Out of my life

As the year draws to a close I have been reviewing some of the changes that I’ve made in my life over the past 12 months. Every year I try to do things to make my life that bit more sustainable, and this past year has been no exception:

  • I’ve given up liquid shampoo and shower gel in order to reduce transport of water and to cut out a bit of plastic packaging. I did come across some previously unnoticed shampoo in the bathroom the other day which I am using up, but once that’s done with there will be no more. I’m now only buying bars of soap/shampoo packed in cardboard/paper.
  • In goes the second one

    Our own container at the take-away

    I’ve started saying ‘no’ to lots of packaging – taking our own containers to the butchers and the take-away, for example, means a few less plastic bags and a bit less aluminium foil in the world.We also take our own fabric bags and repeatedly reused plastic bags to the greengrocer’s to put our veggies in. Plastic carrier bags have not been part of our life for many years.

  • We are now buying all our milk direct from a local farm. This means much lower energy inputs (transportation, processing) and no plastic cartons, as we take our own churn. In addition, we are keeping money in the local economy and the milk is delicious and great for making cheese, yoghurt and extracting the cream.
  • I’ve invested in a steam juicer, so we have another way of processing all the apples we tend to get given in the autumn. Making our own juice means repeated re-use of the bottles (cutting down on packaging), reducing transportation of processed juice and thus fewer food miles and knowing exactly what’s in the juice we are drinking.
  • I’ve given up fly paper – it may seem like a small thing, but it’s nice to feel that the fly control in the limery is being achieved by plants rather than a manufactured product.
  • during

    home-made brass cleaner

    I’m now making my own deodorant – it’s more effective than the ‘green’ stuff I was buying before, plus there’s relatively little packaging and it’s made from very simple ingredients.

  • I’ve started making more of my own cleaning products: re-usable cleaning wipes, window cleaner, brass cleaner. All of these rely on limited ingredients and I now have supplies of alcohol, white vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and essential oils to make what I need when I need it.
  • I’ve increased the amount of mending that I’m doing. Darning, patching and sticking things together with Sugru are amongst my most common types of mending.

I’m not sure that’s everything for 2016, but it seems like some good steps forward. My next challenge is a bit more daunting: excluding palm oil from my life. I think that all our toiletries and household cleaning products are palm oil free, and I cook most of our food from scratch, so there’s none in that, but I do have a problem: my weakness for biscuits. I do like a chocolate digestive biscuit with a cuppa and sadly I have found that McVities, who make my favourite type, use palm oil. So, I have to find a brand I like that’s ethical, make my own, or give them up entirely. I’m now checking all the other products we use that may contain palm oil, just in case…

 

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13 Comments

  1. You are so inspiring! The palm oil one is tough, but I’m glad that in Australia many food companies have stoped using it, which is great 🙂

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  2. I fear you may have to add digestive-making to your impressive roll of skills… I’ve been considering how best to do without paper towels, to which I’m sadly addicted. So versatile and useful, but sadly, so bad for the environment. I’ve seen something somewhere about hemmed microfibre cloths held together with snaps and put on a roll, like paper towel. Pull one off, use it, and fling it in the wash instead of the bin.

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    • We do use a few paper towels – made from recycled paper and put in the compost afterwards, but I have lots of cotton squares (cut out of an ancient sheet using pinking shears) which I try to use whenever possible. I have a jar on top of the washing machine which I put them in having given them a quick rinse after use if they are very grubby. When I have a jarful I rinse again and soak before putting them in the washing machine with a normal load. It’s a bit of a faff, but in general it does work.
      I am now on the hunt for a digestive biscuit recipe… I know I’ve seen one somewhere…

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  3. I started down this path a few months ago and it’s been slow going. Uptake with the family has been a struggle so I’ve done the best I can on my own where possible. Re-usable bags, glass containers, making my own orange and apple juice, etc. Homemade deodorant and shampoo is next on my list once we’re through the stockpile my wife apparently has amassed. Who needs 14 sticks of deodorant??

    Good luck with the continued effort!

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    • Yes, one of the things I wanted to do was use up all the accumulated stuff before moving on. Of course this means you it’s easy to lose momentum so blogging about it helps. I’m slowly accumulating recipes for the household and cosmetics things that I make and working out what ingredients I need and it’s slowly becoming a normal part of life…

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  4. Fab post! Have you heard of this website: http://www.shoppalmoilfree.co.uk/ Think I spied some biscuits on there a while back. Someone also told me recently about some natural waxed cloth the other day that you could use instead of cling film. Am yet to investigate but sounds cool.

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  5. Well done you – so inspiring!! As you know I recently discovered the wonders of sugru thanks to a post you made. I purchased some and have made some repairs already – I still have to mend my walking boots that sprang a leak this past winter and quake proof the storage cubes in my art room using the wonderful stuff. I have made all my own cleaning products for about six years now – one of the intriguing things that has also occurred over these six years is the full return of good health. Coincidence? I have to learn make Siddy’s bone biscuits – do you have a recipe to share? Did I ask you this before?

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    • I make charcoal biscuits for Max and Sam… lots of flour (I use a mix of wholemeal and white), some oil, powdered charcoal; just mix it up and add water to bind it together. Roll it out, cut it into whatever shapes you like and bake in the oven until it’s hard. I usually bake it at 180C, but sometimes more or less if I’m cooking something else.

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  6. Amazed!! Your efforts are inspiring and realistic, I guess the trick is to be organised, purposeful and mindful. If I am ok healthwise and other family members are stable then I do fine, it all goes pear shaped once the stress and pressure mounts 🙂 San

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