Last year I attended a Green Christian workshop on Sustainable Living. We were challenged to treat life’s big changes as opportunities for positive choices; whether first child, starting university / retirement, or… moving house.
As my husband and I strive to be more “conscious consumers”, we therefore tackled moving house as an opportunity – how could our passion for caring for God’s creation infiltrate every decision we would have to make? We certainly didn’t find all the answers, and failed as often as we succeeded, but the journey – both physically and mentally – has been an enlightening one. So I thought I would share some of the things we’ve learned, and products we’ve found.
The logistics of moving
When choosing a removal company we tried to find a local, family owned firm rather than one of the national providers. We therefore chose James Removals – and they were great!
We had kept all the packing material from previous deliveries (boxes, bubble wrap etc) and got the packers to re-use this, minimising use of new material. I’ve also seen people requesting packing materials via Streetbank, Freegle and Freecycle which makes a lot of sense.
James Removals will collect all the empty boxes etc when they’re next in our area – so ensuring they get used again, without them making a special trip. (Although this does mean we’ve now had to store it all for 3 months, and who knows how much longer!)
Making it pretty!
We are very aware that wanting to change décor is a first world problem – at least we have a roof over our heads! But we want to love living in our new home, invest in it for the long term, and enjoy sharing it with lots of wonderful people. So, for the changes we did decide to make, we tried to make as ethical choices as possible. I hope we succeeded, at least in a small way!
Painting and decorating
We found some lovely painting tools from Eco Ezee. They are a family-owned company which designs and manufactures products from waste material or ecologically sustainable sources, endeavouring to make all goods compostable, biodegradable, reusable or recyclable. We have enjoyed using their paint rollers, brushes and trays and would highly recommend them. They are more pricey than your normal ones, but they are beautifully made and make you want to take good care of them, rather than just chucking them away when you’re done (because you can’t be bothered to wash them!). We bought these things from Green Shop.
We discovered that there are a number of environmentally-friendly paints, like Earthborn, Auro and Green Paints. We decided on Earthborn and it was a dream to use – one coat was sufficient, even to cover quite a dark purple, and there was absolutely no nasty, toxic smell. It also washed off the brushes with water, so no need for white spirit and disposal quandaries. Our dilemma, however, was that our local stockist was about an hour’s drive away – it was rather ironic to kill our carbon footprint to track down an ethical product! So we combined the shopping with a day trip to take maximum advantage of being out and about.
I’ve struggled to find any wallpaper made from recycled paper (is there a niche in the market here?) so have had to settle for paper that is Forest Stewardship Council certified.
Some of our carpets were looking a little worse for wear. We didn’t want to just replace them when there is probably still years of life in them so we hired a Rug Doctor for 48 hours – and what a difference that made. The colour of the water coming out was horrible! However this did use some rather nasty chemicals but unfortunately I couldn’t find a greener alternative. Do you know of one? Renting worked well because we would only use it once in a while and it doesn’t make sense to have one sitting, gathering dust in a cupboard, let alone wasting the environmental cost of making it.
We needed a new bed, and being a great fan of Warren Evans, didn’t have to think too hard about getting another bed from them. Warren Evans beds are hand-made to order in London. Their skilled carpenters use traditional craftsmanship for tried and tested durability along with leading technology to minimise waste and toxins. Forest Stewardship Council certified wood is carefully selected for sustainability.
Inevitably we bought bits and pieces from Ikea. While there are many things about Ikea that I’m not keen on, I have been pleased to find out some positives: they have a Foundation and work with refugees as a partner with UNHCR; currently 78% of their cotton is ethically sourced, and they are working on the rest; and furthermore, Ikea are investing significant amounts to tackle climate change.
Keeping it warm
We are fortunate that our new home already has double glazing which makes a massive difference when compared to our old home’s Victorian single glazed sash windows. They are certainly not as elegant, but they do a much better job.
We now have an open fire which is great, but it was very noticeable that the air around it was much colder and we could only imagine how much lovely warm air was being sucked up the chimney to be replaced with cold drafts. But not now – we’ve put a sheep up our chimney! The Chimney Sheep is a draught excluder made out of 100% Herdwick wool from the Lake District. All the parts are from, and it is assembled in, the UK. They claim that we might save about £65 per year which is an added bonus on top of feeling warmer.
Cooking, cleaning etc.
We had to buy all our white goods which was rather a large expense, so we were keen to make the best choices we could. We chose products that had the highest energy efficiency and performance ratings. For our dishwasher, washing machine and fridge-freezer we chose the brand Bosch. They have great reliability ratings from Which and customers so hopefully will last us for years to come. Bosch is also 92% owned by a charitable foundation, enabling them to invest double the industry average into research and development. Technologies that not only improve our daily life but our future as well. Bosch is constantly guided by this principle of from environmentally-friendly production methods to researching new energy-efficient technologies. 3 months on, so far so good!
We bought all our products from the Co-operative Electrical. You can read about the Co-operative group’s values and principles here. Great value, great service, and I got Co-operative membership points too!
Enough for now…!
These are just a few of the things that we have let our desire to be conscious consumers impact. You may have many more useful things to share – please do!