My husband wants to get a beehive on the roof whereas I'd be satisfied with a candle that doesn't infuse my home with chemicals.
If you're trying to do your bit - big or small - towards creating a healthier, greener home, here are 18 tips to get you started (and keep everyone's conscience clear!)
- Go Glass: If you have a shower curtain, ensure it is made of a natural hemp or natural fibre as plastic curtains and liners are non-recyclable. If you can afford it, a glass door is the best way to go.
- Wash Wisely: If you have a dishwasher, make sure it’s full before you run through a load of dishes. And instead of rinsing them before hand under a tap, dip them all into the same shallow sink of water to loosen any food.
- Buy Nothing New: “This might seem extreme, and you may well think that this is too hard, but it doesn’t have to be for everything,” explains Yummy Green Mummy, Katie Butterworth. She suggests checking on sites including Gumtree, eBay and Facebook for steals, or simply trawling the local garage sale on a Saturday. "If you can’t find anything that fits the bill after a good few weeks of looking then you could buy new, but keep it as a last resort,” she suggests.
- Rug Up: Avoid heating costs by investing in one great eco-friendly coverlet to haul out each winter and throw on your bed.
Smell The Soy: When perfuming your home, go with soy candles as soy is entirely renewable while global reserves of oil shrink and paraffin prices rise. Furthermore, paraffin candles release chemical pollutants which can be incredibly harmful to your health!
- Toss Tissues: “Most people will be shocked to learn that global paper production consumes four billion trees per year, with tissues and toilet tissues responsible for the destruction of 27,000 trees per day alone,” explains Ziah Lane, NO ISSUES tree-free tissues founder. “Deforestation is a major issue to our planet, which will have a devastating impact on future generations.” When purchasing paper and other household products, Ziah suggests looking for the official certifications such as B Corp, Australian Certified Organic (ACO), and recyclable markers and logos on packaging. “With any consumer product it’s a great idea to get into the habit of using sparingly to minimize waste and, in turn, environmental impact,” she urges.
- Get A Real Buzz: There are pros and cons to buying your own home coffee machine. The positives include not having to travel, saving on disposable cups, saving money and reducing the risk of strangling your barista when they forget the sugar. Again! The negatives? Landfill from capsules! Unless you go biodegradable - which you really should! Up your caffeine hit, save cash and reduce waste with a capsule that breaks down faster than you can say 'Espresso Please!"
- Fall In Love With Louvres: If you’re building or renovating your home, consider louvre windows. They’re so timeless and allow you to dial up or down your daylight without the need for electricity. They also offer excellent ventilation for bathrooms and kitchens (no fan needed) and save the need for costly curtains!
Rethink Teeth Time: Brush your teeth without the water running at the same time which is incredibly easy to do and can save you money on your bill – and the water wastage!
- Be Better In Bed: “It’s an easy assumption to make that cotton is a natural choice for bedding," points out Katie. But while it is natural (derived from a plant) "cotton is the most unsustainable crop on the planet, and unless it’s organic, is full of toxic chemical," she cautions. “There are some fantastic fabrics like bamboo (far softer than you’d expect) and linen," she adds.
- Upcycle Your Interiors: If you’re bored of your old kitchen stools, or you’re revamping your living space, you don’t have to throw them out, just upcycle the old ones with a lick of paint, suggests Katie, who gets lots of her ideas from Pinterest. “It doesn’t take long and costs next to nothing,” she says.
- Bee Productive: To greenify your home you need to think about the inhabitants of your garden, explains Doug Purdie, author of Backyard Bees. Even the smallest of veggie patches can benefit, with cross-pollination ensuring they thrive and keep your fridge stockpiled for many seasons to come.
- Do Bamboo: As well as in linen, bamboo is also an excellent alternative to paper products, Ziah explains. “It can rapidly grow up to a metre a day - almost in front of your eyes, without the use of pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers." Bamboo also removes CO2 from the atmosphere and produces over 30% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees, she adds. So consider this when buying any toilet paper or paper towel products. Other paper alternative products include hemp, flax, jute and sugarcane, she adds.
- Sew + Sew: Invest in a sewing machine. “Getting your craft on is a fantastic way to get something unique and cheap,” Katie enthuses. "By watching a few YouTube videos you can pick up how to use a sewing machine quite quickly,” she says. Turn a retro tea-towel into a fabulous cushion cover, or an old doona cover into curtains in minutes!
Shave + Save: When shaving, rinse your razor in a warm cup of water – not beneath a running tap! And don’t go the disposable option as this adds to landfill.
- Plant Indoors: “You should aim to have two plants flowering all year around,” advises Doug. “Simple herbs like basil and borage are great options.” He continues to explain that if you also cut down your insecticide use, all the good bugs will thrive and help eliminate the bad bugs, meaning fewer flies and mosquitoes without resorting to spraying chemicals indoors.
- Clean Cleaner: Avoid the cleaning aisle at your local supermarket and shop online with ENJO - a powerhouse Australian company that offers natural, environmentally friendly and organic cleaning products in bundles that reduce your spend and also instill confidence in creating a healthier, chemical-free home.
The Greener Buys LifestyleYOU Loves:
Bamboo Sheets, $189
EcoLinen 100% Pure Bamboo Coverlet and Pillowcases, $79.90 - $199.90
NO ISSUES Tissues, Twin Pack, $4
ENJO Starter Bundle, $399
Ethical Coffee Company Capsules, Pack of ten, $7.90
Who Gives A Crap Premium Bamboo Toilet Paper, 48 Double Length Rolls, $68