Our Waste Free Update

A few weeks ago we decided to try and live a better life, living waste free. We already live a very frugal lifestyle (growing our own food, using cloth reusable nappies, baby wipes and sanitary products) but I felt that we could be doing so much more. I also wanted to reduce the amount of plastic that we bought into our home. I’ll be honest… this has been tricky. Once you decide to go plastic-free you suddenly find yourself spotting plastic everywhere! A simple shop around the supermarket suddenly takes twice as long as you hunt high and low for plastic-free alternatives.

This is all so very new to us, but we should all start somewhere with baby steps! At the moment I am a novice, but I am sure that over time I will discover new and better ways of living waste/plastic free.

The Food Shop

We have switched from buying oils, condiments and squash in plastic bottles to glass bottles. This costs more, but once I have finished with the product I have a glass bottle that can be kept for summer when I make my own cordials (something I learnt to do last year and became a fun new hobby).

I have also started to refuse the plastic bags that you can place loose fruit and veg into, instead I am simply putting them into my net and canvas shopping bags. These are small and weigh next to nothing.

As the summer months roll in our need for supermarket shops will be greatly reduced as we grow more and more of our own food. Last year we avoided the supermarket for the majority of our items, relying heavily on our own vegetable patches instead. This year we have a better system in place and shall be growing more of our own.

Reducing plastic waste can be easier with a vegetarian diet, as lots of your purchases can be made without the need for the extra plastic. If you eat meat, you will seriously struggle to buy meat in the supermarket that isn’t wrapped in plastic.

Composting & Dog Poo

We seriously reassessed our compost bins. We have 3 large compost bins and compost lots of waste. But we realised that we were still recycling lots of paper waste. Recycling is great, but it still costs money, resources and creates a carbon footprint to recycle items. I have started adding more cardboard and paper to our compost bins (which improves compost quality too). We have also started making paper briquettes to burn in the winter on our open fire. This is done by shredding paper, soaking it in water then putting into our briquette maker and leaving the new bricks to air dry. These burn for a long time on our open fire and creates lots of heat. My 6 year old loves making the briquettes and keeps her busy for ages.

I realised that bagging up dog poo in nappy sacks and throwing into the back bin was gross and unnecessary. I am currently in the process of making a dog poo composter. This is to eliminate the use of nappy sacks at home. The dog waste is simply put into a dug trench at the bottom of the garden where it can rot away into the soil, out of the way from the kids. The soil wouldn’t be used for any veg or plants but simply removed the waste from the bin and the plastic bags that go with it. I haven’t found a good alternative for when out walking the dog, so if anyone has any suggestions for this it would be appreciated.

Using Stuff Up

I am on a mission to use up all of the plastic bottles of shower gel and moisturisers found in our bathroom. Once these are gone I shall not be replacing them with more plastic bottles. My shampoo and conditioner ran out 3 weeks ago. I make the switch to a shampoo bar and conditioner bar from Lush. These smell amazing, clean my hair beautifully and there is no waste! They also make my bathroom smell amazing. If you have ever set foot in a Lush store, you’ll know what I mean.

I have also started making my own kitchen and bathroom cleaner. Lemons are amazing for cleaning the home and with a few other nifty little ingredients you can make your own powerful cleaners, with the help of vinegar and baking soda. Google has lots of recipes for these, so have a browse.

The 5 R’s

I have made a big sign for my kitchen. It is a simple formula used by Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home (The ultimate guide to simplifying your home)- A wonderful book that I shall be reviewing soon.

Refuse- what you don’t need

Reduce- what you do need

Reuse- as much as you can

Recycle- the waste that you can no longer reuse

Rot (compost)- as much as you can

3 years ago, I made a huge effort to half what we own. Over the last year, since moving into our new home, the clutter has started to creep back in again. I have been working my way through our home and reducing what we own. Owning less stuff clears the mind, and makes more time for other activities. I have less to tidy, less laundry to wash and less ‘home’ to clean. I have just started to scrape the tip of the iceberg and this is a mammoth task that shall take a while to complete.

Only keep what you need

Our bins

To be honest are bins are still (sortof) full. Well, not as full as they once were but we are still binning a lot of stuff. I am putting this down to using up all of the goods we still have at the moment and having a good clear out at the same time. I have passed on lots of bits to friends and family and lots of stuff has gone to the charity shop. But still, we had lots of things that were either broken or so worn out they were no further use to anyone. I can only hope that once this ‘clearing out’ process is complete we shall see a massive difference in our bins.

Useful links For A Beginner (Like me!)

Research, research and more research. The best way to discover how to live a waste free / plastic free lifestyle is to read and learn how other people have done it for themselves. There are lots of amazing websites that can educate and inspire you to do the same!





4 Ways To Make Your Family Accounting Greener

Anyone with even half an eye on what’s happening with the environment and climate can’t help but realise our attitude to disposable goods is a big part of the problem.

Finding ways to complete mundane tasks in a greener way often makes small improvements that can turn into big ones when enough people also make changes.

Eco-Friendly Cloud Accounting

We do so much with cloud computing without thinking about it that running family accounts in the cloud will be an easy switch for most people. If you have an Internet account, you likely have free cloud storage through your provider, and you can use this for far more than family photos.

Alternatives to the data storage space that comes from your ISP include Dropbox or Google Drive. The advantage of using one of these services is that they stay the same even if your Internet provider changes.

You can:

  • Scan or photograph receipts you want to keep and upload the digital files instead.
  • Use Excel or Google Sheets to keep tabs on daily spending.
  • Start a subscription with online accounting software (Freeagent or Quickbooks are two examples and there are several more) if your accounting needs are more complex than simple income and expenses.

Mobile banking apps and the ability to easily move money between accounts all make staying on top of the family budget easier, without resorting to using more paper or adding to landfill.

Greener Tax Returns

Anyone who runs a business or who has income that doesn’t come from straight employment where all tax and national insurance is dealt with by their employer, needs to file a tax return.

That invariably means lots of paperwork, storage and endless numbers of receipts and invoices. Aside from business accounts, you might also have income that comes from investments, dividends, inheritances or stocks and bonds that you need to inform HMRC about.

If you find you’re faced with a mass of paperwork every time you come to file a return, switch to doing it online. The online submission process is very streamlined and easy these days, and you can even include digital files for some documentation if you need to back up your claims.

For those who do have more complicated accounting, bookkeepers and accountants can save more than they cost in the long run. They can advise you how to set up your accounts so you minimise your physical paper and have a more organised system.

A Green Home Office

Adopting a greener lifestyle not only means generating less waste, it also means finding ways to use fewer resources in the first place. The two go hand in hand.

  • Install solar window coatings. They can help conserve or reduce heat, keeping rooms more comfortable and energy efficient. There are also window films that increase privacy and safety, as well as reducing fading from sunlight, so your furniture and carpets look fresh for longer too.
  • Use energy efficient bulbs in desk and overhead lamps. It’s also a good idea to install motion sensors so lights turn off when they’re no longer needed.
  • Shun filing cabinets in favour of digital document storage.

Going Paperless

If the companies you deal with offer digital versions of documents, take them up on the offer. Examples could include getting your bank statements online, opting for PDF, print on demand versions of car and other insurances, or switching magazine subscriptions to email versions rather than paper ones.

We’re not quite at the stage yet where the office (or home) is completely paperless, but we’re getting there. The more of us who reject paper documents in favour of digital versions, the more the companies we deal with will also reduce their paper usage and that will be good for all of us, and the environment.