Educators who are trying to weave the sustainability in their classrooms first need to be environmentally friendly themselves. We need to slowly shift towards a low-waste lifestyle, set goals, and make our life choices more eco-conscious. This also goes for parents – we can try to develop environmental awareness in children, but we need parents to participate as well. If they go home and their parents say: ”That’s silly, we won’t do it’‘, all our efforts will be wasted. Keep on reading to see which eco-conscious and low-waste goals we’ve achieved as a family in 2019.
Our journey to a low-waste lifestyle and achieving our goals was hard and there are plenty of reasons for that.
- There are no public recycling facilities. You need to search for private companies and bring all your recyclables there. Not having a car makes it even harder.
- My husband is against it. He believes that laws need to be changed for things to change globally. I agree with this point of view, but if consumers stopped consuming so much, the situation would slowly start to change. Financial loss forces companies to change the products to cater to the people. If the world stopped drinking Coca-Cola because of the plastic bottle, for example, Coca-Cola would have to switch to the glass bottle again. People lived without plastic before, so why couldn’t they do it again? I know that this is far fetched, but I somehow still have faith in people.
- We are a family with a toddler and a dog, and that makes a low-waste lifestyle even harder.
Here are 10 sustainable habits we already had before:
- We always air dry our clothes. No one in our country likes or has drying machines, that’s how it’s always been.
- We have a big bag full of plastic bags, and we reuse them for trash, so we do not buy additional bags for the thrash.
- We do not use any kitchen towels, and we have never used them.
- All of my makeup is cruelty-free, and most of it is vegan, which was always important from me, even before we tried to lower the amount of waste we make.
- We eat meat about twice a week, and mostly local chicken. I dislike the taste of pork, lamb, and similar meats, so giving up a lot of meat was not so hard for me.
- We use only public transport, or we go on foot.
- I am a full time online English teacher and curriculum designer, so having no waste in my virtual classroom is really easy to achieve.
- When I facilitate workshops, especially with children, I always use natural flour paint, natural DIY glue, and tons of recyclables so that all of our crafts can decompose without causing further damage.
- Coffee to go is not so usual in our country. Luckily, we have coffee shops with ceramic cups.
- We reduced single-use plastic down to a bare minimum in our household.
What changed in 2019 that helped our low-waste lifestyle goals?
Despite not wanting to recycle, my husband somehow started changing, and now he sorts the recyclables because of me. Supporting someone else is sometimes enough, even though you don’t agree with their choices completely. Now he asks me whenever we use up a product: ”Do I have to wash this container?”, which is music to my ears.
In 2019 I’ve completed 3 courses from National Geographic – National Geographic Educator Certification, Teaching Global Climate Change in Your Classroom and Geo-Inquiry process. After that, I became a part of a local eco NGO and I facilitated workshops in an IT high school in my city. We covered the topics of environmental pollution, renewable energy resources, endangered animals, and recycling.
Slowly, with all this and my eternal love for wildlife, we started changing our life. Here are the major goals we managed to reach in 2019.
Major 20 low-waste lifestyle goals of the year we managed to reach in 2019:
- We do not use disposable diapers with our baby. Washable bamboo diapers probably saved us a whole truck of disposable diapers by now!
- We do not use wet towels when we change the diapers. Our little one is almost two years old, so we can take showers and have some water-play as well.
- We now buy only wooden toys and second-hand books for our little one.
- Most of the clothes he got last year were a present, and we still have too many things waiting to be given away.
- Most of the plastic toys we have been given to us as a second-hand gift. Hooray for reusing!
- We cut up my favorite old pajamas, and we made a box filled with towels we can use for multiple purposes, mostly for blowing our noses, cleaning hands or baby’s face after eating.
- I stopped using disposable pads during my period. Now I use bamboo reusable pads, and they are amazing!
- We do not use plastic ear swabs/buds anymore!
- Our baby had a rash and he has very sensitive skin, so we started using eco detergents for our clothes just after he was born.
- We use eco detergent for the dishes most of the time. Sometimes we are swamped with work, so we have to buy a regular detergent in the supermarket next to our building, but it does not happen that often.
Now, on to the next 10 great things we’ve managed to do:
11. We use soap bars for our hands and liquid soap in recyclable bottles.
12. Harsh cleaning chemicals are behind us! We use only asepsol for disinfecting the floors. Asepsol is also used in hospitals, and it has no smell whatsoever.
13. 95% of our toiletries are in recyclable packaging, and the ones that are not, are being saved for crafting.
14. All our toiletries are mild and eco-friendly, so they do not leave chemicals in the water.
15. I haven’t bought any makeup in more than 8 months, and I don’t really feel like I need any more. This was really hard for me since I am a makeup lover!
16. PAPER – We recycled EVERY piece of paper in the house.
17. CARDBOARD – We recycled EVERY piece of cardboard in the house.
18. PET – We recycled EVERY PET (plastic number 1) container we had.
19. CANS 1 – We recycled ALL the aluminum cans we collected.
20. CANS 2 – We recycled ALL the cans from baby food, and dog food which are made from iron.
Low-waste lifestyle goals I would love our family to achieve in 2020:
- Starting a compost is probably the top goal of 2020. Living with a husband who doesn’t like composts, a toddler who runs all the time, and a dog, making compost is almost impossible. We live in an apartment, which is another downside.
- Buying food with less packaging! It’s really hard to buy food without packaging, and most of our waste from food packaging is non-recyclable. We need to make our kitchen more low-waste, and that’s the top of our goals for this year. Since there are no zero-waste shops where you can just fill a container, it’s virtually impossible.
- One local NGO recently started accepting eco-bricks! Cutting up all the containers we cannot recycle from the kitchen would be a great thing. There are so many thin containers that we don’t have time to cut up now. I wish there were more eco-friendly stores, and I wish that the companies accepted other types of plastic except for PET. 🙁
- No plastic bags while shopping EVER! We still forget the tote bags sometimes, despite having tons of them! When my husband forgets one, he carries things in his hands and he looks like Tarzan. 😀
- Gifting away and donating more things we don’t use!
Here are some of the things I’ve been doing in 2020:
- Start your journey with 21st-century skills with Geo-Inquiry – A post on British Council Teaching English
- National Geographic Educator Certification Reflection
- How to make your conference and travel as low waste as possible?
- Cool Kids for Eco Beats Project in High Schools
- Workshop reflection (just one of 4 workshops because I’ve been too busy lately) Environmental pollution workshop reflection
- Wrote a reflection about very old recycling and reusing project with Roma children
To conclude with a piece of advice – before shifting to new, more clean products, make sure to use up everything you have. Also, start from one room in the house – we started with our bathroom since there were plenty of things we could easily change there. Try to focus on reusing and do not run and rush to buy new ”eco” products. If it works – don’t fix it!
How can you make eco-conscious choices in 2020 more easily? What is your major low-waste success in 2019? Are there any eco products you loved last year? Which low-waste lifestyle goals would you like to fulfill in 2020? Write in the comments, I would love to know!