This is a response from Portsmouth Green Party representative, Tamara Groen, on the racist social media posts by Councillor Linda Symes, the Conservative councillor for Eastney and Craneswater, as reported in The News, Portsmouth on June 3rd 2020.
Though Cllr Symes has been suspended from the national Conservative Party; to date, the councillor has not apologized for her actions, while the local Portsmouth Conservative party and their Leader Cllr Donna Jones have remained silent. After waiting a week for a local acknowledgement, Tamara writes directly to Cllr Symes.
Dear Cllr Symes,
I am sure you feel under attack right now. I’m sure you feel abandoned by your party, as your local conservative peers fall silent, wondering why there is such a furore about a few shared Facebook posts. After all, this was to your private Facebook profile and you did nothing wrong. You are not a racist.
Racists are bad people who bay for the blood of people with darker skin than theirs. That is not you. You care about British soldiers, British children, and British values. After all, that is why you are a councillor. Because you care enough to stand up and represent your community. How is it racist to say, ‘All Lives Matter’? Because surely, all lives do matter. And anyway, racism is an American problem, it’s not even relevant to us in the UK.
I was going to explain to you that having white privilege does not mean that your life is not hard, but it does mean that the colour of your skin is one less obstacle you experience. I was going to talk about the problematic nature of the phrase ‘All Lives Matter’ and how it misses the point entirely – how you are missing the point entirely. I was going to share resources that will help you educate yourself on the systemic racism in British society* and hopefully teach you how to be actively anti-racist because it is no longer enough to be just ‘not racist’, if it ever was.
But Cllr Symes, I am tired. I am so so tired of white people shouting us down, of refusing to see how slavery and colonisation directly impact how society is formed and how we live today. I am so tired of explaining when it is not my job to teach people why they should see value in the lives of others who are different from them.
Oh, and by the way, I am a brown woman (Indo-Caribbean to be precise) – I am not black. Most of the time, I am the only person of colour in the room but the Black Lives Matter story is not my story. I try to be an ally – I am flawed but I try – and even I am tired. I cannot imagine how it feels for black people right now.
I do feel sorry for you Cllr Symes. You must be feeling bewildered and upset and probably angry. It is uncomfortable to come face to face with your privilege and prejudices in such a public way. You have a lot of unlearning to do.
Unfortunately, when corrected about your behaviour, you were defensive and unapologetic. You had an opportunity to stop and really listen. And you chose not to.
Sure, do diversity training or social media training. But that is only useful if you open your mind and heart to experiences that are not your own.
I want you to listen.
I want you to learn.
I want you to apologise for your actions and demonstrate that you understand why what you shared was wrong.
I also want you to stand down as a councillor because this is learning that will take time and dedication. It would not be appropriate for you to continue to represent all the people of Portsmouth until you have learned this. Or rather, unlearned the systemic nature of white supremacy that benefits all white people, no matter how not-racist (or even anti-racist) they are. Words become actions.
Show the black people of Portsmouth that you are not just another privileged white person in power throwing untruths into the ether. I hope you are better than you appear.
Portsmouth Green Party
* I particularly recommend Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’, which you can order from local independent booksellers Pigeon Books for £8.99 or can borrow from the library in e-book form for free.
For enquiries, contact email@example.com
Dear Reader, I, me, Tamara of this same Shades of Green, admit it. I am not a gardener.I do not have green thumbs. I confess it! I do not enjoy pottering or growing or nurturing.
I enjoy reclining in the sunlounger like a middle-class Victorian lady, wrapped in a blanket, reading my book and taking selfies.
This time spent in the garden and not gardening is occasionally broken up by doing photoshoots of my hateful, beloved cat.
and so on. I am sooooo tempted to do another reel of cat photos. Keep reading and I may put some bonus photos at the end! Hah, I know how to keep ’em keen!
Given my leisurely garden pastimes, what was I thinking by attempting some actual growing of some actual plants? Perhaps it was jealous-inspo of my Bristol friend who has made a pond in her garden from scratch.
Or perhaps the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of my delightful and more local-than-Bristol-aka-Pompey friend and fellow Green Partier, Tracey.
Tracey, henceforth and hereby declared She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, had the absolute gall to drop by some seedlings because she had too many. This intrusion into my peaceful domicile included rocket, lettuce and honeywort.
For context – this is the current status of the siblings of my seedlings, belonging to She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named’s
I diligently watered them. Even added homemade cloches, on the advice of She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.
Then this happened.
An entire pot of lettuce seedlings disappeared overnight. What happened? Were they eaten? Went to visit their aunt? Did I overwater them? I don’t know. It is forever a mystery. But it’s okay. I still have more lettuce and rocket.
Until I didn’t.
My last batch of lettuce also disappeared into the night. No worries! I still have my rocket. I even planted them out in fresh compost. There is hope.
Dear Reader, I present to you – my pièce de résistance
Wait for it…..
I present to you white spider-web like mould.
Ewww and Shudder.
I wailed in disgust. How is this possible that even under the safe confines of cloches, the rocket rotted away? I bemoaned my failure for a full week straight.
Weirdly, the wildflowers are growing. But as they reside in the mouldy graveyard and I am still grossed out by that, I can take no joy in their shadowy existence.
So now, I have one man standing. My honeywort. My precious. Living in the relative safety of my window-sill, I check it twice a day, water it with filtered water and tenderly stroke it’s wonky baby leaves.
I await its imminent demise.
Congratulations! You have reached the end of this epic, cautionary tale, and so you shall be rewarded with a collage of photos of a cat you do not know.
This is a post free from Covid-19 mentions! Enjoy the breather as you ponder the ethicalness of mobile phones. :)
To buy new, or not to buy new?
That is the question that Emma and Tamara are tackling in today’s post, specifically in relation to mobile smartphones.
Should one buy new, or refurbish and repair? Or simply do without? (Spoiler alert, the last option isn’t a choice we explore!)
EMMA SAYS: DON’T BUY NEW. BUY REFURBISHED.
We begin with Emma, the queen of the refurbished phone.
Emma got all the phones, she got all the phones.
I have had eight phones in my short little life. (I’m still a Young Green for nine more months!) The first two – a Motorola Brick and a Nokia 3310i – were third hand. My uncle would give my mum his old phone when he got a new one and I would get it after she was done with it.
Then, I turned 16 and I asked for a camera phone for my birthday. And that was where things started to go wrong. When I went to college (and started going out later with friends), my parents and I agreed that I would get a cheap contract, so that I couldn’t claim that I didn’t have the credit to tell them the gig overran or I missed my bus. That came with a new phone, barely a year after the last. (I assume the provider didn’t have a sim-only contract then.)
When I moved to uni, my phone didn’t get signal and, after too many nights only able to phone people while standing outside the IT centre, I switched providers, which came with a new phone. This time a slider phone, which broke just a year later, and resulted in me buying my last-ever new phone.
I should, for context, tell you that I got another phone second-hand from my mum and discovered sim-only contracts at some point between 2011 and 2019. (Also, that all of my past phones have been recycled or sold on if they were working.)
Reader, she cheap.
As mentioned before, I’m cheap. (If this feels like a recurring theme to you dear reader, try being one of my friends who I refuse to pay the £4 to sit next to on a plane or who have to smile at the bartender as I order tap water at their birthday night out.)
The phones that I had bought, as opposed to getting through a contract or from a family member, only ever cost about £60, which meant that they were off-brand with lower-res cameras and would result in people going, “Is that an- oh no”, whenever I got my phone out.
So I didn’t want to buy a new phone when my old one was no longer able to support any of the social media apps that I used. But I was tired of taking terrible photos.
And yes, I know that sounds shallow, but as a writer and the co-runner of the Portsmouth Green PartyInstagram account, it was my own personal hell to continuously borrow my mum’s phone to upload pictures about your local Green Party or promote my articles on Twitter. (For 10 glorious minutes in November 2017, a picture of a cake my mum made was visible on the PGP Instagram because I forgot to log out.)
Emma discovers refurbished phones and doesn’t look back, ok bye.
So last February, I knew I needed a new-to-me phone. I was practically bullied into it by a dear friend and my mum. I opted for a refurbished one through my network provider and got a 2018 model, which supported all the apps I needed and had a great camera, for just £60.
(It came with a £10 sim card that I gave away to one of the local homeless shelters to allow the people there to call their families.) (Full disclosure, I don’t remember which one, but The Lifehouse said they would appreciate it when I asked in preparation for the post.)
So why would I buy refurbished?
More attractive and can get a cute case (although beauty is in the eye on the phone holder)
Compatible with wireless chargers (all of my USB cords are dangerously frayed)
Buying second-hand is better for the planet than buying new, even if the item you’re buying new is sustainable and eco-friendly
No matter how simple it is to repair the Fairphone (see below), I would still put it off. It’s pretty simple to clean my laptop keyboard, but I’m pretty sure there’s mould growing under there from the third year of uni.
But now, let’s hear from Tamara about the Fairphone. (She can totally trash my Huawei phone. A good place to start is, “aren’t the Chinese government using that to spy on people?”)
TAMARA SAYS: DON’T BUY BAD NEW. BUY FAIRPHONE.
Tamara argues against second-hand…wait, say what now?
Uh oh Emma, are you going all 5G conspiracy theory on me? Seriously though, she makes a compelling argument. Buying second-hand should be the default. So why even as I agree that if a phone can be reused, it absolutely should, am I arguing against? Dear Reader, let me take you down an alternative path.
Like Emma, I have always taken pride in not being a brand follower or a tech upgrader. Sim-only contract, that’s me! Why get a new phone every two years when my current one is perfectly fine-ish? Again like Emma with her third-hand-me-downs, my mobile phones were always donated by my partner, the Dutchman when his work upgraded their mobile phone contracts. He always had a better, faster, shiner phone than me, with more storage space and a fancier camera. He was always the more tech-aware one in our household. I am the one who goes running with my trusty old iPod. I was the one who carried around a mobile power bank because my old iPhone’s battery would drain to 10% if I even thought about making a call. I couldn’t afford to repair these phones and most couldn’t be repaired anyway, cause they are not designed to be easily accessed.
I am now the trend-setter with a phone that I treat more reverently than a new-born baby.
‘Hah!’, I hear you thinking, ‘Call yourself a greenie? What a hypocrite. Bought yourself a new, expensive phone at the expense of the planet and those who reside on her?’
And to that, I say: New? Yes. Expensive? Definitely yes.
Planet and people destroying? Absolutely NOT!
Dear Reader, I present to you the FairPhone – a mobile phone designed to be repaired and ethically produced.
I have reached ethical nirvana.
This is not a sponsored post. Tamara is just a massive fangirl.
Tamara learns to trust again, this time by doing actual research
For many years, I trusted brands. I trusted banks. I trusted supermarkets. I didn’t question why I trusted them, I just did. I thought for a long time that Apple was an ethical green brand because it was called Apple.
Luckily a good friend of mine (the same one who I mentioned in a previous post I share a subscription to The Ethical Consumer with) introduced me to the Fairphone about 5 years ago, opening my eyes in the process to the conflict mining and child labour that go into the manufacture of the typical smartphone.
Let’s get real for a moment. Smartphones are a*mazing. But the way they are produced is definitely NOT amazing. I won’t go into it all here, it bums me out too much and I get all fatalistic and depressive. But I will try to quickly summarise, so you know where I am coming from. But as usual, I strongly encourage you to educate and inform yourself as this is just my limited understanding.
~ A Sad Smartphone Summary~
Ok, so, basically, smartphones are made up of thousands of different components and on average around 60 different metals. These metals that go into a phone are mined.
If it is mined by people, by hand, from the earth, it is called artisanal mining. Artisinal mining sounds all fancy and lovely doesn’t it, like yummy sourdough bread. Hah, the absolute literal bloody irony as many of these metals are mined in areas of conflict, such as cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The unethical mining of these metals which go into our phones fund brutal conflicts. Child and forced labour is a huge problem. Artisinal mining my arse.
That is just one part of the supply chain. Then we have the manufacturing process, mostly done in China and Vietnam. I am talking poor and unsafe working and living conditions, inadequate health and safety and low pay. The usual fun stuff.
And finally, the disposal of the mobile phone. Even if recycled, many smartphones end up in e-waste dumps which leach pollutants into the soil, waterways and the workers who are extracting the metal components for recycling. (But we still encourage you to recycle your phone with us – we have absolute trust in Recycling for Good Causes.)
~End of sad summary~
Ooof. As I said, it is a bummer. And that is why, when my second-hand iPhone kaptutted, I bought a Fairphone 3.
Tamara pitches why your next new smartphone should be a Fairphone
The Fairphone is ethical but it does not claim to be perfect. It is not 100% fair or completely recyclable. But it is the only ethical smartphone that exists in today’s current market. They have traceable supply chains for all four internationally recognized conflict minerals: tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold. The gold is also fairtrade.
The supply and production chain of the Fairphone is completely transparent and they actively support workers rights and a fair living wage. My Fairphone 3 cost £400. From that, only 1.50 euro per phone was needed to ensure a living wage bonus to all the factory workers on the Fairphone production line in Suzhou, China. Fairphone points out that they are not the factory’s only customer and probably account for less than 10% of the total production in the factory. If all the factory customers followed suit, all the factory workers would have a fair living wage. *looks pointedly over to the big phone manufacturers*
And finally, the Fairphone is designed to be repaired. By the consumer! By me! It is a modular, repairable phone.
Yep, it cost me £400. That is a shite-load of money. I have never spent that kind of money on a phone before. Remember, I am a hand-me-down kinda gal. But I saved for a long time and bit the bullet and put my money where my ethics claim to be. Not everyone is able to do that, but I am happy I could.
Demand the right to repair
I am grateful the Fairphone option exists. But why is it the only truly repairable smartphone brand available?
It is my personal opinion -not backed up by any research cause I am at the end of the article and I am getting hungry – that manufacturers do not design their phones to last. They definitely don’t design them to be easily repaired.
This is why I encourage you to support and sign this Right to Repair petition urging the European Union to require manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei and Apple to design repairable smartphones and provide spare parts and repair information to all repairers and consumers.
After signing the petition, I am off to wrap my Fairphone in bubble wrap leftover from my recent move and sing it to sleep! My precious!
My Mother loves her birthday. She has been known to celebrate for over a month. When she turned 60, she demanded sixty presents and Reader, her best friend did it by cleverly wrapping up sixty one-pound coins! So, you can imagine – given her indignation at being considered elderly and therefore told to stay inside for 12 weeks – how impressed she was at having a coronavirus birthday. Not impressed at all. Not at all. Trust me.
Having only moved here from Devon at the end of last year to live with her favourite son-in-law and me, she was resigned to her first birthday in Pompey being a bust.
Let me tell you how I (Tamara) attempted to give my sulky mother the 74th Birthday of her isolation dreams whilst trying to keep it green (ish).
A loose schedule
One of the biggest lessons my depression has taught me is that a day can be a very long time. I made a loose plan for the day and informed the household Official Birthday Celebrations would begin at 1300 hours. They were instructed to be washed, dressed and hungry.
A Surprise Birthday Sign
I wanted to make it feel festive without resorting to plastic balloons. A huge roll of paper that I randomly acquired many moons ago, and knew would one day come in handy, formed the basis of a homemade ‘Happy Birthday’ sign. I might be child-free but I can draw hearts and flowers that a 5-year old could be proud of.
My mother is a woman who likes to take her birthday phone calls whilst reclining in bed with a sweet coffee in hand. I presented to her, again with the pride of a 5-year old, a birthday breakfast consisting of filter coffee bought from Wild Thyme, a glass of Prosecco, a birthday cookie and snowdrops picked from the garden. (I totally acknowledge here our extreme privilege in both living together and with a garden.)
A Treasure Hunt with Booze
At 1300 hours, Official Birthday Celebrations kicked off with me kicking Mother out of the house… with a glass of bubbles… and instructions to maintain 2m from any passer-bys. This was to allow me to rush around hiding clues and prizes for her birthday treasure hunt.
Clues were stolen from the internet and prizes were books and small bottles of booze wrapped in cloth. Clues were solved and prizes located and it set up a playful and fun energy for the rest of the day.
I made cucumber sandwiches and devilled eggs y’all! It was simple but tasty and went down nicely with bubbles. We sat in the garden and I put a tablecloth on to make it feel fancy.
I was aiming for a zero waste meal but that wasn’t possible and I didn’t stress about it. The fact I even found the main ingredients of bread, eggs and cucumbers was a huge win! The bread bag and cream cheese pot can be recycled after the lockdown is lifted. The cucumbers came in a mix of recyclable and non-recyclable plastic but I made sure we ate it all – no squishy cucumbers in the back of the fridge this time, thank you very much! I even made sure the crusts that were cut off to make the sandwiches posh were eaten by the Dutchman later.
The afternoon was spent in a lovely drunken haze playing scrabble. This is the only game my mother will play and she is convinced that the drunker she gets, the better she plays.
She has owned this scrabble set since 1982. I don’t think you can get much more eco than that!
A very talented friend and local artist Sarah Sayers Creative designed a digital portrait of Mum in her writing nook. She emailed it to me and I was able to print it and gift it to Mum, with the promise of it being properly printed and framed after the lock-down.
I won’t mention the fact that Mum considers it a gift from her favourite son-in-law, because he gave her his card at the same time as the portrait. It was my idea but I’m not bothered he got all the credit. Not bothered at all.
Dinner and a show
Following two games of scrabble and an alcohol-induced nap, the best Indian food was delivered for further birthday delight. My Mum was gutted not be able to go out for dinner and so Blue Cobra brought dinner to her. We are lucky to have the funds to be able to order this and to support local business during the lockdown. I was pleased to be able to order directly from them as then I know they get all the money, but if that isn’t possible ordering from a delivery service is the next best option.
Finally, we went to the theatre! The National Theatre is making selected performances available on Youtube and we thoroughly enjoyed the performance of One Man, Two Guvnors. It is bloody hilarious and I hope you got a chance to see it. With the ‘National Theatre at Home‘, shows are being released on a Thursday evening and are available for one week and other theatres and cultural venues are also releasing bodies of work.
Surprisingly, there were still queues for the toilets!
The next day, it was back to coronavirus-life-as-usual. We stayed in our own rooms and barely spoke to each other. There is only so much togetherness you can handle in a lock-down. But I overheard her talking to a friend and as she listed the many moments and laughed over finding a book in the washing machine, I felt pleased that I managed to make her Covid-19 birthday one to remember.
And what of you, Dear Reader, have you any tips on how to celebrate and mark those special moments in the current lockdown? We always love to hear from you. Stay safe.
This is not a Covid-19 article for your eyeballs to panic scroll through.
This is not a list of educational resources.
This is most definitely not an article exploring the very serious impact of C-19 is having on the NHS, care and medical workers, retail and restaurant workers, vulnerable people, people with disabilities, children, the elderly, people with mental health issues and underlying health problems, gig-workers, the self-employed, freelancers, small businesses…
This is not an article giving medical advice.
This is a light-hearted post on how Emma and Tamara are trying to survive the lockdown whilst still trying to be green.
This post is not a good idea.
When Emma suggested an article on how to survive the lockdown, Tamara’s reaction was to hide under the duvet. For Covid-19 is serious stuff. Here at Shades of Green, we discuss how to live green in Portsmouth. We can be serious at times, yes, but not global pandemic serious!!
Covid-19 is impacting on all aspects of life- how we eat, how we shop, how we work, how we play, how we exercise, how we parent, how we socialise, how we date, how we sleep. Like literally, everything!
And writing about it, even for you Dear Reader, is scary. It makes it real. And that is why Emma coaxed Tamara from out under the duvet and together, we are writing this.
For many in Portsmouth, their lockdown began last week on Friday evening when the UK Government instructed all clubs, pubs restaurants, bars and gyms etc to close. This is also true for people with kids and for those who are self-isolating. For the rest, this week has been the start of Covid-19 forcing us to change how we carry out our daily routines.
How the bloody hell will we survive the lockdown? Together. (Except, you know, apart.)
With the possibility of social-distancing and self-isolating lasting months rather than weeks, we (Emma and Tamara) wanted to share our small perspective on how we are attempting to maintain our equilibrium in these strange and worrying times.
3. And finally, remember that we are writing from our own individual perspectives as child-free people with relatively few physical health issues and fairly secure finances. (Even if Emma is self-employed!) Hopefully, elements of this will be relevant to you, whatever your personal situation may be, and do take everything we say with a pinch…nay…a handful of salt!
Keep to a loose schedule
Think back to the last time you didn’t have a fixed schedule (i.e. having to be somewhere most days for a particular time and duration). This might be during the summer holidays at school, during parental leave, or it might be during a period of unemployment in your adult life. For Emma, it was way back when in 2012, before she got an adult job. (In an office, ya’ll!) (She just realised that’s not a massive deal for most people.)
When you don’t have a loose schedule it can mean that you are getting up later than you normally would, not having regular meals, and perhaps not practising the self-care that you need to. The last time Emma wasn’t in employment, she woke up at about 11 am most days but she guarantees it was after lunch on some days. That doesn’t do you any favours at all and the readjustment will be hard after a few weeks.
Get up a little later than you normally would but not so late that it messes up your sleep schedule. Try to strike a balance between doing fun things, like binge-watching a show you’ve been meaning to catch up on or reading that book, with stuff that you need to do but generally don’t get the chance. (Emma’s neighbour is probably really looking forward to her tidying the garden.)
A lot of people online are saying that you shouldn’t be advising people to be productive during this time. The way Emma sees it, if she gets the curtains washed now and all of those other fun chores on her to-do list, then once the lockdown is lifted, she can make the most of the time with her friends and family.
Limit your exposure to the news and social media
Be selective. As a journalist, Emma is not telling you to not be informed. She’s saying that there is so much information out there that it can be overwhelming and depressing. It’s not going to do your mental health any favours to be watching the news constantly or scrolling incessantly on your phone and seeing the myriad of stories (fake and true) being shared on social media.
Where possible try to schedule a specific time to look at the news and seek out unbiased sources. Did you know that UK TV news is legally not allowed to have bias whereas newspapers are? So opt for ITV, the BBC, Channel 4 News etc.
And only watch once a day.
Emma’s chosen to watch the evening news, so it’s not so early that it will depress her during the day and not so late that it’ll make her anxious at bedtime. She’s also deleted all social media apps from her phone, so is keeping in touch with friends via text and WhatsApp only. Tamara followed her example, deleted Facebook from her phone and felt an instant relief.
Stick to your routine wherever possible
If, prior to the lockdown, you got up early to go for a run every morning, try to do that still (while maintaining a healthy distance). Prior to the crisis, Tamara was working on controlling her diabetes through exercise and was love-hate-running through the free NHS Couch to 5K plan. She has continued this safely during the lockdown as current government guidance allows for once-a-day-exercise outside.
If you and your bestie go to the movies every Tuesday, you can have a watch party and check out something on any of the multitude of streaming services. (you can even share a streaming service to save money.) Tamara and Emma are both huge fans of Canadian comedian Mae Martin and had a digital mate date night with wine and whiskey and watched the first episode of Martin’s excellent new show Feel Good.
If you usually get drinks with friends on Friday nights, try to Skype/Zoom/Facetime/HouseParty and digitally connect with them and learn to make yourself a cocktail. (Or just Whiskey and Coke.)
If you normally go out for dinner as a family on Sundays, order in from that restaurant. (Many local businesses are now offering takeout options and it’s great to support them.)
Covid-19 has forced us inside and to physically distance ourselves from our loved ones and frenemies. Luckily, we are in a digital age and the internet offers us a myriad of opportunities to connect.
Tamara is having group video chats with friends and also spending time with her godson, who lives abroad, by doing a weekly Whatsapp reading session together. She’s also started doing PE with Joe with her friend J, who is also doing it with her nephews. She has also discovered the joy of playing online games with friends and has been playing the game Ticket to Ride almost every night with one friend or another. (She has yet to win a game.)
She is also enjoying a week-daily ‘Coping with Covid-19 conversations’ live Instagram stream by her favourite self-help guru and podcaster Gretchen Rubin and has plans to try a local online pub quiz with Dan Churchley. Joining an online book club is also an idea, and local independent bookseller Pigeon Books are considering setting up one with Sam’s Place (if you are interested, let Pigeon Books know via their FB page or Instagram).
Though we are in a digital age, remember not all of us are online. Tamara’s mother is phoning all her friends and family old school style – using her landline. Classic! (Also, a great way to reduce the strain on mobile networks, which are seeing spikes right now. Not overwhelming spikes, but still.)
The UK Government also says there is no evidence that the virus can be passed via post and no extra precautions are needed when handling, so you can still send letters, gifts, and cards; particularly if it’s someone’s birthday.
Put on your (metaphorical) oxygen mask
Like those airplane safety videos, first put on your own oxygen mask.
If you are a parent with children at home, keeping them safe, happy and entertained and yourself sane is more than enough to be getting on with. Perhaps you are overwhelmed and scared, or a key-worker dealing with a lack of safety equipment, experiencing financial difficulties, living with mental health issues, supporting a relative or friend who is self-isolating – only you know your situation and circumstances.
Whatever your situation, don’t beat yourself up for not doing more or worrying you are not doing enough. We understand the impulse. Tamara has a lot of guilt from feeling she should be doing more. But she will do what she can, when she can. For now, to keep her mental health on an even keel, she is being mindful to put her own (metaphorical) oxygen mask on first before offering out her help. Just trying to cook a meal a day, be kind to family, connect with friends, do a bit of exercise, do something useful or productive no matter how small and not face plant into a bag of crisps is enough for her at the moment. Soon she will look outwards, but she can’t yet. And that is okay.
Portsmouth is a fantastic place to live and Covid-19 highlights this. Neighbours and strangers are reaching out to those who are vulnerable, self-isolating or alone. People care.
Check on your neighbours
Check on your immediate neighbours. Assuming you are not self-isolating, pop a note through their door letting them know that you are there and you care. Click here or download from below for a free printable template ‘Viral Kindness’ that you can use.
Last night, Clap for our Carers brought a tear to many an eye. We have seen this kindness and community spirit strongly in the online communities that have popped up, like the Portsmouth Coronavirus Support Group on Facebook, which is where Tamara first heard of the Clap for our Carers idea. The group aims to be a space “where those who are affected can share what support or supplies they need, so for those of us who have been unaffected so far, can offer help. This includes everything from dropping off food, hot meals or supplies to those who are isolated – as well as emotional and peer-to-peer support.” It is a fantastic local way of connecting people in a scary time. When Tamara finds it overwhelming, she steps back but knows it is there when needed.
Volunteer with hive
People are so kind in offering their support and if you have the headspace and capacity to look further than your immediate family and circle of loved ones, you can sign up to volunteer through Hive who is coordinating a community city response. You can donate time, food or money or all three!
Volunteer with the NHS
The NHS are also looking for volunteer responders and you can still volunteer even if you are in a higher-risk group (including those over 70, those who are pregnant or with underlying medical conditions) as you will be able to offer support by telephone.
Give Blood. You can still give blood! (obvs restrictions apply.) The NHS and vulnerable patients still need blood and there is no evidence of any type of coronavirus being transmitted through blood donation. Check the Give Blood website for more information. Emma is keeping her appointment to give blood in July, although she does hope this will be over by then anyway.
Eat what you have
Yes, that means all the tins at the back of the cupboard and the random frozen meals that you have no idea what they are because you didn’t label them. Hey, it will be a lovely surprise. Looking to Tamara’s friend E. as inspiration who ate a random homemade frozen meal that past-her had lovingly cooked but omitted to label. She had no idea what it was – curry maybe, or possibly stew? But it was delicious. Seriously, E. is winning at life.
Buy only what you need
Tamara has no dependents and so only needs to worry about feeding herself and her partner, and sometimes her mother who lives with her. (She realised that makes her sound like she is starving her elderly mother. Be reassured, she’s not, her mother prefers to cook for herself and also hates it when Tamara calls her elderly!) Tamara is trying to continue to shop as low waste as possible and this means seriously thinking about if she truly needs something.
Emma also has only adults living in her house, but due to advice that people with certain health conditions shouldn’t really be going to the shops and there being no online delivery slots for the next three weeks, Emma is slightly worried about running out of food. (Don’t worry, Tamara and one of Emma’s neighbours have picked up bread and milk for them, but please keep in mind that there are people much worse off than Emma, who will either run out of food or risk going to the stores and catching coronavirus.)
Minimise food waste
Tamara’s partner (The Dutchman) has been making bread using back-of-the-cupboard-and-out-of-date yeast and Tamara made soup from cauliflower leaves and broccoli stalk. The bits she normally put in the compost are edible! Who knew? Probably most people, but not her!
Emma’s mum has been making soups out of “out-of-date” fresh veg, cooking fresh and wilted spinach as a veg for dinner, and they have actually started using the lasagna sheets in the cupboard. Don’t want lasagna, but the sheets are the only pasta that’s available? Break them up and boil in water.
We’re not suggesting that you eat gone-off food. Use your noggin. But with panic buying and supermarket restrictions, we are trying to eat the food we already have in the house.
(Also, regarding cat food, which Emma is finding harder to find on delivery. If someone has selfishly bought enough cat food to last them until the end of time, you can order from specialist pet food stores, but if you run out before then, you can make your cats a special meal of boiled chicken and rice. (Note: Cats require taurine in their diet and the internet informs us that you should only make your cat this basic meal infrequently.))
Try reusable toilet cloth
With toilet roll becoming a black market commodity, perhaps now is the time to give reusable, washable toilet cloth a try. Emma wrote an informative post a while back, which you can read here, with her advice on using cloth instead of disposable toilet paper.
Emma suggested this to her parents, who grimaced.
Embrace other reusables
If you have a period or live with incontinence, you might be finding it hard to get the products you need.
In addition to milk, Emma is finding it hard to get cat litter, which is particularly hard as Tiny Tim is an indoor cat (and Rooney is not allowed out after dark, but still needs to use the little cat’s room). She has enough at the moment, but if that runs out before she can get some in, she will look at tearing up newspaper for their trays. (If the poop is scooped into the bin, she thinks this might even be compostable..? The internet is very divided on whether this is safe.)
Store your recycling and donations
In Portsmouth, collections from textile and clothing banks have been suspended. Many charity shops and direct donation places have closed their doors. We are sure many of us are using our enforced time at home to do some sorting out and decluttering. (We know because Emma is and contacted two direct action groups, who said they couldn’t collect now.)
Keep your donations at home until the lockdown is lifted and normality has resumed. Charities will need your help more than ever in the months to come.
At the time of writing, kerbside rubbish and recycling collections in Pompey are unaffected however we wouldn’t be surprised if collections of kerbside recycling and that of cartons and mixed plastics banks is also limited/ suspended. If that happens, wash your food packaging and store them at home, if you are able. (You can probably store this in boxes in your car if you’re not using it right now.)
Don’t forget that the council makes money off recycling and will need this money in the next year.
Make sure to crush tins, cans, plastic bottles, and cardboard boxes to get more stuff in your green bin. If your green bin gets full, it will be safer and easier to store paper and card in your house, while keeping your green bin for cans and plastic bottles.
Emma also suggests that if you have a compost bin, you can compost paper and card, especially stuff that is perhaps ‘contaminated’ with a small amount of food waste and can’t go in the recycling.
A number of Tamara’s friends with children reminded her that the more difficult items to recycle (i.e. yoghurt pots) can also be used in crafts and in the windowsill/ garden.
Support local small businesses
If you can, please support our local small business in Portsmouth, especially those who have been forced to close. This is invaluable to the traders in keeping their business alive. Many local restaurants and retail shops have switched to offering home deliveries, which is perfect for customers who are self-isolating.
Tamara treated her partner to the final book in a trilogy he is reading from Pigeon Books and bought some shampoo bars from Southsea Bathing Hut. Emma bought her niece and nephews their birthday presents from Pigeon Books, who gave her a contact-free delivery. (This is not a sponsored post by Pigeon Books – we just adore them.)
With handwashing going up by a gazillion percent, why not buy some soap bars from the aforementioned Southsea Bathing Hut, or Wild Thyme who Tamara regularly buys naked Faith in Nature soap bars from or Herbies health store (the new-old Southsea Health Food shop). Shop local and still be green!
Read for pleasure
As mentioned above, Pigeon Books are doing contact-free delivering! (We promise, not a sponsored post. Just buy their books!)
Though libraries are sadly closed for now, you can find a great selection of books and audible books on the free library app Borrow Box.
This together with Pigeon Books means Tamara is not tempted to buy e-books for her Kindle e-reader (She’s boycotting Amazon, which is why the betrayal of The Dutchman subscribing to Prime to watch the new Picard is just…..divorce!!!.) (Emma asked if she could borrow their Prime login to watch the new season of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and Tamara locked her out of the blog.)
At this time, government guidance allows for an outdoor once-a-day exercise and as mentioned earlier, Tamara has been doing a daily-ish run. She tries to go very early in the morning and is stringent about maintaining social distance from others. In anticipation of this becoming restricted, she has been adding in indoor Yoga with Adrienne and PE with Joe Wicks. She may have to join The Dutchman in the burpee-ing. Ergh.
A lovely friend of Tamara’s dropped off some rocket seedlings for her to ultimately kill. That’s ok, fun will be had in trying to grow them.
Try window-sill gardening for those of us who do not have access to outdoor space. Tamara also intends to sow some wild flower seeds and will let you know how it goes!
Move your body
We have already mentioned exercise throughout this article so far. But the most fun Tamara had was when she put on some music and had a boogie in her kitchen. Obvious advice, we know. But it really helped boost her mood when she was feeling overwhelmed and anxious about life, the universe and covid-19.
Friends with kids have been playing classic games like the Floor is Lava and trying ballet with The Ballet Coach There are so many free exercises and dance videos available online like this to pick from. Whatever floats your boat, give it a go.
Do something creative
You can draw, colour, paint, cross-stitch, write, or anything else you want to. Creativity is calming and gives you something else to focus on. (Emma is writing a book, something she shoehorns into every conversation now.)
See if any local hobby shops, like The Stash By The Sea, are open for online orders and deliveries. You can even get creative with your trash, i.e making necklaces out of sweet wrappers.
And finally, be kind – to yourself, your loved ones, neighbours and strangers. It is an understatement to say that these are tough, strange times.
Be kind, wash your hands and stay at home.
And that is it from us folks. Let us know in the Comments section what you are doing to keep your head in this crisis and bonus points if you have parental, green or eco-tips to share!
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.
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!
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.)
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 throughFreegle 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.
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.
Whilst getting ready to go, I realise it’s a ticketed event. I don’t have a ticket. Of course, I don’t.
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
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?
With love from a Green Hairy Feminist with the Black Dog in a Winter Election
I need your help. I have a dilemma. The answer to my dilemma is patently obvious yet I bury my head in the sand with my cute flamingo butt waggling in the petrol scented wind.
Do I get rid of my car?
I should get rid of my car.
I do not want to get rid of my car.
I will get rid of my car. Someday. Just not right now.
do it, the climate
We are in a climate emergency. At this very moment. In the here and now. Our current present. We are knowingly hurtling towards the cliff edge and rather than do an emergency stop, we turn up the radio and tell ourselves the cliff is an illusion.
According to the IPCC report published last year, we have until 2030 to limit climate change. That is 11 years to do some serious damage limitation. Global warming must be limited to a more manageable 1.5-degree increase and carbon dioxide emissions must be significantly cut. To do this requires a significant and dramatic change from government, corporations and citizens.
I am a citizen. I have a car that contributes to carbon dioxide emissions. I should get rid of my car. I don’t want to get rid of my car.
do it, #letpompeybreathe
Portsmouth is an island. A beautiful, vibrant traffic-crammed island with limited parking. I can walk, get the bus (though I baulk at paying almost a fiver just to get into town). I live near the train station. I can get the coach. Why am I contributing to Portsmouth’s poor air quality, traffic and parking problems? I don’t need a car. I am able-bodied and don’t have children. I don’t need a car to commute to work or get around.
I should get rid of my car. I don’t want to get rid of my car.
don’t do it, mental health
I have made no secret of the fact that I have clinical depression. I have been managing it and some days I even forget I have it. But in the early days of my depression and subsequent relapses, I would retreat into my bed and struggled to leave the house, sometimes for days and weeks at a time. That’s when the car became my lifeline and my freedom. I would drive to Sainsbury’s and have some chips and do some shopping and come home feeling like at least I had achieved something. I would agree to go out and do stuff, but only if my partner drove us. But that was then and this is now.
I should get rid of my car. I don’t want to get rid of my car.
don’t do it, Green-ish
My car is a hybrid. And maybe one day, I could afford to get an electric car. Also, I recycle loads and try to live an eco life. Next year, I’m even giving up flying for a year. So that’s not so bad, right? Except the car tyres still release plastic into the environment and the electric is produced from the burning of fossil fuels. And the argument still stands, living in Portsmouth, I don’t need a car.
I should get rid of my car. I don’t want to get rid of my car.
will I do it?
In my defence, I have been practising not having a car and have been using it much less. Choosing to cycle even in the rain (ergh) and to take the bus and train when I would have otherwise driven.I won’t lie, I find it expensive and it does heighten my anxiety. Though to be fair, parking in Pompey heightens my anxiety too! I worry that by getting rid of my car, I will become house-bound and isolated when I next have a depressive relapse. And there is the universal fact of convenience, sometimes it’s just quicker and easier to drive with the added bonus of not getting wet!
I should get rid of my car. I don’t want to get rid of my car.
In an ideal rosy cartoon-stylie world, in writing of this post, having faced my fears, I will choose to live a bigger life and get rid of my god-damned car.
Maybe soon. But not yet.
But if not now, then when?
Disclaimer: If you are a vehicle owner/ driver, this is not a judgement or attack on you and your reasons for owning a car. This is my story. Having said that, if I get rid of my car, will you get rid of yours?
As there is currently no national standardized recycling system in the UK, access to recycling facilities varies widely depending on where you live. It’s basically a geographical luck-of-the-draw. Emma’s best friend lives in Bolton and whenever Emma visits, she’s amazed and rather jealous about what Bolton council will divert from the rubbish bin compared to Portsmouth city council. She literally lusts over Bolton’s kerbside recycling where food and drink cartons, foil and foil trays (to name but a few) are all collected, together with the usual suspects of tins, paper and card and plastic bottles.
With countries such as China and Malaysia turning away the UK’s low-quality recycling, dumping our recycling waste on other countries is no longer such an easy option. So, though important, recycling must come after reusing, repairing, and reducing. With this in mind, donating to charity and repairing is included as a recycling option on our list.
For your convenience and our sanity, we’ve structured this list of items by which room in your house they’re most likely to be found. (We’ve included office as well for those of you looking to recycle at work.) We’ve also listed it according to the most convenient place for you to recycle items, i.e. if it can be recycled at home at the kerbside, we’ve stated that.
Prepare yourself, this is one epic post!
Tip: Please ensure items are clean and free of food residue on them. Give items quick rinse and let air dry before recycling.
Terracycle Tip: Public drop-off locations for Terracycle recycling schemes do change and some schemes are time-limited, so check the maps we have included or the Terracycle website for updated locations and information.
The Updated Ultimate Guide to Recycling in Portsmouth
If definitely dead as a dodo, recycle at the kerbside. (Leave in a standard-sized supermarket carrier bag on top of your green wheelie bin/ box.)
Broken Sat Navs, Games Consoles, Laptops, Tablets, Cameras, including video cameras, Mobile Phones, and Portable Music Devices can also be donated to Portsmouth Green Party who through Recycling for Good Causes recycle these unwanted items and raise funds.
Living Room: Leave The House
Where: Collection Points are located inside the store of most large supermarkets, including Lidl, Tesco, Currys PC World, and Sainsbury’s. (Take a look in your supermarket next time you shop)
All household batteries including ‘button’ batteries from watches.
Battery packs from laptops, mobile phones, power tools and remote control units.
Tip: Try the scrunch test - if you scrunch it up into a ball and it stays that way (like tin foil does), then it’s probably recyclable aluminium. If it bounces back open it isn't and needs to go in the rubbish bin.
Sign up for Sharewaste, which links people with organic waste like veg peelings and no compost with people with home composters! Tamara has two compost bins and is very proud of her system and many ‘regulars’ who donate their fruit and veg peelings.
What: This depends on the person who accepts your stuff for compost but to give you any idea – Tamara accepts:
Raw, uncooked fruit and veg peelings (remove stickers from fruit etc)
Uncooked eggshells (please crush)
Used tea leaves and used coffee grounds. ( just the contents of the teabags as most teabag casings are made of plastic – unless states plastic-free/ biodegradable tea bags )
Tip: Did you know that Portsmouth Foodbank welcomes donations of toiletries, Tupperware, tin openers etc for people in need - not just food.
Terracycle Drop Off Locations (Kitchen)
Ella’s Kitchen Baby Food Pouches and Snack Wrappers
Where: About four Terracycle public drop-off locations in Portsmouth and Eco Freaks Emporium in Gosport. See map for details. Alternatively, youcan sign up as a private collector and post the items for free.
Ella’s Kitchen brand of baby food pouches
Ella’s Kitchen brand baby food pouch caps (remember these can also go into Sainsbury’s Mixed Plastics Recycling or be taken to Lush)
What: Gillette is running a recycling scheme until June 2020 via Terracycle for all brands of razors, blades and disposable razors and their packaging.
Plastic Air Fresheners
Where: A few locations north of Portsmouth. See map for details.
What: all brands and sizes of-
Plastic air fresheners and air freshener cartridges
Plastic air freshener packaging
BEDROOM: Recycle Kerbside
Aerosols, such as
Deodorant aerosol containers
Tip: Take the plastic aerosol lids to Sainsbury's mixed plastic banks.
Metal Tins, such as
Shoe polish tins
Bedroom: Leave The House
Out and ABout (BEDROOM)
Where: Glass Recycling Banks can be found across the city. To find your nearest one, go to Portsmouth’s City Council Recycling Locator here.
Glass jars and bottles such as body cream and face cream jars. Remember, you can leave the metal lids on.
What + Where: Donate jewellery including costume jewellery, odd earings, broken pieces, and watches to Portsmouth Green Party. Of course, other organisations and charities also collect for these types of recycling schemes.
*Prioritise* donating to charity shops and shelters if items are in good, reuseable condition.
In Good to Bad Condition?
Textile Recycling Banks
Where: There are many across the city, check here for your nearest one.
What: Any materials (clothes, shoes & bags and household linen) no matter how old or worn (Please ensure items are clean and place them in a bag).
Not Fit for Use?
Where: Charity Shops and Textile Recycling Banks
What: Rags, materials and textiles not fit for use – including old towels, bedding, clothes, etc
Tip: Put in a separate bag and label it rags, so staff don’t waste time going through it.
Swap for Rewards:
Where: Most M&S stores, including M&S Outlets, and at Oxfam stores offer a ‘Shwop Drop’ box, usually by the tills. Nearest M&S Outlet is in Gunwharf and Oxfam Shop is in Southsea.
What: They accept any item of clothing (even if it’s damaged) from any retailer, including shoes, handbags, jewellery, belts, hats, scarves and bras. You can also Shwop soft furnishings (bed linen, towels, cushions, curtains, throws, aprons, tablecloths and napkins)
Where: +What: H&M accept unwanted clothes by any brand, in any condition, at any of their stores. Nearest H&M is in Commercial Road, Portsmouth.
Others reward schemes exist. Google is your friend.
As well as the options above, you can also donate your preloved bras to specific bra-focused organisations and charities that redistribute and recycle them.
Tamara particularly likes Against Breast Cancer and Bravissimo, having used both in the past. Freepost your bras to Bravissimo to this address: FREEPOST RLYT-YCYR-YGUH, Bravissimo, 1st Floor, Imperial Court, Holly Walk, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV32 4YB.
Towels, Bedding, and Other Large Soft Materials
If it’s not good enough to be sold in a charity shop, but too good for rags, donate to your local animal shelter.
Donate to charity shops or homeless shelters, if in good condition and fit for use.
If not able to reuse, you could take some time stripping it down into individual parts, giving the material to rag bags and the metal to scrap metal collectors.
Or you can take it to the tip.
Electric ones, i.e. vibrators, can be recycled with Love Honey. (Read more about socially conscious sex here.)
Tip: As electric/battery-operated sex toys are electrical items, they can be recycled kerbside. Leave in a standard-sized supermarket carrier bag on top of your green wheelie bin/ box.
A friend of Shades of Green, Emma, alerted us that plastic plant pots can be recycled at B&Q. Let us know if you try!
Further afield in Havant, you can take all shapes, sizes and colours of plastic plant post and trays to Dobbies Garden Centre. Give them a quick wash first and ensure it is plastic and not polystyrene.
Compostable Garden Waste
Where: As mentioned in the Kitchen section, Sharewaste links those with organic waste and no compost with neighbours with home composters.
What: This depends on the Sharewaste neighbour but they might accept –
Leaves, grass cuttings, hedge and tree cuttings etc
Any woody material under 10cm (4 inches) in diameter
No vegetable peelings, animal waste such as droppings etc or animal bedding
Where: Isle of Wight based Wyatt & Jack turn inflatables, destined for the bin, into cool bags. Post smaller items and they refund your postage. They can collect large items from you using a courier service. See here for address details.
What: punctured and beyond repair –
Punctured paddling pools,
Inflatable unicorns etc.
Water wings/ armbands
All sorts of other beach paraphernalia, inflatables and water toys
Well, that was a major read. Congrats if you made it to the end. Let us know any questions you have in the comments below or via email.
We’re especially interested to hear from people who want to share other recycling locations, other products to be recycled, and if you’re a local business able to take any products (i.e. paint, wood, etc) for reuse.
Promoted by T Sheerman-Chase, 99 Pretoria Road, PO4 9BD on behalf of Portsmouth Green Party. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other party, agency, organization, employer or company.