There is no doubt that family life adds an extra ‘dimension’ and sometimes additional challenges to our attempts to live sustainably. But I also know that having a family can often be the catalyst that gets us started looking for ways to reduce our impact on the planet.
Family doesn’t have to mean the traditional 2.4 kids, I’m also thinking about family in the wider sense, like our own parents, and aunts and uncles and cousins, and friends too. There’s even a post coming this month for our furry family (pets!).
Whatever ‘family’ means to you, and whatever your family looks like, here are 5 simple ways to get started living more sustainably:
– Buy secondhand
You probably could have guessed that this one was going to come first given that this blog is written by someone who spent a year buying nothing new with her family, but it really is such a simple and impactful thing to do!
No one is saying you have to never buy anything new again, but just to take a look around at the ‘pre-loved possibilities’ before hitting Amazon or heading off to the shopping centre.
Charity shops are great for picking up bargains, especially kids clothes, toys and books (check out this post here for some charity shop shopping tips).
eBay is great if you are looking for something specific like “size 5 boys wellies” or you are looking for a particular brand (there’s another post here with top eBay tips!).
Our school has a secondhand uniform service and I think all we have ever bought the kids new for school is maybe a couple of white polo shirts (why do kids insist on drawing on their uniform in black marker..?!) – does yours have something similar? If not, could you get together with a couple of friends to start one?
– Meal Planning
Busy family life can make getting everyone fed a challenge sometimes. We recently got a whiteboard in our kitchen which I update each week with everyone’s various after school clubs etc and spend approximately 2 minutes scribbling a meal plan for our evening meals. For someone quite resistant to planning, this has made a big difference and also helps prevent food waste.
It means we can make the best use of what we have kicking around in the fridge, and I’m less likely to forget and leave things until they have started walking out of the fridge under their own mould ridden steam…!
How about you – do you meal plan?
– Cook from scratch
I know not all of us have the time (or energy) to do this every single day, but the more often you can do it, the better! Not only does it cut down on the vast amounts of (usually unrecyclable) packaging you are left to dispose of, but it is usually cheaper too (win-win!)
I’m a big fan of batch cooking and then stashing stuff in the freezer for those days when I’m short on time (or just can’t be bothered!) and this is where the meal planning helps too. If I know I’m going to be doing sausage and mash for example, I will usually make twice as much mash, and use it for gnocchi, or potato pancakes the next day. Tomato sauce ALWAYS get doubled (and sometimes tripled) up on for using with pasta and as a pizza topping, and I also batch cook biscuits and pop what I know we are going to eat in the freezer.
What are your tips for making cooking from scratch easier and quicker?
There are so many re-usable switches, aside from the obvious ‘Big 4’ of water bottles, carrier bags, straws and coffee cups:
– Re-usable nappies
– Washable baby wipes
– Having conversations
When I asked in my Facebook group about people’s biggest challenges when it comes to living more sustainably as a family, one of the recurring themes was getting the family on board.
This can be really difficult, and I don’t have any magic answers I’m afraid. But I do think it’s important that we keep talking. And listening. That we explain why we are making the choices we are making, and doing the things we are doing. We can’t force anyone else to join in, but we can show the way. We can (hopefully) show that it doesn’t have to be any harder, or more expensive, and that it can be a lot of fun too!
How do your family react to you making sustainable changes? And how do you try to engage them and get them joining in? I’d love to hear your experiences and suggestions!
So what are your top sustainable tips for family life?
And what are your biggest challenges?
Do comment below, or come and share in the Facebook group!
If you’re wanting to make sustainable changes and would love some additional resources, support and a community of like-minded people to cheer you on, check out my sustainable living hub – would love to see you there!