Hmmm. So, I'm still on my green living plan. So far this has involved little more than turning lights and appliances off where possible. This is because when I do something, I like to do it right. Which means research. Which, in this case, means complete and total confusion!!
My feelings towards being eco friendly are pretty straightforward. I appreciate that the impact that I can have as an individual is practically non-existent. However, if every individual did their bit, then the impact could be monumental. So I choose to start with me. Also, I accept who I am as a person. And this person does not embrace the idea of a life of deprivation or dirt. So I will not move to a mud hut, or give up washing or, indeed, give up my television! However, if there are changes I can make to be more environmentally friendly, without having a seriously negative impact on my lifestyle, then I'm game. I think that a lot of people would be more open to the idea of saving the environment if it was approached this way. I also appreciate that serious environmentalists will consider this approach pathetic and useless. But they can all hush up. Because at least it's something. At least I'm TRYING! Believe me, if you'd met me 2 years ago, you'd be amazed that I am even open to the concept. That's called progress, people.
So there are a couple of things I decided straight away. For instance, no more brand new clothes, unless eco friendly. But preferably none at all. This suits me fine. HELLOOOOO charity shops. Ebay. Gumtree and Freecycle. You name it. :) It's fun, I can feel good about it and it's also cheap. Replacing light bulbs with long life ones is also a no brainer, although, admittedly I am waiting for the old ones to give out first. And this is where things get tricky. There's a lot of mixed info out there. Should I be throwing out the old light bulbs straight away (landfill issues there) and replacing? But, as they are still working, that seems wasteful, which is another environmental no-no. What about cleaning products? As has conclusively been established on this blog already, I am no neat freak! So I am happy to consider and try eco-friendly cleaning products as, even if they don't work as well (which is often their criticism), no doubt they will work well enough for me. But two issues here, firstly being: how eco friendly is eco friendly enough?
I have this issue with a lot of the stuff I'm coming across. Take bamboo clothes for instance. On the surface this is marketed as a eco friendly genius plan. Bamboo is an incredibly sustainable source, with none of the issues that the cotton industry has. It's soft and durable. Yay! Bamboo clothes get a tick. But wait. Do they though? Look into it for more than 5 mins (I have. It was dull.) and you find that the production techniques and chemicals used to turn bamboo fibres into something that can be woven, are far FAR from ecologically friendly, nine times out of ten. Bugger. So you're back to square one.
So applying this issue to the cleaning product thing again: When a product SAYS it's eco friendly, I can't be sure whether it actually is, or whether it's a marketing tool to make me buy it and feel good. And, unless I drastically develop my scientific knowledge to actually know the impact of all those long words on the back, I just can't know! I am not a scientist. I am a normal, conscientious person who would like to make the right choice. Someone just tell me what it is!!!
My second issue on the cleaning product front is similar to the light bulb thing: I now know that the cleaning products I use are doing massive harm to our environment and water systems. Male fish are turning into female fish due to the mix of chemicals and hormones (probably from the pill) now washing around in our waterways. It's true. Google it! Given that this is also our drinking water source, I find this insanely scary. Can I fix it? No. But I would like to try and reduce the contribution that I am making towards it getting worse. Especially since there are alternatives. SO - no more nasty chemicals. OK. But what do I do with all the products I have left? Use them up? Seems to go against the new clean living plan, doesn't it? Do I throw them away? So they also end up in landfill and are still causing contamination. Man, it's hard.
So the whole thing is proving harder than I thought. There is a serious dearth of true environmentally friendly alternatives out there. Especially toiletries. Environmentally friendly toothpaste anyone?! Jeez. Yes, they exist but frankly they look disgusting and I have serious doubts over whether some of them would work. Plus, I can only get them over the Internet. Which, again, is hardly the best way to buy toothpaste. It's like it having its own personal chauffeur, when I can walk to Boots in my lunch break! (Side note: Toothpaste chauffeur = interesting new career idea.)
I think the moral of this story is that, currently, there is no perfect solution. I can try my best but there will always be a compromise until more, truly eco friendly options, are made available on the high street and in mainstream stores.
However, in an attempt not to add to the questions, but to try and provide some answers, I will let you know the best solutions I have found to my above problems. I'm nothing if not helpful!
Clothes, towels, sheets etc: Organic cotton currently seems to be the best choice. That is, until bamboo starts being manufactured in a more environmentally friendly fashion.
Cleaning products: A lot can be done with some baking soda/bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. There are recipes ALL OVER the Internet on how to make your own cleaning products but I have not tried any yet. I intend to, and I will let you know how it goes. If you haven't all died of boredom by then, that is. Failing that, I believe Ecover products are popular and widely available. I have neither tried nor particularly researched them, but they are definitely better than your standard chemical brands, and seem an easy switch to make. Also, I today came across a possible solution for my "use up or throw out" problem for chemical products. Someone on a forum suggested giving them away to a cleaning company, on the basis that they will be using and buying them anyway. Not a perfect solution, but at least something I guess. I'm still considering which way to go. I guess I just need to get over the hurdle of having wasted a load of money on all this stuff. Grrr.
And as for toothpaste, etc.: Well, I'm putting together a mish-mash really. I'm buying Aveeno moisturisers, which are naturally sourced and also make an effort as a company to be eco friendly and ethical in their manufacturing. I believe Origins are also good. I have also, today, discovered the haven that is Holland and Barrett! Never having been particularly health conscious, I have never had the need to step foot in there before. But guess what they sell? Environmentally friendly toothpaste! Or at least as environmentally friendly as I am likely to get. Yay! They also sell eco friendly shampoos, conditioners and face products. I have to confess that I AM going to wait until my current products run out before experimenting with these. I'm not made of money after all. But I believe that I may have found some things I can introduce into our household without MM hitting the roof and acting like I'm making him wear a hair shirt. Oh, and I bought a Mooncup. It's a sanitary product and I'm not gonna be graphic about it. Women, if you're interested, google it. I am sceptical and unsure, but had to give it a go. Especially when you find out that our beaches are strewn with washed up, used, sanitary products. It's enough to make a girl go right off her organic cornflakes!!
P.S. Organic cornflakes are DISGUSTING. I am NOT recommending them in any way, shape or form. Ick.