We chatted to New York Times best-selling author, Sarah Wilson, about the steps to creating an eco-friendly home.
1. Live simply
I use the word simple because buying into other trends like minimalism and going green often become impractical and expensive, and you end up buying more stuff. We don’t need more stuff. We need less. Simple is minimalism, decluttering, green and eco-friendly all rolled into one in a practical and sustainable way. It also doesn’t mean throwing everything out and replacing it with an expensive gadget. Improvise with what you have. Buy less and then recycle less, as recycling should be a last resort.
I don’t own a microwave, or books I’m not going to pass onto friends. I don’t use paper towels; I lick my fingers instead. I don’t own candles either, or trinkets without any sentimental value. I use a kettle on the stove top.
2. Give your cleaning products a detox
Step away from the Chux wipes and get yourself reusable cloths you can throw in the wash when they require a good clean. This minimises wastage and saves you storage. Microfibre cloths are best.
When it comes to what you’re spraying on your benches, avoid products with ammonia, fragrances and bleach. Keep a lookout for eco labels by independent accreditors on the products such as National Asthma Council Australia’s Sensitive Choice, Planet Ark, Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) and Australian Certified Organics. If you want to check your current products click here.
Also, bacteria grows within six hours of cleaning if you don’t dry off the surface, so make sure you dry your benches quickly to prevent further bacteria growth.
3. Check your packaging
Many plastic containers, despite what you’ve heard, are not meant to be put in the freezer or heated in the microwave. You can tell whether they’re okay to use by the identification code on the plastic. Numbers 2, 4 and 5 are fine. Avoid using the rest.
If you can stick with glass or ceramic containers, even better. I use old glass jars a lot.
4. Switch to a battery-operated digital alarm clock
By avoiding a phone being plugged in at your bedside (and beside your head) for seven hours a night, you will reduce your exposure to radiation; In addition, it will help you get a decent sleep. You’re less likely to pick up your phone in the middle of the night to check your texts or emails, and you won’t waste endless minutes (or in some case hours) on it when you hop into bed.
So, switch to a battery-operated digital clock in your bedroom and leave your phone in another room. Just do it. I’ve had the same travel alarm clock for more than a decade and I’ve only replaced the battery three times.
5. Gradual conscious change is better than a clean sweep
There’s not much worse than tossing out a brand new, perfectly good item in the kitchen in the name of minimalism. The impact on the planet and our conscience outweighs the good of a greener and cleaner option in an immediate sense.
Particularly in the kitchen, wait until pots, pans and whatever whiz-bang contraptions you own get old and unusable. Then throw them out and replace with a better, cleaner option. For me, I weigh up the ethical, environmental, health and financial factors, and then make a conscious choice.