Tag Archives: Plastic Ocean

What is Imperfect Environmentalism?

Since I’ve become more aware of my actions and how they affect the environment, I’ve joined many online groups: listening, reading and learning from others. I think it’s important to take part in discussions and debates, it allows us to understand a subject from a different perspective.

I absolutely love the collaboration and meeting like minded individuals with the same goal. The one thing I find unhelpful is when individuals are shamed for not doing things the ‘right way’. In my opinion, this is counterproductive and holds some people back.

I don’t believe there is only one way to live sustainably.

Being an imperfect environmentalist means you care about the environment and want to do what you can adapt your habits to reduce your impact – ‘do what you can’ this is the key and this will be different for everyone.

Where you live, finances, availability, convenience, trust in companies are some factors when it comes to wanting to live sustainably.

There is a quote I remember reading a while back, I think it was by Anne Marie Bonneau who said

We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly

This sums it up perfectly!

Where do I start?

Every plastic straw you refuse is doing something, every time you walk instead of using the car, buy loose instead of pre-packed fruit and vegetables – they all make a difference. I’m not saying get rid of your car, for a lot of people this isn’t possible but using it less still makes a difference.

There are areas I don’t do well; I still eat meat – although it’s not as much as I used to – and other areas I know I am making a difference by swapping my plastic razor to a safety razor. Break Free From Plastic produced a Global Brand Audit Report in 2020 which stated Coca Cola was the top worst polluter and I still drink coke (In the cans, I refuse to buy plastic bottles). I try to buy things in glass bottles as they’re widely recycled instead of plastic but, for some, the price is a factor. That’s OK.

Don’t be so hard on yourself

Being ‘perfect’ is only going to lead to overwhelm, that’s how I started and I wouldn’t recommend it. When I tried to do everything I found it stressful and I burned myself out, I had to reset and start again.

Start on one area in your home – bathroom is usually a good place to start – take shorter showers, shampoo bars, safety razors, bamboo toothbrush. Once you’re happy with the changes, move to the next area in your home.

If you’re unsure of where to start, I created a 30-day Eco Swap Challenge, it’s $7 and will help you get started.

Do what works for you and don’t forget to keep learning. Most of us didn’t learn about sustainable living at school, we’re all trying to figure it out as adults. Join local litter-picking groups, learn from people who educate others, listen to the science, write to your MP, if you have an outside space – start with learning to grow potatoes, switch off lights when you don’t need them.

We need to stop shaming people for not doing things ‘our way’ and remember that progress, in whatever form, is always better than nothing.

Above all, be kind to yourself – start small, do what you can, build from there

Environmental Awareness Days 2022

At the start of last year, I posted a list of environmental awareness days for 2021 and I received quite a few messages from people who said they found it really helpful and referred back to it throughout the year.

So, I’m doing the same again this year!

Please note, this isn’t a comprehensive list list.

January

  • Veganuary 1st January to 31st January – This is an annual challenge which helps educate and promote veganism. The purpose is to encourage people to explore a vegan lifestyle throughout the month.
  • Big Garden Birdwatch – January 5, 2022 – February 22, 2022 – This is organised by the RSPB and encourages everyone, young and old, to spend some time outside monitoring and recording birds you seen. Afterwards, the information is submitted via their website and allows them to record how many birds there are in the UK.
  • Houseplant Week UK – January 10, 2022 – January 16, 2022 – 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 the plants I have.
  • Big Energy Saving Week – January 17, 2022 – January 22, 2022 – This week is dedicated to how to cut your energy use and how to save money. This initiative is 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 – March 14, 2022 – March 20, 2022 – 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. If you’re a newbie, the link is a great place to start.
  • Global Recycling Day – March 18, 2022 – Started in 2018, this day is recognise and promote recycling and the importance it plays on the future of our planet.
  • World Water Day – March 22, 2022 – This day educates us about how vital it is to have clean water. Even today, there are still parts of the world that do not have access to safe drinking water and water pollution affects many lives.

April

  • Walk to Work Day – April 1, 2022 – Not only does walking provide great health benefits, it’s also good for the environment. Plus, walking doesn’t cost anything.
  • Community Garden Week – April 4, 2022 – April 10, 2022 – This week takes the opportunity to celebrate schools and community gardens up and down the country. Learning to love our gardens has been lost in the last few decades. Working together and inspiring each other, what’s not to love?
  • Earth Day – 22nd April – This movement has been going since 1970 and their aim is to educate and encourage individuals to protect our planet. You can sign up to their newsletter and keep up to date with their progress and campaigns.
  • Stop Food Waste Day – April 27, 2022 – The amount of food wasted is eye-watering. The website provides great tips and creative ways to reduce food waste.

May

  • No Mow May – 1st May to 31st May – I found out about this campaign about two years ago and it’s a brilliant initiative. The idea is that you don’t cut your grass for a whole month, allowing flowers to bloom which are a vital source of nectar for bees and other insects. Ever heard of a ‘scaremow’? – click on the link to the National Trust Website to find out more.
  • Sun Awareness Week – May 3, 2022 – May 8, 2022 – This is a campaign led by The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) to educate and highlight the dangers of UV radiation from the sun. Their website has some great ways about staying safe when the sun is shining.
  • Water Saving Week – May 17, 2022 – May 22, 2022 – This week is to raise to raise awareness of the issues around water usage. Promoting ways we can use it efficiently everyday.
  • The Great British Spring Clean – May 28, 2022 – June 13, 2022 – 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.
  • National Children’s Gardening Week – May 28, 2022 – June 5, 2022 – Use this week to celebrate the joy gardening holds for children. They love getting their hands dirty and it’s a great way to teach the next generation about gardening.

June

  • World Environment Day – 5th June – On the same day every year, this day is dedicated to our environment. A healthy eco-system is the key to life on this planet.
  • Bike Week – June 6, 2022 – June 12, 2022 – In partnership with Cycle UK, this annual campaign is to celebrate cycling and its many benefits. Also, this a brilliant way to reduce your carbon footprint!
  • Garden Wildlife Week – June 6, 2022 – June 12, 2022 – An annual celebration of the natural world around us, including the plants and animals who live in it.
  • World Oceans Day – 8th June – This day aims to raise awareness of the importance our oceans play and how it helps to sustain a healthy planet. There is a lot in the media about plastic entering the ocean. Sign up to get involved.
  • World Refill Day – June 16, 2022 – I remember this from 2020. In an effort to prevent plastic pollution, this campaign highlights and encourages us to make the swap from single-use plastic bottles to reusable ones. Time to join the refill revolution!

July

  • Plastic Free July – 1st July to 31st July – This is a global campaign I am incredibly passionate about and encourages us to make changes to reduce our plastic use. I even wrote a blog about what I did for 2020. Small changes do a massive difference and I would encourage everyone to make a change. If you’re on Instagram, check out my profile.
  • 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 vital to the planet’s ecosystem. Check out my blog about bees.
  • Love Parks Week – July 23, 2022 – July 31, 2022 – An initiative launched by Keep Britain Tidy, it encourages us to visit and enjoy our local parks.

August

  • National Allotments Week – August 9, 2022 – August 14, 2022 – This week is to celebrate the importance of allotments and their benefits; I strongly believe learning how to grow your own food should be a life skill. If you can’t get an allotment, you can grow food in your garden or windowsill.

September

  • Organic September – 1st September to 30th September – The vision of this campaign is to bring awareness by exploring and eating organic food and to educate people about farming practices in growing organic food.
  • Recycle Week – September 20, 2022 – September 25, 2022 – As the name suggests, it’s a week to promote and encourage recycling. This is Recycle Now’s flagship event to celebrate recycling up and down the country.
  • The Great British Beach Clean – September 17, 2022 – September 25, 2022 – Every year, thousands of people give involved in cleaning up our beaches. It also gets you outside and there’s nothing like breathing in sea air!
  • FSC Friday – September 24, 2022 – Promoting awareness about forest management and the vital role they play in climate change.

October

  • Unblocktober – 1st October to 31st October – This campaign promotes awareness for our sewers, drains and waterways by changing our habits at home. The amount of items flushed down their drains that can cause blockages is startling. I’m sure we are becoming aware of what baby wipes do to blockages. Their website has some brilliant ideas.
  • 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 aim is to help protect children from polluted air. Their website states ‘Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK.’

December

  • World Soil Day – December 5th, 2022 – Learning about the soil and it’s maintenance is vital for food production. Chemicals used in food production around the world is leaving large areas of land unusable as the soil is no longer fertile enough to grow food.

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

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Steps to Sustainable Living in Your Home

I’m in the process of launching something I’m really excited about. A guide called Steps to Sustainable Living in Your Home.

Since I started this blog in January 2020, I’ve learned so much about sustainable living, a lot of which, I have adapted into my own lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect, I’m still learning everyday and one person’s vision of sustainable living doesn’t always necessarily compare to someone else’s vision.

I remember at the beginning I was trying to change so many things in one go and found it so overwhelming. I wanted to live plastic-free, look at everything I was buying, only buy locally because the carbon footprint will be lower, companies I buy from and their view on sustainability, clothes that were environmentally friendly and so on.

What I quickly realised is that, by trying to do everything in one go, I wasn’t doing anything well. I was trying to change a habit I’ve had for the last 40 years in a short period of time, and I failed miserably.

I decided to take a step back and pick on one thing.

Looking back on where I am now from where I was, I realised how difficult it was to get information. Of course, the internet is jam packed with a wealth of information, but it’s knowing where to look and whether it’s reliable too.

I wish I had somewhere to start from; a guide, a handbook, a manual, something to steer me in the direction I wanted to go.

This was the reason I wrote Steps to Sustainable Living in Your Home. To be able to give you the chance to start your mission into sustainable living without the confusion and overwhelm I had. To pass on what I have learned so far, give you guidance on where to look for information about clothing materials and toxins found in cleaning products, what recycling symbols mean and what greenwashing actually is.

I’m not a scientist or an environmental professional, I am someone who is looking to help others live sustainably based on what I’ve learned so far.

Since the start, there’s something that has always come back to me:

I’m not sure if I heard it somewhere or if I came up with it myself, but I always say this to people.

So, you’re probably wondering, what’s in this guide?

 8 sections – Introduction, Household Waste, Cleaning, Kitchen, Bathroom, Fashion, Carbon Footprint, Conclusion
 13 accompanying PDF downloads
 Editable PDF downloads, no need to print them off
 Introduction videos for each section
 Lifetime access
  Work through the course in your own time

How much is the guide?

The full price of this guide will be £57. That’s it, less than a full tank of fuel.

To register your interest, please sign up below and you will be the first to hear when Steps to Sustainable Living in Your Home will go live.

Unwrap The Plastic Crisis

Buying gifts for loved ones is such a lovely thing to do, for me, seeing a friend or relative open a present I bought them and seeing their face light up means more to me than how much I spent on their gift. It makes the other person feel good which makes us feel good too.

Every year, we buy gifts for loved ones; Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Anniversary, Valentines day, Mother’s Day, Father’s day, secret santa and those are just the ones that come up year after year at the same time, let’s not forget the one-off ones; leaving present, baby shower, new baby, Weddings. There are so many occasions we celebrate with those that are important to us and it’s great to share the love. 

I need you to think back at, let’s say, Christmas. Think about all the gifts you received from friends, family, colleagues. Think about how you felt..I bet you felt good. 

Now think about what they were wrapped in? And the packaging? Do you remember seeing gift tags with glitter? What about plastic ribbons? If you received clothes, was the tag attached with a plastic loop? Did any of the packaging come in plastic bags or sleeves? 

Now think about the gifts you have purchased for others? Can you see a plastic pattern? I spent Plastic Free July looking at ways I could buy gifts for friends and family that didn’t include plastic and I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy. 

The amount of packaging that ends up in landfill after Christmas is eye-watering. According to GWP 

  • An extra 30% of rubbish is produced and discarded throughout the festive period when compared with the rest of the year. This additional waste will be in the region of 3 million tonnes
  • Approximately £42 million of unwanted Christmas presents are thrown out in landfill each year
  • Brits will also bin what equates to 108 million rolls of wrapping paper. This means that approximately 100 million black bags full of packaging from toys and gifts are discarded

We cannot sustain this level of waste. We all love buying gifts for loved ones but we need to start really looking at what we buy.

Something massive corporations don’t like us knowing is that, as consumers, we have an incredible amount of power when it comes to the purchases we make. We can literally make or break a product/brand/line – if no one buys it, it’s back to the drawing board for their creative team. 

Start looking at what you are buying and be careful about Greenwashing, marketing companies love to trick us but we are wising up to their tactics. Here are some tips to help you

  • Can you see plastic?
  • Do you have a zero-waste shop near you
  • Is the packaging paper/cardboard and can it all be recycled?
  • If it comes in plastic, does the store offer a recycling drop off recycling facility?
  • Have you looked online to see if there is an eco-friendly alternative?
  • Eco-friendly subscription boxes are a great way to cut out the plastic

There are so many eco-friendly products coming on the market everyday but these are sometimes drowned out by massive corporations shouting about their own products. Read my blog about greenwashing and how to identify it.

How Sunscreen is killing the coral reef

When you think of sunbathing or going on holiday, you always associate wearing sunscreen. Going on holiday hasn’t been a realistic opportunity for many of us recently, I can imagine many of us yearn for a beach holiday and opting for a staycation at home. But the sea is paying a hefty price based on your choices.

Wearing sunscreen while in the sun in an essential part of healthy skincare, after all, no one wants skin cancer. Have you wondered whether your sunscreen choice is harming the environment?

You may have watched documentaries about the rise in sea temperature due to global warming and its impact on coral reefs. Well, it’s also pollution that’s having an effect or coral reefs – from our sunscreen.

Coral reefs, also known as rainforests of the sea, play a vital role in the health of the earth’s oceans.

What is sunscreen doing?

According to National Geographic, about 14,000 tons of sunscreen are thought to wash into the oceans each year and about 70 – 80 percent of coral reefs in the Caribbean have been lost in the last five decades due to pollution and warming waters. This is shocking!

Some sunscreen lotions contain a chemicals such as oxybenzone, octinoxate and octocrylene and when you go into the sea and sunscreen washes off into the water, it is absorbed by the corals having a devastating effect.

This doesn’t just occur when swimming, it can happen when you’re having a shower to wash off any sunscreen.

Change is coming…

But help is on the way, on 1st January 2020, the small Pacific nation, Palau, became the first country to ban sunscreen that is harmful to the corals and sea life. Hawaii has recently introduced a ban on sunscreens that are harmful to the environment. This came into effect on 1st January 2021.

We want to protect our skin but we have to protect the environment too and there is a solution.

Check out the following tips

  • Look for the two common mineral sun-filters – zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They are great at reflecting the sun’s rays as it coats the skin like a mirror.
  • The ones to go for will state ‘non nano’ as they won’t contain particles that contaminate the sea and affect marine life.
  • Avoid sunscreen that contain – oxybenzone, octinoxate or octocrylene. These are the ones that have been banned by Palau and Hawaii. For good reason!

When you are in the sun, please ensure you wear the suitable sun protection and choose wisely to help the oceans too.

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 💚

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.

My Local Zero Waste Shop

Last year, I found out there was a local zero waste shop in my town called Bare Bazaar and I was really excited about it.

Since then, I had purchased some bits like a safety razor from them, ditching my plastic razor forever and made enquiries about refilling hand wash containers, hair shampoo and packaging free soap.

I wanted to wait until I had finished what I had so could take my empty containers for a refill. But I wasn’t able to so as we were in the grips of a pandemic with many businesses forced to close their doors. I had no option but to buy what I needed from the local supermarket. During the pandemic, I noticed many shops heavily increased their plastic use by wrapping certain items individually in plastic wrap, I was eager for shops like Bare Bazaar to get the green light to open.

Fast-forward to now and I’m happy to say, Bare Bazaar are open again. Hooray! They had moved locations from the last time I visited and needed a few bits so I went along to their new home.

Below is a picture of what I got. I kept hold of the empty herb jars so I handed them over and asked them to be half-filled. In the green container was handwash – which is Lime and Aloe Vera and smells amazing – I transferred that into my empty Carex pump container, a bar of shampoo and safety razors. I never tried shampoo bars so I wanted to give that a go.

Kati allowed me to take some pictures as I was eager to write a blog about it.

I absolutely adore this shop and It’s such a simple concept; pasta, lentils, rice, cereal, pules, herbs and so much more all stored in see through containers and jars. All you need to do is go along with your clean containers and let them know how much you want. They take contactless and it was easy peasy.

Not only are they zero plastic; you only pay for what you need. Can you imagine how much less waste there would be if we were free to buy exactly what we need?

In my opinion there is a need for more places like Bare Bazaar, not only is it plastic-free shopping, you’re supporting a local business and that, to me, is the icing on the cake.  Why don’t you have a look to see if you have a zero-waste shop in your local area.

If you would like to find out more, their FB page is https://www.facebook.com/barebazaar

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.

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.