When it comes to living sustainably, you get back what you put in. When it comes to sustainable products, you get what you pay for.

What does sustainable mean?

Let’s start with the definition of sustainable products. These are products that don’t deplete natural, non-renewable resources. Neither do they harm the environment. However, sustainable products should provide social and economic benefits. Therefore, products made from ethical materials that implement sustainable practices in a socially responsible way.

Are they really more expensive?

There’s a general perception amongst many people that sustainable products are more expensive than cheaper alternatives. And for the most part, this is true because products that are more expensive to create are usually more costly to buy. Hold on, as we’ll get to the reasons why that is.

However, this doesn’t mean that sustainable products have to be unaffordable.

Many people struggle to afford the basics. Therefore, some sustainable products can become unaffordable if the price tag is too high.

However, in many cases, it’s cheaper to buy something more expensive of a higher quality that will last longer than a more inferior low-priced product that you will need to replace more often. There’s a well-known saying – ‘Buy cheap, buy twice’, otherwise known as a false economy.

Usually, when you buy cheap, somebody pays an additional price. That could be people in the supply chain treated unjustly or our planet’s longevity, which means we’re all paying.   

It’s important to know the distinction between cheap and inexpensive. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting a good deal. We all love one, right? It’s the ‘what’ you buy and ‘where’ that can make a difference. The goal should be to find the right product from the right place and get the best possible deal.

Reasons to buy sustainable products

Let’s take a look at some valid reasons why it pays to buy sustainably.

1. Ethical supply chain

Firstly, let’s consider the supply chain of your product. From manufacturing to distribution, steer clear of companies that use slave labour or force workers to operate in poor conditions with low pay. Sustainable brands implement fair working practices. They also care about the health and wellbeing of their diverse team of employees.

Product tip: Compare cheap chocolate brands that use forced labour with artisan chocolate like Islands that support workers and the environment.

2. Quality materials and ingredients

Check the ingredients and materials for harmful chemicals that could damage you or the environment. Quality products are usually made to last longer and function more effectively.

Product tip: Compare flimsy single-use disposable face masks with multi-layered reusable face coverings made from cotton that will last several months.

3. Packaging and parts

Who else throws their arms up in exasperation when they buy a seemingly sustainable product wrapped in single-use plastic? Waste management across the entire supply chain of a product is vital to reduce plastic pollution and our carbon footprint.

When you’re ready to dispose of your product, remove the parts and recycle responsibly. The same applies to packaging, where some components may be recyclable and others not. If you’re not sure how a product will be packaged and shipped, it’s wise to ask the retailer to reduce plastic packaging.

Product tip: Compare synthetic-based deodorant aerosols with natural deodorant packaged in reusable and recyclable tins.

4. Longevity

After reducing, reusable is the most sustainable way to maintain a circular economy. Such products last longer and therefore will generally be cheaper in the long term. Think quality materials and ingredients that may cost more. Also, consider buying second hand for some products.

Product tip: Compare single-use menstruation products with sustainable period products such as a reusable, non-toxic menstrual cup that can last up to 10 years.

5. Handmade

Buying handmade usually means you’ll be supporting an independent business. You’ll also be purchasing something unique that somebody has put care and attention into making. As well as encouraging craft skills, the carbon footprint of handmade products can be much smaller. This is because there is no need for large factories or long-distance distribution. You can also bet that every time you buy handmade, your maker will do a happy dance!

Product tip: Compare paraffin candles with hand-poured soy candles that burn for longer and have a more potent natural fragrance.

In conclusion, before you buy cheap, think twice. Was the product made ethically, using non-harmful materials or ingredients? Is the packaging excessive and unsustainable? Are you likely to have to replace the product sooner than you expect? Does the seller have core values beyond making money?

Finally, be aware of companies that greenwash – those that deceptively market themselves as sustainable. Labelling a product as compostable doesn’t mean it is. Unfortunately, there are plenty around, so do your research, don’t be afraid to ask questions and do not be misled!

We think buying sustainable products is worth it. Still not sure? Have a browse of our online shop and check out the quality, eco credentials and very affordable prices.

The Jolly Turtle supplies eco-friendly bespoke and pre-packed kits for events, travel, hospitality, and lifestyle, offering a simple and convenient way to shop for all your plastic-free essentials.

These eco-friendly tips will help you to save money and reduce your impact on the planet while working from home.

The problem

So, you’ve cut out the commute, and your office building is no longer having to supply all that gas, electricity and water needed to keep you and your colleagues comfortable and able to perform their jobs. Surely, that means less energy, less carbon pollution, and more eco-friendly working conditions? Not so.

Ditching the drive and working from your kitchen table doesn’t necessarily mean we’re using less energy and reducing our impact on the environment. Seasonal factors need to be taken into consideration. For example, the energy needed to heat a large office accommodating 100 people is normally more economical than that needed to heat 50 houses or flats.

The Solution

With a second national lockdown in place at the time of writing, a substantial proportion of the UK population is now working from home full-time. And we’re all spending a lot more time at home generally. So, there’s no better time to create a sustainable working environment that works better for you and the planet.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of 5 eco-friendly tips to create a sustainable working from home environment.

1. Turn your heating down

According to research, the average household energy bill could rise by almost 20% as a result of working from home over autumn and winter. This surge equates to around £52m a week spent more on energy bills across the UK.

However, you can take action to reduce the impact on your bank account and the planet. Throw on an extra layer and reduce the temperature on your thermostat a few degrees. You probably won’t notice the difference but if enough people do the same, we can save huge amounts of energy. Even better, upgrade to a smart thermostat and you’ll save even more.

2. Switch to green energy

Thanks to a recent surge in wind power, almost half of the UK’s electricity is now powered by renewable energy.

If you haven’t yet made the switch to renewable or green energy, now’s a good time to review your tariff.

There’s a misperception amongst many that you’ll have to pay more by switching to a green energy provider. However, there are a lot of affordable green energy plans available and some are cheaper than non-green deals. This is because people are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious and technologies in providing renewable energies are advancing.

Many people assume that green and renewable energy is the same, but it’s not. Green energy is a category of renewable energy. Green energy is more environmentally friendly as the resources do not deplete but power comes from natural sources rather than just being recyclable.

Turn your thermostat down
Wind farms are on the rise

3. Don’t keep devices plugged in

Leaving devices on standby can cost UK households up to £86 per year in unnecessary charges. Unplug your devices (including laptops, printer, mobile phones) when you’re not using them. Even better, invest in a smart power strip that automatically turns devices off when they’re not being used.

To further reduce your devices’ costs, swap your regular incandescent light bulbs for LEDs and you’ll save 40% on energy. They’re a much cheaper option in the long-term and better for the environment. This is because LED bulbs don’t waste the electricity they consume.

4. Limit using office supplies

Before you hit the ‘print’ button, consider whether you need to print out that document? Limiting your printing is a great way to reduce costs and the impact on the planet. When you do need to print, use recycled paper and print double-sided.

As well as going digital, you could also invest in sustainable stationery such as bamboo or refillable pens.

Unplug fully charged devices
Sustainable office furniture

5. Buy sustainable office furniture

When you’re working from home for long hours every day, you’ll want to be as comfortable and productive as possible.

If you’re planning to switch working at the kitchen table with setting up a new home office area, invest in sustainable or second-hand furniture.

Materials such as bamboo, seagrass, and rattan are highly sustainable. This is because they don’t contribute to deforestation. If you’re buying wood, make sure it’s FSC certified, which means its raw materials are renewable and sourced from responsibly managed forests.

Top Tip: Did you know that you may be eligible to claim tax relief if you are required to work from home regularly? Visit GOV.UK to find out if you can get government help towards your bills.

Do you have any other eco-friendly tips for working from home?

If you enjoyed reading this article, you may also find it useful to check out our tips to reduce water waste in your home. Don’t forget to also read about our top sustainable lockdown tips.

The Jolly Turtle supplies eco-friendly bespoke and pre-packed kits for events, travel, hospitality, and lifestyle, offering a simple and convenient way to shop for all your plastic-free essentials. 

Do you want to reduce water waste and your energy bills at the same time as protecting the environment? We give you some top tips to help you live a more sustainable lifestyle at home.

Water is a commodity that we all need to survive and one that developed nations take for granted. Therefore, we must find ways to reduce water waste to make it more accessible to those that need it and reduce the impact on the environment.

In the UK, we use on average 150 litres of water per person every day. Think about all the ways we use it around the home – drinking, washing, cleaning, feeding plants. We definitely shouldn’t stop do those things. However, we should all be conscious of just how much we’re using and question whether any is going to waste.

Wasting water impacts the environment in many ways, including damaging the natural ecosystem when we take too much from it.

Reducing water waste will not only help conserve our energy but, if you’re on a water meter, it will reduce your costs too. Investing in a smart water meter is a great way to know exactly how much you’re using, where you can make cuts, and what it’s costing you. Most water companies in the UK will install one for free if you ask.

We’ve done some research and come up with five practical tips to help you reduce water waste.

1. Turn off the tap

The average 10-minute shower uses around 150 litres of water, compared to about 80 litres for a full bath. Also, the longer your shower, the more carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from the additional energy needed to heat your water tank (which also costs more).

Here are some practical tips you can follow to save water from being unnecessarily wasted down the drain and reduce CO2 emissions.

Don’t forget to turn off the tap when brushing your teeth as this is another great way to reduce water waste. Keeping the tap running for two minutes can waste around 12 litres of water. That’s equivalent to almost 100 litres of water a day for a family of four who brushes morning and night.

Bonus tip: Did you know that showers are better than baths for those without skin conditions? Too much water can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to irritation. Use a moisturiser to replenish your skin within 30 minutes of having a shower or bath.

2. Use washing machine and dishwasher for full loads

A typical run on a washing machine uses 50 litres of water and is likely the most expensive energy-consuming device you’ll be using at home.

Perhaps question whether you need to put that item you’ve just worn in the laundry basket or whether it can go back in the wardrobe for another day. Is it dirty? Can it be worn again? I often use the fingernail test on my children’s school uniform. If I can scrape off minor marks, it goes back in the school bag!

Over-washing clothing will reduce the lifespan of those items. Therefore, not washing your clothes as often should also save you money if you don’t need to replace them so soon. And buying fewer clothes is another way to protect the environment.

The same applies when washing the dishes. Unless you have a full load of pots and pans to wash, it’s more efficient to either wash up by hand or wait until you have a full load.

If your washing machine or dishwasher has one, use an economy or half-load setting to reduce water waste.

Bonus tip: Washing your clothes inside out at low temperature using a natural laundry detergent will keep them looking new for longer. They clean just as well but won’t fade as fast.

Man loading washing machine
Eco dishwasher

3. Don’t overfill the kettle

Most people in the UK boil more water in their kettles than they use, wasting millions of pounds a year. As a nation of tea drinkers, that’s a lot of water and electricity gone to waste.

Using an energy-saving kettle will help as it should have a guide to show the amount of water needed for the number of cups. Even better, if you can afford it, invest in a boiling water tap, which uses heat-exchange technology to reuse energy. This is ideal for businesses that need to cater to lots of tea drinkers all day as a significant amount of money would be saved on energy bills very quickly.

Bonus tip: Boiling the same water twice can give you a lower quality cup of tea. Reboiling removes the oxygen and nitrogen from water and gives a stronger flavour of undesirable minerals that don’t taste very nice.

4. Reduce toilet flushing

There’s a saying that goes ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down’.

Flushing the toilet as many times as the average person does every day uses around the same amount of water as you would drink in a month. A lot!

Most modern toilets have a dual flush option so don’t use the full flush unless you need to for number twos. This can save around 66% of water compared to single-flush toilets.

For single-flush toilets, you can fit a plastic bottle or flush bag in your cistern, which collects water from each flush that can be used for the next flush. This can save around 1,500 litres of water a year on average.

Bonus tip: If you do decide to ‘let it mellow if it’s yellow’, make sure you flush at least once a day. Otherwise, the bacteria will create a foul odour and stain your toilet.

Boiling kettle
Washing hands

5. Install a water butt in your garden

Use a water butt to collect rainwater and you’ll save huge amounts of water and money compared to using a hosepipe. Waterwise.com states that the average UK home receives over 21,000 litres of rainwater on its roof. So, more than enough to clean your car and water your garden all year round.

Go one step further and fit a water butt to your bathroom waste pipe to catch all that water from the bath and shower.

Bonus tip: Plants tend to prefer rainwater than tap water. This is because rainwater contains plant-loving nitrates and other organic chemicals. Whilst tap water won’t harm plants, it is more acidic due to the chemicals added during the filtration and refining process.

If you’re serious about cutting back on water waste, use a monitoring tool such as the Home Energy Check (for those in Scotland) to work out how much you’re using now and how much you could save after making changes. The Energy Saving Trust is also a useful resource to find out more about how you can save water at home.

The Jolly Turtle supplies eco-friendly bespoke and pre-packed kits for events, travel, hospitality, and lifestyle, offering a simple and convenient way to shop for all your plastic-free essentials. 

Are you looking for eco-friendly insect repellent? If you are prone to insect bites and want to deter them naturally, we’ve provided some eco-friendly tips that will help you repel mosquitos (and other insect bites).

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on all our lives and disastrous effect on the global economy. It’s likely that nothing will ever be the same again for most of us and who knows what the new ‘normal’ will look like when we finally get out of this. However, we do have an opportunity to be more sustainable during lockdown and beyond.

Unsurprisingly, we’ve already seen that carbon emissions have fallen significantly around the world. It’s not just down to reduced travel and factory operations but a slowdown of economic activity in all industries. Having access to cleaner air and natural resources will help improve the health of our environment and our bodies. This is why sustainability is so closely connected to public health.

When we get out of this, we’ll need to make positive changes to the way we live now and prepare for a future that is more sustainable and resilient. We all have responsibility to make this happen – governments, businesses, and consumers.

Right now, for many, it’s very much about coping in survival mode. But there’s no better time than now to also shift our thinking to forge a more positive way of living that benefits people and the planet.

Here are some practical ways you can live a more sustainable life during lockdown with our top 10 lockdown tips:

1. Reduce Food & Packaging Waste

2. Shop Independent

3. Shop Online

4. Rethink Fashion

5. Keep Fit & Healthy

6. Learn About Sustainability

7. Teach Kids Through Play

8. Rethink Your Post-Lockdown World

9. Switch to Green Energy

10. Care for Your Community

Do you have any other sustainable lockdown tips?

The Jolly Turtle supplies eco-friendly bespoke and pre-packed kits for events, travel, hospitality, and lifestyle, offering a simple and convenient way to shop for all your plastic-free essentials. 

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Meet Steph, who runs the awesome blog, Unplasticky, a source of practical and useful tips that have definitely helped me become more sustainable in my everyday living.

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