Five Ways To Reduce Your Impact Right Now

Sometimes it feels like there is so much to be done to reduce our impact on the planet and the environment that it is too overwhelming. When looking on the various social media outlets for inspiration its all too easy to be taken in by all these beautiful images of ‘zero-waste kits’ and feel that you have to spend significant money to be doing it ‘correctly’. In the light of this it can be easy to do nothing through lack of knowing where to start. Well I’m here today to show you five easy ways to reduce your impact right now without spending a single penny! And they may even save some of your hard earned cash too. Yeay! So lets dive in.

Only boil the amount of water you need

Now I understand that I’m probably on the losing side of the tea vs coffee debate. Tea wins every time. Coffee is, frankly, disgusting. But whatever your poison, there is nothing better than a steaming hot brew. That is, except for a steaming hot brew made by only boiling the mug full of water required for said cuppa. Now that is satisfying. Not only will you not have to wait unnecessarily for that, frankly, life affirming beverage, you’ll also waste far less water and electricity. According to Ethical Consumer magazine in an article about kettles from 2018, the number one way to improve energy efficiency with regards to kettles is to stop over filling them. This is reiterated in this article, which touts savings (correct in 2017) of £15 a year based on boiling your kettle twice a day, half full instead of full. I know I use my kettle significantly more than twice a day, and am sure I’m not alone. With modern kettles holding about 2 litres of water and the average mug holding around 350ml, you can see that routinely unnecessarily boiling over a litre of water will have a negative impact. By only boiling what you need you can do your part to reduce energy use and water waste. And save a few pennies too.

Air dry your clothes

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I’ll be honest, I knew tumble dryers were wasteful, but I have to admit I was surprised when I looked up the figures. I found on this website (again 2017 costings) that the average 2.5kWh vented tumble dryer costs about £0.44 per full load, emitting 0.9kg of CO2. I’ll reiterate, thats for one load. Meaning if you use your tumble dryer 4x per week, and I’m sure people use them more than that, you’ll spend £91.52 in electricity and emit 198kg of CO2. Contrast that to air drying. Now I’m well aware that not everyone has the outdoor space in which to hang their washing, that having outdoor space is a privilege. But if you do have some, then take advantage. Not only do you get time outside with fresh air, which is not to be sniffed at, but you’ll prolong the life of your clothes, and the sunlight can even be helpful in removing staining on white clothes. Otherwise stand dryers inside do just as well.

Reduce food waste

Photo by Taylor Kiser on Unsplash

This is a massive topic, and I encourage you to check out Love Food Hate Waste which is a cornucopia of information. Just from a quick scout at their information page, its clear theres a massive problem here in UK. [Note – this isn’t a problem unique to the UK, if you’re outside the UK its worth checking out the figures for your local area.] We waste 7 million tonnes of food a year, of which 5 million is edible. Thats heartbreaking, especially when there are people all around the world living in food poverty. And its not just the supermarkets fault, though thats another topic. Its here in our homes too. The bits that in wartime were all cherished, in our era of plenty we have no impetus to use. Veg peelings, stale bread, chicken bones. Check out their website for lots of recipes to use up the bits that you have left over. In the meantime, have you considered veggie scrap stock? Its ridiculously easy, and I’ll do a post on it soon, but essentially, keep all you peelings, carrot tops, onion skins, mushroom stalks etc, in a jar in the freezer, and once full add to your slow cooker/pot on the hob, cover with water, season and add herbs, then simmer. On the hob I’d say 5-6 hours on low, in the slow cooker I stick mine on low for 24 hours. You’ll never use crappy cubes again. And its effectively free!

Turn down your heating

Photo by Kate Hliznitsova on Unsplash

If nothing else this is the best excuse to break out your lovely snuggly winter knitted jumpers, and cosy up under a blanket with a good book and a cuppa (boiling only the necessary, obvs!). Or a mug of cream of tomato soup. Mmm. Can you tell its winter, and I’m a bit chilly? Anyhoo, I found an interesting document from the Department of Energy and Climate Change – it’s dated 2012, but at lot of the energy saving advice is sound. It suggests if reducing average temperature from 20ˆC to 18ˆC you can reduce annual energy usage by 3000kWh, or 1500kWh if reduced from 19ˆC to 18ˆC. The current average price of electricity in the UK at the moment is 14.37p, so conservatively this could save you £215 per degree temperature reduction. We keep out house at 18 degrees, and turn the radiators off in rooms that aren’t used. Yes, every now and again I need to put on a wooly jumper. Poor me. But honestly, you get used to it. And wooly jumpers are nice. And, hopefully, sustainable!

Switch off all electrical items at the plug when not in use

Photo by Cheryl Winn-Boujnida on Unsplash

Admittedly the savings for this aren’t going to be as impressive as reducing the heating to your whole house, but every little counts. That same government document suggests you could save 50-100kWh per year switching your TV off at the mains when its not in use, which equates to £7-14. But when you extrapolate that to your computer, phone, bedside lamp, speakers, internet rooter etc etc, it all adds up.

So there we are! Five things you can start doing right now to reduce your impact, and potentially save some hard earned money at the same time – I reckon up to £3-400 without breaking a sweat. Literally, because your house will now be freezing. But hey! You now have the pennies to go buy that instagram worth zero waste kit.

*joking*

Until next time,

S

Plans For An Ethical Wardrobe

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Have you got what you would consider to be an ethical wardrobe? Or is 2020 the year you plan to address that issue?

Amongst all the other plans to reduce my impact, looking at my wardrobe is high up in the forefront of my consciousness. You see I had a baby 9 months ago and very little of my pre-pregnancy wardrobe fits – physically or in style and function. For example, I haven’t worn heels since the middle of my pregnancy and until I go back to work have no intention of wearing them either. Currently I’m breast feeding, so I live in a wardrobe of nursing vests under long sleeve stretchy tops with jeans or leggings so I can do ‘one-up-one-down’ while still keeping my tum covered.

I feel very ‘mum’. Not that that is a bad thing. I intend to mother the shit out of this little boy, but that doesn’t mean I have to be ‘mumsy’. I suppose I feel like I’ve lost my identity. My style. Or maybe it’s just changed?

Either way I’ve been pondering the direction in which I’d like to travel, in a clothing sense. I repeatedly come back to the concepts of capsule wardrobes and ethical fashion. Now I’m never going to be able to live with less that 30 garments (one issue – babies are messy, man!) But I do like the concept of my clothes being very deliberately chosen to mix and match together to give me maximal bang for my proverbial and literal buck, along with them having the most minimal impact possible.

Add to the mix that I sew. I’d say about 75% of my clothes are hand crafted (this doesn’t include outerwear or underwear, just clothes) and I plan to continue sewing. But not at the rate I had been. I did go through a phase of churning out lots of clothes for the sake of sewing, many of which I didn’t keep for one reason or another. But with our little boy taking up a lot of my time I just don’t have the time to sew all that frequently. I don’t have a dedicated sewing space and, if I do get a free half an hour, getting everything out takes so long that it’s about time to put it back away again. So that’s possibly going to have to simmer away in the background, playing less of a roll in the immediate direction I plan to take my wardrobe, along with knitting. I’m a beginner knitter, and the only thing I’ve made so far that I’ve kept is a knitted beanie hat. but I like the concept of being able to pick it up and do one row at at time if that’s all the time I get. And it’s portable. So I may add the occasional hand knitted jumper, though I don’t plan to rely on that by any means. Both will add to my wardrobe in a small way whilst fulfilling my urge to craft.

With all that preamble said, my general plans are:

  • Work towards a cohesive capsule wardrobe
  • Sew slowly and with intention
  • Knit along side sewing as a way to craft and create
  • Buy second hand
  • Make considered purchases from ethical fashion stores
  • Buy it once. Buy it well.

Which has led to a number of questions. (1) How does one know that ethical fashion is truly ethical and avoid greenwashing?

(2) What are the best ethical fashion brands?

(3) particularly given I’m breastfeeding at the moment and will need to replace my bras in the not too distant future, what are the best ethical underwear brands?

(4) Are there any thrifting / second hand places to shop that I don’t know about? I mainly use eBay.

(5) I need to research ethically sourced materials for sewing and knitting.

Can you help with any of my questions? I’d like to get a conversation started so if you have any experience of these sorts of things I’d really appreciate your input! Please pitch in with a comment 💕

I’ve started a Pinterest page (search Our Simpler Home under the people tab of the Pinterest and join me!) for all my inspiration as I go, not just for planning my wardrobe, but everything low impact sustainable, and conscious living centred. One of my boards is for ethical fashion inspiration though. If you’re interested in seeing what I’m pinning then check it out.

Until next time,

S

Buy it once. Buy it well.

Photo by Oziel Gómez on Unsplash

I’ve been looking for a pair of boots. I got some jeans for Christmas (eventually, but that’s a long story that I’ll come back to in another post – suffice it to say I’ll be buying all my jeans second hand from now on) and feel now is the time to buy the lace-up battered-look boots that I’ve been wanting for ages to go with them.

I tell you this because I’ve wanted these boots for at least a couple of years but have never gotten around to buying them. There are a number of reasons for this, but they all essentially lead back to the fact that I don’t want to create waste. I have in the past bought the first pair of cheap boots/shoes/sandals that have taken my fancy and every time I’ve regretted it. They’ve been uncomfortable, they’ve fallen to pieces, they haven’t actually been the style that I wanted but I fell for that Pinterest image hard. So I’ve waited.

And I’ve come to the realisation that I’ve waited because I wanted to buy it once, buy it well.

I wanted to buy it once, buy it well

And having come to that realisation I love the whole ethos. Research your purchases. Buy intentionally. Buy ethically. And reduce waste.

I found a pair of second hand lace up boots similar to the picture above on eBay. Not only am I going to give them a second life, but they fit the style I’ve wanted perfectly, and currently there is nothing like it on the high street. I hope that having bought second hand I’m not adding to the growing consumer madness gripping the western world.

So this is going to be my new mantra whenever I want to buy something. How can I make this purchase mindfully, with ethics at heart, so it doesn’t let me down and lead to another purchase in the near future.

What about you? What are your thoughts? Do you aim to ‘buy it once, buy it well’? Let me know!

Until next time

S

Theme Of The Year : Regenerative Living

Easton Gardens Potager
Photo by Me. Easton Gardens Potager.

In keeping with the new year, planning and the general time that I spend musing over life at this time of year, I felt the need to document my thoughts with regards to one of the over arching themes that I keep coming back to in my pondering.

Ultimately, and hopefully in the not to distant future, I hope that we could live in such a way that rather than just being ‘eco’ or ‘low waste’ we could instead aim to be regenerative. I’m aware the concept may be either unfamiliar or even overly vague, so let me delve deeper.

I came across the concept when browsing social media, looking for ideas and inspiration for the lifestyle I’d like to create for us over the next few years. In doing so I found the hashtag #regenerativeliving, and with it a myriad of inspiration. Up until now I’d just been looking to reduce my impact to zero, but hadn’t considered, perhaps naively, that it is possible to go one step further and actually regenerate the environment around us. Now I’ve considered it I’m baffled that it hadn’t occurred to me before.

What particularly interested me was this concept as applied to small holdings. I’ve been toying with the idea of a small holding for a while. It is something that needs more thought, and isn’t a fixed goal for us as yet, but definitely one of the things I’m mulling over, slowly and deliberately. I saw a few posts that were directed at an answer to ‘Veganuary’, the challenge to go vegan for a month as your new year resolution. In and of itself I’m sure those who take part (I have not) are doing so with excellent base line motivation. But what I, and I’m sure many others, hadn’t considered was the potential negative impact. The food miles of the ‘millennial favourite’ avocados for instagram worthy dinners, or indeed the negative social impact of the avocado industry. The impact on bees whose hives are uplifted and flown thousands of miles so they can be used to pollinate the almond harvests to only be killed by injudicious use of pesticides, just so we can swap to almond milk. The deforestation in the amazon to make way for mass produced soy for milk and tofu, destroying habitat and biodiversity. And I’m sure these are just the tip of the iceberg.

What if, instead, we chose to be more deliberate? Shop locally. Buy and savour locally produced organic meat, in small quantities. On farms and smallholdings which take their biodiversity, soil health, animal health and food miles into account. Wouldn’t this be a more sustainable, more planet friendly, and healthier way? Both for our physical and emotional wellbeing?

As well as as a consumer, I feel this is something I can apply to my current life and future plans with regards to producing my own. I chose the heading image to represent what I see as a beautiful garden with regerative potential. A potager, teeming with biodiversity (I took the photo this past summer in Easton Gardens and have never seen so many butterflies and bees), fitting into the landscape, allowing for food to be available at our doorstep. What could be better that food freshly dug going straight into our dinners? Good for the heart in more ways than one.

So I’m going to take this concept of regenerative living and roll with it as my theme for 2020, and perhaps also for the decade, we’ll see. Really it should be a permanent frame of mind from now on, because if we are not regenerating, then we are degenerating. I want to look for ways to improve the environment around me, and consider that with every action I take. Clearly I am not perfect, I will not and can not get this right at first pass. But if it is ticking away in the back of my mind I’m hoping it will colour my decisions from here on out, and every little step will hopefully be another step in the right direction.

Here’s to regenerative living! Do you have plans to put back in more than you take out of life? What ideas do you plan to put into place? Lets have a conversation!

Until next time, take care

S

Plans For The New Year And New Decade

Happy New Year
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I can’t believe we’re about to enter a new decade. It feels unreal. How is it 10 years since 2010?

It’s not an exaggeration to say that I was a completely different person back then. Ten years younger, in a completely different phase of my life. I was living away from where I grew up, not that long out of university, in a training scheme I was starting to hate (I work in the NHS). At that point I was single and spending what free time I had with a group of friends who are now friends for life, even if we don’t see each other often enough. I was in a moderate amount of debt, and working very long and arduous hours. In general I was a bit miserable!

Fast forward to now. I changed speciality (and though still busy I’m not miserable at work anymore), have moved back to my home town, am married and have just had a son. Our house is 50% paid off and are in a much better financial situation. I see less of those friends, but the time we do manage to carve out is wonderful.

I suppose my point is that in 2010 I couldn’t have planned for, or foreseen, the changes that would have happened to get us to this point here. Don’t get me wrong, in my bones I knew I would get married and have children, that was a given. Sounds daft but it’s true. But I’m lucky to have gotten here, and be happy.

So what do I want from 2020? And the Twenties? Given how far we are from where we were in 2010, it’s impossible to plan or even imagine where we’ll be in ten years time. But there are some general aims that I’ve been mulling over.

I’m currently on maternity leave, having had our little boy in April, and, as I mentioned in our last post, he’s completely changed our life and our outlook. I no longer want to be a slave to work (did I ever, really??), and desperately want to prioritise him when planning out our lives now. How this will look in the long term I’m not sure, but I have so many ideas percolating. I could leave my work and buy a farm to live a self sufficient lifestyle, or create a portfolio career and fit it in around his schedule, or even just work out of hours to allow me to do school drop off and pick up. So many options that I’m almost paralysed with indecision.

There are, however, some over-arching themes:

  • Financial independence
  • Flexibility to fit work around childcare
  • Working towards a self sufficient lifestyle

The ‘how’ of working towards these goals isn’t clear to me yet. But what I am clear about is that I want to prioritise our son, both in time and in presence. I feel that I’ve put them in order, in which case gaining financial independence will be the first stepping stone to then give us the flexibility to work towards the rest of the goals.

So stay tuned, as I make plans and work towards our goals I’ll document the ride!

Enjoy

S

Gratitude For The Year

Our Simpler Home Blog. Gratitude For The Year.
Photo by Thom Holmes on Unsplash

I think it is fitting to start the blog at the turn of the year. There is something beautifully restorative about this time. More-so given this year is also the turn of a decade. Every year, around this time, I get the urge to look back and reflect on the year past, and look forward to the year coming. It needn’t be specifically at the New Year. That is, after all, a social convention, but this is when I feel the urge to do so. So here we are.

So thank you 2019. It has been an excellent year. By that I don’t mean its been easy, far from it. But excellent. This year we welcomed our little boy into the world. What could be better than that? He has changed our lives in ways I couldn’t have imagined a year ago, and I feel I’m a different person for it. Hopefully better, too.

I have breastfed our little boy since his birth in April. It has been beautiful, exhausting, impossible. Everything. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Really. Even the difficult bits. Easy to say in retrospect, I am aware, but those difficult times have afforded me the knowledge that what I/we have done has been tough and beautiful and worth every second. We’re still breast feeding; our little one is eight and a half months old and I intend to feed him until I go back to work when he is one. At the beginning I set out to make it to when we weaned him onto food, about 6 months, but always hoped I could manage the year. I see no reason to stop before then, now that it is easy. In fact, my concern now is that I might find it difficult to wean him off! Oh how fickle I am.

We continue to navigate this world of parenthood. It is wonderful, it really is. Not what I expected at all, and yet everything I expected. I’m sure I’m not making much sense, really, but that’s how I feel. Its as though, despite having never done this before, everything is familiar. Like I already knew deep down what to do. How mother earth of me. Quite a lovely feeling, though, when prior all I could think was ‘Good God, how do I keep it alive?!’

Now I’m sure other stuff has happened in 2019. We continue to tinker with the house, and the garden. I’ve been getting out and about on my maternity leave, meeting people, doing things. But to be honest I could sum up 2019 with a short sentence.

We had our little boy and he changed our world.

So here’s to 2020. To the twenties (Side note – I wonder if flapper girls will be back in?). I can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store.

Take care

S