10 Easy Ways To Start Living More Ethically And Sustainably

So I’ve wanted to write a little something about living more ethically and sustainably for what feels like an age, but I guess I’ve felt too bogged down in the politics of it all at times. After all, if I suggest to switch to compostable bin liners (which, for the record, I am) I’m sure someone out there will suggest not using bin liners at all.

I am a firm believer in every little bit helps. For some, reducing, reusing and recycling to the point where you could fit every bit of trash you created for the year into a jam jar, is the only way to make any significant change. And in some ways I agree. But unless you’ve lived your entire life consciously, then the chances are you’re trying to undo consumer habits that you’ve also had a life time.

Plastic is all around us, so much so that we’re almost blind to its existence. It’s only when you really take a look around that you realise it’s everywhere, not to mention all the single use products we use like napkins, cotton wool, straws and even cutlery.

I remember looking at Little Ored’s toys one day thinking “OMG. It’s all plastic.” I just didn’t think. But now I’m thinking, questioning and trying my best to make changes to my lifestyle so I can live as ethically as possible. It’s not going to happen overnight, but even the smallest of changes have to make a difference and not just to the environment either. Turning vegetarian last July, was one of the best decisions I ever made. No longer could I turn a blind eye to the practices of the meat industry. I had my son to think of now, and I needed to start setting an example to him and what better way than to lead by it?

I’m still completely new at this. Still learning. But below are a few of the changes I’ve made that have been super easy and so make a great starting point for anyone looking to live more sustainably too! And just imagine the impact it would have on our planet if  everyone did just even half of them?


 

Personal Care

1. Toothbrushes

Swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one and you can do so knowing that what you’re using is both biodegradable and recyclable (not to mention that bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth making it ideal for mass manufacture).

Humble Brush is my personal favourite- they have great ethics as well as a great product.

2. Facecloths

As soon as I started thinking about how I was using cotton wool once and then simply throwing it away, I stopped, because it’s kinda crazy when you think about it. So I bought some facecloths which I now use instead- simple!

3. Bars of soap

I dread to think of the amount of bottles of hand soap and shower gel I’ve bought over the years. I used to think that if it came in recyclable packaging, then it was OK but now I realise that having an overflowing recycling bin isn’t necessarily a good thing and so I’ve stopped buying the bottled stuff in favour of bars of soap. If it was good enough for our Grannies, it’s good enough for us!

4. Old fashioned razors

I ditched the plastic, disposal ladies razor in favour of sharing Ored’s single blade razor. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I’ve had a few mishaps but once you get the hang of shaving with this type of razor you’ll find it better than those pesky plastic ones!

Out and About

5. Totes

Since the 5p charge came in for plastic bags, I’ve almost never left the house without a tote bag, and when I have, I’ve had to get creative with the storage under and on Little Ored’s pram! That isn’t to say I’ve never bought a plastic bag but it’s been few and far between compared to the days when I didn’t carry a tote with me.

6.Travel cups, water bottles and straws 

Yes, you have to be prepared in the morning but it makes having coffee on the go completely guilt! And it’s not just coffee. Since I started carrying my 1.5L water bottle with me and refilling it in coffee shops and restaurants, I haven’t had to buy any bottled water in months- another small win against plastic!

House & Home

7. Go Vegan

More and more brands are waking up to the fact that consumers want cruelty free products that are eco-friendly, which is great news as it means that these types of products are easier to get your hands on!

All of Co-op’s own brand household products are both free of animal ingredients and are cruelty free. Marks and Spencer and Waitrose have also followed suit and even Tesco have an own brand range with plant-based, cruelty free cleaning products! And of course you have the long-standing Ecover and Method but whichever brand you plump for, you can do so knowing that no animasl had to suffer for a squeaky clean house.

8. Read the label

Did you know most of the plastic packaging found on a loaf of bread can be recycled, just not on your kerbside? We take ours to the recycling banks at our local supermarket where it can be recycled, along with products such as batteries etc. So it’s always worth reading and checking what parts of your trash can and can’t be recycled, and most importantly, where.

9. Shop smart for your groceries

Buy fruit and vegetables lose to minimise all that plastic packaging. Buying in bulk- such as pasta and rice- will also help do the same but try look for alternatives to your mainstream supermarkets too. If you’re lucky enough to have a package free shop, utilise it- just make sure to take your Kilner jars with you!

10. Eat more plants

I’m not going to tell you to go vegan. I’m not even going to tell you to go vegetarian, but what I am going to tell you is to introduce more plant-based meals in your diet. Not only will your health reap the benefits but the environment will benefit too.

As an excerpt from the Guardian illustrates, the practices of the  agriculture sector are completely unsustainable.

The heavy impact on the environment of meat production was known but the research shows a new scale and scope of damage, particularly for beef. The popular red meat requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions. When compared to staples like potatoes, wheat, and rice, the impact of beef per calorie is even more extreme, requiring 160 times more land and producing 11 times more greenhouse gases.

 

So there you have it!

But like I said I’m still completely new at this so if anyone would like to share their tips and tricks for living more ethically, please comment below as I’d love to read them!

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Breastfeeding- An Honest Update

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I’ve wanted to write an update re: milk making for so long now, but  finding the time to sit down at my laptop now that Little Ored is walking unaided (in other words, never sitting down) is almost impossible! This morning I attempted an update on my Instagram stories but my terrible and awkward rambling made me realise 1) I’m slightly more eloquent via the written word and 2) I needed to just sit down and write!

So with Little Ored taking his afternoon nap…

Here we are! 17 months later and we’re still in the midst of our breastfeeding story which both surprises and amazes me every day.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ve been lucky. I was told the horror stories (especially during my pregnancy. Why do women do that to each other?) and I’d read the brutally honest accounts on Instagram. Subsequently, my story has felt like it never fitted in. Like it didn’t belong. But then I remember how it felt as a Mama-to-be, on the cusp of BF, with no idea how it was going to go and that’s why I feel like it’s important to share my story. Even if it only reassures one expectant Mother that breastfeeding can be a positive, incredible experience. That they can do it.

I still haven’t had painful latches, bleeding or cracked nipples but I can say they’ve felt a little tender at times-especially in those first 6 months pre weaning. I did have one horrible bout of mastitis which feels exactly like the flu (in other words, death), but luckily it cleared up on its own after 24 hours. I get asked a lot about what BF is like as soon as teeth are involved, and all I can say is that if LO is feeding/latching properly I can’t feel a thing. If he’s feeling particularly teethy however, it can be a different story!

As time has gone on I’ve become increasingly confident about breastfeeding in public and one day, when Little Ored is old enough, I’m going to give him one big apology for ever having hid his head underneath a sling whilst he nursed. But we learn and we grow. I’ve breastfed my son whilst carrying him on and off trains, in coffee shops, parks, restaurants, promenades, play groups and more. And every time I do it, I remind those around me of what women’s bodies are capable of. What the real purpose of breasts are.  I can count on one hand the times I’ve received disapproving stares/whispers. Is it because I haven’t noticed them or because people just don’t care like I thought they would? Probably a bit of both, but either way I’ve lost count of  all the times I’ve had people praise me for BF in public (especially by older people) and if that’s not encouraging/reaffirming then I don’t know what is!

Then of course there’s the bonding. The cuddles before bed. The sleepy snuggles in the morning. When LO first started hugging, Ored went wild. “You forget, I’ve never had this before. But you’ve had it every time you’ve fed him.”

How much longer I will BF for, I can’t say. I want to let LO wean himself so only time will tell. But what I can say is that being able to nourish and feed my baby, whilst simultaneously being able to sooth and comfort him, has been an incredible experience and one that I would recommend to any new Mama’s.

So here are a few tips that I would give to any expectant Mama looking to BF.

1. Go to some classes

Whether they’re NCT, NHS or some other reputable organisation, classes are invaluable and will debunk the many myths surrounding BF, whilst providing you with the best start. It was in our NCT classes that Ored and I learnt the ‘signs’ of a good latch and feed as well as all the incredible health benefits that BF affords both Mama and baby.

2. Get your partner involved

Whether it’s your husband, partner, Mum or best friend, whoever is going to be around the most in those early days is the person you’ll need to help you get BF down- so make sure to take them to the classes!

Ored was great at spotting when I had positioned Little Ored too high or too low and for those first two weeks when he was off on paternity leave, I’d often find myself asking for his help. His patience, guidance and ability to spot what was “off” straight away (which is so hard to do from a Mama’s point of view, i.e looking from above, downwards) stopped either LO or me from becoming frustrated and allowed for a quick latch. Practice does make perfect but with a knowledgeable partner thrown into the mix, you really can’t go wrong!

3. Be positive

I can’t stress this enough. Whilst I approached BF with an open mind and a ‘what will be will’ be attitude I also felt a surge of confidence after my NCT classes. I believed in my body and trusted that it was able to provide my son with what he needed. That positive, relaxed approached is undoubtedly what made those tentative first few weeks, where LO and I were both still learning, much easier. Oh and if you didn’t know already oxytocin, otherwise known as the ‘love’ hormone, is what is needed to help produce breast milk making stress, anxiety and pressure completely counterintuitive!

4. Ask for help

Whether it’s your partner, friend, Mum, midwife or GP. If something isn’t working, ask for help and get advice-don’t suffer in silence. Like I said before I was always asking Ored for help and I vowed to exhaust all options before opting for formula.

5. It can be difficult, but not in the way you’d expect…

Everyone told me about the pain I might experience but no one told me about how exhausting BF can be! Little Ored never took to a bottle so I’ve never been able to express milk and let others feed him. That means that for the past 17 months I’ve been the one, especially as he nurses to sleep.

So there’s been moments where I’ve felt frustrated, tired and wanted my boobs to myself for just five minutes, especially when he insists on pinching the other nipple while nursing (FYI, breastfeeding babies gets a lot more interesting the older they get).

But instead of feeling guilty for having those feelings, I’ve embraced them and worked through them in order to continue our BF journey. Sometimes those emotions act as a little indicator that maybe I need a little more ME time and so I make sure Ored knows where I’m at in order to help out a bit more where he can.

6. And lastly…

Breastfeeding is amazing. It reduces your risk of breast cancer whilst giving your baby antibodies. It contains melatonin which helps babies sleep. Breast milk is constantly changing to meet the needs of your baby, responding to illness and even your baby’s age (fat levels increase after your baby’s first year in the world to meet their growing needs). Not to mention the bond it fosters between Mother and child.

 

So there we have it, finally, my breast feeding update!

 

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Books, Books, (Boons) Books!

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If you follow me on Instagram (if not you’re missing out on a whole heap of baby spam! Scroll down on your phone or peek to the left on your laptop to find me) you’ll have seen that last weekend we made a trip to Lewes where we stocked up on even more books for Little Ored.

It’s funny how Ored and I won’t buy LO any more toys, truly believing that he has more than enough (which he does). But when it comes to books it seems that all three of us just can’t get enough!  Reading was the first “activity” we introduced to LO when he was just weeks old. It was a great way of getting Ored more involved with the bedtime routine, which has (and still does) largely revolved around breastfeeding. It also gave me a chance to share my love of books, gleefully strolling down memory lane to relive the books I used to read as a child. But above all it gives us the opportunity to connect as a family. To switch off and completely immerse ourselves in a world full of imagination.

Needless to say we love books, but they can be pricey, so I’ve started scouting charity shops. This is one tip I’d really recommend to other parents as I’ve found some great bargains including a Roald Dahl treasury, along with copies of The Midnight Library and The Haunted House by the relatively unknown Kazuno Kohara, who is without a doubt my favourite discovery in the world of children’s illustration.

But charity shops don’t always stock newer titles and by and large you end up seeing the same books again and again, so I gave myself a HUGE pat on the back when I first discovered Boons Books. Located in Lewes, East Sussex, Boons sell discounted books that are either remainders or overstocked titles. All of which are in new/near perfect condition yet sold for a fraction of the price compared to the RRP!

Their selection of children’s books is vast, stocking a huge range to suit every age including activity, learning and picture books. Best part? They stock the more cooler, current titles on their shelves! More The Bear and the Piano and less Meg and Mog (although I have to admit that in our house their both loved equally).

The stock rotates regularly so you’ll always come across new covers sitting pretty on the shelves. Likewise, be sure to snap up anything that takes your fancy as it might not be there on your next visit.

Annoyingly Boons don’t have a website but they are well worth the visit, as is Lewes. We’ve discovered some real gems- books that we probably wouldn’t have come across in somewhere like Waterstones- and for next to nothing!

Here are three of mine and LO’s favourites.

  1. Four Seasons In One Day- The Story Orchestra (£7, RRP £14.99)

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons are reimagined in this magical storybook, complete with ‘press me’ buttons which play a small sample of each piece. The pages are beautifully illustrated, with so much for your eyes to explore. LO absolutely loves this so it’s become a firm favourite of ours, and not just at bedtimes!

2. One Day On Our Blue Planet, In The Artctic – Ella Bailey (£4, RRP £11.99)

Teaming vivid and imaginative illustration with engaging non-fiction, this book follows an Adelie penguin chick as she navigates her way through the magnificent if dangerous Antarctic Ocean. This is a great way of bringing wildlife and animal species into the home in a way that is both fun and educational. LO is obviously too young to appreciate the latter part but I love that he points to all the different types of Antarctic animals at the beginning and end of the book.

3. The 50 States  – Gabrielle Balken (£10, RRP £20)

Ok so this is one of my favourites as LO is far too young for this at the moment. But WOW, what an incredible compendium of facts (ranging from statehood dates and capitals, famous faces to key moments in history) about all fifty states of America. Presented in quirky, colourful illustrations that make the knowledge within its pages and engaging, not boring.

As someone who knows only a basic level of American history, I’m looking forward to discovering new things with a curious young mind beside me.

 

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