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Reducing Food Waste: Eggs

A couple of months ago, my mum bought a couple of dozen eggs meaning to make cakes for her clients, but then caught a virus before she could do any baking. Soon, the virus was passed onto every member of the household, myself (Emma) included.

The smart thing to do at this point would have been to give the eggs away on an app designed to prevent food waste (i.e. Olio) or to a friend or family member, or frozen the eggs which apparently you can do if you separate the whites and the yolks. I could even have fed some eggs to my cat. But alas, you never know how long a virus will last. By the time anyone had recovered, it was well past the Best Before date on the carton.

A safety warning about eggs

Unlike most foods, eggs can be very dangerous if you eat them when they’re out of date and you should use your best judgement about consuming them yourself or allowing immunocompromised people to eat them. But, as with most foods, the Best Before date is only a guide. This means that you can often use them a little bit after the date and suffer no ill-effects, but my mum didn’t want to use them in her cakes in case it did make anyone ill – can you say lawsuit?

So our choices were to pretty much eat the eggs asap! As Oscar Wilde once said: “Eating an egg is always an adventure!”

via GIPHY

The trouble is that my dad doesn’t eat eggs – although he does like to complain about food waste – and my mother is out at least three nights every week. So here I am, eating roughly 45 ‘expired’ eggs on my own in a month. When I told Tamara this, she literally made a retching sound and said: “eww, eww, eww please shut up”.

At this point, I was more egg than person. I made a big batch of peanut butter cookies and ate some sort of egg dish every other day. It all came to a head about three weeks in, when I burnt two eggs and the yolks went mouldy in the frying pan – yes it happens! Before you ask, I did crack the eggs into a cup first and saw no problems.

I threw these out because… of course, I did. But there were still 5 eggs left in the box.

 

My mum suggested throwing those out, but I resisted, determined to find some way of using eggs without eating them. So, I turned to the internet. Some people joked that you could use rotten eggs to egg someone’s house – I hope that was a joke. Others were more helpful.

 

You can use apparently use a gone-off egg to help your tomatoes or eggplants grow – the shell will deter insects and provide calcium to the soil, while the egg will provide the nitrates needed for growth.

Egg whites can also be used as a proto glue, for craft projects. Another use is to provide a shiny coating for smaller ornaments.

For those of you who own leather products, you may also be interested to know that you can clean using egg whites. And for those of you with silver jewellery, you can use the yolks to oxidise your silver jewellery. I won’t bore you with the details, it’s a chemical reaction involving sulphur and… Hey, don’t click away, I’ll stop. If you do want to know more, just click here.

 

You can also use also use them as a strengthening and conditioning treatment for your hair because of the protein in eggs. Add a couple of drops of essential oils if you’re worried about the smell. Another beauty hack is using egg whites as an anti-ageing cleanser, which should also reduce puffiness, and egg yolks as a rinse-off moisturiser. Although, I should tell you that the idea of putting gone-off eggs on my face irked me out too much to try.

 

I hope this has helped those of you who find yourselves throwing away eggs to reduce your food waste. Let me know if you have any other tips for reducing food waste in the comments.

The Green Hairy Feminist

For the past two summers, I (Tamara) have been experimenting with plastic-free deodorant and today’s post is about the highs and lows of that experience.

 

Simultaneously, I have been challenging my previously unquestioning acceptance of societal female beauty expectations by no longer shaving my armpits and legs. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am lazy-as, and this is reflected in my makeup routine which is basically non-existent. A beauty guru I am not! I don’t wear perfume or nail polish and my hair is curly, wild and free. So it was not a leap for me to grow my pit-hair.  But even so, I was surprised at how self-conscious I felt as my armpit hair peeked out and waved in the wind.

women's march

Last summer, a month or so into being shave-free, one friend commented on my hairy hippy-dippy ways and I had to make a conscious effort to be blase about both her reaction and my choices. This summer, feeling much more comfortable with my underarms  I was disappointed with myself for feeling momentarily inhibited when at Victorious Festival with my stylish ex-housemate. Why? She was too busy having a good time to care about the state of my armpits. So why did I hesitate before putting my hands in the air and waving like I just don’t care? My hubby certainly had no qualms about his equally hairy armpits. Why do I care about internet trolls opinions on grooming? Why when standing next to a sleek and chic stranger do I feel less-than? Damn you society with your ridiculous double-standards and expectations! Removing body hair should be a choice, not an expectation. And with that, I move on to the point of today’s post – my deodorant/antiperspirant experiences!

*Disclaimer, as always, I will be discussing my experience of certain products. This is not sponsored or affiliated, it’s just my random experience.*

 

Green Deodorant

Since my teenage days in the 90s when the ozone was a hot topic, I have avoided smellies in aerosol packaging and also any with aluminium. For a while, I tried crystal deodorants but didn’t find them effective. Post-crystals, my brand of choice for many years was Bionsen roll-on as it was aluminium and paraben free, I liked the light scent and it kept me from being a sweaty betty. But….the plastic packaging. Sigh!

natural deodorant

After some thorough and very scientific research, I decided on Earth Conscious Natural Deodorant Mint. It ticks a lot of my boxes as it comes in a tin, is made in the UK, smells lovely with all the essential oil ingredients and most importantly, it dealt beautifully with my sweaty tendencies. I was in love. Problem solved? Nope.

Unfortunately, I developed a dark underarm rash. I tried alternating it with my previous Bionsen deodorant but no joy. The darkening under my arms together with my new hairy pits meant I was just too self-conscious. I gave it to my husband to try who loves it and has no issues with it at all once he got used to the direct application (it is applied with the fingertips directly to the armpits). It is very cost effective as a tin is about £6 and has lasted him forever. So while it didn’t work for me, I still thoroughly recommend it.

I continued my very thorough and scientific search. Deciding on convenience, I headed to Lush in Cascades and purchased T’eo, a deodorant bar. No more searching for the elusive earth-friendly deodorant – this was it! Packaging free, ethical company, smells good, and the shop is cycling distance. Nuh-uh, not this time Missy! I was so disappointed when once again the dark rash appeared, but now with itching!

 

Success!

I started to think maybe I should try making my deodorant and so I did some actual research. I noticed a common ingredient in both my the Lush and Earth Conscious deodorants and the online deodorant recipes – sodium bicarbonate. Perhaps this was the cause of my rash?

 

natural deodorant

 

Finding a deodorant that was both sodium bicarbonate and plastic packaging free was tricky but I did it. And boy, it was expensive. £12.50 for a 68g jar of Meow Meow Tweet Baking Soda Free Grapefruit Deodorant Cream. Gulp! But this time folks, no joking, this is the one. I’ve been using it for two and half months now and I am ecstatic to report no dreaded rash, no smelliness and no sweating – and this summer in Pompey was hot hot hot!  By George, I think I’ve got it! *does a happy dance*

 

I am off on my holidays and when this post is published, I shall be sunning myself in Turkey in all my hairy glory. Yeee haw!

 

hairy legs

 

What about your deodorant experiences. Have you made your own? Can you recommend a plastic-free brand? Tell us in the Comments section below.

How to eco hack your small business

Hello and welcome to a very special edition of Shades of Green, where Tamara and Emma pass the mic to one of our dear readers. That’s right; we’re taking a week off and letting someone else tell you about their eco-friendly life.

So, without further adieu, let us introduce our latest guest writer, Rich Pearson. Rich is the owner of Vintage Lounge Portsmouth, an online vintage furniture store based in Portsmouth, and he’s going to tell you how he runs an eco-friendly business.

When I started Vintage Lounge Portsmouth in 2010, I didn’t think too much about making it eco-friendly. After all, how much impact could a small business really have on the environment?

I’ve since changed my mind because I’ve learnt more about the importance of reducing my individual environmental impact and I want to help create a healthier world for my kids to grow up in. This meant recycling more at home and buying cloth nappies, but it also meant making some changes to my business. This is how I run an eco-friendly business.

Premises

eco premises

Go online: My business is online only. This is partly for commercial reasons, but it’s eco-friendly too. Mainly because I can work from home, so I don’t use any extra electricity for the business and I don’t have to travel to a shop. This won’t work for everyone, but it’s great if you can.

Switch to an eco-friendly energy company: Even though I’m already saving energy by working from home, I get my energy from Ecotricity as they only use solar and wind power to make electricity and frack-free gas! [Emma: You can switch to Ecotricity here and they’ll make a donation to the Portsmouth Green Party.]

Use eco-hacks to save energy/water: Low-flow taps and energy-saving light bulbs can be installed in practically any business to save money and cut your environmental impact. Luckily, my wife installed them in our house when we moved in.

Use low energy appliances: I don’t use many electrical items to run my furniture business (laptop, printer, camera, some power tools), but all of them have high environmental ratings, which means they use less energy.

Print smarter: I try not to print most things, so I’ll keep all of my records on the computer and send receipts digitally, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. If I have to print, I’ll use these hacks to reduce my environmental impact:

  •         Use vegetable inks
  •         Use recycled paper (or scrap paper if it’s a delivery label and only one side needs to be seen)
  •         Print double-sided
  •         Recycle the ink cartridges through a charity [Emma: Portsmouth Green Party can raise money through recycled ink cartridges.]

 

Goods

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bkm_B9VHt5g/

 

 

Sell preloved items: This might not be for everyone, but I buy second-hand items and give them a new lease of life – often all they need is a little elbow grease and some eco-friendly cleaning products. I mainly buy at car boot sales or from charity shops, which keeps money in the local community and prevents items from going to landfill. Some items, I’ve even rescued from places where they’ve been dumped.

 

Post and packing

eco packaging

Don’t use packaging: If I’m delivering items to people within Portsmouth or if the buyer is picking an item up, I won’t box them up. This reduces the amount of packaging I use and lets customers inspect the item (if they want) while I’m there.

Reuse packaging: I try not to buy new packaging in order to post my furniture and wherever possible I reuse boxes/bubble wrap/other packaging from friends/family members or from Freecycle. This means that all my packaging gets at least one more use before it goes to landfill/recycling!

Buy eco-friendly packaging: One of my biggest problems is that I can’t source enough bubble wrap second-hand to meet my needs, so I do have to buy it occasionally. However, I make sure to use biodegradable bubble wrap that completely disappears within two years, which is much better than other alternatives. But, if any readers have some bubble wrap, I can take it off their hands!

Combine pickups/deliveries with existing journeys: I’d love to tell you that I never use my car to make deliveries or pick up furniture, but I can’t carry a sideboard on a bus… unfortunately. I always try to combine my business transport with other things, like dropping my sons at nursery.

 

It’s often easier than you think to make your small business greener and its more than worth it to create a better world, especially for your kids.

Thanks to Rich for that brilliant article about how to eco-hack your small business. If you’d like to see more from Vintage Lounge Portsmouth, check out their Instagram, Facebook, and eBay pages.

 

If you’d like to write for Shades of Green, please see this page. If you have any more eco-hacks for running a small business, please leave them in the comments below.

 

365 days of Shades of Green- Part 2

Here at the Shades of Green headquarters, we are still in celebration mode as we pat ourselves on the back for one year of green-ish living! In our previous anniversary post, we focused on Emma as I (Tamara) asked her about her eco changes and choices.

Today Emma puts me in the hot seat as we continue our two-part series in which we discuss our Shades of Green journey.

 

Talk with Tamara

Hey Tamara, Happy Blogiversary to us! I’ll start off with a softball question. What’s the problem with me throwing compostable materials in the bin? (Also, I don’t actually do this. I’m asking for a friend.)

vegetable peelings

As this is my first question, I will refrain from speeding down Rant Road and instead will meander down Sensitive Street and say, there is no problem at all with you throwing compostable materials in the bin if there is absolutely no other option.

If you can compost, here’s why you should. First, let me set the scene…imagine The Lion King’s ‘The Circle of Life’ playing in the background. Why send organic, compostable matter to landfill or to be burnt when it could instead be composted down to produce the most boootiful natural fertilizer for the soil. From the earth, back into the earth – what could be better?

I am so lucky to have space in my garden to compost my organic waste. I haven’t always been in such a privileged position and I appreciate that not everyone in Pompey has outdoor space to compost. This is why I have signed up to ‘Share Waste’ and currently have four people, who do not have outdoor space at their homes, dropping off their veg peelings once a week to be composted in my home compost bin.

My biggest bugbear is that Portsmouth City Council don’t offer a food waste collection. This would mean that ALL food waste, including cooked food and leftover meat and bones, could be rotted down into compost. I compost as much as I can in my garden but I still throw away bits of cooked food as this cannot go into a home composter. Also, realistically – Pompey is full of flats and home composting is not an option for them! I did try a Bokashi Bin when I lived in a flat but you still have to dispose of the fermented waste.

Another bug-bear is how bio-plastics i.e. plant-based compostable or biodegradable plastic is marketed as a much more eco-friendly plastic version. It can be – if it is composted in an industrial composter. If it is thrown into the bin, it is not being composted! It is just going to landfill or the incinerator or finding its way into the sea. Sigh! The best one I have found locally is sold in Wild Thyme – their packaging for takeaway food is home compostable. That makes me happy. Ok, rant over! 

 

Eeek! Start composting now, everyone. Organic material doesn’t rot properly in landfill.  Okay, let’s move onto your green journey. What do you feel you’ve learnt about eco issues over the past year?

I have learnt that reducing my waste and what I buy needs to come before recycling. I aim to recycle as much as possible but when China banned imports of our trash that we send to be recycled, I realised I had to reduce my waste first and recycle second. This is a difficult mindset change for me and I have been helped with this by joining the local Zero Waste community. For example, I now try to buy my fruits and veg in no packaging, use soap and shampoo bars and refill my laundry and washing up liquid bottles at Wild Thyme and Southsea Health Shop on Albert Road. I’ve also joined a Bulk Food Buying group. 

 

 

That’s incredible – I’m sure many of our readers would join you with that! So, I think I already know the answer now, but lay it out for me: why should we cut down on plastic consumption if we can recycle it (I.e. plastic bottles)?

In one word, China! Recycling is a good option, where facilities exist. But what happens when we can’t recycle it – it goes to landfill or is incinerated. Therefore, reducing at source is the better option. Plastic production is resource intensive and plastic does not biodegrade, it just breaks down into microplastics and pollutes our oceans and seas. Think of the turtles!

 

I do love turtles. Okay, you’ve convinced me; not more bottled water! Let’s move on to something positive. What eco changes would you like to see PCC adopt on the next year?

Well, I have already ranted about the lack of food waste recycling! So that would be amazing. A few recycling banks for tetrapaks and food/drink cartons across the city would make a huge difference as well. I don’t expect miracles – but a trial such as the one in Southampton shouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility. And my third change would be more split bins on the street which would have a recycling section. And in case anyone from PCC is reading this, I’d also like a million pounds…. 😉

 

I hope you’re planning to share that million pounds – some of us have un-eco holidays to pay for, lol. Okay, final question, what eco changes would you like to adopt in the next year?

I am a person who has lots of intentions, tries to do it all, gets overwhelmed and then hides from the world in shame. So, keeping it manageable is key for me!  

I was tempted to say I will give up flying but with friends and family living abroad and my love for swimming in a warm sea, that would not be honest of me. But for my Europe trips, I am aiming to only fly one way and to get the train/ferry one way.

I have a weakness for crisps (cheese and onion mixed with prawn cocktail is mah jam!) but the packaging is not recyclable. So making my own crisp substitutes is a priority for me, as well as meal planning and cooking more as my local chip shop knows my order before I open my mouth!

I would also like to buy more clothes from ethical companies. I really hate clothes shopping and never have any money – which means twice a year I grab a load of clothes from Sainsbury’s and call that George!

I also have a few recycling options to explore such as Terracycle and stretchy plastics in the Carrier Bag recycling banks – this has been on my list for a while and I need to get round to it! That’s why I love doing this blog with you, it keeps me accountable.

 

As always, we love to hear from our readers. What are your top Pompey recommendations? What eco changes have you made in your life? What are your guilty pleasures? Tell us in the Comments Section Below.

How to eco hack your festival experience

It’s summertime and for some of us, that means seeing our favourite bands perform live at our local and not-so-local festivals. If you live in Portsmouth, you could well be heading to Victorious or the IOW Festival in the coming weeks and we at Shades of Green hope you have an amazing time. However, we do also recognise that sometimes festivals are less green than we’d hoped.

That’s why I (Emma) want to show you how to make your festival experience as green as it can be.

Getting there

When travelling to the festival, try to use public transport where possible. Often the roads will be crowded anyway and car parks will really jack up the price around major events. Plus, all rock stars travel on tour buses!

Most festival websites will tell you how to get to the venue from the local train station or (in the case of the IOW) ferry port. If friends are heading to Victorious from outside of the city and they live nowhere near a train or bus route, then direct them to our Park and Ride, which has a stop about 15-minutes away from the Common.

Eco-Festival outfit

Biodegradable Glitter

We all know the dangers that microplastics can cause to our ecosystem and what is glitter but thousands of pieces of plastic that we stick to our skin at festivals? Never fear, my sparkly friends, because biodegradable glitter is now a thing.

Sustainable Swimwear

Even if you’re not planning on going for a dip, many people will choose to wear bikini tops/ board shorts to festivals. If this describes you, then you might be interested to know that you can actually buy swimwear made from reclaimed fabrics. This reduces the amount of fabric going to landfill and the energy costs of creating something from new.

Green Festival Packing List

When packing for your festival, my best advice is to bring only what you need. Not only will you not be weighed down, but you’ll be less likely to forget/abandon an item on your return. Still, there are a few green things that I recommend bringing with you.

Reusable Bottle

It’s important to stay hydrated during hot weather, but we all know that single-use plastic bottles are an ecological nightmare! Opt for a reusable bottle, which is durable and lightweight. It’ll keep your drink cool and it could save tons of £££ from vendors. Also, best to get some reusable cutlery if you’re going to eat there and a reusable straw if you need a straw for your drink.

Important: Check what you are allowed to bring before you set off. For safety reasons, many festivals will stop you from bringing in knives or glass. You may also be asked to empty a water bottle before entering (in case you were trying to smuggle in booze!), so be prepared to refill once inside.

Biodegradable Reef-Safe Sunscreen

I’m a massive fan of summer sunshine, but I’m not crazy about sunburn or any of the other scary side effects, so I use SPF 30 (Yeah, I’m very white!). The problem is the common chemical ingredients used in sunscreen products worldwide (i.e. oxybenzone) can cause fatal damage to coral and other marine plant life. Yikes! Luckily, there are all-natural alternatives available, which can protect your skin without harming the planet.

Solar-powered Mobile Charger

Whether you’re filming your favourite band’s set or trying to find your friend in the crowd, you’ll need your phone to work, but trying to find a free charging point will be challenging. Skip the queue and save on electricity by using the sun to charge your phone while you enjoy the music.

 

That’s it from me and now I want to hear from you. Are you headed to a festival this summer? Do you have any eco tips to share? Let me know in the comments section.

365 days of Shades of Green- Part 1

Shades of Green is one year old! Happy Greeniversaray to Emma and meeeeee (Tamara).

It has been a fantastic year – a year of attempting to show and not just tell the wonderful folks of Portsmouth that it can be easy being green, a year of charting our attempts to be kind to the planet whilst not leaving the house and a year of eating our way around Pompey’s veggie establishments under the guise of blog ‘meetings’! I am so chuffed to be marking this milestone with Emma and of course with you, dear reader.

 

what's your story

 

To celebrate a year of Shades of Green, Emma and I have posed five questions to each other to judge who is the greenest of them all. Haha, could you imagine?! We don’t do judgement here, only positive vibes! 🙂

 

In this 2-part series, Emma and I will share where we both are in our Shades of Green journey. Today it’s all about Emma!

 

Explore with Emma

 

Time for change

 

Q1: Emma, tell us is there anything you have changed in the past year to be more green?

 

Since we started Shades of Green, I’ve made some changes to my life in order to become more eco.

 

  • Food waste – I hate to admit it, but I’ve always been a little bit concerned about using vegetables or fruit when they start to look a little funny or something dairy based when it’s a little bit out of date! In the past year, I’ve been tackling this by taking food that a little past it prime and actually cooking with it. Often, the appearance, texture, or even taste of an individual food item can put us off eating something that is perfectly safe to eat. This can be mitigated by making it into a soup/curry/smoothie and even masking the taste with sauces and spices.
  • Recycling – You’ve really helped me to recycle more by telling me about the plastic recycling at Sainsbury’s and taking my cartons to that secretive place somewhere outside the city. You have no idea how much that’s reduced my family’s waste.
  • Traffic – While I don’t drive, I’ve been reducing the amount that I ask my parents for lifts, which means more buses and more walking.

 

plane

 

Q2: Talking of traffic and travel, how do you reconcile air travel with your green living aims?

I knew I shouldn’t have bragged about my holiday to Florida, lol.  Like most people, I love going on holiday and sometimes that involves air travel. Now, I know that’s a controversial thing in the green community, but in order to visit places in America and Africa, it’s kind of the only option, and I don’t think that we need to be martyrs in order to save the planet.

 

Yes, take slow transport where you can and where it makes ecological sense to do so – if you’re getting a plane from Southampton to Manchester, then rethink the train or the coach – but don’t beat yourself up for wanting to visit other countries and other places.

 

According to the Carbon Footprint Calculator, my return economy-class flight from London to Orlando will be about 1.13  tons of CO2. That’s a lot and there’s no way that I can deny it, which is why I’ll be offsetting it (it only costs about £6). But, do you know what equates to a carbon saving of roughly 1.88 tons a year? Being Vegetarian.

 

The things that I do to be green, including being vegetarian, recycling more, not driving, etc, actually more than make up for these big holidays that I only take every 2-3 years. It’s not perfect and ideally, I would love to be content travelling in the UK and in Europe, but I’m not perfect and I want to go to Disney World. I can’t excuse my use of air travel, but I can cut my eco-impact in other ways in order to make up for it.

 

home lettering

 

Q3: You mention a few of the actions you take to cut your eco-impact Are your family on board with your green aims? How do you deal with any conflict or differing options?

My mum is a little peeved whenever I tease her about eating meat, but my parents are mostly on board with my green lifestyle. In fact, they’re the driving force behind most of the green things in our house and have been since I was little. My dad went pescatarian when I was four and ditched fish after I went vegetarian. My mum almost never eats meat anymore.

 

We have a compost bin, several different recycling bins for the things that can’t go in our kerbside recycling, use eco-friendly bulbs, reusable bags, and even use the water collected in baths and showers to flush the toilet and water the garden. All of that was in place far before I could weigh in. Maybe my parents should write the blog instead of me?

 

teddy bear

 

Q4: Aww, shout out to Emma’s Mum and eco-warrior Dad. I’m well jel as I struggle to get my mother to even recycle! Thinking of the relationship between us and our folks, what are your thoughts on having children and the impact on the planet?

 

I would like to preface this minefield of a question by saying that I have three little nephews who I love very much and I wouldn’t give them up if that one action would end climate change. Sorry, but that’s just the truth.

 

But there is plenty of evidence to suggest that having children is one of the least eco-friendly things you can do, mainly because when you create another human being, you are creating someone else who needs resources that are already in demand.

 

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have kids if you want them and can offer them a healthy and happy home environment, but you might be shocked to know that having one fewer child will save you  58..6 tonnes of CO2 per yearThat’s more than all the other green things combined.

 

I don’t currently have children and they’re not really on the cards for me for like another 5-10 years, but I do think I want them. Depending on how I (and my future partner) feel at the time, this might mean bio kids, but more likely it will mean adoption. Don’t worry, this isn’t a selfless act – I’m just freaked out by the idea of being pregnant!

 

 

Q5: As a reward for you generously answering some tough environmental and ethical dilemma questions re. air travel and children – here’s a nice easy one to finish off. What are your top Pompey places for green living?

 

As always, we love to hear from our readers. What are your top Pompey recommendations? What eco changes have you made in your life? What are your guilty pleasures? Tell us in the Comments Section Below.

How to eco hack your travels

I (Emma) love travelling but I also recognise that my (occasional) jet-setting lifestyle can be harmful to the world around me. I’m certainly not advocating that everyone stop travelling as that’d be really hypocritical but I, as a card-carrying member of the Green Party, have some really cool susty hacks for eco-travelling so I’ll be sharing my tips on how you can make your travels more earth-kind.

Take it Slow

SOURCE: PIXABAY

One of the biggest contributors to our carbon footprint is the actual method of transport. It shouldn’t be surprising that the plane is often a very un-eco form of transport; especially if you’re only travelling short distances. So if you’re not going very far- like around Western Europe – consider using slower methods of transport like the train, bus, or boat. To check the best method for a specific journey, head to the WWF’s Travel Helper.

Choose Alternative Holiday Spots

SOURCE: PIXABAY

Travelling is about exploring the unknown but there’s no reason that why that has to be halfway across the world. There will be places in your own country, state, and even hometown, that you have yet to explore and they can still be as exciting as a place much further afield. You may even find yourself somewhere that tourists never see. Plus it’s a lot easier to use slow travel methods to get to those places.

Pack it Right

SOURCE: PIXABAY

Transport, or lack thereof, is the biggest environmental hurdle for all eco-travellers but there are tons of other ways to cut your damaging impact on the globe. A lot of travelling can involve other unsustainable practices, like eating take-out food, drinking bottled water, and even abandoning your usual recycling efforts. That’s why I have a susty travel kit in my suitcase to help me stay green while getting a tan.

  • Reusable water bottle

    If you’re going somewhere hot, it’s worth investing in a reusable bottle which will keep your tap water cool all day without producing condensation on the outside of the bottle. If you’re travelling to somewhere where the tap water is questionable at best, consider using a Steripen which sanitises water using LED light and can be charged via USB or the LifeStraw water bottle, which filters water through its straw.

  • Lunch Box (or cooler bag) with picnic cutlery and crockery

    The benefits of this are two-fold; not only will you be more eco-friendly but it will save you money on food. Even if you are grabbing something while out and about, using reusable cutlery, straws etc will cut your waste.

  • Washcloth

    This cuts down on your paper napkin usage by allowing you to wipe your face after meals or mop up after a drink spill.

  • Reusable bags

    These are the easiest way to make a green difference while travelling, load them up with souvenirs (ec0 choices are discussed below) or lunch.

  • Period Panties/ Menstrual Cup/ Reusable Pads

    For those of us with a uterus, one of the biggest ways we can be greener is by cutting out the pads and tampons. Even if you don’t think that you’ll be ‘on’ while you’re away, make sure you’ve packed them.

  • Eco Cosmetics

    Those miniature bottles of toiletries- which some people think are cute?- are actually terrible for the environment. Some companies, like Lush, are embracing reduced packaging and offering packaging-free body lotion, facial moisturiser, shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Even their toothpaste comes in recyclable packaging.

Buy Fewer Souvenirs

While we’re on the subject of what to take, let’s discuss what not to bring home.

Cheap trinkets from touristy shops are often poorly made and will break within months (or even weeks) of purchase, meaning they’ll end up in a landfill.

Try to find locally made products or edible gifts, rather than the Made in China products. Not only is it better for the environment, it also reduces the chances that your souvenir was produced in a sweatshop.

 

So, those are my main eco-hacks for your travels but what are some of yours? Do you have any tips that I didn’t mention? Share in the comments below.

Every Polluted Breath You Take

Air, oxygen, breathing – I admit these are not topics I tend to ponder as I go about my daily life. When in my car, I (Tamara) tend to be more concerned with evading Pompey traffic than about the effect I am having on the air quality. When I cycle around town trying to get past the self-same bumper-to-bumper traffic, I am not thinking about the fumes I am breathing in so much as trying to survive aggressive drivers.

But as with most things in life, it is all interconnected. Air quality in Portsmouth is at illegal and unsafe level. I first became aware of these issues when my local Portsmouth Green Party activists initiated the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign.

let pompey breathe

As a lazy environmentalist,  I prefer to have issues explained to me in simple, easy-to-understand terms. Here to do just that, in this special Thursday edition of Shades of Green, is Portsmouth Green Party activist and #LetPompeyBreathe spokesperson Tim Sheerman-Chase.

Me: Hihi Tim! Thanks for joining me via email to talk about the air quality issue in Portsmouth. As some of our readers may not be aware of the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign, what it is all about and what is your role in this?

Tim: #LetPompeyBreathe is a campaign group aiming to get Portsmouth’s air pollution within safe and legal limits. It is affiliated with Portsmouth Green Party, Friends of the Earth, local neighbourhood forums and other concerned groups.

My role is as spokesperson, blogger and researcher of government published reports. These tend to be fairly large and impenetrable, but I am assisted by my science background. I am the lead petitioner on the petition currently before Portsmouth City Council.

 

In a nutshell, what is the problem with our air quality?

Portsmouth is one of the worst cities in the UK for air quality, with pollution levels in continuous breach of both legal limits specified in the EU Air Quality Directive, English law, and World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

 

Is the air pollution a problem across the whole city or is it localised to certain areas?

Pollution levels greatly vary around the city. Some particularly bad areas include:

  • Hampshire Terrace/Queens Street
  • The top of Commercial Road
  • London Road/Fratton Road/Kingston Road
  • Eastern Way/Milton Road

The residential areas of Southsea, Milton and Tipner have relatively better air quality.

Traffic is the largest factor in local air pollution. Diesel engines are particularly bad, particularly from diesel cars, buses and heavy goods vehicles. This is probably the easiest area to make improvements and bring pollution to within safe limits.

 

Gulp…I used to have a diesel car as I thought it was better for the environment than petrol cars! Luckily, it broke down on me and was replaced with a petrol-electric hybrid. What other individual actions can we take?

It is difficult to avoid air pollution completely for an individual person, apart from moving away from cities! However, you can reduce exposure by avoiding busy roads at peak times. Pollution is far worse inside vehicles than outside, so you can help yourself (while helping your community) by reducing car usage. Try to use public transport, cycling and walking instead, even if only for one day a week extra.

 

What is it specifically about our air quality that is unsafe?

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bj72L-0HpmR/?taken-by=pompeygreens

There are various types of pollution – Portsmouth has a particular issue with the levels of small particulate pollution (PM2.5) exceeding WHO safe limits. We also breach the annual NO2 limits in several locations.

 

Particulate pollution?

Particulate pollution (also known as particulate matter), is the general term for the solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Small particulate pollution is fine microscopic inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometres and smaller.

 

How is air pollution measured and who regulates it?

Regulations have been put in place to address the problem. Among the most significant is the UK law Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010. This specifies legally binding limits on the UK government for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate pollution.

 

That is a great start but it’s one thing to know there’s a problem and set national regulations and another to actually take positive action on a local level- what is actually being done about it?  Why are the council and government not being held to account?

As you said, government bodies often ignore their responsibilities and 278 of the 391 local authorities missed the legal targets in 2017.

These legal limits are gradually being enforced. The European court of justice is threatening the UK and five other countries with multi-million Euro fines if they do not comply with legal limits.  Three successive High Court victories have been won by ClientEarth over the UK government, with the government’s plans being found to be inadequate.

Responsibility has largely been given to local government, which have taken some steps to deal with it but far stronger measures need to be taken. Part of the ClientEarth ruling found that central government does not have a sufficient enforcement for local authorities to meet these legal limits. Being underfunded, local government is having difficulty in taking suitable measures. Also, in many councils, the political will to address the problem is lacking.

 

How does the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign hold Portsmouth City Council to account?

#LetPompeyBreathe has two main goals: to raise public awareness and to encourage Portsmouth City Council to take further action.

At a local level, there are two documents that the council are required to produce: an air quality strategy and an action plan. Currently, #LetPompeyBreathe are petitioning the council to urgently publish its Air Quality Action Plan for consultation. In the two months since the petition went live, we have gathered the required 1000 signatures for the issue to be discussed at the next Full Council meeting which is in July (and handed them in on Clean Air Day – which is today).

 

As for the effectiveness of petitioning, politicians respond to public pressure particularly when well organized. If they see there is a clear demand for something to be done, we are in a much better position. The petition is only one step in the campaign.

 

What specific actions could the council take to rectify the air pollution problem?

There are many things, including:

  • improve walking and cycling routes
  • make the urban environment safer and more pleasant
  • make public transport easier to use, more integrated, cheaper and cleaner
  • reduce car use through careful city planning

MPs from different parties have been calling for a new Clean Air Act which will greatly strengthen monitoring and control of pollutants. We also need to shift the cost of pollution on to the polluter, particularly in egregious cases like Dieselgate and the car manufacturers.

Most large cities will require a charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to bring air pollution to within safe limits within a reasonable time.

 

Tim, thank you for taking the time to inform us about the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign and petition. Dear Reader, please sign the petition, if you haven’t already and share it with your friends, family, acquaintances and frenemies.

A Guide To Socially Conscious Sex

Sex. It’s something that a lot of us spend a lot of time thinking about, from daydreaming about our favourite celebrity to worrying if we’re doing it right to listening to your more adventurous friend brag about their exploits. But I bet that you’ve never thought about whether your sex life is ethical.

Now, I (Emma) know this seems like it’s going to an article where I lecture you about what you are doing ‘wrong’ in your sex lives. It’s not, I promise. I’m just going to look at some ways to make our sex lives more ethical – and possibly even better! After all, we’re always looking to make other areas of their lives more ethical (i.e. going flexitarian or recycling more), why not the bedroom as well?

Sex Toys

SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

I’ll be honest, this whole article was pitched after I tried to find a more eco-friendly way to clean my vibrator. I’m trying to cut down on the amount of trash that I create, so I wanted to stop buying the special wipes. Then I ended up down an internet rabbit (pun intended) hole and found out that cleaning might be the least of my sex toys’ eco problems…

It turns out that the average sex toy is made in China (as with most consumer products) to cut down on labour costs, so it could have a large carbon footprint by the time it reaches you. It may even contain some nasty chemicals or animal products, which you probably don’t want near your private parts. Then, there’s the issue of disposing of your sex toy. You can’t exactly chuck it in with the kerbside recycling, can you?

 

via GIPHY

What should you do?

  1. Keep your sex toys for as long as possible, as ditching older ones before their time will only exacerbate your environmental impact. But when you are ready to retire them don’t throw them into a landfill; there are some recycling schemes available, like Love Honey.
  2. Clean your sex toys with warm water and white vinegar or, in the case of non-electric toys, simply boil them
  3. When looking for a new sex toy, look for ones that are made in your country (to decrease your carbon footprint) and choose ones made from medical-grade silicone, glass, metal or wood. If you do opt for a plastic one, stay away from any that contain phthalates, a  potentially carcinogenic chemical. You could even find a solar powered sex toy to cut down on battery and electrical use. I swear that you won’t have to leave the whole thing out in plain view; just the battery.

via GIPHY

Porn

SOURCE: PIXABAY

What porn you consume – and how – can make a big difference to how ethical your sex life is, mainly because of how the industry treats its actors. And as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have taught us, big, powerful companies – and the (mostly) men at the heads of them – generally suck at controlling themselves.

Most mainstream porn has problems with:

– unsafe sex, which some actors report being forced into

– pressuring actors into sex acts that they are uncomfortable with

– a lack of rights for workers, including unfair wages

– the fetishisation of its actors, particularly POC, LGBTQ+ people, plus size people, and mature people

All of that is appalling and it doesn’t even cover the fact that in most mainstream porn the female actors are forced to fake their orgasm, which creates an unrealistic view of sex for the consumer.

via GIPHY

If the person making my veggie burger was working under unsafe conditions, I’d be furious, so why should I care less about the people making my porn? Now, this isn’t to say you should stop watching porn. I didn’t stop eating eggs when I found out about battery hens, I switched to free-range.

Instead, look into a more ethical type of porn that treats workers fairly and promotes intersectionality. Also, it could do wonders for your sex life by showing real sex acts that actually get women off and that you could try at home- mainstream porn seems awfully scared of a genuine female orgasm, doesn’t it?

So how can we make sure that the porn we’re watching is ethical?

via GIPHY

There are no consumer reports on how ethical porn is, so it’s mostly up to you to decide for yourself, but here is my advice.

Pay: I know that we’re so used to getting our porn for free that it seems absurd to suggest you start paying for it again, but I swear there’s a good reason. When you don’t pay for porn, the industry can cut corners, which can hurt the performers.

Play favourites: Find a porn star that you like. Do your research on them, listen to what they say about their work, and find out if they have more control over what they do with whom. Some performers may even have a website (perhaps with free clips and photos!) and those actors are more likely to have control over their content.

Trust your instincts: The next time you’re watching porn, ask yourself if you think the actors are enjoying themselves and if the scene seems safe. You can still explore fantasies that may not look safe on the surface (i.e. BDSM), but it’s important that the performers are safe and happy to be in the scene.

I know this can seem like a lot, but considering how exploitative some porn can be to its actors, isn’t it worth it to support the performers who have done so much for you?

via GIPHY

 

Lube And Barrier Contraceptives

Source: Wikipedia

Did you know that your lubes and contraceptives could contain animal by-products? Or that they may have been tested on animals? It’s something that I naively assumed was only true in contraceptives from the distant past, but unfortunately, it’s something that is just as true in the 21st century.

What can you do?

Simply, it’s a case of being a more informed consumer.

Organizations like PETA and the Leaping Bunny keep track of vegan and cruelty-free brands, but you should know that obtaining these certifications isn’t exactly common among the makers of lubes and contraceptives.  Otherwise, you can always check the ingredients list on your lube for ingredients like glycerin and your barrier contraceptives for casein (or ask the manufacturer).

Now, I know that some of you are waiting for me to talk about how barrier contraceptives contribute to our landfills and that no one knows how long they take to biodegrade. However, I’m not going to tell anyone to ditch barrier contraceptives as they’re the only things that protect against STDs.

via GIPHY

The only thing I’ll say is – DON’T FLUSH THEM DOWN THE TOILET! They’re really hazardous to marine life.

Okay, so this is how I’m pursuing a more ethical sex life, but now I’d like to hear from you. Are you trying to get a more socially conscious sex-life? How’s it going? Let me know in the comments section below.

 

This article, written by Emma, was originally published on LOTL and has been reprinted with permission. It contains some amendments for a UK audience.

How to recycle in Portsmouth Part 3: Recycling the unrecyclable again

Here at Shades of Green, we receive messages on an almost daily basis about how to recycle certain items and we really love it. You’re keeping us on our toes and getting our green brains to work that much faster, so thank you for that.

So far, Tamara has shown you how to recycle all that you can through kerbside recycling or at the various recycling banks across Portsmouth and she’s even improved on that in a blog about items that take a little more effort to recycle.

This month I (Emma) am jumping on her recycling bandwagon and showing you how to recycle some of the most unrecyclable items that I’ve found in my home.

 

Elastic Bands

Pile of rubber bands

Dear Posties of Portsmouth, why you gotta keep dropping elastic bands on the pavement? Uncool.

If you want to get rid of a surplus of elastic bands, you could donate them to your local library (as my dad does), schools, or any other underfunded community group that needs to do admin work. It’s not recycling, but it is reusing and that’s much better.

Bonus points awarded for picking up elastic bands you find on the street or asking your postie not to drop them on the floor.

 

Pringles Cans (other brands are available)

Four pringles tubes

Picture by Like_The_Grand_Canyon on Flickr

I definitely eat waaaaaay more Pringles than the average person. This used to make me feel bad because the cans can’t be recycled… Or can they?!

Shocker! The majority of the Pringles can is recyclable if you’re prepared to do a little work. Want to learn how? Check out this video!

The only thing that I would add is that you need to just use your fingernails to pull the non-recyclable inner lining of the Pringles tube away from the cardboard. It’s a bit like finding the end on a roll of tape.

The metal bottom and the cardboard goes in your kerbside recycling, the plastic top goes in the plastic recycling skip at Sainsbury’s,  and the only thing to go into the bin in the silvery plastic-paper-foil covering inside the can.

 

Pens

Picture of pens that can be recycled

Milton Cross School has recently launched a pen recycling scheme in conjunction with TerraCycle, a recycling company that we’ve spoken about a few times on this blog.
Milton Cross will be collecting all kinds of writing implements for recycling, except for pencils and crayons. This includes:

  • Any brand of pen
  • Felt tips
  • Highlighters
  • Tippex Pots
  • Mechanical Pencils
  • Eraser Pens

Deborah Mason at Milton Cross said that it’s part of the school’s drive to be more environmentally friendly. She said the school sees a lot of waste and they wanted to reduce this while also teaching the students how to be greener. The money raised will be donated to the Lord Mayor’s Charity.
If you want to recycle your pens with Milton Cross, you can drop the recycling off in their secure lobby and they are looking into getting collection points in other parts of the city.

 

Now, I’d like to hear from you. How do you feel about being able to recycle these items? Are there any other items that you would like to see Shade of Green attempt to recycle? Let us know in the comments and we may feature it in our next blog.

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