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Crispy McCrisp Face

A not-so-secret secret is my love for the humble potato crisp and my hate of the unrecyclable packaging they come in. While my health and the environment beg ‘Please, no more’, my treacherous tastebuds say ‘Hell, yeah!’.

I (Tamara) have been fearlessly investigating crisp snack substitutes and am pleased to report back to you, my fellow crisp-lover.

Popcorn with salt and butter

Popcorn

Thanks to Wild Thyme offering both packaging-free popcorn and nutritional yeast, I have discovered a love of cheesy vegan(ish) popcorn. When I have a snack attack, my popcorn can be ready in 3 minutes flat! I can’t claim vegan status as I have a bad habit of smothering the popcorn in buttery deliciousness. The Dutchman has expressed a love for sweeter popcorn flavours – cinnamon and maple syrup have been a hit. The only downside is my microwave seems to not approve of my popcorn discovery and keeps shutting down mid-pop. It’s a-poppin’ mystery!

 

Roasted Chickpeas

Though a bit more effort than homemade popcorn, roasting chickpeas in the oven is equally delicious and healthy – especially as, unlike my popcorn, I don’t smother them in butter! Because I am a lazy gal, I use canned chickpeas however I do have grand plans to eventually cook up some dried packaging-free chickpeas in my slow cooker. Click here for my g0-to oven-roasted chickpea recipe.

 

Crisps in Compostable Packaging

I have Emma to thank for this momentous discovery – crisps in compostable packaging. I thought it was but a distant dream but no, my dream is a reality! Hertfordshire based company, Two Farmers offer crisps in…wait for it….100% home compostable bags. I AM SO FRICKIN’ EXCITED!!!!!! (Yes, I am afraid both capitals and exclamation marks are necessary to convey my delight.) I am awaiting my first order and shall report back shortly!

 

Till then, dear reader, what do you snack on? Do you have any recipes to recommend? Let us know in the Comments section below.

 

How to eco hack your small business

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

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

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

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

Premises

eco premises

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Goods

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

 

 

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

 

Post and packing

eco packaging

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

How to eco hack your wedding

Couple in wedding outfits

 

Your dress may be white, you might have borrowed something blue, but here’s how you can make your wedding greener.

NOTE: This article, written by Emma, was originally published on Blue and Green Tomorrow and has been reprinted with permission.

Big events, like weddings, always have the potential to be unkind to the environment. As such, many eco-friendly people (myself included) can’t help but feel a little nervous about planning such an occasion.

There are so many decisions to make, and it can be more stressful when you’re also worried about how those decisions will affect the world around you.

Luckily, this eco-friendly guide will help you plan a wedding that your inner (or outer) hippie will be proud of.

Vendors

In any wedding, vendors will be in control of the majority of decisions that could negatively impact the environment (such as using disposable cutlery/crockery at your reception or blasting the heat/aircon in every room, as opposed to just the ones you are using).

This means that it’s a good idea to look for vendors that share your values. A quick look using your internet search engine of choice should bring up a wealth of results for “eco + florist/caterer/venue + your town”.

If it doesn’t, then turn to Plan B. Create a small list of vendors that you’d like to pick and contact them individually to explain that although you’d like to hire them, they’d need to agree to certain eco requirements on your big day. After all, there’s one type of green that all businesses care about — and they’ll work hard to earn it from you.

In that case, what sort of requirements should you consider? Well, it’s naturally all up to you, but here are some things that eco-friendly people want from the vendors at their wedding.

Venue

venue - Eco Hack Wedding
While many eco-friendly people would enjoy having their wedding outside to cut down on energy usage, there can be various local laws or adverse weather conditions that make this impractical.

As such, for this article, we will focus on what should you look for in a venue for an indoors wedding.

Recycling Bins

Your guests will need somewhere to dispose of empty drinks bottles and cans during the reception and most guests will find something in their bag or their pockets (invites, receipts) that needs recycling.

Low-energy bulbs

While your venue is unlikely to replace every light bulb with the earth kind alternative, they may be convinced to change out the bulbs in the ceremony and reception rooms for you. After that, they might even choose to keep them installed.

Alternative heating/cooling methods

Rather than switching on the AC/ electric heaters at the first sign of a change in temperature, have your venue open the windows, set up a log fire, or provide blankets to keep your guest comfortable.

Caterers

Wedding Cake - Eco Hack Wedding

Animal Products

Depending on your own version of being green, you might be okay with giving your guests the choice of eating hand-reared meat, line-caught fish, or small-farm dairy. However, you should ask the caterers where their animal products came from so that you can ensure any animal products were sourced through humane and sustainable methods.

Locally-sourced, organic ingredients

One of the biggest environmental challenges when it comes to food is how it is grown/reared, and how far it travels to get to your plate. In order to make your food greener, have your caterers use only produce from a local farm that uses organic growing practices.

Pro Tip: If you’re having your cake created by a separate baker, ask for them to use only local and organic ingredients.

No disposable cutlery/crockery/napkins

If you’re having a sit-down formal dinner, it’s unlikely that the caterer will serve it on paper plates with plastic forks and red cups for your champagne toast. If you’re having a less formal dinner, say from a food truck, then the caterer might just serve the dinner on the dreaded Styrofoam products.

If china plates would be a problem, or the caterer is a small vendor that doesn’t use real plates, consider buying reusable plastic picnic sets for everyone to use. They can always be used by the guests for future picnics, or donated to a good cause after the wedding.

Florist

Woman in Wedding Dress holding flowers - eco hack wedding

Dried Bouquets

The beauty of dried flowers is that they do not have to be discarded after the wedding and can be used in home décor or placed in your wedding memory box.

Limited Floral arrangements

Cut flowers are never going to be good news for the planet, so if you’re going for fresh over dried, you’ll likely want to limit the amount you have to just the bridal bouquet.

Potted Plants

You might consider having potted plants make up the floral decorations in the ceremony/reception.

Pro tip: The plants will also make nice gifts for the wedding party.

Choose naturally-grown, locally-sourced plants

As with your food, you’ll want to make sure that your plants are locally-grown without pesticides. As a result, you may have to compromise on the type of flowers you select depending on what’s in season and native to your area.

Couple’s Choice

So we’ve discussed what you should consider from your main wedding vendors but what can you- the happy couple- do as individuals? Well luckily, there are still many ways for you to eco-hack your wedding on your own.

Outfits

women in wedding dresses - eco hack wedding

No animal by-products

When choosing your wedding outfit, you probably want to avoid items that contain animal by-products (i.e. leather shoes, fur stoles, silk gloves), but you may also wish to avoid items that have been dyed or treated with casein (a protein found in milk and used to make some plastic buttons) or lanolin (a wax produced by wool-bearing animals).

Secondhand

Many thrift stores and vintage shops have wedding dresses/suits that have been donated/sold after only over being worn once, and that is a waste of resources. The prices will be reasonable and you might even find a gem from a long-gone era.

Alternatively, take a look through the family closet to find the items that a beloved relative wore at their own wedding, from grandma’s dress to your brother’s cufflinks. After all, as the old saying goes, you will need “something borrowed” for your wedding.

Buy a reusable outfit

If you want to buy new, consider something that you will wear again and again as the years go by. You can always have your outfit altered slightly to be worn as a cocktail dress or a business suit.

All of these tips can, of course, be applied to the whole of the wedding party- not just those getting married.

Invites

wedding invites - eco hack wedding

Evites

If you think paper invites are a waste of a tree, send e-vites instead. Not only is it a lot more eco-friendly, but you’ll save a ton of money on stamps.

Recycled Paper Invites

If you do want to send paper invites, use recycled paper in order to lower your environmental impact.

Postcards

Alternatively, send postcards without an envelope to cut down on paper. Perfect for a kitsch wedding.

Gifts

wedding presents - eco hack wedding

Set up a wish list

If you and your partner have been living together for a while, you likely have everything that is traditionally bought as a wedding present (i.e. dinner sets, bedding). To avoid receiving duplicate gifts, set up a wish list. That way you can ensure that you get something that you really want, and prevent wastefulness.

Charity donations

Ask for donations to your favourite eco-charity, like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, or Earthjustice, (or even the Green Party) as opposed to gifts.

 

Hopefully, this guide has shown you that it’s relatively easy to eco hack your wedding. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

 

How I Eco-Hack My Kitchen – A Green Goddess Series

In my household eating is a much-beloved activity and cleaning is most definitely  not. In this series on eco-kitchen hacks, I (Tamara) will be focusing on my attempts at green kitchen living. I will share with you my tried and tested tips – from how to eat sustainably, to where I buy food for me and my husband, to food storage and food waste, and of course the ever-dreaded cleaning.

In this post, I will be focusing on five easy and sustainable changes I have made. So, as they sing in Oliver, let’s get started with Food, Glorious Food, magical Food, Wonderful Food!

Man eating strawberries and cream

  1. Buy Sustainable & Certified Foods

fair trade Madagascan cacao bag

My requirement of food is simple –  I want the food I eat to cause me transcendental bliss, to tickle my tastebuds into spasms of delight, to satisfy my stomach and my mind. Surely that’s not asking for much?

What I do not want to taste is worry and guilt in every bite about the unfair treatment of producers and farmers, horrific animal welfare, industrial-scale deforestation, overfishing, air miles, and pollution, and the overall negative ecological impact – ain’t nobody got time for that!

This is why, wherever possible, I buy certified and sustainable food that can relieve both my conscience and my hunger. Whatever your food preferences, whether you are a meat-lover, meat reducer, pescetarian, vegetarian, vegan or fruitarian (not an exhaustive list!) – my first nugget of green wisdom is to be on the lookout for food produced to certified and traceable standards, ideally that goes above and beyond the legal minimum.

Logos and marks I look out for include Fairtrade, the green frog of Rainforest Alliance, the bluefish of MSC (Marine Stewardship Council), RSPCA Assured, Free Range and Soil Association Organic.

Yes, some certified foods can be more expensive as there are higher welfare and environmental standards involved with the farmers and producers are being paid a fair living wage. Yes, I have to make choices and yes, compromises also have to be made. This is why I have my ‘non-negotiables’ and my  ‘if-money-allows’.

My non-negotiables include free range eggs, Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance bananas and coffee, MSC fish and seafood, and free-range or RSPCA-assured meats.

If money allows, I have organic eggs, vegetables, meat and cheese, and Fairtrade flowers and wine for when I am feeling fancy.

And finally, I always buy local if that option is available to me – this Christmas I had family visiting from Trinidad and so as it was a special occasion, I splashed out on a local free-range goose for them from the family-run Ashford Farm near Petersfield. I won’t lie, it was expensive but (I am assured) delicious and so worth it!  I also regularly buy fresh produce from my local Milton Market greengrocers Portsmouth Fruit and Flowers who stock veg and flowers from Titchfield. My Titchfield-grown daffodils from them are nodding happily to me as I type!

Basket of Daffodils

So whether it is choosing Fairtrade bananas in your a weekly food shop, or making the choice to buy RSPCA ham from Lidl or MSC certified fish fingers from Tesco’s or buying locally grown sprouts and daffodils from Portsmouth Fruit and Flowers greengrocers; each ethical, sustainable and local choice you make means an unsustainable food item is being left on the shelf. And that my friends, is the power of consumer choice. Boom!

For more information on the various certifications I mentioned and many that I didn’t, I found this list on the Love British Food website useful.

 

  1. Make Your Own Bread

Bread Rolls

Keeping on the topic of food, mine is a bread-loving household as the Dutchman (my husband) would eat bread for every meal if he could. Bread with cheese, bread with peanut butter, bread with chocolate spread – I think I’m married to a man-child!

Last February 2017, he was gifted a bread machine from a kind friend and it has seriously changed our lives! He makes a bread every 2 days and as we no longer buy shop-bread, we no longer have to deal with the plastic bags they come in, thus reducing our plastic waste. I salute those who make bread by hand – we tried it a few times and failed miserably. I’m happy with the convenience of the bread machine, for us it’s revolutionary!

 

  1. Use cloth napkins

cloth napkin with flowers and cutlery

Another small change that has helped reduce the amount of waste we produce is using cloth napkins instead of paper kitchen roll.

I am a mucky pup and spillages are a common occurrence. Cloth napkins are reusable, can be chucked in with my laundry, and it looks fancy shmancy!

I sourced mine from charity shops and my Mum who had more cloth napkins than one person could ever need. I have greatly reduced my (FSC and recycled) paper towel usage as I just use tea towels or cloth napkins instead.

 

  1. (Re) Fill Your Own

refill spice jars

As a prolific user of herbs and spices (smoked paprika makes everything taste yum!), I was delighted to find I can refill my spice jars at Wild Thyme Wholefoods who offer an amazing self-service for herbs and spices as well as a refill service for laundry and washing up liquid.

I recently refilled my Ecover laundry and washing liquid at Southsea Health Shop and it was cheaper than Tescos! Trust me, I checked! This does require a tiny bit more planning, and I am aiming to have one bottle in use and one pre-filled under the sink so I don’t run out and have to do a supermarket dash.

 

  1. Composting

compost heap

I have been lucky that the majority of places I’ve lived in here in Pompey had outdoor space for a compost bin. I compost all uncooked fruit and veg peelings and for years had been also innocently including tea bags made from polypropyleneNow if I am unsure if the material of the tea bag is made from plastic, I just add the tea leaves to the compost and discard the bag. I am currently working my way through a back-supply of tea bags and will be moving onto loose tea to save myself those 5 seconds of extra work.

Other than that, I just throw in my veg scraps every few days with some newspaper and let the compost do its magic. I might aerate it once a year if it’s lucky, but the rest is up to the worms! So far, so good! Though eggshells and coffee grounds can also be added to the compost, I add these to my garden as snail and slug deterrents. Those little bastards eat everything except the bloody weeds!

For those of us in flats or with no outdoor space, you could experiment a wormery or bokashi bin. Years ago,  I used to have a bokashi bin, but was too lazy to look after it properly and so it went horribly wrong. I’ve been thinking I might give it another go as you can add almost all food waste in a bokashi bin including cooked food. I need to research it first as it needs to be convenient for my lazy ass!

Alternatively- or as well as- find a friend or neighbour with a compost bin who you can donate your organic waste to! Try signing up with ShareWaste, a free app that links together people with organic scraps with people who have compost bins, wormeries, or chickens. So far, there are only a few of us in the Pompey area on there, but the word is getting out there, so sign up! Coincidentally, the first request I received was from someone who has the fermented organic waste from her bokashi bin to donate to my compost.

In this post , have just scratched the surface on the many small changes that I have made to green-ify my kitchen. What green kitchen tips do you have? Do you compost and if so,  do you just chuck it all in and hope for the best like me? Have you signed up to ShareWaste or know of any other similar useful apps? Let us know in the comments below.

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