You may have read one of my previous posts about our exciting sustainability project with IKEA and environmental charity Hubbub. We were chosen from around 9,000 families to take part in their #LiveLAGOM project, long with a handful of families from each of IKEA’s UK stores. We were given a budget of £500 to spend on products to make our lives more sustainable.
The project is coming to a close now, so I have been reflecting on the changes we have made and what our next steps will be. You might want to grab a cuppa!
So to recap, the idea of living LAGOM is not about depriving yourself of the nice things in life. It’s about taking care not to waste resources, and not taking what we don’t need.
LAGOM comes from the Swedish phrase ‘lagom är bäst’ (the right amount is best) which means enjoying what you love, while not taking more than you need.
We have always cared about our environment, and have quite a few energy saving measures in place, which you can read about on my original LiveLAGOM post . We also got an Anglian Water audit of our house to try and save water. But we were keen to do more.
WE HAD Four goals:
- Save energy
- Make our home office more cosy
- Reduce food waste
- Get more creative with our recycling
Looking back, I think I may have been a bit optimistic with how much of a difference we could make with £500 worth of stuff, and should probably have narrowed it down to one or two goals. But I am nothing if not enthusiastic!
1. SAVING ENERGY
You can read about how we were getting on at the half way point, but essentially we love our new OMLOPP LED worktop lights, and would recommend them to anyone. We still haven’t put in the new LED spotlights, as we have realised that our old kitchen is not really worth making over. After getting four quotes, it seems like it’ll be throwing good money after bad, so instead, we are looking at replacing the whole kitchen, so we can have exactly what we want, and it will last a lot longer. So we will change the lights whenever we save up for the rest of the project.
We like our new LED bulbs around the rest of the house too (we had two from our £500 budget but have gone back to IKEA and bought more over the past month). We were using the old style spiral eco bulbs that take about half an hour to ‘warm up’ so these new ones are a revelation.
The rechargable batteries are a winner too: although we do have to charge them a lot, we haven’t needed to buy any new ones, or left any old ones out to recycle since January.
2. COSY HOME OFFICE
My little home office is warmer now, thanks to a rug and blanket. This has saved us money on heating bills as I haven’t needed to turn on the heating as much during the day.
So have we saved money as well as energy? Yes, apart from a blip in April.
3. REDUCE FOOD WASTE
We aren’t wasting as much food, thanks to better planning and batch cooking. This means I’m not overbuying food (which then gets wasted) because of panic buying. My fridge looks a lot emptier now but that’s because we actually eat all the food. I plan meals each week, buy what we need, and generally manage to stick to the plan. Of course we sometimes go off the rails but overall we have definitely cut our food bills.
I recommend getting a weekly planner calendar like this one, it has a tear off strip for you shopping list and a space for your to do list (which I haven’t shown as it is too stressful!)
My big new OUMBÄRLIG pot cooks efficiently and will work on the induction hob I am planning to get. It seems to cook faster, even on our awful old electric hob. So it saves me time as well as energy, and that feeling of packing portions into the freezer for another day is just magic.
I’ve been ordering my food shop online much more, which is saving me money as I can’t browse the clothes and homeware section. It also means I don’t have to drag the girls around, and we can do something fun instead. They are extremely happy about that!
I try and choose the ‘green’ delivery slots, and have found that Sainsbury’s now have the option to not have your shopping put into loads of plastic bags, which used to really put me off. You can select no bags, and have bags or boxes ready when it gets delivered. I found washing baskets and good old IKEA blue bags work a treat.
We have (quite a lot of) bananas stashed away in the freezer, waiting to be made into banana bread. If you take the skin off them when they are starting to go black, they keep well in a tub. And Thea and Ava love mashing them up after they’ve defrosted, to make chocolate and banana cake.
Our compost bin is filing up, but not with wasted food now (as it did to start with) but with scraps and teabags (many, many teabags). We also put the grass cuttings in there. I use biodegradable bags to line my mini bin, and they break down well – in fact I store them in an IKEA food bag to stop them degrading in the cupboard before I have a chance to use them!
We still need to get to grips with how to make it rot down more effectively so we can use it on our vegetable plot.
4. Get more creative with our recycling
Our big BESTA cupboard has transformed our dining area. The girls love being able to find junk modelling and art materials and I don’t feel like I’m having a nervous breakdown every time I look at it. You can see their creations in my last LiveLAGOM update.
It lets me access, and therefore actually use, my food processor and slow cooker (and, to a lesser extent, my waffle maker!)
I’ve been inspired to make other changes too…
Aside from the IKEA products, we’ve also made real lifestyle changes, which I think show how much the project has inspired us. I’m attempting to cut as many chemicals out of my beauty regime as I can, and this is harder than it sounds! I have found some good products but it’s a bit of trial and error, and more expensive.
Wonderful castile soap
I’ve started making my own laundry detergent using Dr. Bronner’s lemon liquid castile soap**, soda crystals and bicarbonate of soda. I’ve also replaced the horrible plastic disposable hand soap dispensers with IKEA reusable ones and filling them with diluted castile soap.I’m waiting for some white vinegar to infuse with lemon peel and thyme to make cleaning spray, which will also be mixed with a little castile soap. I need to wait another week for it to be ready, but I did have a sneaky sniff and it made my eyes water. Fingers crossed it will be OK next week…
The ingredients in these are very concentrated and/or cheap so overall this is saving so much money. I’ve also noticed Ava’s eczema seems a bit better too, since I’ve been using the home made laundry detergent.
If you want to try some of these for yourself, I have added the recipes to a Pinterest board.
These chemical-free cleaning solutions are proving to be better than one tip I picked up online, about pouring Coke into your toilet bowl to get rid of limescale. All it did was turn the limescale brown!
The Kon Mari effect
I am attempting to rid our house of some of our clutter, to try and live a more LAGOM life. I have bought the Marie Kondo book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-up to help us live with less, and not hoard. Although I haven’t found time to actually read much of it yet, I am already giving things to charity or friends, and have given a few bags of clothes to H&M to recycle (they give you a £5 voucher for every carrier bag you recycle).
I held a Swishing Party, where a bunch of my friends brought unwanted clothes to my house, and we swapped them for ones we did like. The leftovers went to charity. It makes me smile when I see one of them wearing my cardigan or dress. Especially as it looks better on them.
In hindsight, I wish we had used our IKEA vouchers on a new washing machine, as ours is leaking everywhere, and doesn’t heat the water properly. In the spirit of living Lagom, we had it fixed but it didn’t really work.
The LiveLAGOM project has meant that we have been forced (in the nicest possible way) to do what we planned to achieve our goals. When I am feeling too lazy to go and empty the compost caddy into the compost bin, I remember that I’ll have to report back to IKEA and it gives me a gentle nudge. This in turn makes me realise they are such small, easy things to do that they quickly became a habit. Seeing the other LiveLAGOMMERS’ progress is also a great incentive to keep up the good work.
My goal was to change our lifestyle to make it more sustainable and to give us a happier home, and I think we have definitely achieved that.
So thank you IKEA and Hubbub, without this project we would still be putting up with a poorly lit, dingy kitchen, filled with clutter and junk. We’d be thinking we were ‘doing our bit’ when in fact there was lots more to do. Although the project itself is ending, there is no way that we are stopping this journey.
Although the project itself is ending, there is no way that we are stopping this journey.
*IKEA gave us £500 worth of products to help us live a more sustainable life, but all opinions are my own, as always.
**This link is an affiliate link, which means if you go on to buy the soap I get a few pennies, without it costing you anything extra.