I’m part of a group where business leaders share their thoughts on various topics. One of the members shared a tale about her seven-year-old getting her into recycling.
It resonated with me because I too first badgered my own parents into recycling when aged eight or nine. Blame the Blue Peter Guide Dogs Appeal! It blew my young mind that by simply collecting tin foil – including our milk bottle tops – we could help others. Soon my class, then the whole school were involved, with my ever-patient mum wrapping up big, heavy chunks of foil in brown paper packages and taking them to the Post Office every week.
As an adult, I’ve become obsessed, on a continual quest to lessen the dent we put on the planet, to reduce, reuse and recycle. As a family of four, we generate only about half a shopping bag of rubbish a week.
Those images of land-fill sites are so depressing. Seriously, what are we doing to our planet?
It’s a subject I am so passionate about, so I thought I’d share a few tips here to help you run your work and home life with a lighter footprint in 2018.
Food: My Indian-born mum never wastes any food, with tiny Tupperware boxes of leftovers ready to be reused in the next dish. Clearly my mother’s daughter, I now love inventing dishes to recycle leftovers deliciously too!
Other food tips we follow are buying more seasonally and buying ‘wonky veg’ to reduce food waste.
Milk & More deliver your milk in traditional, reusable glass bottles. It’s a bit pricier, but do I enjoy that retro feel every time I make a cuppa (and we still recycle the foils tops!)
Our food wastage went right down last year with Gousto: choose your recipes and they deliver fresh ingredients all measured out perfectly.
We try to eat less meat (I was vegetarian for 21 years) so I tend to choose at least two vegetarian meals out of our three dishes. We rarely get take-outs now so are saving money and it’s healthier, plus we get to try loads of new flavour sensations every week. It also means my husband cooks three times a week – result! Portions are generous so I often split my portion over dinner and lunch next day: double result!
Get 50% off your first two boxes here with no tie-in (disclaimer, I’ll get a kickback too).
Recycling: Food scrapings go into our green bin and everything else (paper/card, plastics, aluminium and even fabrics) gets recycled too.
I recently discovered that my younger son’s class love junk-modelling – so loads of our boxes and washed plastic bottles get repurposed for play too! (I apologise to the parents that end up with our rubbish in the form of their little darlings’ sculptures, but I know they end up recycled eventually!).
If you forget to take your fabric shopping bags out and end up buying plastic bags like I do (oops), Ocado will pay you 5p per bag – any brand – and recycle them so I just hand them over when I get a delivery in.
Now in case I haven’t gone on about this book enough already, Marie Kondo changed our lives in 2017 with her book about Tidying Up.
In getting rid of everything that didn’t ‘spark joy’ we have ended up with an organised, uncluttered home which doesn’t take long to tidy, despite having two young boys. Especially as I often work from home, the extra time, calm and headspace this gives me is amazing.
Having less also has other benefits:
- We now buy less because it made us realise how little we need
- Paradoxically, in clearing out our wardrobes we’re actually wearing more different things than before – as we can find more easily and use more of what we have.
- We buy fewer, more quality items rather than cheaper throwaway ones – so we consume much less as a result.
- The house seems more spacious so we don’t want to clutter it up again.
But don’t just throw any of those old clothes away! Did you know that up to 95% of fabrics that go into landfill could be either reworn or recycled? Here’s how to use up every last scrap:
- High-ticket items get resold/given away on local community Facebook pages or charity-shopped.
- My clothes and accessories often end up at ‘Swish’ parties. We friends all get a fun night, a free wardrobe refresh and any leftovers also go to charity.
- The kids’ clothes now get passed down to younger ones in the family (and in the baby/toddler years I would often find quality swag at the local Nearly New Sales for next to nothing).
- Anything else (holey clothes, socks, tights, pants and rags) collect in a shopping bag (or a promotional fabric bag) and when full, take it to H&M for recycling in exchange for a £5 discount voucher. H&M is also the most sustainable business in the world 31% of their cotton being organic.
- You can even take old bras to Bravissimo – they ship the reusable ones to women in the third world and the others get broken down and recycled, wires and all.
- It sounds counter-intuitive, but paying a stylist and/or having your ‘colours done’ saves you money (and time) as you’ll know what suits you, you’ll actually buy less and make fewer costly style mistakes.
Other ways to live more lightly…
- The British Heart Foundation will collect your old sofas and beds for free and you can donate your old working electrical goods too.
- Swapping CDs and DVDs (charity-shopped or Music Magpied…) in favour of streaming – greener all-round and less clutter. My husband loves his Kindle too (I still like a proper book – sorry!)
- Donate or sell outgrown kids’ toys and books – with Christmas and birthdays there is always stuff coming in so it’s the only way to keep on top of it! The boys get to make some money too. 🙂
- Stopping buying anything with microbeads – those horrible plastic things which kill fish. I still love a scrub but I discovered this Mio one which uses only natural ingredients. They will be made illegal this year but why not get a head start?
- Talking about minimising pollution, I’ve also been using one of these ‘lady things‘ for about a decade now. Hygenic, no waste – and money-saving = game-changer.
- Using tap aerators to use less water and a shower timer which my boys love racing against. Get your own water-saving kits for FREE here – if you’re metered they’ll save you money too.
From a company perspective, we run pretty paper-free (everything is digital and backed-up in the Cloud).
As a largely home-based team, it’s great that none of us have to commute anymore either. We generally work remotely but have weekly catch-ups in person (which we usually walk or bus to).
We also reduced our impact in 2017 by making a donation to our charity CARE instead of sending Christmas Cards.
As a member of ZEN (Zero Emissions Network, a body of businesses working together to help reduce pollution) InnerVisions ID even has a partnership with printers Calverts who only use recycled or FSC-accredited papers and vegetable-based non-toxic inks. Our clients get a 10% discount on print and we waive our 20% print handling costs if you use Calverts over our usual printer. You’ll also able to use the FSC accreditation on your printed collateral.
Reducing, reusing, recycling and becoming more environmentally-friendly and sustainable in every aspect of your life is a wonderful way to approach the new year.
How are you going to tread more lightly in 2018?