My Eco Journey

My Story

I thought I would share my journey, so you can see how everyone is different and how we may all go down different paths, even though we are working towards the same goal.

Let’s go back to January 2018. I was 8 months pregnant with our second baby and living in Portsmouth. There was a lady there who became a good friend and used to walk our dog for us once a week. One day she came back with an armful of plastic bottles and rubbish. I learnt that day that a lot of the plastic I had been putting in our recycling bin, for almost two years actually, wasn’t collected by the council − and I was horrified. I couldn’t believe I had been contaminating truckloads of recycling all that time. Turns out I wasn’t the only one.
Ecobricks

So, I started to collect this non-recyclable waste and take it to one of the collection bins at the local supermarket. I also heard about EcoBricks (when no one knew what they were) and collected all of our soft plastic to start our first brick. The shock of how much we had in a week was, in all honesty, gobsmacking. I literally couldn’t believe how much rubbish we had.

Glass Milk BottlesI made some changes … swapping to glass milk bottles and fruit and veg deliveries. Those two things made a phenomenal difference to our landfill waste. We then switched to reusable wipes (which are a godsend!), and I was soon calling on a couple of neighbours for advice on cloth nappies. When my youngest was 9 weeks old we switched to cloth nappies and promptly got rid of the kitchen bin, as we were no longer filling it. This was a massive step and showed me how much difference I had made.

From there I collected all of my bathroom products together − every miniature, sample, half-used bottle and slowly made my way through them. This took over 6 months but as I ran out of something, I replaced it with an eco-alternative. It was fun! I enjoyed spending time researching and learning about the different products available to me.

By this point we were packing up to move house, and I made a decision that this lifestyle was something I desperately wanted, and needed, to continue. I emailed family and friends ahead of our eldest daughter’s 3rd birthday and asked them to really think about the gifts they were buying. To try and choose non plastic, locally-made gifts and to buy from small businesses or buy experiences. It worked, and I’d like to think that was the start for a lot of them being more conscious about their choices. It took a lot of guts to send that email as I was worried they’d all think I was being controlling and unreasonable, but actually it was the total opposite.

Homemade Christmas HamperTwo years later and we all try even harder to be more considerate when buying gifts. My eco journey continued with a bokashi bin, reusable gift bags, homemade presents and so much more. I’ve found some awesome swaps and have enjoyed learning along the way.

I’d like to think I’ve inspired a few people too. I’m by no means perfect or even close to zero waste, but I’m a whole lot closer to my goals than I was at the start of 2018.

Tell me in the comments about how you got started on your journey…..

 

Eco Living from a Young Age

Thank you so much to my life long friend and fellow Eco Warrior, Lizzie Garthwaite, for this wonderful insight in to her eco journey.

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Hi, my name is Lizzie and I’m happy to declare I’m pretty loopy about the environment!
Learning life with GrandpaFor me this way of thinking has always been a part of how my family have lived to some degree. I grew up with my granny routinely cutting open her tubes of toothpaste to get that final bit out, and saving every jam jar and yoghurt pot ‘just in case’. My grandfather was the first Conservation Officer in the Forestry Commission, and I remember the piles of scrap paper he would save from all the post. They also lived through the war and spent part of that time in Burma, where it was a very different lifestyle. This influenced how they raised my mum and therefore me. (Photo – Lizzie as a child with her Grandfather)

 

As a child I loved Nature and it would never occur to me to litter; this led to recycling more. A school trip to Germany really hammered this home after trying to throw away a plastic bottle and not having a clue which bin to put it in (it was all colour coded).

University was the next stage for me- I started to visit local markets and thinking more about how and where food was produced, choosing more seasonal and organic food (and training myself to remember my shopping bags!!).
I’ve also always loved charity shops and Edinburgh was a great city for that. Hunting a bargain become a really hobby! Since my granny and mum had saved a lot of clothes it was natural to me to wear second or third-hand clothes. It made me appreciate quality fabrics and how an item was sewn and when I went shopping for new items, I became more disappointed with what would be on the high street.
timeline
After uni I went WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms). I loved the ethos of the organisation and the hosts I stayed with really opened my eyes to a better way of living. They were obviously very committed to living a zero waste/organic lifestyle and it showed me there are so many ways to live lightly on the land. These people had spent years working towards this goal- and I realised it really does become a different way of living. It’s not just swapping out a few cleaning products (although that’s a great way to start!) but I found myself making bigger choices- I wasn’t comfortable any more with cheaply made products shipped over from China, but much more willing to invest in a UK-made item, where I knew my money would be going on a fair wage and good working conditions.
I went travelling for the first time in 2010. So in the ten years since, what’s changed for me?
Well, if you look in my wardrobe I still have many of the clothes I wore when I went travelling the first time (including wool socks my grandpa wore skiiing!). I’ve been WWOOFing again, this time packing up all my items into storage and going with my partner. We’ve picked up more skills- such as honing our foraging skills (feee food? My favourite!). We’ve had a child (multiple opportunities to reject commercial tat and opt for reusable products there!). After travelling we moved somewhere new and used it as a fresh start on what we would bring into the house. So no more single-use items: out went kitchen roll, toilet roll, nappies, etc. Cleaning products got simplified, then simplified again. We are blessed with a weekly local food market so I now have a trusty shopping trolley (yes, like an old granny!) and we walk in every week to stock up.
I also started a Facebook group called A Greener Fairford, for locals to share tips and ideas. We have a great community who are really open to positive change.
And for us as a family?
We try to keep sticking to the zero-waste ‘R’ mantra-
Rethink
Refuse
Reduce
Reuse
Repair
Recycle
Rot