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Launching into Pompey: The Package Free Larder

Changing the world. It can be as simple as looking around your local community and not just seeing what could be better but actually doing something about it.

Delphine Laveyne and The Package Free Larder Committee members are exemplars of being the change you want to see. Coming from France, Delphine has firmly embedded herself as a leader in the green community in Portsmouth.

In 2017, on meeting like-minded sustainers at regular monthly event Green Drinks Portsmouth, she set up Zero Waste Portsmouth, enabling those interested in responsible consumption to meet once a month to share ideas, tips and tricks on living zero waste, ethically and sustainably. It was here she talked of her dream of a one-stop packaging free community run shop. I know ‘cause I (Tamara) was there! Last month, that dream took a major step towards becoming a reality with the launch event of The Package Free Larder, hosted by The Southsea Village.

It was an absolute blast!  Emma, her lovely Mum, and I hung out and nibbled on dirty fries whilst listening to local environmentalists and activists speak passionately to a packed-out audience.

Serena Cunsolo, marine biologist and PhD researcher at the University of Portsmouth educated us about micro-plastics in the ocean. (Did you know that there is a Great Pacific Garbage Patch three times the size of France between California and Hawaii? I didn’t and I was horrified.) She also spoke of the effects closer to home, of microplastics in wastewater in Portsmouth. It highlighted to me the urgent need to look into my closet to see what my clothes are actually made of.

Clare Seek from Plastic Free Portsmouth (amongst her many ventures!) spoke about the growing plastic-free community in Pompey and of the importance of educating on how to reduce and then reduce some more.

Daniel Nowland of The Southsea Deli spoke about his ethical food ethos and sustainable food systems. Listening to him inspired me to encourage my household to eat less but better – specifically cheese, as we get through a lot of it!

Emma and I got a taste for local produce and went into a buying frenzy: purchasing plastic-free floss from Wild Thyme, hand-made pasta from Antica, package-free rice and coffee beans from Refill and Replenish, and reusable menstrual pads from Ngozi Sews. And we heard from Connie, Ella, and Delphine of the Package Free Larder Committee about the journey from a kernel of an idea to the reality the Package Free Larder will be.

The work that has gone into getting the Larder this far is incredible. In September 2018, Delphine hosted a meet-up for interested parties at Southsea Coffee and in 6 months The Package Free Larder was born. There is still a way to go but the foundations have been laid. The next step is to raise funds and source a property for this bricks and mortar community-led venture.

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

This fantastic community project needs YOU! For this to get off the ground and become a success, it needs people across Portsmouth to support it – financially, with time and resources, and through social media. But (in my opinion) mostly finances.

The Package Free Larder will be launching a crowdfunding campaign in the next few months and I will be there to support them. I hope you will too. Go to their website here and subscribe to their mailing list to be kept in the loop.

Let’s put our money where our mouth is. Let us be the change.

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

Tamara’s Takeaway To-Dos:

  • Research and buy GuppyFriend bags (assuming it isn’t greenwash) for my synthetic fibre clothes
  • Rediscover buying clothes at charity shops (I hate clothes shopping generally but love charity shops!)
  • Attend Beach Cleans regularly
  • Read up on the Ocean Garbage Patches. Educate mahself!
  • Purchase plastic-free cows milk from The Southsea Deli and make it my regular place for cheese.  

Green Death

*This post is in honour of Mike Wines, Green Party activist and an all-round good guy. We valued your dedication to the environment, your willingness to stand up as Portsmouth Green Party coordinator and council candidate, and your dry sense of humour. You are missed. *

(Disclaimer: Unsurprisingly, the following post is about death and funerals. Please be mindful and look after yourself. I am going to say it like I see it, so be prepared!)

Let us begin at the end

I am going to die.  My loved ones will one day die. The people sat chatting around me in this café will all eventually die. You too, dear reader, will die.

Why are we so surprised by this? I (Tamara) don’t see any point in beating around the bush about this inexorable fact and I don’t understand why death is such a taboo subject; to only be discussed when one is very old or in the process of actually dying.

I think now is the perfect time to consider the shape of my funeral. I am not ill, and neither is anyone close to me. The Mothers of the Dutchman and me are in good health and happily living their lives. While friends procreate, I have the epic responsibility of a cat. The time is now!

So many of my friends have no idea what they or their parents and partners would want if they became ill or died suddenly. This baffles me but then I grew up with an outspoken Trinidadian mother whose catchphrase whenever death planning is mentioned is ‘When you’re dead, you’re dead. Just burn me – or whatever is the cheapest.’ As you can see, we don’t stand on ceremony in my family!

Death shopping is a thing. Even in death we are consumers and I am determined that my death and body disposal should be as earth-friendly as possible. When the Dutchman and I wrote our wills, about ten years ago now, we stated our preference for an ‘environmental funeral’ and thought no more about it. But recently I realised it would be useful for my friends and family to have specifics as to what I mean by ‘an environmental funeral’.

Dear Reader, I went so far down the rabbit hole with this one, this blog post will be in two parts!

My Initial Green Death Requirements

This is a No from me!
Image by ianhearse from Pixabay

I want a funeral with friends and family talking and laughing. Lots of alcohol and speeches. Basically, a raucous wake that will make my neighbours complain. No whispering allowed.  The Victorian style funeral with a black hearse and pallbearers in top hats does not appeal to me at all.

I want it to be earth-friendly with minimum impact. I don’t want it to be a conveyor belt of death and whispers. No embalming (unless absolutely necessary). I’d love my body to stay at home. Minimum death purchases – no plastic flowers, no tombstone, no crap. Locally sourced food and drink. A biodegradable coffin made in the UK.

So armed with my list, I started my research…and immediately fell into the rabbit hole that is the internet – tabs galore were opened, never to be closed. I decided to take myself out of the internet and talk to real people with knowledge about this funeral malarkey.

Friendly Funerals R Us

Also not what I had in mind.
Image by carolynabooth from Pixabay

I visited a local funeral director who kindly talked through my many random questions and allowed me to a look round the viewing room – a subdued space with low lighting and a strategically placed box of tissues. I left understanding why so many of us use funeral directors when we are amid a loss – they are experts in the mysterious ways of the funeral world, whilst most people will organise only one or maybe two funerals in their lifetime.  I can imagine it is incredibly soothing to know that it will run like clock-work with minimal stress to the family.

Not for me – I left knowing what they were selling wasn’t what I wanted. But I am aware I must be mindful of what I am asking of my loved ones who may not be able to do the DIY funeral I’d prefer. If my mother decides she needs the support of a funeral director, I hope she will go to a local independent that is understanding of my environmental wishes. I want more than just an eco-coffin, I want a lifestyle…or should that be…deathstyle?

There are so many misconceptions surrounding the funeral industry. Did you know you don’t need to engage the services of a funeral director anyway? A deceased body does not have to be embalmed within the UK and can be transported via any vehicle – it doesn’t have to be a hearse, if the vehicle is safe, a suitable size and the body is covered – you are good to go!

My biggest learning curve was the costs associated with a funeral –so unnecessary, so much gentle up-selling and so very very expensive. I hadn’t realised how much a coffin could cost. You gotta have money to die.

South Downs Natural Burial Site

Lay ME in Lavender

To bury or not to bury, that is the burning question! I have always thought burial was an unsustainable option due to the sheer impact on the land, waterways and green spaces. The earth is for the living, so why take up precious land space once I’m dead and with an ever-growing population, we certainly can’t all be buried!

Being pumped full of chemicals for short-term preservation which will leach into the soil and water, being housed in a coffin which could last longer than my decomposing body – nah mate, burial isn’t for me.

Until I went on a road trip to the South Downs Natural Burial Site with my wonderfully open-hearted friend Chris. We met the manager, Al Blake, in a dusty cluttered office for a quick-fire round of conversation and questions. It couldn’t have been more different from my visit to the friendly funeral director. Here was a natural burial expert in walking boots and jeans who understood my distaste for the conveyor-belt style funeral, wasn’t fazed by the request to have the body at home and has a database of natural burial and DIY funeral friendly Funeral Directors.

At the South Downs Natural Burial Site, embalming and cremated ashes are not allowed. To be buried here, my coffin or shroud must be 100% bio-degradable. My unmarked grave will be dug by hand and my body taken to its resting place on a hand-drawn bier or horse-drawn cart. It will be the only funeral that day. My loved ones can lower me into the earth. When I asked this of the friendly funeral director, I was told this wouldn’t be possible due to health and safety. At the natural burial site, it seems anything is possible.

Chris and I wander down to the Natural Burial Site, originally a conifer and beech plantation planted about 40 years ago by the Royal Navy, now being replanted with species that belong on the South Downs. The re-stocked woodland will consist of native species that may eventually be coppiced and harvested for rural industry and wood fuel. Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management where trees and shrubs are cut back to ground level periodically to stimulate growth.

We meet ‘Young Chris’ who is hand-digging a grave under the cover of a flappy tarpaulin. This is too good an opportunity to miss and I leap down into the grave. It doesn’t feel scary or weird or morbid. It smells of damp earth and chalk – not surprising, considering the burial site is on chalk land. With both cemetery and national park status and the whole park belonging to Earth Trust, the 1985 bodies buried here aren’t going anywhere. Most natural burial sites shallow bury but here they dig deep into the chalk. Al comments that it might not be the most eco but with the local wildlife he considers it the most secure option.

There are considerations – I know my Mum will hate the stee walk down to the burial site. On a wet day, the chalk path is slippery. My guests will need to be prepared to rough it with walking shoes and sticks. But I don’t care – this is the place where you can stand in your sorrow and no one will rush you. I am in love.

But the price pulls me short. Back to reality. Can I really justify £2000 to be buried here? Holy guacamole, that is a lot of money. A cremation at Porchester Crematorium costs £615. Cost is my one big concern and I am still mulling it over. I will continue my death investigation into cremation and other body disposal options before I make my decision.

Let me put it this way – it’s going to take a green death extravaganza to top this.

Have you visited a natural burial site? What were your impressions? And where do you stand on funeral directors and the associated costs of death? Let us know in the Comments section.

The Second Part of my Green Death investigation will be published at the end of April. Probably. Who knows?!

Emma’s attempts to reduce food packaging waste

One day last year, Tamara asked if I (Emma, obvs) wanted to come on an eco-expedition with her to [I’ve completely forgotten what we did, but it was definitely something green] and on the way we had a discussion about zero waste and how we could reduce the packaging on food.

I’m a keen recycler, but I still end up with an awful lot of food packaging in my bin every week and I really wanted to cut that down. (Although, I should note for clarity that my house still only produces roughly one bin liner full of rubbish per month.) I made it my goal in 2019 to cut the amount of food packaging that I’m sending to rubbish and here’s how I’ve been doing it so far.

Buying loose fruit

Red apple

We all know that we should eat more fruit and veg, but I’ve not been great at it in the past and I’m still not great at it now. I’ve been trying to eat more fruit and less chocolate for about six months now, but the problem is that most fruit comes wrapped in unrecyclable plastic.

Now, I know that the underlying principle is that the packaging keeps food fresher for longer and reduces food waste. However, I still wanted to cut the amount of packaging coming into my house. So, I’ve been buying fruit loose during my online shop, even though it annoyingly works out as more expensive.

 Obviously, there are some fruits that aren’t available loose at the supermarket (i.e. berries), so I’ve had to cut them out of my diet. (They’re probably available loose at farmer’s markets, but I don’t have the time to get there.)

Overall, I’m happy with my choice and I will stick with it, but I have had some slip-ups, like where I just really wanted some strawberries.

Baking bread

Loaf of bread

Carbs are pretty much my staple food and I freaking adore bread, so, over the past few weeks, I’ve been attempting to bake my own bread. Now, I’m no chef and the GBBO is certainly never going to accept me as a contestant, but the results have been fairly promising. Although, I have caved in to buy baguettes at the supermarket still.

Side note:  I used my mum’s breadmaker, but I know that can be a huge expense for some people so I recommended doing your research (and perhaps even borrowing a friend’s) before purchasing.

Getting a reusable water bottle

Reusable water bottle

Ever since Tamara wrote her green backpack post, I’ve been keen to replicate my own. I’ve mostly acquired all of the necessary items now, but the true turning point came with my very own water bottle.

It’s not like I never had one before, but they’ve always leaked or they weren’t dishwasher proof and it drove me crazy. Now, I have two dishwasher safe ones that I use on a daily basis and I genuinely don’t think I’ve bought bottled water since.

Okay, well that’s all from me at the moment, but I hope to check in later in the year with an update on how I’ve reduced the amount of food packaging that I bring in, whether recyclable or not. Now, I’d like to hear any tips you have about reducing your food packaging.

Carton Recycling now in Pompey!

MARCH 27, 2019

HAPPY DANCE UPDATE: We now have TWO carton recycling banks in Pompey. A second carton recycling bank has been installed at the Morrisons supermarket in Anchorage Park, just off Eastern Road.

FEBRUARY 22, 2019

My household has been doing a happy dance since I (Tamara) found out that Portsmouth now has a carton recycling bank. My stockpiling of cartons and monthly recycling runs to Chandlers Ford can finally cease. Many thanks to our lovely readers who wrote to us with this encouraging news!

My household has been doing a happy dance since I (Tamara) found out that Portsmouth now has a carton recycling bank. My stockpiling of cartons and monthly recycling runs to Chandlers Ford can finally cease. Many thanks to our lovely readers who wrote to us with this encouraging news!

Tim Sheerman-Chase, Portsmouth Green Party activist and #LetPompeyBreathe campaigner, recycles his cartons at the new carton recycling bank at ASDA

What cartons can be recycled

This beautiful lone ranger of a bring bank can be found at the Asda Superstore at the Bridge Shopping Centre in Fratton. Recycle your cartons (like Tetra Paks) including:

  • juice cartons
  • paper cups
  • milk cartons
  • paper coffee cups
  • soup, tomatoes and other food cartons
  • other beverage cartons
  • ( N.B. caps + lids can be left on )

Wash and squash them as the washing helps reduce contamination and squashing helps to fit loads more cartons into the recycling bank. You can even leave the caps/lids on as they will be removed in the recycling process. My foster teens think I am cray-cray cause I rinse out my rubbish for recycling but its got to be done.

By the way, Tetra Paks manufacture cartons but a bit like hoover/vacuum and google/internet search, the name seems to be synonymous with cartons.

Photo of Recycling Bank at Asda Fratton

why i am so happy about carton recycling

Previous to this installation of this new joy-of-my-heart, you would find me doing a monthly 50 mile round trip to Valley Park Community Centre Cartons Recycling Bank in Chandlers Ford with a car full of soya milk, soup and beverage cartons. My reusable drinks cup means that my disposable coffee cup use is limited, but any takeaway paper coffee cups were also stored and either taken to a Costa coffee shop or to the Valley Park bank.

Crazily, this was the nearest and easiest cartons recycling bank for me to get to. I would stockpile cartons in my conservatory and soon started collecting cartons from my car-free friends and Portsmouth Green Party members. If I’m going to drive all the way there, I may as well take a car-full and so I became the ‘Cartons and Foils’ gal who would collect black bin bags full from across Pompey. Luckily, in the two years that I have been recycling cartons at Valley Park, I only experienced a handful of wasted trips due to an overfull bank.

Please sir, can we have some More (carton recycling) please?

I have written to Dave Ashmore, the current Portsmouth City Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Safety, to express my delight but also to ask for more details about the roll-out of further cartons banks.

You may remember I wrote wistfully last year about the Southampton trial of 10-12 mixed plastics and carton recycling banks. I was gutted when that came to an abrupt end, as reported by the Southern Daily Echo, “because the company that provides the banks says it is having ongoing difficulties in disposing of the materials.”  and I was convinced this failed trial would mean carton recycling would take even longer to come to Portsmouth. Hence the extra-happy dance when the carton recycling bank at Asda Fratton was installed. Green wishes can come true!

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.

365 DAYS OF SHADES OF GREEN- PART 2 Aug 2018

ACE UK is the supplier of the carton recycling banks in Asda Fratton and Valley Park Community Centre. Though I do not know which company supplied the Southampton trial carton and mixed plastics banks, I don’t believe it was ACE UK. Regardless, I asked Dave Ashmore for reassurance that we in Portsmouth will take lessons learned from the sad ending of the Southampton trial. I’ll report back when I hear back from him.

Do your bit

And finally, to ensure this cartons bank is a success and that more are installed across the city, I ask you dear reader to:

  • Use the bloomin’ carton bank regularly.
    (Yes, I know it is a pain there is currently only one for the entire city but if it is used it will show there is a need for it and hopefully more will be installed. One is better than none!)
  • Write to your local councillors to say Yay for the lone ranger and to request a carton bank near you. (Click here to find out who your three local city councillors are and their contact details.)

And do let us know in the Comments section if they reply !


Jumping on the Veganuary Bandwagon…in February!

For the second half of January, I (Tamara) took to my bed with the flu in a manner befitting Austen’s Jane Bennet. To my chagrin, this lingering lurgy put a dampener on my plans for a Veganuary Pompey Crawl.

Fortunately, as there’s a myriad of vegan food options in Portsmouth available all year round,  I won’t have to wait until January 2020 to try some more vegan delicacies! I did manage a feeble outing to Two Doors Down where I gorged myself on their healing veggie and vegan Bao buns. A-bao-solutely delicious!!

My cunning plan is to force my Pompey vegan food crawl onto my friend when she next visits from Manchester. I have a restaurant or two or three in mind: Croxtons, The Southsea Village, Southsea Coffee and Paula’s Vegan Bakery in Gosport.

View this post on Instagram

Wonderful time in a wonderful place #victoriousfestival

A post shared by Jessie ET (@teethingpains) on

Meet Jessie, a vegan-ish

My Pompey vegan food crawl will be with the lovely Jessie, my friend and ex-housemate. Jessie tried out veganism last year, for Veganuary 2019, going straight from being a meat-eater to eating only plant-based meals.

A year after her Veganuary experiment, Jessie continues to eat plant-based and meat-free, as a vegan-ish. I am super impressed as when we were housemates, this was a girl whose dinners used to be the simple fare of grilled chicken or salmon with vegetables.

I spoke to her about this massive change in her eating, her holiday food caveat and why she considers herself to be a flexitarian.

Jessie, welcome! Introduce yourself to the People! How are you linked to Pompey?

Coming from London, I worked in a small dental practice in Drayton (I am a dentist) and lived close to the seafront just off Bransbury Park. I found Pompey to just be everything I wanted. There’s much going on; the seaside, eating, shopping, nights out, sporting events, nature …. recycling. (Who knew there was so much to know about recycling and being sustainable!)

(As we were housemates during your time in Portsmouth, I take full credit for your recycling revelations! )

I think it’s no exaggeration to say that living in Pompey has been one of the best years of my life so far.  I miss it hugely now I am stationed up North and look forward to my next visit!

Jessie’s pre-Veganuary weekday dinner of fish and veg looked a lot like this.

What were your reasons for doing Veganuary?

I have always been intrigued by the idea of  Veganuary. Just to see what it would be like to live without meat, eggs or dairy, and as a personal challenge to see if I could. I feel I have quite a bland palate or maybe more of a tendency to see food as fuel only. My dinners tended be quite boring; chicken/salmon with steamed vegetables/salad was the bulk of my diet. Quick and easy to cook but balanced and healthy. Weekly Cod Squad fish and chips or sausage and chips also featured occasionally…

It’s no lie the potential health benefits were also a consideration – I read a lot about healthy skin and people feeling amazing. (BTW it is still possible to be a very unhealthy vegan). Last year,  I decided I was definitely going to do it. I researched. I planned my meals and lunches. I had everything ready.

So ready, steady, go vegan! How did it go? What did you eat, both initially, and now a year later?

I researched vegan-friendly foods and brands for things such as popcorn for the cinema, or crisps for snack cravings – all very easy areas to trip up on otherwise. A lot of people find quitting dairy and for some reason, cheese, the hardest bit. I have never really been into dairy or cheese, so this was actually very simple for me. The hardest bit was actually giving up fish! I honestly miss my weekly slices of salmon more than any meat.

Now, I eat a real mix of things, cooking from scratch for most meals and trying to batch cook where possible to save time.

For lunches, I tend to have:

  • Tofu cooked in different sauces with salad during summer.
  • This winter I have been having more soups or dhals.

Semi-regular on the weekly dinner menu:

  • Fajitas or burritos
  • Vegetable stews with different spices or grains.
  • Curries are a personal favourite. I love spicy food and a lot of recipes are already vegetarian so it’s easy to veganise.
Definitely no bland dinners for Jessie anymore!

I  feel that preparing vegan dinners does take longer, but this may be because previously I didn’t really go in for fancy meal prep. There’s no easy, tasty, exciting option that can just be stuck in the oven for 20 minutes. I don’t mind the food taking longer to make because it’s generally more satisfying to eat at the end.

Tip: For vegetarian and vegan recipes to try, check out Emma’s post of 22 meat-free recipes.

It sounds like you’ve got cooking from scratch down, but what about when you eat out? Do you feel like you are missing out?

I’m lucky now that being vegan is in vogue. More diners and chains are catching onto this and there are generally vegan options in most places.

I have been really impressed with the rise of veganism in Pompey. I think the Victorious Festival 2018 was amazing and had a huge selection of vegan-friendly chow. Then there are the vegan Sunday dinners at Merchant House and a few other eateries on Palmerston Road.

I agree Southsea has such a variety of vegan-friendly places to eat. But what about when you go away out of the UK? How have you found that?

It is true that the big issue I have found is going on holidays. Some areas are great for vegan options – I have recently returned from Mexico and was quite surprised about how easy vegetarian and vegan options were to find.

But I also feel that food is a massive part of other cultures and by restricting your diet, you miss out on this. So my one caveat I openly have (I am sure stricter vegans will disapprove) is when on holiday I will allow myself fish options as well as vegetarian and vegan. I have still managed to avoid meat.

Jessie’s Holiday Caveat: Fish is allowed

I’m aware that by the end of my year as a vegan I’m probably now on the dietary spectrum seen as more ‘flexitarian’ but I do still make a lot of effort to stick to a vegan diet. I honestly don’t see myself going back to eating meat on a regular basis, however, I think I could very happily stay as vegetarian with occasional fish dishes. Although this may seem a poor compromise to some more strict proponents of veganism,  I think that is, for me,a realistic and sustainable state.

How has it impacted your life?

I have found it slightly odd that going vegan has opened me up to a lot more thoughts regarding the environment and sustainability. Its likely a hangover from Pompey where I had quite a bit of exposure to green living, but I still make a lot of effort with recycling, avoiding single-use plastics e.g. straws and swapping to moon cups, where I can and trying to reuse things more or donating to charity shops rather than throwing items away.

And finally, any tips for people interested in eating vegan?

Plan your meals. Really think about what you eat and when. Little things like a trip out to the cinema, brunch or ending up at work lunchless can really pose a challenge if you are determined to be vegan in your choices (and don’t want to be left hungry).

Thank you Jessie for chatting to us about your vegan-ish journey! Come join me soon for our vegan-crawl!

Follow Jessie’s vegan and dentistry journey on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/teethingpains/.

And let us know, in the Comments section, your recommendations of vegan dishes/ restaurants in Pompey for Tamara’s vegan crawl

How to recycle with Portsmouth Green Party

It should be no secret that Tamara and I (Emma) are keen on recycling. I mean we’ve written about it multiple times on Shades of Green and we’ve even toured Portsmouth’s rubbish and recycling plant together. (Yes, we’re very cool people.) That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised that we’ve managed to transform this love of recycling into a way of making money for Portsmouth Green Party.

We’ve recently started working with Recycling for Good Causes, which helps turn trash into cash by recycling unwanted items no matter their condition, thus saving lots of items from landfill. Better yet, we can offer a local drop-off site, so that you don’t have to arrange to ship the items anywhere yourself.

What can Portsmouth Green Party recycle for you?

There are four main categories of items that Portsmouth Green Party can now recycle for you, not including the ink cartridges that we told you about in a previous blog, and they are jewellery, currency, gadgets, and stamps. Let’s look at them in more detail.

Jewellery

recycling jewelry

This includes:

  • Watches
  • Odd earrings
  • Broken items
  • Costume jewellery

How many of our readers have got pieces of broken jewellery or sole earrings in their jewellery box because you just don’t know what you do with it? I myself have two earrings that lost their partners several years ago and one necklace chain with a broken clasp, but I couldn’t put them in kerbside recycling and didn’t want to throw them in the bin.

Thankfully, I can now recycle them along with any other unwanted jewellery, no matter what material its made from or state it’s in.

Currency

recycling money

This includes:

  • Notes
  • Coins
  • Foreign currency
  • Obsolete currency (i.e. the old style pound coins, pre-Euro currency, pre-decimal currency)

I think we’ve all had that moment when you’ve come back from a trip abroad and you have $1.93 left in your wallet or €3.47 at the bottom of your bag. Unless you’re a regular visitor, you may not want to keep it in the house and it’s not really enough to bother exchanging it back into GBP, so it winds up stuck in a drawer. The same goes for out-of-date currency – for some reason we have like 20 francs in a drawer at my house because no one knew what to do with it.

Gadgets

recycling electronic equipment

This includes:

  • Sat navs
  • Games consoles and games
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Cameras
  • Video cameras
  • Mobile phones
  • Portable music devices

Importantly, it doesn’t matter about the age or condition of the item. We can still recycle it.

This is actually fantastic because most places only recycle mobile phones. A friend of mine has been looking for somewhere to recycle her broken laptop for ages and the nearest place she could find to take it was Chichester and she certainly wasn’t going to make a special trip.  (I don’t blame her.)

Stamps

recycling stamps

This includes:

  • Loose used stamps
  • Stamp collections
  • First-day covers and presentation packs
  • Postcard collections

Yes, the things that you usually leave on the envelope to be tossed into the recycling can actually be used to earn money for PGP.

What will Portsmouth Green Party do with the money raised?

All money that PGP earns from these recycling efforts will be used to help make Portsmouth a greener (and Greener) place because while PGP is entirely volunteer-run, we do have a fair amount of expenses.

We will use the money to:

  • stand candidates at elections
  • create flyers for our candidates
  • print our newsletters
  • create protest banners

How can I get the recycling to you?
Just email me at Blog@portsmouth.Greenparty.org.uk and I’ll get in touch with a drop-off location.

The Lowdown on Reusable Toilet Cloth

What is reusable toilet cloth?

A while ago, Tamara wrote a blog post in which she mentioned that she carried around a reusable hanky book to blow her nose and that this grossed everyone around her out. Not to be outdone, I’ve also found a way to reduce my paper consumption that others think is gross and I’m actually fine with.

This article is about cloth toilet roll, otherwise known as family cloth or reusable toilet roll. If the topic makes you cringe, I (Emma) understand, but I actually found it to be a fairly easy way to massively reduce my paper (and water) consumption and it doesn’t gross me out as much as I thought it would.

I realise that’s hardly a ringing endorsement, but I seriously recommended giving this a go. I started in September when my parents went on holiday, thinking that this would be a short-lived experience, but I actually found it so easy that I never stopped.

But wait, don’t you get like *stuff* on your hands?

No, because the cloths I cut are big enough to cover my hand while I wipe. Plus, they’re more absorbent than paper, so there’s less soak through – if that makes sense.

What did you use for the cloth?

There are a number of online stores that sell cloths or you can make your own by buying fabric, cutting it into squares, and sewing the edges off.
I didn’t want to spend any money though, so I cut up old clothes that would have only gone into rags anyway (i.e. underwear with snapped elastic or socks with holes). An added benefit was that the cloths had been washed enough times that they were soft enough for those delicate areas.
I do recommend sewing up the edges of the fabric though, otherwise, they start to fray and then you have a lot of fibres to remove from the filter. It’s a hassle.

Do you use them all the time?

Most of the time. Obviously, I can’t use them when I’m out of the house, but I’d estimated that I’ve used them 95% of the time when at home. The only times I haven’t have been when I got up in the middle of the night or when the cloths have actually been in the wash.

I keep the cloths in the downstairs toilet because no one else in the house uses it. I have an old plastic washing powder tub that, because it has a lid, serves as the “washing basket”.

How do you wash them?

I followed general guidelines from cloth nappy companies, which was to wash at 60 degrees centigrade, with my regular cleaning products and then line dry. I honestly thought that 60 might be a little low, but baby skin is far more delicate than mine and nappies are designed for longer contact with skin, so what do I know?

These should be washed separately from other clothes/materials to avoid any staining (and because your clothes should be washed at lower temps to keep them in good nick). Full disclosure: I did put cleaning cloths in the load so the drum was full and I did put cloths that had only been used for pee into regular washing loads. It was fine, seriously.

But what about the wasted water when you wash the cloths?

I’m glad you brought that up. If you’re concerned about the potential water waste from washing these cloths to reuse them, it might help you to know that there’s an awful lot of wasted water in the creation of toilet roll! And that because there wasn’t toilet paper in the loo, causing a clog, I was able to flush the loo less.

Okay, well that’s it from me on the topic of reusable toilet roll. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

22 Meat Free Recipes to get you through 2019

Season’s greetings everyone, it’s Emma here again after a mahoosive break!

Alas, the festive season is nearly over and soon I’ll have to take down my beloved Christmas tree, stop playing “Home for the Holidays” and “Feels like Christmas” on loop, and actually head back to work. In a couple of days, I’ll make a resolution about spending less time on Twitter or not checking my work email after 5 pm or something else that I won’t stick to. But there is one resolution that I have stuck to since I made it in 2010, which for the purposes of this blog, we’ll say was made on December 31st. My vegetarianism. And I know that, especially with Veganuary coming up, many people choose this time of year to vow that they will cut down (or out) their meat consumption. That’s why I’ve created a list of 22 veggie recipes to get you through 2019.

Veggie Recipes to make you drool

1. Quorn Lime and Coconut Vegan Curry: If you need a bit of a palate cleanser, this surprisingly light curry is for you.
2. Seitan Pot Roast: Don’t let the vegan label fool you, this is a hearty meal, using seitan, potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic to fill you up.
3. Vegan Pulled Pork Sandwiches: I’ve never had pulled pork, but the vegan version is delicious. You can make your own using jackfruit or buy ready-made from the supermarket (check for eggs!).
4. Vegetarian Haggis: Enjoy this warming Scottish dish with a dram of whiskey… if you’re over 18.

5. Tomato, Basil, and Tortellini Soup:  Only have 15 minutes to prep dinner before running out to work? Choose this slow cooker soup. It’s a great way to sneak extra veggies into your diet without noticing.
6. The Vegan Portobello Potroast: All you have to do is sear the portobello mushrooms before placing it in the slow cooker with vegetables, broth, herbs and (if your taste requires) red wine.
7. Quinoa Burritos: These are easy to make and even easier to eat too many of. All you need is a couple of tortillas per person, quinoa, your fave veggies, salsa, guacamole, and shredded cheese.
8. Veggie Duck Pancakes: One of my favourite dishes when making Chinese at home is veggie duck pancakes made with Linda McCartney’s shredded hoisin duck. Honestly, I rather have this than take out.

9. Vegetable Lasagne: I might have lived off this in uni. All I had to do was layer the ingredients and shove it in the oven. Even I couldn’t mess that up and I’m almost certain that my flatmate isn’t reading this, so you can believe that it was perfect every time.
10. Crock-Pot Baked Potato Soup: I didn’t even know this was a thing until recently and I don’t know how I lived without it.
11. Thai Vegetable Curry: Fresh vegetables and coconut milk will make this dish one that you’ll keep coming back to.
12. Wild Rice Salad with Haloumi and Grilled Fruit: Refreshing, but filling, sweet, but salty; this salad is perfect for those late spring/early summer days.

13. Vegan Barbeque Pizza: There is nothing that I don’t like about pizza, but with a barbeque sauce base, it is even better. This isn’t an opinion, it’s fact.
14. Honey-Sesame Tofu and Green Beans: I used to think tofu was a dirty word, but it turns out I just couldn’t cook it. Now, I love it and this recipe is one of the reasons.
15. Vegetarian Bibimbap: Tender vegetables, fried eggs, and soy-sauce infused rice. It’s not fancy, but it’s quick and delicious.
16. Goat’s Cheese and Red Onion Tarts: It’s creamy, sweet, and takes under than an hour from start to finish, so why wouldn’t you want to make these?

17. Pesto and pine nut pasta: As Tamara can attest to, I’ve actually had vivid dreams about this dish after first having it at MAKE cafe in Fratton. But, it’s also simple to make at home in less time than it takes to decide what to watch on Netflix.
18. Bamboo shoot, Mushroom, and Long Bean Stir-Fry: Be warned, the cayenne chillies that give this dish a kick should be added slooooowly.
19. Clear Soup With Bamboo And Tofu: Here, the tofu will absorb all of the flavours of the seasonings (bonito dashi, soy sauce, sake) meaning that each mouthful is incredible. (Omit the bonito dashi for veggie + vegan)

20. Pumpkin Gut Soup: It’s one for Halloween. Turn the leftovers from your Jack O’ Lantern into a warming soup, along with vegetable stock and any vegetable cut offs that might be going to waste (carrot tops, celery tops). After 30 minutes, strain and serve with crusty rolls.
21. Kitchen Cupboard Curry: Just pick your veg of choice, dump in a pot with curry powder, and cook for about 40 minutes on a low heat. Oh, and don’t blend it. It’s better chunky.
22. Nut Roast: It’s a classic veggie Christmas dish that everyone will love.

Okay, that’s it from me because I’m actually getting really hungry. If you have a veggie or vegan meal you’d like to share, leave it in the comments section.

Green Cat Paws

I am not a cat person. Cats are evil creatures that glare batefully for absolutely no good reason. They take pleasure in toying with innocent birds, will attack you with no warning, and oh my gosh, their fur just gets everywhere. The Dutchman, my partner for the last sixteen years, loves cats. Adores them. He will greet every cat he meets in the street and loves a good tussle with a playful kitty. Reader, I married him. I must have been distracted at the time.

So, you’re probably not surprised to read that I (Tamara) now have a cat. A hateful creature that I utterly adore called Popster, Poppet and, officially, Poppy. When my depression made itself known to me, I turned to ‘ye ole Internet to find a magical cure. The internet told me pets can help with positive mental health. Well duh, I kinda knew that already. As the Dutchman had waited patiently for fifteen years for me to relent, I felt I owed him at least an attempt at having a cat. But as a cat is for life and not just for Christmas, I did my due diligence, investigating cat behaviour, needs, costs, etc. I decided that fostering a cat would be the perfect compromise. The Dutchman would get his cat-fix, we’d be helping with animal rescue and if I didn’t like it, then no problem as the foster cat would go to its forever home.

Cat and human high five

We approached Second Chance Animal Rescue, a local cat rescue charity based in Southampton and Portsmouth, and after a thorough house-check and interview, we soon received our first foster cat. The only problem is within 24 hours, we were in love and adopted her. So now, our vegetarian household had an obligate carnivore to cater for. This was the first of many challenges at rearing an eco-conscious cat.

Here are my top hits and bombs on cattifying my life whilst attempting to be environmentally aware!

CAT HITS

cat food

Food: I did A LOT of initial research when it came to choosing the food for the Poppet. I decided that though vegan cat food is available, as cats are obligate carnivores, I would feed my animal other animals. But I didn’t want her to be responsible for the poor treatment of these other animals so her cat food had to be organic or free range. It also had to come in packaging that could be recycled in Portsmouth – that ruled out pouches immediately. I also was keen to feed her a low-grain diet, but that together with my animal welfare requirement was more difficult to source. Price was also a consideration as I had a budget to stick to.

I use Yarrah Organic for both wet and dried food, bought in bulk online. It contains organic meats and Marine Stewardship Council sustainable and certified fish. The cans are recyclable at kerbside here in Pompey, but the dry food comes in a plasticy bag so unfortunately cannot be recycled. I try to balance that bomb by ordering their largest bag available.

As a new cat person, I did attempt to make cat food with pumpkin, tuna, sardines, added taurine, and other vital cat vitamins and minerals but Reader, the bloomin’ cat wouldn’t eat it. I also tried cooking up a meat bone broth for her – but again, she turned up her hateful nose at my offerings. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

¾  Cat Paws

cat figurine on toilet

Litter: I was disappointed to find out that I could not compost the Poppet’s poop because of parasites in cat feces, which cannot be destroyed in a normal home composter. However, I was determined to use environmentally-responsible litter and settled on Cat’s Best, which is made from PEFC-certified secondary raw wood materials.

¾  cat paws

cat staring through catflap

Cat Flap: Thanks to Freegle, I was able to source a second hand cat flap for free. It then turned out the glass in the door wasn’t safety proof and had to be replaced – but that’s another story and not the cat flaps fault!

4/4 cat paws

cardboard box

Toys and Enrichment: I don’t deny, I wanted to buy the Poppet all the toys and all the things! I just about managed to restrain myself and discovered that boxes and string are Poppet’s favourite toys! Cheap and cheerful and not plastic – boom! The cat scratcher is made of cardboard and a longer lasting one made of sisal.

4/4 cat paws

cat sitting on chair

Cat Visits: A local pet sitter visits Poppet when the Dutchman and I are out of town with friends also popping in to check on her as well. This means she is less stressed and in a familiar environment with her familiar organic food and we are supporting local business. Ahhhh, it’s a cats life!

4/4 cat paws

drawing of girl and her cat

Mental Health: My hateful Poppet has brought an unmeasurable amount of happiness into my life. Just having her around on days when depression is engulfing me makes it better. She is our constant companion, she makes me laugh, and though she punishes us for going away by peeing in the hallway – I still love her!

5/4 cat paws

Cat Bombs

pill packets

Packaging: As mentioned above, the packaging the litter and dry food comes in is not recyclable. At the advice of the vet, Poppet is given regular preventative flea and worm medicine. This is in a plastic tube and packaged in unrecyclable foil.

After having four teeth removed, Poppet is on a daily diet of edible cat toothpaste. Whilst I have managed to source plastic free tooth tabs with fluoride for my human household, the cat toothpaste is unfortunately unrecyclable. Sad!

2/4 cat paws

 

Do you have a cat or other pet in your life? Any hints and tips on how to lessen their environmental paw-print? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Crispy McCrisp Face

A not-so-secret secret is my love for the humble potato crisp and my hate of the unrecyclable packaging they come in. While my health and the environment beg ‘Please, no more’, my treacherous tastebuds say ‘Hell, yeah!’.

I (Tamara) have been fearlessly investigating crisp snack substitutes and am pleased to report back to you, my fellow crisp-lover.

Popcorn with salt and butter

Popcorn

Thanks to Wild Thyme offering both packaging-free popcorn and nutritional yeast, I have discovered a love of cheesy vegan(ish) popcorn. When I have a snack attack, my popcorn can be ready in 3 minutes flat! I can’t claim vegan status as I have a bad habit of smothering the popcorn in buttery deliciousness. The Dutchman has expressed a love for sweeter popcorn flavours – cinnamon and maple syrup have been a hit. The only downside is my microwave seems to not approve of my popcorn discovery and keeps shutting down mid-pop. It’s a-poppin’ mystery!

 

Roasted Chickpeas

Though a bit more effort than homemade popcorn, roasting chickpeas in the oven is equally delicious and healthy – especially as, unlike my popcorn, I don’t smother them in butter! Because I am a lazy gal, I use canned chickpeas however I do have grand plans to eventually cook up some dried packaging-free chickpeas in my slow cooker. Click here for my g0-to oven-roasted chickpea recipe.

 

Crisps in Compostable Packaging

I have Emma to thank for this momentous discovery – crisps in compostable packaging. I thought it was but a distant dream but no, my dream is a reality! Hertfordshire based company, Two Farmers offer crisps in…wait for it….100% home compostable bags. I AM SO FRICKIN’ EXCITED!!!!!! (Yes, I am afraid both capitals and exclamation marks are necessary to convey my delight.) I am awaiting my first order and shall report back shortly!

 

Till then, dear reader, what do you snack on? Do you have any recipes to recommend? Let us know in the Comments section below.

 

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