Tag Archives: sustainable

Sustainably made games and toys from Jaques of London – the oldest games company in the world!

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

When Rosey from Jaques of London asked me if I would do a Christmas feature, I took a look at their website and was instantly drawn to their heritage. They are a long-established games, toys and sports manufacturer spanning 8 generations of the Jaques family back to 1795. It was refreshing to read that their products are still timber-based today. And not only do they make them, they have been inventing games and toys too. With my interest in genealogy, it was fascinating to read the family history of the oldest games company and sports manufacturer in the world.

Jaques of London family games

I had a good browse round their website and saw that they sell toys suitable for babies upwards, family games and sports equipment like croquet. Spoilt for choice, I selected a couple of traditional classic games – Chinese Checkers and Shut The Box Game which they sent me free to review.

Jaques of London family games

Dispatch was very fast and both games were beautifully presented with reproduction tissue paper and personalised cards from the team members who had hand wrapped them. You could tell a lot of care and thought had gone into that. They immediately made me think of “Brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favourite things” from The Sound of Music. You won’t need to wrap these, they are ready to go under the Christmas tree. However the one thing that was definitely surplus to requirement was the single use plastic encasing each box, as they were already doubly secured with an attractive ribbon.

Jaques of London family games

But since it is obvious that sustainability is something that is key to this company with its environmentally friendly wooden products and brown boxes in preference to shiny ones, hopefully the single use plastic is already on their agenda to remove. I didn’t manage to find a sustainability page on their website, but did come across an interesting article on their blog about What Wood is Safe for Children’s Toys.

So onto the products themselves. I was delighted to spot Shut The Box Game in their range. This is a game that I originally wanted to buy for son1 back in 2013 but couldn’t find it stocked anywhere. He had enjoyed playing it multiple times whilst in hospital with leukaemia. A great distraction for him at the time and educational too.

Jaques of London family games - Shut the Bo

This dice game can be played by any number of players, even just one and is good for arithmetic skills. This is an attractive wooden framed version with a baize lining. Numbers go upto 12, but they sell various versions including one with numbers upto 9 and a travel edition.

The other game I chose was Chinese Checkers and when it arrived, I discovered a bonus. Chinese Checkers on one side and flip it over for a game of Go Bang. All the pieces of this edition have been beautifully hand carved.

Jaques of London family games - Chinese Checkers

Chinese Checkers is a traditional board game for 2, 3, 4 or 6 players. Each player chooses a peg colour and a starting point of the star. The objective of this game is to be the first to get all 10 of your pegs to the opposite star point. Jumping is a key feature of the rules and depending on the position of the pieces, we sometimes got lucky travelling right across the board in one move with a series of jumps.

Meanwhile Go Bang is a strategy game of territorial capture for 2 players.

Jaques of London family games - Go Bang

All the games came with comprehensive detailed instructions. And very good value for money for excellent high quality products which should last a lifetime. These would both be great for Christmas gifts.

So I certainly recommend you have a look round their website. They currently have some great special offers. So many fabulous eco-friendly plastic-free fun toys, games and sports equipment. Plus you can get 15% off if you sign up to their newsletter.

Finally a random fact for the day, the origin of Chinese Checkers is in Germany and not China, so why do they call it Chinese Checkers?

I’d love to hear your favourite game or idea for inventing a new game.

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Veo, the sustainable marketplace plus giveaway

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

Sustainability is the number one word for me when it comes to shopping these days, but in general it does tend to take a lot more time and effort researching what to buy where, so I was very pleased to hear about Veo World. They have taken out the hard work by liaising with reputable ethical independent brands to bring quality products to the online sustainable Veo Marketplace. I was even more delighted to be selected as a brand ambassador for Veo and to have the opportunity to tell you all about them.

Broadly speaking, the Veo Marketplace encompasses fashion, beauty, food and homeware. They have put together curated selections of these categories of products, in order to showcase some of the brands they collaborate with. I have received their curated selection of food and drink products free to review and promote.

Veo World selection

The contents of my box were as follows:-

75g Cocoa Husk Tea from The Cocoa Concept
Adrift 20cl botanical non-alcoholic spirit from Pentire Drinks
Three 30g packets of Gnawbles snacks from Creative Nature
32g Rich Chocolate Protein Powder from Bodyhero
35g Minty Mylk Chocolate bar from Mr Popple’s Chocolate

All carefully packed in a cardboard box with paper shreddings and then in a home compostable mailing bag.

Cocoa Husk tea

Cocoa Husk tea is a very clever sustainable innovative idea to make tea using the outer shell of the cocoa bean, a by-product when harvesting the cocoa beans, which would otherwise go to waste. We found this tea very refreshing and loved its chocolatey flavour and smell. What a win-win of an idea in developing this product. And after use, the cocoa husk can be added to your compost or garden soil. This is the shortest dated product with a best before date of 30/9/21, which is plenty of time.

Cocoa Husk tea

The tea packet itself is labelled as oxo-degradable, with a rubbish disposal image alongside. I had to look up this terminology and effectively it is a greenwashing term, as although it should degrade within a couple of years, it will only degrade into micro plastics which will then be around for 100s of years, so I assume that will be why it shows the rubbish disposal image. Perhaps Veo will be able to give the brand a nudge as regards their packaging. Such a great sustainable product deserves not to have their credentials dulled by greenwashing. It would be better to just say dispose in rubbish, although hopefully the brand is investigating other packaging alternatives, which can still keep the tea fresh.

Adrift non-alcoholic spirit

Adrift is a distilled coastal botanical non-alcoholic drink from Cornwall. Now I don’t really know much about spirits, either alcoholic or non-alcoholic, so I was hoping that either the bottle or the marketplace would give me some guidance on how to serve, but unfortunately not. I guess they are assuming that their customers would all know what to do, so I went with my instinct and measured out 20ml of Adrift, added some ice and topped my glass up with lemonade. But maybe that was the wrong choice of mixer, as certainly lemon was the dominant flavour although I could detect hints of something else pleasant. I subsequently read that lemon juice was one of the ingredients.

Gnawbles snacks

The Gnawbles were a big hit with all the family although we had different choices as to which of them was our favourite flavour out of Super Salted Caramel, Cheeky Choc HazelNot or Creamy Mylk Chocolate. These have a light crunchy cereal middle covered in chocolate. They are vegan, gluten free, no palm oil and nut free, yes even the HazelNot. According to the marketplace, there is also a fourth flavour called Brilliant Orange Cacao which sounds like it should be just as yummy. Surprisingly the packaging type varies across flavours with Creamy Mylk in 1 PET, whilst the other two are in 5 (polypropylene). Some of the supermarkets are now starting to take these soft plastics for recycling.

Bodyhero chocolate shake

Now I don’t possess a shaker so I did the best I could at mixing the chocolate Bodyhero powder, and I must have made a reasonable attempt, as son1 who had requested this particular drink whilst the adults focussed on the tea and spirits, gave it the thumbs up. And he did let us all have a taste too. This product is vegan with the main ingredient being pea protein. The packet indicates it is also suitable for blending into smoothies or adding to good fats for a keto diet. This is another soft plastic packet, this time 4 LDPE. And I see that there is a Bodyhero shaker for sale on the marketplace for which they plant one tree per order. Another plus point.

Mr Popple's chocolate

The Minty Mylk bar of Mr Popple’s Chocolate also got a very positive taste reaction from all of us. Its credentials are equally impressive with the packet indicating that it is organic, vegan, raw, no refined sugars, no palm oil, gluten free, soya free, ethically traded and sustainably grown, along with home compostable packaging. Plenty of other flavours in the range but you will have to be quick for this one as it is a limited edition.

These are just a small sample of the selection of products available from the Veo marketplace. I certainly recommend Veo for the breadth of ecofriendly brands they have partnered with. Do have a browse around to see the full range. I’m off to check out their sustainable underwear next.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition, courtesy of Veo to giveaway a similar selection of products to one lucky winner!

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

I’d love to hear your favourite product on the Veo marketplace or your suggestions of other sustainable additions you would like to see there. My two favourites from those I received are the Mr Popple’s chocolate and the Cocoa Husk tea.

UPDATE 3/8/21
I now have an offer to pass on to my readers – £10 off your first order at Veo using the code: YABM10. This is valid for the first 10 people to use only.

Boostology here to give you and the planet a boost

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

Regular followers of my blog will know that I am passionate about the environment and keen to support small independent UK businesses who are of a similar mindset to me. Boostology+ is a brand who caught my eye recently and they have now sent me a liquid hand soap in a glass bottle free to review.

Boostology liquid soap

These days where possible I buy loose bar soap as the best zero waste option. However there are plenty of reasons when only a bottle of liquid soap will do and I’m not just talking hand wash because of coronavirus. For example how about when you have been touching raw meat or someone in the household has a skin infection or for guests. Or it could just be a space issue, as the wash basin in our downstairs toilet, is too small to balance a soap dish, (see photo further down). Previously I’ve only seen liquid soap in  plastic bottles, so I was delighted to find this in an attractive amber glass bottle.

Boostology packaging

Dispatch was very prompt and the package was carefully packed with a prominent fragile warning sticker. Another label inside described how it is an eco-friendly parcel, telling the customer that the box and brown paper packing tape can be recycled together. Also that the natural starch beads are biodegradable and compostable. Thumbs up!

Boostology packaging

Looking at the glass bottle, I was very pleased to see how easy the pump mechanism is to open and close. Opening pump-operated bottles is something that has defeated me on several occasions in the past. Or it could just be me, as also trigger spray bottles seem to stop working for me about half way through most bottles, but that is a problem to resolve another day. The pump is the only component which is still plastic, so it would be great if Boostology+ could perhaps introduce a liquid soap refill option with a metal lid to the range, for returning customers to purchase.

Moving on to the soap itself, I found it lathers up well and the peppermint and eucalyptus fragrance is amazing. I love it, and big plus point, you would certainly know if your kids say they have washed their hands but haven’t actually done so. They also stock a hand sanitiser in the same flavour.

Boostology liquid soap

I’m a firm believer in using one product for multiple purposes, so I also tried this in the shower as well as for hand-washing. It is absolutely brilliant in the shower, my skin felt really moisturised. And the Boostology+ tagline of each product is designed to give you, and the planet, a boost really comes into its own, as it gave me a fab boost especially the aroma which left me feeling tingly and revitalised, ready for the day. Great feeling for well-being. The product’s name Revive is spot on in this regard. I shall be trying it on my hair next.

It is a convenient 250ml size, made of 100% natural ingredients including 25% organic ingredients, essential oils and coconut oil. Plus it is palm free, vegan, cruelty free and handmade. The coconut oil will provide antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. There are 5 symbols on the bottle for things like vegan, but I’m not sure what the second one down means, so it would be helpful to be able to match these symbols against meanings on the product webpage. Yes it is more expensive than you would pay for soap in a supermarket, but look at all its qualities that I have listed above. I would certainly be more than happy to buy this and support a small independent UK business.

Boostology liquid soap

This product in its beautiful amber glass bottle would make a lovely gift for a friend. Also a helpful nudge in showing options for reducing plastic, if they are not already taking steps in that direction. Boostology+ has lots more great gifts in the range besides natural skincare, like jewellery, candles, face masks, diffusers and essential oils. Do take a look at the full range on their website, which is extra user-friendly with its filtering options by category, occasion, speciality or values. Each of their gifts is kind to you and has minimal impact on the environment. The range encompasses natural, organic, vegan, plastic free, handmade, reusable and made in the UK. They also offer a 60 day refund policy.

Boostology liquid soap

Having tried the Revive soap, I’m now very tempted to try their volcanic potpourri in the same peppermint and eucalyptus scent, a product sold exclusively by Boostology+ I did have to swap to browsing on my phone to discover this, as the drop down list of six scents seemed to be incompatible to view on my MacBook.

Returning to the sustainability angle of the packaging, it was great to read all the eco-information on the label and see how Boostology+ have taken steps for a plastic free delivery. But as a consumer I wish to pose more questions. Does that mean home compostable or would it require an industrial composter? How about an estimate of how long the beads take to biodegrade and what conditions are required. For instance, it partially defeats the purpose if the consumer then tips those beads into a plastic bin bag, ties it up and sends it to landfill. Also stickers are not generally recyclable, as the adhesive can get caught in the recycling equipment, so are the ones used here okay in that regard or not? If not, then how about warning the consumer to remove the labels before recycling. Yes they are probably better than self-inking stamps, but is there an even better solution? Maybe the eco-friendly details could be emailed on the order confirmation and “Fragile” could be hand-written.

Boostology liquid soap

I was very pleased to read that Boostology+ plant a tree for every order placed, no matter how small the order. A good step to help tackle the climate crisis. And they recycle all their office waste and use 100% renewable electricity at their HQ (from solar, wind and hydro-electric power stations).

So to summarise, I highly recommend both this product and brand.

And I’d love to hear your top tips for eco-friendly bathroom swaps you have made.

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Eco-friendly Frugal & Green Lens Cleaner

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

I am really excited to tell you about a new sustainable product which will be launching on Kickstarter towards the end of next month. This is an eco-friendly lens cleaner and I have received a 5-year supply free to review.

Frugal & Green eco-friendly lens cleaner

This brilliant concept has been thought up by two friends Marin and Alex who have named their brand Frugal & Green. And that name is so apt for a product which is not only great for the environment and planet but saves you money at the same time.

Frugal & Green eco-friendly lens cleaner

The product comprises of two bottles – a tiny one containing 50 tablets and a pocket-size empty spray bottle, which will easily fit in a handbag. You fill the spray bottle with tap-water and add a tablet, which quickly dissolves, a similar process to my daily routine with mouthwash tablets.

There is no information on the bottle regarding the ingredients of the tablets, but the website advises that the contents are eco-friendly too. Apparently a cloth is also included with the product, but as I didn’t receive one, I am unable to comment on what it is made of.

Frugal & Green eco-friendly lens cleaner

The current retail price is €24.99 which is approximately £22 , but there will be a 33% Early Bird discount on Kickstarter. That is amazing value when you consider it will last about 5 years! Frugal & Green estimate the price to be about 10 times cheaper than plastic alternatives.

Frugal & Green eco-friendly lens cleaner

My glasses get so greasy, that lens cleaner is something I tend to use at least once every day. I’ve never ever tried single-use lens wipes, but I am still concerned about my current brand of lens cleaner bottle being non-recyclable. I hate it when I have to throw something in the rubbish bin as I’m a firm believer in the mantra Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Refurbish, Repair, Regift, Rehome, Repurpose, Recycle, Replant, Rot. So a refillable durable glass bottle ticks all the boxes for me.

Frugal & Green eco-friendly lens cleaner

And this lens cleaner is suitable for other types of lenses as well as your spectacles, like cameras and binoculars. I also tried it out on my phone screen, laptop and some dvds and cds and found it great for all those too. That might be a particular bonus for those who only wear glasses occasionally and are thinking, do I really need a 5 year supply of lens cleaner? Yes I’m thinking back to when I wore contact lenses, before varifocals became a necessity for me.

I was also pleased to observe that sustainability had been considered with regards to the packaging. The glass bottles had been wrapped in old newspaper and the accompanying note looked like it was written on recycled paper.

All in all an easy way to help try to save the future of the planet, which regular readers of my blog will be aware is very important to me, from my series of posts on reducing waste.

I discovered this brand via the Ethical Influencers network. And as I mentioned at the beginning of my blog post, their lens cleaner will be launching on Kickstarter next month. You may sign up to their newsletter to be notified of the product launch here.

I highly recommend this product. Plus I’ll be back with a giveaway after the Kickstarter launch.

And I’d love to hear your top tips for eco-friendly bathroom swaps you have made.

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KIND2 you, KIND2 the planet

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

Saving the planet doesn’t have to mean bad hair! I recently discovered the natural plastic-free haircare brand KIND2 via the Ethical Influencers network. KIND2 is a small, independent, ethical haircare company founded by Sue Campbell, because she wanted to make a difference for the planet.

plasticfree KIND2 shampoo bars

I received a KIND2 shampoo bar and a conditioner bar free to review. There are two shampoo bars in the range and I chose to test out the sensitive one as my scalp is very prone to dandruff. Their other shampoo bar is a hydrating one, so targeted at dry, curly and coloured hair.

Dispatch was quick and the packaging was also plastic free, even down to using paper tape. I hate trying to remove sellotape prior to recycling so thumbs up for that.

plasticfree KIND2 shampoo bars

KIND2 products are vegan and free from plastic, soap, sulphates, silicones and parabens. They are made in the UK, supporting local industry and lowering their carbon footprint. Plus you’ll see on their website, that all their bars have won awards.

Now I started using shampoo bars over 18 months ago, but I have to say it has been rather hit and miss as to which ones I like and those I don’t. I particularly hate it when one leaves a residue  in my hair which won’t rinse out and then causes extra tangles when combing.

plasticfree KIND2 shampoo bars

However this is my first time using a conditioner bar. Initially I still had open bottles of conditioner left to use up when I first made the swap to shampoo bars. I did donate any unopened bottles to The Hygiene Bank but no point in throwing away what you already have. And since then, I have been making my own homemade zero waste apple cider vinegar from apple scraps as a hair rinse. Something else that I must get round to writing a blog post about.

So putting the KIND2 bars to the test. I made sure my hair was fully wet first, before wetting the shampoo bar and rubbing it into my roots and through my hair. It lathered reasonably well, but note we do have soft water here, so I can’t comment on how it would be in hard water. My hair is thick, but I found it easy to wash through and it rinsed out well too without leaving residue. No need for a second wash.

plasticfree KIND2 shampoo bars

I then followed it up with the same procedure using the conditioner bar. This smelt lovely with a subtle aroma, whilst the shampoo bar was fragrance free. I was able to easily comb my hair afterwards with no tangles. And as it was a lovely summer’s day, I went out to the garden and allowed my hair to dry naturally. The result was soft and shiny, so I am very pleased.

I am sold on these products and not just because they are plastic free, including the box. I am putting it down to them also being soap free. Read this interesting article about pH balance on their website.

I found I could easily go well over a week between hair washes, with my hair still looking clean and glossy, which was unheard of before I swapped to shampoo bars. The box indicates that one 80g shampoo bar equates to two 250ml bottles, which should be around 60 washes. So great value for money as well as for the environment at £12.50 for a bar. Similarly the conditioner bar should last for 80 washes. Wow that is just 1g per wash.

plasticfree KIND2 shampoo bars

These numbers do depend on you allowing the bars to dry out between washes. When I first swapped to a shampoo bar, I didn’t have a spare soap dish for it, so to keep it dry, I took a Heath Robinson approach. I put elastic bands round the bottom half of a travel soap holder which I already had and balanced the shampoo bar on this. This works fine, but I do love the look of all the sustainable soap dishes that KIND2 also sell. They have ceramic, enamel and wood soap dishes available.

plasticfree KIND2 shampoo bars

And just to let the gents know that the box says that the shampoo bar is great as a beard wash too. Also the ingredients in KIND2 shampoo bars and conditioner bars should be gentle enough for children of 5 years and over. So suitable for all the family.

Regular readers of my blog will be aware from my series of posts on reducing waste that I am doing my best to reduce my use of plastic. So KIND2 scores full marks from me on this front and I am more than happy to recommend this brand. If you haven’t tried a shampoo bar yet, then give it a whirl. Plus if you sign up to the KIND2 newsletter, you’ll get a 10% discount off your first order, along with other special offers.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition courtesy of KIND2 to giveaway a shampoo bar and a conditioner bar 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 what is your favourite product from KIND2 or your suggestions for additions to the range. And how about sharing your top tips for eco-friendly bathroom swaps you have made.

The only thing now for me still to sort out is a post-lockdown hair cut. However I’ve heard several non-eco friendly tales of disposable towels and gowns. So I am torn between wanting a haircut, but not with lots of single use plastic involved. What has anyone else’s experience been?

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Who wants to win a pair of environmentally friendly hummingbird earrings?

Disclosure.  Although I am hosting this giveaway, I have not received any products.  All opinions are my own.

With the lockdown continuing, perhaps the chance to win something sparkly might cheer you up, either for yourself or as a gift for a special person. So read on for details of a great prize.

Worth £69, these handmade silver hummingbird ear studs will add sparkle and charm to your look. Inspired by the amazingly unique and tiny hummingbird, these dainty earrings have been hard carved and cast in sterling silver by master goldsmith Jana Reinhardt. Measuring 10 x 6 mm, the studs would make a lovely addition to any jewellery collection. Hummingbirds are believed to represent strength-of-being and resilience, things we all need a little more of at the moment. They are beautiful earrings that are subtle and classic enough to be worn every day, as a little reminder to hang on in there, whatever challenges you face.

Hummingbird Earrings

Based in Sussex since 2006, Jana Reinhardt handcrafts fine jewellery and bespoke pieces for people who appreciate the lighter side of life. Jana Reinhardt jewellery designs are inspired by the natural world and the naive art movement. They don’t use machine manufacture, preferring the old techniques of wax carving and fabrication to create our products. These traditional methods have no negative effect on the environment, making Jana Reinhardt a more sustainable choice for jewellery lovers. All metals used are from accredited suppliers, based in the UK and Germany, that continually buy back and recycle scrap metal, thus helping to create more environmentally friendly jewellery.

Hummingbird Earrings

And I’m hosting a giveaway to win a pair of these beautiful hummingbird earrings, courtesy of Jana Reinhardt jewellery.

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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 what might cheer you up during lockdown.

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An eco Christmas Gift Guide ad

Disclosure.  This post mentions products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.
This post is classed as an advert because I have been requested to include a specific URL

It is getting to that time of year to start thinking about Christmas presents, so I would like to share some of my gift guide ideas. Regular readers will know that I’ve tried to adopt a much more sustainable philosophy this year, so I’ve been keeping an eye out whenever I’ve been in the charity shops. I’ve got quite a few toys, games and books as stocking fillers for the boys. Some of them even look brand new. Of course I still plan to get them at least one thing that they each specifically request.

Sous Chef salt plate

However you can also get some nice new sustainable gifts and when I was browsing the cookware section of the Sous Chef website, I discovered some great finds, which they kindly sent me for free. First up is this fab Himalayan salt plate. It comes in two sizes and this is the smaller 21cm x 10 cm. Salt is naturally antibacterial, so there is no need to use soap to clean the plate. Just wipe with a damp cloth, and dry well before storing. You can heat the plate in the oven or chill it in the freezer, and it will season the food you are serving on it. Just imagine frying scallops on it or using it to serve your caramel ice cream. What a wow factor at the table!

Sous Chef grow your own sunflowers and kale

And for the gardener in your life, there is a great range of grow your own products. I chose these grow in the bag Towering Sunflowers and Gigantically Good Dinosaur Kale (cavolo nero). The instructions on the reverse indicate that you start the seeds off in the natural biodegradable jute bag, then transplant the whole thing outside to mature. See I’m also thinking about the bees with the sunflowers, as I had been contemplating making my own bee bombs.

Sous Chef grow your own sunflowers and kale

I’m planning to make some homemade foodie gifts for the extended family, so the final two items I chose from the cookware range are early Xmas gifts to myself to assist in that process. There is a large Cook’s Muslin Square 93cm x 100cm that I’m hoping to use to strain jellies and steam Christmas puddings. Two things I’ve never tried previously, but I can remember as a child watching my mum tie her jelly bag onto a kitchen drawer handle overnight when making crab apple jelly. You never know, I might even try making my own cheese with it. Muslin is a natural fabric which can be washed and reused time after time.

Sous Chef Cooks Muslin

And after any cooking, there is the cleaning afterwards, which is where this copper washing up sponge will come in very handy. It is made by Andrée Jardin, a traditional French family business where everything is produced in small batches, using artisanal techniques. The company’s motto is Simplicity, Quality, Sustainability.

Sous Chef copper sponge

Do take a look at the Sous Chef site here https://www.souschef.co.uk/collections/cookware. There are so many more fabulous items. I’ve got my eye on the dehydrator. It would be great to make my homemade fruit snacks and vegetable crisps, avoiding all the plastic packaging that they tend to be sold in. The trays are stainless steel, so no need to worry about toxins from plastic either.

My other big sustainable gift suggestion is to give someone a memory. I’m thinking of paying the entry fee for a swimming race for my partner, but it could be buying a membership of say Woodland Trust or adopting an endangered animal via WWF or tickets to an event. The list is endless.

I’d love to hear what you would like to give or receive for Christmas. I’m especially looking forward to hearing about sustainable ideas.

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Ethical amaranthine lip balm review and giveaway

I recently discovered the natural skincare brand amaranthine via the Ethical Influencers network. Amaranthine is a small, independent, ethical skincare company based in Edinburgh. All their products are luxurious, handmade, 100% natural and palm oil free. Amaranthine is the first skincare company in the world to receive a palm oil free certification trademark.

Doesn’t that sound great? So I was delighted to have the opportunity to review their lip balm for free.

amaranthine lip balm

Dispatch was very quick and the lip balm was packed securely in a small jiffy envelope. I was very pleased to see that the product comes in an aluminium tin. Regular readers of my blog will be aware from my series of posts on reducing waste that I am doing my best to reduce my use of plastic. My existing lip balm is in a plastic tube and I had been rather reluctant to swap to vaseline, which was the only other product I was aware of in a tin.

No such reticence with the amaranthine lip balm. The aroma of the cocoa and peppermint flavour was absolutely divine when I opened the tin. It reminded me of the smell of After Eight chocolates. I couldn’t wait to try it.

I’ve now been using it only for a few days and already my lips feel so moisturised and much softer than before. Easy to apply using your finger tip. Certainly much better than what I was using previously. Of course, my lips need a lot more pampering in the winter, so I can’t tell you currently how it performs in harsh weather conditions.

amaranthine lip balm

And according to the website, most of the ingredients are organic. And the shea butter is also fair trade too. So thumbs up from me on the ethical front. It is always great to find a company who focus on sustainability and being eco-conscious. One thing that isn’t mentioned is whether the lip balm has an SPF factor, so that would be useful to know particularly at this time of year.

It currently retails at £4.50 for 14g. An ideal size to keep in your bag for when you are out and about. The bottom of the tin indicates it to be best before 6/20, so I know it is fresh. Plus it is handmade in small batches.

amaranthine lip balm

I am certainly happy to highly recommend this product. And do take a look at the range of other products on their website. Also please take a minute to read their very informative blog post regarding palm oil. I found that very useful. For instance I had no idea that glycerin could be a by-product of palm oil. Or that palm oil could be hiding in products under the guise of 100’s of different names.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition courtesy of amaranthine to giveaway a lip balm to one lucky winner. Open to UK and Europe.
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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 what is your favourite product from amaranthine or your suggestions for additions to the range.

And do you know what the word amaranthine means? I didn’t. It is an adjective and means undying, immortal, eternally beautiful. I think that is so apt.

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

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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