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My journey towards a sustainable lifestyle

Lagom meaning

If you read my previous blog post you will know that I am participating in IKEA’s Live Lagom project. I promised to set out the steps I am taking towards a more environmentally friendly and sustainable lifestyle, so here goes.

A platform to share ideas

Sometimes voicing an idea that is obvious to you could be a lightbulb moment for someone else.

For example, Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert, recently shared a list of money saving hacks to avoid household waste. I read the advice to use the water that you boil your vegetables in to make gravy for your roast dinner and thought, “Wow! Why haven’t I done this before, surely that will make the gravy taste better.” I mentioned it to Tall Dad and he said that he usually did this. (You can probably tell that it’s been a while since I made a roast!) Anyway, the article came up in conversation with a Live Lagom colleague, who told me that he’d found all the points made to be blindingly obvious. 

You may already be doing many of the things set out below, but I hope that sharing what I do will inspire you to go further. This post is also a means of documenting my progress, so please feel free to share your own tips and experiences to inspire me, and others, to do even more. After all, I have already acknowledged in my earlier post, that thinking about the environment requires headspace that many of us feel we don’t have. 

 

What I do already

  • Food waste Batch cooking to fill the freezer has reduced the amount of leftover ingredients in our fridge. It’s also the only way I can keep up with feeding the family since the twins arrived! I try to cook an extra portion for the freezer when I do get the chance to make something fresh and I am getting better at starting my meal planning by using up the contents of the fridge. 
  • Single use water bottles After cutting out single use water bottles when I learned that BPA could be a contributor to miscarriage I always carry a reusable water bottle. Last Christmas I asked for a stainless steel water bottle, which has the added bonus of keeping water cold all day.
  • Decluttering Anything that isn’t broken I distribute between the charity shop and those plastic charity bags that come through the door. More recently, in an effort to make a bit of money, I’ve started selling things on Ebay and Facebook. I’ve also taken advantage of H&M’s garment collection, which gives you £5 off a £25 spend if you hand in a bag of old clothes. 
  • Reusable shopping bags I keep them in the car, in the pram, and in the changing bag to stop me buying a new ‘bag for life’ if I make an unplanned trip to the supermarket.
  • Plastic toys Most of Tall Boy’s toys are second hand, passed down from family and friends whose children no longer need them. When the twins are finished with them they will be donated to children’s centres or charities that can make good use of them.
  • Hand-me-downs Many of Tall Boy’s clothes have been handed down too. Tall Twin Boy and Tall Twin Girl will get their wear out of them and then I’m passing them on to friends. Children’s clothes are expensive because they grow out of them so quickly, and I’ve been lucky to save a fortune by dressing them in preloved, but often hardly worn, items.
  • Unused toiletries I love receiving toiletries as gifts, but gift sets inevitably come with items that I don’t use. All these have been donated to various causes, including domestic violence charities, and to new mums in need of a treat.

 

Changes I’ve made since applying for Live LAGOM

  • Reusable coffee cup The only way to get the twins to sleep at the same time is to take them out for a walk. This sees me buying hot drinks out and about on a regular basis. To avoid using disposable cups I treated myself to an RCup. It’s made from recycled coffee cups and comes with a sealed lid that doesn’t leak when I put it in the pram’s cup holder. 
  • Plastic packaging This is something I feel increasingly guilty about. I have switched to using natural soap, purchased from our local maker’s market, instead of shower gel. I am supporting a small business and reducing my plastic waste. Fortunately it doesn’t irritate my skin, which is an issue I have with lots of beauty products. 
  • Baby wipes Weaning the twins is a messy experience. Instead of using baby wipes for clearing up the carnage (and for cleaning several other things as well) I invested in a pack of Cheeky Wipes. They are small micro fibre cloths that are gentle enough to use for babies. They rinse out easily under the tap so they last a few mealtimes before I throw them in the washing machine. I can’t bring myself to use reusable wipes for bottoms, but by cutting down on wipes for everything else we have dramatically reduced our consumption, which will very quickly repay the cost of the Cheeky Wipes and save us money too. In addition, Aldi has recently started selling biodegradable baby wipes, so I plan to switch to these when we use up our stash of Water Wipes.
  • Water Inspired by another Live LAGOM participant, I applied to our local water company for free products to help reduce our water usage. We have some fixings for the taps, a shower and a tooth timer, and a bag for the toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water it uses for every flush. Find out what free items are available in our local area here.
  • Carrier bag recycling I may be late to the party with realising how much plastic can be recycled in the carrier bag recycling banks at the supermarket. From toilet and kitchen roll packaging, to the bags nappies come in, to the plastic bags that you get clothes delivered from online shopping, and some vegetable and cereal bags. All this plastic I’ve been throwing away until now. I am in a supermarket so often that it’s no hardship to drop in a few bags while I’m at it. In fact, after my last online clothes shop I even returned a bag of plastic coat hangers to Sainsbury’s. Just look out for this logo on the back of a bag. 

Plastic bag recycling logo

  • Halloween Last year I broke from my usual tradition of carving a pumpkin. I took a very un-Lagom step of buying transfer stickers to stick faces on two quite large pumpkins. It turned out to be much more three-year-old friendly than hacking at them with knives but it left me with two pumpkins worth of veg to use up. I dutifully spent a weekend baking and making soup. We even roasted the seeds with a touch of curry powder. I now have a freezer full of pumpkin, which will see us through several meals – not bad for the few quid they cost.
  • Christmas We asked people not to give us toys for the children. The babies have everything they need, and Tall Boy has more than enough toys to keep him going. Instead we asked for contributions towards things we can do as a family, such as National Trust Membership or vouchers for days out. I am planning to use a similar approach for gift giving this year too.
  • Drinking water For some reason the water in our house takes an age to run through cold enough to drink, so I am guilty of leaving the tap running for far too long. I bought some glass bottles from Ikea at the start of this project and I now make sure these are filled up when I do run the tap, and keep them in the fridge. 
  • Food waste Since joining the programme I have taken even more steps to reduce our food waste. I now have a bag of vegetable peelings in the freezer that I keep adding to, which will be made in to stock when I have enough. I have also discovered that leftover garlic bread makes amazing breadcrumbs, which I use to top pasta bakes.
  • Food storage I am using the glass Ikea 365 dishes to store food in the fridge and freezer. Of course I still use plastic, including old takeaway boxes, but I am not replacing the plastic ones as they break, or lose their lids (how does this happen – it’s like missing socks!). The added bonus is that glass doesn’t take on the taste of things that you store in it, nor does it discolour with tomato based sauces.
  • Nappy waste We have stopped using the Tommee Tippee nappy bin cartridges. We still use the bin and pooey nappies still go in nappy sacks, but not using the cartridges has cut down our single use plastic substantially, and saved us money too.

 

Things I can improve

  • Fashion I have previously referred to the fact that I am a sucker for Instagram and Facebook advertising. Because I don’t get to go shopping very often, I can’t help browsing online, often promoted by adverts popping up in my newsfeed. Fast fashion is a big problem for the environment so my goal is to shop first on Ebay or Facebook Marketplace. I am much better at doing this for the kids, and being tall makes it hard for me to find things that fit. I plan to buy new things only if I need them and can’t source them from somewhere else. I have to confess that I have already slipped up and bought a new dress, so I’ve hidden Facebook adverts from all favourite shops, so that I can’t be led astray. I’ll keep you posted about how it goes.

I know there is plenty more I could do, so please share your own suggestions, tips and experiences in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

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Becci Johnson

Hi, I’m an almost 6 ft, thirty-something living in Manchester. Writer, blogger & mum to twins plus one.

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