A Smaller Footprint: The First Six Steps

So you’ve decided it’s time for a more environmentally friendly approach? But where to start? Well, here’s what we have done so far and we're also still learning!


Liz de Vries

12/9/2021 3 min read

Key Points:
  • Investing in reusable items and saying no to plastic is a great first step

  • Ditch the chemicals found in household cleaners and opt for homemade cleaning products

  • Start composting to reduce the organic waste sent to landfill

1.     BYO

Bring your own straw, cutlery, napkin, coffee cup, water bottle… these are all items that easily fit into our handbag, work, or schoolbag, and have the ability to reduce the amount of waste we leave behind whenever we have a take away drink or meal. Well worth the investment.

2.     Refuse unnecessary plastic

 Say no to plastic bags from shops. Just bring your own. Cotton tote bags are everywhere and are generally inexpensive. Purchase them, wash them when they get dirty and use them at least 100 times. Do bananas, apples, oranges or potatoes really need to come home in plastic? Why not invest in reusable produce bags. Ours are made of recycled plastic - a lovely example of putting waste to good use – and we use them whenever we go grocery shopping. They can even be hand washed if they get stained or dirty. Such a useful product!

3.     Say no to clingwrap

Beeswax wraps are readily available and do the trick of covering food just as well as old fashioned cling wrap. Our favourite beeswax wraps are as sticky as cling and do a fantastic job of keeping food fresh. In between uses clean them in cold soapy water and leave them to completely dry. If well looked after they will last a year to eighteen months.

4.     Reduce where you can

Do we really need all the stuff we’re buying? I have personally been guilty of this many, many times over – I’m happy to admit it. But in recent years I’ve become much better at convincing myself that, actually, I don’t need that fantastic looking pair of jeans, or the fresh white t-shirt, the pretty salad bowl, or the fluffy cushion, but will keep enjoying what I already own instead. It gets easier every time. Good for the budget, good for the planet. Likewise: do all the lights in our homes need be switched on all the time? Do we really need a tv in each bedroom? Do we need to eat meat every day? Does the air conditioner need to be on when opening doors and windows would also do the job? Do we have to drive the kids to school every day? There are a myriad of small, seemingly insignificant ways in which we can reduce the pressure on the environment. All tiny bits add up.

5.     Ditch the chemicals

About two years ago we decided to stop buying microfibre cloths and instead repurpose our old tea towels and t-shirts for cleaning the house. We also increasingly swapped store bought cleaning products and chemicals for home made products which we learned to make up from Castile soap, dishwashing detergent, bicarb of soda & vinegar, and essential oils. And lo and behold: the house is still clean!

6.     Consider composting

A compost heap is easy to create. If you haven’t got the space for a lot of compost you might still be able to fit a smaller compost bin or a worm farm in your yard. All three have the ability to keep a lot of organic matter away from your general waste bin and generously give back if you’re a gardener.

We also recently discovered ShareWaste, a great app connecting people who don't have space for a compost heap or worm farm with those who can accommodate other households' organic waste.