Let’s admit it: we all want to be better for the earth, but sustainable living can be a pain. Especially if you’re busy managing a family, and your finances don’t stretch far enough to only shop organic products or build solar panels on the roof.
Living a greener life doesn’t have to be stressful and expensive, however. Start with these easy steps, and you’ll reduce your family’s footprint without breaking the bank.
1. Travel well
Planes are currently still one of the worst enemies of the environment. So instead of booking a family holiday to a Greek island, look into alternative, closer options. Taking the train to France can be a really fun experience for the kids, and the UK itself also has plenty of family holiday destinations that are within a one-day car drive’s reach.
If you do need a bit of Mediterranean sun now and then, try to limit your air travel to a max of once a year, and check these tips on how to make your flights a little greener. The ozone layer will thank you.
2. Eat less meat (and dairy)
This one is very easy for some people and super tough for others, but it undeniably has a huge positive impact on the planet: eating less meat. According to a major study published in 2018, our meat and dairy consumption currently poses the biggest threat to the environment, and is doing even more damage than the air travel industry.
So what can you do? If you’re a meat-eating family, start slowly, by introducing Meatless Mondays, for example. It can be a good incentive to try some new recipes and introduce new ingredients or extra veggies in your kids’ diets. Vegetarian food can be absolutely delicious and rich in proteins. There are lots of special recipes out there that kids will love, too, like these.
Look for meat and dairy alternatives that you and your kids enjoy. Oat milk, tempeh, soy yoghurt; there are lots of great-tasting products out there. They can be a bit more pricey than cow’s milk or yoghurt, but they last longer, and you’ll save a lot on the meat you’re not buying!
3. Recycle clothing
The clothing industry is one of the biggest wasters in the world; it pollutes land, air and water, and since the rise of fast fashion, landfills have become full of low-quality clothes that have often been used for less than a year.
Buying quality over quantity its a great way to reduce your wardrobe’s enviromental impact. And quality clothes lend them self for recycling really well. Consider buying quality over quantity. You can monetise your wardrobe and get yourself some new items on a budget by buying and selling clothes second-hand. There are lots of great websites and apps for this that aren’t just eBay or Gumtree.
For kidswear, Treasure House is the place to be. Your kids’ clothes are picked up from your home for free, and you immediately receive store credit to buy new high-quality items. Hassle-free and environmentally friendly.
4. Raise your kids sustainably
In a very clinical way, children are in fact the most harmful thing for the environment. After all, a child means an extra consumer, an extra potential polluter, an extra mouth to feed. However, you can counteract at least a part of this by raising them to become responsible consumers.
Running an eco-friendly household will already instill lots of sustainable values in them, as they will grow up thinking that this is the normal way of living. You can also actively engage them in green activities, such as planting a vegetable or herb garden, being crafty with recycled materials, and passing on their toys and clothes to other kids. See more tips here.
5. And while you’re at it…
- Do your laundry on 30 degrees
- Skip the dryer (hang clothes instead)
- Hang a timer in your shower
- Buy an eco shower head
- Waste as little food as possible (the freezer is your best friend!)
- Use natural cleaners
- Carpool (or cycle) to work
- Take reusable bags when you go shopping (including ones for veggies & fruits!)
- Use reusable bottles, cups (for coffee-to-go!) and lunch boxes
- Unplug your chargers and electronics that aren’t in use
- Separate your recycling
- Buy the ‘ugly’ foods in the supermarket
- Buy from local stores
- Reduce your online shopping
- Switch to a sustainable bank
- Use LED light bulbs
- Don’t buy toys that run on batteries
- Put on an extra sweater instead of the heating
- Try to fix things before throwing them out
Of course you can’t do it all! So don’t let yourself be intimidated. Just pick a few of the big and a few of the small things and slowly implement them in your day-to-day family life. Before you know it, what seemed impossible has become your new routine.
If you need some more inspiration, check out this mum who did manage to do it all.
Good luck, and happy eco-living!