Hi, my name is Zoë Morrison and I am the author of Eco Thrifty Living. I have learned so much about being eco-friendly, saving money and setting healthy limits when it comes to both of those activities!
Reducing your energy use is good for both your wallet and the environment and it’s easy to do. Making savings in an area like this is great, because you lose nothing and can only gain from it! There are lots of small changes you can make, which all add up over time. Here are 5 to get started with:
This post has been sponsored by Duette® blinds and they have provided the picture above. All opinions are my own.
1. Only fill the kettle to the amount you need
Some kettles come with cup measures on the side so that you know how far to fill them up when you want to make a cuppa. If your kettle doesn’t have that though, you can use your cups or mugs as measures to fill up the kettle. That way you know you should be boiling exactly the right amount of water.
2. Always keep the fridge and freezer doors shut as much as possible
Every time you open the fridge or freezer, you let the cold air out and the warm air in. The longer the doors are open, the harder your fridge and / or freezer has to work to keep the food cold and the more energy it will use. Try to decide what you want to get out of the fridge or freezer before you open it and shut it straight away after you have taken the food out.
3. Put a lid on that pan!
When you are cooking something on the hob, it will heat up quicker if you put a lid on the pan. If you are cooking something on the hob for more than a few minutes, then once it is boiling, keep the lid on, turn the temperature right down and move the pan to a smaller ring/ heat source. You will use less energy and will save money!
4. Cover your windows and save energy!
A lot of heat can escape through your windows, especially when the sun isn’t shining. There are various options for reducing heat loss through windows, one of which is using Duette® energy saving blinds. They say they reduce heat loss by 46% and could cut energy bills by up to a potential 25%.
5. Hang out your wet washing instead of tumble drying
Tumble dryers can be energy intensive and then your clothes come out all crumpled. Hang out your clothes to dry outside or in a well ventilated room. As well as using less energy, you will have the added advantage of needing to do less ironing!
So there you have it, 5 ways to save money and energy in your home. It’s easy to do things because that is the way you have always done them, but by making a few simple tweaks to your every day habits, you can make savings without too much effort! If you want even more ideas about how to reduce energy use at home, check out this post here: 6 easy ways to reduce your heating bill.
Are you looking for a great eco-friendly gift for a loved one or a friend? I’ve written about gift ideas before, specifically these eco gift ideas for women and gift ideas for men, but it’s always good to add more ideas to the list! Check out these fun ideas shared below.
This is a guest post by Mark from Foosballzone.com. Mark is a huge foosball fan who loves everything related to foosball. Due to that, he made a blog about it and on his blog, he shares his foosball knowledge. If you want to learn more about foosball, visit his blog Foosballzone.com.I have added relevant affiliate links in places which are marked with an *. It won’t cost you any extra to purchase something through an affiliate link, but will help to support the blog!
There are at least 3 perks of having whiskey stones*. They are cool, they are extremely useful and they are eco-friendly. Whiskey stones are the perfect replacement for ice blocks in your drink. They are called Whiskey stones because people mostly put them in Whiskey, but that doesn’t have to be a must. Those “stones” are made from natural soapstone and they have amazing characteristics. You don’t have to put them in plastic moulds to freeze them and you don’t have to use plastic bags for them. All you need to do is put them in a freezer and they will cool your drink for hours. Have I mentioned they are completely natural?
EcoSphere* is one incredible product made by NASA. Well they made the first one, but there are many producers today. As you can see it from the name, it is actually an entire system in a glass sphere. The sphere has a completely self-supporting system which can last about 2 years on average, but there are few which managed to last more than 10 years. So, what it is about? The Ecosphere is filled with sea water, which has algae and bacteria. Algae and bacteria in the water are food for the microorganism, which is food for shrimps. It is an entire circle of life, in one glass sphere. If you aren’t impressed by that, I am not sure what can impress you.
Natural soaps are a must have for every eco-friendly person, but they are hard to find. Most natural soaps aren’t really natural and that is why you have to know where to buy one. Be sure that you pick the right store, a store with eco-friendly products. (Oliva soap* is a good soap that you can buy online, which is made from olive oil,water and mineral salts, but probably would be more something you would buy for yourself than give as a gift). The best part of a natural soap is the fact that you are helping your body, your skin, and the planet. If you pick the right soap, you will make your friend so happy.
Cardboard foosball table
No, I am not talking about DIY football table which won’t last one night; I am talking about a real football table* made from cardboard. It is possible; in fact, the table is made from cardboard, without any steel or plastic. The cardboard they use is made especially for that purpose, which means it is extra durable. It is made from renewable resources and is recyclable.
So there you have it – 4 fun and interesting eco-friendly gift ideas for your friends and family!
In the UK, we love, love, love sharing pictures of our food and food blogging has really taken off. Even bloggers who don’t blog about food as a main topic often end up adding a recipe or two to their blog. Or fill their Instagram feed with pictures of #foodporn. I am no exception and my Instagram feed is full of pictures of food!
Food blogging and food waste
These bloggers, vloggers and Instagrammers make food look exciting, tasty and tempting. They are influencing people’s food choices and changing the way we think about food. When food is made to look incredibly appealing for a photo shoot it isn’t always eaten at the end of it. If avoiding food waste isn’t top of the agenda, there are lots of reasons why this might happen, however most of it can be avoided with a little planning.
Food waste is a massive problem for households in this country. The latest WRAP report states that 70% of post farm gate food waste comes from our homes. This waste costs the average UK family £700 a year and can give off methane in landfill. Food bloggers are perfectly placed to use their influence to lead the way in encouraging people to reduce food waste.
Emma Dawson from the Food Brood raised the issue of food waste in food blogging in a Facebook group recently. In response I suggested we start up a pledge for people who blog about food to sign up to.
The #NoWasteWithin pledge
The pledge is called No Waste Within and you can use #nowastewithin when sharing on social media. Emma has put together a brilliant website jammed packed with information about the pledge. You can join in with it here: No Waste Within. Go check it out and get listed on the supporters page! You can also join the UK Food Waste Bloggers Facebook Group. This is a new group for bloggers to discuss this campaign and food waste and blogging in general. If you are new to reducing food waste, then I am currently developing a course to help people reduce their kitchen waste. Send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest and I will let you know when it becomes available.
As a quick overview of the pledge, if you do food blogging of any kind and you would be happy to commit to trying to avoid food waste where possible in the making of your blog posts and social pictures, write a blog post about the campaign to announce it to your readers and use the picture below to highlight the campaign:
When you post pictures or videos of food where no food was wasted, you can also add the logo and the pledge:
“I promise that no food waste was created by the development, cooking, styling and photographing of this recipe and that, where it wasn’t possible for me to enjoy it myself, I have redistributed, repurposed, retained or recycled the food.” – No Waste Within
For more details and resources relating to the campaign visit No Waste Within Also in case you are wondering, as little food as possible is waste in the making of this blog and I have signed up to the pledge too.
Tonik is a green energy company. All their electricity is 100% from renewable sources. They say they want to help their customers save money too (my kind of company!). Their aim is to help people cut their energy bills in half by 2022.
Raise £100 for WellChild by referring a friend to Tonik this December
Some energy companies are offering cash incentives to refer a friend to them. For example Octopus Energy will pay £15 per friend successfully referred. It’s always nice to get a bit of extra cash in your pocket at this time of year. It’s also a really good time to think of others less fortunate. If your energy is provided by Tonik, they are doing something different to everyone else this December. They are also doing a refer a friend scheme, but for every successful referral they will give £100 to a charity called WellChild.
WellChild’s mission is to help support children and young people who have exceptional health needs to live at home and receive their care there. These children would otherwise have to stay in hospital. In hospital, they would miss out on the comforts of home and being a part of family life. Tonik have set themselves the goal of giving £100,000 to WellChild before the end of the 2017.
One of the reasons Tonik want to support this charity is because of the high energy costs of supporting these children at home. They often need to use equipment which is on all day and all night and gobbles up energy. In the winter these families may also need to put the heating on more than other families. Some of their child’s needs may make it difficult to leave the house. Tonik are ‘partnering with Wellchild as they want to reduce this burden on families who already have so much to deal with’.
How can you help?
Do you have your energy provided by Tonik or are you thinking of switching to them? If you do / are, then help them achieve their goal of raising £100,000 for WellChild by recommending them to your friends and family this December. You could also help support Wellchild directly.
Disclaimer – this post has been sponsored by Tonik Energy – opinions are all my own! Picture credit – Tonik Energy/ WellChild
Crowdfunding has become a really popular way for new businesses to raise funds and bring their products to the market. All kinds of businesses are being being born via crowdfunding these days including lots of eco-inspired products and services. I am writing about two eco-inspired start ups today. The first is FLUX – a new type of period underwear. The other is Ecoed, which is an educational app currently being developed for adults, businesses, schools and children, to help them live a more sustainable life.
FLUX – period underwear crowdfunding campaign! (Picture credit – Flux)
Sanitary towels and tampons really should be a thing of the past. They pollute, they cost you money every time you are on your period and they are annoying in so many ways. Plus there are some great reusable alternatives like reusable sanitary towels and menstrual cups. There is also another alternative which I think sounds amazing!!!! FLUX is a new type of underwear that can absorb your period. Literally all you have to do is put on their knickers and that is it. They come in a variety of styles and are meant for women of all shapes and sizes. Some even have a clip at the side so you can take your knickers off without taking your clothes off.
Body positivity, inclusivity and charity
The founder of FLUX says she is ‘crazily passionate about promoting body positivity and inclusivity, and breaking taboos!’ This is illustrated by using unedited pictures of women of all sizes, ethnicity and more to advertise her brand.
FLUX also wants to give back and they have a ‘By You, For Her’ scheme. ‘for every pair of FLUX bought by you, a girl in the developing world will receive a reusable washable cloth pad’.
The panties include materials like bamboo, which is considered to be more sustainable than cotton and regenerated nylon. The nylon comes from Econyl. FLUX say Econyl ‘collect nylon waste such as fishing nets that are damaging our seas and the earth and unable to decompose. Econyl have already eliminated 11,000 tons of waste and avoided 41,000 tons of CO2 emissions so we’re working with a great team and helping to free our earth of waste.’ The knickers are super-absorbent and do contain synthetic (a.k.a plastic) micro-fibres. However they also plan to sell wash bags to go with them which they say will trap microfibres.
Support their crowdfunding campaign and hopefully bag yourself a pair of these pants by clicking here: FLUX Panties.* and pledging your support.
Ecoed App’s crowdfunding campaign.
What is Ecoed? - YouTube
Ecoed is a new sustainable living app which is currently being developed. It is described as a ‘fun, interactive, game aiming to help children and adults gain awareness and inspire action. They hope it will transform ‘their daily habits towards a greener way of living’. This app could be really good for someone new to sustainable living or who want to get their kids interested in it.
The wider society
Ecoed say they are ‘also looking into working with schools, business and civil society to develop programmes and joint projects’. They want ‘to reduce individual and collective environmental footprint, tackling practical, day-to-day situations where changes can be made to minimise environmental impact.’
Find out more and support Ecoed
Take a look at the video above and visit their site www.ecoedgame.com to find out more. They have also launched an Indiegogo campaign Ecoed Indiegogo campaign to support the costs involved with building the App. Ecoed would love your support in helping them achieve their mission.
Disclaimer this post has been sponsored by FLUX and Ecoed and contains an affiliate link marked with an asterisk.
I used to try to avoid buying packaged foods as much as possible because I wanted to stop throwing single use plastic in the bin! This was made much easier by shopping in places like farm shops, local shops and online companies. I’ve learned a lot about shopping without packaging and if I go to the right places I can get most of my food unpackaged or with limited packaging.
The limitations of avoiding packaged foods as an agent of change
Going out of my way to avoid packaged foods is great, but it isn’t a solution to the problems of packaging. For most people the desire to avoid plastic packaged foods is not top priority and it shouldn’t have to be. There is more to making a decision about food than just the packaging it comes in. For some people affordability has to be their main concern. For some the quality or variety of the food will be the most important thing and for others who don’t have much spare time they just need to get their food in the quickest and easiest way. There are also times when regardless of your priorities, what you need at the time you need it is only available with packaging. Currently prioritising zero waste isn’t always the best or most practical solution in our every day lives.
Things need to change!
A large proportion of the UK does their food shopping in supermarkets because they are convenient. They also provide a wide range of products at different price points. Supermarkets tick a lot of the boxes for a lot of people. Personally although I loved shopping outside the supermarkets, for one reason or another I’ve gone back to shopping in them. When you go into a supermarket there is usually unpackaged fruit and veg available to buy there BUT:
Often the unpackaged produce works out more expensive than the packaged produce. The packaging disguises special offers e.g. buy 3 get 3 free (approx – when comparing the cost of a bag of fruit to the loose version like the kiwis in the picture above)
There is less choice in unpackaged produce. Usually the unpackaged fruit and veg is larger in size, is not organic and is limited in variety. For example in one supermarket you can buy loose white button mushrooms. Chestnut mushrooms, portobello mushrooms or organic mushrooms only come packaged though. You can also buy loose apples there, but they are quite big. If I give my kids a large apple they will leave half of it because they can’t get through it, which is a waste. I would prefer to give them a smaller apple, but the small apples only come in bulk bags.
It feels like people are sometimes penalised for buying unpackaged foods in the supermarkets.
Does packaging reduce food waste?
Supermarkets that I have spoken to about the problems of packaged food tell me that the packaging helps reduce food waste. They are right it does at their end. Packaging is usually specially designed to suit the produce. Some packets are airtight and contain gases that slow the produce from visually spoiling. Other packets have specific ventilation in the packet to allow the produce to breathe. Packaging can also protect products from getting squashed.
The problem is that the work to reduce food waste at the supermarket end of things, is often counter productive. The packet itself encourages people to buy more than they need. This is because it seems like a better deal, rather than buying exactly what they want. Then when they don’t get round to using it all in time, it ends up in the bin. In the UK a shocking 70% of post farm gate food waste comes from households. Food waste is also costing the average family £60 a month (taken from a WRAP report / Love Food Hate Waste).
On top of the food waste, there is also a large amount of packaging waste.
What can we do?
I believe that supermarkets need to be accountable for the food waste that they are contributing to in people’s homes. Not just the food waste occurring at their end of things.
What can we do about this problem? What are your suggestions? I think things need to change – don’t you?
Sustainable actions are often quantified in terms of taking cars off the road. We all know that driving causes pollution and that isn’t good. The fact is though that public transport can be a bit of a nightmare at times. It isn’t always a practical or affordable option.
So if you care about the environment, but aren’t ready to ditch the car, here are a few ideas to help make driving more sustainable
Switch to driving an electric car.
Electric cars means driving without creating emissions on the road. You still need to generate the electricity to charge them though. This energy can come from fossil fuels elsewhere. To get around this problem you could get a home charging point installed and switch to a renewable energy supplier*. Then charge your car using that renewable energy. Solar panels and other home renewable energy sources can also be used to charge your car.
If you get an electric car and decide to have a charging point installed at home it might not cost you as much as you think. You may be able to get a government subsidy. Check for the latest subsidy information here: grants for electric vehicle charging
Another criticism of electric cars is your driving range is limited before you have to recharge them. Things are changing though. Some electric vehicles have ranges of over 200 miles. Others have a small petrol engine which charges the battery and helps to increase the range.
Switch to driving a hybrid car
A hybrid car is a compromise between an electric car and non-electric car. When the vehicle is running it will use a combination of battery power and fuel.There are different types of hybrid vehicles. Some can be charged too giving them more battery power. When it is idling e.g. when you are stuck in traffic, it will just use battery power.
So overall in theory it will use less fuel, be less polluting and should save you money on fuel costs. There is a down side to hybrid cars though. When they are using petrol or diesel only they can be very uneconomical when it comes to fuel usage. My parents have a hybrid car. From their experience they have found that their’s switches over to solely fuel usage on acceleration and at higher speeds. So you really have to think about how you will use the car and as to whether hybrid or electric would be better for you.
Hybrid cars aren’t as eco-friendly as a car charged entirely on renewable energy. However (unless you get a plug in hybrid) you don’t have to worry about charging the car up between uses. Also your journey length isn’t limited by how long the car charge will last.
Lease a hybrid or electric car
If buying a new car isn’t affordable, leasing a hybrid or electric car could be a good alternative. It could also help you keep up with the latest developments in technology. Go Green Leasing is a great example of an eco-minded car leasing company. They go further than just thinking about the cars though, they also promise to:
minimise their carbon footprint and strive towards being a carbon neutral company.
educate children about the environment and ways to preserve it by donating 1% of their turnover to an environmental education scheme.
utilise renewable energy sources wherever possible.
recycle their company waste wherever possible.
Selling your old car
If you are going to upgrade your car to a more eco-friendly one you will want to sell or scrap your old one. There are lots of ways to sell cars including using auction sites like BPI Auctions. You could also look for a hybrid or electric car through an auction site. You may want to consider a scrappage scheme if you have an older car and are looking to buy a new one . However be careful as they don’t always work out cheaper as explored in this article do diesel scrappage schemes match the hype?
You can save money and energy on a regular commute, school or college run by filling up the car with other people. Do a rota and take it in turns to do journeys or even charge people for the ride. Ask around at your place or work, kids school or college to see who is in your area and could do a lift share.
You can balance car driving with walking, cycling and getting public transport where possible, but these changes can help to lower your impact on the environment when you do get in the car.
Disclaimer – this post has been sponsored by BPI Auctions and Go Green Leasing and links to an article marked with * which contains an affiliate link. Opinions are all my own.
The term zero waste can be overwhelming and unrealistic. It’s best to view it as a journey rather than a destination and it isn’t the answer to everything. The first step to leading a more sustainable life is to make small changes.
“Every small action matters because when 7 billion people do that thing, it changes the world” – Achim Steiner
Here are 10 easy zero waste swaps to get you started…
Reusable Coffee Cup
There are hundreds of different types of reusable coffee cups out there and as an added bonus a lot of cafes now offer you a small discount if you bring your own. If you are looking for an eco cup then I’d recommend eCoffee Cup*. They are made from natural bamboo fibre.
Switching from plastic disposable razors to a safety razor* is one of the easiest switches I’ve made so far. The safety razors aren’t cheap. A decent one will set you back at least £25 but you will have it for life.
It can be a little daunting when you first use your safety razor but there are lots of tutorials online to help you. It’s all about the angle and the pressure you apply. I made the switch to a safety razor 3 months ago and I’m really happy with it.
Using cloth napkins instead of disposable ones is another easy switch to make.
A good tip for saving on washing is to give each family member their own napkin. You can either write their name on the label if they have one. Or, if you are handy with a needle and thread, sew on their initials in one corner. By doing this you can reuse the napkins more often between washing.
Now that the plastic bag charge has come into effect in the UK it’s more important than ever to take your own bags. It’s good to have a selection of different kinds. We use the big trolley bags for a big shop. I also have a selection of jute bags* with strong handles and a fold up canvas bag that I keep in my handbag all the time.
One of the main problems with taking your own bags is to remember to take them! Try and create a system that works for you. After you unpack your shopping why not put the bags straight back into your boot. That way they are already there for next time.
Switching to a bamboo toothbrush is something that I have done recently and I love it! They do cost more than the plastic ones but I have found that they last a lot longer.
Once you have finished with your brush you can throw it into the compost, if you have one. You just have to remember to remove the bristles first. They aren’t compostable. I’d recommend Hydro Phil*. They are excellent quality and if you look after them they last a long time.
Reusable Water Bottle
A good quality metal water bottle * makes an excellent alternative to the plastic disposable bottles. Plus, you will save money but not buying a drink when you are out.
Beeswax wraps are a great alternative to cling film. You can buy ready made ones or you can make your own. They are reusable and work from the heat of your hands. I recently made a batch with my friend. It was much easier to do than I expected.
Fed up with the plastic bottles in your shower? If so why not consider switching to a shampoo bar*. They are lots of different types out there. You foam the bar up in your hands with water and then rub it in your hair.
Plastic straws have been in the media a lot recently. That video of the turtle still makes me cringe. You can now buy metal straws* instead. After use just wash them and reuse.
Whenever I think of hankies I immediately think of my Grandmother. They were the ‘reuse it’ generation. We can learn a lot from them! Rather than buying packs of tissues why not buy some nice reusable ones*?
So what about you? Would you consider making any of these easy zero waste swaps?
This blog post has been sponsored by Seventh Generation who make eco-minded cleaning products. Opinions are all my own!
When I started this blog over 6 years ago, one of the first things I looked at was cleaning products. I used to buy normal cleaning products and an eco-friendly washing up liquid. The normal products came with scary symbols on the back of them with things like toxic and dangerous to aquatic life. I decided it was time to stop using these toxic cleaning products. So I replaced my old cleaning products with vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, lemon juice, washing balls and cleaning cloths and water. I got so excited about it I even wrote this poem – R.I.P. My chemical crammed cleaning cupboard Most of my replacement cleaning products work really well. I couldn’t quite crack the toilet cleaning though and eventually went back to putting bleach down the toilet. We use washing up liquid at times too, because my husband refused to be without it. I ended up going back to mainstream products for dish washing and toilet cleaning that weren’t eco-friendly.
When Seventh Generation offered to send me some of their cleaning products to try out I decided to give them a go. If I am going to have some mainstream cleaning products in my home I would rather have environmentally friendly ones.
Products sent to me to review:
I received a bottle of cleaning spray, two bottles of laundry detergent (one concentrated and one not), some washing up liquid, some glass spray and some toilet cleaner.
The products I received either have a mild fragrance or are fragrance free. I really like the fragrance of the mint and lavender scented dishwashing liquid – two of my favourite herbs!
Recycled Plastic bottles
Most of the products come in plastic bottles which are 100% recycled. One of the laundry detergents has a plastic inner and cardboard type outer made of repurposed fibre. It says on that bottle that ‘this package uses 66% less plastic (than a typical 2.9l laundry bottle)’.
I am not a fan of plastic. One of the reasons I moved away from mainstream cleaning products was to avoid it where possible. Recycled plastics are one of the better plastic choices out there though and are currently preferable to biodegradable plastics. This is because biodegradable plastics often either end up in recycling or landfill, neither of which are beneficial. In landfill they don’t biodegrade because the conditions aren’t right. If they are put into the recycling they can contaminate the batch as they are not suitable for recycling. They also can’t be put into a compost heap as they won’t break down in a home compost bin.
Sustainably sourced palm oil
Seventh Generation add SLS to their laundry detergent and washing up liquid. The sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) they use may have come from coconut oil or palm kernel oil . One of the reasons I stopped using conventional cleaning products was because I was trying to avoid palm oil. They say that:
Seventh Generation uses sustainability sourced palm oil. While there are sustainability and social issues associated with the rapid expansion of palm oil plantations into high conservation value rain forests in South East Asia, Seventh Generation pays a premium to support the production of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Certified Sustainable Palm Oil, which ensures that palm oil is not produced on forestland cleared since 2005.
Problems with palm oil
Palm oil is widely used in cleaning products, foods and health and beauty products and is a very controversial ingredient. This is what the say no to palm oil website has to say about it –
The industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development of the oil palm plantations. According to the World Wildlife Fund, an area the equivalent size of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared each hour to make way for palm oil production. This large-scale deforestation is pushing many species to extinction, and findings show that if nothing changes species like the orangutan could become extinct in the wild within the next 5-10 years, and Sumatran tigers less than 3 years.
Seventh Generation are avoiding paying for palm oil from newly cleared forests, however they are still adding to the demand for palm oil. I mentioned earlier that we have been using a mainstream washing up liquid, which also contains palm oil, which is not sustainably sourced. It also does not come in a recycled plastic bottle, so compared to that I would prefer to use the Seventh Generation washing up liquid. It isn’t an ideal solution though.
Product cleaning ability
I usually use balls to wash my clothes. I didn’t notice any benefit of using the detergent over the balls. The balls work out a lot cheaper and create less waste overall compared to buying bottles of laundry detergent.
The laundry detergent came in two different types of bottles as I mentioned earlier. One was a brown cardboard type material with a plastic bag inner and the other was a recycled plastic bottle. The cardboard one says it used a lot less plastic than the plastic one. That’s good, but I found the liquid dripped onto the cardboard and I couldn’t clean it off as easily. The worry is that the bottle won’t last long if it gets damp or wet or squashed for any reason. It was also hard to work out if I was pouring in the right amount of detergent because I found the level indicators really difficult to see.
Surface cleaner and glass cleaner spray bottles
I was sent two spray products. A surface cleaner and a glass cleaner. The surface cleaner had a bit of a losing battle because I don’t see the point of them. I usually clean surfaces with water and a cloth. I add a bit of vinegar or bicarbonate of soda for antibacterial action if needed. The surface cleaner was not antibacterial and so I just didn’t feel like I needed it. I put it to the test though and cleaned out some cupboards. I wiped them with water, then I wiped them with the spray and couldn’t see the difference. The cupboards had loads of marks on them though which only disappeared when I wiped them with bicarbonate of soda. I also struggled to see the markings on the spray nozzle for spray and stop.
The window cleaning spray didn’t compare to the action of a microfibre cloth and water. (Although microfibre cloths are also problematic because when washed tiny plastic fibres leach into the water they are washed in). Again the markings on the nozzle were difficult to see.
The final product I tried out was the toilet cleaner. I found the lid a bit confusing to start off with and took it off, instead of popping up the sticky out bit in the lid. When I took the lid off I dropped it down the toilet – doh! I was quite happy with it though once I had cleaned it up and worked it out, . My toilet wasn’t particularly dirty, but it seemed to work ok. I would probably prefer to use it as it is in a recycled bottle and the ingredients seemed better than using bleach. There is no SLS in the toilet cleaner and the list of ingredients seemed less complicated than some of the other products.
I wouldn’t buy all the products, but I would consider buying the washing up liquid and toilet cleaner. Thanks to Seventh Generation for giving me their products to try out / sponsoring this post and for taking the environment into consideration when developing their products.
Christmas is on its way and the school holidays will soon be upon us. The kids will need entertaining! As this is an expensive time of year, you may be on the lookout for some cheap children’s activities. I hope these eco-friendly suggestions help.
This is a guest post from Shoestring Jane who blogs about living a fun and frugal life at http://www.shoestringcottage.com. She writes about healthy eating on a budget, frugal gardening and growing your own food, making extra money and finding the best bargains. You can also find Jane on Twitter (@shoestringjane), on Instagram (@shoestringcottage) and on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/shoestringjane). I have added relevant affiliate links in places which are marked with an *. It won’t cost you any extra to purchase something through an affiliate link, but will help to support the blog!
This is a lovely old fashioned autumn activity. Leaves are easy to find wherever you live. It is really two cheap children’s activities in one as you will need a fun walk in the fresh air to collect the leaves first! Choose plenty of different shapes of leaf and don’t pick up the brittle ones as they will crumble too quickly.
Try to choose an eco-friendly paint* or have a go at making one yourself! Simply paint the leaves in different colours and press them onto card or paper. Very simple and effective.
I loved doing this with my kids. Obviously you need to pay attention when you mix kids with water. All you need is a body of water – your own or a neighbour’s pond is a good starting point – a sieve, a jam jar and a large light coloured tray. There are some very good instructions on the Freshwater Habitats Trust website. so take a look and get pond dipping!
Save toilet roll tubes, sweet wrappers, bits of wool, wrapping paper, foil, fabric, etc and make a craft box. Invest in some eco-friendly glue*, some edible glitter* and any other craft supplies you find at reasonable prices. On a cold, wet day your craft box will come into its own, allowing your children to be messy and creative.
You can take a more organised approach to what you are making and have a look on Pinterest. It is a fantastic source of inspiration and there are loads of ideas for children’s crafts for every occasion.
The modern day treasure hunt, geocaching is hugely popular and very addictive. You used to have to purchase a GPS device to take part, but now there are apps available for your smart phone very cheaply. Some are even free. There is a great beginner’s guide to geocaching on the Ordnance Survey website.
If you are lucky enough to live near enough to the sea, beach combing is so much fun. Finding little treasures such as shells, sea glass and pretty stones costs nothing and kids love it. They can explore the wildlife in the rock pools whilst you are there. I always like to take a spare carrier bag to pick up any rubbish on the beach as well. I find this maddening!
Charity shopping/boot sales
I love a summer boot sale. You can buy pretty much anything at a fraction of the as new price. Charity shops aren’t as cheap, but you are supporting a charity, of course, and they are still great places to find bargains. Both offer an inexpensive opportunity to teach your children about money and budgeting. Buying second-hand is also good for the environment as you extend the useful life of the items you buy and stop them going to landfill. I used to give my daughters five pounds each and let them spend it as they wished. However, they weren’t allowed to go on the very expensive inflatables you tend to find at the boot sale these days! This was a pleasant way to while away some time and their finds entertained them back at home too.
Visit your local wildlife trust nature reserve
Joining and visiting a wildlife trust is a superb way to encourage an appreciation of nature in your children, as well as supporting the preservation of wild spaces. They offer the chance to run around and let off steam as well as to learn about the wildlife in your area. The Trusts are a campaigning organisation and have huge influence. At the moment they are publicising the impact that Brexit might have on our wildlife protection laws. Find your nearest Wildlife Trust reserve here: Wildlife Trusts.
Delve into a museum
One of the best decisions this government has ever made was to make entry to our national museums free. They are a fabulous way to teach your family about art and history. One of our favourites is the Natural History Museum in London, but there are lots of smaller local museums that may be free too. Have a look on your council website. We have a lovely little toy museum and a natural history museum locally, both of which have free entry.
Have a cookery session
Children love to cook! There are so many reasons why you should teach yours this essential life skill. At its most basic level, it is fun and will while away an afternoon or two. However, it also gives you the opportunity to discuss where food comes from and slip in some information about good nutrition. Cooking from scratch is cheaper and healthier than buying packaged meals and allows you to avoid excess packaging. You could let your kids plan a meal and buy the ingredients as well, so that they get that food costs money. If you want to read about more reasons for teaching your children to cook have a look at this blog post I wrote on the subject five reasons you should teach your children to cook.
You don’t have to have a garden to grow things with the children. Cress is so easy to grow on your windowsill, along with various herbs. You can also attempt to sprout avocado seeds or try Zoe’s instructions on how to regrow celery. If you are fortunate enough to have a vegetable patch, involve your children and give them a bit of earth to grow a few bits in. They will get the same satisfaction as you do from growing their own food.
Having fun with your children doesn’t always have to involve a huge amount of expense, and you may find the most enduring memories you make are those that cost very little.
* where there is an asterisk affiliate links have been used.