18 Easy Eco Swaps You Can Make Today (part one...)

Many of you will have seen the inspirational Greta Thunberg speak at various global forums over the past year or so, if not do go check her out - she is truly amazing!

As well as being inspirational herself, she does inspire all of us to act, and do something, doesn't she?

But with all the fear and the noise, it can get so overwhelming, can't it? WHAT do I do? Can I really make a difference all by myself? Where can I start? 

Well, in answer as to whether you can make a difference as an individual, the answer is: ABSOLUTELY YES. If every one of us on this planet made one change, used one less straw, bought one less piece of single-use plastic, together that would be nearly 8 billion less of that thing! And that's a HUGE difference, isn't it? 

Make one change yourself, and inspire someone else to do the same, and the impact WILL make a difference.

And in answer as to where to start, let me try to give you 18 easy eco swaps you can make today or at least the next time you go shopping ;-) When creating this list, it had gotten so big, I had to divide it into two. So this week I'll give you the first nine eco swaps and next week will be part two of the list.

Here you go...


1. Buy pulses, seeds, pasta, rice, coffee etc loose at shops that use paper bags.

  • One fairly straight-forward switch for me is to, whenever possible, buy my pulses, seeds, pasta, rice and even coffee loose. I buy loose coffee beans and use the grinder at the shop.

  • So many Bulk Buy / Zero Waste / Plastic-Free / Re-Fill shops are opening up, there must be one near you, so head on over and see what they have.

  • Yes the choice is limited, and you make not get the exact pasta shape you're used to, but in all honesty, does that really matter to you?

  • If you remember (and the shop allows it), bring your own reusable cotton bags. Otherwise, choose shops which provide paper bags instead of plastic - the WholeFoods store near me is where I go, perhaps once a month.

Bulk buy Buy in bulk Loose coffee at WholeFoods  Eco Coffee


2. Switch to solid shampoo

  • Once place in the house where plastic seems to collect is the bathroom isn't it? (And that's not even counting all the kids' 1,000s of plastic bath toys! ;-)

  • There are growing options of solid shampoos on the market, so why not give them a go? That's one less bottle, right? (Nearly 8 billion people remember...)

  • Being totally transparent and open, using them is not the same as squeezing a glug of liquid shampoo on to your hand and slathering it all over your head. You need to keep dampening the bar with the water and work your way round your head. (For those of us versed in dying our roots, I liken it in a way to working your way over your roots with hair dye, if that makes sense?) But surely, the hassle factor is still low enough to merit the extra minute or two it takes to wash your hair, yes?

Solid Shampoo Solid Shampoo


3. Homemade cleaning spray

  • This is a fairly recent switch for me, but the hassle factor is so low and the cost even lower, that it's a no-brainer for me:

  • Citrus fruit peel (essentially zero cost, because all you'd do otherwise is throw it away)

  • Soaked in white vinegar for two weeks (10p per 100ml, and I'm sure I could get it cheaper than that if I tried)

  • Strained into a spray bottle 

  • And diluted with water

  • (And add some drops of essential oils if you want, but you don't have to)

  • Done!

Homemade Citrus Cleaning Spray


4. Bamboo toothbrushes

  • Let me start this tip by stating, we are not a 100% Plastic-Free family. I, we, are not perfect, and I don't think we'll ever get there. In addition, there are times, and products, where plastic makes sense - and one of those things (for us) is electric toothbrushes. I just can't get around the fact that they clean our teeth so much better than we can ourselves, however much I try to master that circular motion ;-) So we are always going to use them (until I find a non-plastic alternative.)

  • That said, we still have manual toothbrushes that we have as back-ups if the electric one is out of charge and / or when we go away and can't charge them. And for THOSE, I will never go back to plastic toothbrushes. It's Bamboo toothbrushes all the way! I love (and the kids love) them. They feel so good to hold and other than a slightly different feel when you put them in your mouth (which you get used to after about the third time of using), they're exactly the same as plastic ones. Only infinitely better for the environment - especially these ones from Hydrophil.

Bamboo Toothbrushes


5. Resuable Food Wraps

  • When we were living in the US, I started to think more and learn more about our diet, its connection to the environment and the impact of how we buy and store food, both on our own health and the health of the planet. I began to think about cling-film. It started to feel like wrapping our left-overs in plastic was not a healthy choice - not for us and not for the earth. (Talk about the ultimate in single-use plastics!)

  • I began to use Beeswax Wraps and loved them (which is why we stock them on our site).

  • But I also love (and stock) sandwich wraps too.

  • Simple, easy and many many many times reusable alternatives to cling-wrap (and even tin foil).

Beeswax Wraps Beeswax Wrap for school snackBoc N'Roll Sandwich Wrap Boc N'Roll in action - zero waste packed lunch


6. Loo Roll

  • Loo roll is something that for our family at least, we're not ready to go fully Zero Waste on (maybe when wee and poo nappies are more of a distant memory....)

  • In the meantime, the best we can do is fully recycled and plastic-free. And for that we choose 'Who Gives A Crap'

  • Their recycled toilet roll is made with 100% recycled paper and no inks, dyes or scents (or their bamboo toilet roll is made with 100% forest friendly bamboo), their packaging is totally plastic free, it's free delivery on most orders and 50% of their profits are donated to help build toilets. I'd definitely check them out

Who Gives a Crap Eco Toilet Roll


7. Soap Bars

  • We have made this change wholesale across our house - at all of our sinks and in both our showers.

  • We've either used soap dishes, or in our main shower we use a soap pouch (which I LOVE - keeps all the little odds and ends of nearly used up soap bars together, lathers nicely, keeps your skin soft and hangs up out of the way each day #soappouchlove)

  • Sure, it's took the kids a little time to properly learn to lather up, but it's such an easy quick win in reducing the plastic quota in your house.

  • One word of caution though... lots of soap bars come in a cardboard box WRAPPED IN PLASTIC! So watch out for that. Ours are totally plastic free, with only paper and cardboard packaging. And I found some others in Waitrose that were only wrapped in paper too. But be careful, this is a particularly frustrating plastic-trap that it's easy to fall into!

Bar of soap in soap dishHanging soap pouchBubbly Soap Pouch


8. Compostable Bags for Bin Bags 

  • Whilst we are aiming for and heading towards a Zero Waste household, we are by no means there. We do create waste. And we need to capture that waste before we put it out for the bin men to collect. And for that we use bins and bin bags.

  • HOWEVER, I made the decision a while ago, that even if we had to produce, collect and throw out trash / garbage / litter / landfill waste, we needn't add to the plastic waste, by using normal plastic bags.

  • Instead we use compostable bin bags, in all of the bins around the house, and we also use the largest ones (60 litres) to collect it all together and put in our black bin. 

  • Any plastic bags we do collect, we keep a few (there are times when you still need a plastic bag aren't there?) and give the rest (of any brand) to Ocado when they deliver our shopping as they recycle plastic bags to re-use for their deliveries.

Compostable bags as bin liners - one for rubbish, one for recyclingCompostable bags for rubbish


9. Five Minute Shower  Sand Timer

  • Whilst with our rain fall here in the UK, it may seem like water is in plenty supply, it's still a great Eco habit not to waste it. Having lived in California, I've come to really appreciate how important (and sometimes scarce) it is!

  • That said, what should be one of today's headlines but Climate change: Water shortages in England 'within 25 years'?

    So we have a 5 minute sand timer in our shower, given to us by a water-saving organisation in California.

  • I love my showers, so I'm not going to lie - I find it hard to stick to just 5 minutes all the time. But I make I time them and turn over the timer, once 5 minutes has passed. That way, I rarely hit 10 minutes, and mostly am done by 5.

Shower Sand Timer


Hope you're feeling inspired so far with our first nine eco swaps.

Any that you haven't thought about before? Any that you're already doing? Any that I've missed...?

Remember, just start with one. It's easy to get overwhelmed, so make sure you don't. Pick one, make a change and then just stick with that one thing for a month - until it becomes normal, until it becomes a habit. Then and only then, pick something new.

Make sure you look out for part two of the list next week!

As always, with love from our family to yours,

Elena x

Elena Cimelli Signature

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