Dear Reader, I, me, Tamara of this same Shades of Green, admit it. I am not a gardener.I do not have green thumbs. I confess it! I do not enjoy pottering or growing or nurturing.
I enjoy reclining in the sunlounger like a middle-class Victorian lady, wrapped in a blanket, reading my book and taking selfies.
This time spent in the garden and not gardening is occasionally broken up by doing photoshoots of my hateful, beloved cat.
and so on. I am sooooo tempted to do another reel of cat photos. Keep reading and I may put some bonus photos at the end! Hah, I know how to keep ’em keen!
Given my leisurely garden pastimes, what was I thinking by attempting some actual growing of some actual plants? Perhaps it was jealous-inspo of my Bristol friend who has made a pond in her garden from scratch.
Or perhaps the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of my delightful and more local-than-Bristol-aka-Pompey friend and fellow Green Partier, Tracey.
Tracey, henceforth and hereby declared She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, had the absolute gall to drop by some seedlings because she had too many. This intrusion into my peaceful domicile included rocket, lettuce and honeywort.
For context – this is the current status of the siblings of my seedlings, belonging to She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named’s
I diligently watered them. Even added homemade cloches, on the advice of She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.
Then this happened.
An entire pot of lettuce seedlings disappeared overnight. What happened? Were they eaten? Went to visit their aunt? Did I overwater them? I don’t know. It is forever a mystery. But it’s okay. I still have more lettuce and rocket.
Until I didn’t.
My last batch of lettuce also disappeared into the night. No worries! I still have my rocket. I even planted them out in fresh compost. There is hope.
Dear Reader, I present to you – my pièce de résistance
Wait for it…..
I present to you white spider-web like mould.
Ewww and Shudder.
I wailed in disgust. How is this possible that even under the safe confines of cloches, the rocket rotted away? I bemoaned my failure for a full week straight.
Weirdly, the wildflowers are growing. But as they reside in the mouldy graveyard and I am still grossed out by that, I can take no joy in their shadowy existence.
So now, I have one man standing. My honeywort. My precious. Living in the relative safety of my window-sill, I check it twice a day, water it with filtered water and tenderly stroke it’s wonky baby leaves.
I await its imminent demise.
Congratulations! You have reached the end of this epic, cautionary tale, and so you shall be rewarded with a collage of photos of a cat you do not know.
Yes, the title is a little silly. (And when I (Emma) ran it past my first proof reader, can be misinterpreted as something NSFW!) But I think that, right now, it would be nice to have a little escape from the harsh realities of the world and get a little levity into our lives.
And this article actually tackles an area of all our homes that we perhaps do not think about as being particularly wasteful, but that may produce the most trash outside of the kitchen and bathroom. So, let’s delve right into making your letterbox a greener place.
Limiting what you get in
Obviously, the biggest way to make your letterbox more sustainable is to limit what you bring in. The more things that you bring into your house, the more things that will ultimately have to be composted, recycled, or put into the council rubbish bins for incineration. But how to do that?
Put a ‘No Junk Mail” sign on your mailbox
It won’t work all the time, but it will make the leaflet delivery person out think twice about shoving another pizza menu or double glazing advert through your door.
Some of the bigger companies use Royal Mail to deliver their leaflets, but you can opt-out by downloading and filling in this form and posting it back at the address listed. (Can’t print? No problem. You can ring on 03457 740 740 and ask for a form to be posted to you.)
Full disclosure, this shouldn’t stop you getting political leaflets or important messages from the government (i.e. the coronavirus leaflets) because they are designed to keep you politically informed. If you do already know who you’re voting for in the next election, i.e. The Green Party, you can put up a sign saying “no political leaflets”.
Opt for text or email alerts from companies
Whether it’s your bank statement, electricity bill, or even your dental practice, most companies will be happy to change how they contact you as mailing things by post costs them money. Some will even reward you for going paperless with better deals.
Take this one step at a time. As you receive the latest communication from each company, read it closely to see if there is an online option. If its not in the letter, check their website.
Lowering the eco-impact of what you do get in
We all have stuff posted to us and none of us can say, especially now, that we actually get all our shopping done at physical stores. So if how can we lower the impact of what is posted to us?
Ask for no new packaging
If you are buying something online (or even getting something sent to you by a friend or relative), ask the person posting to use some of their old packaging, rather than buying something new. After all, most packaging items can be used far more than once and it doesn’t really matter if the top you bought comes in a bubble envelope that someone else had a book arrive in, does it?
Request recyclable or compostable packaging
If the person shipping can’t provide used packaging, which can happen if you’re buying new items from a big business, then ask for your items to be shipped in cardboard and paper, rather than plastic, which will be harder to recycle.
It’ll probably just take one email to customer services with your username, order number, and a request that a note is made on your account.
Side note: If you’re getting something sent to you, request the slowest possible shipping. This means that, in the case of international deliveries, the item is sent by ship, rather than by air, or, for UK-deliveries, that the car/van/truck it is driven in is more likely to be full, than if you’d selected next-day delivery.
Resuse what you have
On a related note, if you do get any boxes or bubble envelopes or other packaging through the door, consider reusing it when you have to send something. Your friends are unlikely to care if their birthday present arrives in an old Lush box and cushioned by Styrofoam from the last time you bought electronics. Just make sure everything is clean and dry before storing and sending.
Not every piece of packaging or post can be recycled, but these are the post and packaging items you can recycle in Portsmouth’s green kerbside bins:
Cardboard boxes *
Corrugated cardboard *
Sheets of cardboard (perhaps used to keep items flat in envelopes) *
Cardboard envelopes (like the kind that DVDs or CDs are occasionally posted in) *
Paper envelopes * (including the kind with a window)
(The ones with stars next to them can be composted in your home compost bin.) (Not window envelopes!)
Bubblewrap and the stretchy plastic bags that magazines, for example, are posted in, can be recycled with carrier bags at larger supermarkets.
Well, that’s it from me today. Mainly because I’ve run out of things to say about letterboxes and partially because the spacebar has only worked 75% of the time and I need to go sit somewhere away from my laptop for a long while.
Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips for making your post box green again. Or…
This is a post free from Covid-19 mentions! Enjoy the breather as you ponder the ethicalness of mobile phones. :)
To buy new, or not to buy new?
That is the question that Emma and Tamara are tackling in today’s post, specifically in relation to mobile smartphones.
Should one buy new, or refurbish and repair? Or simply do without? (Spoiler alert, the last option isn’t a choice we explore!)
EMMA SAYS: DON’T BUY NEW. BUY REFURBISHED.
We begin with Emma, the queen of the refurbished phone.
Emma got all the phones, she got all the phones.
I have had eight phones in my short little life. (I’m still a Young Green for nine more months!) The first two – a Motorola Brick and a Nokia 3310i – were third hand. My uncle would give my mum his old phone when he got a new one and I would get it after she was done with it.
Then, I turned 16 and I asked for a camera phone for my birthday. And that was where things started to go wrong. When I went to college (and started going out later with friends), my parents and I agreed that I would get a cheap contract, so that I couldn’t claim that I didn’t have the credit to tell them the gig overran or I missed my bus. That came with a new phone, barely a year after the last. (I assume the provider didn’t have a sim-only contract then.)
When I moved to uni, my phone didn’t get signal and, after too many nights only able to phone people while standing outside the IT centre, I switched providers, which came with a new phone. This time a slider phone, which broke just a year later, and resulted in me buying my last-ever new phone.
I should, for context, tell you that I got another phone second-hand from my mum and discovered sim-only contracts at some point between 2011 and 2019. (Also, that all of my past phones have been recycled or sold on if they were working.)
Reader, she cheap.
As mentioned before, I’m cheap. (If this feels like a recurring theme to you dear reader, try being one of my friends who I refuse to pay the £4 to sit next to on a plane or who have to smile at the bartender as I order tap water at their birthday night out.)
The phones that I had bought, as opposed to getting through a contract or from a family member, only ever cost about £60, which meant that they were off-brand with lower-res cameras and would result in people going, “Is that an- oh no”, whenever I got my phone out.
So I didn’t want to buy a new phone when my old one was no longer able to support any of the social media apps that I used. But I was tired of taking terrible photos.
And yes, I know that sounds shallow, but as a writer and the co-runner of the Portsmouth Green PartyInstagram account, it was my own personal hell to continuously borrow my mum’s phone to upload pictures about your local Green Party or promote my articles on Twitter. (For 10 glorious minutes in November 2017, a picture of a cake my mum made was visible on the PGP Instagram because I forgot to log out.)
Emma discovers refurbished phones and doesn’t look back, ok bye.
So last February, I knew I needed a new-to-me phone. I was practically bullied into it by a dear friend and my mum. I opted for a refurbished one through my network provider and got a 2018 model, which supported all the apps I needed and had a great camera, for just £60.
(It came with a £10 sim card that I gave away to one of the local homeless shelters to allow the people there to call their families.) (Full disclosure, I don’t remember which one, but The Lifehouse said they would appreciate it when I asked in preparation for the post.)
So why would I buy refurbished?
More attractive and can get a cute case (although beauty is in the eye on the phone holder)
Compatible with wireless chargers (all of my USB cords are dangerously frayed)
Buying second-hand is better for the planet than buying new, even if the item you’re buying new is sustainable and eco-friendly
No matter how simple it is to repair the Fairphone (see below), I would still put it off. It’s pretty simple to clean my laptop keyboard, but I’m pretty sure there’s mould growing under there from the third year of uni.
But now, let’s hear from Tamara about the Fairphone. (She can totally trash my Huawei phone. A good place to start is, “aren’t the Chinese government using that to spy on people?”)
TAMARA SAYS: DON’T BUY BAD NEW. BUY FAIRPHONE.
Tamara argues against second-hand…wait, say what now?
Uh oh Emma, are you going all 5G conspiracy theory on me? Seriously though, she makes a compelling argument. Buying second-hand should be the default. So why even as I agree that if a phone can be reused, it absolutely should, am I arguing against? Dear Reader, let me take you down an alternative path.
Like Emma, I have always taken pride in not being a brand follower or a tech upgrader. Sim-only contract, that’s me! Why get a new phone every two years when my current one is perfectly fine-ish? Again like Emma with her third-hand-me-downs, my mobile phones were always donated by my partner, the Dutchman when his work upgraded their mobile phone contracts. He always had a better, faster, shiner phone than me, with more storage space and a fancier camera. He was always the more tech-aware one in our household. I am the one who goes running with my trusty old iPod. I was the one who carried around a mobile power bank because my old iPhone’s battery would drain to 10% if I even thought about making a call. I couldn’t afford to repair these phones and most couldn’t be repaired anyway, cause they are not designed to be easily accessed.
I am now the trend-setter with a phone that I treat more reverently than a new-born baby.
‘Hah!’, I hear you thinking, ‘Call yourself a greenie? What a hypocrite. Bought yourself a new, expensive phone at the expense of the planet and those who reside on her?’
And to that, I say: New? Yes. Expensive? Definitely yes.
Planet and people destroying? Absolutely NOT!
Dear Reader, I present to you the FairPhone – a mobile phone designed to be repaired and ethically produced.
I have reached ethical nirvana.
This is not a sponsored post. Tamara is just a massive fangirl.
Tamara learns to trust again, this time by doing actual research
For many years, I trusted brands. I trusted banks. I trusted supermarkets. I didn’t question why I trusted them, I just did. I thought for a long time that Apple was an ethical green brand because it was called Apple.
Luckily a good friend of mine (the same one who I mentioned in a previous post I share a subscription to The Ethical Consumer with) introduced me to the Fairphone about 5 years ago, opening my eyes in the process to the conflict mining and child labour that go into the manufacture of the typical smartphone.
Let’s get real for a moment. Smartphones are a*mazing. But the way they are produced is definitely NOT amazing. I won’t go into it all here, it bums me out too much and I get all fatalistic and depressive. But I will try to quickly summarise, so you know where I am coming from. But as usual, I strongly encourage you to educate and inform yourself as this is just my limited understanding.
~ A Sad Smartphone Summary~
Ok, so, basically, smartphones are made up of thousands of different components and on average around 60 different metals. These metals that go into a phone are mined.
If it is mined by people, by hand, from the earth, it is called artisanal mining. Artisinal mining sounds all fancy and lovely doesn’t it, like yummy sourdough bread. Hah, the absolute literal bloody irony as many of these metals are mined in areas of conflict, such as cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The unethical mining of these metals which go into our phones fund brutal conflicts. Child and forced labour is a huge problem. Artisinal mining my arse.
That is just one part of the supply chain. Then we have the manufacturing process, mostly done in China and Vietnam. I am talking poor and unsafe working and living conditions, inadequate health and safety and low pay. The usual fun stuff.
And finally, the disposal of the mobile phone. Even if recycled, many smartphones end up in e-waste dumps which leach pollutants into the soil, waterways and the workers who are extracting the metal components for recycling. (But we still encourage you to recycle your phone with us – we have absolute trust in Recycling for Good Causes.)
~End of sad summary~
Ooof. As I said, it is a bummer. And that is why, when my second-hand iPhone kaptutted, I bought a Fairphone 3.
Tamara pitches why your next new smartphone should be a Fairphone
The Fairphone is ethical but it does not claim to be perfect. It is not 100% fair or completely recyclable. But it is the only ethical smartphone that exists in today’s current market. They have traceable supply chains for all four internationally recognized conflict minerals: tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold. The gold is also fairtrade.
The supply and production chain of the Fairphone is completely transparent and they actively support workers rights and a fair living wage. My Fairphone 3 cost £400. From that, only 1.50 euro per phone was needed to ensure a living wage bonus to all the factory workers on the Fairphone production line in Suzhou, China. Fairphone points out that they are not the factory’s only customer and probably account for less than 10% of the total production in the factory. If all the factory customers followed suit, all the factory workers would have a fair living wage. *looks pointedly over to the big phone manufacturers*
And finally, the Fairphone is designed to be repaired. By the consumer! By me! It is a modular, repairable phone.
Yep, it cost me £400. That is a shite-load of money. I have never spent that kind of money on a phone before. Remember, I am a hand-me-down kinda gal. But I saved for a long time and bit the bullet and put my money where my ethics claim to be. Not everyone is able to do that, but I am happy I could.
Demand the right to repair
I am grateful the Fairphone option exists. But why is it the only truly repairable smartphone brand available?
It is my personal opinion -not backed up by any research cause I am at the end of the article and I am getting hungry – that manufacturers do not design their phones to last. They definitely don’t design them to be easily repaired.
This is why I encourage you to support and sign this Right to Repair petition urging the European Union to require manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei and Apple to design repairable smartphones and provide spare parts and repair information to all repairers and consumers.
After signing the petition, I am off to wrap my Fairphone in bubble wrap leftover from my recent move and sing it to sleep! My precious!
As some of
you may know, I (Emma) work from home. (Normally in my pyjamas, as part of a
quest to fulfil the stereotype!) I love it because I have no commute, no dress
code, and no ‘suggestions’ about me wearing make-up.
This article will be about how I make my home office (read: corner of my bedroom with a desk) a little more eco-friendly. Although, a couple of the biggest contributors to your typical carbon footprint at work (commute, on-the-go food) are already taken out of the equation because I work 10 seconds from my bed.
some of these tips will inspire you to cut your carbon footprint, whether you
work at home or not.
writer, I spend about 7 hours a day typing on my laptop. As my laptop is from
2012 and the battery is dead, I’m sure this uses a lot of electricity, so I try
to cut my usage elsewhere.
comment, I did buy a new battery in 2016, but it died within a year and I’m not
keen on doing it again.)
Unplug items when you’re not using them
As you can see from this photo, I don’t have electronics plugged in when I’m not using them because even when the item is switched off, it still uses electricity. My printer, phone, coffee maker, and lamp only get plugged in when I need them, which is maybe one item once a day.
Also, the coffee maker is one of those horrible capsule ones. I got it from my nan’s house and I’m just using the capsules up before I sell it. To dispose of the used capsules in an eco-friendly way, I’m:
removing the lid and placing it in the bin
putting the coffee grounds into a jar and either using it as a body scrub or putting it straight in the compost
putting the plastic bottom into the Sainsbury’s Mixed Plastic bin
Work with natural light
I work directly under a window (I live in the attic like Cinderella), so I rarely have to turn either the ceiling light or my lamp on. Except when I work before 7 am or after 5 pm, which doesn’t happen often anymore because I’m getting better at this whole work-life balance thing.
Minimise heater and fan
As I live in the attic, it boils in the summer and freezes in the winter, but I try to cope with this without using the heater or the fan. (I mean, the radiator’s in the wrong place and I never feel like the ceiling fan works, but I’m still going to count this.)
During the summer, I open the window and, sometimes, soak a t-shirt in cold water at several points during the day. In winter, I wrap myself in hoodies and, occasionally a blanket.
I recently learned that emails have a carbon footprint because the internet is held up by huge data-processing sites. Therefore, I’m trying to send fewer emails (i.e. one email with all of the work from the project rather than several), clear up my inbox, and unsubscribe from all of those mailing lists I find myself on.
This is harder than I thought. The Inbox Zero struggle is real.
Of course, a neat way to offset this is with search engine Ecosia, which plants trees when you search for something.
As mentioned in a previous article, I’m exceptionally cheap. Thus, it won’t surprise you to know that I’ve kept every workbook and gel pen from my school days so I don’t waste products that could be used for writing or that I hoard used A4 paper in case I need to print anything and small bits to write my daily to-do lists.
Another way that I prevent waste is:
Putting all smaller pieces of used paper into an envelope to be recycled so that they don’t gum up the machinery at the recycling plant
Refilling printer inks at the Ink Store and, when needed, recycling them with Portsmouth Green Party
Borrowing or buying used anything that I need for work, like the tilted platform my laptop rests on
Making my own pen holder from a Primark bag and an empty washing powder tub
Composting pencils when they’re down to the last little nubs (don’t worry about the graphite, a small amount won’t harm the soil)
For my last
point in this article, I was once told that having plants in your office makes
you focus more and work harder. I don’t know if that’s exactly true, but I do
now have two cacti on my desk. (Normally, placed out of the way of the cat.)
Even if I’m not incredibly focused, I do like that it’s helping to take some CO2 out of the air. (Even if Tamara’s husband recently told me that it works the opposite way at night, so my bedroom is essentially filling with CO2 after the sun goes down.)
Okay, well that’s it from me. If you have any ways to eco-hack your office, let me know in the comments.
Moving house is one of the most stressful things a person can experience. I am sure I read it on an internet listicle, so it must be true.
In the past three months, I (Tamara) have:
moved all my worldly belongings and crap into storage.
moved all my worldly belongings and crap out of storage 8 weeks later into my new Pompey home.
moved my mother-dearest from her home of twenty years in Devon to my new Pompey home
travelled by train to The Netherlands (#NoFly2020) to help my mother-in-law move house within her local area.
That is a lot of packing of boxes, hiring of vans and moving of people and their stuff.
My move was the only one I had any real control over and I was determined to make it as environmentally light as possible.
We did our own packing and moving. This was primarily because it was cheaper than hiring professional movers but also because I wanted to keep the materials used and waste generated within my control.
This meant using as little plastic as possible, not buying new and reusing and recycling after the move.
It wasn’t a perfect move by any means, but I did my best within my limited budget. *pats self reassuringly on back*
Here are Tamara’s (somewhat obvious) Top 3 Tips on How to Green Your House Move:
Tip 1: Eco Packing Tape
If you stop reading after this tip, that is fine by me. Because you will now know that paper packaging tape exists and that you can buy it locally from mobile plastic-free shop Refill and Replenish for £2! I bought a ton from online eco-shop Anything But Plastic as Refill and Replenish hadn’t yet started stocking the paper tape – and though I bought loads… I still managed to run out. You are going to use a crazy amount of tape. So much tape. Might as well make it plastic-free. There’s no excuse now you know.
Tip 2: Collect (LOTS OF) SECONDHAND Boxes and Newspapers
I managed to not buy any bubble wrap. Not one roll! Of this, I am very proud and owe to friends and neighbours who collected newspapers and bubble wrap for me to use.
I started collecting boxes long before I moved house. My partner, The Dutchman, has moved his work office a number of times in the past few years and after each move, I have collected the cream of the crop of the discarded archive boxes. He thought I was crazy. I knew my day would come.
I kept a beady eye on online reuse sites such as Freegle for offers of moving boxes and also posted a few requests. I sourced most of my boxes throughFreegle and some Freeglers also kindly messaged me with tips on where to get boxes, particularly Lidl and PC World.
And now I have moved, when I am unpacked, I will offer out the useable boxes to others to be reused via Freegle.
The used newspaper will be recycled at kerbside as I unpack…which I am doing…slowly.
Tip 3: Tap Into Your Community
Collecting such a plethora of boxes, newspaper and packaging material would not have been so easy without the support of others.
One friend donated a load of bubble wrap she had been saving. Another collected newspapers from the neighbours in her apartment block. One volunteered her husband to help on moving day. Another friend let me stay in her flat while she was travelling and we needed a place to stay for a month whilst our house purchase went through. One loaned her garage for my excess stuff to be housed while I staged the house ready for sale. My cousin who was visiting from Trinidad on training for work helped us lug furniture from storage to the new house.
After the death of her beloved nan and the clearing of her belongings which she writes about here, Emma kindly gave me towels and bedding and other linens to use as packaging material. As they were not good enough to be donated for use by people (i.e. it had rips or was stained or had faded), I was gifted them with the strict instructions that once unpacked, I must donate them to The Stubbington Ark for their animals. In the midst of her grief, she would send me texts checking if this or that would be useful for my move. And she helped me move on moving day. Words cannot begin to say how valuable her help and support was. I couldn’t have done an eco move without her.
I tapped into the local Zero Waste Facebook community when I needed help and advice. As mentioned above, Freeglers gave me their boxes and advice. So many boxes.
And finally, when my mother-dearest’s ridiculous oversized antique armchair couldn’t get through the front door, local joiner and carpenter Aaron of Aaron’s Wood ‘N’ Stuff took it apart and reassembled it, saving it from my exasperated idea of taking a hammer to it. My mother-dearest and her armchair thank you Aaron.
And you, dear Reader, what tips and tricks do you have for making a house move an eco one? Let us know in the Comments section.
Greetings all and welcome to the last Shades of Green post of the decade! (Not to sound old, but I (Emma) swear 2012 was only like two years ago.)
Now, as this is our post-Christmas blog and I’ve been focused intensely on minimalising all year, I’ve written all about the most eco-friendly ways to dispose of unwanted gifts.
What can you do when you receive two DVDs of The Greatest Showman? Or a multi-pack of plain underwear? Or a subscription to Amazon Prime? (They don’t pay their tax, I’m not paying for their TV.)
Well, read on to find the best way to re-use your present. All of them more planet-friendly than storing them in the back of your closet for the rest of time.
(Although, that ugly sweater knitted by your aunt with your initials on… you’ll have to suck it up. You can always put it in the cat basket and say “she won’t sleep without it”.)
Some presents that you receive are unable to be returned; maybe they’ve been bought at a craft market or maybe it’s an Amazon Prime gift card when you’re a Netflix person. It might not be right for you but for someone else, it’s perfect. Especially if their birthday is close to Christmas- luckily, I don’t want presents this year.
eBay generally has free listings on items in January. I haven’t seen it advertised this year but it’s one of the quickest ways to get rid of your unwanted presents. (Who wants to do a car-boot in the winter?)
There is nothing to be ashamed of with returning presents. This post-holiday season, I will be returning some cosmetics that I suspect are tested on animals and this book (okay, it’s not actually this book but putting the real book up would be mean).
A note on store policy
Most stores will have a grace period after the holidays where presents can be returned without the receipt for the currentvalue. Be aware that this may be less than was paid for it because stores have their sales on; you can make the most of it by buying something you’ll make use of from the sale items.
I tend to exchange at supermarkets, where I exchange the item for food.
If you aren’t keen on these options; then as opposed to putting the items in charity shops (they get so full after Christmas), you prioritise direct action groups as money is often scarce in these places due to government budget cuts. (And ones that will no doubt come in the next 5+ years of Johnson!)
Hey all and welcome to Shades of Green’s semi-annual eco Christmas post. Now, you might remember that earlier in the year, I (Emma) vowed not to buy any Christmas presents for adults. (I was still going to buy them for my nephews and nieces.)
Now, that promise was made before what was (and contiues to be) a distressing few months for my family. My grampy doesn’t really get why I’m trying to refuse presents and my mum thought we were just doing this for people outside our immediate family.
I tried to fight back. It ended in an argument. And Tamara, after I almost screamed at her about the fact that I was now under stress to buy presents that I never wanted to in December, explained that presents are a love language and my family are probably just trying to show that they care, after our annus horribilis.
Thus I, the person who didn’t want to buy presents, am now doing an eco-gift guide for my family.
Please note: This is not an ad. No payment or gifts were exchanged for inclusion in this blog. These are simply eco-friendly companies that I have bought presents from for the three people that I live with.
When you buy local you can often cut down on transit and CO2; even if you still buy from a national or global brand.
A completely non-scientific case-study
If you wanted to purchase an individual bath bomb from Lush; you could order online and have that one item posted to you.
Compare this to buying that same bath bomb from your local store. They order their stock in massive amounts (50 bath bombs per box, sometimes as many as 30 boxes per delivery); the carbon footprint per bath bomb is much less.
Plus, they do have a massive package free (naked!) section.
Of course, it is always better to buy from small businesses in your local area. Here, I should mention the lovely Pigeon Books, who have been supplying me with presents for my nephews and niece since the summer.
They specialise in diverse books and have a whole section of eco-saving literature. Plus, if you live nearby they’ll deliver by bike and if you live further away, they’ll package your books in reused packaging.
When you buy handmade you’re helping someone to do what they want for a living; you get something uber unique and you might even get lucky by picking something from a designer that’ll be huge one day.
For this, I will recommend The Beehive Portsmouth, which has a collection of designers under one roof. We visited for the launch event back in September and loved it.
Tamara particularly liked the jewellery, I liked the small prints, and from the photos, it looks like Tamara’s husband Menno liked the food!
One of the major environmental costs is the production of new items and it’s much more eco to buy products that have been pre-loved.
I used to love doing this throughout the year and having my mum put stuff away for my Christmas presents, but, like most prolific readers, I now have more books than I could read in a lifetime.
Check out eBay, Gumtree or even Facebook Marketplace. Or you can pop down to your local charity shop and do twice the good.
However, if you’re looking specifically for books, which I always am, try World of Books, which is approved by both me and Tamara. They source books from charity shops, who are often overwhelmed by books, and prevent them from going to landfill.
On that note, if someone doesn’t really have a need for more items, why not consider a charitable donation? Plenty of charities will send out cards saying that a donation have been made in their name. (Remember to add on Gift Aid if you can!)
I’ve done this for a few years for my grampy with Doctors Without Borders, but if you want to donate closer to home, there are some worthwhile causes in Portsmouth mentioned in a previous post.
We all have that friend who could use a little push to be more eco-friendly and a good way to give that push in a friendly manner is to buy them a green gift.
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.
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.