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Category: Zero Waste (page 1 of 2)

How to Fix Your Stuff in Portsmouth

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

sewing machine

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

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

Repair Café Portsmouth

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

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

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

Claire of Sustainable Textiles

Sustainable Textiles

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

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

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

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

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

Knit More in Common

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

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

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

How to Recycle in Portsmouth in 2019

Welcome to The Updated Ultimate Guide to Recycling in Portsmouth!

 It is no secret that we (Emma and Tamara) love recycling; we’ve certainly written enough posts about it. Back in 2017, our first post here on Shades of Green was about how to recycle in Portsmouth. But in the two years since then, much has changed and the time for updating is here!

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.

Shades of Green Mantra
Image by Tracey McCulloch

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

Room by room


Living Room

Extract of living room items that can be recycled

Living Room: Recycle Kerbside

  • Paper and Cardboard, such as
    • Newspapers and magazines 
    • Junk mail 
    • Greetings cards and gift wrapping paper (no glitter or embellishments or foils or plastics) 
    • Telephone directories and Yellow Pages
  • Small Electrical and Electronic Items (WEEE)
    • 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

  • Batteries
    • 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)
    • What:
      • All household batteries including ‘button’ batteries from watches.
      • Battery packs from laptops, mobile phones, power tools and remote control units.
  • Cigarette Waste
    • Where: Freepost to Terracycle.
    • What:
      • Extinguished cigarettes
      • Filters
      • Tobacco pouches
      • Rolling paper
      • Inner foil packaging
      • Outer plastic packaging, and ash.
  • Books
    • Pre-loved books can be donated to charity or put in the Books & CD/DVD Recycling Banks across the city. Click here to find your nearest one.
  • CDs and DVDs
    • Pre-loved CDs and DVDs can be donated to charity shops or to the CD/DVD & Books Recycling Banks across the city. Click here to find your nearest one.
    • For obsolete data CDs etc
      • Where: Post to Reproplastics. Contact them first for their separation specifications.
    • What:
      • CD and DVD cases (with the discs removed)
      • CDs and DVDs loose
  • Large Electricals
    • If in working order, donate and if broken, attempt to repair.
    • If definitely broken
      • Return to the store for disposal.
      • or take to the Household Waste Recycling Centre (aka the Tip in Port Solent)
      • or contact a scrap metal dealer, like this one. (Emma did no research apart from Googling ‘Free Scrap Metal Collection Portsmouth UK’)
  • Furniture
    • Donate, give away, or sell.
    • If not fit for use, try offering on Freecycle or Trash Nothing because some clever crafty people can turn your broken chest of drawers into a child’s toy storage.
    • Last resort is the tip.
  • Money

Kitchen

Extract of kitchen items that can be recycled

Kitchen: Recycle Kerbside

  • Paper and Card, such as:
    • Takeaway menus 
    • Cardboard egg boxes
    • Cardboard fruit and veg punnets (please break down larger boxes)
    • Cardboard sleeve
    • Cardboard sandwich packaging (remove plastic window)
    • Cereal boxes
    • Pizza boxes (any parts with food waste or lots of grease should be composted)
    • Corrugated cardboard
  • Plastic bottles (No lids), such as:
    • Home cleaning product bottles like Cleaner and detergent bottles
    • Drinks bottles
    • Milk bottles
    • See where you can recycle the plastic bottle lids further down this list.
  • Drink Cans and Food tins (please wash), such as:
    • Drink cans e.g. fizzy drinks cans, beer cans
    • Food tins e.g. baked beans, fish, soup tins
    • Pet food tins e.g. dog and cat food tins
    • Metal sweet and biscuit tins
  • Food Waste Trial 
    • Portsmouth City Council is launching a food waste kerbside collection trial starting this September 2019 for 6 months. Click here to see if you are one of the lucky households participating. 
    • Yes to all uneaten food and plate scrapings, plastic-free tea bags, shredded paper, coffee grounds, vegetable peelings, eggshells and cut flowers.  
    • No to liquids or packaging of any kind. That includes industrial ‘compostable’ packaging such as Vegware.
Tip: If your road is not part of the food waste trial, see ShareWaste further down this list. 

Kitchen: LEAVE THE HOUSE

Recycling Banks/ Supermarkets
  • Glass Bottles and Jars (including metal lids) 
    • Where: Recycle at Glass Recycling Banks located across the city. Find your nearest one here
    • What:
      • Glass bottles of any colour e.g. wine and beer bottles
      • Food jars e.g. jam jars, baby food jars
      • Non-food bottles, e.g. perfume, aftershave, face creams
Tip: Did you know you can leave the metal jar lids and the screwcap lids on!   
  • Rigid Mixed Plastics
    • Where: Rigid Mixed Plastic Recycling Banks at Sainsbury’s Farlington and Sainsbury’s Commercial Road. Sainsbury’s Superstores are the only stores we’ve spotted these mixed plastic recycling banks.
    • What:
      • Margarine and ice cream tubs
      • Confectionary tubs
      • Rigid plastic food packets
      • Yoghurt pots
      • Plastic lids (see below for alternatives to Sainsbury’s)
  • Drinks and Food Cartons
    • What:
      • Juice cartons
      • Paper cups
      • Milk cartons
      • Paper coffee cups (no lids)
      • Soup, tomatoes and other food cartons
      • Other beverage cartons
      • No to sandwich packaging, any other laminated fibre packaging, coffee cup lids.
 Tip:  Did you know you can leave the caps/lids of the cartons on!    
  • Stretchy Plastics
    • Where: Plastic Bag Recycling Collection Points found in (usually) larger supermarkets in-store, including Waitrose Southsea and Commercial Road Sainsbury’s Superstore and Tesco Superstore and North Habour Tesco Superstore Extra.
    • What: 
      • Plastic Carrier Bags (except biodegradable or compostable bags)
      • Plastic bread bags,
      • Plastic cereal bags and inner cereal bags, 
      • Plastic wrappers and ring joiners from multipacks of cans and plastic bottles
      • Plastic wrappers from toilet roll, nappy pack and kitchen towel packs,
      • Plastic freezer bags
      • Plastic magazine and newspaper wrap (type used for home delivery only) 
      • Polythene that covers things like dry cleaning, 
      • Thin bags used for fruit and veg at supermarkets, 
        Bubble wrap
      • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) – resin ID code
      • No: Do not include anything claiming to be biodegradable or compostable.
Tips: Tear off sticky labels where possible.
      Bread bags can also be dropped off at Eco Freaks Emporium, Gosport.
Out and ABout (Kitchen)
  • Plastic Bottle Lids (alternative to Sainsbury’s mixed plastics recycling banks)
    • Where: Lush Portsmouth.
    • What: Small plastic bottle tops made from any plastic compound such as Lush bottle caps, milk, soft drinks, sports cap drinks, fabric softener caps.
    • Where + What: Take milk bottle lids only to Coffee No. 1 in Southsea
  • Foils
    • Where: Drop it at St Mary’s Church, Fratton 9am-12pm, Monday to Friday. 
    • What:
      • Clean household foil and aluminium trays
      • Takeaway containers
      • Barbeque tray
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.  
Tip: Take the plastic lids to Sainsbury’s Mixed Plastic Banks
  • Biscuit or Sweet Metal Tins
    • (alternative to kerbside recycling)
  • Organic, Compostable Waste
    • 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 )
      • No cooked food of any kind
  • Plastic Takeaway Containers: If still fit-for-purpose, donate your clean reusable takeaway containers to The Lifehouse or Foodcycle or Portsmouth Foodbank.
  • Coffee Pods:
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.
    • What:
      • 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)
      • Ella’s Kitchen brand Snack packets
  • Pringles Tubes and Lids
    • Where: There are a few Terracycle Pringles public drop-off locations depending on where you live in Portsmouth, including Solent Infant School. Zoom in on the map for details. Or sign up as a private collector and post the items for free.
    • What:
      • Any size of Pringles brand tubes
      • Plastic lid and seal of Pringles brand can
  • Crisp Packets
    • Where: There are a handful of Terracycle Crisp Packet public drop-off locations both in the north and south of Portsmouth as well as Eco Freaks Emporium, Gosport. Zoom in on the map for details.
    • What:
      • Crisp packets
      • Crisp multipack outer packaging
Tips: Flatten the crisp packets and do not fold them into triangles. And try Two Farmers Crisps which come in home compostable bags! #notanad 
  • Popcorn, Nut and Pretzel Packets
    • Where: There is one Terracycle drop-off location in Pompey (Southsea) or then it’s Eco Freaks Emporium in Gosport or Horndean. See map for details.  
    • What:
      • Any brand nut packets
      • Any brand pretzel packets
      • Any brand popcorn packets
      • Any brand crisp packets
  • Biscuit and Snack Packaging
    • Where: There are a few Terracycle public drop-off locations in Portsmouth as well as Eco Freaks in Gosport. Zoom in on the map for details.
    • What:
      • Any brand of non-savoury biscuit wrappers
      • Any brand of cracker wrappers
      • Any brand of cake bar wrappers
  • Sweet Packets and Plastic Confectionery Packaging
    • Where: Solent Infant School in Drayton. Eco Freaks Emporium in Gosport. (Both SIS and EFE also take several other items if you just want to make one big trip with everything.)
    • What:
      • Plastic chocolate and sweets pouches and bags
      • Individual chocolate bar wrappers
      • Chocolate and sweets multipack outer plastic packaging
      • Plastic chocolate block wrappers
Tip: Breakfast, granola and energy bar wrappers are not accepted. See here for more details on what is/isn't accepted.  
  • Home Cleaning Products Packaging
    • Where: Several locations in North Portsmouth. See map for details.
    • What: all brands and sizes of –
      • Plastic bottle caps and plastic trigger heads for home cleaning products
      • Flexible wipe packaging (used for home cleaning products)
      • Pumps and caps for home cleaning products

And for the truly dedicated, here are some kitchen items that do not currently have drop-off locations in Portsmouth but can be taken further afield to Fareham, Gosport Denmead etc.

Further afield Terracycle drop off locations
  • L’OR and Kenco Coffee Packaging
    • Where: Drop off at these locations in Fareham or Gosport.
    • What:
      • Any size of Tassimo Flow Wrap packaging
      • Kenco Eco-Refill Coffee Packs
      • L’OR Coffee Capsules
      • Kenco Eco-Refill Coffee Packs
      • Kenco brand Coffee Jar Lids
Tip:  Alternatively, for an easy life, drop the coffee jar lids at Sainsbury’s Mixed Plastic Banks  
  • Cleaning Products Packaging
    • Where: Either in Eco Freaks Emporium, Gosport Fareham and Denmead. Zoom in on map for details.
    • What: any brand of –
      • Outer plastic sleeve for dishwasher cleaners:
      • Foil inside dishwasher protector
      • Flexible plastic dishwasher sale bags
      • Outer packaging for dishwasher cleaner and fresheners
      • Fragrance Twin Pack plastic sleeves
      • Flexible stain remover packaging
      • Flexible cleaning wipe packaging
      • Flexible cleaning product refill packaging
      • Flexible dishwasher tablet packaging
  • Pet Food Packaging
    • Where: Either in Gosport or Horndean. Zoom in on map for details.
    • What:
      • All wet pet food plastic pouches
      • All pet treat flexible plastic packaging and pouches
      • All dry pet food flexible plastic packaging

Bathroom

Extract of bathroom items that can be recycled

bathroom: Recycle Kerbside

  • Paper and Card, such as
    • Toilet roll tubes
    • Toothpaste cardboard cartons
  • Plastic Bottles, such as
    • Plastic shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, etc bottles
Tip: Rinse them out first- use leftover bathwater or do so in the shower.  

Bathroom: LEAVE THE HOUSE

Terracycle Drop Off Locations (BATHROOM)
  • Oral Care Items
    • Plastic toothbrushes (rinsed)
    • Electric or battery-operated toothbrush heads (rinsed)
    • Toothbrush outer packaging
    • Toothbrush tubes and caps (empty as far as possible)
  • Razors and Blades
    • Where: Sign up here for a Freepost envelope.
    • 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

Extract of bedroom items that can be recycled

BEDROOM: Recycle Kerbside

  • Aerosols, such as
    • Deodorant aerosol containers 
    • No lids
Tip: Take the plastic aerosol lids to Sainsbury's mixed plastic banks. 
  • Metal Tins, such as
    • Shoe polish tins
    • Deodorant tins

Bedroom: Leave The House

Out and ABout (BEDROOM)
  • Glass
    • Where: Glass Recycling Banks can be found across the city. To find your nearest one, go to Portsmouth’s City Council Recycling Locator here.
    • What:
      • Glass jars and bottles such as body cream and face cream jars. Remember, you can leave the metal lids on.
  • Jewellery
    • 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.
  • Contact Lenses, including Packaging
    • Where: We have spotted contact lens recycling bins in-store at Boots in Commercial Road, Portsmouth and the Boots Meridian Centre, Havant. When you get your next eye-test, check if your local opticians in participating in this Terracycle scheme.
    • What: any brand of-
      • Soft, disposable contact lenses (daily, 2-weekly, monthly)
      • Contact lens blister packs & foils waste packaging
  • Spectacles
  • Inhalers
    • Where: A number of locations across the city, including Boots Southsea and Asda Fratton pharmacies. Search for the nearest one here.
    • What:
      • All brands of oral respiratory devices
      • Click here to check the list of acceptable items
  • L’Occitane Beauty, Hair and Skincare Packaging
    • What:
      • Refill pouches
      • Flexible Plastic Tubes
      • Rigid plastic tubes/tubs such as lip balm tubes and deodorant sticks
      • Caps and closures
      • Pumps, trigger heads and dispensers such as for soap, body lotion etc
      • Travel size packaging
      • Metal cases
      • Aluminium packaging
      • No: Aerosols Glass Bottles, Glass Tubs, Glass Moisturiser Jars
Tips: Recycle aerosols kerbside minus the lid, the aerosol lid can go to Sainsbury's Mixed Plastics Recycling Banks, the glass tubs and jars to the Glass Recycling Banks all around town. 
  • Clothing and Accessories
    • What:
      • Clothing
      • Shoes
      • Bags
      • Household Linens
      • Belts
      • Hats, scarves
    • Repair:
    • Donate:
      • New to Good Condition?
        • *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.
  • Bras
    • 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.
  • Mattresses
    • 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.
  • Sex Toys
    • 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. 
Terracycle Drop Off Locations (Bedroom)

Office/ study

Business vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Office and study: KERBSIDE

  • Paper, such as
    • Window envelopes
    • Envelopes
    • Greeting cards (no glitter or embellishments)

Office and study: Leave The House

Tip: Remember, shredded paper cannot go in the kerbside recycling but it can go in a home composter as well as the new kerbside food waste collection trial. 
  • Packaging from Packages
    • Where: Join Packshare and donate your packaging materials to small businesses. The closest location accepting materials (at the time of writing) is on Hayling Island.
    • What:
      • Cardboard boxes
      • Bubble wrap
      • Air pockets
      • Packing peanuts
      • Jiffy bags
      • Poster tubes
      • Brown paper
      • Tissue paper
      • Vinyl mailer 7″ and 12″
      • Corrugated cardboard
      • Shredded cardboard
      • Plastic bags

Garage / Shed

Extract of garage and shed items that can be recycled

gARAGE AND shed: Leave The House

  • Energy-efficient Light Bulbs:
    • Robert Dyas and Curry’s PC World stores should accept them for recycling. There is a Robert Dyas on Palmerston Road, Southsea and a Curry’s PC World at Ocean Retail Park, Copnor.
  • Bicycles
    • Community Cycle Hub will refurbish donated bikes or recycle them. They have three locations – two in Portsmouth and one in Gosport.
  • Wood
  • Paint
    • Reuse: Reuse it. Donate to friends/family/local community project if you won’t use it again.
Tip: Did you know paint can't be recycled or taken to landfill sites in a liquid state? 
  • Non-electrical Tools
    • Donate to charity shops, local community projects, or Workaid.
    • Unusable ones might be able to be collected by scrap metal collectors.

Garden/ Windowsill/ Balcony

Background vector created by vectorpouch – www.freepik.com

Garden/ Windowsill/ balcony: Leave The House

  • Plant Pots and Trays
    • Donate useable items to community gardens such as Southsea Green and Landport Community Garden.
    • 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 –
      • Dry leaves,
      • Wood ashes
      • Withered flowers
      • Wood shavings
      • Grass clippings
    • Where: The Garden Waste Club, a paid kerbside collection is available in Portsmouth through Biffa.
    • What:
      • 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
  • Holiday Inflatables
    • 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,
      • Bouncy castles,
      • Inflatable unicorns etc.
      • Water wings/ armbands
      • Beach balls
      • Old windbreaks
      • Trampolines
      • Rubber dinghies
      • All sorts of other beach paraphernalia, inflatables and water toys
      • Air beds

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.


GREEN CHALLENGES

Following our Green Wins, join Emma and me as we bare our souls and reveal our Eco ‘Oopsies’. But as eco-shame is never the aim of our game, we also set our positive intentions with personal enviro challenges for the next 365 days of Shades of Green.

So, first, the waggy-ish finger – What Eco ‘Oopsies’ have Emma and I (Tamara) made in the last year in our attempts to live green?


Confessions of Shady Greens

Image by jessica45 from Pixabay

Emma’s Eco Oopsies

Chauffeur Hire: I have been persuaded to share a taxi late at night, rather than get the bus, which I feel guilty about. (Tamara says: You are SHARING a taxi. That is fine. I absolve you.)

Flying McFly Face: Two of my holidays in 2019 have involved air-travel and I cannot pretend that I feel good about it. Before my holidays, Tamara and I discussed offsetting the carbon, which Tamara feels is greenwash. I can’t prove that the companies would have planted a tree with the £10, so I donated it to Portsmouth Green Party instead.

Single-Use Trees and Leaves: I do routinely forget to tell restaurants that I don’t want paper napkins, so I end up taking my unused napkin home and using it for emergency toilet paper if I haven’t washed my cloths. Otherwise, restaurants will just throw them in the bin because they don’t know what you’ve done to them.

Strike a Pose, Vogue: I bought three *new* items of clothing that were definitely not made from sustainable materials. I wish my swimsuit had been made from recycled materials and that the other items had been bought second-hand. 

Tamara’s Eco Oopsies 

Cat vs Food: My stupid cat has stupid ongoing urinary problems. She is now on stupid urinary food for life and though I have sourced it in a can and not in a stupid plastic pouch, it is not ethical meat. Gutted. Farewell to Yarrah‘s organic, grain free and MSC wet cat food!

Who Needs Teeth?: I am pleased to report that I have sourced zero waste toothpaste and floss. I have been using Toothtabs (with fluoride!) for a while now and am very happy with them. I’ve been buying them online and was so chuffed to buy them locally from Refill and Replenish  – a fab mobile plastic-free shop run by the lovely Laura and Alice.

However, though I bought plastic-free dental floss from Wild Thyme ages ago at the Package Free Larder launch event March, I haven’t actually used it yet. My dentist will be horrified. 

Think of the Fishes: Since Emma’s post last year on eco-ing the festival experience, researching and buying eco sunscreen has been on my list. I have not yet sorted that but I am using up one from last year’s Turkey holiday in September

Fish are Friends, not Food: But my biggest oopsie is that I’ve been eating illicit fish here and there, mostly eating (delicious) sashimi at Sakura Southsea – and it’s not even ethical or MSC fish. It is a massive fail. And I dare to still consider myself a vegetarian. It is a complete identity crisis. Who even am I?


We learn from our mistakes and we are not about eco-shaming, so Emma – please lift us back up – what will you be focusing on for the next 365 days of Shades of Green?

365 Green Challenges

Emma’s Green Challenges for Shades of Green 365

  1. A lot of the green progress I’ve made is a case of thinking more about what I need and do not need. That’s cut down on packaging, as well as the creation of new items. I want to continue this thoughtful thinking next year.
  2. I’m taking a stand against presents. Over the next year, I’m going to be telling all of my friends and relatives that I’m not going to be buying them birthday or Christmas presents, nor do I wish to receive them. (Actually, I’m just linking them to this post.) I will be making exceptions for my niece and nephews, but in order to ensure they get something that they’ll cherish, I’ve asked their parents what they want.
  3. I will continue to cut down on:
    • packaging, even stuff that can be recycled, by buying naked products
    • animal byproducts, by eating vegan meals more often
    • food waste, by optimising  my use of Olio, the Trash Cafe, etc

Tamara’s Green Challenges for Shades of Green 365

  1. Terracycle and stretchy plastics in the Carrier Bag recycling banks – this is an ongoing de-merit. I have started taking stuff to carrier bag recycling but I still haven’t looked into it properly so always feel guilty in case I am contaminating it. I do take my crisp packets to a Terracycle collector in Southsea and keep my pens for Milton Cross School (but haven’t actually taken them) but again haven’t really done the research.
  2. Water-saving is a challenge indeed as hopefully, I will be moving this autumn (hence the new mortgage green win in our previous post) and my new-fingers-crossed-home has a water meter. This is something I haven’t experienced since living in Tobago when we would bathe using a bucket. I am going to become a water-saving bully, I know it! I am taking inspiration from Emma’s post on ‘How to Eco-Hack Your Bathroom’ and her tips as her household are water-saving champs!
  3. I have signed up to be #flightfree2020. I have warned my friends and family who reside abroad and am mentally preparing myself from now! Did you know that there is a new Sweedish word for the feeling of shame experienced when flying – flygskam. 2020 shall be flygskam free for me!

And so concludeth our anniversary introspection! Emma and I will report back on our green challenges in approx a years time in August-ish 2020 Till then, here’s to another 365 days of living in various Shades of Green!

And what of you Dear Reader, what are your green oopsies and challenges? – tell us in the Comments Section.

GREEN WINS

Emma
Tamara

Happy Anniversary to us – Shades of Green is two! 

In the last two years since we started Shades of Green, Emma and I (Tamara) have become firm friends with our shared love of milkshakes so thick the straw remains upright, theatre-trips and of course, recycling! 

In this two-part anniversary post, we will be celebrating our green wins, commiserating our ‘oopsies’ and setting challenges for the next 365 days of Shades of Green.

Today’s focus is on the individual changes and progress we have made since last year’s anniversary posts (check those out here and here) and so Emma and I discuss our green wins over the past year.


Emma’s Green Wins

Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay

Food Waste 

I’ve had a lot less food waste, not because, as was the case last year, I’ve been repurposing slightly out-of-date food, but simply because I’ve been eating more food before it goes “off”.

Image by Shirley Hirst from Pixabay

Compost + Recycling

Thanks to your insight and my mum joining the Zero Waste Portsmouth Facebook group, I’ve learned how to compost and recycle a lot more (Shameless plug for our next post – a refresh on everything that can be recycled in Portsmouth!). Also, thanks more to me wanting to lose weight than any green aims, I’ve been eating a lot more apples and carrots for snacks, rather than chocolate and crisps. And due to more careful shopping and better recycling/composting knowledge, we put our bin out on a monthly basis. 

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Transport 

I’ve continued to prioritise bus travel and walking around Portsmouth over getting lifts from my parents. Although, I will admit that I have planned my social schedule slightly around when my mum will be using the car anyway. (“Hey Tamara, do you want to go to the cinema on Tuesday? Not because my mum is driving near Gunwharf anyway…”).

Emma’s Portable Zero Waste Kit Lunch Box

Zero Waste-Kit

I’ve also created a portable zero-waste kit, a’la Tamara’s magic green backpack. I keep all of the stuff, bar my cloth bag and my water bottle, inside an old lunch box that can be used to transport leftovers home in. This goes with me everywhere: to the beach, to restaurants, to Disney World

Emma, that is a*mazing! It is so important to notice and celebrate our daily achievements and success.  You have made so many lasting changes and are generally kickin’ ass. Nice one dude.


Tamara’s Green Wins

Recycling – Cartons + Foils

As you may recall, until this February, I was taking a car-load of cartons every few months all the way to Chandlers Ford. But no longer, as there are now three carton recycling banks in the city! And the newest one is near Emma by Alexandra Park in Alex Way car park. *Happy dance*

I also took foils on those recycling runs and I am happy to say that I don’t even have to leave my house to recycle these now, as I am doing a serendipitous exchange with the lovely Sarah via ShareWaste. She drops off her organic waste on a weekly basis for my compost and takes my foils for recycling at St Mary’s Church, Fratton. Boom! The barter economy – well kinda!

Image by Younjoon CHOI from Pixabay

Travel

Emma, as you know flying is our shared Achilles heel! I am pleased to report in the last year I travelled by train from Fratton to Amsterdam to visit the Dutchman’s family. The Eurostar cost me £40! Bargain!  I did have the luxury of time – I travelled on a Wednesday and it took me basically all day. And Full Disclaimer – I flew home to Southampton. 

Green Money 

1. A huge win that I am very proud of is sourcing an ethical mortgage that is actually cheaper than my current mortgage! I will soon be the holder of a mortgage with Coventry Building Society which is ranked 3rd best ethical and environmental record of 37 mortgage providers by the Ethical Consumer. CBS scored 13.5/20 compared to my current mortgage provider The Co-operative Bank which scores a depressing 7/20. I have been with Co-op Mortgages for ten years and had believed them to be super-duper ethical. I was not impressed when I realised that I had been completely taken in by greenwash, the curse of not doing my research. A mortgage is the largest financial investment I will ever make and I am so pleased to be putting my money where my mouth is.

2. Emma and I, both individually and as the Portsmouth Green Party, were pleased to be able to contribute some money towards The Package Free Larder’s crowdfunding campaign. I am so excited to see this project become a reality as Emma, Esther from Zero Waste Portsmouth and PFL and I took a trip many moons ago to check out The Food Assembly project in Bournemouth (UK Assemblies have since closed down) as research for what is now The Package Free Larder. So it is a project that is close to our heart.

3. Till last year, my Amazon boycott was very ad-hoc and convenience often won over values. For the last 9 months or so I simply ignore Amazon’s existence in my internet search results – a head-in-the-sand tactic that works for me. The Dutchman wants to watch some tv-shows on Amazon Prime, but that’s his problem. I now buy books second-hand from World of Books which is recommended by Ethical Consumer (though definitely not perfect as books I purchased were delivered wrapped in plastic. Sigh!)

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Green Purchases

1.Crisps! Oh, how I love thee! I had a short-lived love affair with Two Farmers crisps which come in home compostable packaging and even set up a little crisp-buying group with a fellow Zero Waster Emily. That has come to an end at no fault of Two Farmers or Emily. I have The Diabetes and crisps are now but a memory! I have made some kale crisps since The Diabetes Diagnosis as chickpeas are a bit too carb-heavy at this stage in my Diabetes Recovery Journey. The kale crisps were tasty but more like crispy seaweed than crisps!

2. I bought the Dutchman a surprise gift of a stainless steel pint glass for use at Victorious Festival this year. At £7 from online shop Plastic Freedom, I was happy with that! Ooh Emma, we should add that tip to your eco-festival article!

Repairing my stuff

I, Tamara, did this!

But my proudest moment this year was repairing the underwire of my bra which had poked through and was trying to murder me. Usually, I put murderous bras in the rags donation but not this bra! I HATE sewing. It confuses me and gives me a headache. Yet I even sewed a little pad onto it to stop it rubbing under my armpit. I AM AMAZING!

I volunteer most months at The Repair Cafe Portsmouth and I pretty much told everyone there, I was so proud of myself!


Whew, that is a lot of positive vibes from the Shades of Green. This post has been such a joy to write, especially as I often experience eco overwhelm. Shades of Green has been such a positive focus in my depression recovery.  But the flip side of this eco-coin is that try as we may, we are incredibly fallible in our green efforts. So tune in on August 23rd for the second part where Emma and I admit to our not-so-green oopsies and discuss our challenges for the year ahead.


And finally, Dear Reader, we love to hear from you – what are your green wins? – tell us in the Comments Section Let’s celebrate together, dudes!


A Labour of Love: The Package Free Larder

EDIT: They did it! On 13th August 2019, The Package Free Larder successfully raised £43,765 with 905 supporters in 56 days. Watch this space for updates on this new not-for-profit plastic-free shop in Portsmouth.

Shades of Green readers were introduced to The Package Free Larder earlier this Spring when we wrote about their launch event. We promised more information on how to support this fantastic community-led project through their Crowdfunding campaign and dear Reader, their campaign is live and now is the time to donate, donate, donate!

In perfect kismet timing, this Plastic Free July, we are delighted to welcome Delphine Laveyne, the founder of Zero Waste Portsmouth, to update us about The Package Free Larder (PFL) and it’s current crowdfunding campaign.


https://www.instagram.com/p/BzfwYH3JdOs/
Meet Delphine of Zero Waste Portsmouth and The Package Free Larder

The Package Free Larder (PFL) is a labour of love, borne out of trying to make a meaningful contribution to Portsmouth, a place I (Delphine) have been calling home for the last 4 years.

My foray into a zero-waste lifestyle started when I realised the amount of waste I was producing. Though I am aware of my plastic consumption and doing my best to reduce it, it is really challenging to live plastic-free or zero waste especially when you have children – I have two. This is what led me to start Zero Waste Portsmouth (ZWP) with the aim of finding like-minded people, share ideas and spread the message of leading a zero-waste lifestyle.

The Package Free Larder (PFL), at least to me is a natural extension of ZWP. There is a barrier to entry to leading a fully plastic-free / zero-waste lifestyle, which PFL is trying to address. The difficulty involved in buying plastic-free products is putting people off due to the effort it requires. PFL is trying to address this by being a one-stop-shop where people can buy commonly used food product and household items, all plastic-free.

It has been a long 10 months since our first community meet-up at Southsea Coffee, where I introduced the idea of starting a plastic-free store in Portsmouth. The meeting led the creation of a group of like-minded volunteers (now friends) who have helped me bring PFL closer to reality than ever before. Everyone involved in this has contributed their time, skills and money to get to the stage where we are today. I really hope this project is going to be successful, at least for the effort we have all put in.

Once open, PFL will not only be a store for your daily needs but it will also be an inclusive community space to show people how to lead a zero-waste lifestyle. Once the store starts to make a profit, we plan to invest the money back into community projects tackling plastic pollution.

https://www.instagram.com/p/By2xA3zp_Pi/

The response from the Portsmouth community has been overwhelmingly positive. To date, we have raised more than £20,000 all from the donations made by people who want to see a positive change happen in their community. We still have a long way to go before we reach the target amount of £40, 000. I hope people reading this article can help us raise the money we need either by donating or by spreading the word about the project

To donate to the Package Free Larder’s Crowdfunding campaign, click here and for more information on PFL go here.

Follow us on social media:

  • Facebook: PackageFreeLarder
  • Instagram: packagefreelarder
  • Twitter: pfl_portsmouth
Package Free Larder Shop Sketch Design

Thank you, Delphine, for taking the time to update us on the Package Free Larder project. We at Shades of Green have donated some pennies and pounds and now Tamara won’t stop going on about how she is famous (see Instagram post below for evidence of her fame!)

At the time of writing, a huge £21,519 has been pledged to the Package Free Larder. This is 54% of its target and as an all-or-nothing Crowdfunding campaign, they must reach their target of £40, 000 by the deadline of August 6th or receive nothing.

So you see, even a small amount really will make a significant difference to the PFL receiving it’s funding or walking away with nowt. Please do donate now to enable this fantastic project to be made a reality.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bzsg-6JpzD8/
Evidence of Tamara’s Fame

How to eco hack your Walt Disney World vacation

You may not know this dear reader, but Shades of Green shares its name (quite by accident) with a Walt Disney World golf resort. In fact, every time I (Emma) Google our blog that is what comes up. Why am I telling you that? Because WDW is the subject of today’s blog.
There’s no getting around it, taking a holiday in a place that is several thousand miles away and is a major tourist trap is hardly the greenest thing that I could do, but what can I say? I love Disney – I even worked there for a time – and I’m not going to stop going. So, last month I went.
However, I did want to make my trip as green as possible and this is what I did to make that happen.

Getting there

Plane flying

The only practical way to get to the USA is via plane, so I offset my flight’s carbon footprint. As it turns out, flying direct and in the economy cabin is better for the world than having a change or flying in premium/business/first class, which is good because I flew there direct and economy class. (Although, I did have a change on the flight back, which I didn’t think about until I’d booked it.)

Packing List

Suitcase with period pants, reusable pads, cloth napkin, lunchbox, spork, and kayak bag
Missing: One water bottle

I was never going to be able to take just hand luggage with me to the USA for three weeks, so I took a suitcase. Although I’ll admit it could have been a bit lighter because I over packed on cardigans for the evenings – two would have been enough – and I could have washed some clothes (underwear, socks) in the shower. (I am considering just taking a carry on next time because of this.) However, these are the things that I packed to make my trip greener

  • Reusable water bottle: WDW is filled with water fountains, meaning that you never have to buy a plastic water bottle or ask for a cup of ice water. Plus the Chillys bottle (recommended by Tamara) kept my water cold even in the Florida sun.
  • Fabric tote bag: While I didn’t buy a lot on my trip (two t-shirts and a postcard, I think), I wanted to make sure I didn’t have to take a plastic bag at the store. (No one batted an eye in WDW, but outside of Disney, cashiers were really shocked when I kept refusing a bag for things like food and one even tried to force me to take one because he’s already put my crisps in the bag.)
  • Period pants/ reusable menstrual pads: While this didn’t entirely cut my need for tampons – I couldn’t wear these at water parks and I didn’t have the luxury of changing my pants/pads during the day, as I do at home – it really helped me cut down on the disposable pads that I would have worn in the parks to avoid an accident while in a two-hour line.
  • Lunch box: I took this to carry in snacks to avoid buying something with packaging in the parks, but also to take back food that would be wasted at the end of a meal.
  • Bamboo straw: Given that I was generally drinking water, I didn’t have much of a chance to use this. However, it did save me from taking a straw when we sat down at a table service restaurant and I ordered a soda.
  • Spork with knife edge: I used this so that I wouldn’t have to take disposable cutlery. Then, I washed it every night at our hotel. (My parents didn’t bring one, but they did reuse the cutlery that they got on our first day for the rest of our trip.)
  • Cloth napkin: I took a few of these so that I wouldn’t have to use paper napkins. Each one lasted about three days, before being put in the washing pile.

Transport

The monorail driving

While in Orlando, I travelled on the hotel shuttle and WDW transportation (buses, monorails, boats) with dozens of other people, so it was just like using public transportation back here.

We took a taxi to and from the airport, but I did try to get a shuttle. It was just too full by the time we got there and couldn’t accommodate my mum’s wheelchair and the next one wasn’t for like an hour. Not great when you’ve been up for 16 hours already.

Hotel

The Hollywood Tower Hotel
This wasn’t my hotel, I just wish it was.

I will admit that this was probably my greatest green failure. (It kind of wasn’t even my fault, but it was really annoying.) I didn’t choose the hotel for its eco standards, but rather price and proximity to WDW, but I figured all hotels must have the same basic guidelines of not changing your bed linen every night, having recycle bins, and not changing towels that were hung up on the rack.

When we got there I realised there were no recycling bins but figured that it was okay because we could recycle stuff like the milk bottles in WDW. (We just had cereal in our room each morning, which was more eco than eating in the park or at the buffet.) However, their coffee cups were the disposable kind, which is annoying because I was expecting a china cup.

Still, I left a note for the housekeeper (with a tip!) asking them to leave the cups, as we would rinse and reuse, and to not empty the bins unless they were full. If all, I’ve put in the bin is the flight tag from my suitcase, it doesn’t need changing. When we got back, the housekeeper had taken the note (and the tip!), but completely ignored my request by replacing the cups and emptying the bins. They also, despite the eco-guidelines that were in the hotel welcome folder, changed towels that I’d hung on the rack. I had a little bit of a freakout that my mum found funny.

We worked around it by hiding the cups in the microwave and putting all our rubbish in one bin, as opposed to using the kitchen and bathroom one, but I couldn’t do anything about the towels. It still annoys me.

Food

https://www.instagram.com/p/BypbeVjgU0b/

As we all know, one of the best ways to lower your eco-impact is through being careful with what you eat. Eating locally, choosing the option with low or no packaging, and eating fewer animal products all help to lower our carbon footprint.

Now, I ate vegan about half the time and vegetarian for the rest of the time. There are a lot more options than you might initially suspect, especially if you seek out the sites I’ve linked for help.

 As for packaging free, that’s difficult in Disney. Cast members aren’t allowed to take things like bottles or boxes from guests so they can’t place your vegan burger into your lunch box or fill up your bottle with soda. There are ways to limit your packaging though, including:

  • taking your own non-packaged snacks in
  • taking reusable cutlery, straws, bottles, napkins, and boxes (for leftovers)
  • opting for your ice cream in a cone rather than a cup
  • dining at table service restaurants (be warned, this does take longer and will eat into your park day, which is why we only did it once)

You might think it’s hard to eat local in WDW, but it’s easier than you think. See WDW grows a lot of its produce on property and the Living with the Land ride at Epcot shows you how they’re always looking for new ways to grow food using less water, less soil, and utilising permaculture.

Shopping

As mentioned above, I didn’t really buy anything when I was in WDW. A couple of tops for me, but nothing for anyone else. Not even my nephews and niece. (Sorry kids!)  Also, on a related note, I will sound like the sourest person in the world, but I’ve never understood why adults buy other adults gifts from their holiday.

By limiting what I bought, I reduced the amount of packaging to just a couple of price tags and limited the amount (in a very small way) that Disney would have to replenish with brand new items largely made from virgin materials.

Well, that’s it from me on how to eco-hack your WDW holiday, but there will be a follow-up piece on how Disney is working to reduce its eco-impact. Now, I’d like to hear about any tips you have for making your WDW vacation greener. Let me know in the comments.

The Battle to Bleed Green

reusable menstrual Cup vs washable period pants and pads

Tamara vs Emma

tamara: The Menstrual Cup

My menstruation journey started when I (Tamara) was eleven years old and continues to this day. It has included bleeding through my trousers when travelling solo aged 16 on a flight to Trinidad, tying a sweater around my waist and hoping that no one would notice, to being put on the contraceptive pill to try to calm my cystic acne, to always being surprised by my period every month and never understanding the myriad of tampon and pad options available to me. Too much choice = overwhelm!

Organic disposables

In my mid-20s, as I became aware of the environmental footprint of my period, I started to experiment with ‘alternative’ options. For a while, I used Natracare’s tampons and pads which are made from organic cotton and FSC and PEFC certified sustainable wood pulp. But I was the Goldilocks of periods -I was still generating waste every month and it just wasn’t right. I would often forget to stockpile when I saw them and so would often end up with a high street brand purchase.

Image by PatriciaMoraleda from Pixabay

My First Menstrual CUP

In the late 2000s, on impulse, I bought a menstrual cup for dirt cheap when a friend’s eco store closed down on Marmion Road.  

A menstrual cup is a small silicone/ rubber cup that you insert like a tampon which catches and collects your menstrual blood. You empty the cup, rinse and reinsert and after each period clean it by boiling in water.

The cup I bought was very big and plastic-y and back then I was ever so squeamish about my body. Ah, past me had to unlearn so many anxieties caused by society. I used it off and on but just found it terribly uncomfortable, it slid down all the time and I was always hyper-aware of it when I was using it. It took me many years of alternating between disposable tampons and pads and this uncomfortable cup before I decided I’d had enough.

MY FAVOURITE CUP

Reader, I am a bloody idiot! (yes, pun intended). A few years ago, I finally did some research. I spent about 20 minutes internet searching ‘tilted cervix’ (which I was told I had at a cervical smear test) and ‘menstrual cup uncomfortable’ and soon realised the menstrual cup had evolved significantly since I bought my original cup many moons ago (yes, again pun intended!).

My period has been revolutionised by one small product: the Me Luna Shorty cup. For a vertically challenged person (ok fine, I’m short!), who has not birthed any babies and who has a tilted cervix, this very specific and highly affordable menstrual cup is perfect! I think it cost me about £15. It is comfortable, hygienic and waste-free and I have not looked back.

DISPOSAL

On writing this article, I realised I do not know how to dispose of it when it comes to the end of its life as it is made of Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) which can be used as an alternative to latex, silicone, PVC, or rubber. A quick internet search suggests recycling menstrual cups may be tricky. However, I feel the reusable aspect of the cup makes it a sustainable option. I messaged Me Luna to inquire about this. They confirmed that TPE can be recycled and suggested some creative upcycling at the end of the cups life.

One advantage of the TPE is that you can actually recycle it very well. In contrast to silicone rubber, the TPE can be melted down again. This is also practiced industrially. But you should always consider that a menstrual cup consists of only 10 grams of material. So if you drive to a collection point by car, you would have produced so much CO2 that the environment does not benefit from it. If you have no way to recycle the cup, then it depends on which country you live in, which is the most reasonable disposal. Within the EU, a menstrual cup can be disposed of with household waste because there are modern waste incinerators here.

Me Luna Facebook Response (April 9 2019)

From my personal perspective, I hands-down recommend using a menstrual cup if you have a uterus that sheds its lining once a month. But don’t be like me, do a bit of research first to find the right fit for you. I can’t believe I was such a ninny.


So Emma, have I convinced you to give the menstrual cup a try? I did look at buying reusable pads but I am so lazy – extra washing just seems like a hassle. How have you found it?


Alternatives to plastic-wrapped, single-use menstrual products do exist!

emma: Reusable Menstrual Pads and Pants

Hey Tamara, I also got my period aged 11 and ever since then I (Emma) have pondered how best to end the damn process altogether because I could not cope with the pain, the staining of clothes, and the inconvenience of it all.

I once got my period on a 12-hour flight to South Africa at age 12 and hadn’t packed any pads in my carry on. At 13, asked my mum if I could have a hysterectomy because I was in so much pain, which resulted in a hasty trip to the doctors for prescription painkillers that I was on for six years around my period. I didn’t honestly think about the eco-aspect of my period until my early 20s because I was far too concerned about the searing pain that I had every month. (If any younger period-havers are now freaking out, it did get better with age, but go see a medical professional if you have any worries.)

At roughly 23, I bought a menstrual cup online that was recommended for uterus owners under 30 who hadn’t given birth vaginally. And I had a similar first experience to Tamara, where I was like “this is uncomfortable”, except I could never really get it inserted properly at all. It has sat unused in a drawer ever since.

Photo by 🐴chuanyu2015 from Pexels

pERIOD pANTS

At 25, a friend started using Thinx period pants, which work by absorbing the blood into a secret chamber in the pants through a process that they scientifically explain on their site, but I believe is some sort of magic. They claim to hold between 0.5 and two tampons’ worth of blood depending on the style that you go for.

I was sceptical because I often am. Doesn’t it leak? Doesn’t it smell? She assured me that they didn’t and I took a shot because I trusted her. I ordered two pairs (they have bundles available for better value). And I was amazed. It was a freeing experience not having to worry about the pad shifting or my tampon leaking and ruining the lower half of my outfit.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you. They can leak and/or smell if you wear them for too long. (The same as with regular pads.) You need to change them every four to eight hours depending on your flow. If you’re using them in conjunction with tampons/cups, then you can probably stretch this out to a day.

REUSABLE MENSTRUAL pADS

Just last month, at a package-free larder event in Southsea, I also bought some reusable menstrual pads from Ngozi Sews, that work in the same way as Thinx, except you can use them in any underwear. Now, I’m covered for every day of my period and I don’t have to buy disposables anymore.

Image by Brenda Geisse from Pixabay

wash-a-dub-dub, pants in the tub

“What about washing them?”, I can hear Tamara cry. Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s really simple.

  1. Soak them after using to rinse off the majority of the blood. I soak them in the “greywater” that we use to flush the toilet in our house. (I realise that is a weird as fuck statement, so here’s a blog post to explain.)
  2. Wash them at 40 degrees or lower without fabric conditioner (it affects the absorbency) and then air dry. You can put them safely in with the rest of your washing, but I toss mine in with a darks wash just to be safe.
Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

dISPOSAL

Now, how should they be disposed of? Well, I haven’t had to dispose of any of my items yet, but I believe that you should wash them and put them in with the “rags” bag for charity shops.


Readers corner

One of the (many) reasons we love our reusables is the money-saving aspect. Once purchased, they can last years, if not a lifetime. Periods cost money. For many, this cost can be debilitating and dehumanising. Following sterling work by period charities such as the Red Box Project, the Government has recently announced that free sanitary products will be made available to secondary schools and colleges.

But why stop there? Anna T, a lovely Shades of Green reader, emailed in with the fantastic idea for secondary schools to introduce students to reusable sanitary towels and nappies by incorporating the making of these items into Design + Technology and Textiles lessons.

The sanitary products would be something that young girls can take home, or donate to the period poverty cause. In the long term, hopefully, this will become mainstream and making disposable sanitary products the alternative.


The nappies could be donated to the food/baby bank which would really help low-income households as disposable nappies are very expensive and not good for our environment.


I really believe that some of the other benefits would include boosting skills for young people, understanding and tackling period poverty, help demystify periods for all genders, and positively contribute to our community.

Anna T. (Shades of Green reader)

Thank you, Anna, for writing in with your thoughts. Locally, earlier this year, Zero Waste Portsmouth and Nina of Ngozi Sews hosted a free make-your-own-reuseable-pad workshop. Get workshops like these into schools and empower and educate our young people. This is the future, people!

Two students in a gender neutral bathroom

A note: This article was written by two cis women and we would really like to invite any trans men or non-binary people who would feel comfortable discussing any green or eco period products that they use to get in touch for a future article. You can speak anonymously if you wish or we can link to your socials, business, etc, as we do work with all other contributors.

Launching into Pompey: The Package Free Larder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

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

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

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

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

Tamara’s Takeaway To-Dos:

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

Emma’s attempts to reduce food packaging waste

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

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

Buying loose fruit

Red apple

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

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

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

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

Baking bread

Loaf of bread

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

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

Getting a reusable water bottle

Reusable water bottle

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

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

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

The Lowdown on Reusable Toilet Cloth

What is reusable toilet cloth?

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

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

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

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

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

What did you use for the cloth?

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

Do you use them all the time?

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

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

How do you wash them?

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

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

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

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

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