An introduction to EcoLIVING.
Living in harmony with nature, protecting the environment and all creatures that have as much right to be on the planet as humans think they deserve.
Becoming eco-friendly might require more than just having plants or trees on a balcony, but it is a good start.
It is so contagious that when you start, you will want to do more and ask other to do their part too. How you go about it is up to you but in this article, I would like to sensibilise you and help you take responsibility for all your actions, understanding your impact on the planet and how little things can have devastating effect on the planet.
For example, many people flush down the toilet just about everything, as if by flushing things magically dispappear. Out of sight out of mind. right? Let's somebody else deal with it...
Who would that be may I ask?
Most flushed items include: cotton swabs, cotton balls, cotton pads and other cosmetic wipes, dental floss, sanitary products (tampons, pads, etc.), medications, cigarette buds, cat litter, various paper towels and facial tissues (making an astonishing 50% of so-called non-dispersible material in wastewater), baby wipes and diapers (25%), chewing gum, leftover foods and other food waste (including cooking oils), caustic soda and bleach, band-aids and condoms.
If you are leaving in a large city like London, you may be surprised to know that Thames water is used and recycled about 5 times before reaching the sea, which means that whatever you flush down the toilet will sadly end in the sea. But, worse of all, any of the contaminants that have entered the water system, added to a tsunami of chemicals from various industries and environmental pollution, will end up in your glass of water. We are then led to believe that drinking water is safe to drink. And I am not talking about contaminants that are added to water to 'sanitise' it, such as fluoride, phosphates, and various heavy metals leaching from old city pipes.
According to the Marine Conswervation Society, 8.5% of all the plastic stacking on our beaches comes directly from our toilet.(1) What does not reach the sea creates blockages in your drains but also in sewers, costing the UK £88 million a year .
4.3 billion disposable menstrual products are bought in the UK. It is known that half of UK women flush tampons away, which in itself is an environmental disaster.(2) In fact, an estimated 1.5bn to 2bn sanitary items are flushed down Britain’s toilets each year.(3)
But it is not only sanitary products and wet wipes that end up in the sea and luckily collected on beaches. According to the Great British Beach Clean Report (2016), plastic bags and plastic products including water bottles, caps and lids are by far the greatest environmental disaster with over 300 items per 100 metre. That's about 3 items for every metre of sea side. Crisps packets and other packaging (sandwiches, sweet, etc.) are also topping the list of pollutants found on the beach. Cigarette buds are not far behind. Glass and wet wipes are also found in great numbers. By far, Northern Ireland has the most polluted beaches in the UK.(4)
7% of all waste found on UK beaches are sewage related debris, which means that stuff piling on UK shores should have gone to the bin but instead was flushed down the loo.
Even though we do not contribute to it as consumers, fishing nets are also a significant part of the problem, travelling long distances in the sea, capturing and killing sea mammals, fish and birds, along the way.
Plastic cotton swabs are banned in several countries or will be banned in the new year (2020) in countries like France; however, this is not an excuse to still flush these away. They go in the bin. Period.
It is undeniable.
It is our ‘throw–away’ consumer culture that is at the heart of the problem.
Many manufacturers flood the market with convenience products and the problem is that we now find normal to bin anything after one single use. We discards a growing number of unwanted plastic items, which persist in the environment, resulting in the accumulation of plastic litter at sea and on beaches with grave environmental consequences.
It is now possible to use re-usable sanitary products, most probably the same our grand-mothers were used to. This is one way to become more eco-friendly. Sanitary products have to be manufactured (made with plastic), stored and shipped nationwide, leading to a massive carbon footprint. If menstrual cups are not your thing, and I may understand why, did you know that you can use washable cloth pads instead of single-use pads?
It is also possible to ban single-use cleansing pads and use reusable bamboo makeup remover pads, which can washed and used a thousand times, potentially lasting a lifetime. Your impact on the environment: negligible.
How energy-efficient is your home?
Becoming Eco-friendly is to care for the environment and the plant as a whole. And it starts at home.
First, you need to look at the way you use — or abuse — resources. Eco-friendly living is to reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible and to do so is to monitor how much you use on a daily basis.
Do you use your car to make a 2-blocks journey? Is your car using petrol or diesel? Do you overheat your home or keep the central heating on 24/7, even when you are at work or away? Do you keep lights on in every room even though you are staying in only one room? Are you still using old edisson-style lightbulbs? Do you switch on TV even though you are not watching it? Do you fill up your kettle to the top even though you are only making one cup of tea? Is your wifi router on all night? Are all your appliances on standby rather than switched off when not in use?
Is your home insulated?
These are many questions you must address immediately, even if you are not looking to become 100% eco-friendly.
How to become "eco-friendly"?
Again it starts at home. Your habits as a consumer play a massive role in damaging the environment. For example, food waste has reached critical levels, costing the UK millions of pounds but also greatly participate in CO2 emissions. Composting can be done if you have a small patch or garden, efficiently turning food waste into nutrient-rich soil (do not add meat to composting material as it may bring pests).
Recycle as much as you can. Fix what you can. This include patching garments instead of throwing them away. Donate to people in need, via apps or local charities.
Do not use conventional cleaning products full of harmful chemical and do not pour bleach down the toilet. Use more natural and organic cleaning products, which are far less harmful.
You can also make your own cleaning products, including multiusage cleaners, detergents and washing up liquid.
You can also make your own personal care products.
This way you know exactly what goes on your skin and what you may be exposed to at home.
Did you know?
Many companies and industries claim to be carbon-neutral.
What this really means is that they offset their (unrestricted) participation in polluting the planet by planting trees elsewhere on the globe. Perhaps, replanting trees where these companies are responsible for deforestation is the first place may be a noble move, but in no way liberate these companies from their duty to protect the environment and human health in highly-polluted areas, for which they are directly responsible.
Bother and Sister, Anne et Olivier have created this blog to inspire you to care for the planet. They believe it is possible to be closer to nature and still live in a modern world.