My daughter is interested in how to live an eco-friendly life. She is working on a project called Nudge Me Green, researching eco alternatives to hair and beauty products. I offered to try a shampoo bar for dandruff and itchy scalp. (How’s that for honesty?!). I used to use a well-known dandruff shampoo. Now I use a bar of soap specifically for my hair. It comes in a recyclable cardboard packet. As it is solid, it is much smaller than a bottle of shampoo and does not use a plastic bottle. I tried it, loved it, and still use it. I have to say it works brilliantly.
It started me thinking about my green credentials. It’s not something I had given a great deal of thought to, but I decided to assess how well I’m doing – or not as the case may be. I was also interested to see if it made any difference that I have disabilities.
There is a downside to having aches and pains that limit your mobility. I used to dry my washing outside on a clothes line, dodging showers – we do after all live in a very uncertain climate. Now I use a tumble dryer. I haven’t got the energy to carry washing down the garden, nor the ability to rush outside and grab it when it rains.
I use a dishwasher. I can’t stand for very long without feeling pain in my back. Yes, I could use a perching stool, but my life is considerably easier using the dishwasher. Those two appliances are not eco-friendly at all.
On the other hand, I no longer drive, having lost my licence due to sight impairment. If I am going anywhere, I use public transport. I don’t fly, but then again I seldom did in anyway. So this is a positive step in terms of the environment.
What I don’t know is if the one cancels out the other. I need to do further research.
I do the things that I suppose many people do. I recycle as much as I can. I have three bins in the kitchen: general waste, cardboard, and glass, plastic and tins. These are the collections that we have in my area.
Earlier this year, we purchased a compost bin. Vegetable peelings, garden waste and other suitable items go into this bin. I have discovered that composting is a whole art form in itself. So far I have found that you can add dog hair to your compost bin which is brilliant as we share our home with a really hairy dog. You can also add the contents of your vacuum depending on what and where you have been vacuuming. Again, mine is mostly dog hair.
Although some people compost tea bags, others will tell you that there is plastic in the fabric of the bags. A regular task is to cut tea bags in half, empty the leaves into the compost and dispose of the casing in general waste. I hadn’t realised exactly how much tea I drink until I started doing this. Definitely time to cut down. Composting has led to a definite reduction in the amount of general waste that goes out to be collected.
To reduce the amount of plastic that goes to be recycled, we are reducing the amount of products that come in plastic bottles. As I have mentioned, I now use a shampoo bar; I have also reverted to a bar of soap instead of shower gel. I have invested in a glass spray bottle, and now use a cleaning product that comes in a small solid form that you put in your own bottle and top up with water.
The most recent product that I have changed is fabric softener. I now use tumble dryer balls made from sheep wool that go in the tumble dryer with the washing to be dried. The clothes come out lovely and soft. I add a few drops of essential oil to the balls which adds a gentle scent to the washing which can be changed as and when you feel like it. I am wondering if it could be used to help the mood of the wearer eg ylang ylang for someone who needs sleep or peppermint to aid concentration. Wonder if the family would be happy to be guinea-pigs for a while…
I am open to suggestions for other easy wins.
Written by Portland Jones, PF Disabilities Liaison for the Midlands