How to live more sustainably

Sustainability is being highlighted in such a wonderful way with companies taking a closer look at how they are creating their products and how they can do better to protect the planet. I believe this is the silver lining of lockdown for us, as consumers, and those of us who want to try to do more to help the world, which to be frank has not be treated so well by us as the human race.

While confined to our homes, we were given a chance to really see, admire (or not!) and sort the items we had around the house. There has been a huge resurgence of people wanting to actively put their time and effort into instilling sustainable living practices, spanning from homeware, fashion, cookware and everything in between.

While ‘sustainability’ often gets thrown in with ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘green’ it usually covers a much bigger space in our lives. Sustainable incorporates using materials which are easy to manufacture while not having a large quantity of waste products. It also includes materials that will decay quickly or can be recycled.

For example, there was a huge rise in reusable shopping bags. Both the cotton tote bags and recycled plastic bags can be reused again and again. Cotton can be broken down and reused, with the plastic broken down and turned into pellets ready to be used again for a new bag or product.

Being sustainable isn’t just buying new things which are sustainably sourced but using what you already have and making them last in new ways. The saying of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ is taking on new limits with more of us doing our bit to make what we use last.

Charity shops have been a great beacon of where we can donate old or unwanted items. As they closed during the recent lockdowns, we have had to find new ways to make sure our items which are still usable can be re-loved by someone else and not lost to landfill. Through online marketplaces, swapping groups, apps and social media, we are giving old possessions a new lease of life. The best part is that this can bring a whole new world of D.I.Y., fixing things up and styling our new-to-us pieces.

My favourite project of this year has been updating the kitchen. Instead of throwing everything out, we stripped the laminate from the cupboards, cleaned and sanded them down before painting them. It was nice to know we had done our bit to keep pieces out of landfill; what’s more, it looks like a brand new kitchen! We could have easily bought new cupboard, however we have managed to continue the life of the existing 30-year old kitchen (and an 80-years young dresser!) that was still perfectly usable.

Sisley White kitchen upcycling before

The fun part is now kitting out the ‘new’ kitchen and with products but being particularly conscious of what they are made from. I’m choosing less plastic, more natural materials and sustainable pieces. Plus, I am investing in big ticket items which will not only last but also come with details of how they were made and have lifetime guarantees, like the Le Creuset casserole dish.

Sisley White kitchen upcycling transformation

Some pieces I already have include bamboo serving spoons, a recycled plastic board for meat preparation, natural straw placemats, eco-sourced cotton tablecloths and so much more.

At Elys I have been admiring their ever-growing collection of sustainable items for the kitchen and the home too. There is already a noticeable reduction in plastic pieces and those left are recycled plastic or the hottest eco material - bamboo!

Bamboo not only grows incredibly fast, but is also natural. It can be turned into all sorts of products, is incredibly strong and recyclable too. It also does not need pesticides and chemicals during harvest, so in short has lots of points in its favour and makes for a kind to the planet material which can be used across the home. Did you know, bamboo can be turned into a cotton substitute for bedlinen and blankets? In the kitchen bamboo cooking utensils are becoming increasingly popular and for alfresco eats there is a wide range of platters, cups and plates made from bamboo, all of which you can find at Elys.

Making sustainable choices is not as overwhelming an experience as it may seem. With Elys putting the spotlight on sustainability this month and committing to ensuring planet positive products continue to be a focus in their ranges going forward, it is easier than ever to pick up pieces that are kinder to the environment near and far.

Sisley’s top sustainable pieces available at Elys

1. Switch to a plastic-free lunchbox

I am sure I’m not the only one with a cupboard of plastic containers, none of which I seem to have the corresponding lid for! They take up so much space and once they are stained or smells get into the plastic they go in the bin and off to landfill. Not many are recyclable by local councils in the U.K.

Moving to a lunch container free of plastic was such a great decision. At the moment it is being used for picnics but one day it will be perfect for office lunches when work gets more back to normal.

I chose the Black + Blum glass lunch bowl.

Black & Blum Glass Lunch Bowl

The glass bowl, complete with lid, is held in a case made of wood-fibre which acts as protection and insulation. It is then topped off with the stainless-steel screw-tight lid which has a leak-proof seal and can also be used as a serving bowl if you want to divide your food.

Black & Blum Glass Lunch Bowl Meal Ideas

This brilliantly designed lunchbox is lightweight, easy to clean and microwavable too (just be sure to remove the metal lid first!).

Shop Black + Blum glass lunch bowl

2. Move from clingfilm to beeswax wraps

One of the items in our kitchen that I have found trickier to reduce more than anything else is cling film. It is so useful but incredibly bad for the environment. There are some biodegradable versions, however it is the beeswax wraps that I have started using - and loving!

Beeswax wraps are a made of organic cotton and beeswax. The wax hardens the fabric and makes it pliable. It also makes it a little bit sticky, so it bends and holds its shape over your bowls or plates. They are easy to wash in cold water and with washing up liquid, then they should be left to dry flat. It does not take much time or effort to switch at all. Plus, the beeswax wraps come in a massive range of patterns and colours so can be matched to your kitchen décor.

The Beeswax Co. Lunch Wraps

The Beeswax Wrap Co. food wraps  can be found at Elys. It might seem a lot of money compared to how much clingfilm is but remember, these are reusable. You can also refresh them by placing in the oven and allowing the wax to melt and spread out again over the fabric.

As an extra sustainable point, the wax used for the wraps is sourced from and made with support of British Bees and British Beekeepers.

Sustainable interiors

LSA International is a glassware brand that Elys have featured and stocked for years. Their designs are beautiful and they have a glass for every occasion.

 LSA Canopy Collection

In their latest collection they have been looking at how they can produce more sustainable and recycled pieces. The Canopy Collection by LSA has been created in partnership with the Eden Project. The collection features drinking glassware and homeware including beautiful vases which call out to the bio-domes of the Eden Project - you can clearly see the inspiration for the design has been taken directly from the ecological park. 

LSA Canopy Glassware

All the items in the collection are made from 100% recycled glass. Turning the discarded materials into something new is one thing but taking it to this level of design and functionality is another. The Canopy collection falls into the category of sustainable art and as well as beautiful homeware.

Sisley’s top sustainable home tips

1. When your existing items have reached the end of their lives, check out the sustainable options you have for replacing them. A little and often approach to adding more sustainability is the perfect start. Also try to recycle them if possible.

2. Have herbs growing in your kitchen? They are not only great for adding flavour to your food but when you have a good amount you can harvest them, freeze them in an ice cube tray in olive oil (or water) and you will have herbs ready to use whenever you need. The best herbs to freeze include basil, chives, oregano, lemon balm, mint, tarragon and rosemary.

3. If you fancy a change, sell or giveaway what you no longer want. There will always be someone who will love to take something you do not want anymore. As the saying goes ‘One man's trash is another man's treasure.’