Since seeing the shocking footage of plastic in our oceans in Blue Planet II, we have all become much aware of the problems of recycling. Consuming less stuff is always the better option over recycling more, but recycling well rather than increasing landfill also needs to be done until we have a more circular system.
With this in mind I did a little research and discovered lots of things that I hadn’t realised could be recycled. The Terracycle website has a whole lot of recycling options. Hopefully these will help you to cut down on your household waste too.
Always check on the packaging to see as it will often say if it can be recycled, for instance most poly bag type packaging like bread bags can be recycled at large supermarkets along with shopping bags.
There are of course lots of things that you can't recycle, but it might be worth mentioning some of these as some were a surprise to me: shiny paper receipts, toilet roll tubes, brightly dyed paper, napkins and paper towels, cotton wool, pizza boxes, shredded paper, post-it notes, tissues. However, items that are biodegradable on this list can be composted instead.
Let me know if you come across any other unusual or handy things that can be recycled so I can add them to the list.
#zerowaste #recycling #lowimpactliving
Happy New You!
Zero Waste Update
Unfortunately since special occasions have become so commercialised they now have high environmental and social impacts. Life should definitely be celebrated, but the mass consumption we indulge in at these times cost us and our planet heavily. But it doesn’t need to be that way, we can rethink things that are much more special than the usual stuff in the shops…. Here are some ideas on how to avoid the excess waste and still enjoy this special day.
“A single red rose could have the same carbon emissions as four and a half kilos of bananas.”
Most cut flowers are grown abroad and so generate a lot of air miles as well as using excessive amounts of chemicals and water. Even those grown in the UK generally need energy guzzling, hot houses to grown in our mild climate. Seasonally, locally grown flowers are better, try Flowers from the Farm or ask at your local florists.
The excessive packaging and cellophane wrapping is also a problem with cut flowers, so do look out for those that use biodegradable versions. Arena Flowers are stated to be Britain’s most ethical while Appleyard Flowers are all British grown. Look out for Fairtrade or Florverde symbols or use the Ethical company index. Aldi, Asda, Co-op, M&S and Sainsburys all stock Fairtrade flowers. This guarantees decent working conditions and wages, women’s empowerment and community projects and investment.
Even better alternatives are to buy planted flowers instead from your local nursery, rather than a supermarket or big store or why not cut some from your own garden? You could buy some seeds or bulbs instead, along with a second-hand quirky container like a vintage mug or colander. Or best of all why not donate to the Woodland Trust, Trees For Life or the National Forest to plant a tree instead, helping to drawdown CO2 in the process.
Look out for ethical, organic, palm oil free or vegan brands that use recyclable & biodegradable packaging. Divine, Booja Booja, Seed & Bean, original beans, Eat your Hat from Traidcraft and Raw Halo are all recommended.
You could also buy handmade treats from a local chocolatier or deli and use a reusable container. You could even make your own, it is very easy and you can add in your favourite flavours from ginger to caramel. Silicone chocolate moulds are available from Lakeland or online if you want something fancy. But you could even use ice cube trays that you already have rather than buying more stuff.
Or do something different like bake some sweet goodies instead like heart shaped biscuits or some delicious gooey vegan chocolate cake.
If you have to buy a shop bought card then look out for recycled or seed paper cards and avoid glitter and cellophane wrappers If you have time then make a really special card yourself using recycled materials. . Try rifling through a junk or antique shop and you may find some lovely vintage cards or photographs you could use or remake. Other low impact options are sending an e-card with Paperless Post, Jib Jab or Open Me or why not write a love letter or poem instead?
Wining & Dining
There are more and more zero waste & vegan restaurants these days. Try using the Happy Cow app to find one near you. Avoid chains and use local family run restaurants that will appreciate your patronage much more. If not then look out for vegan options on the menu as these are a much greener and more ethical choice.
Better still cook a special romantic meal yourself. You don’t even need a cookbook as there are so many wonderful recipes online. Set the mood with some candles and music and enjoy the comfort (and peace and quiet) of your own home. Breakfast in bed for your loved one is the best valentine treat in my opinion, with freshly ground Fairtrade coffee, freshly squeezed OJ, homemade pancakes and lots of blueberries and maple syrup!
If you can’t resist getting a gift to show your love for your valentine then try to purchase thoughtfully. Buy something that is long lasting and good quality with strong ethical credentials. Please avoid plastic junk and foil balloons at all costs. With candles choose unscented natural ones from beeswax or soy, with lingerie choose ethical underwear like some listed here, with jewellery always purchase from a jeweller who is certified for sourcing precious metals and gemstones in an ecologically and responsible manner.
But why not do something nice for your loved one instead of consuming more stuff? Give them a back or foot massage, make a special meaningful playlist, run them a candlelit bath, offer to wash up for a week or take them to an art gallery. Creating a special memory or doing something you know they would really appreciate means so much more.
You could also donate to charity instead on your partners behalf. Try Oxfam, Unicef, Water Aid and Save the Children as they have some good donating options.
Do please spare a thought for those on their own on Valentine’s day. As a single, widowed mum myself I know how hard it can be to see other couples together on this love filled day as it is on many other special occasions. So, why not make a card or do something nice for a friend as well? I shall be buying myself a box of chocolates and remembering my wonderful late husband.
#greenvalentines #zerowaste #lowimpactliving
How to have a Green Easter
How to have a Green Halloween
How to have a Green Christmas
Zoe here from The Big Swap, I was glad to swap a few words as guest blogger in return for Ismay’s support at my zero waste event. My first encounter with Boy Wonder Brand was at a Nottingham board game café, when I interrupted a game on the neighbouring table to find out more about the cool fish and chip print sweater the young boy (Ismay’s son) was wearing. It wasn’t long after that, when I approached Ismay to say a few words about her ethical clothing range at The Big Toy Swap. An event designed to for help the average person take steps to becoming greener and recognising they have the power to make a difference.
I grew up in a ‘far left’ household as a happy child with 2 parents and brother, with all the things in place to appear a regular family. However, even as a young girl I had an inclination there was something unique about our home, but simply put it down to having creative parents, making a living through being artists. My family shared a car with two other families, often leaving no choice but to cycle everywhere. We minimised holidays and almost never did international trips, my first being a school exchange in my teens. Monthly dried food packages arrived to our house and were exchanged and shared accordingly. My parents never upgraded things for newer models simply because it was current or no longer complimented the interior of a room. Objects lasted and if they didn’t, they were fixed or repurposed. That was the 70’s and around the time of first environmental movements towards air pollution. It turns out my family was pretty green, led by conscious adults.
Like so many people today I have a boot in each camp, a desire to make changes for a better world, one less damaged by humanity and a passion to have lovely things and maintain a lifestyle I have worked hard for. More than anything, as a parent I want my behaviour and attitude to transcend the right message to my young family as the living earth faces crisis.
In 2018, UK consumers spent £370 million on toys and this is showing no signs of slowing down, which is bad news for the environment. A survey by the British Heart Foundation found that, on average, children in the UK have four toys they have never played with, in the same survey all parents admit to throwing broken or just unwanted toys away. A large number of toys are made from materials not accepted at recycling plants and it is estimated that 80% of plastic toys will end up in landfill.
The good news is that quality consumables like children’s toys and clothes are not designed for ‘single use’, however our children do grow out of things pretty fast. I have considered a number of ways in which a family can make changes and lower their environmental impact and an easy one is to pass pre-loved items on and get something in return. Most people I speak to are doing a good job at charity runs and hand-me-downs to younger siblings and friends, but we need to buy less to begin with and slow consumerism down. The fossil fuels used at manufacturing and shipment of toys and clothes is the initial villain and the biggest threat.
Swap culture is happening globally, only this week I read the glitterati have been encouraged to reuse dresses or swap for the BAFTA’s red carpet. The Big Swap events are designed for people wanting to make change, they are accessible and offer a pocket of sustainability closer to home.
Swapping not only keeps great items in circulation, giving them new life, they are a great way to save money. Swaps are the new guilt free way of shopping. With less waste and more money in your pocket it opens up more opportunity to make smarter investments in brands that are taking the eco stress out of purchasing. Choosing to buy less but from more ethical brands like the Boy Wonder brand, will ease your conscience and have a much more positive impact on the environment.
The Big Swap – reuse, rehome, relove. A little sustainability one swap at a time.
The days are getting shorter and the nights are drawing in. There is a chill wind blowing and the leaves are falling. It is nearly All Hallow's Eve, a time of witches and ghouls and...tonnes of plastic rubbish. This ancient celebration, which America has supercharged, grows in popularity and environmental impact every year. But Halloween can still be enjoyed without the guilt and the waste.
30m people dress up for Halloween[i] and 7m Halloween costumes are thrown away in the UK each year. Most are made from polyester or other oil-based plastic such as PVC which releases harmful chemicals as it breaks down. Two thousand tonnes of plastic waste is created from clothing and costumes alone, not considering all the plastic accessories, wigs, masks and hats. This is equivalent by weight of waste plastic to 83 million Coca Cola bottles. Not only that, but most are made very cheaply and in all likelyhood unethically.
You could make your own costumes with what you have already, borrow, swap or reuse old ones or get them second hand from charity shops. Local sewing shops will have Halloween fabrics if you have a sewing machine and Pinterest has lots of ideas for costume designs. Or if you are going to a special Halloween party then consider hiring a costume instead.
Cheap plastic Halloween decorations sadly cant be recycled as they are too poor quality. So why not use natural items such as pine cones, colourful autumnal leaves and acorns to decorate with? Or buy or make your decorations out of paper. Candles or tealights in jam jars are also a lovely to set the spooky mood. Otherwise if you don't have time to make or find paper or natural decorations then you may need to spend a bit more to invest in some good quality, non-plastic items that you can re-use year after year. LED or solar powered lights will cost you less in electricity as well as lowering your carbon footprint. There are lots of ideas on my seasonal zero waste Pinterest board here.
The vast amount of sweets and chocolate that are bought and consumed over Halloween are not only bad for our health but for the planet too. Most come in plastic bags and wrapped individually in plastic too. Foil wrapped chocolate or ones in cardboard like raisins at least can be recycled. Sugar is also a very environmentally damaging crop along with palm oil which is in many chocolate treats, so another good reason to limit naughty treats . A visit to a sweet shop or a pick 'n' mix counter will cut out some of this excess packaging. You could also give something useful instead of sugary treats like fun rubbers or spooky pencils. Or have fun making your own treats such as chocolates, biscuits, toffee apples or popcorn that can be given out in paper or cloth bags. You can get fun silicon moulds to make your own chocolates and use them for other seasonal events like valentines and Easter too,
In the UK alone,only 5% of the 10 million pumpkins that are carved out for Halloween are actually eaten. 18,000 tons of pumpkins are left to rot in the UK. All the water and energy that went into growing and transporting those pumpkins is wasted. [i]
Buying locally grown pumpkins means you are supporting local farmers but also reducing those food miles. Make sure you use the flesh that you scoop out of the pumpkin to make some delicious soup or pie and try roasting the seeds with a little salt for a tasty snack. Here are some recipes to try. Put your old pumpkin in your compost bin or food waste collection rather than your waste bin so it can give something back to the earth and not release harmful gases in a landfill site. The same goes with apples for apple bobbing too.
Reusable cutlery, plates, napkins, tablecloths, straws and other table settings not only look nicer but reduce waste and environmental impact. Again investing in some good quality crockery that you can reuse each year makes sense if you can afford it but otherwise be inventive and creative with what you already have. You can find some layout ideas on my fright night Pinterest board here.
Hope you all have a Spooktacular and waste -free Halloween!
#zerowastehalloween #greenhalloween #plasticfreehalloween
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