Be Eco-Friendly,  Lifestyle,  Saving Money,  Shopping

My eco journey & how going eco has saved me money

Making some small eco friendly changes to my lifestyle has been a very rewarding journey with every step!

Though I’ve heard of the effects of global warming, endangered wildlife, people speaking about eco lifestyles and products, I’ve never really been very interested in living a more environmentally mindful lifestyle until summer 2020.

What & how my eco journey has started

Yasmin wearing a straw hat and light blue playsuit at Ryde beach on the Isle of Wight rock pooling for world oceans day. She found a razor clam.
Yasmin found a razor clam while rock pooling during World Oceans Day.

In June 2020, my daughter Yas took part in World Oceans Day with her school, as part of her remote learning during the Covid-19 lockdown. I was helping my girl with the World Ocean Day activities and have learned so much about micro plastics in the sea and how our use of single plastics is having an impacting on us humans & wildlife. I found it so interesting, that my scientist instinct kicked in to research why and how people want to lead a greener life. To further educate myself I’ve watched some documentaries such as “A Plastic Ocean” & “David Attenborough A Life On Our Planet” on Netflix, as well as done some reading on National Geographic, WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and and scientific journals on National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) & Science Direct.

To name one or two of the shocking discoveries I’ve made from my research is learning the effects of microplastics on hormones through a study in 2019 and finding out through WWF that the northern white rhino species is becoming extinct with only 2 females left in the world! This made me feel so sad, thinking my little girl will never get a chance to see a live northern white rhino in the wild of captivity due to people destroying their habitat and poaching them for their horns. These are some of the many reasons I’ve decided to take some actions to life a bit more sustainably.

Parts of my green living journey I’ve found interesting and enjoyed

Saving Money & Going Green

I found the most interesting part of my journey to a more sustainable lifestyle is that I’ve notice a correlation between money saved and a sustainable lifestyle. Since I’m passionate about being thrifty and still have a great standard of living, this finding was the most interesting and enjoyable part of this journey. For instance using an Eco-Egg instead of laundry washing powder and fabric condition, saves me £30.50 every 1.5 years, is suitable for sensitive skin, reduces single use plastics and is natural, containing no harmful chemicals.

Lei using the Eco Egg on the Channel 5 TV show Bargain Brits On Benefits

For more info on the laundry gadget have a look at “My review of the EcoEgg! Does it work & save money?

Another thing that has massively reduced my carbon footprint and helped me save lots of money is the Brita Carafe that I’m using instead of buying bottled water. My CO2 emission has been cut by approximately 265kg per year from making the switch from plastic bottled water to the water-filtering carafe. It also saves me £85.60 per year!

Have a look at my “Brita Carafe review: Is it eco-friendly & budget friendly?

As you can see by just making those 2 small changes alone I’ve already saved £116.10 per year and made a huge reduction in plastic waste! That’s what I call a win/win situation!

Forever learning

You may already know that I just love learning something new all the time no matter what topic it is. What I’ve enjoyed most is learning through other people! I’ve learned so much from the beautiful Jen Bradley, owner of Eco Living Ideas. I was thinking of investing in a menstrual cup, but was unsure and was uncomfortable with the thought of trying something completely different to a tampon or menstrual pad. But after talking to Jen, who took my fear of the unknown away I went and purchased a Moon Cup. I’ve recently also been a guest speaker on Jens Eco Chat speaking about my eco-journey. Whether you have already started your zero waste journey or thinking of starting your journey, Jen has a very supportive Facebook group called Eco Living Community where you can ask for advice or share your eco thoughts and experiences.

Another person I’ve learned something very interesting from is Jack Cavanagh, a co-founder of Aurora Cosmetics and Cavanagh&Baker. Before talking to Jack, I was totally unaware of that many candles were made using paraffin wax. Paraffin wax is not sustainable as it is made from a fossil fuel known as crude oil and releases toxins in the air that we breathe. I used to be obsessed with Yankee Candles as they filled my home with a lovely scent. However since the company also sells Woodwick candles, I’ve gone off Yankee Candles and went with the Woodwick ones as I love the cracking flame. I was also glad to find out that their Woodwick candles are made with soy wax instead of paraffin.To find out more about the difference between paraffin wax and soy candles, have a look at my article “Live sustainably & save money with Aurora Cosmetics

So many ways to save our planet!

I’ve found so many ways to save our planet. There may be some things I am currently unwilling to change, as I’m not comfortable with the change or haven’t found something that worked for me yet. But that’s ok as there are so many other things I can try and change. I find there isn’t a point in letting someone pressure you into changing something, because the change may end up only being temporarily instead of long term. I prefer making the changes when I feel ready and comfortable, that way the greener change will remain. One of the things for instance I don’t feel comfortable with is using cow manure as a fertiliser, so instead I would stick to buying Miracle-Gro Performance Organics plant food.

My favourite eco-swaps

Eco Egg

Lei Hang aka The Thrifty Island Girl with a pink spring blossom eco egg as seen on Channel 5 tv show bargain brits on benefits

The Eco Egg is actually my first ever eco swap. I was featured using my laundry egg on Channel 5 TV show Bargain Brits on Benefits. To read about my experience filming for the show or watch the episode I was on, check out my post: Lei on Channel 5: Bargain Brits on Benefits.

Have a look at My review of the EcoEgg! Does it work & Save money? To see what this egg is about.

Soy based candles

Lei Hang aka the thrifty island girl soy wax candle collection including woodwick candles and aurora

So far my favourite soy based candles are from Woodwick and Aurora. I’m obsessed with scented candles and wax melts! I just love how my whole house smells of something sweet or floral! I can still enjoy the lovely ambience at home, without having to worry about any nasty toxins and carcinogens in the air!

Brita Carafe

lei hang brita carafe review

I got my Brita Carafe as a birthday gift from my bestie Isma last year. I’ve been using it several times a day. I’ve also got my bestie the very same water filtering carafe for her birthday. She has loves it as much as I do.

See my review on the water filter here: Brita Carafe review: Is it eco-friendly & budget friendly?

Method cleaning products

I love all the cleaning products by Method, because their cleaners are all plant based and non-toxic. Therefore they are safe for humans, pets and wildlife. I also enjoy using their products, because the smell is just divine! My favourite products from Method are:

Shampoo bars

Lei Hang solid shampoo bar review

I got my very first solid shampoo bar and conditioner bar from my friend David as a birthday gift. I’ve been so used to traditional bottled shampoo & conditioner, hence found using shampoo in a bar form a little strange at first. After using the solid shampoo bar twice, I got used to it and loved it so much that I found the transition from bar to shampoo was easy. To find out more about shampoo bars, have a look at my post: From bottle to bar: Save money & the planet with a shampoo bar!

Most difficult parts of my eco journey?

Spoilt for choice

The most difficult part I found was to know where to start and what eco-friendly products are good to use. There are so many environmentally products out there, but finding the best one was a difficult part. I guess trying different things to see what worked for me and what didn’t was the only way to find out. Something might work for someone else, but may not be right for me and vice versa.

Just not enough!

At the very beginning of my journey to becoming greener, I kept feeling I wasn’t doing enough. I then thought there isn’t any point in making lots of big changes that I end up getting annoyed about. Just like when you change your diet, it’s a lifestyle not a temporary change. Therefore taking it easy and making one swap at a time is also more sustainable. You may think making only one change may not have a great impact. Imagine if lots of people only change one thing, it would make massive, positive impact on our beautiful planet earth!

Am I hippie now?

black metal basketball hoop on sea during sunset

I used to hear the word eco and instantly associate it with being a hippy. Before I started to lead a greener lifestyle, I was uneducated in that field hence stereotyped like many others out there. There is nothing wrong with hippies, but I personally didn’t want to be hippie. Leading a eco-friendly life has nothing to do with being a hippie.

Learning about harmful ingredients in cosmetics

Many people talk about harmful or man made chemicals in products. I still don’t know about many ingredients that may be harmful to wildlife or us. I’m still learning. I’ve only recently learnt that paraffin isn’t great. I often look at products whether they have a corrosive sign or any other dangerous sign and try to avoid these where I can.

What I’d like to change next

Takeaway Containers

As some of you may know, my family run the Hong Kong Express Chinese restaurants on the Isle of Wight. Since we offer takeaway and delivery services, we do use plastic containers for the foods to be transported. I’d love to find an eco-friendly alternative that we could use instead of the plastic food boxes. The problem with some the greener alternatives we have tested, leak and are a lot more expensive. If there is a company that does eco-friendly, leak-proof takeaway containers that are also budget friendly, we would love to hear! If you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment bellow or drop me a message via The Thrifty Island Girl fb page.

Cleaning products

As mentioned above, I enjoy using the non-toxic, plant based Method cleaning products, however every time I finish a bottle I, buy a new bottle, which I’d love to reduce. They do refill bottles but the refill bottles seem to be more expensive per liter compared to buying another standard sized bottle of cleaner. I know the company Ethique that makes lovely shampoo bars does household bars in concentrated bars to be dissolved. However their household range is still not available in the UK. I like the idea of concentrated household cleaning bars that can be dissolved in water and come in a paper box instead of plastic. Another must for me is that the cleaners need to smell as lovely as Method products as it really motivates me to clean my home.

My advice for anyone starting their eco-journey

My advice is to take it easy and go at your pace. Don’t let people push you to do something you are uncomfortable with. I would recommend to make one change at a time and only change the things you are comfortable with. One change alone has a positive effect on the planet, so please don’t feel like you don’t do enough.

If you are looking for advice, I recommend to join an eco group such as Jen’s Facebook group Eco Living Community. Jen is a lovely and approachable lady, she also has a website: Eco Living Ideas.