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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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 discussour green wins over the past year.
Emma’s Green Wins
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”.
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.
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…”).
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!
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.
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.
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!)
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!
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!
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!
Weigh Fill Pay Infographic provided by 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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.)
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:
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
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
dining at table service restaurants (be warned,
this does take longer and will eat into your park day, which is why we only did
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.