The beginner’s guide to green living.

The Beginner’s Guide to green living

Why is green living important?

Did you know that since the early 1970s we are using the Earth’s resources quicker than it can renew them? That each year the Earth Overshoot Day arrives earlier? The only way to reverse this trend is to start being mindful about our own lifestyle and introduce steps to reduce our impact on the Earth.

Even on a personal level, green living is beneficial. Following a green lifestyle is great for your quality of life, your health, and your wallet.

How did we get into green living?

Our journey into green living began in 1998 quite selfishly when we researched the causes of chronic fatigue and inflammation that was plaguing me.

Awareness

We discovered that processed foods are hardly fit for human consumption, from meat pumped with hormones and antibiotics to crops pumped with cocktails of chemicals. They are even genetically modified to accept all those chemicals happily. All this along with damaging industrial processes has a big responsibility in the multiplication of chronic illnesses as well as in environmental pollution. (Yes, we thought conventional food producers were driven by quality and safety and not by profit! I know, we were quite naïve and trusting!) Furthermore, we realised that we were not helping matters. The mass consumerism we are used to is responsible for depleting the planet’s resources fast, polluting, hurting humans, threatening biodiversity and the environment.

Decisions

We decided to act and, little by little switched to a sustainable lifestyle so we could reduce our impact on the planet and support ethical industry. We believe changing our ways and becoming responsible is important. It is a journey where each step builds on the next. Our next step is to take you with us on this journey.

What is green living?

A definition of green living

Green living is a lifestyle and a mindset.

It means to take steps to diminish the impact of our actions on the environment and on other human beings. To achieve it we need to tweak things in our lives to reduce our use of energy and water as well as reducing waste and pollution. It means to care for our fellow humans, to support biodiversity and to encourage fair trade practices.

Green living is making choices every day that will benefit us, our families and the planet.

Common misconceptions about green living

When we think of green living, we imagine a group of environmental activists living in cabins in the woods with composting toilets, a fire pit and fetching water down the creek. Or we believe that we would need to be a millionaire to afford the latest hybrid car, state of the art eco-label home and all organic food and clothes.

In reality, green living is easily accessible to everyone. Whether you live in a flat in the middle of London, Paris or New York, and even if you live paycheck to paycheck.

It is just a question of being mindful in your everyday life. Even small actions are important when they are repeated day after day by all the family.

How to get started with Green Living

What do you need to get started?

The good news is that you don’t need to take to the woods or spend crazy amounts of money in state of the art gadgets!

To start on a green lifestyle, all you need to do is choose some easy steps in the following list and you’ll soon reap the benefits of doing some good for the planet, improving your health and making your wallet happy too!

Make your life as eco-friendly as possible

Energy

  1. Lower thermostat by 1°C (Put on a sweater, add extra blankets to the beds).
  2. Add heavy curtains to doors and windows and close them at night in winter.
  3. Change your light bulbs to low energy ones.
  4. Turn the lights off when you leave a room.
  5. Unplug appliances when you have finished with them.
  6. Turn off your computer and the TV when not using. Don’t keep them on standby.
  7. Turn your heating off or down in unused rooms, at night and when away (work or holidays).
  8. Switch to a green energy supplier.
  9. Fit draught excluders in all your rooms. Do not block ventilation; you need oxygen.
  10. Use renewable energy like wood or a heat pump for heating.
  11. Don’t lower temperature in a room by more than 5°C with the air conditioning.
  12. Shut your windows and shade your rooms from early morning in summer.
  13. Defrost and dust the back of your freezer at least once a year
  14. .Keep your fridge and freezer at the right temperature and well stocked for maximum efficiency.

Transport

  1. Walk or cycle for short journeys
  2. Carpool for taking children to school or to activities
  3. Use public transports
  4. Maximise each journey by grouping several activities. For example shop and run errands whilst your daughter is in dance class.
  5. Limit shopping trips to once a week or even once a month if you live away from the supermarket.

Food

  1. Cook from scratch.
  2. Stay away from processed food.
  3. Shop locally from sustainable sources.
  4. Meal plan to avoid waste.
  5. Shop from your pantry first.
  6. Choose to buy the Clean Fifteen and avoid the Dirty Dozen.
  7. Eat meat-free at least one day a week.
  8. Buy products in big packets rather than individual portions.
  9. Get stainless steel refillable water bottles for the whole family.
  10. Grow your own food even on windowsills or balconies.
  11. Swap services for produce with local gardeners.
  12. Can or freeze your harvest surplus.
  13. Go to a local organic pick your own.
  14. Add fruit bushes and herbs to your flower borders.

Reduce your waste to a minimum

  • Steer clear of over-packaging.
  • Reuse packaging.
  • Buy in bulk.
  • Bring your own reusable fabric shopping bags.
  • Buy pre-loved clothes, furniture and appliances.
  • Repair whenever possible.
  • Sell or donate unwanted items.
  • Repurpose and recycle.
  • Use your leftovers every week.
  • Compost kitchen waste.
  • Build a garden composter.
  • Get a wormery for your flat or make your own.
  • Adopt two hens, and you’ll get eggs for your scraps (Never just one hen, they need company).
  • Switch to reusable instead of disposable.

Saving water

  1. Don’t forget to turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or hands.
  2. Turn water off when soaping up and shampooing in the shower.
  3. Collect water from the roof to water plants or flush toilets.
  4. Fill up your sink or a bowl for washing up, do not wash up under running water.
  5. Fit water saving aerators on your taps.
  6. Save washing up water for houseplants and garden.
  7. Collect the water while you waiting for it to heat up to use in the garden or flush the toilets.
  8. Take short showers instead of baths.
  9. Use a dual flush toilet or put a brick or bottle of water in the cistern.

Household

  1. Reduce your waste.
  2. Use eco-label cleaning products.
  3. Make your cleaning products.
  4. Use Marseille soap for washing up, laundry and more.
  5. Make your cleaning wipes. Go paperless.
  6. Automate your bills.
  7. Refuse paper advertising.
  8. Make your body care products.
  9. Use essential oils for health.
  10. Use herbs in your medicine cabinet.

Tips for Success in Green Living

How can you successfully switch to a green lifestyle?

To be successful, it is important to

  • Discuss the steps you want to take as a family.
  • Start with 2 or 3 steps and build on your successes.
  • Respect other’s opinions and be willing to compromise.
  • Understand that everybody doesn’t see things in the same light or progresses at the same speed.
  • Lead by example to reduce resistance rather than forcing people’s hand.
  • Implement what you have chosen and try to be consistent but give yourself grace when you don’t follow through. Just pick up again where you stopped.

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Common Questions About Green Living

Is it going to take a lot of my time?

Not necessarily. Some actions only take a few minutes, like changing a light bulb for example, on the other hand, cooking from scratch when you are used to ready-made food will take more organising, and there will be a learning curve. Tackle this type of action once you’ve warmed up your green muscles, and pick only one of these for the month.

It is best to start with easy to implement actions that will not take too much time or money. When you feel strong enough to tackle more demanding tasks be sure to check our getting organised category for tips for succeeding. You can also reach out for support.

Do I need to change all my appliances for more efficient ones?

If your appliances are still in good working order, no, it wouldn’t be eco-friendly to buy new ones as the energy and raw materials needed to build them would negate the savings it would create. To make your appliances more efficient make sure you use them correctly; For example, load a dishwasher or washing machine to maximum capacity before running it. Keep your fridge and freezer well stocked and frost free, be also mindful about opening them to save electricity.

Should I switch to paper bags instead of plastic ones?

The answer is no. Although paper bags are biodegradable, they are manufactured too, and the fabrication process uses resources and is as polluting as the plastic bags. The real solution is to bring your reusable fabric bags to the shop. Even better if you have made them yourself by recycling old jeans or t-shirts.

Why do we need to eat less meat to save the planet?

Producing cheap meat for the supermarket is just another industrial process. The agronomists David Pimental and Robert Goodland have found that growing a kilo of beef uses 100, 000 litres of water as opposed to 900 litres for a kilo of wheat, which makes beef an unsustainable source of food. On top of that, the animals are raised in cramped conditions and need antibiotics to stay healthy. We eat the residue along with the meat, thus creating antibiotic resistance. They are fed grains that are often GMO and sprayed with chemicals which pollute the environment. There again we eat the residue from those chemicals. It is better to eat smaller amounts of good quality grass-fed beef (or any other meat) from small sustainable structures if you don’t want to go all out vegetarian. It will do wonder to your health too.

How do I reduce the amount of meat we eat?

What I do is reduce the portion of meat to 50g or 80g per person and add cooked legumes like chickpeas, dried beans and lentils and some grains like rice, millet, quinoa, black wheat on the side as well as the vegetables. If it is ground meat in a sauce, I add chopped carrots, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms in the sauce. We only eat meat for the main meal and a couple of times in the week I do a vegetarian day using pastured eggs, cheese, tofu or legumes instead of the meat.

Will my efforts really be enough to make an impact?

The answer is yes, on so many levels. First, you will notice the difference in your electricity bill, in your heating bill and your petrol costs each month. Second, imagine those energy savings on a global scale; it will make a difference. Third, Your actions will not go unnoticed, your children first who will follow your example and then your friends. If you are anything like us, you will feel proud of your achievements (and you should!) and will talk about all your savings and how proud you are to do your bit for the planet. Your friends will start emulating you and their friends them and so on. You will be the start of a new batch of green living adepts.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Green Living

The mass consumerism we are used to is depleting the planet’s resources fast. We need to act now and follow a more sustainable lifestyle.  The good news is that even small changes towards green living will have a positive impact on the environment, your quality of life and your wallet! Join us in our quest for an ethical and sustainable life. Bookmark this site or subscribe to our newsletter for practical tips and info on green living.

Let us know in the comments what your family has decided to implement and how you are getting on. Was it easy? What problems did you encounter? Do you have any questions? You can also give us your tips for green living.

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