Tag Archives: Environmental

Reduce Your Household Waste Consumption

The amount of waste us Brits throw away is eye-watering and I wasn’t aware of how much household waste is created.

In March 2020, The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) produced a report which shows how much household waste is currently being produced in the UK each year.

  • It is estimated that the UK generated 41.1 million tonnes of commercial and industrial (C&I) waste in 2016, of which 33.1 million tonnes (around four-fifths) was generated in England. The latest estimates for England only indicate that C&I waste generation was around 36.1 million tonnes in 2017 and 37.2 million tonnes in 2018.
  • The UK generated 221.0 million tonnes of total waste in 2016, with England responsible for 85% of the UK total.

221 million tonnes!

What does this household waste mean?

Let’s put that into context. I’ve got a Seat Leon car which weighs about 1.2 tonnes. That’s about 184 million Seat Leons. That’s a whole lot of household waste and it’s not sustainable at all!

We have become a throw away society. Things can be bought so cheaply now which means the quality isn’t high and certain products don’t last long anymore or they aren’t made to last.

I just want to add that I’m sure there are those who would love to have the money to buy good quality products that last longer but finances dictate your purchases.

In order to reduce what we throw away, we need to be smarter when buying products and looking at the packaging and the quality of the product. WE are the ones who spend the money and WE have a lot more power than we realise.

Companies will create and sell products based on demand, if the demand is dropping off, the product will eventually become obsolete.

The amount of packaging that comes with products is astonishing and it’s these choices we have to adapt.

I’ve been careful about what I buy so my bin isn’t overflowing every week. I’ve been actively reducing my household waste but that isn’t possible for everyone. So, I created a download to help you do just that.

I’ve written how how I’m trying to reduce my consumption you may want to check out

How I became greener in 2020

Ditching tea bags

My Local zero-waste shop

Here’s what I’ve come up with

Here’s my Household Waste Analysis. Each day has its own page covering 10 – 14 days (whichever you choose) and separated into four sections

  • Recycling
  • Composting/Food Waste
  • Donating/Selling online
  • Landfill

Plus, it’s an editable form so you don’t even have to print it off! Last thing I want to do is add to your household waste!

Oh yeah, and it’s FREE! Who doesn’t like a freebie?! Get yours here

Household waste analysis download

Each day you can record what is in your rubbish and save the document. Once you get to the end of the 10 days (or 14 days), you will have a full analysis of what you are throwing away.

When you see it in black and white, it may shock you!

The last page will give you ideas on how you can reduce your waste.

If you’re ready to start reducing your household waste, get your free download below.

I genuinely believe we have a serious consumption issue that we can’t recycle our way out of.

Please do let me know how you get on 💚 💚 💚

7 Eco-conscious Books For Children

I love the idea of encouraging children to read and become eco-conscious. When I was a child, I remember my imagination taking on a life of its own when I would read a book. There’s something really magical about reading and nothing makes me happier than seeing a child with a book in their hand.

This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission.

As children will be inheriting this planet from us, I believe it’s important in encouraging an early understanding of the environment and what we can do to protect it (and ourselves!). They need to be eco-conscious.

I’ve put together a list of environmental reads perfect for children. There’s no time like the present to starting learning about the environment.

What A Waste: Rubbish, Recycling, and Protecting our Planet by Jess French

7 Eco-conscious books for children

Ideal for age 7+

A beautifully illustrated book is filled with facts about the environment; some good, some bad and some ugly. It explains the impact we have on the planet by the things we do; wasting water, renewable energy and examples of single-use plastics we consume everyday. There’s also a section on alternative eco-conscious swaps to reduce your waste.

Buy from Waterstones

Buy from The Book Depository


Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers About Plastic by Katie Daynes (author), Marie-Eve Tremblay (illustrator)

7 Eco-conscious books for children

Ideal for age 3+

A great lift-the-flap book for teaching young children about plastic, how it affects the environment and recycling. The book is 14 pages with over 60 interactive flaps explaining how plastic ends up in the ocean and how it’s made. This is a colourful and informative book for little ones to learn about the environment.

Buy from Waterstones

Buy from The Book Depository


Dear Greenpeace by Simon James

7 Eco-conscious books for children

Ideal for age 3+

Dear Greenpeace by Simon James is such a sweet book about a little girl called Emily who finds a whale in her pond and is worried it is unhappy. She decides to seek advice from Greenpeace by writing to them. Emily clearly has a caring nature and wants the best for her whale.

Buy from Waterstones

Buy from The Book Depository


Charlie and Lola: Look After Your Planet by Lauren Child

7 Eco-conscious books for children

Ideal for age 3+

Charlie and Lola: Look After Your Planet by Lauren Child a lovely book, when Lola is cleaning up her room and Charlie explains to her that we have to keep using things again otherwise we will run out of everything. Lola decides to inspire her class and includes some ‘green promises’. A great read for young eco-conscious activists.

Buy from Waterstones

Buy from The Book Depository


Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins (author), Vicky White (illustrator)

7 Eco-conscious books for children

Ideal for age 5+

A beautifully illustrated book will help children understand the threats animals face, how they become endangered by human behaviour and why it’s important for us to protect them.

Buy from Waterstones

Buy from The Book Depository


Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet by Kate Pankhurst

7 Eco-conscious books for children

ideal for age 8+

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet by Kate Pankhurst is a book with strong female role models from diverse backgrounds, the reader is taken through aspects of recycling, tackling the plastic problem, the importance of shopping fair trade and cruelty-free. Full of hope and encouragement, this book shows everyone has a part to play regardless of how big or small. Any change is still change.

Buy from Waterstones

Buy from The Book Depository


You Can Save The Planet 101 Ways You Can Make a Difference by J. A. Wines (author), Clive Gifford (author), Sarah Horne (author)

7 Eco-conscious books for children

Ideas for age 9+

You Can Save The Planet 101 Ways You Can Make a Difference is a great step-up for young activists to gain a deeper understaning of the destruction of our plants, global warming and the effects of pollution. Explaining the huge problem faced by global warming, it gives children hope as it is packed full with practical and smart ways children can make a differnce in their community.

Buy from Waterstones

Buy from The Book Depository

If you have any recommendations, please feel free to share 💚

For older children, I wrote a blog about a book called  No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg

Why Switching to a safety razor is a great choice

How many razors do you think you’ve disposed of so far? 20? 30? 40? More than that?

Shaving is an area that is incredibly disposable but it’s also one of the simplest eco-friendly swaps you can make. The swap is great for your pocket and the environment.

If you look after your safety razor well, it could last a lifetime and will reduce the number of plastic razors from making its way to landfill.

Disposable razors

In the last 30-40 years, razors have come a really long way: flexible heads, lubricating strips, multipacks, handle grips and even in different colours (a few years it was reported razors marketed towards women were more expensive than those marketed towards men! That’s shocking!).

Once the blade becomes blunt, you have the option of either replacing the whole razor with a brand new one or just the head, both options are wasteful.

They are also made with different materials which can be difficult to separate: Rubber for the grips, metal for the blades, the remaining parts in plastic. The only place they can end up is landfill. In 2019, about 5.5 million people used disposable razors. That’s a whole lot of razors and one massive razor landfill.

What’s the alternative?

Enter the safety razor.

I have a safety razor, which I bought about 18 months ago and I absolutely love it. Here’s a picture of mine with the blades I use.

You may already recognise a safety razor, they’ve been around for well over 100 years and is loaded with a single replaceable blade. The handle twists opening the top where you can easily remove the blunt blade and replace with a new one.

One thing I learnt since having a safety razor is that there’s no such thing has a ‘quick shave’. You really need to take your time and use it carefully.

It didn’t take long to realise that I didn’t need to apply much pressure as the razor is top heavy and does most of the work for you. The beauty of these razors is the blade is sharp on both sides, not just one.

My top tips

  • Exfoliate – Always exfoliate the area first, this will reduce the number of nicks and cuts. I use exfoliating mitts and I love them.
  • Angle – You’ll need to angle the razor about 20 to 30 degrees, that doesn’t mean you take a protractor into the shower, it’s a guide so you know that the razor will need to be used at an angle.
  • Time – Make sure you take your time, as it’s top heavy, it will do most of the work for you anyway.
  • Recycle the blade – Although the blade is metal, it could be put in with your recycling but check with your local recycling centre as they may have a safety deposit disposal bank. The blades are so small that they hardly take up any space if you need to save them up first.

If you have made the switch or are planning to make the switch, let us know 💚

Decluttering my clothes

I have too many clothes! There, I said it! Not something a female would admit to, but there it is. It’s a fact.

I can easily declutter anything else around my home but I seem to be unable to part with my clothes. For most of my adult life until I had a child, I was size 12. Once I had my daughter, I’ve become a size 14. Being a bigger size has never bothered me, I’m happy with my figure and don’t see the point in stressing out about it. I don’t bother dieting so there isn’t a likelihood that I will one day magically fit into my size 12 clothes. But, I still can’t bear to part from them, whether they fit me or not.

Even clothes that still fit me, I probably haven’t worn for a year or two. I’ve got a few size 14 evening dresses in my wardrobe but I don’t go anywhere to wear them; what’s the point in keeping them. The whole ‘I may wear it one day’ reason is getting old.

I recently read about the environmental impact ‘fast fashion’ is having on the planet. Brand new clothes can be bought so cheaply, in most cases, the quality is incredibly low and is discarded after a few months. Some materials used to make clothes don’t degrade and will sit in landfill, possibly for centuries.

I’m self-employed and work from home so I don’t have to worry about dressing for the office; I practically live in jeans. A while ago, someone conducted an experiment where all the denim was removed from a pair or stretch jeans and what do you think was left? Plastic! It looked like a plastic skeleton shaped in a pair of jeans. To say I was horrified was an understatement. I didn’t realise how much plastic was in a pair of jeans. Since then, I repair my jeans.

So this is year, I’m going to do something about decluttering my wardrobe.

On 1st January, I have turned all hangers around and throughout the year, I will pick my clothes, as usual. By the end of the year, any hangers still facing the other way will be donated to a charity shop. If I have no use for it, someone else will.

Decluttering my clothes

Recently, I’ve started buying clothes from a charity shop and I’m a big fan of ‘make do and mend’ (I’m not great with a sewing machine but it’s all practice).

For years the last 20 years, I randomly bought clothes not realising the environmental impact of my choices.

We all need to do better.

I will do a blog next year to see how I got on.

My blog has been listed Top 15 UK Sustainable Living Blogs And Websites To Follow in 2021

Environmental Awareness Days 2021

Everyday there seemed to be an ‘International day of xxx’ or ‘National day of xxx’ and in 2020 there were quite a few that I had missed. So I thought I would do a calendar for 2021.

Although, this isn’t a complete list, I’ve tried my best to include awareness dates for when they would be usually be held but with coronavirus, these could be delayed or even cancelled until next year.

January

  • Veganuary 1st January to 31st January – This has been going for a few years now and the idea is to only eat vegan food throughout the month of January. This is a good opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint, see how you get on being a vegan for a month and to try different foods.
  • Big Garden Birdwatch – 29th January to 31st January – Organised by the RSPB, you can spend an hour in the park or garden, making a note of the birds and how many you see. By submitting this information to the RSPB, it allows them to monitor the challenges faced by wildlife and whether the population of a particular breed is growing or in decline. Click on the link and you can sign up.
  • Houseplant Week UK – 11th January to 17th January – Houseplants are brilliant at purifying the air, this week is a perfect opportunity to find out which houseplant to buy. A good place to start is a blog I wrote last year about houseplants.
  • Big Energy Saving Week – 18th January – 24th January -This week is dedicated to cutting your energy use and how to save money lead by the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in partnership with the Energy Saving Trust and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. The website is full of tips and ideas.

March

  • Compost Week – 15th March to 21st March – As the name suggests, this week is dedicated to composting and its benefits. Composting is becoming quite popular and it’s really healthy for your garden.
  • The Great British Spring Clean – Usually around 22nd March to 23rd April – Encouraging you to pledge whatever time you have, even if its an hour, and use that time to go litter picking or join a litter picking group. Keep an eye on their website for 2021 dates, it’s usually held in March/April but in 2020 it was held in September.

April

  • Discover National Parks Fortnight – Around 4th April – 19th April – There are secret coves and ancient forest to explore all around the UK. This is a brilliant opportunity to discover a new place and get some fresh air into your lungs.
  • Community Garden Week – 5th April to 11th April – This week takes the opportunity to celebrate school and community gardens up and down the country. Working together and inspiring each other, what’s not to love?
  • Earth Day – 22nd April – The Earth Day network is a global effort to work together and their mission to ‘To build the world’s largest environmental movement to drive transformative change for people and planet‘ (https://www.earthday.org/about-us/). This movement has been going since 1970. You can sign up to their newsletter and keep up to date with their progress and campaigns.

May

  • No Mow May – 1st May to 31st May – I found out about this campaign last year and it’s a fabulous idea. The idea is that you don’t mow your lawn for a whole month, allowing flowers to bloom which is vital source of nectar for bees and other insects. You can even construct a ‘scaremow’ – click on the link to the National Trust Website to find out more.
  • National Children’s Gardening Week – 29th May to 6th June – What better way to get your children interested in gardening. It’s fun for all the family and gets you out into the fresh air, what’s not to love?
  • Bike Week – 30th May to 5th June – In partnership with Cycle UK, this is a campaign to celebrate cycling and the benefits. Also, a fabulous way to reduce your carbon footprint!

June

  • World Environment Day – 5th June – ‘The foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature.’ (https://www.un.org/en/observances/environment-day). This year’s theme is biodiversity and with everything that is going on with the planet, it’s very appropriate.
  • World Oceans Day – 8th June – Raising awareness of the vital importance our oceans play and how it helps to sustain a healthy planet. There is much in the media about plastic in the ocean and the effects our choices have on the oceans. Sign up to get involved.
  • National Refill Day – 19th June – I remember this from 2020. In an effort to prevent plastic pollution, this campaign encourages us to make the switch from single-use plastic bottles to reusable ones. I, for one, am already on board and have quite a few reusable bottles already!

July

  • Plastic Free July – 1st July to 31st July – I love this global campaign which encourages us to make changes to reduce our plastic use. I even wrote a blog about what I did for 2020. Small changes make a massive difference and I would encourage everyone to make a change. Their website is full of ideas.
  • Plastic Bag Free Day – 3rd July – This is a global campaign to eliminate the use of single-use plastics which is part of the Break Free From Plastic movement. I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought a plastic bag! Their website also has some interesting facts about the different types of plastic used in bags.
  • Don’t Step on a Bee Day – 10th July – Bees are so crucial to the ecosystem that I’m in the process of writing a blog about why they are important and what they do. Bees are precious and need protecting.

August

  • National Allotments Week – 9th August to 15th August – This week is to celebrate the importance of allotments and their benefits; growing and cooking your own food should be a life skill. The theme for 2021 is ‘plotting for the future’ highlighting how allotments contribute to a sustainable future.

September

  • Organic September – 1st September to 30th September – This campaign aims to bring awareness by trying organic food and to educate people about farming practices in growing organic food.
  • Recycle Week – 20th September to 26th September – As the name suggests, it’s a week to promote and encourage recycling. Full details are yet to be released for 2021 so the dates could change, last year’s theme was ‘Recycling. It’s in our hands’.

October

  • Unblocktober – 1st October to 31st October – This was one I had never heard of before. This campaign promotes awareness for our drains, sewers and waterways by changing your habits at home. The amount of things people put down their drains that can cause blockages is alarming. I remember watching a programme last year about the damage baby wipes can do to drains. Their website has some brilliant ways to make these changes.
  • No Disposable Cup day – 4th October – as the name suggests, it asks everyone not to take a disposable cup for that day. Personally, I think everyday should be disposable cup day!
  • National Clean Air Day – 8th October – Their website states 36,000 a year in the UK die from air pollution, that’s shocking! As well as stats, their website provides information on how you can get involved.

December

If there are any other events that you feel should be mentioned, please do let me know 💚

Ditching tea bags

Following a program that aired on the BBC and the discovery how much plastic there are in tea bags, I am so glad I’ve made the change to loose tea.

Firstly, I would like to state that I’m a tea-loving brit. I work from home and probably have about six cups of tea a day so there was no way I was giving up tea forever, I needed a solution.

My partner works for a food distribution company who supply restaurants, pubs and cafes food and beverages. Luckily for me, he is able to purchase these items too and asked him to source loose tea (sometimes at large discounts).

The only issue I have from ordering from my partner’s workplace is that it comes in a plastic bag that can’t be recycled, not really helpful! Once I’ve finished the bag I’ve got, I will be trying out different companies in the UK to find the one I like.

For someone who has always used tea bags the transition to loose tea wasn’t as smooth as I thought it would be. Making tea from loose tea leaves…how hard could that be?

Firstly, I bought a pack of three tea infuser strainers from Amazon. They seemed to be perfect; scoop up tea leaves, leave them to hot water and remove…until they broke, that didn’t last long!

I refused to give up so I looked for a teapot infuser. I found in Sainsbury’s and I was very happy with the results. I’d forgotten that there could be some leaves at the bottom of the mug but that is expected from loose tea anyway. Word of warning; don’t drink every last drop from your mug unless you want a mouthful of tea leaves!

It took a while to figure out how many spoonfuls of tea I would need to make a round for guests but as I post this, we are in a pandemic and haven’t had many, if any, visitors. I will worry about that later. I’ve figured out how to make a cuppa for myself and have it down to a fine art.

Also, the bonus is that I know there is no plastic in this and can confidently put this in my compost bin.

There are so many places in the UK that sell loose tea leaves and some offer 10% off your first order. I’m also on the lookout for companies so if you have a recommendation, please let us know.

The change from tea bags to loose tea may be little but it still makes a difference to the environment.

Plastic Recycling Symbols

Have you ever looked at a plastic bottle and seen a triangle with number? Ever wondered what they mean?

Although, it would be better to try to avoid using plastic altogether, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a little guide to help.

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). What is it used for? – Soft drinks bottles, food packaging. This plastic is easy to recycle

High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). What is it used for? – Milk cartons, cleaning products, yoghurt pots. This plastic is easy to recycle

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). What is it used for? Pipes, Electrical cables, insulation. This plastic is difficult to recycle.

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE). What is it used for? Shopping bags, wraps for magazines. It can be recycled…just about.

Polyethylene (PP). What is it used for? Butter and margarine tubs, food trays, carpet fibres. Easy to recycle.

Polystyrene (PS). What is it used for? Plastic cutlery, takeaway packaging, insulation. Difficult to recycle.

This is the ‘other’ category. This will include the other packaging that is incredibly difficult to recycle; crisp packets, salad bags

You may have noticed that the text for each of these are separated into three colours; Green, Orange and Red, this determines the ease or recycling that plastic.

Green – Recyclable

Orange – Recycled at specialist points

Red – Not easy to recycle and will most probably end up in landfill

One important aspect to bear in mind that if something is easy to recycle, this is more likely if it isn’t attached to a layer of another type of plastic. Mixing plastics comes with a new set of problems.

The best thing to do is to reduce the amount plastic you buy, where you can.

Plastic in tea bags

Us Brits are tea-lovers. We love our tea; we have it with cakes, biscuits, toast and we can even go to expensive shops to have luxury ‘afternoon tea experience’. When we’re sad we have a cuppa, when we are happy we have a cuppa, when we go to a friend’s house, guess what…we have a cuppa.

But, do you think about the tea bag?

When you discard your teabag, where you do put it? Bin? Compost heap? Food waste? Nope, the only place is landfill because some brands use plastic to make their tea bags and some could be leeching micro plastics.

Just what you want, you’re enjoying a nice cup of tea and, unknowingly, your cuppa has millions of micro plastics swimming around in there. Yuck!

About three months ago, I found out about plastic in tea bags and I was mortified. I had put my tea bags in the compost and they don’t actually belong there. Of course, all brands are different so it’s worth checking the label but, in my experience, if a company is doing something they shouldn’t be doing, they won’t be very vocal about it. So, I changed to tea leaves. It took a while to get used to but I can’t ever imagine going back to tea bags.

My decision to move to loose tea leaves was further reaffirmed by a recent BBC programme called War on Plastic presented by Anita Rani and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Anita investigated the claim of plastic in tea bags this with the help of the team at University of East Anglia (UEA). The team of scientists aimed to dissolve six of the UK’s biggest tea bag brands to see what was left. Some dissolved completely and some tea bags left, what looked like, a plastic skeleton.

There are even some tea bags that aren’t made of paper at all – they’re entirely plastic! A team in Canada conducted a study on these tea bags where billions of micro plastics and nano plastics were found in the cup of tea. How gross!

The thought of these floating around my cuppa makes me feel sick and with all the plastics found in the oceans, I wouldn’t be surprised if micro plastics have already entered our food chain. Who knows what damage these will all do to our fragile bodies.

I think I will stick to my loose tea leaves.

Make Your Own Food Mesh Bags

Over the last year, whenever I go to the supermarket, I make a conscious effort to avoid fruit and veg in plastic wrapping. Apart from wanting to cut down on my overall plastic, this all started with some lemons!

I went into my local supermarket and, as well as making my usual purchases, I wanted a lemon. Yes, that’s correct, A lemon, just one. After searching carefully, wanting to ensure I hadn’t missed the loose lemons, all I could find was a netted bag of four lemons. What on earth would I do with the three other lemons? Why am I being forced to buy more than I needed. I got in a right huff, paid for my shopping and left…without any lemons, I might add.

Looking back on it, it sounds really silly getting annoyed about some lemons. I wanted a single lemon, surely, that’s not a lot to ask for?

Since then, whenever I’ve got to the supermarket and need fruit or veg, I buy them loose and leave them rolling around in my trolley because I haven’t got a little mesh bag to put them in.

Fast forward to now.

I needed some mesh bags for my shopping but reluctant to buy them brand new. I’ve been trying to buy second-hand where I could and I had an idea.

I went to my local charity shop and bought a pair of net curtains for £1.50p – bargain. I got home and out came my sewing machine.

And for my first attempt, these are the pictures. Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

Goodies from My Garden

Back in March, I wrote a blog called Busy in the garden where I intended to starting planting in the garden. Even though I had planted potatoes last year, I hadn’t watered them enough and most of them grew with small holes in them, they looked like blocks of cheese…lesson learnt for this year.

I also purchased some strawberry plants a few days before the UK was placed on lockdown due to Covid-19. I had never planted strawberries before and was reliably informed that this is one of the easiest things to grow. For someone who has killed a cactus, that’s quite reassuring!

So, how have I been getting on? Let’s start with the potatoes

Check these out!! I have to say that there is something very satisfying about growing your own food. It was like finding treasure! We mainly have mashed potatoes and they tasted delicious.

Onto the Strawberries, how did we get on?

Check out the size of these? Just to clear things up, I didn’t just get two, these were the first ones I picked. My little one and I love strawberries so we have been eating a few every day. As well as being able to nip into the garden to get some strawberries, we don’t have to buy them from the shop anymore (I will only eat them when they’re in season and from my garden), one thing that always bothered me was the amount of plastic packaging that comes with strawberries. I appreciate that they bruise easily but there must be another way. Anyway, for us, that’s not a problem anymore!

Growing this food has most definitely given me a confidence boost to grow more food next year, I was thinking about giving cauliflower a go and maybe spring onions.

I have to make sure I don’t go nuts; I don’t have a particularly big garden!

Green Infrastructure

One of my recent assignments was to put together a report to a local, fictitious council making the case for the benefits of green infrastructure in a town and ways the town could become more sustainable in the future.

For those who aren’t familiar with the term ‘green infrastructure’, this term relates to a network of multi-functional green spaces. It doesn’t just refer to parks and open spaces, it also incorporates trees along the pavement, living roofs and walls, allotments as well as bodies of water such as rivers, streams, canals (sometimes referred to blue infrastructure).

I found this module really interesting, I had never thought about green spaces in my local area, I took for granted that everywhere I lived, I lived near a park and had trees. I was surprised to learn how green infrastructure is key to our lives and our future. Why didn’t I learn the basics in school?

Urban Cooling

Trees and green infrastructure plays an important part in reducing urban temperatures. Areas that have trees help reduce the temperature in the local area providing evapotranspiration and shading. Trees play a vital role in reducing the temperature of the air in parks and green areas.

Habitat and Biodiversity

When you have green, you’ll have nature. Green infrastructure plays a crucial part in urban biodiversity by providing habitats for insects, birds and other species allowing them to have a home and thrive. This also plays a part in environmental awareness by local residents.

Air Quality

As trees remove gases from the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides and ground-level ozone, they are vital in reducing greenhouse gases and improve air quality. If more trees were planted, what do you think would happen to some of our respiratory issues?

Water Systems and Flow Management

Roads with green verges and trees play a vital role in water and flood management on the road. When it rains, a lot of the rainwater will be soaked up by the trees and verges and helps with flood management, if there are no green infrastructure, the rainwater has nowhere to go and usually ends up flooding roads and even homes. Roads with green infrastructure reduce the water’s runoff rate and slows down the pressure placed on the drainage system by soaking up the water.

Mental Health Benefits

Green spaces are spaces where people can leave their homes and encourages outdoor activities including walking, cycling, playing sports with friends, having a picnic, social interaction and other recreation. Some studies have shown that green spaces reduces the feeling of stress, improves your ability to concentrate and mood by providing a calm space away from the stresses sometimes caused by everyday life. These spaces are especially beneficial to children.

If you have a large tree in your garden and the only issue you have is that it’s blocking some light in your garden or you think it looks a little messy, think about whether you really need to cut off any branches or if you are caught in the rain and seek shelter under a street tree, or you decide concrete over your garden and haven’t considered where the rainwater will go when it hits the hard surface. Think about how important the green infrastructure around you plays a vital part in your life.

Things I No Longer Buy

Over the past year, I’ve become more aware of my carbon footprint which has made me make some changes in my life. The things we buy have a carbon footprint; production, transport etc so I’ve stopped buying certain items I realised I personally didn’t need anymore

Plastic Bottles

I’ve actively refuse to buy drinks in a plastic bottle. I have quite a few reusable bottles and when I go out with my daughter, I make sure I fill up a bottle for her. She also has a water bottle she takes to school everyday. When my partner comes home from a football match after eating his fried chicken on the train, he always buys a plastic bottle on water. I’ve used this bottle for things like watering the plants in the house. Ideally, I would prefer if he took a water bottle with him…I’m working on it!

Shopping Plastic Bags

Reusable bags can be bought from anywhere and there is no excuse to have to purchase plastic carrier bags from the supermarket. It helps if you have a few bags in your handbag, car, workplace desk. They will always come in handy.

Strawberries

I know this is going to sound like a weird one but I love eating strawberries and they are always sold in the plastic tub with a sheet of bubble wrap at the bottom. I know strawberries can be easily bruised and need protection but this packaging really irks me. I started growing strawberries in my garden and although I won’t be able to eat strawberries all year round, when they’re in season, I nip out to the garden and pick what I want.

Clothes

The only time I buy clothes brand new is when I need underwear, which isn’t that often anyway. Some friends and family turn their noses up at charity shops but it’s never bothered me. Quite a few months ago I needed a hat a scarf, I washed my hat and shrunk, a lot! I found a hat and scarf for £2 each, bargain! I bought a pair of jeans for £3. I even buy furniture too.

Cling Film

I’ve stopped using cling film a while ago and I’m trying to get my Mum to do the same. For leftover food, I put the food in reusable plastic containers or reusable wraps. There are plenty on the market to choose from.

Dishcloths

I don’t buy new dishcloths anymore, I just chuck them in the washing machine with the rest of the washing.

Loose fruit and veg

I make a conscious effort to buy loose fruit and vegetables at the supermarket. I will never understand why buying four apples loose costs more than buying four apples in plastic wrap. I think it’s something to do with the grade of the item but I think it’s just a cop out. Give us more choice.

Making changes to our habits takes time, when we realise we’ve changed your shopping habits, we need to keep adding more. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

What things have you given up?

What I did for Plastic Free July 2020

On the run up to July 2020, I started noticing the hashtag #PlasticFreeJuly. For someone who has been making changes in an effort to reduce plastic use, I am embarrassed to admit I had never heard of them before.

Based in Australia, Plastic Free July started in 2011 and have an amazing website offering a wealth of ideas of how you can reduce your plastic use at home, school, work, businesses and within local communities. If you’re stuck of ideas, check out their ‘What Others Do’ page for some fantastic inspiration.

In light of this, I decided to take on the #PlasticFreeJuly challenge. I started looking at what changes I could make to reduce my plastic use.

Fruit and Veg

Every Tuesday and Thursday, there is a fruit and veg stall and when I need something, I buy from the stall (#SupportLocal). When I used to buy fruit and vegetables at the supermarket, I found it frustrating that the only options available to me was pre-packaged and, in most cases, more than what I needed. At least buying from a stall, I can buy what I needed. However, the downside I found was that they offer to package your items in a plastic carrier bag. Nope, not for me. I have a small bag that I leave in my bag I only use for loose food. I also started growing my own strawberries at home so no need to buy them.

Tea Bags

I’m a tea-loving Brit and after the shock of discovering that some teabags contain micro plastics, the thought of little bits of plastic swimming around in my tea made me feel a little queasy. In light of this new information, a solution was urgently needed. After some research, it turns out that there are some brands who advertise their products don’t contain plastic but one thing I’ve been aware of in the past, not necessarily by tea bag brands, is that when a company changes something about their product, they aren’t always as vocal or transparent as they should be about the changes. I guess, as a consumer, I’m not that trusting. Therefore, I found a place that sells loose tea. I had to buy a tea infuser and using loose tea did take a bit of getting used to but I don’t notice it anymore.

Waxing

I’ve been waxing since my teens and I’ve always used wax strips available in shops, yes, that ones that can’t be recycled. So, I decided to convert to sugar waxing, however, I don’t think I use sugar waxing how it was intended. I appears that you should roll up a ball, smooth it on your skin and pull it off quickly, I found that hurts WAY TOO MUCH. I quickly realised that I needed strips of some sort so I cut up a cotton shirt my partner no longer needed into strips and used them instead. I’m not going to lie, it still hurts but I don’t feel like my skin is being ripped off like shop bought wax strips and it’s made of natural ingredients; sugar, lemon, salt and water. It’s a lot cheaper too, to wax both of my legs cost me eighty pence. Bargain and nothing to landfill!

I’m really happy about the changes I’ve made so far and I won’t be waiting until next July to make more changes, I will continue to do so until I can reduce my plastic use as much as I possibly can. What changes did you make for #PlasticFreeJuly?

Are we really killing the planet?

Before you start attacking me, just hear me out.

Due to human activity, we are accelerating climate change, I believe this to be true. Global warming has occurred in Earth’s history, the difference is that we, humans, are accelerating it. But I began looking at it differently since I started studying for an BSc in Environmental Science.

We aren’t killing the planet; we are killing life on the planet. Two very different things but just as serious.

The earth is 4.6 billion years old and has survived five mass extinctions:

  1. Ordovician–Silurian extinction – 439 million years ago
  2. Late Devonian extinction – 364 million years ago
  3. Permian–Triassic extinction – 251 million years ago
  4. Triassic–Jurassic extinction – 199 million to 214 million years ago
  5. Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction – 65 million years ago (Asteroid)

From my studies, the third mass extinction, Permian–Triassic extinction, which was the deadliest, wiped out about 75% of life on land and 95% of life in the ocean. 95%, that’s huge! Especially since life actually began in the oceans and made its way onto land. Despite this devastation, some form of life was still able to continue and evolved. The fifth mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs wasn’t as devastating as the third one and that was due to an asteroid colliding with earth.

Whenever the planet has experienced an extinction, Earth has always been able to regenerate itself and there is no reason to believe it can’t do that again. However, I do wonder whether humans will be part of the future. Although we are an arrogant species wielding the superiority sword, we are also incredibly fragile. A little fact I learned during my studies; 95% of ALL life that has EVER lived on earth is extinct.

It is believed by some that we are in the sixth extinction event, Holocene extinction. As our CO2 parts per million is at the highest level than at any recorded time in the past, something has to give. We are on a path of destruction and the crazy thing is that not everyone is on board with this.

We humans really do need to change our habits instead of playing lip service. I don’t believe we, humans, can stop the sixth extinction. However, we do have the capability to slow if we all worked together. The painful truth is that the officials we elect have so much power and are able to make colossal changes but they just aren’t doing enough. In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy to in the world to pass a law requiring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 and we’re not even the richest economy in the world!

I believe in science, and no one knows how this is going to play out. Scientists are providing us with their best predictions based on various models but these are being readjusted because certain factors are accelerating the problem. There will always be variable factors; number of people living on the planet, the next pandemic and the resulting loss of life.

I’m still at the early stages in my educational journey, maybe my views may change along the way. That’s what I want out of my education; learning, listening to different opinions and forming my own conclusions based on the facts in front of me.

Geologists can tell a lot about history from rock layers built up over millions and millions of years. In the very distant future when more intelligent species start investigating the planet’s past, they will find our legacy in the rocks, a thin layer of plastic pinpointing the age of humans.

UK Cities pledging to become carbon neutral

Cities in the UK are looking how they can transition to becoming carbon neutral in the future.

The climate has been a long standing issue, however, more recently, this issues has become more urgent and voices (rightly so) have become louder. Protests, demonstrations, documentaries and even celebrities are lending their names and voices to the cause. Things really do need to change and one of the primary places for real change will be from government.

As the debate for climate change is becoming harder to ignore, government and local authorities are starting to take notice, albeit, slow. In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy to in the world to pass a law requiring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Even before this became law, there were some UK cities that pledged to become carbon neutral ahead of the governments 2050 target, lets explore these cities.

Glasgow

Following a report by the Climate Emergency Working Group’s 61 recommendations, the city decided to adopt of the recommendations and have pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030. If you would like to read the report, here is a link.

Nottingham

Having declared a climate emergency in 2018, Nottingham City Council are committed to becoming the first ‘net-zero carbon’ city after setting a target of achieving this by 20208. If they achieve this, they will become the UK’s first city to do so. They have set out how they plan to do this, for more details, follow the link.

Bristol

In 2018, Bristol pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030. Bristol was the first council in the UK to declare a climate emergency. City Leap was set up between the council and Bristol Energy in order to bring together local businesses with a view to working together to achieve their target.

More and more cities have started to make their own pledges in becoming carbon neutral, in some cases, way before the governments 2050 date. Reading about cities taking responsibility for their own carbon emissions is a positive step in the right direction. If cities end up competing with each other as to who is greener, surely that can only be a good thing…

How Long Does Plastic Last?

I recently saw pictures on the news of all the litter (most of it plastic) left on some UK beaches after a week long heatwave…during a pandemic!

Along with many other people, I was dismayed and disgusted at the mess left behind by a lot of the beach visitors.

The only way to describe it… a sea of plastic on the sand.

As plastic has been woven into every part of our lives, a fair assumption that majority of the rubbish is likely to be plastic; food packaging, plastic bags, plastic bottles and how much of this rubbish has already made its way into the sea?

When our everyday rubbish enters the sea, how long does it take to decompose in the ocean? This doesn’t include the damage caused by the microplastics during decomposition.

According the the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, the below shows how long it takes for certain items to decompose.

HOW LONG DOES PLASTIC LAST?

There are some images of wildlife being tangled up in our rubbish in Greenpeace’s website.

The plastic doesn’t only affect the wildlife, it will also enter our food chain, if it hasn’t already. Plastic bags break into smaller pieces and eventually become micro plastics which will eventually be ingested by fish. It’s inevitable this plastic will wind up on our plates, but that doesn’t seem to be a concern.

I wonder whether this issue will be taken more seriously when the micro plastics we ingest will start affecting our health? What could microplastics do to the human body?

If you’re interested in reading about what I’m doing to be greener, check out my blog and if you’re interested in signing up to my newsletter, click here. I promise not to spam you.

What’s the issue with Palm Oil?

Over the last few years I’ve seen articles and videos about Palm Oil and how it’s bad for the environment.

I don’t know what palm oil actually is and how can something that is found in so many everyday products be bad for the environment. What is it? Where does it come from? What everyday products contain it? Is sustainable palm oil really sustainable? What are the alternatives?

As someone who is studying towards a BSc in Environmental Science, I’m learning to question the source of a statistic; are they showing us the whole picture and what is their agenda.

Some organisations will only tell us what they want us to know because it fits within the agenda, that can sometimes mean the reader has been misled. I want to find out for myself what’s the issue with palm oil.

What is Palm Oil?

Palm oil is a vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of the oil palm tree. It’s scientific term is Elaeis guineensis. It’s quite cheap and therefore popular.

Where does it come from?

Although, Oil Palm trees are native to Africa, they are now grown in almost all tropical climates around the world close to the equator, within 10 degrees north or south, and part of tropical rainforests that are rich in biodiversity. According to greenpalm.org, the top five biggest producers of palm oil in 2015 were; Indonesia: 33.4 million tonnes, Malaysia: 19.9 million tonnes, Thailand: 1.8 million tonnes, Colombia: 1.2 million tonnes and Nigeria: 0.94 million tonnes.

How is palm oil produced?

I think to understand it’s apparent link to deforestation, we need to briefly look at how it’s produced. In order to produce palm oil, forests, including their inhabitants, need to be cleared. You may be familiar with seeing images of Orangutans in relation to palm oil deforestation. The seeds are then planted to create a plantation and takes about four to five years for oil palms to grow to a point where their fruit is ready to be harvested. The tree will then produce fruit for about thirty years. In a video produced by GreenTV, it claims 45% of the producers of palm oil are smallholders lifting them out of poverty.

What everyday products contain palm oil?

According to an article by GoodToKnow, the following products contain palm oil; Wall’s Soft Scoop Ice Cream, Dairy Milk chocolate and Maltesers, Flora Buttery margarine, Ritz crackers, Batchelors Super Noodles, Head and Shoulders shampoo, Dove original soap and much more.

How to identify if a product contains palm oil?

There are many products that use palm oil but isn’t always clear on the label.

Different names for palm oil

I had a look around my bathroom and, based on the above list, the following everyday products contain palm oil; Cien Aloe Vera Bath soap (Sodium Palm Kernelate), Carex Original handwash (Sodium Laureth Sulfate), Colgate Max White White Crystals Toothpaste (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate), Cien Baby Shampoo (Sodium Laureth Sulfate), Oilatum Junior Bath Additive (Isopropyl palmitate), Maybelline Dream Brightening Creamy Concealer (ethylhexyl palmitate). The ingredients were on the item, the only one where it wasn’t displayed on the pack (probably on the cardboard box) was the toothpaste which why there’s a hyperlink to the product. 

Is sustainable palm oil really sustainable?

It’s causing a lot of damage to the environment and the reliance we have come to for palm oil is staggering.

There needs to be a solution but I don’t know what it is.

Homemade Mickey Mouse Cushion

A milestone in my daughter’s life; she moved from a toddler bed to a single bunk bed. Apart from the excitement of sleeping in a new bed, this also meant a whole new set of bedding; duvet, duvet cover, fitted sheets. For the first time, she got to choose what designs she wanted.

I was eventually left with a problem. What do I do with her old duvet?

I recall a notice at the recycling place stating they don’t accept duvets so my problem now was what I was going to do with it. Putting it in the rubbish and throwing it out wasn’t an option. From learning as much as I have about the environment, I know there is no thing as ‘out’. I put the duvet to some side and put my thinking cap on.

I think it must have been in the cupboard for a few days until I had that light bulb moment. My daughter was sitting on her bed leaning against the bars of her bunk bed and she said the bars were hurting her back as she leaned against them while she was looking at books.

I could make a large cushion! I’ve got loads of Mickey Mouse fat quarters, a sewing machine and pins. I had everything I needed.

I will be honest, I had no idea how to make a cushion. I explored a few videos on YouTube but I decided to go for it. I’m not a professional and it’s for my daughter, it’ll be unique.

It was easier to cut out squares and make the cushion cover to resemble a patchwork cover. That was easy enough, I’ve done that before. However, I’d forgotten how slow this bit usually takes.

But it was worth it.

After a few hours, the cover was finished. I folded up the duvet so I could fit it in the case. I have to say, this did take a while trying to get fit but it worked.

And here’s the finished product. I know it’s not perfect and the edges aren’t quite right but my daughter loves it and now she has a cushion to lean on while she’s reading.

Doing this project made me realise there is a lot of things we throw away that we could re-purpose, if we really thought about it.

If you have a look on the internet, there are so many ideas for re purposing items; old pallets made into planters, plastic bottles into vases, even up cycling old furniture with a bit of TLC.

Have you repurposed something? Share your ideas

Alternatives to Cling Film

Majority of homes in the UK will have cling film in their kitchens. Used to wrap sandwiches and cover left over food, we’ve been using this product for decades. It’s not a friend to the environment and there are alternatives out there.

What exactly is cling film?

Cling film is a single use plastic that cannot be recycled. As with other plastics, it is harmful to the environment. As it breaks down, the particles get smaller but will never fully disappear. The smaller the particle, the more chance of it being ingested by animals and even a possibility of it entering our food chain.

Cling film is usually made from Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and there has been some concern about these materials attaching to food and drink. It’s believed the main issue arises when it’s heated up in the microwave.

I stopped using cling film about a year ago and although I’ve still got a roll in my kitchen drawer, the thought of using it makes me a little queasy. I’m not sure what I will do with it but it’s in the drawer not getting in anyone’s way.

What are the alternatives

Lunch box of fruit

Another thing I’ve done before is to cover the dish containing the leftovers with a plate or a bowl. I’ve done this for years and I know my mum does too. The benefit of this is that you can stack another dish on top.

Something that has appeared in the last few years are silicone lids. I have never tried these myself but I’ve heard some really good things about them. They come in different colours, shapes and sizes allowing them to cover dishes in various sizes. As someone who hasn’t tried them yet, I can’t personally recommend them but the small downside I can see is that you can’t stack on top of them. Although, that is a small price to pay for saving the environment.

I have been told wax paper is a brilliant alternative to cling film. It works very well with wrapping cold foods, but don’t use it for anything hot, the wax will melt.

Bees wax wraps

The long term

Not using cling film may seem small, but the difference it will make to the environment is huge. It really does matter. Wildlife won’t get wrapped up in them and suffocate, if they blow into rivers and eventually drift into the sea, marine life won’t confuse them with food. Cling film may not cost a lot of money but by using the alternatives, you will be saving yourself some money in the long-run and make a massive difference to the environment.

The Story of Plastic

The Story of Plastic was aired in the UK on Earth Day 22nd April 2020. I found the film to be incredibly moving giving us the story of not just where plastic ends up but also where it begins.

Since the 1950s, plastic was seen as an incredible invention with multiple uses and since then it has weaved itself into every aspect of our lives. We are starting to discover the true cost of this material that never actually goes away.

We have been encouraged to separate our rubbish and ensure we recycle as much as we possibly can. As well as metals, glass and paper, we put our plastic in our recycling bins in good faith believing it is being taken away and something useful is made from it, after all, that’s what the word recycle means, doesn’t it? This film shows us what happens to our plastic once it has been collected from our bins.

The focus at the start of the plastic journey was a plastic processioning plant in Texas, USA, where toxic chemicals are released into the local water and air. Tiny plastic pellets end up into local rivers and will eventually be ingested by local marine life which will inevitably enter the food chain. The cancer rates and health issues in the local areas are shockingly high; child leukemia, infertility and respiratory issues.

What I found shocking was that a product sold in a European country displays that it is recyclable but the same product sold in an Asian country in sachets which cannot be recycled. Decisions made in these boardrooms are adding to the plastic problem faced in Asia and companies should be responsible for installing the necessary waste infrastructure.

What is plastic recycling?

The film shows plastic sorted from India and the Philippines discussing the issues faced when it comes to recycling. One point that struck me was that the whole recycling industry is only possible because there is poverty in the world, who else will do it? Most of the plastic from the West is shipped to Asian countries to deal with and it is hand sorted. Unlike other materials, there are around 80 different categories plastic falls into and therefore the sorting process is a time-consuming one.

When a plastic is sorted and can be ‘recycled’, it is washed, melted down and chopped into plastic pellets; the dirty water used to clean the plastic is dumped into a local waterway leading to pollution, the melting process emits harmful chemicals to the workers, who do not have any protective clothing. Incinerators come with their own set of problems too; skin rashes, increase in cancer rates and other health issues.

It turns out that plastic recycling is a myth.

Who does the buck stop with?

Fossil fuel companies have aired their concerns about the pollution caused by plastic but they seem to prefer shifting the blame onto consumers rather than admitting their products are ill-designed. The film shows that these companies aim their products towards the Asian market flooding them with single-use plastics forcing them to be reliant on these products while hiding behind the excuse of a rise in demand.

I would highly recommend everyone watching this film. The plastic issue is everyone’s problem, not just Asian countries (where the west are dumping their plastic).

If you’re interested in this eye-opening film, click below for the trailer