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A beginner’s guide to sustainable life

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

If you're hearing a calling to live a more sustainable life but you don't know where to start from, keep reading.

This month I interviewed Caroline from Hello ECO living. Caroline lives in the North East of England with a tall man, a small boy and our fluffy woofter. She’s sharing her journey to a simple, sustainable life and she suggests some easy swaps you can start from.

Are you ready to make a difference?

Q: Can you share your story and what or whom inspired you to shift to ECO living?

A: I started my @hello_ecoliving Instagram account in April after spending some time researching how we could become more sustainable and reduce the amount of times we needed to visit shops during the COVID-19 lockdown. There were lots of Instagram accounts sharing tips, ideas and inspiration and it really motivated me to learn more about the impact we as a family were having on the environment with our purchases, waste and items we would use everyday which actually could be harming us.

Q: What does ECO living mean to you?

A: Eco living means lots of things to different people. There are so many eco friendly products out there now, that it is easy to get caught up in the “I need to buy this item so that we don’t use this item any more”, when actually there are probably many items you currently own that you can use to reduce your use of single use plastic.

For example, you could go ahead and buy a nice new bamboo cutlery set for when you are out, or, you could take your own cutlery that you use every day at home. Both are eco living, but you don’t need to spend lots to get there. I keep seeing a quote every once and in a while on Instagram that people share, it says something like, “we don’t need a few people doing eco living perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly”. If you’re sticking as much as you can to the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra, you’re doing great. Do what works for you as an individual or a family.

Q: Can you give us some examples of some of the changes you made so far?

A: We’ve made small changes in a few different areas, including the bathroom, kitchen, the garden and what we take with us on our many family days out. We’ve both had reusable coffee cups for a couple of years now, however we mainly used these for work. Now we take them with us every time we go out somewhere, so instead of grabbing a coffee from a coffee shop in a single use cup, we use our reusables. We also take reusable water bottles out with us, as well as cutlery from home wrapped in some fabric and reusable wipes for the inevitable dirty hands that come from having an inquisitive little boy who is always exploring!

We’ve also swapped to soap bars for hand-washing instead of liquid soap and also soap bars in a bamboo wash mitt instead of liquid shower gel in plastic bottles. In the kitchen, we’ve started buying food items in glass jars as much as we can, instead of plastic, such as sauces, peanut butter, jam etc. Another swap which I love is our plastic based washing up scourers were replaced with coconut scourers once they’d had their use. They look so much nicer than the plastic made ones too!

Q: How do you recommend people can start living a more sustainable life?

A: I’d recommend doing a bit of a “plastic audit” in your home. For us, we didn’t realise how many items in our home were actually made of some sort of plastic, so we started by going round each room and looking at items that we could replace with more eco friendly and sustainable options, once they were ready to be replaced.

I’d recommend starting in the kitchen or the bathroom, you’d be surprised how easy it is to find things that you can change. The main thing to remember though, is to use up what you have first and repurpose what you can. Our plastic Tupperware that we’d use to store leftovers and heat up in the microwave has been repurposed to store the little ones crayons and craft bits.

Q: What are 10 easy swaps?

A: You can start from here:

  1. Liquid soaps –> soap bars

  2. Shower gel in plastic bottles –> soap bars with a bamboo wash mitt to make it last longer and lather better!

  3. Plastic stemmed cotton buds –> bamboo cotton buds

  4. Takeaway coffee in a single use cup –> reusable coffee cup

  5. Bottled water –> reusable bottle

  6. Liquid shampoo in a plastic bottle –> shampoo bars

  7. Single use cotton pads –> reusable fabric rounds

  8. Cling film / plastic wrap –> reusable beeswax wraps

  9. Plastic carrier bags –> reusable cotton string bags / produce bags

  10. Buying sauces / condiments in plastic tubs / bottles –> buy glass bottles and reuse when empty

Q: What strategies do you use to reduce waste?

A: We plan our meals for the week and only buy what we need for those meals, plus a few treats!

Meal planning has helped reduce our food waste massively as we’re using every bit of food that we buy for our meals.

Previously, we would have a rough idea of what we were going to buy but we would always end up with extra, especially if we were shopping in a supermarket and something caught our eye or was on special offer.

Now we buy what we need, we buy loose and unpackaged where available and we always try to come away with as little plastic as possible. Our next steps are to move away from the supermarket and to shop at our local greengrocers, butchers and bakery, something that hasn’t been possible for us during lockdown.

Q: Which books you recommend to find the inspiration to start?

A: The first book I read on our eco living journey was The Sustainable Home, by Christine Liu. It's a really good place to start if you’re a little overwhelmed with all of the information out there and she has some brilliant tips for creating your own cleaning products and things

for around the home. I’m currently reading Live Green by Jen Chillingsworth. Again, another good starting point, Jen is honest about being realistic about the changes that can work for you, and not to feel guilt for those that don’t work right now. Small changes are better than none!

Q: Any final thoughts, message do you want to leave to the readers?

A: If you’re thinking about making some changes to your lifestyle and/or household, just go for it! The world needs more people who want to make changes, no matter how small or how many, even if you only change one thing, you’re helping. There are literally hundreds of Instagram accounts, blogs, websites etc where you can find really helpful information to help start your journey, just go for it!

Q: Where / how people can find you?

A: I have an Instagram account @hello_ecoliving where I share tips for making swaps, inspirational accounts, things I’ve read in books and what’s working and not working for us. Disclaimer: I may also share the occasional picture of my dog or some food I’ve cooked if I’m super impressed with myself!

If you’ve been reading so far I’m sure you’re ready to start your own journey to a more sustainable life or maybe you’re inspired to bring it to the next level.

Now, Caroline and I would love to hear from you:

What’s a swap that you’re committing to do right now?

Leave a comment in the box below.

Thank you for reading!

Until the next time…

Be WILD, be YOU!

With love & appreciation,


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