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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.

 

Tamara’s Trio of Food Smugness

This week’s post is a celebration of food and community. First pat on the back in my trio of food smugness goes to Foodcycle Portsmouth and my friend Alexa, a fellow Green Party member, who organised a Portsmouth Green Party meal ‘takeover’ of Foodcycle which I participated in recently.

Portsmouth Foodcycle

 

Foodcycle is a fantastic food waste charity that creates free meals for the community from donated food waste. Foodcycle  Portsmouth provides the local Pompey community with tasty, free vegetarian meals made from surplus food that would otherwise go to waste. They do this twice a week: on Tuesdays at the John Pounds Centre and Thursdays at King’s Church on Somers Road.

 

It was a blast! A group of us Greenies were welcomed with open arms by the regular volunteers and guided by a calm and knowledgeable Team Leader, we cooked a three-course meal of veggie soup for starters, pasta bake with potato wedges, garlic mushrooms and wilted spring greens for mains and fruit salad for dessert. The entire meal – the cooking, prepping, serving and cleaning up – took about four and a half hours and was attended by about 45-50 guests. The evening was both wonderful and exhausting. I took the mountain of veggie scraps for my compost and left on a complete high and with the vow to volunteer there once a month.

 

Trash Cafe Food Hamper

Credit: The Real Junk Food Project South East (Facebook)

 

The Real Junk Food Project South Coast run a number of pop-up ‘trash’ cafes in Gosport and Portsmouth dedicated to collecting and repurposing food waste.  They are part of a global network aiming to abolish surplus food through a variety of Pay As You Feel concepts. I bought my first veggie food hamper from their Portsmouth pop-up cafe, which can be found at  Buckland Community Centre on Wednesday afternoons, for a £10 Hamper fee paid in advance when I ordered online and a Pay What You Feel on collection.

There was so much food – a great mix of fruit, veg, proteins such as tofu and also snacks. It was so fun to receive as it contained foods and brands I haven’t tried before. There was some fancy fake-chicken that I would not have bought in the supermarket as it is rather pricey! All that perfectly good food would have been destined for the bin but instead was destined for my belly! Double win! They also offer gluten and dairy-free hampers and can deliver for an extra fiver. As you know, I’m not a big fan of leaving the house, especially now winter is coming, so I will definitely be using their delivery service!

Being Neighbourly

 

At the Dutchman’s (my hubby) work, his office has a plastics-free fruit box delivered each week. I hadn’t realised that if the fruit isn’t all eaten or taken home by a colleague, it goes in the bin. Sacrilege! About 40 apples and pears were destined for the bin. Not on my watch!  I offered the fruit on the  Zero Waste Portsmouth discussion group on Facebook, with Foodcycle Portsmouth and the Olio app as my backup.

In less than an hour, the apples and pears were collected by a Zero Waster who turned out to be a neighbour who lives on the same street as me! We’d never met before and both happened to be members of Zero Waste Portsmouth. And as a kindness, the next day she gave me a bag of parsnips that she’d won in a hamper and did not want. It gave me the warm fuzzies and I am loving the green community in Portsmouth!

 

And what about you, dear Reader? Have you had any experiences with FoodCycle or the Trash Cafe Network? Or any tips and tricks on reducing food waste? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below. We really do LOVE hearing from readers. It gives me such a buzz! Byeeeeeee buzzzzzzzzz 🙂

How to make your dog more eco-friendly

Did you know that your dog is ruining the planet? It’s true, sneak up on your dog at any given moment and you’ll find them throwing plastic bottles into the bin or forgetting to turn off the lights when they leave the house… Okay, that’s not quite true. But our four-legged children do contribute to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere thanks to the meat raised to feed them and the “presents” they leave.

According to a study by UCLA, dogs (and tbf cats) are responsible for 30% of the environmental impact of meat eating in the US, which has the environmental impact of an extra  13.6 million cars on the road, and produce 5.1 million tons of faeces annually, which produces methane and increases the amount of rubbish that we produce. And the bigger the animal, the bigger the problem.

puppy in plant pot

But look how cute!

So, should you give up your beloved puppy? No. That would also have a less-than-green impact on the environment. Instead, you should find ways to lessen your dog’s carbon paw print and I (Emma) am going to outline some steps for you below.

Disclaimer: The links in this piece are not affiliate links, but things that have been tried and tested by my friends/family with dogs. As always, feel free to do your own research on top of this article to find out what is best for your furry friend.

Food

piece of meat

While dogs love their meat, some dogs can actually live on a vegan diet. Just ask your vet for advice before you make any massive changes to your dog’s diet.

If your dog can’t go vegan, then you can still reduce their meat intake by putting more (home-grown) vegetables onto their plate. My aunt’s dog goes crazy for a carrot, eating them whole and raw. You can also opt for organic dog food, which will be made from animals/plants that were raised/grown without added chemicals.

You can also do your bit to reduce packaging waste for their food by:

  • Cooking their meat yourself
  • Seeking out recyclable packaging (and rinsing it before popping it in your green bin)

Accessories

dog playing with ball

All good dog parents like to spoil their babies, so my first advice is to think about what you have before buying more. Does Fido really need a third ball to play catch with?

If you are buying something that your dog does need, look for a retailer that has long-lasting, good quality products that can stand up to your puppy’s standards. After all, there’s no point in buying a lead that will break the first time your dog pulls on it or a toy that will fall apart after mere days. Always remember to compare the products and read reviews to find out which is the best for your pup.

And finally, when your dog doesn’t need an item anymore, be sure not to bin it. Instead, donate the toy/cage/raincoat to your local animal shelter, where they can either sell the item or use it to help their dogs.

Waste

A dog pooping

Who took this photo? Why is it on a stock image site? So many questions.

Pick up your dog waste! I had some friends in school, who I assume have since learnt the error of their ways, who wouldn’t pick up their dog’s waste and when I questioned them about it, they told me that the waste would naturally decompose/wash away. Turns out that your dog carries toxoplasmosis, which is harmful to people with compromised immune systems, and when you don’t pick their waste up, it can pollute waterways, coastal areas, and even the parks where children play.

If you are concerned about the environmental impact of put dog waste into a plastic bag and then into a bin, then you could:

  • use biodegradable bags
  • use flushable bags and put the waste down the loo
  • use a pooper scooper
  • reuse bags that would have gone in the bin anyway, like the bag that your frozen chips came in

Some top tips

dog on lead

When I polled my friends and family for their top tips on raising an eco-dog, some didn’t fit neatly into the sections above, so I created a new section for them.

  • “Upcycle products for your dog. You can easily make an old t-shirt into a rope toy.” – Andy
  • “Buy a dog brush that you can easily remove the fur from and use the fur to line birds’ nests or for your compost.” AND “Don’t choose plastic when buying their toys/bowls/etc. Use metal or glass or china” – Yasmin
  • “Incorporate your existing eco-hacks into your pet’s life, i.e. not using single-use bags to buy their food/toys.” – Meg
  • “You can buy/make eco-friendly flea and tick treatments.” – Sarah
  • “Ditch the gym and use the twice-daily walks as your exercise.” – Debby
  • “Buy microfibre cloths to clean up after or dry your dog.” – Steve
  • “Adopt, don’t buy.” – Hayley

Well, that’s it from me (and my friends) about raising an eco dog, but now we want to hear for you. What tips do you have for raising a green dog? Let us know in the comments.

Reducing Food Waste: Eggs

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

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

A safety warning about eggs

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

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

via GIPHY

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

The Green Hairy Feminist

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

 

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

women's march

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

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

 

Green Deodorant

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

natural deodorant

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

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

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

 

Success!

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

 

natural deodorant

 

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

 

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

 

hairy legs

 

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

How to eco hack your small business

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

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

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

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

Premises

eco premises

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Goods

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

 

 

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

 

Post and packing

eco packaging

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

365 days of Shades of Green- Part 2

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

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

 

Talk with Tamara

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

vegetable peelings

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

How to eco hack your festival experience

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

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

Getting there

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

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

Eco-Festival outfit

Biodegradable Glitter

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

Sustainable Swimwear

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

Green Festival Packing List

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

Reusable Bottle

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

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

Biodegradable Reef-Safe Sunscreen

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

Solar-powered Mobile Charger

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

 

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

365 days of Shades of Green- Part 1

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

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

 

what's your story

 

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

 

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

 

Explore with Emma

 

Time for change

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

plane

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

home lettering

 

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

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

 

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

 

teddy bear

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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