Updated: Jan 15, 2021
Hello! We are the eco family – a family of four (plus Thomas the cat)! We are what we describe as a regular family: we work full time and have two children that are in school. We have incredibly busy lives, each and every day is filled with chaos but we also are working towards becoming a more sustainable family amid the chaos! The aim of our sustainable journey is to inspire others to make sustainable changes so that we can all make a small but vital difference to the world that we live in.
We began our sustainable journey in January 2019. Christmas 2018 was the changing point for us when we were sat at home, surrounded by glittered covered wrapping paper, single use plastic and a mountain of plastic items that would be thrown away within days. This made us realise the impact of our actions, the amount of waste created and sent to landfill, the damage caused by the plastic we used and the impact of our over indulgent diet over the Christmas period!
We began by setting 4 family goals, which we labelled our eco goals. These are:
1. To use less plastic
2. To eat less animal products
3. To have less waste and recycle more
4. To buy from ethical companies.
Plastic was featuring heavily in the media and on social media – the world was waking up to the impact of all the single use plastic that was covering our food and the realisation that plastic was terrible for the environment. As working parents, we relied heavily on supermarkets and online ordering to buy all that we needed. However, by choosing food carefully, we realised that there is a way of cutting back on plastic packaging.
We found some amazing zero waste shops in our local area and started shopping at farm stores, where most fruit and vegetables are available plastic free. While supermarkets are changing, it is often hard to find plastic free options, so we are working hard to make our food from scratch rather than buying, when possible.
We quickly changed to using shampoo and conditioner bars as well as solid soap bars for hand washing, which is an easy but affordable swap. These simple changes quickly reduced the amount of plastic we were using, but we wanted to do more. Cleaning products often contain chemicals that end up in the ocean and these products are typically sold in plastic bottles. We learned how to make homemade cleaning products from vinegar and essential oils which cleaned better than any cleaning product we had ever bought! We also learned about simple swaps such as the eco egg for laundry and homemade fabric conditioners, all which reduced the volume of plastic that we were using as a family. If making your own cleaning products is not for you, look for products that are not tested on animals and are based on natural products, to reduce the amount of chemicals going down the drain and the amount of plastic that you bring home.
Buying from ethical companies can always be a tricky issue, companies are quick to tell you how they are making a difference, without really making any sustainable changes to their production. For the first time in our lives, we researched the sustainable policies of companies before we bought from them. We used websites such as ethical consumer, which really help, as they often rate companies based on their ethics. We also started buying from small businesses, particularly ones that worked hard to share their eco-friendly products and sustainable policies. We would encourage all of you to do the same: giving your hard-earned money to companies who do not have any plans to reduce their waste or create sustainable options, is encouraging this bad practice.
Fast fashion has also featured in the media and we decided to reduce the amount of new clothes that we bought. For the first time, we bought from charity shops and second hand online market places. We still have to occasionally buy new clothes from shops, however we only buy if necessary, as we realise that the most sustainable option was not to buy at all!
We were always a vegetarian family, however we were learning more about the impact of dairy and meat farming on the environment and how unethical this business was. We calculated the emissions we were creating as a family when we drank cow’s milk, and it was shocking! Changing to plant-based milk, and eventually a totally vegan diet, was a slow but worthwhile change for us. A vegan diet takes planning, especially with two hungry and growing children, but this has been our most successful and ‘feel-good’ change. As parents, we were saddened to see the way that animals are treated in farming practices, especially when calves are removed from their mothers so that humans can consume their milk. There are so many plant-based options available now. The world is slowly recognising the positive impact of a plant-based diet, both on the environment and on our health. If this is a new choice for you, try swapping weekday meals to plant-based options and plan your meals throughout the week. This will reduce the cost of your shopping and reduce the amount of waste created by leftover food.
We decided to share our eco journey on YouTube and Instagram. With two children aged 10 and 12, it was the ideal way for us to share our experiences and ideas, whilst encouraging others to adopt these changes too. It has not always been easy, the path to sustainable living is full of obstacles, but we are trying and doing our best. Follow us on our eco journey on Instagram @the.eco.family, on twitter @theecofamily and on YouTube. We would love to hear about your sustainable changes and eco swaps – please do let us know your ideas for sustainable living!