It’s almost, almost March which means spring is almost in sniffing distance – I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely ready to say goodbye to winter. We had a particularly rough one; illness, work stress and anxiety were all present almost on rotation, and at the beginning of February I was completely fed up. But we’ve (hopefully! Touch wood!) got past that now, and I’m starting to focus on exciting spring things; I’ve bought my herb and vegetable seeds and have been reading everything I can find on permaculture, I’ve got a big spring clean planned for later this week and we’re planning exciting things for the Easter and summer holidays. In honour of the warmer months, today I’m sharing my top five sustainable tips for a little spring cheer in your home.
Add some vintage furniture and accessories
Spring is the best time to plan trips to vintage stores, charity shops and car boot sales to find fresh things for your home; these days I try to buy everything for our house second-hand – partly because it’s more budget friendly, but mostly because it means I can avoid buying brand new and contributing to consumerism and waste. I usually take a backpack as well as some reusable bags, because it’s kind of inevitable that you’ll find way more than you’re expecting – and nobody wants to leave that perfect plant pot in the shop! It does help to go with a list – I’m always on the lookout for anything that can be used as a planter (retro sugar bowls make excellent little pots), baskets for storage and any wooden kitchenware. Vintage furniture is also fun to track down – I’ve found everything from beautiful peacock chairs to mid-century sideboards on Gumtree – but be aware that if you’re going to use proper vintage dealers or online shops, things are going to be a bit more pricey.
Pack away the winter
One of my favourite jobs is packing away all our winter things; tea lights, candles, fairy lights, heavy blankets and anything remotely cosy goes into cupboards or boxes in the loft, ready for next year. I reuse cardboard boxes that things have been delivered in, and make sure to wrap everything carefully in old newspaper or saved packaging. Rather than using toxic moth balls and air fresheners, I make simple herb bags from dried rosemary and lavender and pack those in with any textiles. Works a treat!
Forage for blossom and greenery
Winter foliage is always fun to find on walks and little trips out, but there are so many more possibilities in spring and summer. As soon as the blossom appears on the trees, I take a few cuttings from any overhanging branches – they don’t tend to last long and do drop quite badly, so don’t expect the same longevity that you get from bought flowers, but it’s so much more economical and eco-friendly. I also like to snip a few lavender stems from the garden around April – lavender keeps it’s leaves over the winter, but starts to shoot new leaves around then and although there won’t be flowers yet, you can still get that heady scent in your bedroom.
Freshen up cushions and textiles
Once you’ve packed away the heavier winter blankets, throws and cushion covers, it’s always nice to add something lighter for the warmer months; I recently made some linen cushion covers from some fabric I bought on eBay, and I’ve got a good supply of cotton throws that can be used for everything from blankets and wraps to den-building supplies for the kiddos. Charity shops are usually a pretty good source of fabric (lightweight curtains and duvet covers can be turned into ALL THE THINGS), and there are loads of little indie businesses online that stock Fair Trade textiles – I love Woven Riches, which carries everything from cushions and throws to bedding and rugs, all at a really reasonable price.
Whip up some DIY cleaning products
This is something I’ve been meaning to do for ages, and I’m so pleased I’ve finally got round to it. I wrote a few months ago about our adventures in plastic free living, and we’ve been working on reducing plastic and chemicals in our home ever since. I’ve got a whole post on this coming up soon, as well as some reviews on books packed full of tips for sustainable living – but my top tip comes from Jen at Little Birdie; you can make a general cleaning spray by simply mixing 25ml of liquid castile soap with tap water in a 500ml spray bottle. Put the water in first, add the soap, and enjoy wonderful chemical free cleaning! Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be something laced with nasties that make your skin peel and your eyes itch – boxes of soda crystals and bicarbonate of soda, a few (ethically produced) essential oils and some castile soap will set you off on the right track. Pinterest is a brilliant source for DIY cleaning recipes, and you should also definitely check out the brilliant Wendy at Moral Fibres for more green tips.