Reducing Our Waste as a Family

Seeing Trump getting elected in the States felt like a rallying cry to try to bring my actions into closer alignment with my values and beliefs. Over the past year or so we’ve been making big and small tweaks to reduce our waste as a family. So far we’ve:

  • use cloth nappies for Peter
  • replaced dish sponges, cleaning cloths, and kitchen roll with old muslins and flannels
  • have our milk and OJ delivered in returnable glass bottles
  • always keep my reusable bags, water bottle, and coffee cup with me
  • use reusable baking tray liners instead of parchment paper
  • switched to cloth menstrual pads
  • I make my own almond milk
  • replaced out hand soap and body wash with bar soap
  • switched to solid deodorant from Lush
  • collect food scraps in the freezer to make stock (we’d love to compost but don’t really have space but I have just read about Share My Waste so I’ll be looking into that)
  • buying secondhand, which I’ve always been into, but it feels even more important with baby things which they use for so little time
  • switching to bamboo toothbrushes (although we’ve had some problems with ours so we’re still looking for a brand that works for us. I’m planning to try these next time we need new ones).
  • trying to buy loose produce rather than anything packaged in plastic

It’s easy to feel impotent in the face of major issues like climate change and environmental devastation but every little thing really does add up. Cloth nappying alone keeps hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of disposable nappies out of landfills.

Ultimately, it will take large corporations shifting their practices and government putting better legislation in place to see major changes happen as a society. But the pressure has to come from us. We have to be the change.

I’m part of the Journey to Zero Waste in the UK group which is full of inspiring ideas and has also taught me a lot about how often the choice that seems eco-friendly, still has a major carbon footprint. For example, you need to use a cotton bag 300 times for it to have a smaller footprint than a plastic bag. Ultimately cotton is a renewable resource and plastic isn’t but these issues aren’t cut and dry. We have to do the research for ourselves and make the decisions that feel right for us. The most important thing is reducing our consumption across the board and learning to reuse what we already have.

I recently put my trainers through the wash, polished all of my boots, and now I just have to get one pair resoled and it will be like having nearly new shoes at very little cost. Capitalism encourages excessive consumerism and most of us have gotten used to it being easier (and often cheaper!) to replace what we have rather than fixing it. But there’s a hidden cost and much of that cost will fall on Peter’s generation. I don’t think it’s fair to criticize the poor environmental choices governments are making unless we’re willing to make some of these changes ourselves. I also realize that there’s privilege inherent in being able to make those choices but for those of us who have that privilege, let’s do what we can.

I think the next little shift we make will be making some bees wax cloths as we’ve just run out of cling film.

Do you have any tips for things we could try to move towards making less waste?

Simple ways to reduce your waste as a family, zero waste swaps, eco-friendly choices, lowering carbon footprint, sustainable, environmentally-friendly

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