July marks plastic free July (#plasticfreejuly). For one whole month, I and thousands, hopefully millions, of other people will try their damned hardest to not buy single use plastic. I love movements like this. Individually I am doing my small bit but on MASS the impact will be huge. If millions of people took part, just imagine the amount of single use plastic that wouldn’t end up in recycling centres or landfill.
Plastic is just a part of it. There is so much you and I can do to make a positive change. This world needs our help. Please, please share this article with your friends and get everyone to make a positive change.
I have tried to put these in an order of the biggest impact on helping the environment.
Change your car
I am starting big! I used to have a diesel car. A sturdy, ‘boring’ Ford S-Max with 7 seats for my family of 3 boys. She guzzled fuel and weighed a ton, literally. She did around 30 MPG (miles per gallon) and the diesel was sending out nasty fumes into the atmosphere and making everyone’s asthma worse.
In March 2018 I exchanged the S-Max for a Toyota CHR Hybrid. Electric cars and hybrid cars are the way forward. I like the hybrid because it uses different fuel sources at the right times, electricity for lower speeds, cruising and petrol for when power is needed, acceleration.
The car does around 55 MPG (not the Toyota advertised MPG of 70 MPG I must point out) but it is much more efficient than the S-Max. The other advantage of a hybrid is that the car can drive for 400ish miles before you need to re-fill the petrol tank and the electric bit self-charges. A big advantage over the electric only cars that need regular charging (just like my smart watch!) every 150 miles or so.
Not only does this car save the environment it also saves me money, around £100 per month in petrol!
You can go even further and go for a full electric Octopus EV lease electric cars for people looking to cut their costs of petrol, tax, parking etc. Electric car drivers can save even more money with the Octopus Energy’s Go tariff. You can get a full charge over-night for £5 which would get you between 200-250 miles. (This would cost around £40 in petrol for a regular petrol/diesel car).
Faith Archer of Much More with Less says transport is one of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels and causes of pollution. She is a big fan of walking and using buses and trains where possible. She has recently bought a second-hand hybrid car and sticks to UK destinations or rare short haul flights for holidays.
Use less Energy
Another big one. We must do more in our homes to use less energy. My energy provider is the rather special Octopus energy. Did I really say that? Yes! They offer renewable energy which is great value for money. They also recently won the REA’s (Renewable Energy Association) British Renewable Company of the Year. The REA’s quoted that Octopus Energy are “The company that’s done the most to advance renewables in the past year”.
I have met/spoken to many of the team at Octopus and know that they treat their staff well, this in turn shows in the great customer service you receive as a customer. Tick, tick, tick all things that are important to me when choosing whom I pay my hard-earned money to for bills.
I have a smart meter and I use this to check on a real-time basis how much energy I use. I did an article with the Sunday Times in 2018 where I kept an energy diary and worked out the cost of using different electrical items. This has enabled me to change my behaviour and switch to using things that use less electricity.
The oven and induction hob are so energy greedy so instead I use the microwave and slow cooker more. The grill is a huge waste of energy compared to a toaster. I only fill the kettle with enough water for my one cup. I use the tumble dryer minimally. The dishwasher always goes on the economy cycle and I wash all clothes at 30 degrees now (except those dirty school polo tops!).
Go Plastic Free
I am doing this. Plastic free July. Once I have mastered July, I will be able to carry on beyond. I have spent some time preparing as it is a lot to think about. Shopping wise I will be buying things loose. Fruit and vegetables from Aldi have a good loose selection in Welwyn Garden City store. For meat I have invested £3 in Tupperware from Poundland and will take this to Trussell’s the Knebworth village butchers to put the meat in. I will buy grocery products in cardboard for ease of recycling. Nicola of the Frugal Cottage, also suggest reusing plastic packaging for storing food and for packed lunches! Great for reducing food waste and reuse of plastic.
Beauty products are tricky, I am going to refrain from buying anything unless its loose from Lush or the Bodyshop maybe? Cleaning products are another tricky one as they are all in plastic. I need to investigate this one or refrain from buying until I know what to do! Cling film has been replaced with reusable bee’s wax wraps. And I have a beautiful metal Buntu bottle that keeps my water ice cold. I will always have a couple of fabric totes bags with me for carrying shopping.
Faith Archer of Much More with Less is working hard to be plastic free. She carts around reusable bags and a refillable metal water bottle, to avoid paying for plastic alternatives. Sticking to water when out and about also reduces expenditure and waste from takeaway drinks and straws. You can find more ideas in my post on how to use less plastic and cut costs clicking on her name as highlighted.
Stop buying Fast Fashion
I recently appeared on BBC News talking about this subject with MP Mary Creagh. She is the MP behind the report asking the government to make changes to make clothing more environmentally friendly. All 18 suggestions were rejected in June! I was incredibly shocked. We had the most amazing debate/mutual agreement conversation on the BBC News Channel.
We can make a difference here and vote with our feet. Only shop at ethical, environmental brands. Or if you can do it, switch to charity shops, or make, do and mend! I will totally get out my needle and thread to stitch up a hole in a pair of trousers.
I don’t buy too many clothes focusing more on my small capsule wardrobe and mixing things up. But I do occasionally pop into H&M for clothes for the boys and I. Okay they just emailed me to tell me that I have taken my membership to the next level – plus level. As in I spend too much money there. Hmmmm.
But H&M are doing okay, they are making strides towards ethical sourcing of products and recycling. Did you know you can take bags of clothes into store and they will give you a £5 voucher for each bag. For EACH BAG. You can then redeem £5 on every £25 spend. They have a very lovely ethical range too. They are far from perfect, but they are making positive steps.
Primark is also surprisingly good after their recent issue with a factory burning down and people dying. Primark sent millions of funding to the families affected, many of the other well-known brands in that factory didn’t do this.
Avoid brands like ASOS, JD Sports and Amazon. The worst culprits for fast fashion and over buying of stock resulting in huge stockpiles that cannot be sold.
Boycott Horrid Companies who do not protect the environment
Amazon has got me angry recently. I always knew they didn’t pay tax, but I felt that they made my life easier so continued to buy from them. Then I found out from Mark Creagh MP about them burning a load of excess stock TVs in a landfill in France that they couldn’t sell or wouldn’t give away. The waste, the toxic pollution, I was disgusted.
I have made the decision to pull myself away from the powers of Amazon. I will shop elsewhere; Amazon prime membership is cancelled. Amazon music will be turned off and I will find another music source. If we all boycotted Amazon they would HAVE to change.
Vote with your feet and only buy from companies who are looking after the environment and telling us about it.
Eating Less Red Meat
The over production of red meat and dairy products is a huge issue. There is too much waste and the fumes going into the atmosphere from those cows, it is not good. I am eating more vegetarian, vegan food. Not every day, but I am trying to eat vegan five days a week. My meat comes from the UK (along with my produce). Not only is it better for me but also better for the environment. Ensure also that your fish comes from a sustainable source. Our seas are hugely over fished.
Baby Wipes & Nappies
An interesting one from my friend Hollie, Thrifty Mum. Every year England alone pollutes the environment with 11 billion baby wet wipes. You can make your own reusable ones by soaking face clothes in water and a few drops of tea tree oil. Drain the water off and store in a resealable container and wash with the rest of your laundry like normal. Read more about this here.
Use reusable nappies. I can only look back in shock and horror about the number of nappies I along used for the three boys. I could probably have filled a landfill site by myself. On reflection I would do things differently now. I would 100% think about doing this differently.
Take Inspiration and Act
I hope that you are inspired to act and make some changes. Please do let me know what you change or are doing that I am not doing. WE HAVE TO ACT NOW.
This post is kindly sponsored by Octopus Energy, who offer value for money renewable energy. I have been a customer for more than two year and highly recommend them to my readers. If you choose to get a quote and switch, we will both receive a £50 credit to our bill.
This is a collaborative post with Octopus. If you would like to get a quote for your energy and you do switch we both get a £50 credit to our bill. Thank you.