Tag Archives: #zerowaste

How Green Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets?

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

Early last year I was introduced to Reco toothtabs, which I’ve been purchasing on subscription since reviewing them as they are my favourite plastic-free toothpaste that I’ve tried to date.

When you browse round the Reco webshop, you will see they also sell a good range of eco-friendly products from other trusted brands. But they are now about to launch their second own product and they sent me a trial pack to test out in advance for free. And no it is not a dental item this time. May I present …..

….. Reco Laundry Detergent Strips

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

I certainly haven’t seen or heard of anything remotely similar, so was only too happy to put these to the test.

First the packaging is cardboard and according to their website, it has already been recycled. You can either recycle or compost this. Plus it easily fits through the letterbox. No plastic bottle or capsule. Did you know that it is estimated that only about 9% of all plastic waste has ever been recycled!

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

Moving onto the information displayed on the packaging or website, I immediately felt confused when I read the composition. A lot of chemical sounding words plus warnings of skin irritation. This didn’t sound as eco as I hoped, although the website does say safe for the environment – OECD 301B certified biodegradable. More jargon that I don’t understand. Hopefully when they launch they can make this side of things clearer for the consumer.

My personal wishlist in this regard for an eco laundry product would be to see clear bullet points along the following lines.

Natural Ingredients
No chemicals
Cruelty free

So I would be very interested to hear which of these it ticks. I totally get its plus points over a liquid detergent as regards plastic and carbon cost. But I’m going to play devil’s advocate now and ask what are its plus points over a powder detergent, besides less cardboard? I hope its not a case of greenwashing!

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

The product itself comes in lightweight perforated sheets of two strips which are simple to split. The instructions indicate that one strip will be sufficient unless you live in a hard water area and your washing load is heavily soiled, in which case two strips are recommended. I have soft water here.

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

The directions tell you to put the strip in the back of the washing machine drum before loading your laundry. It has a strong pleasant fragrance before use and I found my laundry to have a hint of this after they had dried on the line. As regards effectiveness, it was great on general soiling like food stains but didn’t really impact long-term stains like armpits at 40 degrees, which it is fair to say is on a par with most products. And it dissolved perfectly. In fact the website indicates that they dissolve instantly in cold or hot water.

I couldn’t see any mention of whether they expected you to use them in conjunction with fabric conditioner or not. However this is a product I stopped using a couple of years ago, and in my opinion the Reco laundry sheets worked fine without the use of fabric conditioner.

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

So to summarise, an effective laundry product which is definitely more environmentally friendly than a liquid detergent or capsule, but I would like more clarity on the rest of its eco-credentials. In the meantime I’ll be sticking to using horse chestnuts or soap nuts for my laundry.

And if you can’t wait until the product launches to give it a try, how about seeing if you get lucky in their giveaway to win a year’s supply of Reco Laundry Detergent Strips worth £100!

I’d love to hear what is your favourite product from Reco or your suggestions for additions to the range. And don’t forget to check out the Reco blog too, where I see they are on the same wavelength as me, when it comes to cleaning with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.

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Have you heard of Tŷ Môr saving the planet one wipe at a time?

Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product that I helped to crowdfund.  All opinions are my own.

You never appreciate what you have until it’s gone. Toilet paper is a good example.

I am passionate about the environment and sustainability, so whenever I see a Crowdfunder for a small business in this area, I do my best to support them. Tŷ Môr was one that caught my eye last year. They are a natural fibre toilet paper which is 100% environmentally friendly made by ShearWater Eco™. (The website is currently being updated, but should be available within a couple of weeks).

Tŷ Môr natural toilet paper

I had to wait a while to receive the 48 rolls that I crowdfunded, due to technical issues that needed resolving in their supply chain, but they did supply smaller quantities in the interim. However I now have a cupboard full of environmentally friendly toilet paper. This many rolls are going to last a while. And no plastic in sight, just like how I remember we used to be able to purchase loo roll.

The Tŷ Môr toilet paper is tree less, plastic free, 30m per roll, is a natural colour with no bleaching agents, no dyes, no harmful chemicals and no BPA. It is 100% biodegradable, recyclable, and carbon positive. And it is made from sustainably sourced, fast-growing plant fibre materials such as rattan, bamboo, hemp and sisal. No trees at all. In fact, planting bamboo has been proven to be great for rejuvenating poor soil.

ShearWater Eco™ have recently received a grant from the Development Bank of Wales to invest in their dream of growing and manufacturing their toilet paper in the UK. Currently it is shipped from overseas.

Unless you’ve gone the whole hog to use washable cloths instead, toilet paper is an essential that we all need to buy regularly. So it makes perfect sense to choose the most environmentally friendly type possible. Do you really need white or coloured toilet paper? Stop and think about this, it doesn’t grow white or coloured. Bleach or dye must have been used. Even some of the other supposedly eco brands are not quite as eco as they claim.

Plus it is priced very competitively, especially as they are not charging VAT at present, so currently £24.99 for 48 rolls. And for those of you, who don’t have room to store 48 loo rolls, it also comes in packs of 4, 9 or 16. They are expanding their stockists but you can buy it directly from their online store. It would be fabulous to see these products in my local zero waste store, so I’ve let Tŷ Môr know the contact details. Plus they even sell gift cards. What a good gift idea for the person who has everything!

Also I have an offer to pass on to my readers – 10% off your order at Tŷ Môr with discount code: W935IZYJOFMY.

Ty Mor natural toilet paper

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition courtesy of ShearWater Eco™ to giveaway a pack of 4 toilet rolls each to 2 lucky winners.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your top tips for an eco swap.

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Ditch the Tube with Reco Ecofriendly Toothtabs

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

Time to talk about another eco product. I’ve received a packet of 62 toothtabs from Reco, free to review, enough for a whole month. Their mantra is #SingleUseSucks, Ditch the Tube, Zero Paste, Zero Waste which sounds fab to me.

Reco ecofriendly toothtabs

Regular followers of my blog will know that I am passionate about the environment and sustainability and may have seen, via my series of posts about my own personal journey towards zero waste, that I have been trying to avoid toothpaste tubes. These are notoriously hard to recycle, being mixed materials made from a combination of plastic and aluminium, so most tend to end up in the rubbish bin. Terracycle have introduced a recycling scheme but there is no collection point locally.

I have tried a few types of plastic-free toothpaste now, so was very interested to see how these would compare. Reco toothtabs are toothpaste tablets which contain fluoride. My dentist has stressed that fluoride is essential, so this is a definite plus point for me, since some brands of plastic-free toothpaste that I have tried don’t have fluoride. At my age, I’m sure my enamel is wearing thinner, so thumbs up for the fluoride to help with my dentall health and oral hygiene.

So let me tell you how to use the toothtabs. Pop one tablet into your mouth. Chew it to form a paste. Wet your toothbrush under the tap and then brush your teeth as normal. Simple.

Reco ecofriendly toothtabs

I was pleased with the minty taste, as some others that I’ve tried haven’t been too great in the taste department. This is definitely my joint favourite along with one that I have purchased from my local zero waste store. However I must mention that the packet indicates they are not recommended for children.

Reco state that their toothtabs are free of artificial preservatives and stabilisers normally found in toothpaste. See their website, for full details on each ingredient. They are also vegan and cruelty free.

Also I am pleased to report that the packaging is 100% recyclable, biodegradable and home compostable. The toothtabs come in small paper bags, with a label that Reco say has been printed on 100% recycled waste paper. And Reco also say that the mailing envelopes are made purely from sustainably sourced paper.

I’ve cut out flying myself, but these toothtabs are ideal for your hand luggage when going through airport security. Dry, so no need to be separated into a see-through plastic bag and you only have to pack the number you need for your trip.

I’ve popped mine in a handy tin that I already had, but if you subscribe to their regular 3 month delivery service, they will throw in a storage tin for free, plus you get a 5% discount. The delivery will easily fit through your letterbox, and you can can pause or cancel your subscription at any time.

Reco ecofriendly toothtabs

Plus I have a special offer to share with my readers of a 31 day trial pack of toothtabs for £3 (including free delivery) so that you can try them out for yourselves. Just visit this page for a toothtab trial pack.

And I’ve been browsing around the Reco website and have seen that they sell other brands that I already buy. There is Kitenest who I helped crowdfund and Pokito who I bought a collapsible cup for my son to keep in his school blazer pocket. And there is rCup, which we used to have until my other half accidentally left it behind after a race. I’ve got my eye on some of their other products too like the soaps, natural deodorant and vegetable loofah scrubber.

I’d love to hear what is your favourite product from Reco or your suggestions for additions to the range. And don’t forget to check out the Reco blog too where you can even discover 37 Hacks for an Old Used Toothbrush.

So join Reco and me in the mission to help our society switch from a single-use mindset to a multi-use one!

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Plastic Free Communities – reducing single-use plastic in your local community

Plastic Free Communities - Surfers Against Sewage
My town has signed up to the Plastic Free Communities initiative run by Surfers Against Sewage, aimed at reducing single-use plastic in our local community. This is something that I am very passionate about, so I offered to join the committee. And I thought I’d use this post to brainstorm some ideas to suggest.

Plastic free gardening
Our group has already identified that we could speak to garden centres and nurseries regarding recycling flower pots, sale of non-plastic insulation and bulk soil and compost. I’ve just discovered only this week that we have a Gardener’s Association locally, so I haven’t been to see if they already do any of these, but I certainly plan to join. Also we could make a list of local stables / farms offering plastic-free manure.

Ecobricks
Ecobricks
For those of you who haven’t heard of ecobricks, they are plastic bottles that you fill with small pieces of clean dry plastic in order to make a building block. I have made a few myself, but although there are plenty of community projects collecting them across the country, we have nothing locally. I have a local school in mind who may be interested, although I do know that they won’t wish to promote needless purchases of plastic bottles.

School stationery
It is great that the library take old pens, but the product that I am accumulating which I don’t know what to do with, is old Pritt-sticks. My children are asked to take these to school and they go through a tube so quickly, sticking worksheets etc into their books. Surely there must be a more eco-friendly solution. And don’t get me onto the topic of sticky-back plastic. Some teachers, but luckily not so many, still ask the children to cover their exercise books with this. How about wrapping paper instead?

Packshare
Most of us end up with packaging that we don’t need. I’m using pieces of bubble wrap to insulate my greenhouse and I have given some of the large paper bags that milk&more deliver, to a local shop to use as bin liners. But I came across a scheme called Packshare which originated in Cornwall, whose aim is for you to find local businesses who can reuse your packaging. They are hoping to get a good presence nationwide, but when I keyed in my postcode, the nearest businesses are about 20 miles away. It would be great to promote this to local businesses. Hopefully it can take off to the same extent as the water bottle refill scheme.

Pallet packaging
One day when I had popped into our local supermarket, I observed one of the staff wrapping an empty pallet trolley with a huge roll of plastic like clingfilm, going round and round with layers of single-use plastic. Why? And talking of supermarkets, some have collection points for plastic bags. Perhaps we could ask ours to consider doing this or even organise a mass unwrap event.

Reusable bags
Bags
Not everybody unfortunately, but it is now much more widespread that people will bring their own shopping bags. However not many also carry their own produce bags and boxes. Some of the local shops are more on board than others at reducing plastic, but I have a few ideas in this area. Sewing or crochet skills could be taught to disabled with learning difficulties to make cloth, net and mesh produce and shopping bags, which can be sold through their own shop and other local shops. Of course, this doesn’t have to be limited to bags, they could also learn to make things to replace other single-use products like scrubbies and pads.
Notices to be displayed in local shops saying that you are welcome to bring your own boxes. And where they do wrap in paper like at the butchers, I scratch my head sometimes as to whether it is purely paper or a plastic backed paper. How should I dispose of it? With food waste? Or can it be washed and then go in recycling or torn up for home composting? Again notices would help.

Ice Cream
I find that large plastic ice cream boxes are ideal for reuse. We are lucky to have a local dairy farm who make their own ice cream, which is sold locally in either individual or 500ml sizes, but apart from the plastic lids, they appear to be mixed material. However they do also make a 2l size in a plastic box, which they used to call family size on their website. When I contacted them last year, they said this was usually only sold to pubs but I did arrange an appointment to buy some directly from the dairy. Also someone mentioned at our last meeting, that the plastic lids can be returned to the dairy for reuse, but I can see no mention of this on their website. So definitely some scope for follow-ups here.

Hairdressers
The hairdresser is traditionally not very sustainable. This is not just on the plastic front, but energy and water usage too. However some hairdressers are starting to address sustainability better. Perhaps we could promote this, starting by suggesting refill hair products for both the salon and to sell to customers.

Plastic free butter
Deli
Sadly it is many years ago since the local deli closed down, but I have discovered plastic-free butter elsewhere. Perhaps one of our local shops, maybe the butcher who sells a small selection of cheese, could be persuaded to stock this.

Balloons and Balloon Sticks
At the local Christmas shopping evening I saw kids with the estate agent branded balloons on balloon sticks, one of which blew away but luckily the dad caught it. Balloons can be lethal to wildlife. So we may wish to suggest that the estate agent reconsider their promotional material.

Toothpaste
I have made the swap to toothpaste and mouthwash tablets and bamboo toothbrushes, as I am sure we have all heard that every toothbrush we have used will be around, long after we die. However TerraCycle do have a recycling scheme for toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes, but none locally. I have tried to ask my dentist to enrol (in a nearby town) and she did promise to raise it with their head-office. But worth pursuing with other more local dental practices too. We do have a few of the other TerraCycle schemes locally, but this could be broadened further to encompass items like cleaning product packaging, biscuit and sweet wrappers

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

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Small steps towards a more sustainable Christmas

I know I started off the year with good intentions to keep my blog updated with all the progress I have been making towards reducing plastic, however life got in the way, but yes I’m still continuing down the sustainability path. A light bulb moment for me was that it is not only about reducing plastic. So now I’m trying to focus on the bigger picture of zero waste, carbon footprint, seasonal products and supporting local independent businesses in addition to plastic. But I find it can be hard to prioritise any one of these aspects over the others in certain situations. And I’m continually keeping in mind the mantra Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Refurbish, Repair, Regift, Rehome, Repurpose, Recycle, Replant, Rot.

Looking back, the last news I gave you on this topic was about our fab eco holiday in the summer. Since then I’ve joined local groups, been on workshops and things have been ticking along in the garden. I will try to find time for more blog updates next year, but for now I wanted to focus on Christmas.

At the beginning of November, the boys and I had a good sort through our 3 boxfuls of Christmas decorations, reducing what we were going to keep by about half. The remainder was sorted for charity donations, or repurposing components for crafting, recycling or eco-bricks, with minimal ending up in the waste bin. Around the same time, we sent 3 bagfuls of unused items (toys, stationery, toiletries) to school for including in shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. A great way to do it, compared to preparing an individual shoebox each like we’ve done previously, when I’ve usually ended up buying some items like hats, scarves and gloves cheaply at somewhere like Poundland, since those probably weren’t made very sustainably.

So throughout the year I have been popping into charity shops, sometimes with a boxful to donate, but often just for a browse. And I’ve found plenty of gifts to put aside for the boys, especially including the themes of Dr Who, Star Wars or Marvel as I knew those would feature on their Christmas lists.

For my other half, I’ve chosen an experience, topped up with a few items from the charity shops and edible gifts. And I’ve made a large hamper for my parents of which all the contents are either handmade locally or by me. So I’ve made a couple of soup-in-a-jar mixes, turmeric latte and zero waste candied peel. See below for the recipes.

candied peel

Looking at the Amazon wish lists of other relatives, I’ve managed to swerve Amazon entirely and bought requested gifts either on the high street or vouchers. Someone else gets a membership. Another gets products I chose for her at a Tropic fundraising party, so supporting both one friend’s fundraising and another friend’s small business. And I helped the boys select edible gifts handmade by disabled people in our local community.

I had to think hard about buying for someone in Canada. Previously I would have just resorted to Amazon, but this year I found Wychbury Ave, a small ethical local business who handcraft soaps and body products. Plus bonus, the owner was prepared to hand-deliver my order.

As regards wrapping and cards, this was more of a bugbear, as I already possess lots of shiny foil-paper, silver tape and glittery cards which I obviously want to use up rather than dispose of, but I can see it lasting quite a while yet. And I did save some paper from last Christmas too. I have been sending about half of my cards as e-cards for the last few years anyhow, but is this anymore eco, when you consider the carbon footprint of the servers? I also handmade a few cards, but didn’t have time for many, although I have always made my own gift tags. So it is probably going to be a number of years before this area hits my eco target. Similarly we have some crackers leftover from last year. I did better earlier in the year with birthday wrapping, using pages from our local newsletter tied only with ribbon. But at least nothing new was purchased. And any gifts that have arrived by post have been left in their packaging.

There does still seem to be a larger pile of gifts than I had hoped, but at least not many have my name on them. I’m particularly pleased that some of the family have made a donation at my request to their local food bank instead of getting me a gift.

Christmas gifts

Son2 is particularly eco-conscious, and bless him, this is what he wrote as a ps at the end of his letter to Santa – “Please try not to use wrapping paper since it may end up becoming plastic pollution“. So his presents will be loose inside a pillowcase, although I’ve tried to preserve some element of surprise by hiding the more fun items inside the clothing gifts.

And onto the catering. I’ve bought much less food. Nothing for tea, no gammon and wide selection of buffet treats. If anyone is still hungry, they can have a turkey sandwich. Yes we are having turkey for lunch, but it has been hand-reared free range locally by my friend on her smallholding. Fresh vegetables are from our local greengrocer, whilst frozen peas, sweetcorn and yorkshire puddings have been purchased packaging-free. Also no starters. And this year for the first time, we are passing on the Christmas pudding and Christmas cake, since only half the family like them anyhow, plus I am trying to reduce my sugar intake. No Yule log either. We do still have mince pies which I made using mincemeat that was handmade by disabled people in our local community.

Mince pies

We’ve had our artificial Christmas tree for many years, but when I got it out just over a week ago, I realised one of the pieces had broken when it was being taken down last year. I’ve managed to repair it, so hopefully the tree will last us at least a few more years. However only two out of four colours of our LED lights seem to now be working and I’ve discovered they sadly don’t have replaceable bulbs like our previous set did, but we are making do. So much for me stating that they would last for 50,000 hours use, when I reviewed them 6 years ago. But I’ve noticed that none of us are particularly bothered about switching the Christmas lights on, so saving energy. We’ve only ever had one strings of lights at a time, unlike some houses which seem to go overboard on both the amount of lighting and how soon it is up, in some cases even as early as November, but maybe Christmas lights will become a thing of the past in our household.

Christmas wreath

On the more natural decorative front, I cut a few sprigs of holly, ivy and pine from the garden and wove them around my willow wreath for a front door decoration. It looks a bit lopsided, but I am still pleased with it. I made the wreath early last month after volunteering to help with the willow harvest.

Making a willow wreath

And now to share my recipes. Firstly the zero-waste candied peel. I’ve been saving all types of citrus peel in the freezer, along with other bags of bread crumbs, raw vegetable scraps for stock, apple cores and vegetable peelings. My initial plan was to make my own candied peel that I could either use in cake-making or as a sweet treat. However I wished to avoid sugar, so I have used honey in my recipe instead. But as we eat a lot of citrus fruit, I seemed to have a non-ending supply of citrus peel, so the obvious idea was to gift some of the candied peel. For an additional touch, you could also dip the candied peel in chocolate.


Candied Peel

Candied Peel

Ingredients

300g mixed citrus peel (orange, lemon and grapefruit)
250g honey
water

Method

Defrost the peels.
Remove excess pith and cut into narrow strips.
Place in a saucepan of water and bring to the boil.
Boil for 5 minutes, then drain off the water.
Replace with fresh water and bring to the boil again.
This time simmer for 30 minutes.
Strain the water into a jug.
Pour 400ml of the strained water back into the saucepan.
Stir in the honey and strips of peel.
Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the honey.
Simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally until the liquid has reduced to a thick syrup.
Allow to cool.
Strain off the syrup, (you can store this in the refrigerator to make cordial drinks).
Place sheets of greaseproof paper onto all your cooling racks.
Spread out the peels in a single layer on the paper.
Place the cooling racks in your airing cupboard for 2-3 days until the peels are dry.
Store the candied peels in airtight sterilised jars.
(Optionally dip in melted chocolate).
Enjoy.

Candied Peel

Secondly turmeric latte, a tasty drink. Turmeric has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, so this is a great gift for the health benefits.


Turmeric Latte

Turmeric Latte

Ingredients

250g skimmed milk powder
5 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of black pepper

Method

Mix all ingredients together.
Store in an airtight sterilised jar.
Attach a label to the jar, detailing the following usage instructions.
Mix 25g into a mug of cold water.
Heat in microwave.
Enjoy.

And finally the soups in a jar. I did two variants, mild coconut curry soup and minestrone soup, but there are so many more possibilities for this. Gift them along with a tin of coconut milk or chopped tomatoes respectively.


Mild Coconut Curry Soup

Mild Coconut Curry Soup

Ingredients

125g green lentils
125g red lentils
1 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp dried onion
1 tsp turmeric
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tin coconut milk

Method

Mix together the dried onions, curry powder, turmeric, salt and pepper.
Layer the dry ingredients into a sterilised jar as follows.
Firstly the green lentils.
Then the red lentils.
Then the spice and onion mix.
Cover with a circle of paper.
Place the stock cube on top of the paper.
Seal the jar airtight with lid.
Attach a label to the jar, detailing the following usage instructions.
Place stock cube in 750ml boiling water.
Add contents of jar and can of coconut milk.
Bring to the boil, then reduce heat.
Simmer for 20-25 minutes until lentils are tender.
Enjoy.


Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

Ingredients

75g barley
75g red lentils
75g gomitini pasta
1 tbsp dried onion
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 garlic powder
Pinch of basil
Pinch of oregano
Pinch of marjoram
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tin chopped tomatoes

Method

Mix together the dried onions, mustard powder, garlic powder, herbs, salt and pepper.
Layer the dry ingredients into a sterilised jar as follows.
Firstly the barley.
Then the red lentils.
Then the pasta.
Then the spice and onion mix.
Cover with a circle of paper.
Place the stock cube on top of the paper.
Seal the jar airtight with lid.
Attach a label to the jar, detailing the following usage instructions.
Place stock cube in 750ml boiling water.
Add contents of jar and can of chopped tomatoes.
Bring to the boil, then reduce heat.
Simmer for 45-50 minutes until barley is tender.
Enjoy.

So these are my first small steps towards a more sustainable Christmas. I am sure there is loads more I could do, so I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips for Christmas please.

Wishing all my readers a very Happy Christmas.

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Brushd ecofriendly dental review and giveaway

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

Brushd dental care

I started trying to address the amount of plastic in the bathroom earlier this year including dental products, but it did feel a little hit and miss regarding where to locate alternative products and would I like them. For instance the first plastic-free toothpaste I purchased, a Georganics jar of paste tasted horrid. So I was pleased to discover the dental care brand Brushd via the Ethical Influencers network, as they seem to have a wide choice of eco-friendly oral care products. Brushd are aiming to help reduce plastic pollution without compromising on good oral health, and they are dentist approved.

So I received the following products free to review.

1. Bamboo toothbrush with charcoal infused bristles.
2. Toothpaste Tablets (Fluoride-free)
3. Dental Supplements
4. Mouthwash tablets
5. Interdental Brushes
6. Electric toothbrush heads.
7. Natural Corn Dental Floss

The charcoal bamboo toothbrush was fine. The bamboo handle is biodegradable and can be composted or put in your food waste bin, but you would have to break off the bristles first. I won’t know how easy or difficult that is until the toothbrush comes to the end of its life. And Brushd do say that they are working on a solution for the bristles. But I do have a question. I couldn’t find any mention of why the bristles are charcoal infused. I’d love to know what benefits does that give?

Toothpaste tablets is a swap that I successfully made earlier this year. These are the third type of toothpaste tablets that I have tried, but I have to say unfortunately these are the ones I like least. A toothpaste tablet works on the principle of you chewing the tablet before brushing. These had a rather unpleasant taste as I chewed, although less noticeable once brushing. A shame as I have really enjoyed using toothpaste tablets until now. I don’t know if it is because these fluoride free and I have always chosen to purchase ones containing fluoride. Brushd do also sell a fluoride version, but I didn’t receive this. There are 62 tablets in the jar which is a nice touch, since it means there is enough for a 31 day month. This product was almost entirely plastic free apart from a “sealed for your protection” disc inside the lid. I’m not convinced that this was entirely necessary as the similar mouthwash tablet jar did not have one. And there was also one of these discs inside the dental supplements jar too.

Which brings me on to discussing the dental supplements. Do you know that although I’ve taken multi-vitamins for years, I never realised that you could purchase vitamins and minerals specifically targeted at healthier teeth and gums, which is the purpose of these daily dental supplements. They are suitable for vegans and contain calcium and potassium along with vitamins A, C, D3 and K. Simply take one a day with water. Perfect. 60 tablets in the jar.

Mouthwash tablets is a swap that I successfully made back in January. And these ones were just as good. In fact, they seemed to dissolve even better than my existing brand. Just pop a tablet in about 20ml of water at the start of your dental routine and it will be dissolved by the time you reach the mouthwash stage. Then gargle for about 30 seconds before spitting out. Easy. 120 tablets in the jar.

The Interdental brushes come in packets of 5. The ones I received were 1mm brush width, but they also come in a 0.8mm size. Personally I would like to see some even narrower widths added to the range, as although this size was great for my back teeth, I struggled to insert the brush between my front teeth, which are very tight together. Perhaps down to 0.6mm would be good. However I was very pleased with the short handle length and how flexible the brush head was, making it much easier to reach the inside of my teeth. The handles are bamboo, but I’m not sure whether the bristles are still plastic. I assume they are. Also personally I do like a little paste on an interdental brush which I haven’t come up with a solution for yet. Since swapping to toothpaste tablets, I’ve been using the kids toothpaste for this purpose, as they have refused to give tablets a try. The box states that these are recommended by dentists, are BPA-free, vegan and 100% recyclable. However it doesn’t say how to recycle them, as presumably it will be different for the bristles to the handle? I would like to see more information on how to recycle them. Also this product is not suitable for children under 8, but I think you would be hard-pressed to get kids to do more than just brush their teeth anyhow.

I was very excited about the idea of recyclable electric toothbrush heads, as I expect that a large proportion of the population, myself included, already possess an electric toothbrush. I was envisaging that this would also be bamboo, but sadly not. Also there is no indication of whether they have perhaps been made from recycled plastic, so I’m guessing not. It seems to just be that they have their own recycling scheme, so not really any different from TerraCycle. The heads are compatible with OralB electric toothbrushes but not with Colgate ones. It also mentions that the bristles are charcoal infused, but as already mentioned I have no idea what that does. But why have the toothbrush heads got individual plastic covers over each one? Those seem totally unnecessary. I’ve certainly never seen anything similar previously. And apparently every order comes with a pre-paid compostable mailer bag so that when the brushes come to the end of their life, they can be sent back for recycling. Sounds great but I didn’t receive one of these bags, so can’t comment further. Again not suitable for children under 8.

The corn dental floss is 100% biodegradable so can go in your home compost. It does seem slightly thicker than standard floss, so although it was perfect for my back teeth, again I did find it a struggle to get between my tightly packed front teeth. This meant it did seem to break more easily too. It comes in a handy jar, but there doesn’t seem to be an option to purchase a refill. That would be a logical addition to the range in my opinion.

brushd dental care

Oral hygiene is very important. So it was great to read that not only are Brushd focussed on helping to reduce plastic pollution, but that each time you buy a toothbrush from them, they gift one to someone in need on your behalf. This is via two charities – A Reason To Smile and Dentaid.

And I also read that they plant a tree for every subscription via Tree-Nation. I’ll be investigating this site myself, as I wish to offset CO2. By subscribing, you would save 25-30% on tablets and toothbrushes. The products would be sent to you every 4 months.

It would be fabulous to see these products in my local zero waste store, but I can’t find any mention of stockists on the website. A great range and hopefully they will address my few concerns.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition courtesy of Brushd to giveaway 6 months supply of toothpaste tablets 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 Brushd or your suggestions for additions to the range. I’d particularly like to see them branch out from just dental supplements to a much broader range of vitamins. For instance I’m still searching for a plastic-free multi-vitamin and mineral tablet including iron.

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An eco holiday at Owl Barn Retreat

In line with trying to become more eco-focussed this year, we decided that we wanted our holiday to follow the same principles, so we chose to stay at Owl Barn Retreat. This is a delightful barn conversion in a rural location about a mile from the village of Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant in Wales. It is a sustainable and eco-friendly holiday cottage which has achieved a gold award from the Green Business Tourist Scheme. This was how we discovered the cottage. I’m particularly impressed with the kitchen work surfaces having been constructed from recycled glass bottles.

Owl Barn Retreat

Owl Barn Retreat

From here, we were able to do several walks to the nearby villages of Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant and Penybontfawr, plus most magnificent of all, a longer walk from the cottage all the way to Pistyll Rhaeadr, the tallest waterfall in Wales which is in a remote area of the Berwyn Mountains. And of course we had to take a trip to CAT, the Centre for Alternative Technology, my third time there. We also enjoyed a walk from Lake Vyrnwy to a nearby smaller waterfall.

Pistyll Rhaeadr

Centre for Alternative Technology

Penybontfawr

Stepping Stones near Lake Vyrnwy

We were provided with Faith in Nature toiletries and Ecover, Ecoleaf and Method cleaning products, along with a tasty welcome pack of local food. We continued to try to buy locally with produce from the village butcher, Oswestry market, Llynclys Hall farm shop, plus Honeysuckle whole foods shop in Oswestry and Down to Earth in Llanfyllin. Zero trips to the supermarket on this holiday.

Recycling and composting are key at the cottage with separate clearly labelled bins for each type of recycling. I’m already aware how recycling varies from county to county. Here in Powys, there appears to be no recycling of tetra packs or metal jar lids. We did consider the possibility of bringing those back home but decided there probably wasn’t space in the car. But we did head home with an eco brick half filled.

butterfly

Owl Barn Retreat

And I loved relaxing in the wildlife garden watching the butterflies and listening to the birds. We’ve also seen rabbits, squirrels and a fox. Son2 has enjoyed using the telescope when it has been less cloudy and has spotted Arcturus. He also loved playing in the maze, which is another great area for wildlife with all the long grass and bracken.

Owl Barn Retreat

It was a great feeling to be on the same wavelength as the owners. Anne phoned me a few days in advance of our holiday and told me things like there being a fishmonger at Oswestry market on Wednesdays. Just like I do here at home, Anne takes her own boxes to the butcher and fishmonger to avoid plastic. She was quite happy to leave me a supply of boxes to use, so we didn’t have to pack those.

We loved it so much at Owl Barn Retreat, that we have already booked two future stays there.

I’d love to hear your eco friendly holiday suggestions and tips please.

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My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 8

Latest update on reducing our plastic usage and other waste. Although I’ve baked my own crackers quite a few times now, I was very pleased to discover some crispbread packaged in paper in a nearby village. Son1 can polish off the crackers so quickly, that it is good to have something in the store cupboard again.

crispbreads

I’m now a regular customer at the local independent shops, so I felt able to challenge the greengrocer when I popped in early one morning and saw him chopping off all the outer leaves from the cauliflowers. I asked why he was doing that and he said customers prefer them like that. Well I’m a customer and I would prefer them left on, but I felt my request fell on deaf ears. So it remains a choice between a cauliflower with leaves in plastic from the supermarket, or a plastic-free cauliflower minus leaves from the local greengrocer. I would use the outermost leaves in soups and stock, the next ones in I would steam and the innermost ones I would eat raw in salads. I also asked what would happen to all the wastage. Apparently it goes for the pigs to eat.

And here’s a recipe I promised to share for apple pulp pancakes, made using the pulp from my juicer.

pulp pancakes

Pulp Pancakes

Ingredients

250g apple pulp
25g melted butter
2 eggs
125ml milk
200g plain flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Method

Melt the butter in a jug in the microwave.
Add all ingredients except oil to a large bowl.
Beat the ingredients together to a batter.
Gently heat oil in a frying pan.
Pour pancake size spoonfuls of batter into the frying pan, to make about 3 pancakes at a time.
Cook for about 2 -3 minutes until small bubbles form on the surface of the pancakes.
Turn and cook the other side for about 2 minutes until golden.
Repeat until all batter has been used.
Serve either warm or cold, either plain or with your choice of topping.
Enjoy.

These are delicious and can be made with other types of pulp. They also have no added sugar, just the sweetness from the pulp.

pulp pancakes

I mentioned previously that I had saved some seeds to plant. Initially it was just ones like melon, butternut squash and pepper to avoid them ending up in food waste. But then I thought, well why not also try saving a few of those that you would typically eat like tomato. Well I can report that I’ve had mixed success. The tomatoes and peppers came up but no luck initially with either melon or butternut squash, so I had to plant some more of those, which happily did germinate. Of course the real proof of success won’t be until later in the year, as to whether I actually manage to harvest anything from them.

growing seeds

I’ve also bought a few packets of seeds including cauliflower, which are now at the seedling stage. So hopefully I’ll be harvesting my own cauliflowers later and avoiding the chopped off wasted leaves issue.

And on the topic of seeds, which ones can be roasted to eat? I’ve only ever roasted pumpkin seeds. I regularly buy melons, peppers and butternut squash. Anyone know if I could roast any of those seeds?

I’ve never particularly had green fingers but I’m gradually enlarging the area that I started as a vegetable patch last year. Certainly hard work digging as there seem to be so many weed roots. Only managed a few carrots, tomatoes and one pumpkin last year, so hoping for better results this time round. Very pleased with the “reduced to clear” stickered chive and mint plants from the supermarket that I planted in the autumn. They are flourishing marvellously.

mint and chives

I’m always experimenting with chopping up various greens from my garden into my salads, not only chives and mint, but things like carrot tops and beetroot leaves. Recently I tried radish leaves but they were rather bitter, maybe the taste will grow on me. I’ve been wondering about dandelion leaves, as there are lots of those growing here, so I was very interested to read Becky’s blog post on Dandelion Tea Benefits & How to Make Dandelion Tea. I shall certainly have to give some of these suggestions a go.

Also I made a suggestion to the cafe at work a few months back that they reduce waste, by offering the coffee grounds to employees for their gardens and I’m pleased to say that they finally implemented my idea last week, so I’ve brought a couple of bagfuls home. Just drying it out first, but I plan to use some of it as a mulch around the plants and some in my compost bin. That is a much longer term project but slowing filling with a mix of grass mowings, leaves, fruit and vegetable waste plus torn up butchers’ paper. But don’t think I’ll have any compost ready this year.

coffee grounds

coffee grounds

And I found another crowdfunding initiative to help fund plastic-free organic dry shampoo from KiteNest. See details here. I’m enjoying making a small pledge to these campaigns.

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

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No Impact Man by Colin Beavan

I used to be a very regular user of the local library but over the last few years, I’ve only visited intermittently with the boys and don’t think I’d borrowed a book on my own library card for some considerable time. It was only when I was doing some password housekeeping and tried to change the pin on my card earlier this year that I discovered my account had been deactivated. I’ve had it reinstated now, but it was rather a wake-up call. No wonder councils are trying to cut library services if people like me can’t be bothered to use them. So I’ve vowed to make better use of the library and will aim to visit between once a week to once every 3 weeks. My new motto is use it or lose it!

The first book I borrowed was No Impact Man: Saving the planet one family at a time by Colin Beavan. It almost jumped off the shelf at me, with my current focus on reducing waste, in particular plastic. You may find out more about the author on his website here.

No Impact Man by Colin Beavan

Here is the blurb.

In the growing debate over eco-friendly living, it seems that everything is as bad as everything else. Do you do more harm by living in the country or the city? Is it better to drive a thousand miles or take an airplane?

In NO IMPACT MAN, Colin Beavan tells the extraordinary story of his attempt to find some answers – by living for one year in New York City (with his wife and young daughter) without leaving any net impact on the environment. His family cut out all driving and flying, used no air conditioning, no television, no toilets. . .They went from making a few concessions to becoming eco-extremists. The goal? To determine what works and what doesn’t, and to fashion a truly ‘eco-effective’ way of life.

Beavan’s radical experiment makes for an unforgettable and humorous memoir in an attempt to answer perhaps the most important question of all: What is the sufficient individual effort that it would take to save the planet? And what is stopping us?

This book tells of how Colin, Michelle and their 18 month old daughter Isabella and dog Frankie spent a year back in 2007 living as environmentally as possible. And any negative impact that they couldn’t eliminate, they would counter balance with positive impact. The initial plan was to ease themselves in gradually, starting with zero waste, no disposable products and no packaging. Followed by travelling with no carbon footprint, then food choices, consumer purchases, heating, electricity, water use, pollution. And although it was a family project, it generated huge media interest.

At this time there was lots of “greenwashing” and it was very confusing for Colin to work out what to do for the best. It starts on day one with Colin immediately feeling guilty for using paper towel to blow his nose when he wakes up, before he finds a cloth napkin in the kitchen that he can repurpose as a handkerchief. The second strike for the morning is Isabella’s disposable nappy. And so it goes on.

I was absolutely hooked reading this book. There was plenty I could relate to and lots that goes way beyond anything I’m considering, like turning their electricity off.

I highly recommend this excellent book by Colin Beavan, which is a real eye opener as to the scope of what can be achieved as regards environmentally friendly living. It is available on Amazon in both kindle or paperback format.

I’m off to look at my next library book now, a beginner’s guide to crochet. This is a craft I’ve never tried, but I’m hoping to learn how to crochet my own dish cloths. I stopped buying the ones containing microplastic like J-cloths at the beginning of this year, although still haven’t finished using up the existing roll.

In the meantime, you may see my series of blog posts documenting my journey towards a plastic free and zero waste future here.

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

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My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 7

It has been a while since I last gave you an update on how things are going with trying to reduce waste, in particular plastic. I felt I suffered a setback whilst we were on holiday recently. It seems much more difficult when you out of your own zone. Things started going wrong from when we stopped at the services for a meal en-route. We all opted for different fast food outlets and my other half was the only one who got his meal on a china plate with proper cutlery. So thumbs up to Harry Ramsdens for that. The rest of us ended up being served with disposable tableware. I don’t see why they couldn’t all follow Harry Ramsdens lead.

We were doing a house swap to the Wirral and our host had written a note regarding what could go in the recycling bin. Basically cans, glass, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard. So much more limited than what we can recycle at home. No plastic trays, yoghurt pots, etc. I had heard previously that recycling varied from council to council, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this restricted. And no food waste bins either. Although we had a lovely holiday, sadly I sent significantly more to landfill that week than usual. And of course, I didn’t know where to shop locally for least plastic waste, especially when we had to dash straight to the supermarket on arrival to buy a cabbage to feed their tortoise. We opted for Morrisons, but no plastic free cabbages in sight. I later found out that sadly the local greengrocer had closed down permanently, so no options for fruit and vegetables other than the supermarkets.

water bottle

Also I was very saddened when taking part in a race in beautiful countryside to see single use plastic water bottles discarded littering the route. Several issues come to mind here. Firstly bring your own reusable bottle to carry with you. The run was only 10k and it was a cool day. I didn’t need to hydrate whilst running at all, although admittedly my time was almost twice that of the leaders. Secondly if you do take a bottle from the water station en-route, hold onto it until the end of the race and then recycle it. Obviously not viable for a marathon when you will need to hydrate multiple times, but fine for this kind of distance. And thirdly, perhaps the race organisers could consider other options to plastic bottles, such as compostable paper cups. The goody bag was another area that could be reconsidered, as it was one of those plastic drawstring bags. How about a cloth bag instead.

And here’s a recipe I promised to share for grapefruit cake, made when I was thinking of ideas of what to do with grapefruit and orange peel. The recipe also requires grapefruit juice as well as the zest. Since I had eaten the whole grapefruit, I used bottled grapefruit juice, which I have been buying from the milkman anyhow. But you could squeeze the juice from the grapefruit for this recipe.

Grapefruit Cake

Grapefruit Cake

Ingredients

100g date sugar
Zest of 1 large grapefruit
100g greek yoghurt
200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
50ml olive oil
3 eggs
50ml milk

And for glaze
20g date sugar
50ml grapefruit juice

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a loaf tin.
Grate the zest from the grapefruit.
Mix together yoghurt, date sugar and grapefruit zest in a large bowl.
Whisk in the eggs.
Sieve in the flour and baking powder
Mix in the olive oil and milk.
Spoon mixture into lined tin.
Bake on middle shelf of oven for about 30 minutes, testing that a skewer will come out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile mix together date sugar and grapefruit juice for glaze.
Make holes in top of cake with a skewer.
Pour glaze over cake slowly, allowing to soak into holes.
Serve and enjoy.

Grapefruit Cake

Grapefruit Cake
I’ve got bagfuls of citrus and vegetable peelings in the freezer. I tend to pop a handful of vegetable peelings in for crisps whenever I have the oven on. But more recipe suggestions for these would be very welcome. I’ve also been saving seeds out of melons, peppers and butternut squash. Wondering which of these can be eaten or would they grow, if I try to plant them?

And finally I’ve just helped crowdfund for Plastic Free, Tree less, Natural, Toilet Paper from Ty Mor. See details here. I’ll let you know what it is like once it arrives.

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