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Sustainable Family: How we plan to live a more sustainable lifestyle

It seems that everywhere you look these days, sustainability is a hot topic. I read this stat and it really caught my attention:

If Earth’s history is compared to a calendar year: Modern human has existed for about 37 minutes. One third of Earth’s natural resources has been consumed in the last 0.2 seconds (by modern humans).

The World Counts

That’s shocking.

Humans impact the environment is so many ways with things like overpopulation, burning fossil fuels, deforestation and over-farming…to name just a few.

We’re altering the planet and triggering climate change and soil erosion, as well as reducing the air quality and causing countless premature deaths.

I mean, just look at the counter and you can see the clock is ticking…

It’s scary to think that my daughter could live to see the end of rain forests, which would mean:

  • Almost 50% of the world’s plant, animal and microorganism species would be destroyed
  • The climate would shift, causing monger dry spells and widespread flooding
  • 5 to 6 times more greenhouse gases would be released into the atmosphere

The list goes on…

So, what is sustainable living?

Wind Farm

Put simply, sustainable living is about minimising your impact on the Earth and its resources by making smart decisions about the energy you use and the products you consume.

The way humans have used the planet’s resources is causing damage to the environment, which will have far-reaching consequences for future generations.

The world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things…yet since the dawn of civilisation, humanity has caused the lost of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants

The Guardian

The start of a more sustainable lifestyle

I’d be the first to admit that I’m certainly not the most environmentally aware.

Up until the last fear years or so, I’d always dismissed the damage we’re doing to the environment as ‘unimportant’ because compared to big corporations and titans of industry, there wasn’t much little ol’ me could do to swing the needle on climate change.

Becoming a parent changes you I think. Well, it certainly did for me.

When my daughter was born, suddenly future generations really mattered. I realise now how selfishly I’d look at the world, worrying only about what was directly relevant to me.

That dynamic changes dramatically when a child is born because you’re no longer living your life for just you – you’re suddenly preparing for the future you want your child to have.

I want my daughter to grow up in a world that has rainforests, not had them. And, I want her children…and her children’s children, to live long and happy lives on a planet we can sustain for many, many generations to come.

Baby steps

So here it is, the first step on what will be a long journey of learning I’m sure.

Opened box of Smol laundry capsules with capsules pouring out

I started last year by making the shift to Smol Laundry and dishwasher tablets, which are an eco-friendly, plastic and cruelty free alternative to your traditional household brand.

You can read our full review here.

Smol tablets are delivered in slick cardboard packaging and the delivery frequency is calculated based on your actual usage, which is a great way to ensure you only buy what you need.

Not exactly going to transform the world, but it’s a start.

Over the next few months/years I’ll be sharing our journey to live a more sustainable and environmentally friendly life as a family.

Our guiding rules

Of course there are so many ways we can live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

These will be our starting focuses and, although it’ll take time, it’ll be so worth it in the end.

1. Save Energy

One of the easiest ways to use less energy and reduce your carbon emissions is to simply switch things off that you aren’t using.

For example, some simple things that’ll make a big difference are:

  • Turning down the thermostat more often
  • Using energy efficient lightbulbs
  • Using energy efficient appliances
  • Switching off plug sockets that we’re not using
  • Hanging clothes out to dry instead of using the tumble dryer

2. Use Reusable Alternatives

Single-use plastics are everywhere. They’re cheap, easy to produce and have been used in recent years on everything from shopping bags, coffee cup lids, water bottles, straws and so much more.

Some stats you need to know:

  • Over 40% of total plastic usage is for packaging
  • Almost 500 billion plastic bags are used each year
  • In the last ten years, we’ve made more plastic than during the whole of the last century
  • 14% of all litter comes from drink containers

According to Plastic Oceans, 10 million tons of plastic is dumped into the sea every year, which has a devastating impact on wildlife.

It takes decades (if not more) for plastics to biodegrade and when it’s consumed by marine life, it can have a knock-on impact on humans too.

The toxins in the plastic can be passed through to humans when we eat seafood, causing hormonal abnormalities and developmental problems.

Instead of using single-use plastics, we plan to make the switch to reusable products where possible.

Some things we plan to try (If we’re not doing it already):

  • Paper Straws
  • Paper and card packaging and coffee cups (Ideally FSC certified so it’s from managed and sustainable woodlands)
  • Reusable sealable containers rather than cling film
  • Bamboo toothbrushes

3. Use Renewable Energy

Using renewable energy where possible is a great way to reduce carbon emissions.

For example, making the shift to an electric car instead of a petrol or diesel-fuelled one is a great way to reduce your impact on the environment!

I currently drive a diesel car and I plan to make the change to an electric vehicle in just a few months; I’ll be share our experience!

The clock is ticking too, in November 2020 the Government announced that new petrol and diesel cars and vans will no longer be sold in the UK after 2030.

4. Recycle, recycle, recycle

According to WorldBank, by 2050 global waste will increase by 70%. Waste has a huge negative impact on the environment and when rubbish ends up in landfill sites, it produces harmful chemicals and greenhouse gasses.

By being making an effort to recycle as much as possible, less raw materials are needed to make new things which eat away at the planet’s natural resources.

5. Conserve water

In the UK, we’re very lucky to have 24/7 access to safe and clean drinking water. Lots of people take having water for granted, but the water supply is becoming more and more unpredictable.

Did you know that 12 out of the 23 water companies in England were rated as being under serious water stress in 2020?

According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average household in the UK uses around 330 litres of water every day.

Here are some things I’m going to try this year:

  • Instead of taking baths (I love a bath), I’m going to take short showers instead where I can
  • Turning off the tap whilst we’re brushing our teeth
  • Using the dishwasher less or filling it as full as possible
  • Always fill this washing machine to get the best use of the water
  • Installing a water butt in the garden so we can water the plants

6. Buy Fair Trade products

Choosing to buy Fairtrade certified products means farmers and suppliers get a better deal and more stability in terms of what they earn, which allows them to care for and educate their families better.

Some statistics about Fairtrade from Friends of the Earth:

  • There are no 1.65 million farmers and workers in Fairtrade certified producer organisations
  • There are 1,226 Fairtrade producer organisations across 74 countries in total
  • One quarter of all Faitrade workers are women
  • 26% of workers spent their Fairtrade premiums on education

I’ve never really taken much notice of Fairtrade products before and this year I plan to make a more conscious effort to make the switch – particularly for things like wine, tea, rice, orange juice, coffee, sugar and bananas.

8. Reducing Food Waste

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), if food waste was a country, it would be the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China.

Households are reportedly to blame for 53% of all food waste in Europe and when we waste food, all of the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it goes to waste too.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, up to 11% of all greenhouse gas emissions that come from the food system could be reduced if we stopped wasting food.

Some things I want to do more of this year:

  • Planning meals to make sure we buy more efficiently
  • Freezing food
  • Using leftovers as ingredients for new meals
  • Composting food waste rather than throwing it away

9. Wear sustainable clothing

The global fashion industry is believed to be responsible for 10% of all global carbon emissions.

‘Fast Fashion’ is the term used for mass-producing at low prices, which requires a huge amount of energy and resources.

Aside from the waste that Fast Fashion causes, the harmful toxic fabric dyes and chemicals can enter and contaminate fresh water supplies too.

More and more brands are taking an ethical and sustainable stance on clothing production.

For example, I buy my shoes from Vivobarefoot who create shoes using a eco-friendly materials that are natural, recycled, durable and locally sourced.

More content on this to follow!

10. Use eco-friendly cleaning products

Cleaning products often contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Some can pollute streams and rivers, and others may take a long time to break down.

Some cleaning products contains chemicals may be ingested by wildlife, which in turn may be consumed by us, causing health problems and even birth defects.

This year I plan to make the switch to ethically sourced, biodegradable cleaning products that are less impactful on the environment.

11. Eat less meat

I’ve always been a big meat eater, but the production of meat is a huge contributor to climate change.

The meat and dairy industry accounts for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gases and the conversion of land for beef and animal feed production is a leading cause of deforestation in tropical regions like the Amazon.

I plan on making a conscious effort to reduce our consumption of meat and dairy products over time because, based on the facts, it seems hard to justify, right?

Side note: If you haven’t seen it already, check out ‘Kiss the Ground’ on Netflix. It’s a great documentary that gives an insight into short-sighted farming practices and the use of pesticides.

12. Go paperless

It’s amazing how far technology has come in the last few decades, and yet we still waste so much paper.

I don’t know about you, but I have a few drawers that are stacked FULL of old letters, receipts and other things that I keep just in case I need them again in future.

Getting letters and receipts emailed to you rather than posted is the easiest way to reduce the amount of paper you use almost immediately. Having it in your inbox means you can quickly search for any important documents too!

There are so many apps and tools out there designed to help remove the need for paper altogether. From ‘task list’, notepads, eBooks and so much more.

Note: It’s not always possible to get rid of all paper and sometimes it’s nice to sit and read a real book. I just plan to be a little more considered in how I use paper.

13. Grow your own produce where possible

Growing your own food has a whole range of health benefits and it also helps to reduce the need for pesticides that contribute to water and air pollution.

Because you’re not buying your produce from a supermarket, you can reduce the amount of plastic needed for packaging (although lots of supermarkets are making an effort to reduce their plastic usage), as well as the amount of fossil fuels used to transport it.

I’m not lucky enough to have a large garden, so being able to grow all of the produce I need just isn’t going realistic. That said, I plan to plant some herbs and a small amount of vegetables to help contribute to a bit of a reduction!

14. Donate rather than dispose

As children grow up, their toys and clothes change with them. Sometimes it seems like my daughter has her toys for no more than a few months before she’s bored of them and onto the next interest.

Plastic is used in so many toys and where possible, I plan to donate as much as possible to avoid any unwanted items going into landfill.

If those items can be used, re-used and re-used again by other children, then we can reduce waste.

Likewise, where possible I try to source Evie second-hand toys to save the items going into the bin!

15. Spend more time outside

OK, this is a bit of a wild card, but hear me out.

This year I plan on spending as much time in the countryside as possible.

It’s difficult to feel a connection to the planet you’re trying to save when you’re surrounded by an urban concrete jungle or sat inside in front of a TV.

There are so many green areas that are surprisingly close by and by spending more time outside enjoying nature as it was intended, the impact we’re having on it is that much harder to ignore!

What next?

Over the coming weeks, months and potentially years, we’ll be sharing our journey to living a more sustainable life and we’d love to hear your stories, advice and tips on how to do it!

To reiterate what I said at the beginning of this post, my current lifestyle is nowhere near good enough for somebody who wants to have less of a negative impact on the world.

But hey, we all have to start somewhere, right?

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Opened box of Smol laundry capsules with capsules pouring out
Reviews, Sustainable Family

Smol Review: Are they as good as they sound?

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. It helps us to keep providing great content!

As part of our commitment to living a more sustainable lifestyle, I’m going to reviewing eco-friendly products that we try out along the way. This is our first one, so let us know what you think in the comments!

Smol make bold claims, stating on their website that they’ve created ‘the most effective concentrated laundry capsule in the world…So concentrated it is smol enough to post through your letterbox’.

The company has certainly been anything BUT a washout, having tripled interest in its products since lockdown and receiving £8m of funding last year.

Smol claims to be up to 50% cheaper than the normal laundry brands, as well as being eco-friendly AND more effective.

Bold claims.

I’ve been using their laundry capsules for more than six months now and have recently started using their dishwasher tablets, so I thought I’d write an honest review.

Note: This review is not sponsored by Smol and any views shared are my own, although if you choose to sign up, we may receive a small commission.

How does it work?

At the time of writing this post, Smol offer a free trial pack so you can have a look for yourself.

You can also order a pack of 9 capsules for just £2.50 you want to give them a go!

As a marketer myself, I have to say the sign up process is incredibly slick.

Once you land on their website, you’ll be greeted with this very simple homepage. The messaging is so clear and it couldn’t be easier to navigate.

Screenshot of Smol’s homepage showing clean design
Smol’s Clean and Simple Homepage

Once you decide you’d like to go ahead with your free trial, you’ll get ask some really simple questions to help you understand how many capsules you’ll need.

  1. Which type of detergent would you like?
  2. How many capsules per wash would you like?
  3. How many times a week do you run your washing machine?

By answering these questions, Smol is able to calculate how often you’ll need more capsules.

Based on my answers, I would need a new pack priced at £4.50 every 21 days, but then my daughter doesn’t live with me 100% of the time.

For those of you with children at home, you may well need a new pack every 21 minutes 😂

What’s nice is that you can easily login to your account and adjust or delay your delivery, so you won’t ever feel like you’re getting too much.

I quite quickly found I didn’t need as many tablets as I had said because, well, I’m a bloke…Which means I tend to do three washes in one day and then ignore it for a further two weeks in the hope the laundry fairies will sneak in, wash and iron all of the clothes for me.

It hasn’t happened YET, but I’m still hopeful.

For those of you who are super organised, you CAN also order more capsules a little sooner too.

If you’re one of those people, I envy you and the grip you have on your life. Teach me your ways.

Are they environmentally friendly?

As consumers, we need to be more aware of the impact we’re having on the environment, and be more conscious about the products we choose.

To be honest, the main reason I made the switch to Smol was because they champion 100% plastic-free and recyclable packaging.

The packaging is well thought-out, which built-in a child-lock mechanism to prevent younger children getting access to them.

I’ll level with you, I felt like Indiana Jones when I cracked the first box open.

Some extra detail, if you’re into that sort of thing:

  • The boxes are all Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved too, which means they’re sourced from responsibly managed forests
  • The packs are printed using vegetable-based inks
  • They products are Leaping Bunny approved (cruelty-free)

Once you have your account all setup, you’ll be greeted with a message like this when you login, which I think is AWESOME.

Screenshot of the savings Smol has made.  136,682,833 washes powered by smol
317 tonness of plastic
988 tonnes of chemicals
£19.0M savings passed to you
Figures correct as of 09.03.21

Price Comparison: Can Smol save you money?

Let’s cut to the chase…

A standard £4.50 pack of Smol laundry capsules contains 24 washes if you use one capsule per wash – That’s just £0.19p per wash.

I looked at Tesco for the sake of this, although other supermarket prices will be comparable; some may be higher, some may be lower.

If you were to buy a 25 pack of Bold All In 1 Washing Pods at £5.00, you’ll pay £0.20p per wash, the same as you’d pay for 25 Fairy Non Biological Washing Pods.

Tesco are currently offering bulk packs of Fairy Washing Pods that contain 57 washes for £9.79, costing just £0.17p per wash.

You could of course go with Tesco’s own brand Non Biological Laundry Capsules came in at £2.75 for 20 washes, which would put it at as little as £0.14p per wash.

If you’re looking to spend as little as possible, then your best bet is to go with an own brand product or buy in bulk as you’ll benefit from economies of scale.

That said, Smol really comes out on top if you…

  • Can’t be bothered with storing mountains of laundry capsules
  • Want to make sure your clothes are decent wash
  • Want an ethical, recyclable product

Do they work?

As a father of a four year old, it’s safe to say my daughter’s clothes need a good ol’ wash. Food stains, dirt, paint, glitter… You name it, Evie attracts it (And so she should – It’s part of being a kid!).

Because my daughter has quite sensitive skin, I was worried that it might cause a little reaction when we first made the switch, but there was nothing at all.

The capsules manage to tackle the majority of the stains we throw at it with no additional stain remover product needed, although there are certain things like felt pen that always causes a bit of a headache.

Everything always smells great when it comes out of the wash, but it never seems too much. Now I’ve been using Smol for a while, I tend to throw in a drop of fabric conditioner too.

Dishwasher tablets

Once I’d used the Smol laundry capsules for a while, I started using the dishwasher tablets too. They come in very similar packaging complete with child locking mechanism, which is great.

Early impressions are very good, although they’re not quite as effective as the laundry capsules in terms of the quality of the clean.

It’s not that they give a BAD clean, it’s just they don’t seem to be QUITE as effective as my previous tablets were.

That said, I’m reserving judgement until I’ve used them for a little longer!

The verdict

I think Smol are doing something very right here. They’ve created an easy-to-use subscription platform that does away with all the heavy up sell nonsense and lets you just quickly and easily subscribe and manage your orders.

When I signed up I was worried that I’d run out and still have to keep a back-up pack of tablets in the cupboard just in case. So far since signing up, that’s only happened once.

The laundry capsules do a great job of removing almost all stains, with the only exceptions being those really hard-to-remove blighters that you need to ‘all in’ with industrial stain remover.

The price is competitive, although certainly not the cheapest out there, but for the extra couple of pennies per wash, you’re contributing to a reduction in single use plastic and supporting a company that is animal cruelty-free, which can only be a good thing.

If you want to give them a go, you can sign up for a free trial here and see for yourself!

I certainly won’t be switching any time soon.

P.s. Buy your camera system here.

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