You can’t help but feel worried about the heatwaves we are undergoing this summer, not the mention the week ahead. In the long term, we need to put pressure on our leaders to stick to their promises on climate change, alongside huge corporations who also need to DO BETTER. If you’re wondering what links single-use plastic to climate change here’s one example:

“Plastic production is expanding worldwide…plastic contributes to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of its lifecycle, from its production to its refining and the way it is managed as a waste product.

This plastic binge threatens attempts to meet the Paris climate agreement…by 2050 plastic will be responsible for up to 13% of the total “carbon budget” – equivalent to 615 coal-fired power plants.” (Source: The Guardian)

See the source image

What Can You Do?

Below I’ll offer a range of eco-friendly summer tips which help you avoid single-use plastic and reduce waste.

Tip 1: Insulated reusable water bottle

If you haven’t already got one, it’s a must. Not only will you cut out plastic (which isn’t nice to drink out of, let’s face it) but you can have a drink that stays cold all day. Simple but effective!

Tip 2: Never run out of ice cubes

You’ve probably got an ice cube tray, right? But once those cubes are used you’re left waiting for another batch to be frozen. Not anymore! Take an old freezer bag of some description and fill with ice cubes once they’re ready. Repeat a few times until you have a good amount of ‘back up’ ice without needing to buy any in plastic bags. If it gets a little stuck together give it a gentle bash on worktop or floor to separate. Top tip: If you squeeze lemons or limes, keep the skins/flesh and freeze this too, to add to drinks. You’re welcome!

eco-friendly summer tips

Tip 3: Use your fan less

How? Keep your house a little cooler by keeping all windows and curtains closed in the heat of the day. Once the sun goes down you can open the windows up, and use a fan in front of the window to either blow cooler air in or suck hotter air out. This will cool bedrooms down reducing the need to run electric fans all night long.

Tip 4: Tiles are your friend!

It’s not the most comfortable, but tiles in the shade stay remarkably cool in hot weather. Try parking yourself on them for 10-15 mins (if you can!) to cool yourself off a bit. You could also try a wet flannel that’s been soaked in a shallow bowl of colder water too.

Tip 5: Plastic free sunscreen

Sunscreen is a must! We currently stock the excellent Shade (100ml is the best value) but will be adding a vegan option in Spring 2023.

plastic free sunscreen

Tip 6: Don’t forget your plants!

Plants indoor or out need a drink, but you don’t need to reach for the hose. Place a bucket or some tubs in your shower to catch water run off, and use this instead. It’s also a good idea to leave a bowl of water out for wildlife too. Nature will thank you!

Hopefully at least one of these tips has inspired you. Until next time, stay cool!

Keeping Cool Without Waste

reusable bottle

You can’t help but feel worried about the heatwaves we are undergoing this summer, not the mention the week ahead. In the long term, we need to put pressure on our leaders to stick to their promises on climate change, alongside huge corporations who also need to DO BETTER. If you’re wondering what links single-use plastic to climate change here’s one example:

“Plastic production is expanding worldwide…plastic contributes to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of its lifecycle, from its production to its refining and the way it is managed as a waste product.

This plastic binge threatens attempts to meet the Paris climate agreement…by 2050 plastic will be responsible for up to 13% of the total “carbon budget” – equivalent to 615 coal-fired power plants.” (Source: The Guardian)

See the source image

What Can You Do?

Below I’ll offer a range of eco-friendly summer tips which help you avoid single-use plastic and reduce waste.

Tip 1: Insulated reusable water bottle

If you haven’t already got one, it’s a must. Not only will you cut out plastic (which isn’t nice to drink out of, let’s face it) but you can have a drink that stays cold all day. Simple but effective!

Tip 2: Never run out of ice cubes

You’ve probably got an ice cube tray, right? But once those cubes are used you’re left waiting for another batch to be frozen. Not anymore! Take an old freezer bag of some description and fill with ice cubes once they’re ready. Repeat a few times until you have a good amount of ‘back up’ ice without needing to buy any in plastic bags. If it gets a little stuck together give it a gentle bash on worktop or floor to separate. Top tip: If you squeeze lemons or limes, keep the skins/flesh and freeze this too, to add to drinks. You’re welcome!

eco-friendly summer tips

Tip 3: Use your fan less

How? Keep your house a little cooler by keeping all windows and curtains closed in the heat of the day. Once the sun goes down you can open the windows up, and use a fan in front of the window to either blow cooler air in or suck hotter air out. This will cool bedrooms down reducing the need to run electric fans all night long.

Tip 4: Tiles are your friend!

It’s not the most comfortable, but tiles in the shade stay remarkably cool in hot weather. Try parking yourself on them for 10-15 mins (if you can!) to cool yourself off a bit. You could also try a wet flannel that’s been soaked in a shallow bowl of colder water too.

Tip 5: Plastic free sunscreen

Sunscreen is a must! We currently stock the excellent Shade (100ml is the best value) but will be adding a vegan option in Spring 2023.

plastic free sunscreen

Tip 6: Don’t forget your plants!

Plants indoor or out need a drink, but you don’t need to reach for the hose. Place a bucket or some tubs in your shower to catch water run off, and use this instead. It’s also a good idea to leave a bowl of water out for wildlife too. Nature will thank you!

Hopefully at least one of these tips has inspired you. Until next time, stay cool!

Recipe: Vegan Sticky Noodles

You’ll love this easy noodle recipe. It’s quick, easy, vegan and keeps really well for leftovers the next day. Serves 2.
Ingredients: (items marked * can be bought from us)
Method:
  1. Add some oil to a large pan on medium high heat and fry off the vegetables. After 3 minutes add the 5 Spice, and another minute later the garlic granules. Turn the heat down to medium.

2. Pop the noodles in a pan of boiling water. Tip: For extra flavour add a tsp of our Vegan Bouillon.

3. When the vegetables are cooked, add in the soy and BBQ sauces and your cashews.

4. Drain the noodles after 4-5 minutes when they are fully cooked.

5. Serve your noodles with the vegetables in sauce on top; and a sprinkling of linseed.

We hope you loved this recipe- there will be more to come!

Eco-Friendly Mattress Cleaning: A Step By Step Guide Using Natural Ingredients

eco-friendly mattress cleaning
A few weeks ago I realised that aside from changing the bed sheets I hadn’t done much in the way of spring cleaning our mattresses. A little bit of research later and I gave it eco-friendly mattress cleaning a go, using only products from in store.
What You Will Need:
  • Spray Bottle
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Steam cleaner/mop (if you have one)

 

Method:
  1. Remove all bedding and thoroughly vacuum the mattress.
  2. Mix together a couple pumps of wash up liquid, a splash of laundry liquid, and half cup of water in the spray bottle. Swirl to mix rather than shaking.
  3. Spray this mixture lightly, focusing on any stained areas. No need to get completely soaking.
  4. Using a loofah or cotton cloth, lightly scrub any areas in need of it.
  5. Sprinkle a thin layer of bicarb all over the mattress, adding a little more in the areas which have been scrubbed.
  6. Leave for approx. one hour, with the bedroom window open if desired.
  7. (Optional) If you have a steam cleaner/steam mop, you can wrap a cotton cloth around the end of it and use this on a medium setting (too hot will damage any memory foam in the mattress) on the stained areas. Work each area carefully.
  8. Leave for another hour to dry off.
  9. If a large amount of bicarb is on the stained areas, you can brush it off into a dustpan before vacuuming.
  10. If not, vacuum entire mattress and leave bedding off until completely dry.

 

A note about bicarb and vacuum cleaners.

Due to how fine it is, in copious amounts bicarb can damage some bag-less vacuum cleaners. If you have a machine like this, it might be worth cleaning the filters afterwards.

I hope you’ve found this eco-friendly mattress cleaning guide useful! I’d advise following this twice a year if possible, but even vacuuming your mattress every month or two will help keep it fresh and extend its lifespan. Any questions just pop them in the comments, or send them via email to [email protected].

Switching To a Solid Shampoo Bar

plastic free haircare
Making the Swap

Many of you have made the swap to solid shampoo bars with us since 2018 (!), and we are now proud to stock a huge range of plastic, vegan and palm oil free options. The main thing we have learned along the way is that all shampoo bars are not created equal. There are two main types:

  • Soap Based Shampoo Bars
  • Syndet Shampoo Bars

 

The Difference

The main difference is in soap based bars the main ingredient in the shampoo bars is usually Sodium Olivate, or well, soap. You will find the PH of soap is not naturally matched to human hair and this is where issues around residue and waxiness can arise from.

Soap Based Bars

When I first bought a shampoo bar several years ago, I cracked it open and was really excited about my first hair wash. However the excitement soon disappeared when I dried my hair; it felt really sticky and almost greasy. I thought that maybe I just needed to have another go, but the next 2 washes over the following couple of weeks left me with the exact same result. This came down to it being a soap based bar.

Beginning to fear that this was going to be a complete bust I fortunately turned to the internet to check out if this was normal. It seemed to be fairly common that chemical laden hair has to go through an adjustment period when swapping to a soap based solid shampoo bar. First of all, you need to really rinse well. The articles I read said that to help with this it is advisable to do a rinse with apple cider vinegar to help clarify the hair, and ensure there is no soap residue left behind. I checked out Chagrin Valley and decided to follow their recipe for a herby apple cider vinegar rinse.

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

I brewed up a decent batch and decanted it into some old squeezy plastic bottles. I rinsed my hair really well and then squirted the mix all over, really rubbing it into my scalp and through the lengths. It’s optional to rinse out the mix, though sources of information did say that you can also leave it in if desried. After drying my hair felt great! It felt clean and soft and did not smell of vinegar at all. I had made enough of the rinse that I could leave several uses worth in the fridge, so for the next few washes I could just use what I had left. I chose not to use a conditioner as I didn’t feel I needed it, but if you have purchased a conditioner bar then the majority of advice says this is what your wash routine should look like:

  1. Wet hair and your shampoo bar.
  2. Either lather up your hands and apply the lather to your hair, or, if your hair is really thick, rub the bar directly onto your hair and scalp.
  3. Rinse well with water.
  4. Use an ACV rinse all over.
  5. Rinse again.
  6. Lather your conditioner bar up with water and apply it sparingly through just the ends of your hair.
  7. Rinse well.
Syndet Based Bars

Now these bars are a whole different kettle of fish. First of all, you’ll find they cost a little more. This is for a good reason. Soap based ingredients are generally much cheaper, hence why soap free bars are more expensive. However, both types of bar can last up to 3 months (if left to dry between uses). This can therefore still be a really budget friendly swap.

Since learning all about the differences since 2018, we’ve chosen to mainly stock the syndet based bars as the results are so much nicer- and the bars much easier to use. We do have a fragrance free soap based bar, which is an amazing value option and can be just fine for shorter hair or those who are willing to adjust to it. But if you’re looking for a super straightforward swap with lovely results straight away, we recommend our Hairy Jayne or Zero Waste Path ranges. The latter is actually a 2 in 1, making it even better value for money. Enjoy!

shampoo conditioner bar

 

Blooming Sustainable: A Catch Up With Little Garden Flowers

plastic free flowers

Amongst the madness of Festive Prep, I managed to grab 10 minutes with Lois A.K.A. Little Garden Flowers, our wonderful floral supplier.

Read on to find out about her inspirations, plus tons of interesting info about sustainability in the floral world.
plastic free flowers
british blooms

Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself…

A. I’m Lois and I run the floristry studio Little Garden in Gaydon. Environmentalism is at the heart of what I do, and I’ve totally built my business around that being our main priority. I’ve always been passionate about the environment, ever since a Science teacher played us the Al Gore film ‘Inconvenient Truth’ at school when I was 13. I think I can safely say it changed my life! That in combination with my love for the outdoors and natural world made floristry a perfect combination for me. I love a good old adventure, lots of travelling, and working in the garden – all of which helps to inform my work as well as keeping my soul well-fed! 

Q. When did you first become interested in floristry? Is it something you always wanted to do?

A. It was probably about half way through studying for my degree in photography at Falmouth University when my mind started to wonder. I love photography, especially with analogue film, but I wasn’t liking the direction the commercial work would have taken me (lots of computer/desk work). Living in Cornwall was just as much of an inspiration as the degree itself, so I started to consider careers that would incorporate my creative thinking with the natural world. Floristry seemed like a good starting point, and it… stuck!

Q. What can you tell us about the issues surrounding sustainability in the flower industry?

A. Unfortunately it’s a pretty long list of issues, most of which is unknown to the public. I didn’t know about any of these problems until I started my career in floristry so it’s no wonder is such an ongoing issue.

The most common misconception about flowers is that they probably come from Holland. Whilst technically this isn’t false, that doesn’t mean the flowers are necessarily grown here. Holland is known globally for being the largest fresh flower distributor in the world. Meaning flowers are often grown as far as South America, are then shipped to Holland to be sold on auction, and then can be distributed to the consumer (as far as in Japan) – all within 3 days. Flowers are mostly flown on huge refrigerated cargo ships which have a huge environmental cost.

Many of the flower farm workers are living in poverty and have little to no workers rights, care or fair wages. The flowers are often sprayed with fertilisers and preservatives which would otherwise be banned here in the UK – yet the flower harvesters are expected to pick the crops with no protection to some potentially life-altering chemicals.

Most of the time when buying flowers you are likely to be buying a plastic-wrapped bouquet – which will also have been re-wrapped once or twice in its distribution process. Sometimes to advertise the original nursery, then the distributing auction house, and finally the supermarket or florists brand name. It really is a continual cycle of waste and overproduction everywhere you look.

Lastly, the other main issue (although there really are more than I have time to list here!) is Floral Foam – or otherwise known as Oasis. This is the green foamy stuff which your flower-arranging-grandma probably once used! You can poke your finger in it and it goes all squishy. Basically this stuff is the cherry on the cake for floral environmental damage. Floral foam is made of a complex combination of microplastics which don’t biodegrade, poison marine life, and hold carcinogenic properties. It has been detected in the stomachs of almost all tested seabirds in the UK, and has been coined as the florists version of asbestos – leaving no living creature safe from the stuff!  Unfortunately there is still no off-the-shelf alternative to floral foam, as the properties it needs in floral design is very hard to replicate. Meaning it is still very much widely used, mostly in wedding floristry and funeral work.

pexels-photo-6022831

Q. What materials and sourcing principles do you use to provide a more eco-friendly alternative?

A. At Little Garden we strictly use British-grown blooms all year round. Through the Summer this means our flowers are mostly homegrown or sourced within 20 miles from our studio, and the rest of the year we support some larger British growers based in Cornwall and Lancashire. Most of our flowers are pesticide free, and we try to buy plastic free flowers for the large majority of the year. Our customers bouquets come wrapped in paper, with a compostable sticker and string.

We are constantly experimenting with new ideas, techniques and products in the battle against floral foam for wedding and funeral work – and strictly never use the stuff on any given occasion. Mostly we opt for sustainably-sourced moss with compostable bags and wooden bases – making all our designs fully compostable. But I am very much keeping at the forefront of foam-alternative discussions, and trying to help fellow florists in the industry adapt their businesses to use more eco-friendly methods.

Q. Do you think awareness is growing (lol) of these matters, and the industry is responding?

A. I have been running my business for 4.5 years now, and in the last 2 years I have seen a huge shift amongst florists. There is much more awareness on the harm caused by floral foam, and more florists are starting to supporting the British flower industry. Whether this is for environmental reasons or because of the recent Brexit price increases – who knows..! But it’s a step in the right direction.

Generally speaking most customers who come to us already have some awareness about the issues floristry faces (which is how they found us!). But I’m incredibly aware of the sheer volume of people who still have no idea how much harm is caused by something which otherwise seems so innocent. I often think that because it’s a natural product, there is an instant association that it must be harmless and eco-friendly.

Q. What was it like exhibiting at the Chelsea Flower Show and how did you get the gig?

A. It was mad! Haha! We submitted a design back in November 2019 and didn’t really expect much from it. I’d never applied for anything like it before so it was quite a affirming experience to have the privilege to exhibit there! We had a 3x3meter installation space (basically… huge!) and focused our story on the preservation of our natural spaces. The BBC picked up an interest in the piece and we were fortunate enough to be featured on the BBC Chelsea Coverage with a strong emphasis on our environmental message. This really was the whole purpose of applying in the first place, so it really couldn’t have felt like more of a success. You can catch the piece (10 mins long!) on iPlayer – Chelsea Flower Show coverage Episode 11.

Q. Tell us about the services you offer…

A. So we pretty much do anything any florist would do – but in a wilderness-inspired style and with eco-friendly methods. Bouquets for delivery, subscription flowers, weddings, workshops, funerals, house dressings and Christmas work… we do it all! As well as stocking lovely local shops like Zero with our flowers… and wreath kits, which are available to order via Zero!

Q. Where can people follow your social media or find out more?

A. We are @littlegardenflowers on both Instagram and Facebook. For more information on the services we offer or a chance to join our mailing list, please visit our website www.littlegardenflowers.co.uk

plastic free flowers

Is plastic the real Halloween nastie?

plastic free halloween

This Halloween many people -adults and children alike- will no doubt be thinking of dressing up for Halloween. It might not be possible to have a completely plastic free Halloween, but hopefully you’ll find some useful ideas here…

There’s no denying it can be fun. Anything involving sugary treats and fancy dress can be fun! Likewise if you’ve got babies or young children you can make them look super cute- and older kids and teens will no doubt be invited to some kind of event or wish to go trick or treating locally.

In every shop you visit you’ll be confronted by costumes of all colours and themes. Not to mention at rock bottom prices. But let’s stop for one minute and think about the potential impact of Halloween on the planet. These facts from the Fairyland Trust speak for themselves:

Truly shocking. But what’s the answer? Thankfully we’ve got a few ideas for you to help you still have fun but reduce potential waste at Halloween.

1. Short on time? Source second-hand

Look on local buy/ sell groups, Facebook marketplace or even charity shops for preloved costumes. Most charity shops put donated costumes to one side and put them all out at this time of year. Much cheaper too! Then pass on when you are done. There’s a local group to be found here.

2. Create your own

Look at things you already own and create your own costume. An old bed sheet, some talc and chains of grey paper and you’ve got yourself a ghost. An old outfit with some added rips, messed up hair, and a bit of red lipstick for blood and you have a zombie. Rather than buying face paint, look to use up old make up if you have any. Or bring out the same face paint palette year after year.

3. Use natural materials

Straw for a spooky scarecrow, pine cones and twigs with twine for a forest beast, you could even mix a bit of sand and brown paint mixed in pva and dabbed on for a mud monster effect! Not forgetting wool, moss and feathers which are all plastic free.

These are just three possible strategies when it comes to costumes. But maybe look for plastic free Halloween treats to give out too- buy sweets loose from us at Zero instead of individually wrapped, make small cakes or energy balls, even give out fruit (sorry if this gets your house egged!). Plus don’t forget to eat your scooped out pumpkin flesh in a pie, cake, risotto or soup. There are some great ideas here for starters, and don’t forget we stock most of the other dry ingredients you might need too!

pexels-karolina-grabowska-5706443

 

In conclusion- if you plan to do something this Halloween, just try and be mindful of your waste. It doesn’t mean you can’t get involved, but even a small change can make a big difference.

halloween
Image credit: Instagram @carladrawz

Last Christmas, I gave you a jar…(Guest Post)

As an aspiring zero-waster, it’s easy to be intimidated by go-to apps like Instagram and Pinterest when looking for gift inspiration.

I regularly fall prey to the rabbit warren that is Pinterest and, more often than not, emerge with nothing but distant plans to open some bizarre hybrid of Etsy shop.

The cold and extremely disappointing truth is I’m not going to become a master candle-pourer, calligrapher or decoupager overnight, or even in a few months. I’ve accepted that now.

But making zero-waste gifts for friends and family can still be a fun and rewarding task – providing you don’t feel too pressured by Insta-ready prototypes or Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas elves – who literally have all year round to make their presents!

After around three Christmases and rounds of ever-growing family birthdays (not that I manage to handmake for all of them), I’m finally getting the gist of creating a simple gift which might not befit Etsy clientele, but might do the trick with those who know me as weird auntie/sister/friend or,  in my parents’ case, ‘the special one’.

And this Christmas, rather than frantically scrolling through Pinterest and running around Wilkos and The Works on my lunch break (I actually became paranoid the checkout lad thought I fancied him last year), I’ve planned three different kinds of jar or bottle-based gifts to make for family and friends.

Jars and bottles are collectable all year round and I am a little obsessed with them. They have SO many uses.

Jars can make both charming and useful gifts. You can decorate the lids and fill them with items from stationary and bath salts, to baking ingredients and spices for foodie friends. And, if you’re really short on time, never underestimate the power of a tag and a bit of twine.

However, for the purists among us, there are plenty of simple recipes just a Google search away for homemade scrubs, moisturisers and lip balms – a thoughtful and waste free (and probably cheaper!) alternative to a prepackaged gift set.

Another fool-proof project is seed bombs which can be made with mushed paper and seeds in moulds or with soil and clay – an especially thoughtful gift for those more partial to the spring!

My own homemade checklist this year includes infused oil and gin, soap dispensers with refillable hand soap, and sweetie jars for the kids.

To make the sweetie jars more fun, I plan to either stick a small figure on the lid or paint a panel of chalkboard paint and write their name on it, attach some chalk and boom! Mind blown (if you’re under six).

Recently, for a niece’s christening, I made a ‘memory jar’ (a port bottle I found in a charity shop) which I decorated with hessian and her name in letter tiles. I also attached a little drawstring bag I had with some ‘memory note’ printouts inside (thanks Pinterest!).

If you fancy yourself more of a wordsmith than a crafter, dream, happiness, or inspiration jars can be filled with quotes, or words of encouragement. And even if the outside isn’t magnificent – it’s what’s inside that counts!

Preparation I’ve learned is definitely key. Check what supplies you have (i.e. jars, plant pots, drawstring bags, charms) and see whether you can make anything out of them. And, if you’re like me, charity shop treasure-hunting is a year-round hobby, so you should have plenty of resources!

img_3705

If you feel you need some design inspiration, then (and only then) check Pinterest et al, and make a list of more specific supplies you might need.

If you’re limited to evenings and weekends, allocate a couple of afternoons or evenings to do them. Some communities host ‘crafternoons’ encouraging crafters to take along their own projects. Making a date on your calendar and including friends is more likely to ensure you achieve your zero-waste gift goals.

Regrettably with gifts come the gubbins of wrapping, tags and cards.

With Christmas around the corner zero-wasters will be faced with a tide of conundrums from wrapping and cards to the extended family food shop.

Although nowadays society is cottoning on and wrapping paper scrunch-tests (to determine whether it is recyclable or not), swapping sticky-tape for twine  and upcycling old cards to create tags are simple eco-hacks taking households by storm.

Or if like me you’re from the Julie Andrews school of wrapping, your presents come in no-thrills brown paper and string.

However there are workshops for more creative wrapping for those who want their presents to look the part. And not only that, taking time out to learn a new skill could be a nice way to bring a bit of mind space and festive hygge to your otherwise busy life.

Zero-waste crackers also seem to be the rage now – a fun project I am planning to do with my sister which involves collecting toilet rolls and picking up odds and ends from charity shops. Luckily she is the organised one so I don’t have to worry too much in this area!

And when it comes to cards, if you are a traditionalist, you might want to look for ones without glitter or metallic material or, if you are sending them afar, consider using postcards to cut down on paper.

Otherwise for easy card-craft, stamps are your friend, coupled with an embellishment or festive shapes cut from felt.

While most zero-wasters will likely run into waste beyond their control this season (token auntie brings ‘racing Santas’/ giant holographic gift bags/ bulk-buy biscuit supply etc.), the efforts we do make will not only create lasting (reusable) gifts, but the sentiments behind them will hopefully turn the (yule) tide for Christmases to come.

And if you can’t resist a cheeky Instagram post or, hell, even stage an ‘unboxing’ of your homemade gift haul, I won’t judge you.

~ Cat Thompson

What’s the point of Zero? Plus FAQs

It’s been a little while since we’ve had chance to write a blog post. However, we have finally managed to summarise what we are trying to achieve, plus  answer some frequently asked questions as best we can.

As you may well know, we are two mums (Charlie and Marisa) who started this business purely because it was something we wanted. Since we began in October 2018 (not that long ago- crazy!) we have been overwhelmed by the support and interest across Warwickshire. We already feel like we’ve learned a lot, but there’s still lots we want to try and do. But first and foremost, we are mothers, and we need to keep a focus on our family time too.

National Trust Losers

So, what do we aim for?

1. Plastic Free. We recognise the devastating damage caused by single use plastic and work hard to provide goods which eliminate it. There’s a full list on our website and we are always listening to what customers want.

2. Local. We aim to be local, and support local. That means bringing the option to shop plastic free to people- rather than them having to travel, park, etc. We do this with our pop-ups, deliveries and the new permanent locations we have opened this year. We are especially excited about these, and hope our regular customers find them useful. If you live in Coventry, Rugby, Banbury, Harbury or Warwick there is one near you!

Local also means we stock local- supporting and extending the reach of other small local businesses wherever we can. You’ll see that our cleaning products, soaps, coffee, tea, granola, chocolate, skincare, reusable wipes, honey, and beeswax wraps are all locally sourced. This is something we are extremely proud of and we’ve met some lovely people by sourcing our products this way.

3. Affordable. We aren’t (and never will be) Tesco. But we have a strong focus on pricing. Every price is researched and checked against outlets similar to ourselves and the supermarkets. Often, for higher quality goods, we are cheaper or close in price. Sometimes you may pay more, but for a premium product which supports a real person, not a faceless corporate entity. As our economies of scale grow, we hope to reduce our prices wherever possible and encourage your feedback.

Marisa (right) has recently relocated to Sweden but is still a big part of Zero! Charlie (me!) on the left.

Now onto some FAQS…

  1. Do you buy everything from CostCo? Nope! Aside from our locally produced items, the main supplier for our dried goods is an ethical wholefoods cooperative. This means all the company profits go back to the members, which we love. Some products might be cheaper sourced elsewhere but we love the ethics behind this company and the range and quality are great too.
  2. Is everything organic? Why not? As you have seen, our focus is on Plastic-Free, Local, and Affordable. For many products, buying organic means 3 X more expensive, and we feel this would price out many people trying to change their approach to single-use plastics. Having said that, all or most of our pastas, cereals and dried fruits are organic.
  3. How do your products get delivered? Fortunately, most dried goods in bulk come in paper sacks. However, some items such as dried fruits are packaged in plastic. This is due to the risk of oils leeching out, which would result in a spoiled product and food wastage. These plastics are recyclable with carrier bags, which we do.  We are also constantly asking questions of our suppliers as to how packaging can be adapted or changed. Henley Chocolates for example have switched all their 40g bars to paper as a result of working with us. Our coffee and granola is collected in bags which are reused over and over. Cleaning products come in reusable drums which our supplier refills for us- so no waste at all.
  4. What about allergens? We take every possible step to avoid cross contamination when using our scales, funnels and scoops. However, much in the nature of ‘produced in a factory that handles…’ we cannot 100% guarantee the absence of allergens and we ask customers to be aware of this. We know is disappointing, but our customer’s welfare comes first!
  5. Do you have a shop/ where is your shop? We have “mini Zeros” which are open most days (except Hornton (near Banbury), which is different). You can find permanent ‘mini Zeros’ open almost daily in Rugby, Coventry (Binley Woods) Coventry Fargo Village, Harbury (near Leamington) Warwick (non food only), and Hornton which is a fortnightly pop up as published on our Facebook page. Please use these if you can as they do stock all the most popular items. Full details and product lists can be found on our website. We have some ongoing events happening, and some further developments coming soon!

Hope this has been a useful post, and we look forward to hearing from you or seeing you soon. Any questions or feedback do feel free to get in touch and we shall do our best to reply within 24 hours. If you’re happy with our service please leave us a Facebook review. 😊

Charlie & Marisa

The Easy Way to Revive your Jars

To begin with, any donated jars we were given (AKA ‘The Lonely Jars Club’) got a 70 degree wash in the dishwasher. This does a great job of removing any residue inside and killing any potential bugs, but we found labels would usually stay put and occasionally there’d be smells hanging around too. (Obviously those jars got put away again rather than passed on!)

There’s just something so much nicer about a de-labelled jar. You can see the contents more easily and you aren’t going to be put off your sultanas by a “chilli anchovies” label staring down at you.

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After a bit of research I thought I’d give a new method a go, and it worked a treat! So here it is- and you’ve got a week or two to try it before our next pop up. Don’t forget you can take your containers to the “Mini Zeros” anytime though! (I’ll list these at the bottom of the post)

  1. Make sure jars are clean and free of food residue. Any slight smell should be removed by this method.
  2. Half fill your sink with warm water and a splash of washing up liquid (we use Fill Co). Add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and stir to dissolve.
  3. Place all your jars in the water, making sure all the labels are submerged.
  4. Leave for at least an hour, you want the water to cool.
  5. Using a stainless steel scourer/wire cool, scrub each label off working from one side to the other. You will find the glue has loosened. Avoid warm water as it softens the glue and makes it smear everywhere.
  6. Some jars have a plasticky label you need to peel off first, then this method will remove the glue.
  7. Give each jar a quick rinse and leave to air dry.
  8. All done, now fill them up with your favourite products (dishwasher powder included!) at your local zero waste shop.

Permanent Zeros (opening times vary, please see our website for full details.)

Outer Coventry: Turnips Cafe, Binley Woods

Leamington: Harbury Supermarket and Post Office

Rugby: The Nest, High Street.

Banbury: Everything Usefill, Hornton.

Coming soon! Coventry City Centre- The Green Unicorn Vegan Store, Fargo Village.

Tips For a More Eco Christmas

Christmas is almost upon us it feels and whilst it is known as the time for giving, in my opinion it is also a time of extreme wastefulness and an abundance of packaging! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas: the food, the tipsiness, the decorations; but this year the thought of Christmas has also got me feeling slightly anxious about how to try and manage it in a more eco-friendly way. So, here are my 5 tips for trying to keep the festive feeling without simultaneously undoing all the environmental good work of the rest of the year.
No. 1: Ditch the glittery / foil effect wrapping paper
Of course you could ditch wrapping paper altogether and purchase some festive cotton to make reusable wrapping paper, but this may not be practical if you are giving presents to people you either don’t see regularly enough to get it back from, or who you suspect may not reuse it themselves. By all means re-use wrapping paper received in previous years and likewise, hold on to any wrapping paper this year that can be used again. If it’s not been ripped then really it doesn’t need to be binned, it can just be reused. Some wrapping paper is recyclable – generally speaking if you can scrunch it up and it stays scrunched then that means it can be recycled. However, wrapping paper covered in glitter, foil, laminates, dyes, ribbons or mounds of cellotape CANNOT be recycled; so just don’t buy it and make sure any tape etc is removed from the paper before you put it into the recycling box. Some councils still won’t accept wrapping paper anyway, so you may need to take it to your local recycling point instead. Likewise, no glittery cards as they can’t be recycled and try to make the switch to a paper tape instead of a plastic based tape.
No. 2: Try to buy ethically and locally where possible
Yes, buying mass produced tat is probably cheaper, but it also won’t last as long, probably won’t have been produced in a sustainable way and won’t give that massive corporation the same fist pump moment that a local businessperson gets when they make a sale. (Speaking of which, we’ll have a few great gift ideas for sale on our stalls in the next few weeks!) Be more selective with what you buy and BUY LESS. Christmas doesn’t need to be this crazy extravaganza of unwanted gift giving. Which leads me onto my next pointer…
No. 3: Buy experiences not gifts
There is nothing worse than an unwanted gift and to be honest sometimes I think that we have been goaded into buying more and more for people: items that they simply don’t need or want. I certainly struggle to think of things that I really need when asked, as I tend to buy bits and pieces as and when I need them. I have found in recent years that I have enjoyed experiences as presents much more than tangible items: a soap making course, a dinner out or a day out at the farm with the kids. It doesn’t’ need to be pricey, as a parent I would even appreciate the offer of babysitting as a gift! Save on wrapping and cut down on unwanted gifts, it’s a win, win.
No. 4: Think about your Christmas tree carefully
If you already have a fake tree then fine, the best thing to do now is keep it in good nick for as long as possible since the environmental damage has already been done. They’re generally made out of plastic and metal, are non-recyclable and may well have been made in China (added carbon footprint of transport), so to offset this you will need to use it for as long as possible (10-20 years) rather than getting a new one every few years. Real Christmas trees are generally treated as a farmed crop, so buying a cut one isn’t as bad as cutting down an endangered species, but if you want to have a close-looped system, then buy your Christmas tree as local as possible, mulch it after it’s past its best and use it as a fertilizer in your garden. You can buy trees with their root balls still attached, but they take a certain amount of work to keep them alive: acclimating to the indoors, keeping hydrated in our heated houses, having a hole ready dug for planting before the ground is frozen and being suitable for the local soil/climate to name but a few. If anyone has had success with sustaining a Christmas tree like this, I’d love to hear about it!

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No. 5: Make some natural decorations
I’m not sure why it is that people take a beautiful natural item like a Christmas tree and throw a load of plastic crap all over it! I have never been a fan of tinsel anyway but now, with my more environmentally friendly mindset, I am even more boggled by how people can be continuing to buy such an ugly, polluting item (plasticky, glittery foil = defo not recyclable). If you are buying decorations then try to think consciously: wooden or fabric perhaps. But why not have a go at making some of your own? Some little decorated pine cones, sprigs of holly tied with twine, natural stars made out of sticks, little bundles of cinnamon and star anise or some oranges studded with cloves, all make lovely tree or house decorations and are not tricky even for the most artistically challenged of us.