I read this article with utter horror this week. It seems that the River Mersey near Manchester has the highest recorded levels of microplastics in the world. The world!
Winter gets me down so much more indoors than out. Outdoors I enjoy the seasons changing. By the end of summer I'm sick of the heat; by the end of winter I'm longing for warmth.
My house is cold. It's old and it's draughty and we struggle to stay warm. Visitors come but sit uncomfortably at the table in their coats clinging to cups of tea. I'm reluctant to crank up the boiler too much, not just for the cost but because I know, despite being with a green power supplier, there's no such as a renewable gas supply. I can't remove the thought of massive, smoke belching power stations from my mind. The thermostat sits at 18C but it doesn't feel balmy, just tolerable. We wear vests, two pairs of socks, leggings under trousers and my head is rarely without a hat, even at home!
Every winter morning brings the miserable task of wiping wet windows. They're single glazed, the original wood sliding sashes with beautiful coloured leaded lights and I love them. But they're hopelessly impractical for a house full of teenagers and their daily showers. We don't have a tumble dryer either so the wet washing hangs off a series of clothes horses making the dining room look like a laundry. After the cold nights, the moisture collects and glistens like fragile diamonds, tearing down the panes with the merest whisper of movement nearby. The first such night of autumn leaves me with a pit in my stomach knowing I have months ahead...
The Karcher window vac is, to my mind, one of the greatest ever inventions, better than the wheel, the internet and the internal combustion engine combined. Particularly for the Edwardian house owner, it's a godsend. It sucks massive quantities of water off windows, tiles and even bathroom floors and saves it amassing in corners as black mould. It's the one gadget I would not want to be without!
Otherwise, windows are opened during (for the brave) or after showers, lids are used when cooking and clothes are dried on airers and not on the radiators. I use the maximum spin on the washing to fling out as much water in advance as possible. And sneaking the heating up a degree (from 17C) did, I concede, make a difference! I gather dehumidifiers can be effective too, but I don't want to buy another new thing, with all the carbon emissions that that entails, without exhausting every other possibility first!
One day, I will have enough money for beautiful, wooden double glazing. Until then, we can just about cobble together. And when it gets too much? Well, I just escape outdoors and relish the icy blast!
If one thing put me off more children, it was the washing.
If I'm super organised (rare) then I'll manage one wash during the week, but mainly it's an endless Saturday job. And I hate it. Really loathe it.
My children have a different definition of 'dirty' to me. My interpretation is 'caked in mud' (which my clothes frequently are) but I often pull still folded, unworn clothes of theirs from the washing basket. Some have even still had the labels on!
It's not an 'eco' thing; I just want to minimise the time it takes, so there is selective sorting occurs as a first step. Some never make it as far as the machine before they are returned to the drawer, or the top of the drawers in a pile as is more usually the case.
I use Ecover washing liquid. I know it's possibly not the best option, but it's easily accessible so I don't need to make a special trip to buy it, it's relatively inexpensive and it does the job. I have an old stash of soap nuts that sometimes I draw upon, but they're not up to the school shirt wash and there are questions about how ethical it is to source a product from (usually) India and its surrounds and ship it so far. I gather swathes of indigenous food crops are being grubbed up and replanted with soap nut trees to satisfy western greenie demands too. But I had them before this came to light. And we tried conkers too. We're next to a lot of horse chestnut trees so that made sense. Crush the conkers with a hammer and place a few in a jar with water overnight, strain and use the liquid in the machine, conkers in the compost. They work, they really do! Conkers have natural saponins (soaps) that clean, but they're sadly seasonal (and we'd need to collect kilos of the things, before the squirrels, to get through the year!)
This is my secret weapon though, and one I'd recommend - washing soda.
It costs £1 per kg and it's widely available. I use a tablespoon per wash and half the liquid I use and it works brilliantly. And it's super effective. (The jar is my attempt to try and make this particular job as pleasurable as possible!) It breaks down harmlessly in the waste water and does a decent job of keeping the machine sparkly too. It's a really simple 'tread lightly' switch and one that saves money. Add it to your shopping list, give it a whirl!
Best get on...
Treading Lightly is simple living, within your means and the means of the planet, and making a minimal impact on the Earth. Find out more here about Catherine, of Barefoot Solutions, does this from day to day.