Something Joe and I have been working hard on since we moved into our new flat is being eco friendly. After the inevitable overload of waste from moving (SO MANY cardboard boxes), we started on a new path. Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle. There’s a fifth R, rot, but there’s not much we can do about that one from an apartment. Now, I don’t plan on being the next Bea Johnson (at least not yet, I mean, I could read for days about that woman’s jar collection), but we’re making small changes to reduce our impact on the world around us. Obviously we started with the bigger things like recycling and reducing our energy usage, but then we got down to the nitty-gritty. We’re still working on it – it’s a long process, but we’re getting there. Some of the things we’ve been doing have been boring and hard-work, so I’ve done a lot of reading to see how else we can make a difference. In the mean time, I thought I’d share with you the five things I’ve been enjoying most about going eco friendly!
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1. Switching to Loose Leaf Tea
According to the UK Tea and Infusions Association (who knew, right?), more than 60 billion cups of tea are consumed in the UK every year and 96% of those come with a tiny parcel of plastic waste. On their website you can read in-depth about the history of tea (which is perfect for procrastination), but there’s also a tonne of ideas on how best to brew. There are all sorts of different things you can use to strain your tea; when I’ve got a few people over I use a cafetière, but on my own I use a mesh ball infuser. Using loose-leaf tea eliminates waste to landfill, tastes way better and makes me feel way more sophisticated! Tea leaves can also be composted to make them super environmentally friendly.
2. Hitting up the Charity Shops
Charity shopping is one of my favourite things. I’ll admit, there are still occasions when I’ll walk into a charity shop only to be hit by that ill-famed stifling smell and want nothing more than to walk straight back out. Some shops haven’t quite seen the light, yet, but the majority of them have massively changed their tune since I was younger. I’ll also admit right now that I first started charity shopping because I was broke (ha), but I carried on because they’re so good for the environment. Not only do they make everything affordable, they also send proceeds directly to a good cause and help towns to find new uses for old materials. Re-using cuts down on energy expended making new things and reduces landfill waste. I think of it as like being in a more eco friendly TK Maxx – you never know what you’re going to find!
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3. Buying an Eco Friendly Travel Mug
Okay, this is maybe my favourite. I was sitting in Costa a few months ago waiting for Joe to come out of a meeting, looking down at my paper cup, disgruntled because I knew it would only get thrown away when I’d finished using it. What a waste. Was it recyclable? Would I be able to find somewhere to recycle it? Who knew? I looked around, kind of bored, and started reading all of the signs on the walls. And there it was:
Wait, did I read that right? You’re going to give me a discount to be more eco friendly? Guess who just became my new favourite coffee shop! Not only that, but they’ve committed to recycling any paper cup, even if it came from another coffee shop. Now, I’m not saying that I’d ever have the gall to walk into Costa and ask them to recycle my Starbucks cup, but I love the sentiment. Maybe the world is changing, after all…
4. Plant Your Environment
House plant shopping is something that has had Joe and I pulling our hair out over the past few weeks – we have a certain corner of a certain size and we haven’t found a real plant that’ll fit, but I don’t want to give in and buy a fake one. Filling your home with plants has amazing benefits. Obviously anything that reduces CO2 will be beneficial for the planet, but actually having them in and around your home can have great health benefits for you, too. (Especially important when you live in a flat and opening windows is a no-go because it’s SNOWING in APRIL.) This post by the Royal Horticultural Society goes into more detail about the amazing benefits of living with an abundance of house plants… if you’re interested… that wasn’t sarcasm, I genuinely looked it up… I’ve even started growing herbs!
5. Up-Cycling Furniture
This is actually something Joe were doing all winter, but I think Spring is the perfect time to refresh an old piece of furniture. We’ve done a tonne of it since I bought our cosy little flat three months ago, and I now consider myself somewhat of an up-cycling genius. We did have a fairly big budget that we mostly spent on space-saving items to avoid clutter, like our Elvarli storage system from IKEA that we have in our bedroom, but I did a LOT of up-cycling, too. I took the innards out of my old desk, filled the holes and painted it white to make my dressing table. I stacked three very old Wilko’s units to make one really tall bookshelf, and I painted some ugly old drawers and replaced the handles to make them dainty and matching. As well as being way cheaper, it also meant that we weren’t wasting old furniture and we could tailor pieces to our exact needs.
If you’ve found any more fun ways to be more environmentally friendly, make sure you leave a comment and let us know! I’m always on the hunt for more ideas to keep our waste down. For more posts like this make sure to subscribe to my newsletter, and follow me on Instagram for quick hints & tips about leading a cruelty free lifestyle.