Following on from last month, we tried a different way to look at our impact this month. I found a recycling calculator in the most unexpected place (that’s the power of internet searching!). Despite never having drunk cola, a famous brand had this interesting way to add in items you have recycled, and calculates the power that could have generated. It has a good selection of household items and I suspect I have underestimated what we got through in a week – so our results would be higher.
Feel free to give it a go yourself… https://www.coca-cola.co.uk/stories/recyclometer
I am finding it helpful to get an idea of the impact of an average family, and it’s much easier to describe tangible things like this with the children – I even went as far as saying we could only have the TV on for the hours we create with our recycling, the kids (and Mr Frugal) are still discussing that one!
This post has been sponsored by ENGIE, and written by Mrs Frugal x
So – who knew there was a Clean Air Day?!
Of course, there is a ‘Day’ for everything it seems but this one caught my eye as we have been looking at our car use during June, as part of our Family Life theme. This theme has been an opportunity for us to look at quite a few different things we could change or help us re-focus on things that we’ve been meaning to do but still haven’t got around to…
We knew that we had special plans for #plasticfreejuly – you may have seen we are having a daily idea to help ourselves and others to reduce their single use plastic consumption? You can still sign up to join in and get your daily email worksheet here x
After plastic, our next biggest area to tackle here at Frugal HQ is that we have two large diesel cars – in fact to be totally up front one of them is a van. When we first went with diesel it was after being told that it was the best option for long journeys – which is mostly what we do. Mr F cycles to work, or if he’s out of the office he takes the train as much as possible. He also has to fly on occasion, but we can’t really do much about that…
When baby 4 arrived, we had a problem – our other children were ALL still in car seats which are just really big. Obviously, it’s only safe to make sure they are all using the correct seats, but it meant that we could only fit in our Zafira if we used both the seats in the boot – which in turn meant we then wouldn’t have a boot – so no double pushchair, no dog, no large amounts of shopping etc. We had a roof box, but I couldn’t reach into it and there had been a height/scraping experience already.
Essentially, until our oldest child was tall enough to go without the booster and could be wedged in between two siblings we couldn’t all make a visit to family and as we had a very poorly relative 200 miles away we needed another car. After searching online for an 8-seater car and looking at the costs we got pretty down-hearted – we finally found the perfect vehicle for us in our very own small town! After sorting a bank loan we brought Frosty home, a 9 seater van with a handbrake on the wrong side… it’s taken me a while to get used to driving such a huge vehicle, but it has been so useful for all the times we fill it up to go out and about (which is a lot).
What isn’t so great is how much we all rely on our cars and vehicles to get around, and how much air pollution that causes. I’ve teamed up with ENGIE to take a look at how each of us can reduce the impact we have on the environment in support of Clean Air Day.
You might have seen us over on Twitter talking about this, we had a poll to see how often we all used a car… you can check our account and ENGIE too x The results are quite interesting so far with over 50% of us using the car daily, you can take part yourself or check the most up to date voting here.
So… what to do about it?
Here, at The Frugal Family we are working hard to come up with ideas that save money and save the world so this is an area we can have a big impact in. Here are 5 simple ways ENGIE & Global Action Plan suggest you can reduce your emissions and support Clean Air Day.
1. Switch off the car engine when stationary, especially if stuck in a traffic jam.
2. Regularly service your car; and learn how to check the oil and water yourself.
3. Keep tyres well inflated, your car manual will give you the correct pressures and you can top up at most petrol stations for a small fee.
4. Car-share; especially if you commute into a large town or city, or are going on a long journey with spare seats. We share our planned days out for the school holidays to friends so usually have our spare four seats filled! You can register on LiftShare in the UK, remember to follow their safety guidelines x
5. Test drive + consider buying an electric car, especially if you have a regular known journey and can predict your time/distance. ENGIE offer a green fixed price plan specifically for electric vehicle drivers that offers 100% renewable energy! Learn more here.
And here are some more ideas from us!
• Walk more and research public transport options, particularly special services for local hospitals, airports etc. There is likely to be a scheme to save money by paying ‘up front’ – it will have a weird name, like the Oyster card in London and Mango in Nottingham.
• Find out how much it costs to run your vehicle by the mile/km and use that to make a judgement about each journey. Include tax, insurance, service etc – ours is 55p a mile.
• Combine journey’s as much as possible – to reduce your trips.
• Dust off, borrow or request a bike – buy a helmet and give it a go!
• Check out our Transport ideas for more suggestions x
You can get even more really innovate ideas from the Clean Air Day website here – I was so pleased to get some new ways to reduce air pollution and to breath better air that I had never really considered.
This is one part of our Family Life I really feel I can make a difference to – it will mean a few changes to some of the groups we attend further away and moving to a local one we can walk to, but the Summer really helps with using the car less and so Clean Air Day has come at a good time to remind us all the impact we can have.
What could you change to reduce air pollution?
I’ve been playing with ways to more officially map our impact, somethings you just can’t put into stats and figures, but some things you can… but it’s hard to find ways to do that which are easy to access and understand the results.
For May I used the WWF Carbon Calculator, it’s a very easy system you can complete online. You need to answer quite a few questions about your lifestyle and it can take about 15 minutes. I was really thrilled that we are on track, but the questions also helped me to identify areas we can still work on. There is always more that we can all be doing, but I do think it’s really important to celebrate how far we may have come as individuals or families.
Sometimes I find that my natural butterfly nature means it’s easy to do too much and not take the time to reflect and plan ahead… it’s who I am and I’m so used to being stretched and over extending myself that I’m not sure how to function with regular breaks!
One thing I’m disappointed about here on the website, is that I just couldn’t keep up with weekly reflections on our family impact. So, on reflection I’m going to aim for a monthly report – and we will see how that goes. On a positive note, it’s because so many other exciting things have been starting for The Frugal Family that have taken so much of my time and energy, it’s all good!
So – our recent impact:
- Connecting with over 3,000 people on social media (followers, so possibly more who just ‘pop in’) to share positive environmental messages and ideas
- Starting the Just One Thing series, bringing a wider range of ideas and expertise to our audience and encouraging realistic change
- Creating two new Facebook groups SpendLess, UseLess, DoMore! for general ethical budgeting and Free & Frugal Fun for Kids to help entertain kids on a budget.
- Collaborated on a series of seasonal books to support ethical and frugal living
- At home we have added a new plastic to our recycling that we didn’t know was eligible before!
- We continue to take clothes and shoes that are no longer useful to us to suitable local charities.
- We have given over 20 items away on a local free recycling group – and gained several things we needed as well x
National Hugging Day!
Who can resist celebrating this wonderful day? We certainly can’t here at Frugal HQ, and with the cold weather and a hibernation sensation cuddling up under a quilt sounds pretty perfect. National Hugging Day is on the 21st January every year, and although it started in the US it’s travelled the world with it’s message of kindness and support.
The message also fits with where The Frugal Family is at currently, I’ve been developing ideas about how to best support families who are looking to become more ethical and frugal in 2018. There are a number of ways it could have gone, I was quite taken with the idea of a magazine… but that didn’t feel personal enough, so I’m going to start a membership group called
Plan It, Do It, Love It!
There is already a facebook group (who came up with the name – thanks x) with daily threads and ideas which will continue as it is, but I wanted to be able to have a more personal impact on families that really want to get motivated and start living in action. So… after much deliberation I’m starting a separate group for people that want the nitty-gritty. I think my 15 years of lecturing and as a qualified Life Coach are going to be a great background for the group.
Benefits of joining are:
- Running monthly planning sessions together online to get your calendar under control and support with finding savings and planning ahead.
- Q&A workshops relevant to the monthly theme – this will be linked to the main page theme, but more flexible.
- Exclusive resources.
- Discounts for members with ethical and frugal businesses.
- Guest specialists to help us out through the year.
ALL e-books and courses that the The Frugal Family has solely produced in the shop will be FREE to members. This includes the NEW Meal Planning and Sourcing Your Food 5 Day E-course at £25! which will be available next month.
I would expect you to save or make the fee each month (and more!), or over the year by working hard and completing your monthly ‘challenge’ we set together.
Membership to Plan It, Love It, Do It! will be just £9.99 per month (first month FREE)
or £99.99 for 12 months (2 Months FREE) paid up front .
This is a special price to help us get going and trial a number of ideas on these willing guinea pigs!
The first LIVE month will be March, but you can sign up now to grab your place, and access our Resources Bank and some other fun things for our February Founder Members – including a 1:1 chat with me to get you started.
It’s a really wonderful time of year to start your frugal journey, or to up your game if you are already on the road – and a bit of help with ideas, accountability and self care can only help. I’m using my own experience as the basis for the membership – the things that I wished I’d had access to, I’ve also used several polls in the fb group to see what people want and need to become the ethically frugal family they wish to be.
This confidential and friendly space, with some coaching and support will be a really safe place to discuss ideas and solve problems, with other parents and people who will really ‘get’ it. I hope you can join us, and I’m looking forward to meeting you face to face in our first Zoom meeting. If you sign up you will receive a welcome email with all the details you need.
If you would like to support us, but don’t think membership is for you we have a Patreon account you can sign up to for just £2 per month x
I’ve bundled most of December and even this first week of January into this one post, as Our Impact over this period is much easier to think about as a job lot. This is how I feel we have made an impact…
- Recycled as much as possible with mindfulness over wrapping gifts etc. to reduce unnecessary waste – easier for adults than children…
- Reduced our food order from last year to include treats etc, but again more careful planning meant a lot less waste
- Bought 90% of our gifts from local or small producers including a large percentage from charitable or social enterprises
- Encouraged ourselves and others to have a wider impact in their families and communities with the #frugalactsofkindness calendar which was a big hit here at Frugal HQ
- Kept our budget for gifts, and reduced our card sending again – reducing waste and stress!
- One of our acts of kindness was to share anything spare, and this was perhaps the most visible impact for us – we took a box of biscuits to the local care home, toys and toiletries to a local refuge and lots of other small items to places they could be used and were needed – that’s the spirit of Christmas x
Here’s wishing everyone a very Happy New Year – hope to see you here x
This week we have been working on our daily #frugalactsofkindness, which we believe are having an impact on our local community and also on our family and the balance we are trying to strike between getting stuff for ourselves over Christmas and sharing with others. Some of our impact this week:
- Taking some books to the library for their stocks
- Making bird feeders just in time for the snow
- Taking some food to our local food bank – and making a great connection with a local Youth Homelessness project we didn’t know existed in the next street!
- Supporting over 30 small businesses in our Gifts for £5 and Under post
This week was a bit easier, especially as I now think more about our impact in our daily living… so this week we:
Had a clear out of too small shoes and donated them to shoe aid.
Re-loaned our repayments from KIVA – this is a micro loan site that allows you to support small operations around the world to start their new business. I was given a KIVA token for a birthday, and we enjoyed deciding which project to support, and have enjoyed redistributing the money as it’s repaid. KIVA feature as a gift idea on the first part of our Gifts That Keep On Giving post at Less-Stuff and I would agree it’s a brilliant gift!
Today we also went to a local a school Christmas Fair and Christmas Tree Festival in our town – we bought several presents which supported four small businesses in our area, as well as donating to the school and church via raffles and tombolas. It’s also meant the kids got a run around and some sweets – which is also their perfect Saturday morning!.
We were thrilled to be invited to share our story and plans for the future with Kat from Share Impact. The podcast was great fun to do, and it was also an interesting exercise to speak out loud about The Frugal Family – it’s grown so quickly and talking about the future made it seem very real and very exciting.
This week I’ve really struggled to think of something… we’ve had poorly children and not been in our usual routine. However, as soon as I stopped panicking that my ethical frugal life was a sham and actually thought about it I came up with these things…
We sorted out the Winter Box, and donated the items we no longer needed to a local project – and they will be taken to a refugee camp in Syria to help them get through the harsh Winter.
We have also been collecting toiletries, wash bags and feminine hygiene products to make up toiletry bags for homeless women, and those using three local refuges. This is our annual project in our WI – and it’s a great one. I feel truly touched to have been sent items from friends, family and even from people online I have never met. We have so much I’ve had to buy some more toiletry bags from local charity shops! These are only simple items, but as us women know they make up part of our basic needs, and retaining dignity.
What’s interesting is that I’m now conscious of this experiment, and so it’s at the forefront of my brain to consider the impact we can have, in just two weeks I have started to change my thinking significantly – and that’s the power of being a more conscious spender, consumer, member of planet Earth!