Greener Living, Lifestyle

Go Green in 2019

The idea for a word for the year originated with Kate Gunn* (Kate Takes 5) This year I have decided to put much more focus on this word. I have had a word previously, started with great intentions but then something would happen. Life would get in the way. This year will be different. The word I have chosen this year is GREEN. My word for this year relates to changes that we have already been implementing in our home for the last while. It relates to changes we continue to make. And, it relates to a lifestyle we endeavor to live to the best of our ability.

My Word for 2019 – Green

So, you may wonder, why green? I think we need to do so much more to leave a healthy planet for our children and our grandchildren. We need to consider all of the children who will walk in our paths. If we keep treating the planet as we have been, there won’t be one for our future generations. Before I talk about my green plans for the year, I want to share some articles that may prompt you to make green changes.

The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there are only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people….{.continued here in the Guardian }

Ireland has been singled out as the worst performing country in Europe for taking concrete action to tackle climate change for the second year in a row……{continued on Green News}

We should all be aware of the plastics problem, and it is a huge problem. It’s having such a massive impact on so many areas of our planet, Plastics found in almost 10% of whales and dolphins in IrelandHere in Ireland, we can only recycle certain plastics, it’s vital we make ourselves aware of what can go in your recycling waste, check Recycling List Ireland for a full breakdown.

The big news at the moment surrounds our meat consumption. The following piece is from an article published on Green News. The dietary guidelines devised by an international commission of 37 scientists point to a need to reduce red meat consumption and sugar consumption by 50 percent in western countries by 2050 (full article here). This statement has not been met with open arms but I really think people need to look at the bigger picture. Ireland’s dairy industry has been in the spotlight due to the disproportionately large contribution Irish agriculture makes to emissions compared to the rest of Europe – Independent The following article from the Irish Times is also worth reading. Ireland’s agriculture emissions are hurtling in the wrong direction……. a “huge amount” of our emissions – just over a third – comes from farming. EPA scientists predict these emissions will continue to rise.

So what can we do?

As individuals, we can’t tackle the big stuff, but collectively, we can all make small changes. Lots of small changes can have a big impact. I have spoken about this before in my posts Greener Living and Green Thinking. Have a read of those, a lot of what is mentioned in them I still do and all of it is valid.

Bearing in mind what we already do, I have decided to take my word of the year and rewind time. Obviously, I can’t go back literally but I can look at some statements I made in 2017. That was when I really took a look at what we as a household were doing. I can also think a little harder and look back to my childhood. My Mother and my Grandmothers** didn’t have access to all the conveniences at our fingertips today. The conveniences that are coming at a cost to our planet. I can do some things just like they did.

Washing

In 2017 I said the following: I recently invested in Terra Wash, a small bag of magnesium bullets that you pop in the machine with your laundry,  promises 365 washes and is a fraction of the cost of regular detergent. I’m delighted to report it’s still working a treat. My small boy, in particular, has really tested it! I do still use fabric softener and I put a small amount of detergent in with my whites & heavily soiled coloured items I ’ve bought detergent once in five months since buying the Terra Wash, my laundry bill for the year has reduced massively as a result of using it.

I also said this: Use your washing line, now I admit, from October to March, I don’t use mine. There are 7 of us and hanging clothes on the line in the morning that come in still wet in the evening is time wasting for me, but from around March on the line is full every day and the dryer gets a great rest!

Now: Unfortunately, Terra Wash didn’t last 365 washes for me. The more use it got, the more disappointing the results were. I did invest in an Eco Egg after that but it just did not work for us. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s our extremely hard water. The clothes weren’t coming out clean and they did not smell good at all. We had to make the return to laundry detergent full time. I don’t feel guilty as I made a genuine effort and not everything will work.

I said in 2017, I don’t use my washing line all year round. This is something I have changed. Now I do use it much more often. My tumble dryer still gets lots of use but the things that can’t go in that are hung on the washing line. This keeps the radiators clear. I have a clotheshorse for when they come in from the line. It’s not perfect but it’s a step in the right direction. I stick by the mantra, we do what works best for us and we are a household of seven.

Garden

In 2017 I said: Grow your own food. This is something I am only starting. I have herbs, salads, potatoes, beetroot, and carrots planted this year. Wish me luck!

Now: We planted more vegetables last year and some strawberry plants. It was all going great until we got some hens and they ate everything!! My hens are very happy. I plan on planting more food this year, as soon as we have divided our garden up a little so it can be away from the hens.

In 2017: Use a compost heap/bin for fruit and vegetable scraps – we have a compost heap at the bottom of our garden that we’ve had going for a couple of years now.

Now: The compost heap is still going but nowadays the food scraps are divided between that and what the hens can eat! Hens love food scraps, watermelon is a particular favourite!

In 2017: Plant some wildflower seeds that will attract bees; bees are in danger and we should be doing our little bit to help them. Without the bees, the planet is shagged!

Now: I also planted some Catmint and Lavender. Both are beautiful and loved by bees. I intend planting more this year.

What Else?

Cleaning

In 2018 we saw a surge in cleaning, it was trendy to buy a gazillion cleaners and have a spotless house***. Personally, I think we need to reign this in. When I was growing up we didn’t have a press with a myriad of household cleaners. I don’t now either. I have a very basic cleaning routine and a relatively clean house!

  • Hot soapy water for the majority of jobs.
  • damp cloths for dusting, something I’ve done for years. Furniture polish, in my opinion, is toxic.
  • I use vinegar-based cleaner in the kitchen.
  • The steam cleaner is great in the bathrooms/ on floors
  • Sinks stain from coffee, rinsing etc. Once a week I douse them with bread soda and lemon juice or vinegar. I leave this solution for a few minutes. Then I wash it off, using my very own elbow grease (ie…my arm!) to get a lovely shine. It’s very satisfying.

There are many recipes for homemade cleaners to be found online if you wish to make the switch from all the chemicals. Let’s face it, it isn’t good for us to be breathing in all of these different concoctions. At the end of the day, if you smell something, you can breathe it in.

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Shopping

I didn’t grow up in a house filled with stuff. In 2019, I plan on staying out of the shops unless I absolutely need to buy something. Unless we genuinely need it, it won’t be coming into our home. The next time you go to buy something, ask yourself one question. ‘Do I need this or do I want this? If you can live without it, perhaps leave it and put the money aside for another day, for something you will need. Along the same line, if there’s something I need, that may be sourced in one of our local charity shops, that’s where I will buy it. Some of my favourite buys from last year were from the charity shop.

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Food

Meal planning; I was great at this but got a bit lazy about it towards the end of last year. Now I am back meal planning again, it saves both time and money. I also batch cook ensuring there is next to no food waste in my kitchen. When we do have leftovers, they are often used to make another meal.  Meal planning really is something I would urge everyone to do.

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Water

Every year Mr. Simply Homemade and I say we must get a water butt to collect rainwater. We haven’t got one yet, but this year, 2019, we have said we definitely will. The rainwater can be used in so many areas of the garden, including with our animals.

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Plastics

I mentioned plastics at the start of this piece. We don’t have the ability to recycle soft plastics here in Ireland, yet we generate a phenomenal amount of it. It’s hard to avoid. The fruit and veg in the supermarket is packed in it for starters. Ideally, we would all buy our fruit and vegetables lose, but they’re more expensive this way and may not be attainable for those of us on a strict budget. Then there’s all the other packaging we accumulate. I could make a list but it is endless.
Rather than send this to landfill, we have been making eco-bricks. We generally don’t buy soft drinks, but we did at Christmas. Once Santa had been, there was loads of soft plastic. I had read about eco bricks and Mr. Simply Homemade was curious about them. He kept the plastic and when we were finished with the mineral bottles, he filled them. It’s astonishing how much plastic one can fit into a two-litre bottle. He is now getting more empty bottles from relatives and he plans to build something in the garden with them.

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Gifting

Instead of things, when it comes to presents, I will gift home baking, vouchers or cash instead. I can be sure the recipient is not getting something that will be of use instead of something not needed.

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Outdoors

We will spend more time outdoors. This is something we did last year and we will continue to do. In 2018, we spent a huge amount of time in the garden and we wanted to be there. In turn, this meant we were at home an awful lot during holiday time and cut down on the amount of driving for those periods.

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There you have it, my one word and my intentions surrounding it. I feel extremely positive about it. This word is not just about me. It is about my family, my home and what we can do to make our little corner as good as it can be for us.

Points to note

* I made reference to Kate Gunn at the very beginning. It would be remiss of me to mention Kate and not congratulate her on her book. Untying the Knot: How to Consciously Uncouple in the Real World, is Kates debut book, published on January 14th and I have no doubt it will be hugely successful and highly beneficial to many.

 

**I referred to Mother’s and Grandmothers as opposed to parents and grandparents here. My reason for this is simply because that’s how it was.

***When I referred to the cleaning trend, it is not a slight at anyone. Each to their own, it’s simply not for me.

 

2 Comments

  1. Great article, Nicola. I think we need more ‘realistic’ role models, most people aren’t zero waste/ zero plastic etc. angels, or it simply isn’t compatible with everyday life… 🙂

    1. Thank you Isabel. I agree. I think people may get fearful as they think to be zero waste etc it’s going to cost a fortune because the *must* buy all this stuff (keep cups/beeswax etc) when they really don’t. There are so many simple changes that can be made that are minimal effort and zero cost.

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