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Green Money

In a recent post, Emma shared her tips on how to save both pennies and the planet. Today, I (Tamara) am continuing the theme of money by sharing my attempts to ‘green’ my finances.

But first, a HUGE proviso! Though very wise, clever, smart and beautiful; I am not a financial guru or advisor. I am simply writing from my own personal experiences. This is not about me making or saving money but about me trying to be ethical in how I organise my finances and store my money.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Level 1: subscribe to the Ethical Consumer (Difficulty Rating: easy)

I share a subscription to The Ethical Consumer with a friend and it has been the number one most useful and informative resource in researching and deciding how to spend my money ethically. (This is not a sponsored post or any of that!). The Ethical Consumer does Shopping Guides, Company Profiles and basically it is where I go for clear answers when I am overwhelmed by choice. It has influenced all my choices which I will discuss below. If you can afford it, at £30 a year, get it!

Image by Jörg Hertle from Pixabay

Level 2: choose a bank with values (Difficulty rating: Intermediate)

Did you know that the big commercial banks are the worst? Main banking providers like Natwest, Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC etc are not the safe havens they appear in the ads. I was devastated to realise that the banks I was loyal to since I opened my first account at age 13 to save my Saturday job earnings in are funders of arms manufacturing and investors in the fossil fuel industry (to name but a few). These are powerful institutions focused on profits and not people.

I felt rather smug, many years ago now, when I decided to move away from terrible banking and opened a current account with Smile, then the best (in my opinion) ethical banking choice in a very limited pool. But the times have moved on and Smile, which is part of The Cooperative Bank, is no longer the top or only choice.

Triodos: a unicorn in the banking world

Triodos is the best. I do not mean it is the best of a bad bunch. Oh no no! Triodos is simply the best…dun… dun… better than all the rest! (channelling my inner Tina Turner!).

You see, Triodos doesn’t only choose not to invest in the bad aka unethical and unsavoury industries, Triodos actively invests in the good aka sustainable, ethical and planet & people protecting industries and projects.

Even their debit card is eco-conscious as it is made from PLA which is a plastic substitute made from renewable sources such as plant leaves and corn. But to be honest, it is their ethical policies and transparency that really give me a hard-on, though the small things are important too. (haha, that’s what she said! Sorry. #notsorry.)

I’ve had a saving account with Triodos for about ten years and will soon be opening a current account with them when I get my ID sorted. (Off-topic rant – can you believe that both my passport and my driving licence expired in the same month. Adulting is hard.)

Community-owned banking:

By this, I mean member-owned banking institutions like Building Societies and Credit Unions. Unlike commercial banks which are run for the profit of shareholders, here each customer is a member and has a say in how the organisation is run.

a) Nationwide Building Society

Nationwide is my compromise joint bank account with my husband, the Dutchman. After The Co-operative bank became 70% investor-owned and seeing that the Ethical Consumer rated them fairly well, he decided to move his accounts from Smile to Nationwide Building Society.

We have a shared account with Nationwide and the rest remain with Smile because as well as not being good with change, I still felt a loyalty to Smile and I was holding out for a Triodos current account. We compromised by initially keeping some accounts with Smile and transitioning one to Nationwide with ultimately all our shared accounts eventually being moved to Nationwide.

b) Wessex Community Bank

Whenever I cycle down Fratton Road, I notice the Wessex Community Bank nestled between The Bridge Shopping Centre and Garnier Street. Each time, I add it to my mental list of things to check out and immediately forget once I have cycled past.

Writing this article meant I finally researched it and I was thrilled to discover it is a not-for-profit community bank (a credit union) that invests solely in the Hampshire and Isle of Wight region. It is a proper local bank!

I plan on joining their Christmas Club saving scheme as I am tired of always being overdrawn come January. 2020 is my year of taking control of my finances!

Image by Shutterbug75 from Pixabay

Level 3: CHOOSE AN ETHICAL MORTGAGE (Difficulty rating: Advanced)

I rate this as Hard/ Advanced as for me this was the most difficult decision to make in terms of prioritising ethics over finances.

It is a privilege to be in a position to hold a mortgage. It is also my largest financial burden and my biggest monthly expense. I want that money to be invested positively by my mortgage provider. I have previously held a mortgage with The Co-operative Bank but wanted to up my game in ethical finances.

The Ethical Consumer was a key tool in helping us research and ultimately decide to apply to Coventry Building Society for a mortgage. A huge bonus is that the mortgage interest with them was as good a deal as the ones offered by the usual big banks. So it was a win-win, both financially and ethically. I consider this my biggest success in walking the walk and not just talking the talk.

Image by TheDigitalWay from Pixabay

Level 4: CHOOSE AN ETHICAL pension (Difficulty rating: expert)

This is where my laziness really shows. I don’t really get pensions and I think the fact I even have a pension is me Adulting at the highest level.

I want a safe, secure and ethical pension that doesn’t just not invest in fossil fuels, fracking, arms trade and all that fun stuff but also invests positively in sustainable, ethical, people and planet-friendly funds. I basically want the Triodos of pensions.

Quite by chance, I hold a pension with Royal London who is currently ranked the top pension provider by The Ethical Consumer. And the Dutchman has a workplace pension with Aviva, who is rated second. But unlike Triodos, for example, these are the best of a bad bunch.

I feel my only option is to learn more about pensions (ergh) and start lobbying my pension provider to do better.

But ideally, I’d have a pension provider that is making actively positive ethical investments and so far, I haven’t found that.


And what of you, Dear Reader? What are your experiences of ethical banking? Do you have an answer to my pension quandary? Let us know in the Comments section.


Written by Tamara,
a Green Hairy Feminist

It’s not (always) expensive being green

Dear Reader, 

You may not know this about me, but I (Emma) am really really cheap. Cheaper than I, as a middle-class person with a fair amount of savings and a fairly steady income, have any right to be. 

So cheap that on the last holiday I took with a friend we would have had to have paid £4 to sit together on the flight and I rejected this completely. She didn’t even push the matter because she knew I’d bitch about it being a waste of money.

I suppose, if you’ll allow me this brief moment in a therapist’s chair, it stems back to my childhood, when my family didn’t have a lot of money and debt was the elephant in every room of our house. 

Photo of change

Sometimes this cheapness conflicts with my environmental beliefs.

For example, I have to buy some tampons because, while an advocate of reusable period care,  I will be on holiday and going swimming during one of my periods this year. (I have still not mastered the menstrual cup.)

The organic cotton tampons that I know I need to buy cost £4 for a pack of 20. By comparison, the supermarket own-brand terrible-for-the-environment plastic-filled tampons cost about 99p for 16.

And I’m outraged by this despite having to buy 1 or 2 packs of these a year. (Can you imagine if I was using tampons all the time or if I had any kind of medical issue with my period that made it heavier or more frequent?) 

What I’m saying is that I do understand why people would choose the cheaper option over the more environmental one in most cases. Particularly in such a dire economic time when the government prefers to make sure the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. (I wrote this on my phone when it was still working, and it autocorrected my sentence to read ‘the poor stay put’ and tbh, I think that might be how the government feels too.) 

However, this article is not intended to be a depressing read on how caring for the earth can ruin your bank balance. Instead, I want to focus on how it can actually save you money. 

In a way, the money you save can pay for more expensive tampons and other eco things. But even if you only choose to do the green things that will save you money, it’s still a way to cut your impact on the planet. 

Planet earth taken from space

Switch to reusables

While plastic is the biggest problem, single-use anything isn’t great because of the energy used to create it. Plus, a one-off purchase that might be a little more expensive is still cheaper than multiple disposables. 

To start with, why not try a reusable water bottle, shopping bag small enough to fit in your handbag/backpack, a lunchbox, and a handkerchief?

More advanced reusable lovers can try period care, nappies, wax wraps, and toilet cloth.

Use what you have

Overconsumption is a big problem because it involves extra materials and energy to create a product, energy to ship and store it, and finally energy to get it from the store to your house. 

Where I can, I use what I have rather than buying anything. For example, for handkerchiefs I use the old napkins that belonged to a table cloth that had been thrown away. (Someone knocked cherryade over it when they small and the stain never came out.)

Use pre-loved

I fucking love buying second hand. Most of my clothes (and books) are from charity shops and at least three pairs of shoes came from my parents. 

By choosing pre-loved items, you are taking something already in the waste stream and giving it a second life.

I also love sites like Freegle, Freecycle, and Trash Nothing to get pick up cool things for free. 

You can also get rid of items on there, that you might otherwise have to take to the tip or pay for the council to collect. (Think about broken furniture, which some could repair or use for firewood.)

Repair

My main repairs are small sewing things for clothes, holes in leggings, underwire springing free from bras, and rips in the seams of jumpsuits. I can (sort of) do these myself. Or with supervision from a more seasoned sewer.

For anything more complicated, like my currently glitching phone, I defer to the repair cafe, which is donation-based. (Excuse me, while I cry over my phone.)

Public transport

I never learnt to drive and it was primarily because I didn’t have the money or the time. (Now, I have the money, it’s mostly an eco thing.)

What with all the costs associated with driving, from lessons to car purchase to tax to insurance, it’s so much cheaper for me to take the bus, coach, or train. (Or even walk on a dry day.)

As an added eco benefit, you can use e-tickets for the bus and coach to save paper. (I don’t know if you can with the train.) The First Bus app also saves you money on day passes (often less than a return), singles, and passes (week, month, year).

Okay, that’s about it from me. Do you have any other ways to save pennies and the planet? Let me know in the comments below.

The Big Green Move

Moving house is one of the most stressful things a person can experience. I am sure I read it on an internet listicle, so it must be true.

In the past three months, I (Tamara) have:

  • moved all my worldly belongings and crap into storage.
  • moved all my worldly belongings and crap out of storage 8 weeks later into my new Pompey home.
  • moved my mother-dearest from her home of twenty years in Devon to my new Pompey home
  • travelled by train to The Netherlands (#NoFly2020) to help my mother-in-law move house within her local area.

That is a lot of packing of boxes, hiring of vans and moving of people and their stuff.

My move was the only one I had any real control over and I was determined to make it as environmentally light as possible.

We did our own packing and moving. This was primarily because it was cheaper than hiring professional movers but also because I wanted to keep the materials used and waste generated within my control.

This meant using as little plastic as possible, not buying new and reusing and recycling after the move.

It wasn’t a perfect move by any means, but I did my best within my limited budget. *pats self reassuringly on back*

Here are Tamara’s (somewhat obvious) Top 3 Tips on How to Green Your House Move:

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Tip 1: Eco Packing Tape

If you stop reading after this tip, that is fine by me. Because you will now know that paper packaging tape exists and that you can buy it locally from mobile plastic-free shop Refill and Replenish for £2! I bought a ton from online eco-shop Anything But Plastic as Refill and Replenish hadn’t yet started stocking the paper tape – and though I bought loads… I still managed to run out. You are going to use a crazy amount of tape. So much tape. Might as well make it plastic-free. There’s no excuse now you know.

Image by Dirk (Beeki®) Schumacher from Pixabay

Tip 2: Collect (LOTS OF) SECONDHAND Boxes and Newspapers

I managed to not buy any bubble wrap. Not one roll! Of this, I am very proud and owe to friends and neighbours who collected newspapers and bubble wrap for me to use.

I started collecting boxes long before I moved house. My partner, The Dutchman, has moved his work office a number of times in the past few years and after each move, I have collected the cream of the crop of the discarded archive boxes. He thought I was crazy. I knew my day would come.

I kept a beady eye on online reuse sites such as Freegle for offers of moving boxes and also posted a few requests. I sourced most of my boxes through Freegle and some Freeglers also kindly messaged me with tips on where to get boxes, particularly Lidl and PC World.

And now I have moved, when I am unpacked, I will offer out the useable boxes to others to be reused via Freegle.

The used newspaper will be recycled at kerbside as I unpack…which I am doing…slowly.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Tip 3: Tap Into Your Community

Collecting such a plethora of boxes, newspaper and packaging material would not have been so easy without the support of others.

One friend donated a load of bubble wrap she had been saving. Another collected newspapers from the neighbours in her apartment block. One volunteered her husband to help on moving day. Another friend let me stay in her flat while she was travelling and we needed a place to stay for a month whilst our house purchase went through. One loaned her garage for my excess stuff to be housed while I staged the house ready for sale. My cousin who was visiting from Trinidad on training for work helped us lug furniture from storage to the new house.

After the death of her beloved nan and the clearing of her belongings which she writes about here, Emma kindly gave me towels and bedding and other linens to use as packaging material. As they were not good enough to be donated for use by people (i.e. it had rips or was stained or had faded), I was gifted them with the strict instructions that once unpacked, I must donate them to The Stubbington Ark for their animals. In the midst of her grief, she would send me texts checking if this or that would be useful for my move. And she helped me move on moving day. Words cannot begin to say how valuable her help and support was. I couldn’t have done an eco move without her.

I tapped into the local Zero Waste Facebook community when I needed help and advice. As mentioned above, Freeglers gave me their boxes and advice. So many boxes.

And finally, when my mother-dearest’s ridiculous oversized antique armchair couldn’t get through the front door, local joiner and carpenter Aaron of Aaron’s Wood ‘N’ Stuff took it apart and reassembled it, saving it from my exasperated idea of taking a hammer to it. My mother-dearest and her armchair thank you Aaron.


And you, dear Reader, what tips and tricks do you have for making a house move an eco one? Let us know in the Comments section.


Written by Tamara,
a Green Hairy Feminist

New Year’s Resolution – Reducing Plastic in the Bathroom

Hello and welcome to the first Shades of Green blog post of 2020. Emma is a bit snowed under this week, so we’re happy to present a guest post from Polly at Your Waste Gone, an environmentally friendly and eco-conscious waste clearance company for commercial and domestic waste. So, let’s hand over to Polly.

So much plastic

Personal hygiene and beauty products are major culprits of wasteful plastic packaging, making the bathroom a dominant source of plastic consumption. Thankfully, however, there are many things we can do to reduce plastic waste in the bathroom. So, why not start the year off right and make your new year’s resolution one that benefits your environment?

Why Plastic is a Problem

Unfortunately, even with climate change concerns growing, many people still see little point in making the switch to plastic-free products. It’s easy to feel helpless in the war on plastic, but by making small changes now, we can make a difference to the future health of our planet.

Microplastics – a Hidden Danger

dolphin

Plastic is not biodegradable, but plastic does break down into tiny, sand-like grains called microplastic. Some microplastics are actually even smaller than grains of sand, and can only be seen under a microscope. As it makes its way into the ocean, toxic microplastic is ingested by fish and other sea life, and if we eat seafood, we end up ingesting microplastics too. Microplastic is also in the air we breathe, and scientists are concerned about the health impacts, with research suggesting that they could be a contributing factor to lung cancer.

Threat to wildlife

Plastic waste poses a major threat to wildlife across the globe as wild animals’ natural habitats are invaded by our plastic waste. Because of this, animals ingest plastic, which causes major problems to their digestive systems. Animals can also easily find themselves permanently trapped or entangled in pieces of plastic waste, with little chance of survival thereafter. Plastic pollution also continues to harm aquatic and marine life. Sea turtles, dolphins, whales and marine birds are particularly vulnerable, as these creatures often ingest plastic when mistaking it for their prey.

How can I reduce my Plastic Consumption in the Bathroom?

shopping cart

When it comes to wasteful plastic packaging, the bulk of the responsibility rests on the shoulders of large industrial companies. However, we as consumers are not exempt. If we think of our shopping habits like a voting system, every time we buy a non-recyclable plastic product, we are voting for companies to continue producing them. By changing the way we shop, we can have our say. Opting for sustainably-packaged, plastic-free products tells the big companies “we want more of this!”.

Many of us don’t have the time to inspect every package label when we’re out shopping. This is why we recommend making the permanent switch to greener options. That way, you always know the products you are buying, don’t contribute to plastic pollution. To help, we have created a guide here.

Hair Care

Black woman with natural hair
It takes a lot of work to have hair that looks this good

Shampoo Bars

Eliminating the need for plastic bottles, these handy bars work just like a normal bar of soap but are designed specifically for your locks!

Angel Hair shampoo bar – Lush £8.00

The shampoo bar may be a little pricier than your go-to bottle, but this mighty little bar is said to last up to 80 washes. That’s the equivalent to three large bottles of standard shampoo. Lush sell packaging-free shampoo bars in various scents, each targeting different hair types and hair dilemmas.

Sunny Orange Bain and Savon Shampoo Bar – Peace with the Wild £5.50

The Bain and Savon shampoo bars are packaged in wax paper and recyclable, recycled cardboard. The bars are made using 100% natural ingredients, are vegan-friendly and made in the UK!

Conditioner bars

Just like shampoo bars, conditioner bars offer all the benefits of conditioner, without the plastic guilt.

The Golden Cap Pressed Conditioner – Lush £8.50 – £9.00

To use the conditioner bar, simply hold the bar under warm water and work between your hands until a silky formula is released, then smooth through your strands as normal and rinse, simple!

Lavender and Geranium Friendly Soap Conditioner Bar – Friendly Soap £4.95

Just like their shampoo bars, the conditioner bars from friendly soap are packaged in recycled card. They can even be turned into liquid conditioners and stored in a glass bottle or old conditioner bottle at home by dissolving in water.

Grooming and Personal Hygiene

Shaving beard
That’s not a safety razor, but you get the idea

Cotton Buds

Despite their convenience, cotton buds are a big contributor to plastic pollution. Whilst the bud part of the cotton swab is made from cotton, the stem is often made from non-recyclable plastic. According to Cotton Bud Project, cotton buds are also one of the most commonly-flushed household items and they pass easily through the fine mesh screens in our sewage filtration systems, landing them in our oceans and contributing to more microplastic pollution, as well as threats to marine life and human health via toxic release…scary!

We encourage you to ditch those plastic cotton swabs for swabs with paper stems. Even better, why not try a reusable bud. LastSwab is looking for supporters in their latest endeavour, a reusable bud made from medical grade silicone.

Razors

Packaged in plastic and made out of plastic, disposable razors are one of the least environmentally friendly beauty products in our bathrooms. They’re simply tossed into the bin at the end of their short lifespan and only to add to the growing plastic pollution problem.

A more sustainable and economical alternative is the safety razor. Safety razors made from wood and metal and are designed to last a lifetime. Once they do reach their end, they can then be recycled and turned into new razors or new products. The blades of safety razors can also easily be recycled using a razor bank. Just be sure to check with your local council first, as some areas have other ways of recycling blades.

Mutiny Double Edge Safety Razor – Peace with the Wild £14.00

Bambaw Double Edge Safety Razor with long bamboo handle – &Keep £16.99

Skincare

Image of a genderqueer person using a makeup remover wipe
“There’s got to be a better way to remove makeup!”
Image of a genderqueer person using a makeup remover wipe by Broadly’s The Gender Spectrum Collection

Cotton Pads and Cleansers

Although cotton pads themselves are usually made from 100% natural cotton, they are often wrapped in non-recyclable plastic packaging. Plus, to actually remove makeup and cleanse the face the pads are used with a makeup removal solution, often from a plastic bottle. To reduce plastic consumption in your beauty routine, swap the cotton pads for a reusable makeup removal pad and the cleanser for one in a recyclable glass bottle instead.

Pack of 10 Imsevimse Reusable Cotton Cleansing Pads – Natural Collection £12.50

These pads are made from soft organic cotton terry and are a generous 8cm size.

Flawless Micellar Water – Wearth London £4.95

This beauty staple is handmade in the UK and packaged in a recyclable glass jar with a recyclable aluminium lid.

Eye Makeup Remover – The Zero-Waste Maker on Etsy.co.uk £3.00

A skin-friendly, effective eye makeup remover packaged in a recyclable brown glass bottle.

Deodorants and Body Sprays

Asian woman in exercise class
Royalty-free images of armpits with hair are hard to find.

While aerosol deodorant cans are often made from aluminium and can easily be recycled, most roll-on deodorant and non-aerosol sprays are sold in a wasteful plastic shell. Aerosols are also a harmful air pollutant, so even with their recyclable packaging, they aren’t the most environmentally-friendly choice.

The good news is, there are many eco-friendly alternatives to both deodorants.

Grapefruit and Lemon Natrual Deodrant Stick – & Keep £7.00

Packaged in 100% recycled cardboard, the earth-conscious deodorant range offers a selection of delectable scents that are vegan and cruelty-free as well as plastic-free!

Fit Pit Tea Tree & Orange Natural Deodorant – The Green Woman £4.00

These are plastic-free and handmade in the UK. They stock a variety of scents and cater to those with more sensitive skin with their ‘Fit Pit Sensitive’ products.

Your Waste Gone specialises in waste removal. Their range of services includes house clearance, rubbish removal, refuse collection and more. Your Waste Gone will never send your recyclable waste to landfill.

What to do with unwanted presents

Greetings all and welcome to the last Shades of Green post of the decade! (Not to sound old, but I (Emma) swear 2012 was only like two years ago.)

Now, as this is our post-Christmas blog and I’ve been focused intensely on minimalising all year, I’ve written all about the most eco-friendly ways to dispose of unwanted gifts.

What can you do when you receive two DVDs of The Greatest Showman? Or a multi-pack of plain underwear? Or a subscription to Amazon Prime? (They don’t pay their tax, I’m not paying for their TV.)

Well, read on to find the best way to re-use your present. All of them more planet-friendly than storing them in the back of your closet for the rest of time.

(Although, that ugly sweater knitted by your aunt with your initials on… you’ll have to suck it up. You can always put it in the cat basket and say “she won’t sleep without it”.)

Regifting

Some presents that you receive are unable to be returned; maybe they’ve been bought at a craft market or maybe it’s an Amazon Prime gift card when you’re a Netflix person. It might not be right for you but for someone else, it’s perfect. Especially if their birthday is close to Christmas- luckily, I don’t want presents this year.

0bb2b6984626f0fa33487d5038c5249a

Selling

eBay generally has free listings on items in January. I haven’t seen it advertised this year but it’s one of the quickest ways to get rid of your unwanted presents. (Who wants to do a car-boot in the winter?)

ddw

Returning

There is nothing to be ashamed of with returning presents. This post-holiday season, I will be returning some cosmetics that I suspect are tested on animals and this book (okay, it’s not actually this book but putting the real book up would be mean).

book

A note on store policy

Most stores will have a grace period after the holidays where presents can be returned without the receipt for the current value. Be aware that this may be less than was paid for it because stores have their sales on; you can make the most of it by buying something you’ll make use of from the sale items.

I tend to exchange at supermarkets, where I exchange the item for food.

Donate

bsafbdabbgfhs

If you aren’t keen on these options; then as opposed to putting the items in charity shops (they get so full after Christmas), you prioritise direct action groups as money is often scarce in these places due to government budget cuts. (And ones that will no doubt come in the next 5+ years of Johnson!)

Items like clothing, toiletries, and toys will be well received by your local homeless shelter, domestic abuse shelter, or children’s home; they can be rewrapped as presents for residents’ birthdays or used by residents in common areas.

Homeless shelters will generally advertise their locations but domestic abuse refuges don’t so you may have to send a couple of speculative emails before you can arrange donations.

How to eco-hack your Christmas Presents in Portsmouth

Hey all and welcome to Shades of Green’s semi-annual eco Christmas post. Now, you might remember that earlier in the year, I (Emma) vowed not to buy any Christmas presents for adults. (I was still going to buy them for my nephews and nieces.)

Now, that promise was made before what was (and contiues to be) a distressing few months for my family. My grampy doesn’t really get why I’m trying to refuse presents and my mum thought we were just doing this for people outside our immediate family.

I tried to fight back. It ended in an argument. And Tamara, after I almost screamed at her about the fact that I was now under stress to buy presents that I never wanted to in December, explained that presents are a love language and my family are probably just trying to show that they care, after our annus horribilis.

Thus I, the person who didn’t want to buy presents, am now doing an eco-gift guide for my family.

Please note: This is not an ad. No payment or gifts were exchanged for inclusion in this blog. These are simply eco-friendly companies that I have bought presents from for the three people that I live with.

Buy local

When you buy local you can often cut down on transit and CO2; even if you still buy from a national or global brand.

A completely non-scientific case-study

If you wanted to purchase an individual bath bomb from Lush; you could order online and have that one item posted to you.

Compare this to buying that same bath bomb from your local store. They order their stock in massive amounts (50 bath bombs per box, sometimes as many as 30 boxes per delivery); the carbon footprint per bath bomb is much less.

Plus, they do have a massive package free (naked!) section.

Buy Small

Of course, it is always better to buy from small businesses in your local area. Here, I should mention the lovely Pigeon Books, who have been supplying me with presents for my nephews and niece since the summer.

They specialise in diverse books and have a whole section of eco-saving literature. Plus, if you live nearby they’ll deliver by bike and if you live further away, they’ll package your books in reused packaging.

I have the imposter syndrome mug you can see here!

Buy Handmade

When you buy handmade you’re helping someone to do what they want for a living; you get something uber unique and you might even get lucky by picking something from a designer that’ll be huge one day.

For this, I will recommend The Beehive Portsmouth, which has a collection of designers under one roof. We visited for the launch event back in September and loved it.

Tamara particularly liked the jewellery, I liked the small prints, and from the photos, it looks like Tamara’s husband Menno liked the food!

Buy secondhand

One of the major environmental costs is the production of new items and it’s much more eco to buy products that have been pre-loved.

I used to love doing this throughout the year and having my mum put stuff away for my Christmas presents, but, like most prolific readers, I now have more books than I could read in a lifetime.

Check out eBay, Gumtree or even Facebook Marketplace. Or you can pop down to your local charity shop and do twice the good.

However, if you’re looking specifically for books, which I always am, try World of Books, which is approved by both me and Tamara. They source books from charity shops, who are often overwhelmed by books, and prevent them from going to landfill.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5vUXyDlAKi/
I’m going to need a bigger bookshelf

Buy charitable

On that note, if someone doesn’t really have a need for more items, why not consider a charitable donation? Plenty of charities will send out cards saying that a donation have been made in their name. (Remember to add on Gift Aid if you can!)

I’ve done this for a few years for my grampy with Doctors Without Borders, but if you want to donate closer to home, there are some worthwhile causes in Portsmouth mentioned in a previous post.

Buy sustainable

We all have that friend who could use a little push to be more eco-friendly and a good way to give that push in a friendly manner is to buy them a green gift.

Looking for ideas? Check out one of Tamara’s first blogs about her zero-waste backpack.

Diary of a Green Activist

TUESDAY: A Hustings We Will Go

This evening, I am going to the Portsmouth South election hustings event hosted by The News and the University of Portsmouth, where the candidates who want to be MP speak directly to potential voters and answer their questions. As the Greens have stepped aside in Portsmouth South as part of the Unite to Remain agreement, I am trying desperately to figure out who to vote for. (I live in Portsmouth South.) It is between Labour (Stephen Morgan) and the Lib Dems (Gerald Vernon-Jackson)

Whilst getting ready to go, I realise it’s a ticketed event. I don’t have a ticket. Of course, I don’t.

Dammit!

I’m so cross with myself but figure I might as well still go. 

The husting is rammed, which is fantastic to see, but no seat for me. (Hey, that rhymes! What a wordsmith I am.) I watch some of it from the back of the room but struggle to hear and concentrate, so head to the overflow space where luckily it is set up with a live stream on the TV. I try and make a pros and cons list but end up getting distracted and heckling at the TV screen. Probably a good thing I didn’t get a seat in the main area!!! 

I leave just as confused and I need to figure out which party’s policies, apart from the Greens, comes close to my values. Ergh. homework. 

WEDNESDAY: Ask A Green

John Colman, our Green Candidate for Havant chats with Emma

I wake up with the black dog keeping me company. Not great timing as later today, Emma and I are filming a Q+A session with the Green Party candidates for Portsmouth North, Lloyd Day, and Havant, John Colman. It was my idea and I was really pleased that both Lloyd and John were up for it. I also roped a few other Green Party activists into helping. We are a small, but mighty, band of greens in Pompey. 

But before that, I have some time to read the Green Party manifesto, the first political party to release their manifesto for this general election. I start with the Easy Read version as my depression makes it difficult to concentrate. I am trying really hard to get out and about and to be as involved as I can in the upcoming election but my depression makes it harder. 

It is a radical manifesto putting the climate emergency at its heart. Feeling buoyed, I peruse the full version of the manifesto and spend some time googling interesting policies like the Universal Basic Income, where everyone would receive a regular income of £89 a week. This would have been so useful for me both when I was working for a pittance in the performing arts and when I was not able to work because of my depression.

I fall into the google rabbit hole – doing quizzes to figure out who to vote for. My results keep coming back as Green. Good to know, but not useful!

Ping! I get further distracted by an email from a member (I am the co-membership officer for the Portsmouth and Havant Green Party). A friend of hers is moving to Pompey and is interested in joining the Green Party. We organise to meet next week at Hunter Gather, on Albert Road and I feel really chuffed that she reached out. 

I realise my brain is starting to hurt and I have 25 tabs open. I need to revive for tonight’s filming session, so I have a nap. Bad idea as I wake up feeling even more low. But I head to the member’s house who has lent us her kitchen for filming. We talk through policy and start filming. Everything is done by volunteers and we are fortunate that John has a decent camera and microphone to film with.

I am so impressed by Lloyd and John’s thoughtful answers to our questions as they speak passionately and from the heart. By the end of the evening, I am tired but feeling positive. I’m glad I didn’t let my depression win and feel very proud of myself. 

On my way home, I realise I have no food in the house. Where is the grown-up who adults and preps food in advance of feeling hungry? Not here! I feel very smug when I remember that I have an UberEats voucher and I buy lots of paneer dishes from Kadirs. It is bloody delicious but then I remember UberEats is probably not at all ethical. I need to look into that. Sigh. But I enjoy my curry anyway.

Before bed, I head back online to arrange to go to the Isle of Wight on this coming weekend to help leaflet and canvass for our Green candidate, Vix Lowthian. I let the other local Greenies know so they can join me if they are free. I must remember to take some gloves as I went last weekend and by 3 pm it was getting dark and I was so cold! The joys of a winter election! But whether it’s winter or summer, it needs to be done.

If not me, then who? If not now, then when?

Vote Green!

With love from a Green Hairy Feminist with the Black Dog in a Winter Election

(It’s me…Tamara)

Emma Vs Stuff: Part 2

My nan died in September.

That was a little blunt, sorry. But I put it that way mainly because it still feels incredibly blunt.

In the midst of grieving and looking after my grandad, my parents and I also found that we had to clear my grandparents’ house (and a fair bit of our own) so that my grandad could move in with us.

Picture of a messy room

Now, for most people, this is already a difficult task. What do you keep as mementoes? What would your loved one want you specifically to have? ( We gave as much as we could to family members and friends, but it was all too much really. )

For us, it was made a little more difficult due to several factors, but the most difficult thing is that we didn’t just bag things up and donate them to the nearest charity shop.

Picture of someone browsing a charity shop

This was entirely my fault because, having worked in two charity shops, I know that the sector is overwhelmed with donations because of our throwaway culture. Indeed, some of the stuff, like VHS tapes and small plastic toys, just cannot be sold by most charity shops and they have to bin them.

And because I didn’t want to do that, it meant that I had to find charities or organisations that would take donations of goods, which brings us to the purpose of this article.

I put out calls on the Green Party Instagram and my personal Trash Nothing account, sent out emails to local charities, and spent several nights Googling the words “Portsmouth + charity + donations”. (It’s been a fun month.) It didn’t exactly yield the response that I hoped for, but I want to share with you what I did find.

(I should note that this list is limited to items that I personally had to donate or items that a charity did specifically request from me. Some of these are ongoing donation needs and some are one-offs, so contact the charity before you donate to check.)

Kitchen

Image of an all-white kitchen

My nan had a lot of kitchen equipment, kitchen storage, cutlery, and crockery, which we donated en-masse to Food Cycle Portsmouth.

We also donated food that no one else liked to the local Food Bank. (Pro tip: If you pop it into the donation stations at big Tesco stores, they’ll donate 20% on top.)

However, you can also donate cutlery and crockery to Two Saints, Tupperware to the Age UK cafe at the Bradbury Centre, or pretty much any usable goods to the Roberts Centre.

Bedroom

Image of a bedroom

The biggest things here were clothes, towels, and bedding, but thankfully they were pretty easy to donate.

The clothes, shoes, and accessories all went to Stop Domestic Abuse, where they will benefit survivors who may have had to leave an abusive situation without packing.

Clothes and shoes can also be donated to The Life House, while Two Saints are looking for coats at this time of year.

Towels, bedding, several spare duvets, and curtains all went to The Roberts Centre. They could also be donated at the Moving On Project.

The towels and bedding that was not good enough to be donated for use by people (i.e. it had rips or was stained or had faded) will eventually be donated the Stubbington Ark for their animals. However, at present Tamara is using it for eco house move (blog post to come).

Living Room

Image of living room

My nan had so many books, she wanted Grampy to build her a library. I’m talking over 200 books after the family had chosen the one we wanted to keep.

We donated the hardbacks to the Portsmouth Library Service and the paperbacks to Stop Domestic Abuse. They can also go to any homeless shelter.

While we’re in the living room, PARCS said that they would take part-used art supplies, i.e. pens, pencils, paints, play dough, for their art therapy.

HOPE not Hate Portsmouth will also take donations of knitting needles and dark yarn to make hats and other items for refugees, while Age UK will take donations of any wool, which volunteers use to make items for sale.

Boardgames can be donated at Two Saints.

VHS tapes can be donated at Barnardo’s charity shop, but they can’t take 100 in one go, so I am selling them at St Mark’s Church’s tabletop sale tomorrow (if you’re reading on the publishing date) to raise money for Nan’s favourite charity, the RNLI.

(Also, I know that there’s another charity shop that takes VHS tapes, but they’re anti-LGBTQ and I have a rule against helping organisations that wish I didn’t exist.)

Bathroom

Image of a bathroom

There were so many toiletries in my nan’s house that I was honestly a bit freaked out. We separated them out between two worthy causes, as shown below:

  • Wrapped soaps: Will be dropped off at various homeless shelters in December as part of a Christmas parcel.
  • Hair products, shower gels, and deodorants: Stop Domestic Abuse

As for part-used toiletries, the family have chosen to use them up ourselves, but you can donate them via Trinity Winchester’s Toiletries Amnesty. (I honestly would have done, but they never got back to me about whether I could post them.)

My nan also used Tena pants and had a big collection in her bathroom. As they were in sealed packets I donated them to the Food Bank, also using the Tesco drop-off point.) This is actually something, like menstrual products, that the Food Bank doesn’t regularly get donations of and can really help someone in need.

Furniture

Image of two chairs and a table

While we haven’t gotten around to donating the furniture yet – still not sure if we’re moving to a bigger place – we have found several places that will take it, including the Moving On Project and the Roberts Centre.

Also, for those of you who might run food-type businesses, the Age UK cafe is looking for cafe tables and chairs, as well as chilled display cases.

Office

Picture of a computer

While Nan didn’t have an office, she does have a printer and several other pieces of computer equipment, which will hopefully be donated to The Life House soon.

Unwritten postcards can be donated to Postcards of Kindness, which is volunteers writing postcards to people in carehomes.

Garden and Garage

Image of a garden shed

Nan loved her garden when I was younger, about as much as Grampy loved his workshop, so there were plenty of tools that needed donating.

We donated them to Tools with a Mission, but the Southsea Green can also take some garden equipment and Work Aid will take tools or all sorts (including sewing equipment and buttons).

There are also a lot of plant pots and broken ceramics (for drainage) that I’m currently giving away on Trash Nothing, but will give to the Southsea Green if they’re not gone by the New Year. (They had a stockpile when I called them.)

Hopefully, this has been helpful to you. I’d also like to highlight the Droppoint service, which is helpful for pinpoint specific items. If you have any other suggestions about where to donate items, comment below.

How to eco hack your blood donation

Donating blood is a wonderful act that doesn’t take a lot of effort and can save a life. I (Emma) have been donating blood for ten years now, when my iron counts allows, and was thankfully able to donate last on September 23.

However, as with most aspects of my life, I’m looking to make my blood donation more eco-friendly and these are the steps I’ve taken over the past couple of sessions to improve the greenness of my blood recycling. (I know, it’s technically reuse, but blood recycling sounds better.)

(This is the closest thing Shades of Green has to a Halloween post in 2019. Don’t worry, we’re not going to talk about blood.)

hands covered in blood
Except this one… Spooky

Change locations

I used to donate with a friend at Fratton Park, which would mean she’d pick me up on her way home from work or I’d have to get down there via a lift or public transport. However, given that I tend to feel really faint (or actually faint) after giving blood, getting the bus home by myself is not an option, especially when the buses from there to my house are fairly lacklustre.

After my friend got pregnant and couldn’t donate, I switched to the Mountbatten Centre, which is close enough to walk to and I take one of my parents with me.

There are blood donation locations all over Portsmouth, so there should be one close enough to you to walk/get the bus from home or work. (Just take someone with you.)

Drink up

person holding pink reusable water bottle

You’ve heard me and Tamara talk about water bottles for two years now and I’m going to encourage you to get one again. In my experience, you can fill up your water bottle with squash or water from the dispenser on the snack table before your donation and have the nurse refill it from the jug after donation. No need to use unrecyclable plastic cups.

If you like hot drinks after donating blood (you can only have them from your second donation onwards!), then take a pre-filled flask because the hot drink machines don’t look like they can accommodate a traditional or travel mug, only the disposable cups.

However, if you do want a hot drink and forget your thermos, you can always take the cup with you to be disposed of in the carton banks, at Gunwharf, or at Costa.

Chow down

half an orange

It’s highly recommended that you have a snack before and after donating blood, preferably something that’s very sugary or very salty. With that in mind, why not take some sweet fruits, like an orange, with you to enjoy and avoid packaging?

If you’ve forgotten your snack, opt for one of those provided that comes in recyclable packaging. As spotted on an earlier donation, Portsmouth’s blood donation team will take crisp packets for recycling as long as you put them in the right box or you can opt for a chocolate bar or popcorn if you plan to take the packaging home to recycle.

Two-minute recycling pick

Nurses don’t often have the time to sort out the bins for plastic bottles and other recycling that others have thrown in the bin by the pre or post-donation snack tables. While you’re waiting there, see if there’s anything in the bin that shouldn’t be and move it.

Full disclosure, my dad actually did this while I was complaining about feeling faint (weakling!) and not wanting to leave, so he should get the credit.

Recovery time

And finally, remember to compost the cotton pad that they stick over your arm. (importantly, not the plaster or the tape), rather than throwing it in the bin.

That’s it from me this month, but let me know in the comments if you have a blood donation coming up and if you have any more eco tips about it for me.

How to Fix Your Stuff in Portsmouth

I (Tamara) am not a fan of sewing. Actually that is a complete under exaggeration. I frickin’ hate sewing! It is the worst. I hate trying to thread a needle. I hate trying to tie a knot in the thread. I hate having to squint as I attempt to sew. I hate how I stab myself, no matter how careful I am. And don’t get me started on the terrifying pricks that are sewing machines.

sewing machine

It will come as no surprise to you that I have begun attempting to sew. This is purely a means to an end. I am tired of throwing away murderous bras with underwire as it’s weapon of choice. Bras for bigger boobs are bloomin’ expensive. But I hate sewing, so how do I solve this #firstworldproblem? 

Dear Reader, there are a breed of folks who enjoy sewing!!! I have found and befriended these strange and wonderful beings and learnt their magical ways.

Repair Café Portsmouth

This is a free monthly pop-up event where you can bring your broken items and learn how to repair them. If you can carry it, we will try to repair it. I say ‘we’, for I have volunteered at Repair Café Portsmouth since it started. As I have no actual repair skills, you will find me in the café serving up nibbles provided by local food waste champions Foodcycle Portsmouth

I have cleverly befriended the textiles team (shout out to Denise, Laura, Sarah and Meg) who have kindly mended a number of peculiar items for me – my many reusable bags have been strengthened and repaired by Denise and my backpack has been given a second chance at life thanks to Laura. They gently and patiently encourage me in my attempts to repair easier items, like ripped pillowcases, and cheer me on when I get annoyed and discouraged, which I do constantly because I bloody hate sewing!

The regular monthly Repair Café Portsmouth sessions are at the Buckland United Reformed Church, 174 Kingston Road, Portsmouth every 3rd Saturday (except for August) from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm.

Claire of Sustainable Textiles

Sustainable Textiles

I am on a mission to repair my headphones as the foam ear cushions have completely disintegrated. My initial reaction was chuck them and to buy new headphones. Luckily my cheap instincts overrode my consumerist ones! It occured to me that rather than buying new foam ear cushions I could make them! Except of course, I can’t make them as I am incapable and I hate sewing.

So I found someone who could help. And that someone is my friend, the lovely Claire, who runs a sustainable textiles drop-in group. Annoyingly, she is keen to empower me to make the headphone covers myself. I admit I was hoping she would just do it for me. Sigh! But she will walk me through the process and hold my hand (not literally as that would make the actual sewing quite difficult).

The Sustainable Textiles sessions are drop-in and can be found at The Garden Room at St Judes Church, Kent Road, Southsea. Beginners and experienced sewers are welcome. Bring an item and have a chat while repairing it, or join in with the organised activity of the session.

Upcoming dates are October 21st 10am-12.30pm, November 15th 11am-3pm and December 3rd 5pm-8pm. Come for as long as you want and sessions are free with donations welcome.

To book a place or for more information, contact Claire on 07814 864973. 

Knit More in Common

I am trying to change my attitude when it comes to skills like sewing and knitting. As you can see, it currently is: ‘It is too hard, I hate it, I can’t learn, I can’t do it and please someone do it for me.’ My attempts to repair my bras and my headphones are a positive and deliberate attempt to change my narrative to: ‘I will try, I can, please someone help me’. 

Knit More in Common is a craft group that meets at Southsea Library to make warm blankets, hats and scarves to send to migrants living rough across Europe. And the best bit (for me!) is if you can’t knit (which I can’t), they can teach you! Hosted by HOPE Not Hate Portsmouth, the next session is on Saturday 9th November, 3 pm-5 pm at Southsea Library, Palmerston Road.

And you, dear reader? Have you visited Repair Cafe Portsmouth? Can you sew? Will you fix my stuff for us please? 😉 Let us know in the comments below.