Category Archives: eco

My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 6

Since becoming more conscious about plastic, I’ve found that I’m making much more frequent small shopping trips to our local high street to visit the butcher, greengrocer and baker, plus going further afield to a zero-waste store. However my purchases do still need to be topped up by a visit to the supermarket from time to time. So I thought I’d share with you what I’ve managed to find plastic-free at the supermarket. I’ve tried Sainsburys and Tesco superstores and a much smaller Co-op.

So starting with the obvious – fruit and vegetables. Although a lot is bagged in plastic, they all have some loose, which I take my own produce bags along for. However I have heard rumours that the sticky labels on loose produce like mangos and avocados may be plastic. Anyone know if that is true? Also it then depends on the supermarket, as to whether you have to weigh the produce yourself and get a barcode price label or if it can be weighed at the till, needing no label. These labels are paper but again you shouldn’t put them in your recycling bin, as the stickiness could jam the recycling mechanism. I didn’t know this until recently. Previously I assumed any paper could go in the recycling bin. I’ve now learnt that quite a few shouldn’t. I may feature this in a future post.

#plasticfree shopping

Another obvious one is the likes of eggs, flour and sugar in their paper packaging. And up until now, I had thought tins, drink cans and jars were a safe bet, apart from those jars with an annoying plastic lid or the superfluous plastic seal around the lid. Totally unnecessary in my opinion. So I had been pleased to find items like passata and coconut oil in jars. But sadly today I read here that the tins, drink cans and metal jar lids are mostly coated on the inside with plastic to avoid corrosion, and not just any plastic but BPA. I’m now getting alarm bells ringing, with regards to potential health risks. Sounds like I will need to rethink my shopping.

#plasticfree shopping

Moving on to the deli counter at the superstores. Sainsburys were not obliging at all, but Tesco will wrap the deli produce in paper for you if you ask them. More sticky labels again. However they wouldn’t go one step further and let me put it loose into my cooler bag. I’m not sure whether this type of paper is either recyclable once washed or compostable. It feels very smooth as if it may contain some type of coating. Anyone know?

#plasticfree shopping

And another partial win is the bakery counter. Larger items seem to be already packed in cellophane window bags, but the smaller items like rolls and croissants I put in my own produce bags.

#plasticfree shopping

Now for some of the items that you may not know about. In the freezer section, items like these veggie burgers and kievs in the picture, along with fishfingers and potato waffles are just in cardboard with no hidden plastic. And i’ve found that Boursin cheese is packed in foil inside cardboard. And Gü desserts are in glass ramekins inside cardboard. I’ve been taking the ramekins to the charity shop.

But then there are items I’ve bought, which look like cardboard, but I have a feeling that they may be mixed materials. Unfortunately the packaging gives no indication. This applies to quite a few brands of ice cream tubs. I’m still searching, so does anyone know of an ice cream that is definitely in just cardboard?

What plastic free foods and drinks have you found at the supermarket?

And here’s a recipe I promised to share for crackers, an item I haven’t managed to find plastic free in the shops. The same story with biscuits, so if anyone has located either of these, please do let me know.


Crackers

Crackers

Ingredients

200g wholemeal plain flour
Salt and pepper
50ml olive oil
100ml cold water

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease baking trays.
Weigh flour into a mixing bowl.
Season with salt and pepper.
Mix in the olive oil.
Mix in the water to form a ball of dough.
Cut small pieces of dough and press each piece onto greased baking tray as thin as possible.
It will probably make more than you can fit on your baking trays, so cook in batches.
Cook for 10-15 minutes in preheated oven until crackers are crisp.
Cool on cooling rack.
Serve cold with cheese or your choice of accompaniment.
Enjoy.
Store in an air-tight container.

Crackers

Crackers

As always, I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 5

It has been a little while since I last gave you an update on my progress with reducing plastic and overall waste reduction generally, so here’s my latest news.

No more junk mail

The “no junk mail” sticker on the front door seems to be working very well. The only things we now seem to be getting in addition to our post are the local monthly village magazines. That is if you don’t count items for the previous resident and I’ve been labelling those “moved away, return to sender” for years now! I’ve started considering each piece of post, as to whether we actually do need it or whether we can ask the sender to cancel. I was impressed that National Trust have started using compostable wrappers for their magazines, but even so I decided this fell into the category of unnecessary post. I’ve therefore mostly unsubscribed, although apparently we will still receive the Autumn edition due to it including AGM voting papers. Can’t say I’ve ever looked at the details of their AGM or plan to in the future either, but never mind, I’ve made a step in the right direction. Also it took two attempts to unsubscribe as apparently the request had to come from member 1 and I was member 2 in our household.

National Trust compostable packaging

However I did fail on trying to unsubscribe from the mail shots our local garden centre send out. I have a loyalty card with them and when I asked on my last visit, apparently you can’t have one without the other. She said “it’s only 8 times a year”, but that is 8 unwanted pieces of post. I did try to suggest they move their mail shots to email, and she did say that they would think about that. So I’ll just have to wait and see.

And on the food shopping front, I’m still guilty of bringing more plastic into the home than I wish. Some things we have been going without in the hope that I will soon find a plastic free alternative. But others are key to our regular weekly shop, particularly biscuits, crackers and fruit bread. I’ve been trying to bake these more often, but as I work full-time, sometimes there just isn’t the opportunity. And when I think I’ve baked a large enough box of crackers to last all week, I then find son1 has managed to polish them off in a couple of days. He’s like a bottomless pit when it comes to food. Today I made a large bowl of popcorn and he alone ate almost the entire lot in less than 5 minutes.

I’m gradually finding plastic free alternatives, so I now get yoghurt in glass jars from the milkman, along with my other deliveries. But unfortunately the milkman seems to have reverted to putting things inside plastic bags. It was all paper bags in January so I don’t know why. I keep asking the dairy to tell him that I don’t want the plastic bags, but the message doesn’t seem to have got through. I haven’t actually met him yet, as he usually delivers well before we wake up.

However some of my successes like plastic free butter and houmous have been discovered in other towns rather than my local high street. So this brings into debate, the question of my carbon footprint. I don’t feel I can justify driving over 5 miles just to buy some butter.

Plastic free butter

One trip I do plan to make further afield is to the new zero waste store which has just opened. I need to get all my containers lined up and ready. I’ve heard it even has freezers, which is excellent news as we have run out of some of our staples like frozen peas and sweetcorn. We much prefer the frozen variety to tinned.

I’ve also continued to keep a careful eye on what goes into my food waste bin. We have two of these, a small kerbside bin and an even smaller windowsill one. Previously I would always chuck everything into the windowsill one initially and then transfer it outside every couple of days. But now I’ve started putting anything like chicken bones straight into the outside bin. This way I can choose to tip the windowsill bin into our garden compost bin, along with some of the compostable paper waste I’ve been saving for this purpose. A mixture of green and brown each time, although I’m not sure how long it will take to decompose for use in the garden. But hopefully this will reduce the number of bags of compost we purchase in future.

Also I’ve made my own equivalent of marmalade, out of orange pulp saved from our juicer along with orange peel.

Zero Waste Marmalade

Marmalade

Ingredients

250g orange pulp
40g chopped orange peel
200ml cold water
50g fruit sugar

Method

Chop the orange peel into small strips.
Place orange pulp and peel in a large saucepan.
Cover with water and add sugar.
Bring to the boil.
Reduce to a simmer.
Cook for a further 10-15 minutes until it has thickened, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile bring another saucepan of water to the boil.
Carefully place jars in the boiling water for about 5 minutes to sterilise.
Remove with tongs.
Spoon marmalade into hot sterilised jars.
Allow to cool.
Serve on buttered toast or bread.
Enjoy.

Zero Waste Marmalade

This made about a jar and a half. Naturally I used jars that I had saved. This marmalade looks a different colour to regular marmalade and I believe that to be due to the pith also being present in the pulp. It also had a much more bitter flavour as I had used less sugar, plus the cooking time is shorter so the peel is a more dominant taste still.

So overall gradually moving 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 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

Ingredients

Peel from 1 grapefruit
1 litre water
1 tsp agave nectar

Method

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

Ingredients

Peel from potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt

Method

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.

houmous

#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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MamaMummyMum

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
oregano
salt and pepper

Method

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.

Sources:
https://jorgefontan.com/sustainable-house-design-21-ideas/
https://www.lowimpact.org/lowimpact-topic/0-natural-building-intro/
https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/top-15-green-home-building-techniques-and-ideas.php
https://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/eco-friendly-home-building

Guest post by Craig Scott – editor at Green and Growing

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Guest post: How to Make Your Party Environmentally Friendly

How to Make Your Party Environmentally Friendly

pouring champagne

Source: https://pixabay.com/en/blur-celebration-dark-dinner-1852926/ – 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!

smartphone

Source: https://pixabay.com/en/smartphone-mobile-phone-app-icon-569515/ – 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.

sweets

Source: https://pixabay.com/en/jams-food-fruit-sweet-healthy-76547/ FREE IMAGE

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

Source: https://pixabay.com/en/barbecue-grill-cook-eat-food-meat-2267968/ FREE IMAGE

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: https://pixabay.com/en/wine-bottle-candle-holder-candle-1615854/ – 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 http://www.helpimgettingmarried.com

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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.

hoome

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

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