Marianna's arrival made me care a whole lot more about the future of the planet. Suddenly I had this tangible link with the world after me, and it gave me a whole new commitment to doing my bit. I mean, I've always been interested in the whole 'reduce, reuse, recycle' mantra, but it's taken on an extra dimension now and become something that really means a lot to me.
The best thing about this move towards the sustainable is that even the tiniest action can have a hugely beneficial impact.
The most obvious way to create less waste is to, well, consume less stuff in the first place. Meal planning, for example, has helped us to reduce the amount of food we throw away, as well as give us back some control over the weekly schedule. Another way I've been reducing is using more all round cleaners, rather than purchasing endless job specific products. Eventually I'd like to move to a less chemical based cleaner, but for now I love multi-purpose Domestos which can be used in the kitchen and the bathroom. (And anywhere else which plays host to a toddler dedicated to mess and destruction...)
This focus on using less also saves me a few pounds each week, which is not something to be sniffed at!
Yeah, I just styled a bleach bottle shot...
This is where the fun comes in. I love craft projects, but am also a major cheapskate, so reusing every day items is the obvious way forward. Whether it's transforming glass jars into snowglobes, or turning empty baby food tubs into fancy storage containers, trash can so easily be made into treasure. Not only is this money saving, you can also make money by selling your creations, telling the world about them (the women's weeklies will pay well for your upcycling stories), or simply collecting and selling the raw materials for those who don't have the patience. Bottle tops, toilet roll tubes, and empty jam jars, for instance, can all be sold in bulk on eBay to bring in a little extra income.
My favourite example of reusing in our own home is the 'wall of sound'. Basically, we needed a cheap and easy way to decorate without damaging / altering the wall (we're renting), and a way to get rid of old CDs and DVDs the trade-in sites weren't interested in. Two birds, one stone, and this was the outcome:
It didn't exactly make me many friends in the community, but I was strongly in favour of the new 'skinny bins' we use locally. By reducing the capacity in our general waste bins, Torfaen Council has (using the stick more than the carrot, it's true) managed to bring the authority's recycling rates up to Welsh Govt standards (58%) and put us on course for the next target - 64% by 2020.
And when you feel like you can't be bothered to wash out your bottles and tins for collection, or just want to dump it all in a black bag and be done with it, just think of how much difference a single bottle can make. The energy saving from recycling just one bottle will, according to Amgen Cymru:
☆ Power a 100 watt light bulb for almost an hour.
☆ Power a computer for 25 minutes.
☆ Power a colour TV for 20 minutes.
☆ Power a washing machine for 10 minutes.
Feel the power!
Creating a #brightFuture with Unilever
Unilever are fronting a campaign at the moment for a #brightFuture, encouraging their brands and their consumers to look at the positive difference they can make to the world, one small action at a time. Domestos has pledged to help 25 million people gain access to better toilet facilities by 2020 - because even today over a billion people are lacking that basic amenity - while the Dove Self-Esteem Project has already touched the lives of over 19 million young people.
Read more about the campaign over at the Unilever website, and get involved on social media using the #brightFuture hashtag. Today, 83% of children feel optimistic about their own future, and 59% feel optimistic about the future of the environment. Let's do them proud and get that figure rising!