Wednesday 30 October 2019

Recycling Codes Explained

Are Recycling Codes in Plastic Packaging Confusing?

I have been recycling for years, since way back when you had to drive to the nearest recycling point, long before curbside collections became a common sight. I always thought I was doing the right thing but even now I keep discovering new things that I didn’t know.

I recently learned for example, that tetrapaks are not recycled by our local council. I examined the laminated card sent out by the council and realised that no cartons were on the diagram. A quick email later confirmed that no, they don’t take tetrapaks or any other cartons at all.

Tetrapaks are a mix of plastics, aluminium and card stock which is why only specialist collectors will take them. Some councils may send them off to these specialist centres (my mother’s council does take tetrapaks for example), however ours don’t so we have to take them to a home recycling centre where they can be picked up from there. 

Bell Peppers in a Miniature Shopping Trolley
Plastic Free Veg!

This excellent BBC article ‘Why plastic recycling is so confusing’ shows that councils can differ across the UK in which items are taken for recycling. They say that whilst some councils will collect most types of plastic packaging, two councils (at the time of writing) collect none at all (Rotherham and Tonbridge).

99% of households have their detergent, shampoo bottles, milk and drink bottles collected whilst only 74% of households have their tubs, tray and yogurt pots collected. Carrier bags are at 18% and cling film and food bags only around the 10% mark.

Terracycle are a great resource for finding local drop offs for some of the more difficult to recycle items such as cat food pouches and crisp packets. See my article for more information. 

How to Recycle

Recycling can be quite an effort depending on where you are but still worth it, as long as you can work out what can be recycled (check with your local council if you are unsure, many have recycling cards delivered to each household, plus they often have guides online or an FAQ section – if not send them a quick email with any questions).

Recycle Now has some tips on recycling plastic bottles:

* Replace lids and tops. If they stay on the container they will get recycled [worth checking with your council though, as our local council prefers caps to be removed first]. 

* Empty and rinse bottles as left over foods or liquids can contaminate other recyclables. Bottles containing liquid may not be recycled, as can be too heavy for the automated sorting process. Liquid can also damage the machinery.

Squash bottles to save space and leave on labels as these will be removed in the process.

Plastic Recycling Symbols Guide

To help us figure out what’s what when we recycle here’s a mini guide.

This article will cover just plastic recycling codes, compostable and bio-degradeable products I will cover in a future article..

Circular Green Dot Symbol Green Dot – 2 circular arrows, sometimes green, sometimes black - this is probably the symbol that causes the most confusion. It doesn’t necessarily mean it is recyclable, but more that the manufacturer contributes financially to remove or recycle packaging in Europe. Per Wikipedia ‘The Green Dot logo merely indicates that a company has joined the Green Dot scheme, and not necessarily that the package is fully recyclable.’

Triangular Mobius Loop Recycling Symbol Mobius Loop – The 3 chasing triangular arrows - this means it IS capable of being recycled but may depend on local facilities. If there is a percentage figure in the middle it may mean x % has been made from recycled materials.

Widely Recycled Packaging Symbol A Single Circular Arrow may say ‘Widely Recycled’ in green, or ‘Check Local Kerbside' (recyclable at household recycling centres but may need to check whether it's picked up by council kerbside collection, Tetrapaks for example). 

Or you may see 'Recycle with Bags at Larger Stores'. These include kitchen/loo roll wraps and bread bags. The bags can block recycling centre conveyor belts so best sorted with carrier bags in the supermarket bag collection bin. 

Recycle Now site lists types of bags you can recycle (note biodegradeable/compostable bags are not accepted). You can also drop your bubble wrap at bag recycling places too.
Widely Recycled Packaging Symbol Not Recycled Symbol - The symbol may say ‘Not Yet Recycled’ in black (such as found on crisp packets).

Plastic Resin Code Recycling Symbol Plastic Resin Codes – The resin code number inside the triangles can help workers at the recycling centre sort types of plastic (although they usually go by eye depending on type of container). Some recycling centres have machines that can scan the codes also to separate the recyclables from the non recyclables.

Resin Codes Explained

The numbered codes can be broken down as follows (
some plastics are much more readily recycled than others) 

1 – PET or PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate, also known as Polyester). The most commonly recycled product. Usually clear plastic for making water and soft drinks bottles. It withstands heat and can be used also in microwavable meal trays.

When recycled it can be turned into fleece jackets, carpet fibre, tote bags, plastic sheeting or turned back into bottles. 

The new kid on the block rPET is made using recycled plastic bottles.

2 – HDPE (High Density Polyethylene). Transulcent bottles which are ideal for short shelf life such as milk. Also used for chemicals including wash detergents and bleach. Can be used for shampoo bottles or cereal box liners. It can be made relatively stiff with high strength so also suitable for making cable covers.

In recycled form it can be used to make more detergent, shampoo bottles etc or used for making outdoor decking, fencing and recycled plastic picnic tables. Also flower pots, pipes, buckets and recycling bins.

3 – PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride, also known as Vinyl). Can be rigid or flexible and has good weather and chemical resistance. Often used for double glazed window frames. Can be used as shrink wrap or meat wraps, blood bags, medical tubing, pipes, fencing, decking, flooring and cable insulation.

Recycled materials can be used for fencing, floor tiles, cassette cases, traffic cones, gutters, garden hoses, sheeting and loose leaf binders.

4- LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene). Tough, flexible and relatively clear. Useful for flexible lids, toys, squeezy bottles and cables. Can be used in dry cleaning bags or bread bags, or packaging on frozen foods or fresh produce. Plus household bin bags. Coatings on coffee cups or paper milk cartons.

Recycled it can be used in shipping envelopes, floor tiles, compost bins, outdoor wood alternatives and bin liners.

5- PP (Polypropylene). Strong with high melting point so good for hot beverages. Also moulded parts for automotives. Useful for yogurt pots, margarine tubs and takeout food trays. Plus medicine bottles and bottle tops/caps and carpeting.

Recycled materials can be used for car batteries, brooms and brushes, garden rakes, storage bins, shipping pallets and trays.

6 – PS (Polystyrene). Can be rigid or foam with low melting point. Useful for food containers eg meat trays plus disposable cups, compact disc cases and aspirin bottles. Also as foam packaging for electrical products and also used in toys, building insulation and coat hangers.

Recycled it can be used for insulation, thermometers, light switch plates, vents, rulers, video cassette cases, egg shell cartons or expandable polystyrene (EPS) foam packaging.

7- Other. Can be made from different materials to the above or made from multiple layered resins.

Recycled items can be made into large bottles or plastic wood alternatives such as decking. 


According to the BBC article on plastics, resin codes 1, 2 and 5 are the most commonly recycled materials, resin code 4 sometimes recycled and 3, 6 and 7 almost never. Clear bottles are the most easily recycled and attract the best prices. Coloured plastics are less desirable and polystyrene is rarely recycled.

For a more detailed breakdown of each code check out this useful guide: Plastic Resin Codes PDF by the American Chemistry Council.

Recycling does seem to be an art form but it is great to see more and more products now being recycled and it’s even better to see products more widely available, utilising post consumer recycled plastics, on supermarket shelves. 

It's also good to see a British company using electricity generated from burning landfill waste to help power a recycling sorting centre. See our Lovelier Planet News post for more! 

Monday 28 October 2019

Make Your Own - Hand Soap

My Make Your Own Section

I found, since starting my new adventure in reducing plastics, that making products has become an integral part of making changes for the better. 

Different folks choose different methods of course to tackle the problem of single use plastics, such as using re-fillable products, going to zero waste shops with their own re-usable containers, growing their own, making their own and so on. 

Whilst reading Beth Terry's book, 'How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You can Too' I noticed a section on home made products that she has tried. Some had led to many experiments for her to get the right result - as the saying goes, 'It's not easy being green!'

Here is one of the items I have now made myself.

Home Made Liquid Hand Soap

Many years ago (I'm talking decades here) there was an advert on TV by Dove, the soap manufacturing company. They said they will, 'change the way you wash'. They offered a creamy body wash with plastic puff ball enclosed to help you lather up and exfoliate at the same time. 

I didn't buy the product but I did buy the puff and yes, it really did change the way I washed. Before I knew it, my normal bar soaps got cast aside and from now on, only body washes in plastic bottles and plastic puffs would do. 

Of course over time the puffs would start to stretch and come apart (just like those pom poms we used to make at primary school, I guess they are a bit like a pom pom!) Eventually I would look for a new one, discarding the old one without so much as a care.

These plastic pom poms aren't single use plastics, they're used for many months to years before being thrown away but I felt it high time to ditch them and 'change the way I wash' back to where it was in the first place (ie soap dishes, soap and good old fashioned flannel!)

Of course, after buying more soap I remembered the reason for hating soap in the 1st place - it makes hard water scummy, it drys my skin and I find you can't buffer it up into as good a lather without my plastic puff BUT I have found soap with jojoba oil in it which is not so drying on my skin at least. 

I recently spotted a cotton based eco friendly puff so maybe that could be something else to try too if you wanted to cut down on the plastics.

How do you Make It?

Anyway, back to Beth's book. She suggested that you can make liquid hand soap out of plain bar soap. Although I use bar soap for bathing, having liquid soap is handy for washing greasy, grimy hands at the sink (kitchen or bathroom), so I decided to give it a try.

Beth mentions a 120g bar of soap can be added to 4 litres of water. I found therefore that for each 15g of soap added to half a litre of water would give you enough to fill a 500ml bottle. I re-used an old hand wash bottle so at least gave it a second life. I can re-use it again and again and recycle it at the end of its life, once I've completely done with it.

Make your Own Liquid Hand Wash
To prepare, you first grate the soap, then add it to water that you have just boiled and give it a stir. Leave it to sit for 12 hours. Next day blend it together (blender, whisk or I just used handle of wooden spoon and gave it a good mix). 

Finally, pour it into your recycled pump action container, or if you'd rather not use a plastic one you can buy glass bottles with BPA free pumps on Amazon online or direcct via Nomara Organics site.

My Verdict?

It was good fun making something with not a lot of effort apart from doing the grating. I used old soap I'd forgotten about that had been sitting in the cupboard and it still worked fine. Great way to use up old soaps me thinks. I buy nice scented soaps for the bath and plain soaps for the hand wash.

Brilliant idea and I reckon one bar of soap could make about 8 bottles of hand wash. 

👏 Not bad huh? 👏

Friday 25 October 2019

Review - Scrubbies Unsponges

This is my 8th review on plastic alternatives. I hope these help to give you some ideas on plastic reduction or alternatives.

Scoring system: 

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

Review Eight - Scrubbies 'Unsponges'!
What a lovely name - Scrubbies! But what is it? 

Scrubbies also known as an 'unsponge' is a natural biodegradeable cloth as an aid to cleaning your dishes without the use of plastic coated scouring pads. They have a fabric animal design on the front with hessian backing, so you can choose either side for cleaning. 

Made from 100% Organic Cotton, with Anti bacterial Bamboo lining and Hessian backing. Wash at 40C. Compostable and Biodegradeable.

They are pricey BUT the real good news is you get a pack of 2. They are very cute, made in the UK and washable as well, so as well as being plastic free they should last a long time.

Maybe a Stocking filler for Christmas perhaps? 

I bought my scrubbies from a lovely eco-living company called Floral Fox. They donate a tree with every order (you can add extra tree donations too to aid the Eden Project) and they will send your order in a recycled box with a lovely card, which is a nice addition. 

It's lovely to support a British company and their produce is made in the UK too, such as a plastic free deodorant made in the Isle of Wight. They also make soaps which I have bought, as I'm trying to move away now from buying body washes in plastic bottles now.

The photo below is just one of the designs (foxes - quite apt as it came from Floral Fox!) Also whales, turtles and all sorts of other animals are available so you can choose your fave.

My Verdict?

The cute design, washability and bio-degradeable material makes it a huge win for me ❤!

for homemade cloths.

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Make Your Own - Almond Milk

My Make Your Own Section

I have been making great strides in my quest to rely less on single use plastics

So far I have done some reviews of plastic alternatives, written several articles and reduced or switched about 45 items so far (list to follow soon). 

I will regularly review some of my home making experiments, in the hopes it gives some inspiration to others starting out in their plastics reduction journey. 

I'm only 3 months into my experiment so off to a great start. I've also been donating money to save trees and started a Facebook page to go with this site.

It has been a busy time, but also have been busy making a few homemade things. From bathroom/kitchen cleaners, to homemade fabric conditioner, weed killer, toilet fizz bombs, liquid hand soap, mint extracts, bath salts and homemade Greek yogurt and almond milks. 

👯 I have become quite the home bunny! 👯

Home Made Almond Milk

So why almond? Since being young I've always been plagued with a throat catarrh type of congestion. It's bad enough in Winter but putting up with this all year round can be minging. Sometimes it'll block my breathing airways and not pleasant at all. 

It was an acupuncturist who suggested my root problem could be caused by milk. Dairy milk, along with bananas can be mucous producing she explained. 

It took 2-4 weeks after giving up dairy to rid the entire congestion. My nose would run and would cough up too but gradually these all disappeared. I occasionally still indulge in dairy (ice creams in summer, cream in my Irish coffee) but if I have too much the problems soon creep back in.

So after deciding to reduce plastics it was natural to look at ways of making my own milk alternative and I was really surprised just how easy it was!

So what do you need?

Almonds. Water. Yep that's it, almonds and water!!

Some say to use whole almonds with skins and soak overnight before blitzing (this helps to remove phytic acid in the skin). 

I decided to do the cheat's option which is to use *blanched almonds. As the skinning has been pretty much done for you, you can skip the first step! 

This site shows how to blanch your own easily and do an instant method, rather than soaking overnight. I just bought already blanched almonds so even managed to skip that bit.

The recipe I followed suggests 1 cup almonds to 4 cups of water (I use filtered water). I didn't bother by the way with any additives like salt or vanilla, just left it bare!

Blitz it for several minutes until smooth and creamy and then use cheesecloth or a nut bag to help drain out the almond pulp. The result is a nice creamy milk (even though I didn't soak the almonds as they came already blanched, it still came out creamy). 

homemade almond milk glass bottle

I then poured the milk into a re-used milk bottle and topped it off with a piece of tin foil. Great in milky hot chocolates but also great in teas, coffees and cereals. 

Even better is that it's naturally packed with calcium so no need for fortifying your drink. You can also adjust the almond to water content to suit your needs.

Almond milk off the shelves in supermarkets is usually served in tetrapaks (which contains plastic, card and aluminium). Not all council kerbside facilities will take this for recycling (may need to check with your local council to be sure). Looks nicer in a glass bottle anyway!

*This site lists some of the differences between blanched and unblanched almonds. Although slight, there will be some differences in nutritional content between the two.

Do I still buy supermarket almond milk? 

Yes, I do if it's on special offer but I have now discovered a local recycling centre that does take tetrapaks, so I make sure if I do use these that they get recycled. You can also experiment with less almonds to make it runnier if you do prefer the supermarket version.

This product once made lasts about 4 days in the fridge. Meanwhile the pulp can be frozen or can be oven dried to make almond flour. 

You can make truffles from pulp that has been stored in the fridge with added cocoa powder, some chopped dry fruits and a binder such as peanut butter, almond butter (or I used chocolate spread making sure the brand I chose was in a glass jar with no palm oil).

Someone suggested using almond pulp as a coating for fish or chicken fillets too or even mix in with your oaty apple crumble topping. If you really don't want the left over pulp I'm sure the birds would tuck in.

My Verdict?

Great to have such a simple recipe. Great to have something lovely tasting. Great to realise that we can find alternatives and still enjoy it too. Win, win, win!!

You got this!

Friday 18 October 2019

Review - Silicone Storage

This is my 7th review on plastic alternatives. I hope these help to give you some ideas on plastic reduction or alternatives.

Scoring system: 

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

Review Seven - Get rid of that Plastic Film for Good!

In my bid to reduce single use plastics the natural 1st choice was to get rid of cling film for good. Our family used cling film for many things (to cover cooked or raw items, seal end of opened packets, cover baked goods) but I've finally realised you don't need to rely on it at all. 

Now I reach for tin foil which can be washed and re-used again and then recycled, wax wraps I reviewed earlier, which are great additions to ridding your 'one time use of plastics project' and not only that they are pretty to look at (mine have bees on them and there are so many other cool designs too).

Here though, I review a new purchase I made via Amazon online that covers so many different eventualities. I bought a set that contains silicone pouches that can be sealed for storing liquids or solids, covers in all different sizes for topping bowls, and mesh bags which are great for storing fruit and veg. (I use these also for carrying fruit and veg recently bought in the store to save carrying them home in yet more plastic!)

Silicone Storage Set on Amazon

So what is Silicone?

The base of silicone is sand (silica) but also additives are added to enable it to be formed into soft and hard materials. They are in fact, a hybrid between rubber and plastics. 

Tupperware plastic tubs are used by many and indeed have the advantage that they can be re-used, so not as bad as single use plastics, however I do find that tupperware doesn't cope too well with extreme temperatures. This is where silicone boldly shines through as it withstands heat from microwaves and ovens, can be frozen and cope with dishwashers too, so has multiple uses.

I have the storage set above plus some colourful silicone straws. Although you can buy glass straws and metal straws I found these were too difficult for my jaw, as I have TMJ, a painful jaw condition. Silicone is much more giving. There's no need to rely on straws of course, but it's nice to have them to hand, on the occasion where a straw might be preferred.

Amazon have a great selection of different sets of silicone storage that can include many different items, including lids, storage pouches, mesh bags and in some cases silicone straws too. So you can customise your options according to your lifestyle needs.

My Verdict?

I find the ability to try different products for different uses a great plus. The mesh bags are really handy and I love the smiley face on the lid covers. Some of our bowls are hexagonal but the round lids sit on top OK, as they are clingy enough to seal the edges just fine. The smallest one can be pulled tightly across a tin can.

I have used them in our oven with no problems and have redcurrants bought from the reduced shelf at the supermarket, which I stored in a silicone pouch in the freezer to prevent them going off. So they are doing their bit to reduce food wastage too. Also you can see the contents - with wax wraps it's hard to remember what's inside sometimes!

When newly bought, the silicone storage pouches required a bit of teasing to get them apart, they had clung to themselves so well. The seal that pushes across the top is also quite tight to start with so just a word of warning on that. 

They do sometimes take on stains from food but they seem to wash OK in the dishwasher. If you don't have a dishwasher a coating of baking soda may help.

I love the storage set and plan to continue using them so it's a ❤ love from me!

Saturday 12 October 2019

Schools Single Use Plastics

How our Schools are Tackling Plastics
Plastics are all around us - synthetic clothes including polyester fleeces; polymer based UK bank notes; packaging from crisp packets to cat food pouches and straws. Some types of wrapping paper have plastic in them too (the type that springs back when you scrunch it).

Tetrapak drink cartons are made of card, aluminium and plastics, and chewing gum as well as glitter can also be a problem with hidden plastics within.

Many of these aren’t even recyclable, although Terracycle has a useful tool, to help you locate where you can send or drop off non recyclables, such as toothpaste tubes, pringle tubs and more.

Some places take crisp packets to help raise funds for charity, for example the Air Ambulance service in Kent, Surrey and Sussex. 
Wiltshire Air Ambulance & Scottish Air Ambulance service also have recycling schemes too, so check out your local Air Ambulance site. Other areas may have something similar and will help them make money in the process.

It’s an everyday struggle to reduce our plastic consumption, but for the health of the planet we really do need to make some changes and soon. Plastics lead to waste, and waste can be damaging to wildlife and nature, oceans and waterways and ultimately ourselves.

So what happens to all the plastics that do get recycled? 

The plastics are melted down first. Some items can be turned into clothing for instance recycled bottles can be turned into a fleece jacket or recycled plastics can be turned into new bottles. Different plastics can have different lives once they are recycled and may depend on the coded symbol at the bottom of the packet.

Recycled plastics can be turned into many other things including outdoor play areas, gardening equipment, seating and disabled access furniture. Recycled Furniture UK has a menu of different products being made out of recycled plastics, including this colourful buddy seat (a seat where children can sit and chat with others, reaching out to children who could be feeling alone).

How about the Government?

Following an open consultation, the government has announced a ban on the supply of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds which will come into force in April 2020. (Those with medical needs or a disability though are exempted from the ban).

The government plans to introduce a new tax on plastic packaging, which doesn’t meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content, from April 2022 (subject to consultation). They are also proposing to start a new deposit return scheme for drinks containers, to help boost recycling materials and reduce littering too.

The Ministry of Justice (PDF) have confirmed their intention to ‘Meet the government-wide ban to eliminate consumer single-use plastic from our central office estate by 2020.’ This will cover reduction or elimination of single use plastics for their cleaning, office and catering supplies.

Some of Britain’s councils are aiming for a 2022 target, with the Council of Bury purporting to be the first to make positive changes. They propose to create plastic-free community spaces in parks, libraries, community and leisure centres. (Check your local council as they may have similar proposals to reduce plastic consumption in your area).

It's great to see the NHS making changes to reduce plastics in hospitals in the UK, including phasing out plastic straws, plastic cutlery and single use cups. Royal Estates are also making the pledge to reduce their plastic use.

Time for Change Neon Sign

How about Schools?

Did you know that the government have challenged schools to be plastic free by 2022?

Georgeham Primary school in Devon was one of the 1st schools to take the plastic free pledge. Marine conservation charity 'Surfers against Sewage' found the school had met 5 crucial targets, including an initial plastic audit of the school and removal of at least 3 items of single-use plastic.

Changes included ditching small milk cartons with plastic straws and plastic overwraps and replacing with much larger recyclable milk containers and use of washable beakers instead. Cling film was swapped for foil in the school canteen, and sauce sachets replaced by larger sauce bottles.

Christ’s Hospital school in West Sussex, have been working hard to promote environmental awareness. Eco-minded students have set up a ‘Refill Centre Shop’ which is open to the public at Bluecoat Sports every Tuesday between 4-5pm. Refills sold by weight (which can be placed in your own containers or use theirs) include Faith in Nature and Ecover products. What a brilliant idea!

In addition, the school provides re-usable hot/cold drinking bottles, to help students reduce their single use waste.

My old school friend who works in an International School in Bahrain, says her school has also been making a difference. 

Our school has lots of recycling bins. We no longer provide paper cups at the water dispensers and our caterers minimise their plastic usage. Meeting sustainability targets is part of our school development plans. Our Eco club does regular beach cleans too.

Here’s a story that will touch your heart. 

Teacher Amy Fegan-Shakespeare, who works at a small independent school in Stoke-on Trent sent this lovely message:

‘I introduced recycling to the school I teach and work at. In September (2019), I spoke to my students about climate change, recycling and the war against plastic. They told me, “well the planets ruined anyway”.

'A recycling centre was created in the kitchen and we are ordering recycling sorters for each classroom, each with simple easy signs (created by the students). There are new positions for each student to do their bit and become a green ambassador for the school.

‘Today in art the students created posters around reduce, repurpose and recycle to place around the school. The beautiful moment was when I played David Attenborough’s speech on plastic, to the sounds of them saying “oh that guy is a legend”.

‘It soon tumbled into videos they had seen of marine life that had ingested plastic with a response of shock and horror. All of a sudden they understood how and why. 30 minutes later the students were mapping out how they could reduce plastic on the white board. 

'It was so lovely to see them inspired and looking for the next thing we could do as a school to do our bit for the planet.’ 

In an update Amy tells me.

‘We have managed to reduce our black bag waste from 15+ bags a week to 3 for the whole school- and we are still going. We are also planning a trip to the seaside for the students to take part in a beach clean up. Their responses have been amazing particularly around ideas to repurpose waste such as saving our toilet roll tubes and making eco friendly crackers for our school Christmas meal.’

What a wonderful thing to see that children can enjoy coming together and hopefully this post will show them that adults are trying to make a difference too. Well done to each and everyone who are running eco clubs or getting involved in recycling and beach clean ups too. 

The planet gives you a big thumbs up! 👍👍

How are Supermarkets doing?

Supermarkets have signed up to the UK Plastics Pact to reduce or eliminate the sale of some single use items, including cotton buds and straws. Much more is being done but advancements can differ between supermarkets. Details of the some of the changes being made can be found in my recent blog post ‘Supermarket Sweep’.

Shoppers are also seeking zero waste (plastic free stores) for their shopping needs. The beeswax wrap company offer a useful map on how to find some of your local plastic free stores.

Finally, what alternatives can I buy? 

Eco friendly biodegradable glitter, plastic free chewing gum , non plastic lunch boxes, re-usable drink bottles are just some examples to try. 

You can also look out for bamboo plates and dishes for toddlers.

Green companies are popping up more regularly including this nappy recycling service in Wales. The 1st nappy recycling service launched in 2012 was unveiled by a council based in Cheshire. Another company recycles nappies collected from nurseries and childcare facilities in the UK.

Collectively more is being done Nationwide and although challenging we can collectively (and individually) make a difference. To help feel better about how advances are being made, check out our recent post ‘LovelierPlanet News’.

❤ Together we can turn our 'plastic planet' back into a blue or green one, for us all to enjoy! 

👍If you're a teacher, pupil or parent check out some useful links below

The Word Like in Scrabble Tiles

Useful links for schools:

    Wednesday 9 October 2019

    Lovelier Planet News!

    Good news stories (to keep us all going)
    News articles on how we are damaging the planet can be soul destroying and occasionally we do need a pick me up to keep us all positive.

    The advances below are just a tiny tip of the iceberg it does at least give us all hope. So here’s my round-up of feel good stories to keep us all going!

    Nespresso Helping to Plant Trees!

    To protect our planet and coffee production which are both at threat, Nespresso has been planting millions of trees. The National Geographic Magazine state ‘Between 2014 and 2018 alone, 3.5 million trees were planted in three countries (Colombia, Guatemala and Ethiopia). Over the next 30 years, those trees are expected to remove (sequester) an estimated 398,000 tC02e (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) from the atmosphere.’

    By 2020, Nespresso plans to add five million new trees to its coffee-producing regions in Colombia, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Mexico, and Nicaragua. This helps the company to become carbon neutral, aids the planet in terms of oxygen production and carbon absorption, and also supports the coffee farmers build long term futures.

    Kerbside Meadows Begin to Take Shape 

    The National Guidelines for Managing Roadside Verges, commissioned by the charity group Plantlife, recommends only 2 cuts per year instead of the usual 4. This not only saves councils money but also wildflowers can begin to take shape. These wildlife corridors will encourage nature & wildlife to spread to parts that are currently being fragmented by roads. 

    The Guardian reports that 97% of wildflower meadows in Britain have been destroyed in less than a century and that roadside grassland is a crucial wildlife habitat for more than 700 species of wildflowers.

    Not only do flowers give life to insects but also can be cheerful for the public to see. According to the BBC ‘ An eight-mile "river of flowers" alongside a major route in Rotherham was widely praised on social media recently and roadside meadows have also popped up in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Birmingham, Newcastle and Sheffield.’

    A small path can be mown through the meadow to allow for public access where required. 

    Great Garbage Patch Cleanup Under Way

    An ocean clean up device designed in the Netherlands was built to catch floating plastic debris in a huge area (3 times the size of France) called the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch'. The project hit problems and was delayed for years. Finally though the first successful catchment has taken place. 

    The Ocean Clean up site states that, ‘Over 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently litter the ocean. A full-scale deployment of our systems is estimated to clean up 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every five years'. 

    The device is made up of a 600m length of floating buoys with an anchor that acts like a parachute to slow the device down, so that passing plastics pushed along by wind and waves can become trapped and later collected by shipping vessels. A 3m skirt allows for marine life to pass through safely underneath. 

    Floating plastics is not our only problem, plastics also sink to the sea floor and can be washed up onto beaches. Beach cleans are becoming more popular as a way to help clean up the environment. 

    According to Eunomia though ‘94% of the plastic that enters the ocean ends up on the sea floor. There is now on average an estimated 70kg of plastic in each square kilometre of sea bed.’ So we must do more to prevent the plastic reaching the sea in the first place.

    A Fungus Eating Plastic?

    According to Sky Ocean Clean Up, a fungus discovered in Pakistan has been found to biodegrade a type of plastic called polyester polyurethane (PU) into smaller pieces. The fungus secretes enzymes and essentially dissolves the plastic. It has been suggested that it can help too with toxic cleanups, ocean spills etc. so could be a powerful tool. 

    For more info plus see a great video of the 'Ocean Garbage Patch' clean up vessel check out:

    UK Company Burns Waste to Generate Electricity

    Our local council say they send non recycled waste to an Energy Recovery Facility where it is then burned to generate electricity. Keen to learn more I found a video by Viridor (see below) that explains the process. 

    It is reassuring to know that rubbish can be used to generate power, thereby reducing reliance on fossil fuels for our power needs.

    More Plastics to be Recycled

    I was also interested to find the company Viridor, in unison with Pennon have invested a large amount of money to increase its plastics processing plants, by recycling plastics and using the electricity created by landfill type waste (per video above) to power it. 

    The company claims this also reduces the need to send plastics abroad. “There is a clear ambition from both UK consumers and politicians to improve recycling rates and reduce the amount of waste which is sent to export. Our research shows that 80% of people believe the UK should find a way to deal with its own recycling without having to ship it to other countries." Bravo!

    Final Piece of Good News

    In September Lovelier Planet donated £10 to the New Mills project to increase trees in an area of Derbyshire. 

    For more tree saving ideas check out our recent blog post: 

    Ah, now that's lovelier. How about a cup of plastic free tea to celebrate. Chin, chin!

    Tree with sunrise background

    Other links of interest: Save Our Sea Meadows / Compostable Coffee Pods

    Monday 7 October 2019

    Review - Cheeky Panda Range

    This is my sixth review on plastic alternatives. I'm reducing plastics for my 50th year on this planet!

    Scoring system: 

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

    Review Six - Bamboo for Noses & Bottoms!

    My desire to look at alternative loo roll was two-fold, A) can I find loo roll that uses more sustainable use of trees and B) is that loo roll available in plastic free packaging?

    I found that a company called Cheeky Panda not only produces toilet roll made from bamboo pulp which is naturally antibacterial and is faster growing than other trees helping to absorb CO2 in the process, but also the product (strictly speaking bamboo is a fast growing grass) has an FSC stamp, awarded by the Forest Stewardship Council for properly managed forested areas. 

    According to the company video they use stock that grows wild in mountains in China that is farmed by co-operative farmers. They are trying to reduce plastic packaging and have been looking at D2W type of packaging which biodegrades. This is a still a type of plastic though but the company have released some plastic free packages (includes tissues, toilet roll and kitchen roll in a box with no internal plastics involved) or you can select a four pack of loo roll available in a paper wrap.

    I purchased both of these options to try them out. The four pack in paper is more expensive than the other rolls in their range which is a downside. I found also that the multi plastic free pack ordered from Amazon may arrive with plastic packaging on the outside (the driver said he took off the plastic in the van so I didn't see it myself).

    My thoughts on the Cheeky Panda Range

    Kitchen Roll - looks no different to normal kitchen roll. Is plain white & has an embossed pattern (a bit like artex swirls on the ceiling back in the day). Absorbs well, no problems to report. 

    I do love patterned kitchen rolls though and can only see Cheeky Panda stock in plain embossed. They don't use dyes and like to be natural so I would be asking too much for anything different!

    TissuesThe tissues are strong & ultra absorbent. Great for occasional sniffles, however for regular sniffles we usually opt for products with balm (especially during colds or hay fever season) so may just keep these for occasional moments. 

    A great PLUS apart from the cute panda logo is that the tissue cube & rectangular tissue box both have no plastic section in the top (the bit where the tissues come out). 

    No pulling out bits of plastic when you're ready to recycle the box (& no, it doesn't affect the ability to pull out tissues, still works fine once you tease out the 1st one in the packet).

    Cheeky Panda Bamboo Tissues Plastic Free

    Toilet roll - I'm very impressed with this and if you opt for the four pack in paper packaging it's a really cute outer cover. Or you can opt for the plastic free box that has tissues, kitchen roll and loo roll in it instead. It looks smaller than normal loo roll but so strong that I have often only needed one sheet. It doesn't turn to mush like most loo rolls do but certainly soft enough for personal use.

    It's great that it's non scented, non irritating and anti-bacterial too. The plastic free combination box (that also came with tissues and kitchen roll) had the loo rolls loose in the box. No extra plastic packaging to keep them together which was more than fine as they sat in the box until needed. 

    I've found that although the roll looks smaller & thinner it actually lasted a long time as I could get away with using less. Even wiping down the bath or shower after hair washing was a doddle as the paper holds up against water very well. Being dust free makes it perfect for cleaning glasses too!

    Some reviewers on Amazon have found that because of its strength it may not break down as fast as normal loo paper. So in heavy use households I would avoid flushing too much down the loo. I use it sparingly & some goes in the bin instead, ready to go in the compost. 

    Cheeky Panda Loo Roll from Amazon

    Where to buy?

    The downside is having to order them in specially (Tesco used to stock cheeky panda but not at the moment but you may spot it in some Morrison's stores) and you need to look out for the plastic free packs. 

    Amazon online and some green stores like ethical superstore sell them or you can buy from Cheeky Panda direct as they have a plastic free section on their site. They are working hard to improve their packaging options and have just noticed they offer plastic free multi packs of pocket tissues too.
    My Verdict!

    Overall rating is a love 
     but will need to use sparingly to avoid blocking toilets and the lack of balm in the tissues may lead to sore noses during heavy cold season, so we will alternate with our usual balsam tissues when we need to. Great product though..

    Why not check out this cute video to learn more about Cheeky Panda!