Tag: eco hack (page 1 of 2)

How to eco-hack your letterbox

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.

black door with letterbox

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

man of colour looking at smartphone

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

pile of boxes
Someone clearly took old boxes from Starbucks to send these parcels

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

Envelopes
Remember that Portsmouth Green Party can recycle the stamps

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

cat on boxes
Guest starring: Tamara’s cat

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.

If you can’t use it, give it away to someone who can via Packshare or on Freecycle/Freegle/Trash Nothing.         

Recycle and Compost what you can

wheelie bins

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)
  • Junk mail
  • Newspapers *
  • Magazines
  • Directories

(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…

Post box with the text: Go send someone a love letter

Written by Emma, a Queer Freelance Writer

How to eco hack your home office

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.

Hopefully, some of these tips will inspire you to cut your carbon footprint, whether you work at home or not.

Cutting electricity

As a 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.

(Before you 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

The towel I failed to crop out is where my cat sleeps while I work

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

laptop on desk under window

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 usage

cat in  blanket
An accurate representation of me today

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.

Restricting emails

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.

Cutting waste

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:

envelope of scrap paper
The envelope was also used as a to-do list and to note down everyone I had to tell about my broken phone
  • 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
  • Recycling pens with Milton Cross School
  • 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)

Going green

two cacti
My plant babies

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.


Written by Emma, a Queer Freelance Writer

The Big Green Move

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:

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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.

Image by Dirk (Beeki®) Schumacher from Pixabay

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 through Freegle 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.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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.


Written by Tamara, a Green Hairy Feminist

How to eco-hack your Christmas Presents in Portsmouth

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.

Buy local

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.

Buy Small

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.

I have the imposter syndrome mug you can see here!

Buy Handmade

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!

Buy secondhand

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5vUXyDlAKi/
I’m going to need a bigger bookshelf

Buy charitable

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.

Buy sustainable

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.

Looking for ideas? Check out one of Tamara’s first blogs about her zero-waste backpack.

How to eco hack your Walt Disney World vacation

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

Getting there

Plane flying

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

Packing List

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

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

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

Transport

The monorail driving

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

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

Hotel

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

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

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

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

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

Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shopping

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

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

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

Reducing Food Waste: Eggs

A couple of months ago, my mum bought a couple of dozen eggs meaning to make cakes for her clients, but then caught a virus before she could do any baking. Soon, the virus was passed onto every member of the household, myself (Emma) included.

The smart thing to do at this point would have been to give the eggs away on an app designed to prevent food waste (i.e. Olio) or to a friend or family member, or frozen the eggs which apparently you can do if you separate the whites and the yolks. I could even have fed some eggs to my cat. But alas, you never know how long a virus will last. By the time anyone had recovered, it was well past the Best Before date on the carton.

A safety warning about eggs

Unlike most foods, eggs can be very dangerous if you eat them when they’re out of date and you should use your best judgement about consuming them yourself or allowing immunocompromised people to eat them. But, as with most foods, the Best Before date is only a guide. This means that you can often use them a little bit after the date and suffer no ill-effects, but my mum didn’t want to use them in her cakes in case it did make anyone ill – can you say lawsuit?

So our choices were to pretty much eat the eggs asap! As Oscar Wilde once said: “Eating an egg is always an adventure!”

via GIPHY

The trouble is that my dad doesn’t eat eggs – although he does like to complain about food waste – and my mother is out at least three nights every week. So here I am, eating roughly 45 ‘expired’ eggs on my own in a month. When I told Tamara this, she literally made a retching sound and said: “eww, eww, eww please shut up”.

At this point, I was more egg than person. I made a big batch of peanut butter cookies and ate some sort of egg dish every other day. It all came to a head about three weeks in, when I burnt two eggs and the yolks went mouldy in the frying pan – yes it happens! Before you ask, I did crack the eggs into a cup first and saw no problems.

I threw these out because… of course, I did. But there were still 5 eggs left in the box.

 

My mum suggested throwing those out, but I resisted, determined to find some way of using eggs without eating them. So, I turned to the internet. Some people joked that you could use rotten eggs to egg someone’s house – I hope that was a joke. Others were more helpful.

 

You can use apparently use a gone-off egg to help your tomatoes or eggplants grow – the shell will deter insects and provide calcium to the soil, while the egg will provide the nitrates needed for growth.

Egg whites can also be used as a proto glue, for craft projects. Another use is to provide a shiny coating for smaller ornaments.

For those of you who own leather products, you may also be interested to know that you can clean using egg whites. And for those of you with silver jewellery, you can use the yolks to oxidise your silver jewellery. I won’t bore you with the details, it’s a chemical reaction involving sulphur and… Hey, don’t click away, I’ll stop. If you do want to know more, just click here.

 

You can also use also use them as a strengthening and conditioning treatment for your hair because of the protein in eggs. Add a couple of drops of essential oils if you’re worried about the smell. Another beauty hack is using egg whites as an anti-ageing cleanser, which should also reduce puffiness, and egg yolks as a rinse-off moisturiser. Although, I should tell you that the idea of putting gone-off eggs on my face irked me out too much to try.

 

I hope this has helped those of you who find yourselves throwing away eggs to reduce your food waste. Let me know if you have any other tips for reducing food waste in the comments.

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.

 

365 days of Shades of Green- Part 1

Shades of Green is one year old! Happy Greeniversaray to Emma and meeeeee (Tamara).

It has been a fantastic year – a year of attempting to show and not just tell the wonderful folks of Portsmouth that it can be easy being green, a year of charting our attempts to be kind to the planet whilst not leaving the house and a year of eating our way around Pompey’s veggie establishments under the guise of blog ‘meetings’! I am so chuffed to be marking this milestone with Emma and of course with you, dear reader.

 

what's your story

 

To celebrate a year of Shades of Green, Emma and I have posed five questions to each other to judge who is the greenest of them all. Haha, could you imagine?! We don’t do judgement here, only positive vibes! 🙂

 

In this 2-part series, Emma and I will share where we both are in our Shades of Green journey. Today it’s all about Emma!

 

Explore with Emma

 

Time for change

 

Q1: Emma, tell us is there anything you have changed in the past year to be more green?

 

Since we started Shades of Green, I’ve made some changes to my life in order to become more eco.

 

  • Food waste – I hate to admit it, but I’ve always been a little bit concerned about using vegetables or fruit when they start to look a little funny or something dairy based when it’s a little bit out of date! In the past year, I’ve been tackling this by taking food that a little past it prime and actually cooking with it. Often, the appearance, texture, or even taste of an individual food item can put us off eating something that is perfectly safe to eat. This can be mitigated by making it into a soup/curry/smoothie and even masking the taste with sauces and spices.
  • Recycling – You’ve really helped me to recycle more by telling me about the plastic recycling at Sainsbury’s and taking my cartons to that secretive place somewhere outside the city. You have no idea how much that’s reduced my family’s waste.
  • Traffic – While I don’t drive, I’ve been reducing the amount that I ask my parents for lifts, which means more buses and more walking.

 

plane

 

Q2: Talking of traffic and travel, how do you reconcile air travel with your green living aims?

I knew I shouldn’t have bragged about my holiday to Florida, lol.  Like most people, I love going on holiday and sometimes that involves air travel. Now, I know that’s a controversial thing in the green community, but in order to visit places in America and Africa, it’s kind of the only option, and I don’t think that we need to be martyrs in order to save the planet.

 

Yes, take slow transport where you can and where it makes ecological sense to do so – if you’re getting a plane from Southampton to Manchester, then rethink the train or the coach – but don’t beat yourself up for wanting to visit other countries and other places.

 

According to the Carbon Footprint Calculator, my return economy-class flight from London to Orlando will be about 1.13  tons of CO2. That’s a lot and there’s no way that I can deny it, which is why I’ll be offsetting it (it only costs about £6). But, do you know what equates to a carbon saving of roughly 1.88 tons a year? Being Vegetarian.

 

The things that I do to be green, including being vegetarian, recycling more, not driving, etc, actually more than make up for these big holidays that I only take every 2-3 years. It’s not perfect and ideally, I would love to be content travelling in the UK and in Europe, but I’m not perfect and I want to go to Disney World. I can’t excuse my use of air travel, but I can cut my eco-impact in other ways in order to make up for it.

 

home lettering

 

Q3: You mention a few of the actions you take to cut your eco-impact Are your family on board with your green aims? How do you deal with any conflict or differing options?

My mum is a little peeved whenever I tease her about eating meat, but my parents are mostly on board with my green lifestyle. In fact, they’re the driving force behind most of the green things in our house and have been since I was little. My dad went pescatarian when I was four and ditched fish after I went vegetarian. My mum almost never eats meat anymore.

 

We have a compost bin, several different recycling bins for the things that can’t go in our kerbside recycling, use eco-friendly bulbs, reusable bags, and even use the water collected in baths and showers to flush the toilet and water the garden. All of that was in place far before I could weigh in. Maybe my parents should write the blog instead of me?

 

teddy bear

 

Q4: Aww, shout out to Emma’s Mum and eco-warrior Dad. I’m well jel as I struggle to get my mother to even recycle! Thinking of the relationship between us and our folks, what are your thoughts on having children and the impact on the planet?

 

I would like to preface this minefield of a question by saying that I have three little nephews who I love very much and I wouldn’t give them up if that one action would end climate change. Sorry, but that’s just the truth.

 

But there is plenty of evidence to suggest that having children is one of the least eco-friendly things you can do, mainly because when you create another human being, you are creating someone else who needs resources that are already in demand.

 

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have kids if you want them and can offer them a healthy and happy home environment, but you might be shocked to know that having one fewer child will save you  58..6 tonnes of CO2 per yearThat’s more than all the other green things combined.

 

I don’t currently have children and they’re not really on the cards for me for like another 5-10 years, but I do think I want them. Depending on how I (and my future partner) feel at the time, this might mean bio kids, but more likely it will mean adoption. Don’t worry, this isn’t a selfless act – I’m just freaked out by the idea of being pregnant!

 

 

Q5: As a reward for you generously answering some tough environmental and ethical dilemma questions re. air travel and children – here’s a nice easy one to finish off. What are your top Pompey places for green living?

 

As always, we love to hear from our readers. What are your top Pompey recommendations? What eco changes have you made in your life? What are your guilty pleasures? Tell us in the Comments Section 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!

 

An Ode to Slugs and Snails

Today I found my first snail of the season. Nooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tracey and I (Tamara) were at Southsea Green, the community garden at Canoe Lake, where Pompey Green Party have a veg plot.  I was attempting to rescue some very sad-looking broad beans and enjoying pottering around in the sunshine contemplating my navel, while Tracey, infected with the spring season, cleared up winter detritus.

And there it was, slithering all over the broad beans, waving its tentacles in slimy delight…mocking me, daring me. I refuse to be intimidated by this threat that, quite literally, lacks a backbone. I did the only thing possible in the face of such defiance. I eyeballed it, plucked it from its unauthorised brunch and lobbed it over the fence. As it sailed majestically through the air, I could hear it calling, ‘I’ll be baaaaccckkkkkkk.’

https://www.instagram.com/p/Be01MfVDV8W/?taken-by=pompeygreens

 

Disclaimer: I am not a gardener or a scientist.  At least once a year, I desperately turn to the internet hive-mind for earth-friendly, chemical-free, organic solutions that ideally don’t involve snail murder. These are a handful of recommendations that stick in my mind which may or may not be urban (gardener) myths  – haha, did you see what I did there?!

So, here are my lazy-girl suggestions for eco-friendly slug and snail repellants that may or may not be effective!

Crushed Egg Shells:

I scatter crushed eggshells on the veg plot and in my garden and that my friends, is basically it! The idea is that it acts as a barrier deterrent and as a bonus, the eggshells add nutrients to the soil. Bonus – as I eat a lot of eggs, it is free!

Coffee Grounds:

When I am at Palmerston Road, I always collect a (free) bag of used coffee grounds from Coffee #1. My hubby also loves ‘proper’ coffee on weekends, so there is never a shortage in my household. As with the eggshells, I scatter the used coffee grounds around like environmental confetti and let it do its thing. It also doubles as a fertilizer and can also go in the compost.

Nematodes:

I invested in a 24 week-course of Nemaslug (nematodes) last summer. The application process is more involved than chucking coffee grounds onto the soil but apparently, it is more likely to actually work.  Nematodes are microscopic worms and a slugs worst nightmare and an organic gardeners dream. Lazy girl bonus – they post the nematodes to you. Lazy girl fail – I still have 2 of the four packs in my fridge from last summer.

Beer Traps:

I have tried laying out beer traps a few times and am just too grossed out by having to dispose of stinky slug corpses. Unrelated to the beer traps, last year I plucked a load of slugs and put them in a plastic bag to dispose of.  I promptly forgot about it and when I found it….it turns my stomach just thinking about it. If I were more on the ball, I think I could dispose of the dead slugs in my compost bin, but I don’t even like touching them. Sigh, I guess I just need to (wo)man up!

Copper Tape:

When I first started growing veg for my local slug and snails enjoyment, I tried copper tape around pots as a barrier deterrent. I was a complete beginner and I didn’t have much luck with gardening in general (some things never change!), so my lack of success was probably more to do with this than a failure of the copper tape.

Wool Pellets:

Around the same time as my foray into copper tape, I also tried using wool pellets. The fibres act as a deterrent as they are supposed to be uncomfortable for the snails and slugs to crawl over. The wool also doubles up as mulch and a weed suppressant. I dunno if it was effective, but I didn’t like the smell. Recently, I had some food delivered and it was insulated with wool liners. As my cat turned her nose up at her pure wool mat,  I’m gonna try using it in the garden instead.

Moonlit Hunt:

Forget going on a bear hunt, instead, why not grab your torch and head outside to hunt slugs and snails by moonlight. Ahhhh, how romantic!

 

Sling-Shot Sid:

And finally, just to be safe, I suggest you practice your sling-shot aim for the new Olympic sport ‘Snail Shot-Put’! The homing instinct is strong with this one, they need to travel at least 20 metres from their home patch, otherwise, they will be ‘baaaaccckkkkkkk.’

 

So dear reader, have you waged and won the war against these slimy soldiers? Let us know your hints and tips in the Comments section.

Please, I beg you….my sanity and summer depends on it!