Category Archives: eco

My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 4

Another update on my progress with waste reduction. This week I’ve been focussing on reducing  what goes into my food waste bin. So I’ve been saving the likes of orange and grapefruit peel and zest, potato peelings and the pulp from my juicer. Some of these are waiting in the freezer still, but so far i’ve enjoyed a nice refreshing cup of grapefruit tea and used orange pulp in my soup. And we’ve had potato peel crisps, apple pulp pancakes and a grapefruit cake. All including stuff that i would have previously just binned.

Zerowaste cooking

Here’s how to make the grapefruit tea and the potato crisps. I won’t be blogging the soup recipe, as most of my soups are just whatever is to hand in the fridge at the time. So this one besides orange pulp, also had some outer leaves from a cauliflower, a carrot, some savoy cabbage, leek, garlic, quinoa, stock and turmeric. But I will try and share the cake and pancake recipes at a later date.

grapefruit tea

Grapefruit Tea


Peel from 1 grapefruit
1 litre water
1 tsp agave nectar


Tear the grapefruit peel into small pieces.
Place in a large saucepan with the water.
Bring to the boil.
Turn off the heat and cover saucepan with lid.
Steep for 1 hour.
Pour into a jug through a sieve.
Stir in the agave nectar to sweeten.
Reheat if desired.
Pour tea into mugs.
Serve and enjoy.

Grapefruit Tea

I did have quite a bad cough at the time I made this tea and found it quite soothing for that too.

potato crisps

Potato Crisps


Peel from potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt


Preheat fan oven to 200 degree centigrade.
Tip the potato peels onto a baking tray.
Drizzle oil over the potato peels.
Sprinkle the salt over the potato peels.
Turn the potato peels several times until they are well coated in the oil, making sure they are spread well out over the tray.
Cook in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, until crispy and starting to brown.
Serve and enjoy.

Potato Crisps

I’ve also been cooking more things from scratch, that I would previously have just bought at the supermarket, which I haven’t managed to find not in plastic. So I’ve baked crackers for the first time and made my own humous, as these are items that we eat a lot of in our household. Recipes to follow in due course.


#plasticfree crackers

And a few more wins on the packaging side. I’ve discovered Two Farmers crisps which come in compostable packets. I had to order 24 packets online, so they are taking up rather a lot of space in the cupboard, but I’ve since heard that my local zero waste store is going to start stocking them. Result, as I’ll be able to buy in smaller numbers, once we finish munching our way through this lot. The only other product I know in compostable packaging is Wallaroo fruit snacks, so I would love it if you could point me in the direction of any other brands who do this please.

Two Farmers crisps

Also you may have heard me complaining recently about the pointless plastic wrappers on cucumbers. I’ve now found a local greengrocer who stocks baby cucumbers with no plastic. Unfortunately they do work out significantly more expensive, but I had to bite the bullet, as cucumber is son2’s favourite vegetable. I plan to try my hand at growing my own later in the year. Wish me luck with that, as I’m not very green fingered. Overall, I’ve noticed that my grocery bill is definitely higher by me trying to avoid plastic. Luckily I can afford this, but it will be very hard for those on a tight budget.

baby cucumbers

And it is frustrating when things don’t go to plan like the other day when I ordered a cardboard box of wonky potatoes from the milkman. Apparently it was out of stock, so he substituted it with not one but two plastic bags of potatoes. And disappointingly it is not the first time that I’ve experienced a plastic issue as regards fruit and vegetables from the milkman. I ask myself should I buy all my vegetables at the greengrocer instead, but then would they be too heavy to carry, as I walk there. Trying to minimise use of car unnecessarily, so it is a difficult balance to choose between.

There are still quite a lot of products that I haven’t come up with a plastic free answer yet. A few of the key ones for us are cheese, creme fraiche and frozen peas. A friend told me that one of our local butchers stocked large blocks of cheese that you can get a piece cut off. So I duly went along, only to find the cheddar block had already been cut up and the pieces packaged into plastic.

So it is still a bit one step forward, two steps back, but overall I’m happy with the change. And I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 3

Here’s my latest update on how I’m doing with my waste reduction, although I do wish I could get my other half onboard too. We popped into a farm shop at the weekend, so I could buy some loose fruit and vegetables. However he added some purchases to the basket, every single one wrapped in plastic, including biscuits with more plastic than I have ever seen before. Sigh! At least the boys are semi-signed on.

I didn’t even manage to get a picture before they were half gone. So much for trying to ensure we eat less processed sugar. But that’s another story. And we didn’t even need more biscuits, as we given plenty at Christmas, which are still in the cupboard, the reason I haven’t baked any lately.

Borders Biscuits

So as mentioned last time, I’ve made a number of longer term purchases as well as focussing on food. First up is laundry. I was horrified when I read in my No More Plastic book about all the micro-plastic going down the drain and ultimately into the ocean each time we do a load of washing. I do plan to research about sustainable clothing, but for now, I’m popping our existing man-made fibre clothing into my new GuppyFriend washing bag. I have to say I was expecting it to trap the same amount of fibre as I remove from the filter in the tumble drier, but there only seems to be a tiny bit. However every little counts I guess. I did also purchase an Eco wash ball online, but when I saw that it was made from plastic, I decided to return it. Instead I’ve now bought a bag of soap nuts, that I found in my local zero waste store.

GuppyFriend laundry bag

Whilst there, I also filled a bottle of washing-up liquid at their refill station and purchased some Ecoleaf dishwasher tablets. And I now have a bamboo dish brush ready for when my existing plastic brush needs replacing. I do plan to do something about dish cloths and scourers too as mine contain micro-plastics, but I had previously bulk purchased these, so will look into that in due course.

The bathroom is another area that I have focussed on. I’m really loving my solid Friendly Soap shampoo bar. It’s definitely my favourite purchase. I’ve also bought a PureMess natural organic deodorant and an Eco Bath bamboo bath puff. One more thing I’ve bought which I’m not so convinced about is an ear bud. Again I probably jumped in too quickly ordering this from Amazon. The original plan was that this would replace single-use cotton buds, which I mostly only used for ear cleaning. However both the handle and the protective cover are plastic. And I wouldn’t say it is particularly effective, but I will persevere with it, unless I find a better solution.

And I’ve made quite a number of dental purchases since regular toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes are non-recyclable plastic. I’m trying Georganics toothpaste and mouthwash tablets, both of which come in glass jars, but I am concerned that neither contain fluoride which I always thought was important. So still looking for a plastic free alternative with fluoride. I’ve also bought bamboo toothbrushes, natural silk floss and a titanium toothpick to replace all the single-use plastic picks. I haven’t managed to find either a plastic free head for my electric toothbrush or an interdental brush yet, so if anyone knows where to get those, please let me know.

I thought that I was going to need to buy lots of produce bags, but I’ve actually only bought a few mesh ones. Instead I’ve repurposed some small cloth bags into produce bags. And I’m using a mini foldable lunch cool bag, to pop items like sausage rolls into to avoid the grease soaking into the cloth bags. Yes I know it is plastic but we already possess quite a few of these. What does anyone else do regarding greasy food purchases?

Eco friendly purchases

Going forwards, I’m going to try to see if I can find alternative sources of products before immediately buying from Amazon, as that resulted in unnecessary plastic packaging. The bottom left image just above is an example of products from Amazon.

I’ll give you an update on the grocery side of things next time. It’s all little steps at the moment, but I’m pleased that I’m heading in the right direction. And I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 2

Regular readers will have heard how this year I’m particularly trying to reduce waste, especially focussing on plastic. This has resulted in quite a few more online purchases than usual this month, so I am slightly concerned that I may be going about this the wrong way, as that doesn’t sound quite the right approach, in terms of the overall ethos. But hopefully these will all make a difference in the long run.

So let me tell you what actions I’ve taken. Previously I mentioned how disappointed I was with the lack of plastic-free options at the supermarket. Since then, I’ve visited both a local butcher and greengrocer and am much more impressed. The butcher only uses paper for packaging, although I’m not sure if it is a recyclable type of paper. Something I need to find out. And the greengrocer was mostly plastic free, although I still failed with my purchases of strawberries, grapes and cucumber. Why on earth does a cucumber need to be encased in plastic, when it has its own perfectly good skin?

greengrocer products

I’m also getting deliveries from my local milkman with mixed success. This is what it said on their website regarding plastic. Ignore the bit about 7am, as they didn’t live up to that expectation.

#plasticfree milk

A big thumbs up to milk, juice and smoothies all in returnable glass bottles. However I did see quite a number of products in plastic packaging listed which I have been trying to steer well clear of. I did make the mistake of ordering butter which looked to be in a paper wrapper, but it actually arrived in a paper wrapper encased inside a cling-film like outer wrapper. Not what I was hoping for. I also tried out their fruit and vegetable box which was mostly plastic free, except for the potatoes which were in a plastic net. Surely they could have been loose like most of the other contents. I did give them feedback on this and they have advised me that they are aiming to have all their fruit and vegetables plastic free by February. At least their grapes were in a paper bag. On the whole, I think I’ll mostly stick with visiting my local greengrocer, but I may test out some other box schemes. I have used Abel and Cole in the past occasionally. Looking forward to buying yoghurt in glass jar from them soon. I also tried some of their fresh bakery products, which are photographed loose on the website, but turned up in those bags which are half paper / half cellophane. Still need to check out my local baker in comparison, or just use my bread machine more frequently.

Milk delivery

And I did buy one item that I hadn’t expected to see on their listings – Cheeky Panda toilet rolls. Not sure about the wrapper on this, it looks plastic, but is labelled as oxo-biodegradable. I’ll have to look up what that means. Also although it is an eco brand, the bamboo used to make it, is grown in South East Asia, so I need to weigh up my carbon footprint versus reducing waste. Hopefully I can find an alternative produced in the UK. I’m sure most loo rolls were wrapped in paper packaging when I was a child, so hopefully brands will reimplement that.

Cheeky Panda toilet rolls

Not all my online purchases have arrived yet, but I instantly noticed the difference in packaging used by Ethical Superstore to that used by Amazon. So rather than using Amazon, as my go-to-store, I need to consider the alternatives first. I shall tell you more about my online purchases in the next instalment, once I’ve had time to try them all out. But they do include the GuppyFriend bag that I found out about in the No More Plastic book.

Another thing I’m trying to address is the amount of junk that comes through our letterbox, since we  don’t need it in the first place. So I’ve taken two actions. I’ve filled out an opt-out form on Royal Mail website, however my postman says he has to continue to deliver it until the form has been processed which could take unto a month, because he is being paid to deliver it. And I’ve also stuck a “No Junk Mail” sticker on our letterbox, to hopefully discourage other door-to-door deliverers.

No more junk mail

So some small improvements here. I hope to visit my nearest zero waste store soon. And I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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No More Plastic by Martin Dorey

Regulars readers will be aware that this year I have started a more conscious effort to reduce waste, in particular plastic, as I am very concerned about the amount of plastic pollution in the oceans and the global impact. And it is quite a lightbulb moment when you realise that all the toothbrushes, combs and other plastic products we have used over the years, will be around long after our deaths.

Towards the end of last year, my jaw dropped when I read a news article about an environmental book called “No More Plastic” being shrink wrapped. What a wake-up call. I immediately added the book to my wishlist and my sister kindly bought me the kindle version for Christmas.

No More Plastic by Martin Dorey

This book easily draws you in with the message that it only takes you 2 minutes to implement any #2minutesolution to reduce your plastic consumption. These all add up to making a meaningful difference to the world. Let me share a few quick solutions that I have implemented as a result of reading this book.

Firstly I discovered that bottles with plastic wraps cannot be identified by the recycling sorting machines, so end up in landfill. Therefore my initial #2minutesolution has been to pull these off bottles like Actimel. My family drink a lot of these, so ultimately I’m hoping to find a similar drink in a glass bottle, but in the meantime these ones need to be recycled.

My next #2minutesolution has been to order a GuppyFriend Bag, which hopefully will arrive soon. What’s one of those I hear you ask. Don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of them either. It is a lint catching bag that can be used in the washing machine, similarly to the filter that catches lint in a tumble drier. Why do I need one? Well from reading the book, I’ve just discovered that every item of clothing made from man-made fibres sheds plastic lint each time you wash it, which currently is going straight down the drain, and eventually into the ocean. The tiny plastic particles are too small to be captured at the sewage plant. And as I enjoy running frequently, I possess plenty of man-made clothing which is often in the wash. That certainly made me sit up and think. Never dropping litter, I hadn’t thought of myself as a potential ocean polluter.

And thirdly, I’ve now downloaded an app called Bead The Microbead and am about to use it to scan the contents of my bathroom cabinet for any products which may contain plastic microbeads. If I find any, they will be binned.

There are lots more that I plan to implement and you will be able to follow this in my new series of blog posts documenting my journey towards being plastic free and zero waste. You may see my first post of 2019 here.

I highly recommend this great book by Martin Dorey, which I read cover to cover in one day and keep dipping back into. It is available on Amazon in both kindle or paperback format.

Microplastic is already in the food chain and has been found in humans!

About the author

Martin Dorey, anti-plastics expert, has been working to save our beaches from plastic for the past 10 years. His Beach Clean Foundation and global call to arms #2minutebeachclean has been taken up by people all over the world, and has proven that collective small actions can add up to a big difference. Together we can fix this.

And of course I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 1

Happy New Year everyone. I decided to make a different New Year’s resolution this year to my usual fitness targeted one, although of course I still want to focus on that too. This time it is a biggie in my opinion, to try to do my bit for the planet by leading a more sustainable and eco lifestyle, reducing waste, in particular plastic. My other half laughed at me, saying my actions won’t make a difference, but I think every little helps. He said that if I am really sincere about this, then I need to get rid of my car and avoid flying. Something to think about, but right now I need my car to get to work.

I plan to regularly share my progress here on my blog and hopefully inspire others to take action too. I started thinking about this towards the end of last year, so I was pleased to receive a kindle copy of No More Plastic from my sister for Christmas, off my wishlist. I’ll try and write a separate book review on that, but it has certainly given me plenty of food for thought.

No More Plastic by Martin Dorey

Plastic pollution seems to be heading out of control. There are huge islands of plastic rubbish in the oceans, hundreds of miles across and growing rapidly. What a frightening thought.

UK supermarkets currently generate 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging every year, so I started by signed the Greenpeace petition to UK supermarkets to ditch throwaway plastic packaging. When I went to do my supermarket shopping this week, plastic was in the forefront of my mind, so I was very disappointed to come home with only 7 plastic free products out of a £70 shop. This was at Sainsburys, so I shall see if I can do better at any of the other local supermarkets. I was too early to visit the deli counter which doesn’t open until 9am, but I did some research by asking a member of staff if I could bring my own box for deli purchases. Sadly the answer was no, due to health and safety. Sounds crazy since it would be my food in my box!

#plasticfree groceries

I understand that so far, Iceland is the only UK supermarket chain to pledge to remove plastic packaging from their own-label goods. This should be achieved by 2023, but you can read how they are progressing so far here. Yes I know that it is still a few years off, but they certainly seem to be taking the lead on environmental issues, having already removed palm oil from their own-brand by the end of 2018. Pity I don’t have an Iceland branch locally.

Another thing I try to avoid is food waste, so when I ended up with too much cucumber recently, due to son2 temporarily not eating it, after having had two teeth extracted, I decided to experiment with cooking some. I’ve never cooked cucumber previously, but I thought I would try it in soup.

cucumber soup

Cucumber soup

Ingredients (serves 1)

half a cucumber
1tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 medium potato
1 small onion
1 large cube of frozen chicken stock
2tbsp single cream
approx 200ml boiling water
salt and pepper


Peel and slice the cucumber.
Peel and chop onion and potato into small pieces.
Peel garlic and put through garlic press.
Gently heat oil in a saucepan.
Add garlic and onion to pan and allow to soften.
Add water, stock and potatoes.
Add cucumber.
Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
Cook until potato has softened.
If necessary, add extra water.
Roughly mash with potato masher.
Mix in cream and cook for another minute.
Serve and enjoy.

cucumber soup

I couldn’t persuade son2 to try it, as he doesn’t like soup, but I found it really delicious. Lovely comfort food. Just what I needed as I have a bad cough at the moment.

And whilst at Sainsbury’s, I bought a couple of perpetual advent calendar box kits, reduced to 30p each, although unfortunately plastic wrapped. But this is with the aim of reducing plastic long-term, as the boys insist on chocolate filled advent calendars each year, which of course contain a lot of plastic. Now I’ll be able to make my own chocolate shapes using the plastic moulds saved from last year’s calendars, and pop them in these advent boxes.

advent calendars

This is my first tiny steps on my journey towards being plastic free and zero waste. Obviously I have a huge way to go yet. And I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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Guest post: Low Environmental Impact Building Ideas

With global populations on the rise, the environmental impact of our day-to-day lives on the forefront of many people’s minds, and fossil fuels proving to be completely unsustainable at the rate we’re consuming them, many are looking for ways to make their lives greener. For those building a home, or looking to retrofit their existing home, the question becomes even bigger: How should they ensure that their living space, potentially for the rest of their lives, have the lowest environmental impact they can manage?

Low Environmental Impact Building Ideas

Image Source – Pixabay

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that all building is going to have some impact on the environment. It’s impossible to go completely green – but that’s okay. Remember, too, that it’s much more environmentally sound to update and retrofit an already existing home, rather than demolish and build from scratch.

Choose your materials wisely
Whether you’re building a new home or adding on to an existing one, be sure to consider the materials you’re sourcing to build it with. Some people choose to look into straw-bale housing, or bags of earth – but more traditional materials can be used, too, depending on how you get them.

Look for what you have in your area, and try to avoid factory-produced materials such as concrete, plastic, metal, and bricks (unless, of course, you’re recycling them – then go all-out!). Things like timber, clay, lime, hemp, and stone can all be sourced locally depending on where you are, and don’t have the carbon footprint things that are factory-produced do. You also don’t have to worry about the impact shipping your materials would have!

Keep it small
Unlike the old adage, bigger is decidedly not better: a small home means less materials, less heating and cooling costs, and less electricity usage. A large home simply cannot have a low impact – it can only take steps to reduce the large impact it has. Don’t fall for claims that state otherwise.

Similarly, a compact house will lose heat and cold less rapidly than a larger house will. If you need a space with 2,000 sqft, try considering a storied home rather than a single-floored home. It’s the same basic principle as the very energy-efficient igloo: the less surface area the home has, the lower the heat loss will be.

Insulate and seal
Surface area is only the beginning of sustainable housing. The smallest house will still bleed heat and cold if it’s not insulated well – and even a larger home will see a huge reduction in energy costs by ensuring it’s insulated properly. Since heating and cooling are the largest energy consumers in the household, accounting for around 50% of household energy consumption, cutting down those costs will have a huge effect.

Sealing air-flow and cutting off drafts is a lesser-known but similarly-impactful way to cut down heating and cooling costs. Areas around doors and windows are the biggest culprits, but looking for cracks and gaps anywhere in the house, including along electrical wiring holes, and sealing them up with caulk or closed cell spray foam, can go miles towards ensuring the heat and conditioned air you’re pumping into your house, stays in your house.

Looking to reduce those costs even more – and willing to try something out of the ordinary? Earth sheltering is on the rise as the lowest-impact way to cut heating and cooling to next to nothing. An ancient technique, it relies on the earth’s natural insulating abilities, and comes with the benefits of being low-maintenance, fire-resistant, and well-protected against storms. There’s a wide variety of ways to work earth sheltering into a home, from roofing to caring into a hillside – learn what works best for you.

Invest good appliances
Using energy-efficient appliances is the quickest and easiest way to reduce environmental impact in the home. While a bit more expensive, looking for an Energy Star label when buying new appliances is a great way to reduce the footprint of an already existing home, or get a new home fitted in the right way. Everything from air conditioners and water heaters, to fridges, toasters, and TVs can have Energy Star ratings, so do your research and look around.

Another, often-overlooked way to reduce impact is to look for LED lighting in your home. LEDs have a very low cost for the amount of energy they provide, so while their upfront price may be more, expect to see drastically-reduced electricity costs – and a longer lifespan.

Even your plumbing can be looked into. Toilets, for example, are being made with water conservation in mind; look for a dual-flush toilet, where you can choose if you need a smaller or larger amount of water. All other fixtures, like showerheads and faucets, can be fitted to have a reduced flow, as well.

Use natural sources instead of grid-based
Getting solar panels installed, especially in climates closer to the equator, are a fantastic way to reduce electricity costs during the day. Reduce them even further by orienting your house in a way that will get the most out of the sun’s warmth, especially in winter, to help offset heating costs. If you’re okay with having less on-demand hot water, looking into solar-heated water is another way to reduce your energy costs with the sun.

Similarly, tapping into rainwater collection is a great way to compliment water-efficient plumbing. Even just connecting gutters and other runoffs to barrels can go a long way towards providing for your home. Untreated, it can be used to flush toilets and water gardens; if you’re willing to look into treating water, rainwater can be used for everything from drinking to cooking.

If that’s not enough, try looking into other renewable resources in your locale. Is your home in a good place for a windmill? Can you tap into the earth’s natural warmth and look into geothermal heating? Explore your options with a contractor who’s familiar with sustainable resources.

Build to last
One of the most overlooked ways to build a sustainable home is to build a home that will last you for years to come. That can mean any number of things – whether you simply want something that will stand the test of time, or if you’re looking for a home you’ll want to live in for years to come.


Guest post by Craig Scott – editor at Green and Growing








Guest post: How to Make Your Party Environmentally Friendly

How to Make Your Party Environmentally Friendly

pouring champagne

Source: – FREE IMAGE

Over the last few years I have made more of an effort to be more environmentally-conscious. In my younger days, I was a little flippant and just assumed that someone would come along and solve climate change within my lifetime. However, as I have grown older and wiser, I have realised that we all need to work collectively to ensure that we leave as small a carbon footprint as possible.

After clearing up after an early summer party this year with a prosecco-induced headache, I realised just how many disposable items I was using. I realised that I needed to make a change and to use more eco-friendly products to do my own little bit for Mother Nature.

Throwing a party that is less wasteful and eco-friendlier is super-easy, so here are my top tips to get you on your way!


Source: – FREE IMAGE

Ditch The Paper & Go Digital

Now that we are well and truly in the digital age, it is time to ditch the paper invites and go virtual. Most of my friends are on Facebook, so creating a Facebook event is a great way of inviting all my besties and keeping them all updated if there are any changes. Remember that while most people are on Facebook, there are likely to be one or two who don’t have accounts. Make sure that you make a note of all those people who don’t have an account, and send them a quick text or WhatsApp to let them know!

If you need something a little posher for those more formal occasions, then there are online personal invitation services, such as Greenvelope, which are a great way of keeping it formal while cutting down on waste. If you really need to send actual physical paper invitations, then go for fully recycled paper to cut down on the amount of paper ending up in landfills.



Go Local

Apart from the drinks, this is one of the most important parts of your party! If you are only going to be serving nibbles, then make sure that you aren’t serving anything too messy, and encourage your guests to eat with their fingers while they mingle. When you are looking at sourcing the food, rather than going to the supermarket, make a point of a visiting the local farm shop to buy local produce. The hubby and I recently ventured outside of Brighton and discovered a delightful farm shop, in which we found some delightful artisan cheeses and organic vegetables, which provided us with the basis for our nibbles and they went down a treat with our guests!

alfresco dining


Keep It Sustainable

When you have many guests it can be tempting to go for disposable plates and cutlery to make cleaning super-quick and easy. If you want to be super eco-friendly then the greenest way to do this is to stick with your regular dishes and glasses – also, does anyone really enjoy those flimsy paper plates!? If you are worried about miss-matched crockery, then keep your eyes peeled in your local charity shops as people often donate matching sets of wonderful crockery which you can get for a fraction of the price and save ‘for best’. I would also recommend investing in some beautiful cloth napkins to cut down on paper waste.

If you are looking for furniture, then you should be on the look-out for British made, long-lasting chairs and tables. The shipping process is kinder on the environment due to goods being transported a shorter distance over land. Also, by choosing folding chairs you can easily store them easily in the shed for use, after use.

glass botlle candle holders

Source: – FREE IMAGE

Get Upcycling

Something that I have learnt over the years is that dinner parties can be extravagant but they don’t necessarily need to be wasteful. You also don’t need to go out and spend loads on decorations or ornaments, upcycling is the perfect alternative – and it’s a lot of fun too!

I have found that there are so many fab uses for your old wine bottles! My favourite one is to carefully remove the bottom and place them over tealights for when the evening begins to draw in – it creates beautiful lighting. Painted jam jars work equally as well, with no glass cutting required.

Guest post by Nathalie Martin – blogger at



Guest post: Why to use more eco friendly products

Today more and more people decide to take up actions which are beneficial for our environment or at least to use products which will cause none or minimum damage to the nature. Actually it is something great that people become more conscious about their well-being and about the living world. We have only one planet to live on, right? We have to preserve it for as long period as possible. For this purpose, nowadays many manufacturers take advantage of the whole situation and try to promote their eco products convincing us that it is all about the environment. The truth is that everybody take care of their own interest but indeed going green can make a large impact- on our own lives and nature itself.

Living a green and healthy life is actually not something hard to achieve. You can simply start with changing what you eat or to run more frequently, for example. However, the easiest way to start changing your life and at the same time contributing to our environment is to change the products you use in your household. Fortunately, people have already realised that that the products they use are dangerous not only for the environment, but for themselves as well. When one’s health on the line, then change is possible and necessary.


Your home is your temple, in order to keep it clean and safe for you and your family, there are a few steps you can take. Unfortunately, there are various materials and tools common to many households that can simply put your health in danger. Great majority of the products we use in our every day life contain harsh chemicals, artificial ingredients and many more bad-for-our-health compositions. You probably did not know but the laundry detergent, for instance, which is one of the most toxic products we use.

Even though the nature responsible products has positive impact on the nature and our health, it is still not enough to change the mind of the rest of the people. One of the main reasons because of which people avoid using eco friendly products is their price. Yes, if you want to use such products you have to overpay a little bit more but you will surely preserve your health so we think it is worth the price.

In order to protect yourself and your family, Flat Cleaning Services advise you to use organic cleaning products. They do not contain artificial additives which put our health at risk, they do not contain harsh chemicals as well. What is even more, they do not contain perfumes and synthetic dyes which as you know can lead to serious health problems, allergic reactions or outbreaks. Inhaling these chemicals while cleaning may lead to serious damages on our well-being. Every time you use organic and eco friendly cleaning products, you, your family and the environment are safe and well-preserved.

natural products

The environment has been seriously damaged over the last few decades due to the usage of detergents containing various dangerous chemicals. The use of such has been inspected in details because of their toxic effects on the nature and its fauna. Save our planet and choose the green life- start choosing environmentally products which can help reduce the toxins and poisons that harm our environmental world.

The good news is that many manufacturers are willing to go green and keep on promoting their natural products aiming to protect Mother Earth and at the same time to satisfy people. The best option is to start using organic products that contain only natural toxin-free ingredients. They are safe for you and for our nature.

Guest post by Margaret Ellis


A Bright Future for the Next Generation

Britmums have challenged bloggers to take part in the #brightFuture Challenge. I received a free Unilever bag including a bottle of Persil Non-Bio Small & Mighty Liquid, Dove DermaSpa body lotion and a body wash and a bottle of Domestos Bleach, all brands that I know well and trust.

Unilever products

I certainly want my children to have a bright future, so I try to teach them a mantra I learnt from my parents to reduce, reuse, recycle. Some of it falls on deaf ears, particularly with regards to the huge number of toys we possess.

However they do like to join in with planting seeds, although unfortunately none of us seem to have green fingers, so we certainly couldn’t become self-sufficient, but we did have plenty of raspberries this summer plus some tomatoes and I just picked the last few alpine strawberries of the season. Alongside our gardening efforts, of course we have a compost bin.

growing strawberries

We sometimes enjoy a crafting session together, for which I’ve added lots of bits and pieces to my crafting stash via reuse. So magazines, wrapping paper, ribbon, bubble wrap, boxes all end up there.

And we’ve been using cloth shopping bags for years, long before the plastic bag tariff was introduced. My favourites are personalised with the boys’ artwork. And with shoulder straps, it makes it easier for the boys to help carry shopping home when we walk 10 minutes to our local small supermarket rather jumping in the car.

Unilever bag for life

Talking of bags, I rarely need to buy bin bags, as there always seems to be a constant supply of plastic bags arriving in the house, either from food or packaging on review products. Okay the bags may be a lot smaller, so I’m taking them out to the wheelie bin much more frequently.

And of course we try to follow all the easy energy saving tips like washing clothes at a lower temperature and on a short cycle, turning lights off in unoccupied rooms, closing the curtains, turning the tap off whilst brushing teeth.

Right now, I’m wearing a jumper to avoid putting the heat on for a few more weeks.

Fact File:
Unilever’s brightFuture initiative focuses on small changes that can make big differences and how we can build a world where everyone lives well and lives sustainably. Since the launch of the Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever has helped 482 million people to improve their health and hygiene, including through hand washing, improving self-esteem and oral hygiene.
This is exemplified in the work undertaken by Domestos that has committed to helping 25 million people gain improved access to a toilet by 2020. Access to clean sanitation can protect people from preventable diseases, reduce mortality rates, help reduce school dropout rates and improve quality of life.
Furthermore, Persil has backed a global initiative ‘Learning for Tomorrow’ partnering with UNICEF to help give children in some of the world’s toughest areas the opportunity of a quality education.
Building on the aim to improve lives through small steps, the Dove Self-Esteem Project has worked closely with leading psychologists, academics and experts to create materials and resources that help young people develop a positive relationship with their appearance. The project has now reached over 19 million young lives.

Some interesting figures:
Six out of ten parents saying that they have started to live in a ‘greener’ way at home at the suggestion of their children.
83% of children continue to feel optimistic about their own future and 59% feel optimistic about the future of the environment.
Most parents (between 70-80%) believe that, compared with themselves, their children will live longer, have a better education and better job prospects, and will enjoy life more, even if they will have to work harder to reap the rewards of the greater benefits ahead.

I’d love to hear what you do towards achieving a better future for the next generation.

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Disclosure. This post is an entry for BritMums #brightFuture Challenge, sponsored by Unilever. This post mentions products I received for free. All opinions are my own.

Simply Washing review and giveaway

In a household with 2 young boys, my washing machine is in use several times a week. For starters, there is muddy sports kit and lunch dropped on their school uniforms. Then when we go out for a pizza, my requests for them to use the napkins are ignored. Instead greasy fingers are wiped down the front of their clothes. Also son1 has an annoying habit of rubbing himself against the length of a brick wall whenever out walking near one, which doesn’t do any favours to his clothes.

Simply washing tabs

So I was very pleased to be offered the chance to review Simply laundry products. How would they fare against my washing challenges? I received a pack of 24 Simply Pure Allergen and Fragrance Free Laundry Soft-tabs and a pack of 24 Simply Sensitive Non-Bio Laundry Soft-tabs for free.

Luckily our family is mostly free of skin conditions or irritations apart from very occasional flare-ups, mostly during the height of the pollen season. But for those of you who this is more key for, both packets are endorsed by the National Eczema Society. Both packets also indicate that they are phosphate free and they endorsed by the Vegan Society since they are not tested on animals.

Now I usually put my detergent directly into the drum, but for the purposes of the review I was advised to put the tab at the back of the drawer. I thought I did this correctly but my first load failed as the tab was still in the drawer after the wash. Instead I had to remove the drawer entirely from its housing in order to put the tab right at the very very back as per the photo below. A bit fiddly really, as fingers can’t reach that area otherwise, but I assume that must be the only area the water reaches in my drawer. I’ll probably stick to my normal practice of popping it directly in the drum in future.


So instead my second load was the real test. This was dirty school clothes and you can see from the before and after shots, that I was pleased with the results using a Simply Sensitive tab. I’ve also been happy with the effectiveness of Simply Pure, which is fairly similar to Simply Sensitive with the addition of also being perfume free.


I have a water purifier fitted, so I don’t normally need to use any fabric conditioner. This proved to still hold true for both products.

These products are available to purchase online from Amazon. The Simply Pure Allergen and Fragrance Free Laundry Soft-tabs currently retail at £14.98 for a pack of 48 and the Simply Sensitive Non-Bio Laundry Soft-tabs at £14.58 for a pack of 48. They are also available to purchase in store from Sainsbury’s and Holland & Barrett’s. You only need one tab per load so that is about 30p per wash. They are also available on Amazon in larger packs of 100 or 200 tabs, which work out cheaper per wash.

I would happily recommend both these products, although they are more expensive than some other brands.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a bulk pack of either 100 Simply Sensitive or Simply Pure laundry soft tabs. courtesy of Simply to one lucky winner.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your tips for dealing with bad stains or coping with skin conditions.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.