Sunday 22 November 2020

How to Have an Eco Christmas

 Go Plastic Free This Christmas!

Christmas is a wonderful time of year but sadly encourages a lot of waste and plastic wrap. Even glittery cards may contain plastics although thankfully some stores are beginning to ban certain types of glitter, opting for more eco friendly ones instead.

Last year I covered some ideas on 'How to have a Greener Christmas' including eco friendly advent calendars, alternative wrapping, cards, decorations and gift ideas. I also wrote a post on 'Less Waste at Christmas' examining the impact of Christmas and what we can do to help reduce our waste.

If you're looking for inspiration or gift ideas why not check out my list of books on reducing plastic waste suited to children or adults (click on the word adult or child for a seperate listing).

So what have I been up to lately? 

During the year I have been busy making plastic free products including:

* Fabric re-fillable Christmas crackers with wildflower seed balls inside
* Patterned washing up cloths made with 100% cotton and natural kapok
* Makeup wipes made with cotton and soft wynciette fabric
* Upcycled crafts including wine and whisky bottles with fairy lights
(the light switch is made from plastic, batteries are replaceable and should last a lot more than single use).

Reindeer Fabric Cracker with Seeballs

Current Prices of my goodies are as follows:

£3.10 for reusable fabric cracker sleeves
£3.95 for unsponge washing up cloths
£4.30 for xmas themed washing up cloths
£6.25 for festive cracker with inner bamboo tube + pack of 6 seed balls
£7.45 for 6 makeup wipes + tote bag
£7.95 for 7 makeup wipes + tote bag
£7.99 for gift box + pack of 10 wildflower seedballs
£8.10 for reindeer facewipes + tote bag
£8.99 for giant size refillable cracker + tote bag
£10.50 for fairy light bottles (around £7.50 + £3 postage)

Fairy Light Bottle with Butterflies

(Supplies are limited and prices may vary -
proceeds go towards keeping our web site going).

To check out my Etsy store go to:

We are also proud to be listed on the new PlasticFreeThings marketplace which only lists UK sellers who make their own products. 

Our store front can be found at:

 Giant Christmas Cracker with Wildflower Seedballs

Also check out my plastic free reviews section for lots of gift ideas including plastic free razor, bamboo toothbrushes, beautiful wax wraps and more.

The site below reviews some plastic free household items such as loo rolls at: (treat yourself to an eco friendly bottom!)

Random News!

1) During your web browsing why not try Ecosia, a search engine that donates 80% of profit per clicks to growing more trees around the world? As part of their projects, 2020 trees were recently planted around hospitals in the UK:

2) Did you know that National Tree Planting Week (for UK) starts on 28th November? Our local farm shop have been asking for pledges to plant bushes and trees on their land where they will add in bird feeders and nesting boxes. 

The Woodland Trust offer free trees to schools and local communities, applications are open for March 2021 tree delivery. Or you can buy from the Woodland Trust shop if you want to get started now.

If you're craving fresh air and a walk in the forest, check out this link to find a wood near you. Your lungs will thank you for it!

White Hedgehog by Pixabay on Pexels

3) It was great to hear recently that a community in Oxfordshire have built a hedgehog highway through their gardens, some digging tunnels and adding ramps along their fences? How lovely! 

Check out Hedgehog Street if you'd like to build your own and place your highway on the map.

For more lovelier news check out our positive news stories section.

Whatever you do and wherever you are have yourself a warm and fuzzy Christmas!

πŸŽ„πŸŽ‡πŸŽ„      πŸŽ„πŸŽ‡πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ‡πŸŽ„      πŸŽ„πŸŽ‡πŸŽ„

Wednesday 30 September 2020

Positive News for Autumn

Good News Stories Autumn 2020

Positive news helps us with a lift & shows us that good things can happen.

Here’s a few roundup stories to keep us all in good spirits! 

Face Painted Orca Photo by Nicola Seal - Seal Ceramics

1. The Upside of Lockdown?

During Covid Lockdown, folks had to take stock of their lives and make new choices, whether by being more resourceful and making things last longer, or getting fitter by cycling or walking.

The Country Living magazine reported a new study (see link below) by Princes Fish, where they found 27% of people have been cutting back on food waste, while 22% now wash clothes at a lower temperature, to reduce their environmental impact.

Meanwhile 28% have been cooking from scratch and upcycling household items, while a further 29% have been cycling or walking to places rather than driving.

Here’s 20 ways on how householders reduced their waste:

2. On Yer Bike

According to Positive News, the government encouraged people to get on their bikes during lockdown, by giving away thousands of cycle repair vouchers and earmarking £2bn to boost walking and cycling. 

As a result, the UK saw a 146 per cent increase in cycling with a reported 1.3m bikes being sold in the same period. 

Some councils have redesigned their town centres to make them more bike & pedestrian friendly. Many hope this will be the start of a greener way of living.

Cycling UK are looking for volunteers for their ‘Pumped Up’ campaign to keep the momentum going. 

3. Getting Heavy on the Levy

It’s been 5 years this October since the plastic bag levy of 5p was introduced in the UK. 

The Pre-loved web site reports that plastic carrier bag sales have fallen by more than 95%, with charities receiving nearly £180 million since 2015.

The average person in England now buys just four bags a year from the main supermarket retailers. The UK Government are planning to raise the bag levy to 10p from April 2021.

4. Sea Kayaks Made from Marine Waste

The group Clean Ocean Sailing have collected 5 tons of marine waste off the coast of Cornwall. The waste including barrels and hard plastics, was transported by their boat ‘Annette’ to Exeter, where they will be converted into kayaks by the Ocean Recovery Project.

The Ocean Recovery Project has recycled over 20 tonnes of material and achieved an 80% recycling rate.

It’s wonderful to see great minds come together for the greater good and help to reduce marine waste at the same time.

Check out this BBC Report: 

5. Re-purposing Discarded Tents

Remember the shameful sights of discarded tents where festival goers had left them behind?

A resourceful team at 2 Minute Beach Clean got to work collecting them, to turn them into beach cleaning sacks.

In turn these sacks help clean up plastic waste - waste from one venture being used to help clean up another (yes we humans are messy).

Simply a great idea – see this BBC video and report for more: 

Tent in the Countryside Photo by Cliford Mervil from Pexels

6. Is There Wind in Your Wales?

Per a Positive News article, the Crown Estate, which manages the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, has granted two new leases for windfarms in Welsh waters, including one that will float.

Floating windfarms can be useful where the seabed is too deep, which would normally inhibit installation.

Meanwhile, the Gwynt y MΓ΄r offshore windfarm in North Wales has been granted permission to extend – they are currently the 5th largest offshore windfarm in the world.

7. Free Those Trees (yes please!)

The Woodland Trust are providing free trees to local communities and schools.

‘We want to make sure everybody in the UK has the chance to plant a tree. So we’re giving away hundreds of thousands of trees to schools and communities.’

All trees supplied are sourced from UK & Ireland - deliveries take place March & November.

For more details go to:

8. Dubliners Go Wild!

In February 2020, Trinity College in Dublin submitted a poll to ask who would like to see a wildflower meadow in their College Green. A whopping 90% of respondents voted a resounding yes!

The wildflowers planted include a mix of annuals and perennials, with as many as possible being of known Irish origin. 

Planting may be supplemented with bulbs and plants such as wood anemones. The main aim will be flowering to extend over as long a period as possible. 

Trinity College is in the centre of Dublin, so tourists as well as students will get to admire the colourful scene. How wonderful!

For more on the story go to:

9. Lego Maybe Bricking It!

After pressure from children, the BBC reported that Lego have agreed to be more environmentally friendly.

They will replace plastic packaging with paper from 2021 and are investing up to $400m (£310m) over three years to improve its sustainability efforts.

In 2015 the Danish firm set a target, to make its products from sustainable materials by 2030. As part of this pledge it will expand the use of bio-bricks, such as those using sugar cane as a component.

2030 seems an awful long way away, so keep up the pressure kids! 

10. Have your Cake & Eat It?

I leave you with news of a zero waste and organic veggie shop newly opened in Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire. With a cheery yellow façade, Artichoke Natural Foods stock an amazing array of organic fruit and veg.

Check out their Facebook page for a look at their tasty bakes, fresh bread, gluten free options, dried pasta, re-fillable herbs, spices and pulses, plus plastic free bathroom products.

Artichoke Natural Foods Sowerby Bridge

Friday 19 June 2020

Positive News for Wildlife

Positive News for Wildlife
This report reflects how our wildlife can make a comeback with a little support. Enjoy! πŸ’• 

1. Sea Life Returning to the River Thames

According to Octopus Optimist Report: In the 1950s, London’s River Thames was so polluted it was declared biologically dead. However, after 62 years of conservation efforts, the River Thames has once again been deemed a “hub of life” by the Zoological Society of London. 

In 2019, ZSL launched its Mother Thames campaign, calling for public awareness of – and participation in – conservation efforts. In September, after their first comprehensive survey, the charity announced that 138 seal pups had recently returned to the Thames’ riverbanks!

They join more than 120 species of fish, including two species of shark, short-snouted seahorses and the critically endangered European eel.

2. Re-wilding Project to Help Nature Recover

A new national wildlife charity called Heal Rewilding is planning to buy ecologically depleted land across Britain and give it back to nature.

The charity will seek former farms, green belt or lower-grade land where wildlife can recover. The sites will be within easy reach of large towns and cities to benefit more people.

According to the Guardian: The initial £7m, 500-acre project will be in the southern English lowlands on a site yet to be announced, avoiding wildlife-rich land. The site will grow wild from its seed bank, animal seed dispersal or by spreading seeds from nearby land.

3. Beaver Population on the Rise in Britain

The River Otter Beaver Trial followed the two families of beavers introduced under licence into the wild in Devon in 2015. By 2019, the population had increased to at least eight breeding pairs across 13 territories.

Per the Positive News site: 'The report noted that beavers help to increase diversity of habitat for fish; higher numbers of brown trout, minnow and lamprey were recorded in beaver impacted areas of the river.'

Meanwhile, pools created by beaver-made dams contained 37 per cent more fish than stretches of the river with no dams.

4. Grass Cutting Being Stopped to Create Wildflower Meadows

Helen Tandy, from Friends of the Earth’s Chester and District branch said, “The Friends of the Earth team is really excited to be involved in the Urban Meadows project (at Chester and Ellesmere Port). 
We have been campaigning to protect our pollinators for over 10 years now and as part of that encouraging more local pollination strategies."

This project is part of the Council’s new Pollinator Strategy to boost biodiversity in the borough.

The Chester Standard reports: The new urban meadows will have nectar-rich plants like oxeye daisy, field scabious and knapweed which will provide nectar for bees and other insects into late summer. 

5. Providing Habitat for Lemurs in Madagascar

The People's Trust for Endangered Species are working with partners on a project to help lemurs in Madagascar. The project called SEED aims to replant trees to help them survive.

The team have collected 20,000 Acacia mangium seeds and 5,000 other seeds of 17 different native species. 
This vital work will reconnect lemur habitat and increase the forests by 58 hectares. 

The Acacia grows really quickly, plus fixes nitrogen into the soil and has a high survival rate. So growing this species first makes the environmental conditions more favourable for planting native species. Then native species are added to increase diversity.

6. Barn Owls Growing in Number in the UK

In 1987 barn owls were at their lowest ebb with around 4,500 breeding pairs, having declined by 70% since 1932.

According to the Guardian: In 1988 their fortunes started to change thanks to the work of Colin Shawyer, who set up the Barn Owl Conservation Network with the aim of doubling the population by 2020. More than 20,000 boxes have been put up nationally, with Shawyer installing 4,000 personally.

Shawyer’s ambitious targets have been smashed: barn owl numbers have nearly tripled and he doubts they will be able to climb much higher. Up to 80% of barn owls now nest in man-made boxes. There are an estimated 12,000 breeding pairs in the UK.

Barn Owl Photo by Jean van der Meulen from Pexels

7. White Stork Chicks Hatched in the Wild for the 1st Time in Centuries

Eggs in one of three nests at the Knepp estate in West Sussex have hatched, the White Stork Project announced. It came after the same pair of white storks unsuccessfully tried to breed at Knepp last year.

Lucy Groves, project officer for the White Stork Project, said it was the first time in hundreds of years that wild white stork chicks have hatched in the UK.

According to the Guardian: The project aims to restore a population of at least 50 breeding pairs of white storks in southern England by 2030.

8. Numbers of Greenback Turtles Spotted by Drones in Australia

Drones spotted endangered greenback turtles 
over the Great Barrier Reef heading for Raine Island in Australia. They estimated 64,000 turtles heading to shore ready to lay their eggs.

Young turtles are very vulnerable and a recovery project team on Raine Island are hoping to monitor the young ones to ensure their chances of survival improve. 

Videos of the mass migration can be seen here at:

9. House Sparrows Make a Comeback in the UK

The Guardian reports: Since the Big Garden Birdwatch began in 1979 house sparrow numbers have declined by 53%. But in the past 10 years their numbers have begun to recover, with a 10% increase in sightings.

This year the house sparrow remained at the top of the rankings as the most commonly seen garden bird. Starlings were the second most sighted, followed by the blue tit.

More gardens also reported seeing long-tailed tits, which were up 14%, while wrens were up 13% and coal tits up 10% in 2020 compared with 2019.

10. Giant Orchard Planned for the West Country

Octopus Energy are working with Yeo Valley to plant a giant apple orchard in the British west country.

From the Octopus site: Over the last 100 years, apple orchards have disappeared from the British landscape, so ours will be planted at the site of a lost orchard where only a couple of ancient trees remain. 

The trees will suck carbon out of the atmosphere, and act as a supportive habitat for endangered British birds, insects, and mammals - like the vole!

Friday 15 May 2020

How I Reduced Plastics

It's been almost a year ago that I set myself a task to reduce or replace 50 single use plastic items for my 50th year on this planet. I haven't yet reached the full year yet (few months to go) but I wanted to reflect on how I've done so far.


Tried deoderant in card tubes
Back to body spray in metal tins
Started using shampoo bars (packaged in card boxes)
Back to using soap bars again
Made my own hand wash / utilised an old plastic pump action bottle
Switched to bamboo toothbrushes
Used toothpaste & toothpowder in glass jars
Used toothtabs in metal container
Tried bamboo interdental brushes
Tried reduced plastic tooth floss harps (review to follow)
Used bamboo loo roll in plastic free packaging
Used recycled loo roll in plastic free packaging
Used tissues in boxes with no plastic insert
Used products in 100% recycled bottles
Bought pouches of hand wash to top up bottles
Stopped using plastic pouffe for washing
Switched to a plastic free razor
Made my own bath fizz bombs + toilet fizzers
Bought bath salts in compostable paper pouches
Switched to reduced plastic or plastic free sanitary items
Bought some bamboo cotton buds
Made my own makeup face wipes out of fabric


Bought washing up products in recycled plastic bottles
Try & use larger bottles, also made from recycled plastics
Made my own orange cleaning spray, store in glass bottles
Used wax wraps instead of cling film
Used tin foil instead of cling film
Used silicone lids to cover various dish/can sizes
Used silicone containers for fridge, freezer & microwave
Utilised paper sandwich bags rather than plastic ones
Bought compostable jiffy bags that are fridge friendly
Have a machine that reseals items so packets can be heat sealed instead of overwrapping
Used bamboo cloths which can be washed & used again
Bought cordials in glass bottles instead of plastic
Bought re-usable flask for storing hot/cold drinks on journeys
Tried charcoal water filters to reduce use of Brita cartridges
Recycled coffee capsules rather than dispose of them (trying to wean myself off these!)
Also switched to plastic free tea
Tetra paks are not processed in our local kerbside collection - have now ensured they are being dropped off at the local drop off points for recycling
Made own almond milk & placed in glass milk bottle
Bought compostable scrubbies
Made my own compostable washing up cloths
Gone back to using sugar in paper bags instead of sweetener in plastic jars
Bought mesh bags to buy fresh produce without the plastics
Bought silicone washable re-usable drinking straws
Bought eco dishwasher capsules with dissolvable wrappers
Bought bin bags made from recycled plastic


Used organic soap nuts for laundry
Made my own fabric conditioner from homemade orange/vinegar solution
Made sure bottles I do buy are larger &/or made from recycled plastics


Used pegs made from recycled plastic
Planters bought manufactured from recycled plastic
Made own seed balls that can be scattered in garden (save buying plants in plastic pots)


Bought compostable poopy bags (review to follow)
Switched from pouches to individual tins of cat food

Office (reviews to follow)

Used corrugated jiffy bags instead of the plastic bubble wrap ones
Bought windowless envelopes made from 100% recycled wood pulp
Used packing tape made from 100% recycled plastic
Bought paper tape for packing also
Bought highlighter pens made from recycled plastics
Bought a large letter postal mailing gauge in wood not plastic


Bought books on how to reduce plastics

= 62

Things yet to try

Laundry Eco egg - can't decide whether buying a product made from plastic is the right choice so have been umming & ahhing about this one! 
Sign up for a beach clean

Permanent Changes

I no longer place laundry fluff in the compost in case of micro fibres!
I no longer use cling film & reduced use of ziplock bags by as much as 99%
I will never go back to plastic toothbrushes (unless finances say otherwise)
I make sure as much as I can that items are either plastic free or recycled plastics, or try and re-use plastics as much as possible with making my own items at times
Tin foil that I use to help cover items may be washed & re-used again multiple times before recycling so there's less waste there too!
I buy supplements that arrive in plastic free or recycled plastic packaging where possible
I try to buy products from stores that reduce plastics use, such as Floral Fox/Ethical Superstore/Wessex Trading/Cheeky Panda etc.

What have I found most challenging?

Costs can be on the high side so I keep my eyes peeled for special offers or loyalty discounts. 

Under arm deodorant was the biggest challenge as I didn't like the card tube product and din't fancy using the putties you apply with fingers. I have found Love, Beauty and Planet do a deodorant in a bottle made from recycled plastics in my favourite scent of Rose & Muru Muru Butter, so have switched to that as a compromise.

When it comes to toothpaste, toothpowder and toothtabs there have been some adjustments (I didn't like the clay based one for instance) but overall found the transition pretty easy. Normal toothpaste froths up way too much for me anyway, so I've acclimatised well to the non frothing plastic free products.

Using bamboo toothbrushes has been a pleasure and it's great being able to rip out the nylon bristles when done and compost the handles, or you can use them for your plant pots and write on them. I now hate the squeaky feeling of plastic when using an old toothbrush.

I found it a challenge dealing with the cat loo. Before I used old ziplock bags but having stopped using these (apart from very small occasions) I had to buy poop bags instead for the daily loo clean. I could have used newspapers or magazines but we don't buy these often enough - maybe once a year. I looked for a compostable plastic product however with pet poops (especially cats) it's not advisable to place them in the compost. So that has been a dilemma for me at the moment. In other words, the bag goes in the normal bin!

All in all I found the transition very easy and reached my goal of 50 probably after 6 months and exceeded the goal to more than 60 in less than 9 months. I surprised even myself on that. Mission well and truly accomplished and ahead of time. πŸ‘

So what's the future for lovelierplanet?

I love writing articles and will of course pop in with good news stories from time to time (check out my positive news reports). There are some reviews still to follow and articles to come, including how to run a plastic reduced office.

Contained within this site are lots of useful tips including what the different recycling symbols mean; what schools and supermarkets are doing to reduce single use plastics; an insight into terms like BPA free and how to be a green detective.

The menus to the right, search fields and tags at the bottom of this page can help you hop you to any points of interest in a jiffy!

For those starting out on their own journey take a look too at my list of eco friendly books suited to adults and plastic reduction books for children. Hopefully they can provide some inspiration.

I hope to start a reference section of useful websites and online stores (links to follow) and I'm making plastic free items to help keep this site going too. 🌷

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with this poignant message. Keep your arms wrapped around planet Earth, as she needs our love, care and nurturing just as much as we need hers!

If the Climate was a Bank, You Would have Saved it Already - Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels


Thursday 23 April 2020

Happy Earth Day!

Thank you, Mother Earth 🌷

Robin in Spring Blossom by Pixabay / Pexels

22nd April was Earth Day and it's lovely to see apple and cherry blossoms and cheery daffodils. Butterflies, bees and birds are in abundance too, their lives less hindered by humans during our enforced Covid-19 lockdowns!

A little intro about me for those who don't know - Lovelier Planet was set up in 2019 as a project for self. I wanted to reduce or replace 50 plastic items to celebrate my 50th year living on planet Earth. 

I still have some months to go and reviews and news to share. I plan to collate a directory of useful sites too, to help anyone stepping out into the world of plastic reduction.

Meanwhile here's a list of some comical, cute or whimsical items I have come across in my plastic reduction search! So what have I learnt?

1) I Now Have a Smug Pet! 

Reducing plastic meant I ran out of old jiffy bags, which I used to use to clean the cat loo. So I bought these compostable bags. My pet is now 100% Smug! (Reviews to follow soon).

100% Smug Pets Compostable Poo Bag

2) Cheeky Panda for Cheeky Bums?

I found a loo roll that uses fast growing grasses (bamboo) which helps reduce reliance on trees, but also it comes in plastic free wrap to help reduce reliance on plastics. Ooh, you cheeky panda you!

Cheeky Panda Plastic Free Bamboo Loo Roll

3) Cute Washer Uppers.

Who said washing up couldn't be fun? Brighten your day with Scrubbies washing up cloths or try these homemade cotton and linen cloths, all with different patterns. Great that they are machine washable & compostable too.

Patterned Natural Washing Up Cloths / Unsponges

4) Hello Gorgeous!

Not everyone needs a sanitary towel for that certain time of the month, but if you do, why not try these ones by FLO? Bamboo based, they have the words 'Hello Gorgeous' on the box. Cheered me up anyway.

Bamboo Sanitary Towel / Pads Hello Gorgeous on Box

5) Don't Worry Bee Happy..

I love these bees wax wraps. Makes a nice change to plastic cling film which I now avoid with a vengeance. Don't forget to bee strong - oh yeah!

Bees Wax Wrap with Bee Design - Cling Film Alternative

6) Smiley Faces on Tins.

Another cheery/cutsie thing is a smiley face on the top of these silicone lids. They come in various sizes and are stretchable too. A smiley face makes you smile back I find.

Smiley Face Silicone Lid - Alternative to Cling Film

7) Butterflies Need You.

Instead of growing flowers in plastic pots, why not get some seed balls to scatter in hard to reach places in your garden. Containing bee and butterfly friendly wildflower seeds and going fast! They arrive in a gift box with a bee printed on the envelope - lovely!

Plant Me Tag with Bee Friendly Seed Balls / Seed Pods

8) Uranus Wiper (No, I'm not Offering!)

Oh yes, it is a thing and yes I did wipe my a*** with it! See my review here if you're curious. 

Uranus Wiper Recycled Toilet Roll Plastic Free

9) Soapy Nuts?

It's not a skin condition (thank goodness) but is an alternative to laundry detergent in plastic bottles. Lasts a long time too.

Green Frog Botanic Organic Soap Nuts for Laundry

10) And Finally --- Stop Looking at my Bottom!

After trying my plastic free razor I placed the recycled card packaging on the window sill. What's that? I thought, when I saw something printed on the bottom. I inched closer and closer still, until I saw these words 'Stop Looking at my Bottom'. 

Plastic Free Wooden Razor by Naked Neccessities

The Bottom is Where You Find Me!

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Review - Uranus Wiper (!)

This is my 19th review on plastic alternatives in my bid to reduce 50 plastic items this year. Hope you enjoy! 

Scoring system: 

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

Review Nineteen - Uranus Wiper Toilet Roll

This is no April Fool's Joke and yes, uranus wiper is a 'thing'! But what is it I hear you ask. New on the market, Uranus Wiper is a toilet tissue packaged in a brown paper plastic free cover. It has the cutest design (see pic below). 

Described as 4 ply cushiony soft. I bought mine from Amazon although is showing out of stock at the moment.
My review

The Good: For each pack sold, a penny is donated to the Anal Cancer Foundation, a charity dedicated to accelerating prevention and treatment methods that eliminate anal cancer.

The packaging is lovely and whimsical, a very eye catching design. The kraft bag can be used for composting, storing items, even a cat play bag afterwards. Plastic free too which is a plus, plus all round.

Uranus Wiper Plastic Free Toilet / Loo Rolls

It's also good to see that 75% of the product is made from post-consumer waste paper that would have ended up in landfills. The remaining 25% is from pre-consumer waste paper (from virgin paper manufacturing processes).

The Bad: Although they are large sideways (due to being 4 ply and embossed) I have found they are very short in height meaning you need extra to do ya business. The inner tube is also much larger than my usual Cheeky Panda plastic free buy. It does mean that the roll runs out pretty quickly (the Cheeky Panda sometimes you only need one sheet so that one goes a lot further as it doesn't disintegrate as much).

Uranus Wiper Toilet Roll Quilted

The Ugly: The design and feel reminds me of kitchen roll so does seem a bit strange wiping ya bum with something that looks like a shrunken kitchen roll, but that's just a personal thought!

And as always, for plastic free products, the price was quite high.

Overall I found this a great idea and love the design. The use of recycled materials in plastic free packaging, with some of proceeds going to charity is a win, win. Despite this, I think you can go through the rolls fairly quickly and I'm not sure I would be happy to tear myself away from my current fave at the moment which is Cheeky Panda!

So sadly an πŸ˜ = Oh dear, it's not for me, is the score from me.


I've also tried GreenCane Toilet tissue - these are made from bamboo and recycled sugarcane. This comes in a paper packaging that has a cellophane window (cellophane is made from plant material which is compostable).

My review on the GreenCane loo roll is that stands up less well to moisture than the Cheeky Panda product. The inner tube is not as sturdy either and I've been saving inner tubes to make Christmas Crackers later in the year.

However, it is an option for those looking for plastic free alternatives that uses recycled or sustainable materials for the tissues themselves. 

There's also loo rolls called 'Who Gives a Crap' which are recycled paper loo rolls individually wrapped in patterned paper. I haven't tried these yet though to review them. πŸ’© 

Tuesday 31 March 2020

Review - Charcoal Water Filter

This is my 18th review on plastic alternatives in my bid to reduce 50 plastic items this year. Hope you enjoy! 

Scoring system: 

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

Review Eighteen - Black & Blum Charcoal Water Filter

I know what you're thinking - why on Earth would someone trying to reduce plastics need a water filter - surely tap water would do? After all, it's plastic free AND is supposed to be just as good as bottled water according to some studies. 

My gripe with tap water is down to two things - one is I hate the taste and smell of chlorine. My senses are super strong and it literally hits me with the smell. We also have exceptionally hard water in our area leading to limescale. 

For years we've been using Brita water filters. It does seem to help somewhat with scaly kettles and I haven't noticed chlorine smells. Of course these are encased in plastic containers, which made me want to look for alternatives. 

Brita filters can be recycled, although our local Argos (a previous collection point) had moved and we weren't sure where to take the used up cartridges. So when I came across the Black & Blum charcoal filter in Ethical Superstore I thought I'd give it a try.

My review

I used the Black & Blum charcoal filter inside our Brita jug, filled it up and left it overnight. The advice is to leave it for 8 hours for good effect. 

It says on their site that it can help with water softening and chlorine. 'Binchotan is an active carbon made from tree branches and is renowned for its ability to soften water, add good minerals and absorb unwanted tastes and odours, such as chlorine.'

After just two weeks I'd noticed limescale building up in the kettle after a very short time. I also noticed occasionally a chlorine smell and a slight film was appearing on the water. 

The product can be used for up to six months (boil after the first three months) however we decided after the first three months that we'd go back to using Brita cartridges.

So sadly the experiment didn't work for us, so I score this an πŸ˜ = Oh dear, it's not for me!

Black and Blum Binchotan Charcoal Water Filter

On a good note, we found where we can recycle our Brita cartridges - Argos had moved into Sainsbury's and the recycling point had been moved there, close to the Brita jug section, so any Brita filters we do use we continue to send off for recycling. 

There's a video on how Brita cartridges are recycled on their site.

If you prefer bottled water, Highland Spring have one available in a glass bottle or sometimes I use Harrogate water which is made using a 50% recycled plastic bottle.

If you're in an area where water is not exceptionally hard, or smell strongly of chlorine then tap water is perfectly fine!

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Positive News for Spring

5 More Feel Good Stories for Spring
We like to keep things upbeat, let's take a look at some positive news for 2020 πŸ’• 

1. Whales are making a come back. 
Did you know that 75% of the planet’s surface is covered by ocean? Did you know also that trees are not the only things that help absorb CO2?

Per the Good News Network (Mar 2020): Dr. Chiami, an economist at the International Monetary Fund found that just a 1% increase in phytoplankton in the sea would capture hundreds of millions of tons of additional CO2 a year.
Dr. Ralph Chiami highlights the influence that whales, especially great blue whales—and their poo—have on climate change. It is all due to the predominance of whale fecal matter in the diets of the tiny ocean dwellers called phytoplankton.

It's reassuring therefore to see blue whales making a comeback (see reports below).

'Researchers counted 36 sightings of 55 critically endangered Antarctic blue whales during their 2020 trip, up from just one sighting of two whales in 2018, according to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) team.'

According to Eco watch (Feb 2020): 'In addition to Antarctic blue whales, BAS recorded 790 humpback whales over 21 days, and estimates that there are now more than 20,000 of them feeding off the island in the summer.'

2. New Climate Change Rules in Europe

According to BBC Environmental News (Mar 2020): 'New rules could spell the death of a "throwaway" culture in which products are bought, used briefly, then binned.' (I can hear you all saying hurrah!)

'The regulations will apply to a range of everyday items such as mobile phones, textiles, electronics, batteries, construction and packaging.'

This initiative is set by the EU, but word is Britain will also benefit, as manufacturers may not be willing to design products for two different markets. 
Let's hope we can do away with our throw away culture, as manufacturers purposefully build in a form of obsolescence to encourage people to buy more.

3. Wax worm has an appetite for plastic!

Wax worms are maggot like creatures which are larvae from a moth that likes to eat the waxy material found in bee hives. They have a special type of bacteria in their guts that acts like an enzyme that helps to digest wax. The discovery though was by accident -when a bee hive was decimated and the worms disposed of in a plastic bag, they merrily digested their way out of it!

This is not to say we should be releasing lots of wax eating moth maggots out into the world but studying how they digest plastic and break it all down is useful science - although of course we do need to reduce our reliance on plastics in the first place.

See initial article in the National Geographic (April 2017).  

In Mar 2020 scientists in Canada discovered these worms can survive entirely off a plastic diet and a form of alcohol is produced as a result!

4. Yorkshire Tea have Fine Tuned their PLA Teabags

Yorkshire tea had some teething problems during their first release of plastic reduced tea bags. Some of the bags would split open, so with the help of Sheffield University they fine tuned their production and are pleased to announce a new version of tea bags (Mar 2020).

They are keen to emphasise that they prefer NOT to call them 'plastic free' as natural plastics are still used (but thankfully not petro chemical ones). PLA plastics can be made from corn, coconut, banana leaf and all sorts of other natural fibres.
Click here to see how other tea companies are doing to reduce their plastics in tea.

5. Farm Trial Declared a Success for Wild Life

Positive News Site (Mar 2020) 
reports that a trial subsidy scheme to allow farmers in England to use their land to encourage biodiversity has been a success. 
'The two-year pilot was carried out on farms in Norfolk, Suffolk and Yorkshire. According to Natural England and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, which led the trial, participating farms had 43 per cent more seed-bearing plants than nearby sites that claim existing subsidies. Such plants provide a rich food source for birds in winter.'

This trial was co-funded by the EU, let's hope the British government keeps up the good work to help protect our local countryside, as we certainly need to do more!

Before You Go!

I leave you with a video on what it's like to save trees and how 50 million trees have changed the world. 

Do consider helping to support Ecosia, this is a web search engine tool that donates trees for clicks so you can donate just by doing your daily browsing. Enjoy!

Some Other Links of Interest:

Positive News Jan 2020  / Lovelier Planet News 2019 
Can Seagrass Help Us Breathe? / Trees for Life