14.09.18

How to live more sustainable as a family – top tips!

Paul&Paula: How to live more sustainable as a family - tips
The word ‘sustainable’ seems to be everywhere at the moment. Everything, everyone and everywhere is sustainable. And as I absolutely agree that we should think about our impact on the environment and our future, I wonder if we all know what it actually means?

What does being sustainable mean?  Sustainable family living? And how much do we or should we do to provoke change? Because sustainable, in an environmental field, actually means ‘using methods that do not harm the environment so that natural resources are still available in the future’.

The whole going vegan thing actually became a topic out of this. Because livestock and dairy production are the second highest contributors to atmosphere – altering gases. Livestock/ dairy products cause huge air and water pollution. And just as an example: It takes more than 9500 liters of water to produce just 500 gr of meat. You can save more water by not eating that meat than you can by not showering for six months!
And since vegetarians still consume a lot of animal products (eggs, cheese, butter, milk…) we did decide to go for vegan directly.

Joseph Poore said:
‘A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use, and water use.’

But today I do not want to talk about diets (again), I want to talk about things we as a family do, to live more sustainable. Because there are a lot of little things that altogether can make a difference. And if we all contribute something, we can achieve something too. (And also because some people asked me about…)

We have four children in our home and of course, we want them to grow up in a green world. And we want them to understand that little things do help and their decisions can make a difference. Which goes the other way around as well. Not paying attention to small things that do harm our world, do make a difference as well. Unfortunately not a good one. Something to keep in mind and to remind people who still believe that their -sole- impact would not help to make our world a better place!

Things like turning off the lights when leaving the room are no ‘shocking news’ anymore and we probably heard that phrase since we were teens. But there is more and talking with your children and asking them for ideas and input is a great way to implicate some more ways in a more sustainable family living.

Here is a list of things we do in our family. I am sure that you already do some/ most of them but maybe there are one or two that inspire you to adapt:

Home cooked food!

I love to cook and currently I am super excited to try out quite a few new recipes from the vegan blogs and books of this world. Cooking your own food instead of packaged meals is better because processed food is resource-intensive to produce and unhealthy to boot as well. It includes that we do shop local ingredients – last time I saw herbs coming from someplace in Africa, totally unnecessary – as much as possible and we also go with the seasons. (no strawberry tart in December!)

Waterbottles to water plants!

When the kids come home from school and empty their backpacks, the water bottles are often not 100% empty. Instead of emptying the water down the drain we use it to water our plants. With four kids this really adds up over a week and then think about a term…

Laundry check!

Instead of just putting everything into the laundry basket, we ask the children to double check their clothes. Not talking about underwear and socks, but jeans and cardigans are often fine for another round.

More about laundry!

Laundry uses a lot of water and a lot of products. First: Ditch fabric softener.
Next: 90% of the energy used to wash your clothes goes to heating water. Most washing powders clean just well in cold water as they do in hot.
Only wash with full loads because the use of water and energy is nearly the same for a machine that is only filled half.

Buying eco/ organic!

Next, to buying seasonal and local, we do buy organic. A few points why organic is better:
Organic farmers build soil with natural fertilizers in order to grow crops. They rely on the natural enemies of pests
and use crop rotation to conserve soil. Which means that more animals and plants can live in the same place in a natural way. Organic farming makes without the use of synthetic inputs, including synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, plant growth regulators, nanomaterials and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).

Recycle envelopes!

Snail mail is less these days but we still get some official letters and other stuff. The envelopes are great for writing down to-do lists, shopping lists or just as general note papers.

Fabric napkins!

No more paper towels or paper napkins. Fabric it is and it looks so much nice on the table too.

Reusable shopping bags!

I always have a reusable bag in my handbag. You just never know when you may need it…
We have a drawer full of cotton bags that everyone uses for shopping, bringing things to school and so on.

No straws!

Long-lasting clothes.

You know that I believe very much in the whole ‘quality over quantity’ thing when it comes to clothes. For the whole family. Invest a little more in timeless, long lasting clothes – better for the environment as well as your bank account in the long run!
I recommend this article to you.

Separate waste!

Separation of waste allows for efficient reuse and recycling. An example: When waste is not separated properly it leads to less recycling and many resources may be wasted. And you can help by starting segregating the waste in your own house.

Reduce waste!

Seeing the points above already helps to reduce waste. Even separating helps because it shows you so clearly how much there really is. Other examples of how to reduce waste: Ditch plastic bags, make meal plans and shop accordingly, buy in bulk for less packaging or choose products that can be refilled. Just a few and actually a topic well worth a post on its own.

Soap bars instead of plastic bottles!

Buy soap instead of shower gels in plastic bottles. Even shampoo comes in form of bars now…

Cycle!

We do not own a car and we are not planning to get one either. If we really need one we can always rent one and I believe that carpools and car sharing are getting more and more popular.

Tap water!

Yes, here in Sweden the tap water is excellent. And so it is in many other countries. And you can always go for a filter too… just do avoid buying water in plastic bottles.

Reusable containers!

For snacks, lunch etc…

Purchase energy efficient appliances!

If you need a new machine, make sure it is energy efficient. Same goes for light bulbs.

Plant seeds!

Or even more, if you have space. Like I said – every little thing helps.

Natural cleaning products!

Use the most natural cleaning products you can. Vinegar, for example, is a great cleaner.

Do you have tips to share? We want to hear them in the comments…

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