Across the world students are walking out of lessons and taking to the streets, urging politicians to take vital action on climate change. Known as ‘Generation Z’, these school children are taking part in climate strikes to demand action in order to save life as they know it in the future.
But are Generation Z really the first eco-friendly generation? With World Wars and poverty being a large part of life in the past, there was a necessity to live life frugally, with many ways of life being – albeit not intentionally, environmentally friendly.
Back in the 1980s, Bio-D founder Michael Barwell’s job was to clean and maintain commercial ships. It was tough work using industrial cleaning products for which heavy-duty safety equipment, including a respirator, had to be worn.
Michael was shocked to discover that many of the ingredients in the products he used at work could also be found in everyday household cleaners. It prompted him to look for naturally-derived alternatives that would clean safely and effectively without harming people or the environment, and in 1989, Bio-D was born.
Michael has since retired from the business with Lloyd Atkin taking over after working with the business since 1996. Lloyd has been part of the Bio-D story since 1996 and we remain committed to making cleaning products that don’t cost the earth in any sense.
To mark Bio-D’s 30th birthday, the Hull-based company has listed thirty ways in which we could take a leaf out of our ancestors’ books to become more eco-friendly.
- Go back to glass
Going back to their roots, many businesses now offer glass bottles as part of a range of plastic alternative items. This prevents an excessive amount of single-use plastics reaching landfill sites. Items now available in glass bottles includes fresh juice, cordials and spring water.
- Get curls the retro way
Before the invention of electric hair styling tools, women had to get creative to rock curly hair. Ditch your curlers and try out rag curls for a classic vintage look. This saves electric – and also prevents heat damage on your hair!
- Repair, repair, repair
We’re all guilty of throwing away clothing the moment it’s a little worn. Save yourself a considerable amount of money by fixing clothes as they did in the past, instead of putting them in the bin. This prevents clothing from ending up in landfill, where it struggles to decompose buried under a mountain of rubbish.
- Repurpose and reuse
In previous generations, repurposing was a way of life. Old t-shirts were made into cleaning cloths, empty containers were reused, frayed jeans were turned into shorts. With this in mind, think twice when throwing something away – could it be repurposed and given new life? Bio-D customers often use empty packaging as water butts, or bird baths in the garden to name just a few examples.
- Make the most of refills
Before plastic packaging was commonplace, many stores provided refills for customers to fill up using their own containers. Refill stores are now back on the scene, giving customers the chance to reduce their use of plastic packaging. Bio-D is available as refills in a range of independent stores across the country – see their stockists here.
- Reduce food waste
During the war, food was rationed – meaning that there was no room for waste. Planning meals in advance lessens the amount of greenhouse gases emissions coming from landfill. It also means that we don’t waste the resources that went into making the food itself.
- Switch off the lights
Many may have memories of their grandparents scolding them for leaving lights on around the house. But it’s actually a great piece of advice to take in order to reduce energy emissions. It can even save you a bit of cash off your electric bill!
- Use every last bit
We’re all guilty of throwing things away before they’re actually empty. For example, cereal with half a bowl’s worth left in the bottom, or a tube of moisturiser that you’re struggling to squeeze out. In the past people would use every last drop to save money, so make the effort to completely finish products before throwing them away – it’s a great way to help reduce your individual plastic intake.
- Change your transport method
It’s hard to imagine a life without driving, but think about what life was like before cars. Even after they were first invented, owning a car wasn’t commonplace for many families. Instead people walked, cycled or used public transport to get around. Reducing your driving drastically decreases greenhouse gas emissions.
- Eat less meat
During the first world war food prices rose by an astonishing 130%, and even if people had the money to buy meat, there often wasn’t enough available to go around. Though these were hard times, eating less meat, or no meat at all, could greatly benefit our environment.
- Growing your own food
To combat the food shortage, people were encouraged to grow their own fruit and vegetables in gardens and allotments. If people did this now, not only would there be less transport emissions driving from supplier to supermarket, but it would take less energy to produce, as well as creating less plastic packaging. Plus, there’s a real satisfaction to knowing the ingredients in your meal result from your own hard work!
- Cut out synthetic materials
It wasn’t just food that was rationed during the war – certain materials stopped being imported, leaving people with basic clothing to wear day to day. In comparison, we’re now spoilt for choice when it comes to clothing. However, synthetic materials can be extremely detrimental to the environment – both in terms of energy used to manufacture them and the microfibres they release into our water systems. Avoid synthetic materials like nylon, and polyester, instead opting for organic cottons or linen.
- Canvas shopping bags
Though the campaign to bin off plastic shopping bags for more sustainable canvas alternatives seems like a recent development, previous generations were actually way ahead of their time in terms of plastic use. Using your own bags and baskets to carry shopping was the norm – so why not do the same?
- Turn off the tap!
Being told to turn the tap off to save water by their relatives will be another memory for many. But during World War Two water was limited, with families often sharing bath water as a necessity. Now, saving water can help to reduce the energy consumption at water pumping stations. Little changes like turning off the tap whilst brushing your teeth can make a big difference!
- Use newspaper to line your bins
Before binbags were invented, newspaper was often used to line bins. Making the switch now will not only reduce your use of single-use plastic but will also cost less. Try creating your own DIY newspaper bin liner here.
- Close doors behind you
Before heating was a key fixture in the home, fireplaces were used to keep houses warm. In larger homes, this meant keeping the doors shut to keep the heat in. Making this a habit is a simple but effective way to make the most of your central heating and reducing energy use (and energy bills!).
- Embrace single-use plastic free packaging
Though single-use plastic is still in circulation, businesses are recognising the damage it’s having on the environment and making an effort to change. Before plastic was in mainstream use our ancestors created packaging from paper and other recyclable materials. Technology means that now we can instead use recycled plastics – drastically reducing the amount of single-use plastic that ends up in landfill and reducing the impact on our environment.
As well as making sure that all bottled packaging is easily recyclable, 85% of Bio-D’s bottled products are in 100% recycled post-consumer waste. They are aiming to reach 100% by the end of 2020.
- Avoid plastic-wrapped veggies
Supermarkets are following in the footsteps of greengrocers from days gone by, by reducing the amount of plastic packaging on their fruit and vegetables. Avoid food that is unnecessarily packed in single-use plastic in favour of loose fruit and veg during your weekly shop.
- Shop local
Before larger conglomerates took over the high street, the majority of goods were bought from independent stores. As well as supporting local businesses, it reduces travel miles – and therefore fuel usage and emissions.
As an independent business, Bio-D fiercely support local independents. Find a list of independent stores that stock Bio-D here.
- Compost food waste
In the past food waste was often turned into compost for use in the gardens, because bin collections didn’t take place like clockwork as they do now. Buying a compost bin not only reduces the amount of food and garden waste thrown away but reduces the amount of methane gas created in the process. It also saves you cash buying compost!
- Buy second hand
Buying second hand is a great way to reduce your individual impact on climate change. As well as saving the energy used creating new products, it prevents items from ending up in landfill. Buying second hand items was common in the past, with neighbours often swapping and changing everything from prams to children’s clothing.
Check out your local charity store to find all sorts of hidden gems – including Bio-D cleaning products available in selected Oxfam stores across the country!
- Use natural ingredients
In the days before complicated chemicals were introduced into mainstream products, beauty and cleaning products were made from natural everyday ingredients. Reduce your use of products filled with nasty chemicals that damage the environment by choosing natural, eco-friendly products.
All of Bio-D’s cleaning products are created from naturally derived and plant-based ingredients, leaving out the harsh chemicals often found in other household products
- Ditch the tumble dryer
Putting the washing out on the line used to be a standard household chore. Compared to using a tumble dryer, hanging your washing out saves a lot of energy and water. When the weather is a little dreary, opt instead for a clothes airer to dry your clothes inside.
- Exercise out in the open
There didn’t use to be a gym readily available on every street corner for people to hit the treadmill, rowing machine or cross-trainer – all exercise was out in the open. Get back to nature by skipping the gym and instead going for a jog in your local park to save electricity and get some fresh air in your lungs.
- Holiday in the UK
It wasn’t until package holidays became popular in the 50’s that commercial flights became mainstream. Holidaymakers would instead take staycations in the UK. There are plenty of places worth a visit without leaving the country, so why not ditch your package holiday for something a little closer to home? With one Boeing 747 using as much as 7,840kg of aviation fuel per flight, it makes a big difference!
- Buy in season
Before food was imported to and from other countries, people would only eat what was in season at the time. Keeping to this in the present would mean that fewer chemicals are needed to help them grow, and the amount of emissions caused from transportation would be reduced.
- Wear a jumper inside
Another way that people used to keep warm before central heating was simple – wear a jumper! Wearing a jumper instead of cranking up the heating can save vital energy consumption. A good blanket also does the job!
- Turn off the TV
Televisions weren’t invented until 1927 – and even then, it wasn’t common to have one in every household. Instead, people would to find other means of entertainment. Whether it was seeing a friend or reading a good book, there was always something to do. Save electricity by finding alternate means of entertainment, see friends and family, go for a walk in the local park, or get out your favourite board game.
- Find alternatives
It’s surprising how many products are now made from plastic, when they used to be produced from much more environmentally friendly materials. Just a few examples include nappies, drinks bottles and even beauty products. Take a look around the home and see what would be swapped for a plastic-free alternative.
- Don’t buy more than you need
With multi-packs, 3 for 2s and rollback deals at every turn in the supermarket, it can be easy to buy more than you really need. But before supermarkets existed and when money was scarce, people would make sure to buy the bare minimum, and exactly what they needed in order to feed the family. Though it can be hard to avoid the tempting deals found during your weekly shop, try to stick to your list. It will save both money and food waste!
Bio-D is available online at www.biodegradable.biz, at selected independents and Oxfam stores.
[Hannah Richardson – Pace Communications]