own community is so powerful.... and as they say, "Bye Local or Bye-Bye Local".
Buy once, buy well. The longer you own something, the better for everyone, so looking for quality is key. While it can definitely mean more of an expense up front, it can also mean a lot of savings in the long run - for you and the planet. Money is a tough subject, and there’s always going to be moments when you can’t afford something more expensive, so it’s important not to feel guilty if you have to go for the cheaper or less ethical option (there's always second hand!) Focus on buying quality when you can and taking care of what you already own.
When you're shopping, watch out for synthetic materials such as acrylic and polyester. Synthetic clothing is usually much cheaper than those made from natural materials and, get this, most are made from plastic. These are processed using highly toxic chemicals and wash micro plastics down the drain with each laundry cycle. If you can afford natural fabrics such as organic cotton, hemp or wool, with minimal processing, when these fibres break down, they won't be harming the planet - not to mention they're kinder on the people who manufacture them! Note: If you already own some synthetic clothes, don't despair - you can minimise their impact by washing them in a micro-plastic-catching bag such as 'GuppyBag'.
How could we forget our littlest people? Sometimes, little ones can make a much bigger footprint than we'd wish for - what with nappies, wipes and their tendency to grow out of clothes after only a few wears. There are a few, simple tips to reduce this impact and most will save you money in the long run!
- Check out the 'Nature Baby Buy, Sell, Swap' on Facebook where you can find good quality, organic second hand baby clothing in good condition. Once you've finished with it, you can re-list it so someone else can get some wears in! Of course, you can also head to your local thrift store.
- If you can afford to, use reusable nappies. We know from experience that all brands are not equal but we are loving using our set of Fluffy Ducks for our wee girl. Using reusables, although an upfront cost, can not only save a tonne of landfill usage, it's estimated to save you over $3000 over your babies nappy 'career'. If you can't afford the upfront cost of new reusable nappies, check out your local second hand shop. If you can't be bothered with the faff of all the laundry, why not try slightly more sustainable versions of the disposable like 'Noopiis' or 'Rascal + Friends' which aim to reduce their negative impact in a number of ways.
- There are now several brands of compostable nappy wipes. Even better, get some cloths (or cut up and hem an old flannel sheet into small squares) and use a small flask of water to keep your bub clean.
- If you use baby products in the bathroom, check out brands with less nasty chemicals such as Ecostore, or better yet, those without packaging (such as Ethique who now do a line of baby goods).
We know from experience that changing habits is really hard to do but when it comes to our planet and its current state, we have no other choice but to change. Whether you're just beginning your sustainability journey or you're looking for ways to improve on habits you already have, we're glad you're here. Little steps...