Tag Archives: Green

5 Easy Eco-Friendly Swaps For The Bathroom

There are so many products we use in the bathroom that are encased in plastic and they don’t need to be. The bathroom is the easiest place where you can make eco-friendly swaps.

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Here is a list of some of my favourites (and they are easy ones too!) plus where to buy them!

Bamboo buds

Buds have many uses but, like a lot of things, they are plastic. The plastic tubes end up everywhere and cause all sorts of problems, especially when it enters the sea. Bamboo buds are eco-friendly and will decompose easily. I put mine in the food waste. When I have some more space and start composting, I will pop them in the compost bin.


Safety Razor

If you’ve read by blogs before, you will know that I’m a huge fan of safety razors! They’re friendly to the environment and they last a very long time. Read my previous blog about them.


Body Soaps and Shaving Bars

Soap bars tend to be sold in mixed paper/plastic wrappers which are difficult to recycle and are no friend to the environment. Swapping to bars is a great choice and are easily found in boxes and even without any packaging.


Bamboo toothbrush

Think about all the toothbrushes you have used in your life, did you know they are still around? Plastic toothbrushes are terrible to the environment. Bamboo ones are eco-friendly and they only need to be replaced every three months. You can also buy them for children too.


Dental floss

Dental care is so important and you shouldn’t neglect your gums. Which is why I over the moon when I found these beauties.


If you have any other swaps, let us know đź’š

Wild Deodorant – Product Review

As we all are aware, deodorants come in all shapes and sizes but you will have noticed that they come in single-use plastic containers. Not good for the environment.

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

I noticed Wild Deodorant a few months ago but I wasn’t sure about it. Is this just another product telling us they’re good for the environment when they’re not? Claiming to be the “world’s first zero-plastic deodorant refill.”

Let’s find out…

Their mission is “to be a pioneer in sustainable and natural personal care, acting as a positive catalyst to raise the standards of sustainability across the bathroom. We want to build a progressive and inclusive business that makes switching to natural and sustainable products possible without compromise.”

Their website allows one-off purchases or subscription boxes. I opted for the one-off purchase as I wanted to see what it’s like first. There is an option for sensitive skin and my purchase included 3 refills. I chose fresh cotton and sea salt. The other options they have are:

Mint & Eucalyptus
Coconut Dreams
Bergamot Rituals

Orange Zest
Fresh Cotton & Sea Salt
Sandalwood and Patchouli

The order arrived within a few days and turned up in a letterbox friendly box.

Already a good start!

I’ve never used this product before and I thought I would create a reel on instagram opening the box and assembling it. If you like the song by KSI – Holiday, unmute it!

As you can see, it was simple to put together! Easy Peasy Greeny!

It’s now been a month since I made my purchase and I have to say. I absolutely love it!

Deodorants I’ve used before, I found that they don’t tend to last all day and by the evening, I notice a faint smell of BO, no thanks! I didn’t have that issue with this deodorant. I really does last all day. And that’s what you want from a deodorant.

Apparently, it takes a week or so for your body to get used to it but I didn’t have this. There are no harsh chemicals, and it got me thinking of the chemicals I must have been rolling on my pits for years! They don’t include parabens, aluminium or sulphates and are suitable for vegans!

The twist bottom is easy enough to use, the case is sleek, available in a variety of colours; it’s easy to hold, easy to refill and the refill cases can be composted.

I contacted Wild to find out which scents were suitable for men – Mint & Eucalyptus, Fresh Cotton & Sea Salt and Sandalwood & Patchouli.

I’ve found a deodorant I’m really happy with.

Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Sleek case
  • Variety of scents
  • Option for sensitive skin
  • Plastic-free
  • Refills cases are compostable
  • Easy to use
  • Letterbox friendly

Cons

  • Price (this is genuinely the only con I can think of!)

For some people, the price is going to be an issue. The refills are ÂŁ6 each (you have to buy 3 at a time) or ÂŁ5 each if you buy a refill subscription. For me personally, the price isn’t really an issue. I was paying ÂŁ5 each for my previous Sure deodorant and as this actually works and lasts, I don’t mind the price.

All in all, I love this product and I highly recommend it.

If you want to give this product a go, I’ve got a link for 10% off your first order with code AFFXY10

Let me know how you get on đź’šđź’šđź’šđź’šđź’šđź’š

Why bees are in trouble and what you can do

Bees are one of the most hardest working creatures on our planet, they play a critical role in keeping us alive and I don’t think they get the credit they deserve.

There are more than 250 species of bee in Britain and I’ve decided to delve a little deeper and find out why these incredible creatures are so incredible.

Pollination

When in comes to pollination, bees are vital. Some plants rely on wind to pollinate and others rely on insects, this is where bees do their bit. They are constantly hunting for nectar (they use this to make honey) and spend a lot of time flying around from flower to flower. This allows them to collect pollen from one plant and deposit it on other plants and this is how bees help with pollination.

Crop fertilisation

Crops in the UK such as vegetables, berries and fruits rely on bee pollinations. There are about 60 – 70 different crops that rely on bee pollination including apples, broccoli, cucumbers, watermelon to name just a few.

Bees are in trouble

Due to climate change, the bee population are in decline and the increased use of pesticides doesn’t help either. Climate change is affecting the global temperature which is throwing our seasons out of sync and having a knock-on effect on wildlife too. Bees are coming out of hibernation before flowers have started blooming. As they rely on flowers for their nectar, there isn’t enough food for them to survive. Pesticides are another big issue and they are used to keep pests off our food preventing them from damaging our crops.

Some of these pesticides actually make insects ill including bees. On one side crops need to be protected for food but on the other hand, these pesticides are harming the insects we rely on to help pollinate our food.

Bees are declining, what could happen?

If the bee population continue to decline, what do you think will happen?

  • Plants that rely on bee pollination will decline if there aren’t enough bees to pollinate them
  • If plants decline, the animals that rely on these plants for food will also start declining. Especially, if the animal solely relies on a particular plant for survival
  • The farming community will have to find a way to pollinate their crops manually. The cost of this could run into the billions
  • As we rely on bee pollination for fruit and vegetables, these will be in decline too. The pressure on food supplies will be high.

The term ‘circle of life’ is exactly that, when there is a break in the circle, it stops becoming a circle.

You can help

If you have an outside space, big or small, turn it into a flower and vegetable garden and avoid using pesticides.

Grow flowers – especially purple flowers, they see this colour more clearly than any other – lavender, alliums and catmint. If you’ve already got flowers in your garden that aren’t purple, keep them! They’ll love them too. I grow sunflowers in mine and the bees love it.

A little vegetable garden is also a good idea; tomatoes, strawberries or even some herbs. Go nuts!

Repurpose and reuse – Clear tape plastic core

Have you got things around your home that no longer has a purpose? Do you really need to throw them out or can you repurpose it to use them elsewhere in your home?

Since I’ve been more aware of the things I buy and more importantly, the things I throw in the bin. I can’t help but look what what I’m just about to throw away and ask myself “Can I reuse this somehow?”. I’ve recently noticed that it seems to be automatic.

I’ve repurposed these items into things I actually needed around the house rather than hoarding them and I’m all for sharing my ideas.

Repurposing is all about being creative – use your imagination

Repurpose plastic core

We’re going to look at the plastic core you’re left over when you’ve finished a roll of clear tape (some are cardboard cores which can be easily recycled, but not all)

Years ago, I bought a bunch of small clear tape refills and I’ve still got quite a few left. Rather than throwing away unused clear tape (which makes no sense at all) I’m using up what I have before I move towards an eco-friendly alternative.

When the sellotape is finished, what do you do with the plastic core?

Repurpose and Reuse - Clear Tape Plastic Core

They’re quite strong, maybe I could give these to a school for their junk modelling?

Well, I have found a fantastic way to reuse these.

In an effort to reduce my waste, I wanted an alternative to using tin foil or baking paper when I put something in the oven. The answer to this wasteful problem? silicone sheets. The only problem was that these sheets were far too flimsy to store. I needed to find a way to stand them up and take up less space.

And voila!!

My silicone sheets are nice and neat and I found a great use for these plastic cores. Another use for these can be napkin rings. Either way, they won’t be going to landfill! Hooray!

Notice I put them in a big Cadbury’s Hot Chocolate tin? These tins are mixed materials so wouldn’t have been easy to recycle.

When you’re about to throw something away, look at it and ask yourself ‘Can I repurpose this?’

If you repurposed anything and saved it from landfill, we would love to see them

If you’re interested in reducing your household waste, grab my free download

Greenwashing – What is it and why it’s a problem

Greenwashing is a real problem. More and more products are on sale with packaging splashed in various shades of green with environmental imagery. Ever wondered why?

The definition of greenwashing – When a company (and their product) claim they are doing more to protect the environment than they actually are.

In 2020, Break Free From Plastic produced their Brand Audit Report 2020 and it’s grim reading. Page 30 of the report lists the top 10 worst polluters

1. Coca Cola (Coca Cola, Fanta, Sprite)

2. Pepsico (Pepsi, Doritos, Lay’s)

3. Nestle (Nescafe, KitKat, Nestea)

4. Unilever (Persil, Sunsilk, Cornetto)

5. Mondelēz (Oreo, Cadbury, LU)

6. Mars (M&Ms, Wrigley, Snickers)

7. P&G (Tampax, Ariel, Pantene)

8. Philip Morris International (Parliament, Marlboro, Merit)

9. Colgate Palmolive (Colgate, Palmolive, Ajax)

10. Perfetti Van Melle (Mentos, Chupa Chups, Alpenliebe)

Of course, you will recognise quite a few on the list and probably use them regularly. Some you may not have heard of the parent company but recognise the brands under their umbrella.

Changes in packaging

Recently, many brands have started incorporating the colour green into their packaging (if it wasn’t there already) and are including key words like ‘eco’ or ‘biodegradable’ hoping to appeal to the eco conscious market. This gives the consumer the impression that this product has been made with the environment in mind and is environmentally friendly. But that isn’t always the case. Greenwashing!

Sadly, because of these practices mean some companies are not being completely truthful in their marketing.

Let’s explore an example of greenwashing

Below is an example that really got to me recently. I can see they are trying but, in my opinion, they haven’t got it quite right.

My five-year-old loves crafting so we go through quite a bit of clear tape, I’ve been looking at environmentally friendly alternatives and saw this in the shop.

First thing to notice is all the words and images expected if you are eco conscious – ‘zero plastic’, ‘plant-based’ and they’ve got an image of the earth and a leaf. Thus, giving us the impression it’s environmentally friendly.

How can you dispose of this?

Because I was intrigued, I had a look at the product information for this product online. Look more closely to the below screenshot

The key sentence – ‘is biodegradable in an industrial composting plant‘.

This product is sold in a box and its core are easily recyclable and it’s great the tape is biodegradable, however, only if the tape is placed in an industrial composting plant. How does it get there in the first place? Do you separate your rubbish into a box for ‘industrial composting plant’? No? It’s OK, I don’t either. So, where do you think it will end up instead?

An equally important aspect was this article I came across published in 2020 in The Guardian, it appears there are only 53 of these industrial composting facilities in the UK.

What to look out for

  • Key buzzwords like ‘green’ or ‘natural’ or ‘eco’ – there aren’t any strict regulations on what these are.
  • Packaging with images of the planet, leaves, plants and a lot of green.
  • Do your research – lookout for approved seal logos on their packaging. In order to use these logos, the company would have to follow very strict guidelines in their practices.
  • For example, can all of it be recycled kerbside? Look out for terms such as ‘recycled in an industrial composting plant’ as there aren’t many in the UK.

In spite of this, there are a lot of companies out there are trying to do their best for the environment, they key is to do your research and buy sensibly.

Going Green – How You can Save Money

Going green and making small changes to your lifestyle is a great way to save you money and it’s good for the planet too. I love saving money, who doesn’t?

A while ago, I was having a zoom call with a friend (during lockdown three) about how expensive it is to go green. She was referring to things like electric cars and solar panelled roofs.

When you focus on high ticket items, of course it’s going to sound really expensive. Who has ÂŁ30k sitting around?! Similar to buying a new house; they’re long-term goals.

Instead of focusing on the big things, I would always advise to start small when you’re going green. Here are a few ways to get you started…

Clothes

Do you really need that new pair of jeans? Or a new winter coat when your old still does it’s job? Challenge yourself to not buy any new clothes for a year. And if you do need something new, look to see if you can buy it second-hand instead – not underwear though! I managed to find a skirt in a charity shop that still had its original tag; it had never been worn. The tag said ÂŁ35.99 and I bought it for ÂŁ2. I do love a bargain!

Get on your bike

Where you can, leave your car at home and either walk or cycle. You will save money by not having to fill your car up regularly and you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint. Win Win! Facebook tend to have local selling pages and you may be able to pick up a second-hand bike.

Make do and mend

I have to say, I love this one. I’m not that great at sewing but I have gotten better. Do you have a hole in your jeans pocket or a small section of hem has come loose on your skirt? Get your needle and thread out and get stitching. There are oodles of videos for beginners on YouTube for mending clothes. Mending your clothes mean you don’t have to replace it; saving you money.

Eat less meat

I know this can be a contentious issue at times because it’s not easy for everyone. I’m not saying cut out your meat intake completely but look to reduce the amount of meat you eat. Try ‘Meat Free Mondays’. Meat is expensive to buy; you may even notice the extra few ÂŁÂŁ in your pocket after a shop.

Planning your meals

A great way to reduce your waste is to plan your meals in advance so you only buy what you need and won’t be wasting money. Anything that is leftover in the evenings could be eaten for lunch the next day. Another great tip is to see if you can buy your fruit and vegetables loose. Buying food in packaging means you could end up buying more than you need. You may only need one lemon so don’t pick up a pre-packaged pack of four; waste of money and waste of food.

Please share your ideas đź’š

Looking at your household waste is a really good way to save money. You can download your analysis here.

If you want to read more, check out these blogs

How I became greener in 2020 and Things I no longer buy

DIY Toilet Cleaner Bomb Recipe

DIY toilet cleaner bombs – Let’s be honest, no one looks forward to cleaning the toilet because it isn’t a fun job but it is one of those jobs that does need to be done.

Have you thought about the harmful toxins found in your toilet cleaner? It’s OK, I didn’t take much notice of the chemicals either.

If you go into the bathroom and have a look at your toilet cleaner, you will see the label is littered with so many chemicals and most of which neither of us have probably never heard of. Of course, this is not good for the environment.

There has to be another way!

And there is – the answer is DIY!

The instructions below will show you how you can make your own DIY toilet cleaner bombs because I’m all for making life easier!

They are really easy to use because all you have to do is drop one in the toilet bowl, and after it’s down fizzing you can start cleaning.

I bet you’re wondering – why DIY? if I can just buy them, why would I bother making my own?

  • They are not littered with chemicals
  • You can add your favourite essential oil
  • You can make them into any shape you like (I will come to this!)
  • They don’t pollute the environment
  • You can save money (because who doesn’t want to save money)
  • No plastic packaging
  • DIY is fun!

Let’s get started with the DIY toilet cleaner bombs

What will you need :

do it yourself toilet bomb ingredients
  • 1 cup Bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 cup Citric Acid
  • Silicone mold ice cube tray (mine is shaped as penguins!)
  • Spray bottle filled with tap water
  • 30 – 40 drops Essential oil of your choice (I have lemon)
  • Bowl
  • Cup
  • Spoon
  • Knife

Method for DIY toilet cleaner bombs recipe

  • Add the bicarb soda and citric acid in a bowl and mix
  • Add 30 – 40 drops of essential oil and mix
  • Spray the mixture with water – 2 sprays and mix
  • Keep spraying until you have sprayed the mixture with water about 20 times (two sprays at a time and mix)
  • Don’t over water the mixture because it will start to fizz
  • Spoon the mixture into your silicone mold and firmly press down so it’s compact and all the edges are filled.
  • Leave for 24 hours in a dry place and out of direct sunlight
  • Carefully pop your DIY toilet cleaner bombs out and store in an airtight jar.

Here’s the video

Here’s the DIY video below so feel free to have a watch. The original recording was about 20 minutes long but, seriously, who has that kind of time!? So, I shortened it to about 39 seconds and added a happy tune. I hope you enjoy the video and find it helpful.

So that’s it, you can have a go at this DIY recipe at home. Have fun and let me know how you get on.

If you want more ideas – feel free to check out my Instagram page and keep an eye on my website for more upcoming ideas.

Sustainable Home – A book review

For Christmas, I was lucky enough to get a copy of Sustainable Home: Practical Projects, Tips and Advice for Maintaining a More Eco-friendly Household by Christine Liu. I really have the best friends!

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

Firstly, I would like to say that this an absolutely beautiful book which has been perfectly separated into five sections; living, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and outdoors.

Each sections discusses what changes you could make to live a more sustainable lifestyle and things to consider when making your choices.

I’ve been starting to implement a lot of these changes – here’s the first product review on safety razors

Here’s my book review for Sustainable Home

The author offers excellent advice and includes step-by-step guides, for example, making your own toothpaste – something I am keen to try.

Sustainable Home: Practical Projects, Tips and Advice for Maintaining a More Eco-friendly Household book cover

Sustainable Living

Sustainable living takes you through the benefits of minimalism and the environmental impacts our choices have with an fabulous guide on how to declutter your home; how to decide what to keep and what to do with the things you don’t need anymore.

Following onto the furniture we buy, the benefits and concluding on a guide to indoor plants, something I have recently fallen in love with.

Sustainable Kitchen

Food can be a contentious issue as it’s well documented how much of an impact farming for meat has on the environment. Christine navigates this issue really well giving you information to make your own choices.

If you aren’t able to cut out meat completely, reducing your meat intake still makes a massive difference. I particularly like the guides to making your own cashew and oat milk, I’m looking forward to giving these a go. Sustainable kitchen concludes on some really good tips on reducing food waste.

Sustainable Bedroom

This chapter begins with your wardrobe and how to create a minimalist wardrobe but still maintaining your personal style.

In particular, I loved is repairing and repurposing clothes and I am a superfan of ‘make do and mend’.

Following onto bedroom furniture and concluding the section on how to make your own room spray.

Sustainable Bathroom

A place in your home where you can make the biggest changes to live a more sustainable life is in your bathroom.

This section is jam-packed with ideas and guides on how to make your own toothpaste, body scrub, body butter and lip balm.

This section includes an overview of shampoo and shampoo bars, cleaning, water usage and my favourite of all; the safety razor. I moved away from disposable razors about a year ago and I’ve never looked back.

Outdoors

Inside the home isn’t the only place to make a change, this final section discusses ways in how a workplace can become greener, when you’re eating out and looking at your carbon footprint when you’re out and about.

Conclusion

Firstly, the main thing I love about this book is that is doesn’t preach to me. It’s very well written and easy to read.

There are so many ideas and examples of changes you can make to live more sustainably. It’s okay that you can’t do everything in one go; it’s a marathon, not a race.

Would I recommend this book to others? A massive YES.

If you would like to know more about Christine Liu, here are her links

If you would like to purchase the book – click here

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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 đź’š

Reusing Water

During the summer, I hang my washing outside. There’s something really rewarding about being able to dry your clothes outside; they smell fresh and it’s free!

However, during the autumn and winter months, it’s a different story. I use my dryer. I’ve looked at other ways to dry clothes but it just didn’t work.

I hung the clothes on the radiator; however, this wouldn’t heat up the room as well as when the radiators were clear of clothing. I bought a load of radiator airers but I found I ran out of radiators to hang all the clothes. This ended up with a continuous cycle of washing and clothes dotted around the house on radiator airers. Not pleasant when you have company.

In order to get all my washing done in a day, I have resorted to using the dryer, however, I have a condenser dryer. For those who aren’t aware, in condenser dryers, any water from the drying clothes is collected in the tank at the bottom. The advantage of having a condenser dryer means it isn’t necessary for a builder to knock a circular a hole in your kitchen wall to create an outlet for the moisture.

Once I hear the beeping from the dryer notifying me that the tank is full and needs emptying, I would remove the tank and empty the water contents down the sink. For some reason I did this automatically and didn’t notice the writing on the tank.

I can’t believe I never noticed this before.

I only use filtered water in the iron so I wouldn’t consider using the water from my condenser dryer but I do have plants. After a washload, I empty the tank into a massive jug I have and leave it next to the sink. I fill up a plastic bottle I have purely for watering the plants and walk around the house doing just that.

I also have a dishwasher and I tend to use tap water to rinse off any remains but I now use my condenser dryer water to rinse the cutlery (if they need it) before I put them in the dishwasher.

I can’t be the only person with a condenser dryer and I wondered what else I could use this water for?

Ways to reuse water

If I had a water butt I could top up the water, that would really come in handy during the spring and summer for watering the plants or even washing the car.

I can’t see any reason why this water can’t be used in the toilet to fill up the cistern tank, I wonder anyone actually does this?

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!

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 ÂŁ2 each, bargain! I bought a pair of jeans for ÂŁ3. 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…

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.

Ecobrick overwhelm

A while back, I saw an article online about someone creating a ecobrick with their plastic that can’t be recycled. I was intrigued.

For those who aren’t familiar with ecobricks. lets start with a quick overview.

Ecobricks are plastic bottles that are filled with plastics that would usually go to landfill because they can’t be recycled. The plastics are cut into small pieces and packed tightly into the plastic bottle. Once the ecobrick exceeds the weight for the size bottle used, it can be used in various projects; building garden walls, furniture and other structures. The plastic doesn’t go to landfill, what a genius idea!

So I decided to take part.

I had a few 2 litre plastic bottles I had put to one side and started collecting plastics that can’t be recycled. I found that that the plastics I collected built up pretty quickly so I had to ensure I kept up. A few times a week, I sat with my plastics, cut them up into small pieces and filled the bottle. Using a stick helped me to pack the bottle tightly.

In my area, the refuse was collected fortnightly and I quickly noticed that we only needed to put the refuse bin out once a month. However, I was struggling. I just couldn’t keep up with the plastic. The plastic would build up much faster than I could cut and pack them into the bottle.

I felt overwhelmed!

I genuinely never realised how much plastic we were throwing away. Maybe I was looking at this the wrong way, instead of trying to find ways of reducing how much plastic my household send to landfill, I should look at why we have this much plastic in the first place.

Create eco bricks and reduce plastic to landfill

This was the reality check!

I firstly looked at what I was buying at the supermarket. We eat a lot of potatoes so I buy a lot, but I picked up the ones that were in a plastic bag. It turned out buying fruit and veg in plastic bags were cheaper. I’ve noticed that I make much more of an effort buying loose fruit and veg. I also buy from the local greengrocer where majority of the produce is loose.

We do eat a lot of crisps and recently some charities take these to be recycled so I ensure these are put to one side for the charity.

I read recently that although plastic bottles can be recycled, they are recycled into lower grade plastic so won’t end up being plastic bottles again so I actively avoid plastic bottles.

I don’t use cleaning wipes anymore, after watching a program a few months ago, I was horrified to find how much plastic they contained. I use a spray and cloth. Once the cloth is a bit grotty, it goes in the washing machine, not to landfill.

When I buy frozen food, I try my best to avoid plastic bags the item comes in; chicken nuggets, chips etc. I make wedges now and have been trying to make my own chicken nuggets.

I know there are so many other areas I can make changes. However, it is incredibly overwhelming and I have learned to start small and change one or two things, once you realise you do them without thinking, pick another one or two and keep going.

I’m sure many will agree that the man-made plastic problem is real and we all have to make an effort to change our habits but we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about not doing everything perfectly; start off small, the rest will follow. I plan to restart my eco brick shortly so I will update you on my progress.

The Global Ecobrick Alliance has it’s own website, if you’re interested in learning about eco bricks, the benefits or want to start your own, there is a wealth of information to get you started and let me know how you get on!

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.