I’ve come up with the idea of this interview series because I realised how people feel so overwhelmed about all the bad news we are flooded with by media outlets. On one hand, the truth is, if we carry on like this, the future will be grim. On the other hand, we also need to read positive and uplifting stories, like this one on going green with kids and families and trying to live more environmentally friendly. By doing so we can see how lots of lots of good people with green hearts are trying to save the planet, and they are succeeding!
However we all have to be part of the change, as I’ve read it lately and totally agree with this statement form the Zero Waste Chef Anne-Marie Bonneau: “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
Interview with Katie from Becoming Green
What or who inspired you to make changes towards a greener lifestyle?
I have always been really interested in sustainability – I studied BA Geography at Lancaster University where I could explore the topic. It wasn’t until Motherhood hit that I started to implement more sustainable practices in my home.
Having my son last year really made me wake up to the state our planet is in and how he, his children and perhaps grandchildren will see the world as they grow. It made me take action – we can’t control those around us but we can start with our practices, and then I set up my Instagram @becominggreenuk and blog to document my journey and to help spread the message further. It’s not about just sharing the message of a more sustainable lifestyle to others, but for me I want to be a good role model to my son and show him the way forward. So since February 2020 I have been making many eco-swaps to get us on the right path to a sustainable lifestyle.
Do you have a favourite site or person you follow for inspiration?
I have actually found the eco community on Instagram to be my biggest source of inspiration. I have met so many people who I now chat to on a weekly basis and it’s such a strong supportive environment. They all share new products, tips, news and facts on a daily basis that I can just get lost in all this new information very easily! For me it’s great to learn different viewpoints on various topics to help get a more rounded view on a particular issue. It helps me to learn and grow, and for that I’m so grateful we have this platform.
What aspects of being an environmentally friendly family did you tackle so far?
Well I decided that I couldn’t put something on my family without trying it myself first. So I started to look at plastic consumption in the bathroom that I use for example covering hair care, make-up to deodorants. Some things I have now changed over to, whilst others – make-up for example – I am still using up what I’ve got, but have done the research to understand what I’d buy once I run out of my existing supply.
I then moved on to the kitchen and have visited local refill shops for items such as pasta, rice and spices where I take my own containers so I don’t need to buy the packets in supermarkets with plastic packaging. (This was pre Covid-19, of course the ways of shopping in refill shops have changed slightly since this pandemic). I am just looking at ways to reduce our household plastic consumption – buying glass instead of plastic – sauces are a good example where glass alternatives are available to tomato ketchups, mayonnaise etc.
Other than that I have started to make more plant-based meals in the week and reducing my family’s meat intake. I’ve swapped to Califia Farms oat milk which is lovely and thick and creamy, and I’ve taken on my first upcycling project. This family nearby us were about to throw out this gorgeous side table – okay it had big cracks in it, damp and was scratched but I saw its potential so took it off their hands. Over the past few weeks I’ve been renovating it – filling in the cracks, treating the damp and giving it a fresh lick of paint. I’m at the final stages currently seeing if I can save the hinges or not, but it looks brilliant already!
What are the changes that you implemented so far?
Other than the above, once I was happy with some of the eco swaps then I started to introduce them to my family. For example, now we all have a plastic-free shower routine where we use shampoo bars, conditioner bars and traditional soap in sisal soap bags. I actually think the products smell much nicer and stronger – and I reckon work better!
Overall though I’m not putting masses of pressure on myself to make huge changes quickly. For me this is a long-term goal and the only way it will stick is by taking small changes and allowing your family to adjust to these.
Did you find it hard to make these changes?
As of yet there has been nothing I have found difficult about these changes. The only thing I’d say is that it has been quite hit or miss on some of these eco-products I’ve tried. I now know that there is a lot of research needed before actually buying a product and now I also ask brands if they have samples I could buy instead of a full product. I really like when a company offers this as it means if the product doesn’t work well for you, you don’t end up wasting as much – so it really is a more sustainable way of purchasing new products to reduce waste.
What was the hardest thing to give up or change?
One thing I am finding hard to change is a razor – and I still haven’t made the leap! I find the eco-razor’s quite scary as they are obviously much sharper and you can cut yourself very easily. I haven’t given up my Venus one yet because I’ve got a handful of heads still left to use, but secretly I’m quite pleased about this for now – once they run out I am just going to have to take the plunge!
And what was the easiest thing to give up or change?
Probably shampoo and conditioner bars (with the occasional Beauty Kube for a bit of added luxury). I am just shocked by how much money I am saving on these items throughout the year and that they work so well. I actually think these bars are better for your hair – mine has never been in such condition and whereas I used to have to wash daily due to my hair looking and feeling greasy, now I wash my hair once every three days.
If I’m honest I still don’t think these bars or kubes are very well known and more people should shout about them. They really do reduce our use of disposable plastics in the bathroom significantly and also get rid of those chemicals that are in traditional shampoos and conditioners too.
Do you feel the changes you achieved so far are encouraging you to do even more?
Definitely! I love the fact our landfill rubbish is massively reducing and we are consuming way less plastic in the household. The fact my husband is getting involved in the changes too is brilliant and means we can become a stronger role model for our son as he grows up.
How do you get the children involved?
Well my son is currently 9 months, so there hasn’t been anything he has actively been involved in yet. I try and use the chemical-free products where possible with him and I use things like reusable baby wipes to reduce our landfill waste. Now he has a couple of teeth we are practicing brushing his teeth with a bamboo toothbrush – I love that he will grow up thinking this is the only toothbrush available and that plastic ones won’t exist in his eyes (whilst he is young enough to realise anyway!)
Finally, a lot of his things are second-hand such as clothes, toys and his bouncer. I regularly use Facebook Marketplace or Babyeo to find little treasures online for him that save us money and are products that are already in circulation so by using these existing products we are not putting more harm on the environment.
Did you manage to save some money too? Or is this lifestyle change actually proving to be more costly?
It’s probably half and half. For products such as hair care I am definitely saving money as shampoo and conditioner bars are cheaper and do last so much longer. On the other hand, there are products you buy that are pricier to buy but once bought they’ll last you ages – like reusable kitchen roll, reusable make up pads and so on. Obviously shopping second-hand and upcycling is saving us significant amounts of money than buying new.
How did your family respond to the changes?
One of the best things is that my family have taken to the changes really well. My husband is really keen to learn more like me, we didn’t know what was out there before I started this eco journey so it’s great to be learning these things together. My parents have surprised me though too – trying lots of the products I have recommended and making permanent eco swaps. I am also delighted as a result of seeing my Instagram, lots of friends are making eco changes to their lifestyles too, so I’m thrilled what I am doing is proving to make a difference.
Do you have any tips or tricks which really helped you?
For me, it was important to just think small. When you think about an eco-lifestyle it seems so far removed from your existing way of living that you probably wouldn’t end up changing anything. I have done one swap at a time and given time for it to stick before moving on to another. That way I am not wasting any products, I know what’s working for me and my family and I know I am slowly moving my family towards a more sustainable lifestyle. So don’t copy what others are doing – just do you and watch the change happen over a period of time!
Katie’s Blog: www.becominggreen.co.uk