Tag Archives: zero waste

Why Switching to a safety razor is a great choice

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

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

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

Disposable razors

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

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

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

What’s the alternative?

Enter the safety razor.

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

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

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

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

My top tips

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

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

How I became greener in 2020

I started writing this blog at the beginning of 2020 and as well as writing about my opinions on green issues, I’ve blogged about what I’ve been doing adopt a greener living lifestyle.

As this crazy year draws to a close, I thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect on the changes I made throughout the year.

I found that if you change many things in one go, it becomes overwhelming so the best thing to do is to start a bit at a time and when they become automatic, pick something else. This has definitely worked for me.

Before I start, I think we can all agree that 2020 was a different year to any other. Yes, I am referring to COVID-19. This virus turned the whole world upside down so maybe not the best year to start this but changes still matter, even if they are small ones.

The garden

First thing I did was look at growing some food. I don’t have much of an outside space so it’s not like I could grow many different vegetables but I did successfully grow potatoes and strawberries. Also, I had a broken storage container which I repurposed to grow my potatoes in, really happy with that decision. And the strawberries were a hit too. I’ve been reliably informed there’s a chance I won’t ever have to buy strawberries again, that’s fine with me as I only eat it in the summer.

Zero Waste Shops

I bought more from the local zero waste shop. I absolutely detest throwing away empty plastic containers knowing they won’t be recycled into anything as useful as they previously were so I try, where I can, to buy plastic free. I rock up at the zero-waste shop with my containers and ask for them to be refilled, what could be easier than that?

Fountain pen

I’ve also ditched disposable pens and opted for a fountain pen. Now, I know what you’re thinking – the ink cartridges come in disposable plastic – I have a solution. I bought a bottle of ink, which comes in a glass bottle, and a syringe. Once the ink in the cartridge has run out, I simply refill it. And the result, no plastic to landfill. It helps that I’ve always had a love for fountain pens.

Loose Tea

I love my tea and it’s something I will never give up. When I discovered some teabags are made of plastic and some contained bits of plastic in the glue, I felt a little disgusted. Also, I don’t understand why teabags need to be bleached but that’s a whole different story. Upon doing some research, there are some brands that do not use any plastic in their teabags. I could have just switched to other plastic free bags. But I didn’t. Why? Because in the past, some brands (in general, not tea) quietly change their products and, in truth, I didn’t trust the brands to stick to their words. I know, not very trusting, am I? So, I buy loose tea and I use a tea infuser. As someone who has always made tea with bags, it took a bit of getting used to but now, I don’t notice it.

Print on both sides of the paper

Over the last year or so, I have thought about whether I really need to print something. I’ve moved my business accounts to online and seldom use the printer. When I do have to print something, I automatically put the sheet of paper back in the printer the other side (once I no longer need the printout) so it’s ready to print on the other side as long as it’s not sensitive.

Supermarket receipts

Earlier this year, I found out that supermarket receipts can’t be recycled as they are made from thermal paper. To say I was horrified was an understatement and I even wrote a blog about it. There are some supermarkets that don’t offer you the option to have a receipt but where I am given an option, I don’t request a receipt.

Sugar waxing

I’ve been waxing since my teens and have always used traditional wax strips available in shops. So, when I heard about DIY sugar waxing, I was intrigued. After checking out video upon video on YouTube, I don’t think I use sugar wax how it was intended. From what I can ascertain, you roll up a ball, smooth it on your skin and pull it off quickly, I found that hurt WAY TOO MUCH and was messy. I quickly realised that I needed strips, so I cut up a cotton shirt my partner no longer needed into strips and used them to help me instead. I’m not going to lie, it does still hurts but I don’t feel like my skin is being ripped off, a feeling I have been familiar with from using shop bought wax strips and, what’s better, 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!

Second-hand September

I took part in Second-hand September and I really enjoyed it. I needed a new pair of jeans which I bought for £3 at a charity shop. That’s not all, I also bought a pack of unused bamboo toothbrushes – £1.99, books for my little one – £6, photo frames £2, Skirt (with the tag still on) – £2 and so much more. I’ve even introduced my Mum to charity shop. She’s in her sixties and had never been in a charity shop. She now loves it and sees that not everything needs to be brand new.

Toothbrushes

I found a pack of four unused bamboo toothbrushes in my local charity shop for £1.99. Once I have done with it, I can continue using them to clean around taps etc or I will pull the bristles out and put them in my eco brick and dispose of the bamboo in the compost.

I am so happy with the changes I have made in 2020 and have managed to encourage my family to join me. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2021 brings and the further changes I can make.

This proves anyone can make a change; you just need to start somewhere.

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

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!

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.

Alternatives to Cling Film

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

What exactly is cling film?

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

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

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

What are the alternatives

Lunch box of fruit

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

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

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

Bees wax wraps

The long term

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

The Story of Plastic

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

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

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

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

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

What is plastic recycling?

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

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

It turns out that plastic recycling is a myth.

Who does the buck stop with?

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

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

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

How to be eco-friendly during a lockdown

This coronavirus pandemic has resulted in people ditching the cars they used for the commute and school run. This has led to empty roads and less air pollution.

We are all isolating at home and using this time could really benefit the environment allowing you to make eco-friendly choices during this lockdown.

Grow your own vegetables

If you have an outside space, growing your own veg isn’t as difficult as you think. There is a wealth of information about how to grow veg; potatoes, carrots, spring onions, lettuce can all be grown in the UK. This is also a good way to support your local garden centre as some of them are still doing deliveries. There’s nothing more satisfying than eating something you’ve grown yourself. If you don’t have a garden, the kitchen windowsill also works well.

Explore your cupboards

This is a great time to see what you have in the back of your cupboards, what’s the point in buying lots of new products when you’ve got food already at home and also means you don’t have to queue for the supermarket. If you found something you don’t particularly like (and it’s in date) donate it to a food bank so someone else can use it.

Zero waste Shops

These shops are popping up all over the place and you are able to buy food without the packaging. The food is usually stored in large jars and you only pay for what you need, kind of like the old fashioned sweet shops (showing my age, aren’t I?) and you may find a lot of these shops are better stocked than supermarkets so why not take some empty clean Tupperware boxes with you and see what they’ve got. Most of these shops are independent businesses so you’ll be supporting a local business too. Win win!

Cooking

This is a great time to start cooking again. Dust off those cookbooks and give a new recipe a whirl. If you’re anything like me and are rubbish at cooking, you could try an app called Supercook where you add in the ingredients you have and it comes up with a recipe for you. Why not try something new for dinner? Cooking also reduces waste because you’re not throwing away packaging you would get from a microwave meal. Anything you don’t eat, you could put in the fridge and eat the next day.

Ditch the car for a bit

As the only reasons we would use our car is to commute (for key workers) and shopping, if the supermarket is within walking distance, why not try walking to the shop instead of taking the car? This will contribute to your daily exercise too. A bit of fresh air, exercise, pop in your headphones and catch up on The Archers, what’s not to love? Also, if you filled up the car before the lock down, imagine how long it will be until you need to fill up again! You’re saving money too.

Make do and mend

I have to say, I do love this one. Do you have a top or shirt that has lost its button an you never got the chance to repair it, now’s your chance. If you don’t have a sewing machine, get your needle and thread out and make repairs to clothes that are sitting in your wardrobe you can’t wear because a button is missing or a part of a hem has come undone. Have you been meaning to finally put the new kitchen cabinets on or do the weeding in the garden or change one of the spotlights in the kitchen that stopped working a year ago. Have a wander around your home and look at what needs fixing and try to fix it.