90 Tips on Sustainable Living

Picof Mindful Chef products

Happy New Year! Every January, I blog about #smallchanges we can make to live a bit more greenly. Sustainable living is rather an obsession of mine. As I write, we’re awaiting delivery of our new electric car so we really are going all in this year!

Here’s the updated article for this year – there’s over 90 simple tips in this article  – I’ve put our new adds in since last year in green!

2021 might have been a strange year but we can take action to make sure 2022 is even better.

Even if you just do one thing, that’s a start!

Eating more greenly
  • Consuming less meat and dairy is the single biggest way to help the planet.
  • We love Cauldron sausages – flavoursome and ‘meaty’ (gently fry – they dry out if grilled)
  • Tivall soy hotdogs an occasional junk-treat for the boys as I won’t buy in ‘meat’ hotdogs. Serve with ketchup in a bun, or chop into a tomato pasta sauce.
  • Love a burger? These ‘Beyond Meat’ Plant’ Burgers are AMAZING.
  • One big shift we made this year is to Oatly Barista – I actually prefer to cow’s milk now.
  • I can’t give up proper cheese, but for vegan cheeses, Smoked ‘Gouda’ slices are a passable smoky, mild cheddar substitute for sandwiches and…
  • Nush almond milk chive-flavoured cream cheese is a bit like Philadephia.
  • Sign up to Mindful Chef. We love them: Healthier, planet-friendly and gluten-free recipes with loads of vegan choices, it’s really increased the variety my boys will now eat. They also donate a meal to a starving child for every meal you buy. Get 4 boxes with 25% off here.
  • Try my yummy (completely inauthentic but family fave) veggie spag bol. Coarsely grate 500-750g mixed veg (I use courgette and mushrooms, plus carrots and finely sliced leeks if I have them) – whatever you’ve got to use up. Sauté to soften then add Vivera Soya Mince and stir in for a couple of minutes. Add flavour/colour with garlic, veggie Bouillon powder / stock cube, some big squirts of ketchup and tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce (leave out if vegan), balsamic glaze, some chilli flakes, teaspoon Marmite (trust me!), glug of red wine, 70% chocolate/cocoa and season. Lastly, two tins of tomatoes and simmer. No actual measures – all to taste! Makes 8 portions (it freezes).
  • I add 1-2 tins of kidney beans to the leftover half for a ‘chilli sin carne’. Serve with rice, tacos, guacamole, grated cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced peppers and 0% Skyr yoghurt (a healthier alternative to sour cream).
  • A few vegan slow cooker recipes we’ve enjoyed include this Jambalaya
  • This Quinoa chilli and
  • This Veggie stew (we put more spice/flavour). I also added butter beans for protein.
  • Also try these delicious breakfast burritos with an amazing vegan scrambled egg substitute. Andy would make a batch every weekend and freeze or wrap some up for a quick weekday lunches too.

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  • In addition, I try and buy British, seasonally and choose ‘wonky veg’ to reduce food waste.
  • Opt for less plastic packaging (e.g. real butter in paper – which I put in this insulated butter dish so it’s always soft).
  • Try these Bees Wraps and silicon dish sealers to when you’d normally use clingfilm.
  • You can wipe clean and re-use tin foil several times before recycling.
  • Also make sure any tin foil in the recycling is balled up well to at least the size of a tennis ball (we save foil lids, chocolate wrappers etc and wrap in larger pieces) as the grabbers can’t pick up tiny bits of foil.
Greener drinks
  • Milk & More deliver milk and juice in glass bottles – we used them for years but sadly they no longer deliver near us.

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Greener shopping
  • Make like Marie Kondo. We got rid of anything that didn’t ‘spark joy’ and ended up with an organised, uncluttered home, despite kids. Enjoy the extra headspace, time and calm it gives you.
  • Having less means you end up needing and buying less. Our purchases now are more considered, high-quality and long-lasting.
  • Gift ‘experiences‘ over things – no clutter, just great memories. Events, gigs, gallery memberships, cinemas, days out and meals – or just favours, things made and time spent with loved ones.
  • Reduce mass consumerism: at Christmas, try a Secret Santa for the grown ups or agree to just buy for the kids. Less stress and cost, no crap presents and you focus on time together. Liberating!
  • We use plain or brown paper, traditional parcel tags and string – or Pritt Stick instead of sellotape (which is plastic) – metallic/sparkly papers don’t recycle. Decorate the paper yourself with marker pens or stamping inks. 
  • Instead of Christmas cards, send e-cards and/or make a charity donation.
  • Even my kids’ teachers are now doing this for their classes e.g. adopting a panda and giving each child a certificate.
  • Use (or start!) a neighbourhood Whatsapp and/or Facebook group – on ours, all sorts of great deals/swaps get done. Great for buying/selling/donating kids’ toys, books, clothes, games, bikes.
  • Keep fabric shopping bags everywhere – in the car, with your coats, in your bag – so you’re not caught needing a plastic one.
  • If you do have some plastic bags though, Ocado pay 10p for each (any brand) and recycle them.
Greener wardrobes
  • Try and cut down online clothes shopping if you can – a shocking number of brands send returned goods to landfill,
  • Get your ‘colours’ done – saves on time, money, mistakes – and you’ll look even more fabulous!
  • Edit your wardrobe: after my Kondo-cull, I buy less and wear more of my clothes because they’re all organised, I know what I’ve got and can find them again.
  • A great dressmaker/tailor can revitalise and upgrade existing items and high-street/second-hand finds. Game-changer.
  • I get overwhelmed in charity shops – but I love eBay. Try also Vinted, Vestiare Collective and similar for more eco-friendly buys.
  • I used to buy the kids’ 0-4 yr clothes and toys (often new, with tags!) from NCT Nearly New Sales.
  • Amongst friends we’d host ‘Swishing’ parties: bring a bottle and quality items you no longer wear to swap. A great girls’ night in and a wardrobe boost – with the rest to charity.
  • Organise your own or find local clothes-swap events on Eventbrite. 
  • Mothballs are highly toxic to the environment; try cedarwood hangers/sprays or other tips here.

Did you know 95% of fabrics in landfill could’ve been re-worn or recycled? You don’t need to throw any fabric away…

  • You can use old garments as cleaning rags (we’ve use old socks to polish shoes!)
  • Or I take any unusable ones (even socks, tights, pants…) to H&M for discount vouchers. They are one of the most sustainable mass-market fashion brands, so great for growing kids.
  • Wearable kids’ clothes get passed on to family and friends…
  • Adult clothes go to charity shops, warm ones go to our local soup kitchen and higher-value stuff gets sold via eBay, Vinted or local Facebook groups.
  • I’ve also donated quality work-clothes to Smartworks which kits women in need out for job interviews.
  • Take old bras to Bravissimo – reusable ones go to women in developing countries, others get recycled and they make a donation to charity.
  • Use pretty fabrics to wrap presents, Japanese furoshiki-style
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Green Power aka ‘How we halved our energy bills ...
  • Replace any disposable batteries that run out with rechargeable ones. We have a Universal battery charger and keep charged spares ready. They last for years.
  • As batteries wear out (either type), take to a battery-recycling bin – our local Sainsbury’s have one.
  • A Smart Meter displays how much energy we were using.
  • Ours shocked me into buying a retractable double washing line and these recyclable pegs!
  • Our energy-efficient Hue lighting and motion sensors mean lights only come on when needed e.g. hallways, bathroom, kitchen, garden. They can be set to low levels at night, and be controlled remotely by app (even on holiday!) or voice command.
  • Our Nest thermostat turns the heating down when we are out – and back up as we head home.
  • We switched to Octopus renewable energy in 2019. To switch (and get £50 off) click here.
Greener cleaning
  • Microfibre cloths although plastic, are really eco-friendly. They wash well, last for years and are super absorbent (use them damp) so you need much less cleaning product or kitchen roll.
  • Glass cloths polish mirrors/windows with just water too.
  • These cellulose washing up sponges I found break down in your compost! Bit dumb that they come wrapped in plastic though (I did leave seller feedback)
  • Save water – don’t bother rinsing your plates – just scrape and pop in the dishwasher.
  • And DON’T pour fat or oils down the drain – fatberg alert! Absorb with kitchen towels and bin them.
  • I make all my own cleaning products using vinegar – easy fast, cheap and AMAZING – it’s magic stuff! Don’t worry, the smell disappears quickly – or you can scent it – slice squeezed/used lemons up and push into the bottle. BONUS: you get preserved lemons for salads, chicken or fish dishes.
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Vinegar: I LOVE this stuff

  • Burnt-on pans/ovens/tough stains – even better than the toxic chemical oven cleaners I’ve used before. Mix vinegar into a paste with bicarb of soda, rub on, leave for a bit, use elbow grease, wipe/rinse. Or make a runnier mix and let it fizz away. Easier still: I burnt a pan and put water and vinegar in immediately. After a few minutes, the gunk just lifted off with a gentle scrape.
  • All-purpose cleaner: for sinks/glass/worktops (not granite/marble): 50/50 vinegar/water and a good ‘squidge’ of Fairy liquid in a squirty bottle. Tip gently back and forth to mix.
  • Granite or marble: Just use a drizzle of washing up liquid and a hot damp microfibre cloth then rinse. Lift any stains with a gentle paste of bicarb and water.
  • Limescale remover for taps, shower heads, tiles, etc: 50/50 vinegar and Fairy (neat). Warm the vinegar to combine it more easily and tip bottle gently back and forth to mix. Spray on stubborn limescale and leave to dry. Scrub with an old toothbrush and rinse. Gasp and thank me later.
  • Toilet descaler: use a loo brush to push as much water as you can down the U-bend for best results. Boil 1-2 inches of vinegar (it will descale your kettle too!), pour down the loo and close the lid. Leave overnight if you can. Scrub – the scale should lift. Repeat if needed. For under the rim, this Ecover one is great and Kilrock is a powerful eco-friendly limescale remover – I use that twice a year if needed.
  • Drains: Commercial drain cleaners are toxic and pollute our waterways. De-clog smelly drains with 1/2 cup of dry bicarb down the plughole, pour 1-2 cups vinegar over to make it fizz. Leave 1/2 hr and pour a kettle of boiled water down to flush it all down. Repeat if needed.
  • Wood: just wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth (advice from the guy who restored our dining table this year). Occasionally rub oiled wood with a bit of olive oil or furniture wax if needed.
  • Floors: for tiles, lino, laminate and sealed wooden floorboards. Mop using just hot water, some Fairy liquid and a glug of vinegar. Do not over-wet wood.
  • Dishwasher: put half a teacup of vinegar in the top rack. Everything will sparkle and it descales your machine. We also use vinegar instead of commercial rinse aid.
  • Washing machine: weekly, add half a cup of vinegar into the drum or fabric-conditioner drawer. Whitens whites, darkens darks (as it removes soap scum), softens, descales, deodorises, kills germs and prevents mould build-up. Told you it was magic!
  • Algae on paving outside. Paint/spray neat vinegar on the areas and leave for a few days to work. Wash off with a hose and broom/brush.
Greener bathrooms
  • This year we switched to Who Gives a Crap bamboo toilet paper- sustainable and plastic-free. They also have a mission to provide sanitation to those who don’t have it. Get £5 off your first order here.
  • We use Dove soap bars instead of shower gel.
  • We love shampoo bars too. No more spillages and they are great for travel (when we can!). I’ve to find a decent conditioner bar though. I’ve just bought another to try.SoapHolder-InnerVisions-ID-Branding-Consultancy-London-2021
  • I also use this gentle, moisturising face bar.
  • This is the best soap tray. It attaches to a tile/mirror with strong suction and can hold all three bars at once.
  • If you still want bottled shampoo, go large and avoid travel-sized bottles. a 900ml bottle uses less plastic than 3 x 300ml ones. For travel, decant into smaller re-usable containers.
  • Buy cotton buds with paper stalks here
  • Use cleansing cloths or natural facial sponges instead of disposable cotton wool or wipes.
  • Plastic toothbrushes don’t recycle or break down – use bamboo ones.

 

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Make like a panda with a bamboo toothbrush

 

  • Use an electric water flosser for a greener way to clean between your teeth.
  • For a natural tooth whitener, use bicarbonate of soda on a damp toothbrush – or combine with toothpaste to hide the taste!
  • Save water with this FREE kit – if you’re metered, the tap aerators and shower timers will save £££s too.
  • Oh, and turn your tap off whilst you’re brushing!
  • #PlasticFreePeriod: us ladies typically spend over £18,000 and use up to 11,000 sanitary products in a lifetime. I highly recommend a Mooncup: hygienic, zero waste, and saves a fortune. There are also other alternatives e.g. Thinx, ModiBodi and these.
Greener business
  • We only use 100% recycled or recyclable packaging – including this brown tape.
  • www.ecosia.org is a search engine that plants trees with every click and search!
  • We run virtually paper-free, everything is digital and backed-up in The Cloud.
  • As a member of ZEN (Zero Emissions Network) we have a partnership with Calverts printers who only use recycled or FSC-accredited papers and non-toxic inks. Our clients get a 10% discount and we also waive our 15% print handling fee.
  • The Guardian Sustainable Business Network will keep you up-to-date with other ethical and sustainable business innovations.
  • Watch my winning talk at the Good Pitch Summit where I talk about how any business can be a Force for Good.

Whatever 2022 has in store, living in a more sustainable way will make it better.

No better time to start – let us know how you get on!