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)
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!
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.
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!
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)
- Remove all bedding and thoroughly vacuum the mattress.
- 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.
- Spray this mixture lightly, focusing on any stained areas. No need to get completely soaking.
- Using a loofah or cotton cloth, lightly scrub any areas in need of it.
- Sprinkle a thin layer of bicarb all over the mattress, adding a little more in the areas which have been scrubbed.
- Leave for approx. one hour, with the bedroom window open if desired.
- (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.
- Leave for another hour to dry off.
- If a large amount of bicarb is on the stained areas, you can brush it off into a dustpan before vacuuming.
- 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].
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 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:
- Wet hair and your shampoo bar.
- 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.
- Rinse well with water.
- Use an ACV rinse all over.
- Rinse again.
- Lather your conditioner bar up with water and apply it sparingly through just the ends of your hair.
- 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!
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!
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.
Decided to take our youngest to this event at our local park Coombe Abbey today. The idea was turn up, fill a bag with rubbish and then get your car parking free. Ok says I, a bit of fresh air and a good deed to boot.
I have to say for the first 20 minutes I was genuinely concerned that I wasn’t going to find much at all! An empty cider can had me doing a happy dance and I was worried there could be a turf war with another litter picker over an empty packet of prawn cocktail crisps.
However, once I got slightly off the beaten path (by slightly I mean a few metres) it became evident I was in an area at one time populated by idiots.
Empty cans, glass bottles, plastic cups, ice cream spoons, chocolate wrappers, straws…many many items and all of them non-biodegradable. Little one found it all too much and fell asleep.
I filled the bag until it was too heavy for any more (lots of glass bottles) and made my way back to the Information Centre. On the way a lady with her grandchildren asked me if I’d picked all that rubbish up and remarked it was a disgusting shame when there are bins. A valid point, but I do feel that the root of the problem is far too much waste is produced in the way of packaging in the first place; and even throwing something “away” means it ends up somewhere or other. Maybe not Coombe Park, but somewhere else where it can damage wildlife just as much.