Sustainable home swaps and how to keep them after lockdown
14th July 2020
Words by Anna Whitaker / Photography by Thom Whitaker
We’re almost four months in now and, as lockdown is starting to relax, I’ve been thinking about all the habits we’ve picked up. A lot of them were things we always wanted to do but never had time for, so in many ways, we’ve got lockdown to thank. I thought I’d round up a few highlights, particularly from a sustainability home point of view, and see if any of them ring true for you too. You can then be my accountability buddy for making sure we don’t go back to old ways as soon lockdown has lifted.
We were always saying we should eat more as a family but with hectic work schedules and unpredictable evening plans pre-COVID, it used to only happen at the weekend. We’d rely on the boys being fed before we got home then whisk them into bed often before the other parent got back, heating up something quick and processed after they were down. It was so ingrained that we didn’t even realise until about 12 weeks into lockdown that we could totally get away with just cooking one meal now. It’s made planning waaaay easier, given us our evenings back and helped us reconnect, not to mention the financial and environmental benefits of buying fresh, seasonal fruit and veg. As long as we’re working from home, I can see this playing out long term. We’ve found some new favourite recipes from Little Veggie Eats and nothing takes longer than 30 minutes to hit the table.
We have a car and have been really grateful for it over the last four months, but as guidelines suggest, we’ve only really used it for essential journeys. At first, that was just the weekly supermarket run and the odd 10-minute drive to the forest but as things started to relax – and by relax, I mean we now use it to see friends and go on day trips we couldn’t otherwise – we’ve been using it much less. The lazy little journeys we’d take to save five minutes are totally a thing of the past and I’m almost tempted to get rid of it all together once the new ultra low emissions zone comes into London next year.
I’d love to say we’ve ditched Amazon Prime completely but those guys have a tight grip on my wallet. We’ve definitely started shopping less though (probs because we have to) and the things we’ve bought have mainly been gifts that we’ve had time to source properly, from independent retailers worthy of our support. It’s really not that hard to do either, so that’s one simple habit we plan to keep going forward. And if anyone knows the easiest way to break up with Amazon, please let me know.
This is a random one but lockdown has helped me to break the habit of washing my hair every day. Hubs has gone for the Corona cut too, meaning we’re both saving shed loads of water (and time) in the shower. In fact, I’ve been getting so militant about turning the tap off when we’re washing hands or brushing teeth that it’s become a bit of a family joke. Not a very funny one apparently.
Eco cleaning & air drying
We let our cleaner go when I went on furlough but I’ve found doing it myself really meditative. I just whack on an audiobook and can easily spend all day with a spray bottle of Method, washing away anxieties with a total house cleanse. Shame it’s back to square one almost immediately, but at least I now know the difference between the super-strength chemical products that our cleaner used and the ones we’re now switching to. Being home over the warmer months means we’ve been able to hang clothes out to dry too, which is an easy swap we should be able to stick to (for summer at least).
One swap which was totally prompted by lockdown was potty training. Rudi wasn’t even two yet and considering Arlo was three when we did his, it was pretty early in our minds. Not too early though, as he took to it really well. Of course, he still has the odd accident, especially if he’s tired, and they’re both still in nappies at night but to have them both out of multiple disposables every day is such a win in my eyes.
Like most of us, I’ve taken a lot of good out of 2020. Yes, it’s been weird and unpredictable, which is probably my least favourite thing as someone who loves a plan, but it’s also helped me to let things go. I can’t control what happens to the world but I can control what happens at home (to a certain extent) and I think I’m slowly coming round to the idea that prioritising that is the first real step.
We’ve got a long way to go in terms of living a truly sustainable lifestyle (don’t we all) but the little habits we’ve formed recently are ones I really think we can stick to. I honestly do. And if you agree with me, please leave a comment below and we can work through it together, one family meal at a time.
We also support the charity Ecologi (nee Offset Earth), which plants enough trees with our monthly donation to offset our carbon emissions. You can also give one-off gifts, if you’re taking a long-haul flight for example, and see them grow in your digital forest while you learn about the projects they’re supporting IRL.