Seven Steps to Sustainable Living.

Ok, so reading this won’t turn you into an off-grid permaculturalist, but I hope it will give those, still unwavering slaves to major brands, some simple steps to going a little greener. It’s easy to be green. Going green, or greener, doesn’t have to be hard work or expensive. In fact, it is often far cheaper to buy ethically, or even make your own, with many basic products. Stop! Don’t panic, I’m not asking that you go and whip up a batch of cleaning spray, but just to ‘stop and think’, with every purchase or habit – could this be done more sustainably and possibly more cheaply in another way? It’s about change and growth and new ideas; yes you’ve always used that brand of deodorant, but could you be missing out on one that is more effective and better for you? Perhaps that supermarket you shop at is draining more that just your bank balance, and although your local farm shop cannot claim to compete with these giants for quantity, it sure can on quality. Who on earth needs a billion food products wrapped in plastic anyway?!

Below is a list of seven really, really simple ways to go greener and improve not only your own health, but the health of those you love and you’ll help to save the planet while doing so!

1. Buy recycled toilet tissue.
This to me, seems a complete no-brainer, I genuinely have no idea why there is a market for luxury loo roll, but millions of Britons everyday, still feel the need to spend lots of their hard-earned pounds on quilted, patterned and frilly rolls of toilet tissue that is simply going to be flushed away seconds after use! For the same money or at times even less (depending on where you shop) you can purchase loo roll that has been made from recycled material. For all your guilt-free bottom wiping needs!

2. Visit your local farm shop or farmers market.
We have two glorious farm shops nearby; Pluckley Farm Shop which also has a fabulous range of local preserves and handmade goodies, and The 4 Seasons Farm Shop which in addition to the usual veggie-shaped wares, sells homemade gluten free cakes and even stocks coconut oil! Whilst you may not be able to – or want to – do your entire weekly shop at your local farm store, you will be surprised just how much you can purchase and it’s fun too! I regularly take my children to visit farmers markets in the local area and really enjoy meeting other like-minded families, visiting the gorgeous places they’re often held in and seeing what’s actually is season. [You will not find strawberries in February] Remember organic isn’t fancy – it’s the original way to shop and eat; our grand parents didn’t have ‘organic’ food because their shopping was intrinsically more seasonal, local and organic than it is now. They also didn’t do ‘big shops’ – they shopped locally and regularly. Plus, as my grandfather did; most families grew at least some varieties of vegetables at the bottom of the garden.

3. Walk or cycle more.
It’s a sign of the times and we are all guilty of jumping into the car for those short journeys that really could be walked or cycled. We live busy lives these days and it’s often due to time constraints that we resort to burning petrol, as we have a million and one things to get done in that half hour we have before starting work. To offset this, try spending time in your local area at the weekend or on holidays, exploring on foot or two-wheels when you do have time to roam. My children and I recently discovered a whopping great blackberry bush not far from home whilst out walking together, so we now have even more beautiful free fruit to pick, as well as saving the planet by spending our family time in this way! Result!

4. Try crafting!
It’s a simple, productive and therapeutic hobby. I save up pretty jars, lovely card fronts and ribbons from gifts I receive and turn them into beautiful hand made items for future gifts (or my own enjoyment!) At christmas I did hampers for my mother and mother-in-law, each filled with some paid-for farm shop produce and some handmade items such as chutneys and jams, inside reused jars. Many of us claim not to have time for such endeavours but I challenge you to drop a TV program (or three) each week and try it! We are all far more creative than we usually give ourselves credit for so try a new hobby, save money and help the planet while you do so!

5. Reuse and redistribute some of the waste water in your home.
This really is so easy and so valuable, especially during Summer when thirsty plants and lawns need daily watering. So much waste water is simply poured down the drain each day in the UK, but it doesn’t have to be difficult to harvest and use more of the grey water in your home. Grey-water recycling systems are wonderful and I certainly have one on my wish list but in the meantime, I keep a pretty jug out on my kitchen windowsill ready for filling and distributing waste water at any time; be it from my morning kettle, washing-up bowl or tumble dryer, it can be used to keep those plants and veg patches happy! Oh and set up a water butt outside, they’re brilliant!

6. Buy ethical brands.
Ok so not all of us have the time or inclination to make cleaning products from scratch and we all want results right? Just buy from greener companies and you can have your fix of ready-made, shop bought products but at much less of a cost to the earth as your traditional choices might be. Ecover is not without its faults, but is a great go-to-brand for easy greener cleaning, with typically much less harsh chemicals that it’s relatives on the shelves and its a company that at least has the right idea. Selecting a weekly food box from an online company such as Abel and Cole, not only gives you an organic health boost and saves time but also contributes your money to companies who are at least trying to work in a sustainable way. They even stock all your store cupboard essentials, including a growing vegetarian/vegan range and lots of the cleaning range from Ecover.

7. Save on heating.
Please don’t switch on your heating system yet!! It’s the end of August and I am already hearing people say that they’ve turned on their heating in order to stay warm. This is not ‘staying warm’. This is complete unnecessary indulgence and it’s costing you money as well as burning fuel that harms the planet. Save the heating for the depths of snowy winter and instead, for now, shut your windows, put on a jumper and keep warm by moving more; perhaps by doing your new greener hobbies or a daily yoga session. You’ll keep fitter, feel happier and sleep better. Anyway central heating is notoriously bad for your health so again, reap the benefits of choosing a more sustainable way to keep warm!

Well there you have it! Seven sustainable living ideas that are so simple you can get going right away. So go on, change your life today, give yourself a challenge and see where this new direction takes you.

Jaime x

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Nuts About Laundry?

I moved to Ecover products for my laundry and cleaning a while ago now, to do my bit in reducing the chemicals in the water table (yada yada) and to generally have less harmful substances in my home and on my children’s skin. So when I discovered Indian Soap Nuts or Eco Nuts as they’re also known, I couldn’t have been more excited to give them a try – and I wasn’t disappointed!

These modest brown shells produce natural detergents that provide effective, eco-friendly cleaning for your clothes at a fraction of the cost of traditional chemical-based products. I was given a handful by a very good friend a few weeks ago and I am still getting good results from the same bunch of nuts! I literally couldn’t be more impressed.

The smell is vinegar-esque but is neutralised in the wash, leaving your laundry clean but scent free. I have been using left-over ecover softener up until now but have also tried using none at all and putting the clothes on a cool tumble with a few drops of lavender oil on a muslin. This worked brilliantly and as well as making it smell delicious, the essential oil actually makes the laundry really soft.

Get them here and give nutty laundry a try!

Happy eco living x

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Homemade Whipped Body Butter

Recently, a friend introduced me to the wonderful world of homemade skin care products and after leaving our little craft party (yes craft party) with a pot of creamy deliciousness, needless to say I am now totally hooked. And wonderfully moisturised, naturally.

A simple, good-quality body butter will cost around £12 for 250g or so and that’s at chain-store high-street prices. This homemade butter is much more cost effective, fun to make and includes absolutely no junk, making it great for all the family (and those eco-credentials)

To make you own whipped body butter you will need:

A bain marie (or simply a large saucepan, glass bowl and lid)
A lidded container for storing the finished cream, an old jam jar is fine.
A large pyrex jug or glass bowl for mixing.
Whisk
300g solid butter i.e. cocoa, coconut or shea
100g liquid carrier oil i.e macademia or almond
1/4 tsp Vit E and/or rosehip oil (20 drops)
A few drops of your favourite essential oil

*A google search will give you some great online suppliers for the oils and butters – I usually use Aromantics and/or Naturally Thinking for mine. Remember you are buying in bulk which means you can make it at a fraction of the cost of buying and the resulting products could even be sold at craft fairs, farmers markets or given to friends and family as presents.

Heat the solid butter and carrier oil gently in a bain marie until butter has completely melted. Allow to cool slightly (enough to touch without wincing) before adding the vit E/rosehip, then gradually add a few drops of essential oil until you get the desired fragrance – no more than 14 drops in total though.

Give it all a good stir then pop in the fridge for a couple of hours until cloudy but not yet solid. Whip up until light and creamy and scrape into your desired container to keep for around 12 months.

Slather on and enjoy!

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