Tuesday 17 December 2019

Less Waste This Christmas

Why Us Humans Need to Change Our Ways

As more news is coming out about seas washing up plastics, microplastics raining down in remote places and young chicks being fed fragments of plastics by their mums, it honestly hits home just what a wasteful breed we humans are. Part of the problem is our 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality. 

If you ruthlessly recycled everything that could be recycled for years, you'd also be wondering like me why recycling was being shipped abroad? Not exactly environmentally friendly to ship things to the other side of the world. 

In its final destination it can be incinerated causing health problems for those living near by, stock piled allowing some to blow into waterways or indeed dumped directly into forests and rivers.

Whirling tides then gather the dumped plastic creating a perfect storm, a sea of waste that eventually get pushed back onto our shores. Why on earth could we let this happen?

So what does this have to do with Christmas? Sadly reports suggest waste goes up by 30% at this time of year. Not to mention the 6 million Christmas trees wasted in the UK when Christmas is over.

So what can we do to make things better? Don't wait for governments to do anything anytime soon, the power is in the hands of the people to make a change and directly and indirectly put pressure on suppliers by changing our habits now. 

Christmas Decorated Table - Photo by picjumbo.com from Pexels

A Greener Christmas

In my 'How to Have a Greener Christmas' article I look at lots of ways we can make a difference, including ethical choices in wrappings, cards, advents calendars, gifts and decorations.

I also looked at 10 books on plastic free living that can help us through changes for the New Year. Ways we can change our shopping, house cleaning, laundry and personal care products for example. We may not do it all overnight but small changes can make a difference, it can trigger a domino effect too. Friends and family may say, 'Oh that's a good idea, I might try that myself', so your good deed could be an encouragement to others.

It can be expensive by the way, seeking out plastic free alternatives - what I do is look for special offers (discounts), or deals on free shipping. Look for companies that have ethical standards in terms of packaging and supply chains and seek out companies that help plant new trees with every order.

Meanwhile for those who like to surf the web, a new search browser called Ecosia may be an option for you. You can add Ecosia Web Search as an add on to your normal browser, for instance it will work seamlessly with Chrome. 

A chunk of profits goes to tree planting initiatives around the World making it a great choice for the eco minded. (They say an average of 45 searches is enough to plant a tree!) This video explains a little more about it.

Some plastic free companies in the UK also donate to the Eden Reforestation Project to help fund tree planting. Not only are you buying plastic free you're helping the planet breathe again. It all adds up 😊

Man holding Ice cream cone to the Clouds Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

Reducing Food Waste

Let's turn now to food. Since I started making my own bath salts and homemade vinegar sprays I've found that saving citrus peel really helps. The peel can be thrown in warmed vinegar to infuse overnight before straining into a spray bottle, ready for use as a household spray. 

When my husband has finished squeezing limes for a cocktail I will squirrel away the left over pulp and peel & throw it into a bath of plain dead sea salts that I bought in compostable packaging. The warm water in the bath helps to infuse some of that lime.

Once these food scraps are used they go into the compost to be rotted down for other purposes. We try hard also to spend the week using up left overs and only buying larger meals for the weekend. 

What We Can Do

Buy items in larger packs too so you can cook extra for during the week. It only needs warming up then saving on electricity. If you buy too much fresh produce it can sit in the fridge until you get around to using it which then sometimes gets thrown away. If you cook in bulk it has already been cooked so it's less likely to go off so quickly. 

If you can't eat it within a few days then pre-cooked meals can keep also in the freezer. I quite enjoy seeing what we can make over bits of leftovers!

A Focus on Supermarkets

It's great to see that supermarkets are also taking food waste seriously. For instance Tesco report they have donated 100,000 meals through the Community Food Connection and have partnered with a supplier in Kenya to turn surplus food into free school lunches.
81% of UK food surplus safe for human consumption, is redistributed to humans or animals       
Tesco https://www.tescoplc.com/sustainability/food-waste/
Per Sainsbury's '87% of our stores have food donation partners for unsold food, up from 73 per cent in 2017/18. We aim to reach 100 per cent by 2020 target.'

In 2018/19 Sainbsury's donated over 1,500 tonnes of unsold food from their stores and logistics network to charity, equivalent to around 3.4 million meals. See PDF file for more.

We can reduce our own waste by being savvy with what we buy, plan means in advance and learn to love your leftovers. For me leftovers often save time creating a new meal as they are already pre-cooked, just need to warm up and then done. 

If you have staples in the cupboard that don't go off quick, such as pasta and rice, you'll always have something easy to add to the meal. Compost any rotten fruit/veg so that left overs of left overs are still being used for a purpose.

Lady Blowing Snow Wintery Scene Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Plans for 2020

My plans for 2020 include new reviews on plastic free teeth cleaning products (I've tested 3 so far), plus natural deodorant, bamboo cloths, charcoal water filters, pet products and plastic free products for your hair. My previous reviews can be found here.

I will also build up a useful directory and a list of achievements and challenges I've met so far in my plastic reducing challenge (my aim is to reduce 50 plastic items for my 50th year on this planet!)

Meanwhile I wish you and your family all the best and hope to see you next year!

🎇 🎇 🎇 🎇 🎇

Friday 6 December 2019

Plastic Free Books

A Selection of Books on How to Reduce Single Use Plastics
Below is a varied selection of eco-friendly books on the market, to help us reduce our reliance on plastics. 

In my previous post I listed 6 adult and 4 children's books, however due to the increased availability of books I have now separated these into 2 lists: 10 adult books below and 10 children's books are now listed in a separate post here.

The books are listed in size order, with the largest at the top. I found Beth Terry's book (the first one listed) a massive support in my own journey.

10 Books for Adults on Plastic Pollution 

Opened Book Pages Image - Skitterphoto from Pexels

1) Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too by Beth Terry.
384 Pages by Skyhorse Publishing (be sure to get the revised version published 2015).

Accountant Beth Terry wrote this excellent guide on how to make lots of useful changes. She covers everything from shopping to cleaning and washing laundry to personal cleanliness - all ways in which you can reduce your plastic consumption use.

She explains her own journey and has sections on entrepreneurs who have also made a difference. A blogger herself she brings people together to share their experiences. 

I found Beth's book inspiring and packed full of useful information which I have used to make many changes of my own. A truly great read!

Plastic-Free:How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too by Beth Terry

2) Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Bea Johnson.
304 Pages by Penguin.

Bea transformed her family's health, finances, and relationships for the better by reducing their waste to an astonishing half litre per year.

Zero Waste Home shows how these key principles can be applied to every area of your house from the kitchen to the kids' room, and it's packed with easy tips for all.

Published in January 2016, the book offers a practical, step-by-step guide to diminishing your environmental footprint and improving your life.

Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Bea Johnson
3) There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years by Mike Berners-Lee.
302 Pages by Cambridge University Press.

Feeding the world, climate change, biodiversity, antibiotics, plastics - the list of concerns seems endless. But what is most pressing, what are the knock-on effects of our actions, and what should we do first?

This book will shock you, surprise you - and then make you laugh. And you'll find practical and even inspiring ideas for what you can actually do to help humanity thrive on this – our only – planet.

Published February 2019 with lots of charts, tables and graphics. The book is filled with astonishing facts and analysis to guide you. 

A revised edition was released Jan 2021 - click here for a review.

There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years by Mike Berners-Lee

4) Turning Tide on Plastic: How Humanity Can Make Our Globe Clean Again by Lucy Siegle. 272 Pages by Trapeze.

Without big action, pieces of plastic could outnumber fish in the ocean by 2050. That is the legacy we are leaving our children and grandchildren.

Now is the time to speak up, take action and demand the change you want to see in the ocean, in the supermarket aisles and on the streets. It's time to turn the tide on plastic, and this book will show you how.

Published December 2018, with useful tools on how to make meaningful change in our everyday lives and advice on how to demand long-lasting action. (
I previously bought this book and have written a longer review here.)

Turning Tide on Plastic: How Humanity Can Make Our Globe Clean Again by Lucy Siegle

5) How to Give Up Plastic: Simple steps to living consciously on our blue planet by Will McCallum. 240 Pages by Penguin Life.

Around 12.7 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean every year, killing over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals. By 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight.

Plastic pollution is the environmental scourge of our age, but how can YOU make a difference?

Published Apr 2019. Author Will McCallum is the Head of Oceans at Greenpeace and the spokesperson for their campaign against the use of plastics.

How to Give Up Plastic: Simple steps to living consciously on our blue planet by Will McCallum

6) How to Live Plastic Free: Day in the Life of a Plastic Detox by Luca Bonaccorsi / Marine Conservation Society. 224 Pages by Headline Home.

How to Live Plastic Free will teach you everything you need to know about reducing your plastic usage on a daily basis. 

The chapters start with a typical morning routine and takes you through your day, giving you tips and practical advice for removing unnecessary plastic at every possible opportunity.

Published June 2018 with simple practical steps to help you.

How to Live Plastic Free: Day in the Life of a Plastic Detox by Luca Bonaccorsi / Marine Conservation Society
7) 12 Small Acts to Save Our World: Simple, Everyday Ways You Can Make a Difference
by WWF (Forward by Ben Fogle). 208 pages by Century Publishing.

We’re the first generation to fully understand the havoc humans are causing. We’re also the last generation who can turn things around and make things right – for the health, wealth and security of our children, grandchildren and generations to come.

Published September 2018: discover the twelve small things you can do to help us make a more positive impact on our planet.

12 Small Acts to Save Our World: Simple, Everyday Ways You Can Make a Difference  by WWF

8) Simple Acts to Save Our Planet: 500 Ways to Make a Difference by Michelle Neff. 208 Pages by Adams Media.

Simple Acts to Save Our Planet shows you how to be more active in saving our planet every day by performing some “Simple Acts of Kindness”—for the Earth.

Treat the environment with kindness with these easy, manageable activities that range from simple home updates, to gardening basics, to supporting the local community. 

Published May 2018. You’ll learn simple techniques to help protect the planet every day, like starting a compost pile to reduce food waste, utilizing travel mugs and reusable containers, and choosing eco-friendly products.

Simple Acts to Save Our Planet: 500 Ways to Make a Difference by Michelle Neff

9) Eco Thrifty Living: Save Money, Save the Environment and Live the Life You Want! by Zoe Morrison. 189 Pages, Independently Published.

Topics covered in the book include:

1. Kitchen waste
2. Stuff
3. Sustainable fashion
4. Cleaning
5. Bathroom
6. Entertainment
7. Celebrations and special occasions
8. Energy
9. Getting fit
10. Kids
11. Gardening

Published Jul 2019. If you think freeing up some cash could help improve your life, you care about the environment and are ready to do things differently, then this is the book for you!

Eco Thrifty Living: Save Money, Save the Environment and Live the Life You Want! by Zoe Morrison

10) Say No To Plastic: 101 Easy Ways To Use Less Plastic by Harriet Dyer. 128 Pages by Summersdale.

This practical book suggests eco-friendly alternatives to plastic, including budget options, high-street substitutes and DIY ideas to help you drastically reduce your plastic consumption.

Published Sep 2018. With 101 simple ways to use less plastic, you’ll find it easy to take the first step and make a difference.

Say No To Plastic: 101 Easy Ways To Use Less Plastic by Harriet Dyer

Friday 22 November 2019

Dreamin of a Green Christmas?

Top 15 Tips on How to Have a Greener Christmas
Oh no! It’s that time of year again. The time when people spend too much, eat too much and fart way too much. I can't help the farting problem but would love to give some ideas on how to consume less and have a more eco-friendly Christmas to boot. I have tried some of these myself and even small changes can make a big difference!

1) Christmas Parties 

Avoid disposable plates at all costs. Bring out the mismatched cutlery and plates for sit down meals. Who cares if it doesn’t look perfect? Worried about the washing up? Why not get some volunteers to help.

Check out my recent post on products containing 100% recycled plastics, including washing up bottles. Why not grab a few Scrubbies too? (A natural, washable, compostable wash cloth). The pretty ‘unsponge’ cloth can be a talking point whilst doing the dishes! We make our own now too - see our store for more!

If you are keen to use something more lightweight for holding onto at parties (buffet type events for example) then check out some biodegradable wheat straw or sugar cane plates. Or look out for bamboo plates which are re-usable too. 

You can even buy plates made from palm leaves which look quite cool. Could start a trend among your friends perhaps! I haven’t tried any of these so haven’t reviewed any but a quick search on Amazon for compostable plates can bring up a lot of choices.

Check out non plastic straws including toughened glass straws, bamboo or silicone straws.

2) Christmas Crackers

Expensive these things aren’t they? Filled with plastic gifts and corny jokes too but for many they are still a tradition. 

For a greener option look out for plastic free crackers, word is some of the stores are beginning to stock them. Some shops, like John Lewis, WH Smith and Lakeland even sell ‘fill your own’ crackers if you wanted to add that more personal touch.

Alternatively there’s some DIY kits with various designs in the the Hobbycraft Site plus Dunelm have a selection of reasonably priced recyclable or make your own crackers.

Why not check out Etsy too for Homemade Christmas crackers. You may find some greener alternatives in there or get some inspiration for making your own.

If you use chocolates as fillers for your home made crackers, you can recycle foil wrapped chocolate wrappers but bunch them up into a ball first as small pieces can block the conveyor belts at recycling centres.

Any cellophane wrappers (be sure it is cellophane) can often break down in compost. This article ‘Can you recycle chocolate wrappers’ may help give you some ideas.

3) Advent Calendars

Sometimes the advent calendar contains a plastic tray which may not always be recyclable. You can search for greener alternatives that are just made from card instead such as Woodland Trust's Silver Birch Tree Calendar or Oxfam's Calendars.

For ethical advent calendars why not check out Unicef’s Paddington Bear Advent Calendar which shows you how your money is being used behind each window.

You can make your own too using card from cereal boxes perhaps, plus some artwork, pics of the family maybe, fave cartoon character images etc for top and bottom.

Cut card into strips and slot together to make 24 windows (make the outer frame 1st then cut grooves into length & width of card to make your inner sections - fill with choccies or whatever you like!) Score around 3 sides of each window to make a flap.

4) Christmas Decorations

Rather than buying lots of synthetic products for your tree why not make your own? Something as simple as fir cones, dried orange segments, felt or wool animals or even sticks of cinnamon or chains of popcorn can help. Or why not try some edible tree decorations such as cinnamon or gingerbread biscuits?

Children love making things so see if they can come up with any ideas. Paper chains used to be the firm favourite for keeping the kids quiet. You can make your own glue too just using flour and water to cut down on plastic tape. Or try out some origami snowflake decorations using tips from You-tube.

Check out this useful site too for tons of Christmas Craft Home Made Decoration ideas. The Works site also has some good ideas too in their Christmas crafts and gifts section.

Natural Christmas Decorations Image by Giftpundits

5) Eco Friendly Christmas Trees

Live or artificial? Artificial trees are sadly plastic however they do have the advantage of being used year in year out. Bored of your tree? Why not find a home for it via recycle (we did). Someone out there may love a free tree to adorn their homes.

Meanwhile, for living trees it really is sad when you see how many are scrapped each year – it breaks my heart. A news article in 2006 reported that 'Six million trees are thrown out after Christmas, creating more than 9,000 tonnes of additional waste. That’s about five times the weight of the London Eye!' (source The Independent.)

Some rental tree farms will let you choose your tree or even rent the same one back again the following year. You will need to keep them alive as they will be returned to the farm for safe keeping. 

Some rental tree sites include http://www.loveachristmastree.co.uk/ (Leicester/Coventry), https://www.londonchristmastreerental.com/ (London area, 5ft trees sold out but 3 & 4ft trees in stock, be quick tho!) Also https://rentalclaus.com/ (Bristol, Gloucs, Cheltenham, Stroud, Worcs and Chippenham).

Some councils offer xmas tree recycling programs where you can have your tree shredded and recycled into wood chip. It breaks my heart but this is more preferential to them going to landfill.

An alternative is to plant in your garden or you can place an ad on freecyle or freelywheely to see if anyone has space on their land to plant your tree. The wildlife will thank you for it. If it’s taken by someone near you for replanting you could also watch it grow as you walk past. Old tree, new life!

6) Environmentally Friendly Wrapping Paper

Go old school and use brown wrapping paper. It can be jazzed up using cut out old xmas cards as gift tags and can be tied with old ribbon or string. Or brown paper tape can be used. Some folks have a go at potato printing to add a little personal touch, maybe get the kids to do a smiley face and dip it into yellow paint. Stars can be another idea for a simple added touch.

The brown paper can be recycled or in good condition can be used again next year. Using ribbon or string crossed at the front and back means you don’t have to use plastic laden tape either. 

Or use wrapping paper made from magazines. It’s more personalised then and doesn’t have to be all about Father Christmas and reindeer which is all made up anyway, I mean just how many reindeer would you need to pull along a fat geeza in the sky?

What’s wrong with normal wrapping paper I hear you ask? Sadly some wrapping paper can’t be recycled, especially the type that has a shiny coating. The best test, if you scrumple it and it pings back it is not suitable for recycling.  This BBC article on Christmas wrapping paper might be worth a read also.

Alternatively, you can buy recycled wrapping paper and gift tags at Ethical Superstore. Some wonderful tips here on eco-friendly wrapping paper including using old maps, some fabric plus a list of other options to get recycled paper, if you decide to do that too.

7) Non Plastic Gift Ideas

Give a gift of a day out for friend or relative maybe. Choose something they love such as a chocolate tasting day, spa visit, boat trip, balloon rides or more. Or place a gift token in their card for them to shop in their favourite store. 

A great idea is to send a box of ‘treat days’. Each envelope may contain a coupon or IOU. For example, I will make you a home-made chocolate cake, I treat you to a coffee and croissant, today we will go bowling – that sort of thing. The gift owner can then call in their favours when they’re ready or like a grandma did in Australia you can set 12 treats with each promised treat to be opened at the beginning of each month. Brilliant huh?

Green Gifts to Buy -  In my reviews section I have listed a few plastic free or plastic reduced products which could be of use for practical ideas. All products have been tested by me and more reviews will follow soon!

Examples include bamboo toothbrushes, cotton buds, non plastic razors, wax wraps, scrubbies plus silicone storage sets with grocery mesh bags.

8) Make Your Own Gifts

Ideas include home made products such as cookies, soaps, marmalade, marzipan sweets and fudge and so much more. The Spruce Crafts has some great projects you can try or Sainsbury’s Edible Gifts for Christmas for some yummy ideas. If you’re using glitter for craft projects remember these are often made from plastic –  Moral Fibres suggest some places where you can buy eco friendly glitter.

Here are some fantastic craft ideas to make at Christmas time – I love the idea of making a badge out of an old bottle top and snippets from old cards on top or the recycled paper beads using paper from glossy magazines, strung together as miniature garlands.

Heart Shaped Iced Cookies Image by Stefan Lorentz

9) Sending Festive Cards

A lot of people have switched to online e-cards which helps reduce use of trees. If you prefer to send a card choose some that support charities and have the FSC logo on the back (Foresty Stewardship Council) to ensure the trees are properly managed. Or check out recycled cards, at least you know the card stock has had a previous life and then recycle when done or use as home made gift tags for next year.

Glittered cards may not be recycling friendly as glitter is often plastic coated. You can however buy eco friendly glitter to cut down on the plastic consumption.

Tree Cards are a great idea, they are plastic free and 100% recycled, plus they plant a tree with every order and include a seed token. What a great idea!

They are individually priced with lots of designs (bees, cartoons, inspirational messages and animals) and you can also buy boxes of 10 in a limited design pack. Not all of them are Christmas, there are some thank you, anniversary and good luck cards in there too.

New for 2020: recycled wrapping paper is available from tree cards too!

10) Eco Friendly Toys

For young ones, ditch the plastic and buy wooden models. Little trains with wooden blocks as the tracks, can be fun for your little one to build and make their own choo choo noise. Get them back into reading books or buy them materials for a craft project you can do together.

I loved the suggestion that was going round on Facebook. Buy 4 things for your child, something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.

It can be hard of course if their friends get lots more than them, but I wonder how many of those friends still value what was bought for them 2 weeks later and how many items just sit at the back of the cupboard?

11) Give Away / Sell Unwanted Items

Have so many things collecting dust? Don’t throw away old items. They can be sold online (facebook even has a marketplace available free to sell off unwanted stuff locally) or place an ad in your local store’s notice board to get some local customers. Send a message too to family and friends. If there’s enough interest maybe you can host a toy swap or clothes swap party just to give unwanted items a new lease of life. 

Donate any you can also to charities. In a post called ‘Secondhand September’ it was shocking to learn just how many clothes are disposed of instead of being passed onto others. If fabric is unusable they can be used for rags instead. Some eco sites even have videos on how to turn them into re-usable grocery bags (a home-made project for self later perhaps!)

I remember once turning an old woollen sweater into a dog pillow just by cutting the arms off and sewing the neck and arms together. The stuffing can be placed through the neck hole before sewing! For those wanting to minimise plastic fibres avoid polyfill stuffing. 

Look out for recycled wool fibre, cotton fibre or kapok.

12) Buy Antiques or Vintage Goods

Instead of buying new, why not visit an antique shop for some gift ideas? The product has had a previous life, is probably better quality than items produced today and more importantly won’t be made entirely of plastic! Plus, who knows, maybe it will increase in value over the years too.

You may see a pre-loved vintage item at a bargain price in your local charity shop!

Antique Pocket Watch Collection - Image by Giallo

13) Shop Locally or Bake

Farm shops are a great way to buy good quality produce. Our local one has a great plastic free fruit and veg section. If you do shop at the supermarket take along some of your own mesh bags to use for loose veg. I noticed carrots sold loose were cheaper than packaged in our local supermarket which is a good turnaround. 

Sainsbury’s are currently selling mesh bags made from recycled plastic (PET bottles in a previous life) for 30p a bag. The silicone storage set I reviewed comes with several mesh bags for your grocery shop which I carry around in my handbag.

Reduce food waste by offering left over meals for guests travelling home. You can make your own mince pies too to cut down on the plastic trays that often come with mince pies. Home cooking always smells nice and homely and the whole family can pitch in too.

14) Donate to a Good Cause

Ordering gifts from charity gift stores is a great way to treat your relatives and giving back to charity at the same time. Examples include RSPB (birds), RSPCA (animals), Woodland Trust (trees) and WWF (nature).  

If you have a lost loved one why not donate a tree in their honour through the Woodland Trust? RSPB can accept memorial donations and they have a book of remembrance at selected reserves.

Children often love animals so sponsorships may be a great idea. A stuffed toy is usually included in the membership pack. Try WWF Adopt an Animal - ideas include a penguin, jaguar, polar bear, tiger and so much more. Maybe your child can save up their pocket money to keep the sponsorship going, help them to put a budget aside to look after their adopted animal for future years.

Adopt a bee kit from Hilltop Honey is a novel idea. You get a newsletter, a passport with bee facts, pack of seeds, a mini pot of honey and a bee badge all in a little gift box. 25% go to the Honeypot Children’s Charity.

Or why not try Oxfam’s Life Changing Gift Card which can help you donate a chicken, honey bees, goats or seeds to a community. Check out some other ideas from Oxfam including on how to have a Green Christmas with the Kids.

15) Take Time Out for You

Take pleasure in the simple things. It’s hard during the rush of festivities to get everything just right. Frazzled tempers? Stressed out nerves? And we haven’t even begun yet! For me, my simplest pleasure is just taking a walk on Christmas Day. I especially love a chilly, clear, blue sky sunny day. Completely different to the White Christmas others may dream of (although I do love the pretty patterns sharp frost makes on the trees!)

So think of what takes you to your happy place, give yourself time to breathe and remember to ask for little helpers to pitch in. Folks work harder when they’re tasked with something they enjoy. Some prefer washing up, others drying, some love a good hoover up, work on people’s strengths. As long as people know who should be doing what it should all come together. Then you can take that peaceful moment to yourself.

Martin Lewis, a well known Money Saving Expert bought it home to me just what Christmas means, and it’s not all about presents. It’s probably more about ‘being present’!!

Here’s 41 great money saving tips from Martin. Grab a hot choccie and enjoy!

Hot Chocolate in White Ceramic Mug by Ylanite Koppens

Useful links for an eco friendly Christmas:

Review - Plastic Free Straws

This is my 11th review on plastic alternatives. I hope these help give some ideas on plastic reduction or alternatives you can use in your daily lives.

Scoring system: 

❤ = Will keep, I love it / 👀 = Not sure, will try some more / 😐 = Oh dear, it's not for me

Review Eleven - Silicone Straws

In a review about silicone covers I described silicone as a hybrid between plastic and rubber. It's composed of silica which is mostly sand based. For this reason it can withstand freezing and heating conditions and is machine washable too. 

It's far less of a throw away item than regular plastic straws, but it does have the downside that it can take an age to rot down in the environment, causing a similar problem at the end of its life as plastic.

Below I'll suggest some alternatives to disposable plastic straws and explain why I plumped with the silicone choice in the end.

Paper Straws - many of the supermarkets have signed up to the Plastics Pact UK. On top of finding alternatives to plastic cotton buds (see my review on bamboo cotton buds if interested!) they are also committed to phasing out plastic straws by 2020.

However, I've never liked the feel of paper straws and hate when they start to go soggy. It could be tricky to find ones durable enough to be washed and used again, although they would be easier to discard at the end of their useful lives.

Bamboo Straws - bamboo is naturally anti bacterial and pretty strong, however I found my toothbrush made from bamboo does start to discolour slightly when water collects on it, so have been put off using bamboo straws as a result.

Metal Straws - I'm a bit put off by the thought of cold metal in the mouth, especially as I have sensitive teeth - yikes!

Glass Straws - this was my 1st choice. I like the glass set I bought that has different coloured ends to help choose whose straw is whose. However the glass has to be toughened for safety reasons and was quite thick. I have a painful condition called TMJ which makes it quite difficult for my jaw to handle.

Silicone Straws - I settled eventually on a colourful set of silicone straws. They have the advantage of being firm but flexible at the same time, so if you have a painful jaw condition like me they have a little give. The colours are pretty too and there should be no reason for us to need to replace them anytime soon. So, it's a ❤ love from me!  

Set of colourful flexible silicone straws

Thursday 14 November 2019

Products in Recycled Packaging

A Look at Three Natural Products with 100% Recycled Plastics

As part of my aim to reduce single use plastics I have been diligently been making my own products. From homemade liquid soap to almond milk to orange cleaning spray - I have been having great fun doing these projects. 

For those who don't fancy the thought of DIY there are some great natural products out there you can use, which are also environmentally friendly.

There are no affiliated links below - all the products have been used by me (even before I started on the plastic reduction journey, as I find natural products more pleasurable to use). I do hope you enjoy trying some out for yourself too!

Method Antibacterial All Purpose Spray Bathroom & Kitchen Cleaner
Wild Rhubarb Anti-Bacterial Spray
Method Cleaning Spray

I started using Method cleaning sprays for kitchen and bathroom some years ago. I now make my own orange vinegar spray but you do sometimes find, with home made products, that you have to let them soak in for several minutes to do their work. 

Commercial sprays though can work their magic quicker so occasionally I do still use them from time to time. I love that Method have so many different choices of spray with natural plant based ingredients, including sunny citrus, water mint and clementine. My fave at the moment is rhubarb (see left). 

In 2008, Method began to make bottles from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic, and in 2012, the company joined forces with Ecover, to create the world’s largest green cleaning company.

I think that from their humble beginnings in 2000, as two lads who wanted to make a huge difference, they have gone leaps and bounds. Method can be brought from several supermarkets and online stores. 

For a list of suppliers go to: https://methodproducts.co.uk/find-a-store/.


Ecover is a great product that was founded in Belgium in 1979. They do dishwasher, laundry and household cleaning products. What I love most is their innovation. For example, they produce a washing up bottle made from 50% recycled ocean plastic waste from Brazil and 50% post consumer plastic. That equals 100% recycled waste plastic being used.

But have you seen this? A new product that uses waste from the Belgian beer brewing industry. It's limited edition so keep an eye out for it. 

From their web site 'This innovative new washing up liquid is created using at least 25% of waste ingredients leftover from the beer brewing process (water and ethanol), the bottle is made of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic and the cap is made of 50% post-consumer recycled plastic.

Available at Whole Foods, Amazon, Ocado from 16th September 2019.

Ecover Washing Up Liquid Ocean Plastics
Ecover (the one on the left made from ocean plastics)
Scrubbies cloth at the front can be found in my reviews section.
Even though I now use soap nuts for my laundry plus home made vinegar spray for the clothes conditioner, I do still occasionally use ecover for my clothes. Especially for delicate washes as they have a wash detergent suitable for woollens. 

I also like their dishwasher tablets that come in a card box. A shame that each tablet comes in a plastic wrapper though so for the moment I switched to Ecoleaf which has a dissolvable wrapper.

Ecover is widely available in supermarkets. There are also some refill stations you can try (see link below)

It's wonderful to see that Ecover in their factory diverts 98.1% of its waste from landfill and aim to be achieve zero waste within the next few years. I find it so lovely that their factory has meadow flowers alongside too, how awesome is that? (See zero waste link for info).

Love Beauty and Planet

I can't go without giving a huge shout out to my newest favourite, Love Beauty and Planet. They produce hair and shower products with natural plant based origin in 100% post consumer recycled plastic bottles. 

I absolutely love the Muru Muru Butter and Rose Shower Gel. Smells a bit like buttery rose on warm babies heads. My new found fetish is to sniff the wash cloth on the way past as it smells so yummy (that's maybe too much information!)

The coconut shower gel and shampoo is more subtle but makes my hair feeling quite light afterwards. You may notice a greyish tint to the bottles and they can sometimes buckle. This is due to the high recycled content in the plastics. It's a small price to pay and when you're trying to reduce use of single use plastics, it's great to know your bottle had a previous life!

I'm currently using soaps and shampoo bars to cut down on plastics but I do sometimes switch to this product, to get a fix of that Muru Butter and Rose scent, umm, lovely!!

Check out their FAQ for a list of where to buy Love Beauty and Planet.

Love Beauty & Planet Shower Gel Muru Muru Butter & Rose
My fave shower gel!

💦 Check out my latest review on Sainsbury's Greencare Products 💦