Menu Close

Tag: eco (page 1 of 2)

Green Cat Paws

I am not a cat person. Cats are evil creatures that glare batefully for absolutely no good reason. They take pleasure in toying with innocent birds, will attack you with no warning, and oh my gosh, their fur just gets everywhere. The Dutchman, my partner for the last sixteen years, loves cats. Adores them. He will greet every cat he meets in the street and loves a good tussle with a playful kitty. Reader, I married him. I must have been distracted at the time.

So, you’re probably not surprised to read that I (Tamara) now have a cat. A hateful creature that I utterly adore called Popster, Poppet and, officially, Poppy. When my depression made itself known to me, I turned to ‘ye ole Internet to find a magical cure. The internet told me pets can help with positive mental health. Well duh, I kinda knew that already. As the Dutchman had waited patiently for fifteen years for me to relent, I felt I owed him at least an attempt at having a cat. But as a cat is for life and not just for Christmas, I did my due diligence, investigating cat behaviour, needs, costs, etc. I decided that fostering a cat would be the perfect compromise. The Dutchman would get his cat-fix, we’d be helping with animal rescue and if I didn’t like it, then no problem as the foster cat would go to its forever home.

Cat and human high five

We approached Second Chance Animal Rescue, a local cat rescue charity based in Southampton and Portsmouth, and after a thorough house-check and interview, we soon received our first foster cat. The only problem is within 24 hours, we were in love and adopted her. So now, our vegetarian household had an obligate carnivore to cater for. This was the first of many challenges at rearing an eco-conscious cat.

Here are my top hits and bombs on cattifying my life whilst attempting to be environmentally aware!

CAT HITS

cat food

Food: I did A LOT of initial research when it came to choosing the food for the Poppet. I decided that though vegan cat food is available, as cats are obligate carnivores, I would feed my animal other animals. But I didn’t want her to be responsible for the poor treatment of these other animals so her cat food had to be organic or free range. It also had to come in packaging that could be recycled in Portsmouth – that ruled out pouches immediately. I also was keen to feed her a low-grain diet, but that together with my animal welfare requirement was more difficult to source. Price was also a consideration as I had a budget to stick to.

I use Yarrah Organic for both wet and dried food, bought in bulk online. It contains organic meats and Marine Stewardship Council sustainable and certified fish. The cans are recyclable at kerbside here in Pompey, but the dry food comes in a plasticy bag so unfortunately cannot be recycled. I try to balance that bomb by ordering their largest bag available.

As a new cat person, I did attempt to make cat food with pumpkin, tuna, sardines, added taurine, and other vital cat vitamins and minerals but Reader, the bloomin’ cat wouldn’t eat it. I also tried cooking up a meat bone broth for her – but again, she turned up her hateful nose at my offerings. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

¾  Cat Paws

cat figurine on toilet

Litter: I was disappointed to find out that I could not compost the Poppet’s poop because of parasites in cat feces, which cannot be destroyed in a normal home composter. However, I was determined to use environmentally-responsible litter and settled on Cat’s Best, which is made from PEFC-certified secondary raw wood materials.

¾  cat paws

cat staring through catflap

Cat Flap: Thanks to Freegle, I was able to source a second hand cat flap for free. It then turned out the glass in the door wasn’t safety proof and had to be replaced – but that’s another story and not the cat flaps fault!

4/4 cat paws

cardboard box

Toys and Enrichment: I don’t deny, I wanted to buy the Poppet all the toys and all the things! I just about managed to restrain myself and discovered that boxes and string are Poppet’s favourite toys! Cheap and cheerful and not plastic – boom! The cat scratcher is made of cardboard and a longer lasting one made of sisal.

4/4 cat paws

cat sitting on chair

Cat Visits: A local pet sitter visits Poppet when the Dutchman and I are out of town with friends also popping in to check on her as well. This means she is less stressed and in a familiar environment with her familiar organic food and we are supporting local business. Ahhhh, it’s a cats life!

4/4 cat paws

drawing of girl and her cat

Mental Health: My hateful Poppet has brought an unmeasurable amount of happiness into my life. Just having her around on days when depression is engulfing me makes it better. She is our constant companion, she makes me laugh, and though she punishes us for going away by peeing in the hallway – I still love her!

5/4 cat paws

Cat Bombs

pill packets

Packaging: As mentioned above, the packaging the litter and dry food comes in is not recyclable. At the advice of the vet, Poppet is given regular preventative flea and worm medicine. This is in a plastic tube and packaged in unrecyclable foil.

After having four teeth removed, Poppet is on a daily diet of edible cat toothpaste. Whilst I have managed to source plastic free tooth tabs with fluoride for my human household, the cat toothpaste is unfortunately unrecyclable. Sad!

2/4 cat paws

 

Do you have a cat or other pet in your life? Any hints and tips on how to lessen their environmental paw-print? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Tamara’s Trio of Food Smugness

This week’s post is a celebration of food and community. First pat on the back in my trio of food smugness goes to Foodcycle Portsmouth and my friend Alexa, a fellow Green Party member, who organised a Portsmouth Green Party meal ‘takeover’ of Foodcycle which I participated in recently.

Portsmouth Foodcycle

 

Foodcycle is a fantastic food waste charity that creates free meals for the community from donated food waste. Foodcycle  Portsmouth provides the local Pompey community with tasty, free vegetarian meals made from surplus food that would otherwise go to waste. They do this twice a week: on Tuesdays at the John Pounds Centre and Thursdays at King’s Church on Somers Road.

 

It was a blast! A group of us Greenies were welcomed with open arms by the regular volunteers and guided by a calm and knowledgeable Team Leader, we cooked a three-course meal of veggie soup for starters, pasta bake with potato wedges, garlic mushrooms and wilted spring greens for mains and fruit salad for dessert. The entire meal – the cooking, prepping, serving and cleaning up – took about four and a half hours and was attended by about 45-50 guests. The evening was both wonderful and exhausting. I took the mountain of veggie scraps for my compost and left on a complete high and with the vow to volunteer there once a month.

 

Trash Cafe Food Hamper

Credit: The Real Junk Food Project South East (Facebook)

 

The Real Junk Food Project South Coast run a number of pop-up ‘trash’ cafes in Gosport and Portsmouth dedicated to collecting and repurposing food waste.  They are part of a global network aiming to abolish surplus food through a variety of Pay As You Feel concepts. I bought my first veggie food hamper from their Portsmouth pop-up cafe, which can be found at  Buckland Community Centre on Wednesday afternoons, for a £10 Hamper fee paid in advance when I ordered online and a Pay What You Feel on collection.

There was so much food – a great mix of fruit, veg, proteins such as tofu and also snacks. It was so fun to receive as it contained foods and brands I haven’t tried before. There was some fancy fake-chicken that I would not have bought in the supermarket as it is rather pricey! All that perfectly good food would have been destined for the bin but instead was destined for my belly! Double win! They also offer gluten and dairy-free hampers and can deliver for an extra fiver. As you know, I’m not a big fan of leaving the house, especially now winter is coming, so I will definitely be using their delivery service!

Being Neighbourly

 

At the Dutchman’s (my hubby) work, his office has a plastics-free fruit box delivered each week. I hadn’t realised that if the fruit isn’t all eaten or taken home by a colleague, it goes in the bin. Sacrilege! About 40 apples and pears were destined for the bin. Not on my watch!  I offered the fruit on the  Zero Waste Portsmouth discussion group on Facebook, with Foodcycle Portsmouth and the Olio app as my backup.

In less than an hour, the apples and pears were collected by a Zero Waster who turned out to be a neighbour who lives on the same street as me! We’d never met before and both happened to be members of Zero Waste Portsmouth. And as a kindness, the next day she gave me a bag of parsnips that she’d won in a hamper and did not want. It gave me the warm fuzzies and I am loving the green community in Portsmouth!

 

And what about you, dear Reader? Have you had any experiences with FoodCycle or the Trash Cafe Network? Or any tips and tricks on reducing food waste? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below. We really do LOVE hearing from readers. It gives me such a buzz! Byeeeeeee buzzzzzzzzz 🙂

How to make your dog more eco-friendly

Did you know that your dog is ruining the planet? It’s true, sneak up on your dog at any given moment and you’ll find them throwing plastic bottles into the bin or forgetting to turn off the lights when they leave the house… Okay, that’s not quite true. But our four-legged children do contribute to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere thanks to the meat raised to feed them and the “presents” they leave.

According to a study by UCLA, dogs (and tbf cats) are responsible for 30% of the environmental impact of meat eating in the US, which has the environmental impact of an extra  13.6 million cars on the road, and produce 5.1 million tons of faeces annually, which produces methane and increases the amount of rubbish that we produce. And the bigger the animal, the bigger the problem.

puppy in plant pot

But look how cute!

So, should you give up your beloved puppy? No. That would also have a less-than-green impact on the environment. Instead, you should find ways to lessen your dog’s carbon paw print and I (Emma) am going to outline some steps for you below.

Disclaimer: The links in this piece are not affiliate links, but things that have been tried and tested by my friends/family with dogs. As always, feel free to do your own research on top of this article to find out what is best for your furry friend.

Food

piece of meat

While dogs love their meat, some dogs can actually live on a vegan diet. Just ask your vet for advice before you make any massive changes to your dog’s diet.

If your dog can’t go vegan, then you can still reduce their meat intake by putting more (home-grown) vegetables onto their plate. My aunt’s dog goes crazy for a carrot, eating them whole and raw. You can also opt for organic dog food, which will be made from animals/plants that were raised/grown without added chemicals.

You can also do your bit to reduce packaging waste for their food by:

  • Cooking their meat yourself
  • Seeking out recyclable packaging (and rinsing it before popping it in your green bin)

Accessories

dog playing with ball

All good dog parents like to spoil their babies, so my first advice is to think about what you have before buying more. Does Fido really need a third ball to play catch with?

If you are buying something that your dog does need, look for a retailer that has long-lasting, good quality products that can stand up to your puppy’s standards. After all, there’s no point in buying a lead that will break the first time your dog pulls on it or a toy that will fall apart after mere days. Always remember to compare the products and read reviews to find out which is the best for your pup.

And finally, when your dog doesn’t need an item anymore, be sure not to bin it. Instead, donate the toy/cage/raincoat to your local animal shelter, where they can either sell the item or use it to help their dogs.

Waste

A dog pooping

Who took this photo? Why is it on a stock image site? So many questions.

Pick up your dog waste! I had some friends in school, who I assume have since learnt the error of their ways, who wouldn’t pick up their dog’s waste and when I questioned them about it, they told me that the waste would naturally decompose/wash away. Turns out that your dog carries toxoplasmosis, which is harmful to people with compromised immune systems, and when you don’t pick their waste up, it can pollute waterways, coastal areas, and even the parks where children play.

If you are concerned about the environmental impact of put dog waste into a plastic bag and then into a bin, then you could:

  • use biodegradable bags
  • use flushable bags and put the waste down the loo
  • use a pooper scooper
  • reuse bags that would have gone in the bin anyway, like the bag that your frozen chips came in

Some top tips

dog on lead

When I polled my friends and family for their top tips on raising an eco-dog, some didn’t fit neatly into the sections above, so I created a new section for them.

  • “Upcycle products for your dog. You can easily make an old t-shirt into a rope toy.” – Andy
  • “Buy a dog brush that you can easily remove the fur from and use the fur to line birds’ nests or for your compost.” AND “Don’t choose plastic when buying their toys/bowls/etc. Use metal or glass or china” – Yasmin
  • “Incorporate your existing eco-hacks into your pet’s life, i.e. not using single-use bags to buy their food/toys.” – Meg
  • “You can buy/make eco-friendly flea and tick treatments.” – Sarah
  • “Ditch the gym and use the twice-daily walks as your exercise.” – Debby
  • “Buy microfibre cloths to clean up after or dry your dog.” – Steve
  • “Adopt, don’t buy.” – Hayley

Well, that’s it from me (and my friends) about raising an eco dog, but now we want to hear for you. What tips do you have for raising a green dog? Let us 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.

The Green Hairy Feminist

For the past two summers, I (Tamara) have been experimenting with plastic-free deodorant and today’s post is about the highs and lows of that experience.

 

Simultaneously, I have been challenging my previously unquestioning acceptance of societal female beauty expectations by no longer shaving my armpits and legs. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am lazy-as, and this is reflected in my makeup routine which is basically non-existent. A beauty guru I am not! I don’t wear perfume or nail polish and my hair is curly, wild and free. So it was not a leap for me to grow my pit-hair.  But even so, I was surprised at how self-conscious I felt as my armpit hair peeked out and waved in the wind.

women's march

Last summer, a month or so into being shave-free, one friend commented on my hairy hippy-dippy ways and I had to make a conscious effort to be blase about both her reaction and my choices. This summer, feeling much more comfortable with my underarms  I was disappointed with myself for feeling momentarily inhibited when at Victorious Festival with my stylish ex-housemate. Why? She was too busy having a good time to care about the state of my armpits. So why did I hesitate before putting my hands in the air and waving like I just don’t care? My hubby certainly had no qualms about his equally hairy armpits. Why do I care about internet trolls opinions on grooming? Why when standing next to a sleek and chic stranger do I feel less-than? Damn you society with your ridiculous double-standards and expectations! Removing body hair should be a choice, not an expectation. And with that, I move on to the point of today’s post – my deodorant/antiperspirant experiences!

*Disclaimer, as always, I will be discussing my experience of certain products. This is not sponsored or affiliated, it’s just my random experience.*

 

Green Deodorant

Since my teenage days in the 90s when the ozone was a hot topic, I have avoided smellies in aerosol packaging and also any with aluminium. For a while, I tried crystal deodorants but didn’t find them effective. Post-crystals, my brand of choice for many years was Bionsen roll-on as it was aluminium and paraben free, I liked the light scent and it kept me from being a sweaty betty. But….the plastic packaging. Sigh!

natural deodorant

After some thorough and very scientific research, I decided on Earth Conscious Natural Deodorant Mint. It ticks a lot of my boxes as it comes in a tin, is made in the UK, smells lovely with all the essential oil ingredients and most importantly, it dealt beautifully with my sweaty tendencies. I was in love. Problem solved? Nope.

Unfortunately, I developed a dark underarm rash. I tried alternating it with my previous Bionsen deodorant but no joy. The darkening under my arms together with my new hairy pits meant I was just too self-conscious. I gave it to my husband to try who loves it and has no issues with it at all once he got used to the direct application (it is applied with the fingertips directly to the armpits). It is very cost effective as a tin is about £6 and has lasted him forever. So while it didn’t work for me, I still thoroughly recommend it.

I continued my very thorough and scientific search. Deciding on convenience, I headed to Lush in Cascades and purchased T’eo, a deodorant bar. No more searching for the elusive earth-friendly deodorant – this was it! Packaging free, ethical company, smells good, and the shop is cycling distance. Nuh-uh, not this time Missy! I was so disappointed when once again the dark rash appeared, but now with itching!

 

Success!

I started to think maybe I should try making my deodorant and so I did some actual research. I noticed a common ingredient in both my the Lush and Earth Conscious deodorants and the online deodorant recipes – sodium bicarbonate. Perhaps this was the cause of my rash?

 

natural deodorant

 

Finding a deodorant that was both sodium bicarbonate and plastic packaging free was tricky but I did it. And boy, it was expensive. £12.50 for a 68g jar of Meow Meow Tweet Baking Soda Free Grapefruit Deodorant Cream. Gulp! But this time folks, no joking, this is the one. I’ve been using it for two and half months now and I am ecstatic to report no dreaded rash, no smelliness and no sweating – and this summer in Pompey was hot hot hot!  By George, I think I’ve got it! *does a happy dance*

 

I am off on my holidays and when this post is published, I shall be sunning myself in Turkey in all my hairy glory. Yeee haw!

 

hairy legs

 

What about your deodorant experiences. Have you made your own? Can you recommend a plastic-free brand? Tell us 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.

 

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.

A Guide To Socially Conscious Sex

Sex. It’s something that a lot of us spend a lot of time thinking about, from daydreaming about our favourite celebrity to worrying if we’re doing it right to listening to your more adventurous friend brag about their exploits. But I bet that you’ve never thought about whether your sex life is ethical.

Now, I (Emma) know this seems like it’s going to an article where I lecture you about what you are doing ‘wrong’ in your sex lives. It’s not, I promise. I’m just going to look at some ways to make our sex lives more ethical – and possibly even better! After all, we’re always looking to make other areas of their lives more ethical (i.e. going flexitarian or recycling more), why not the bedroom as well?

Sex Toys

SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

I’ll be honest, this whole article was pitched after I tried to find a more eco-friendly way to clean my vibrator. I’m trying to cut down on the amount of trash that I create, so I wanted to stop buying the special wipes. Then I ended up down an internet rabbit (pun intended) hole and found out that cleaning might be the least of my sex toys’ eco problems…

It turns out that the average sex toy is made in China (as with most consumer products) to cut down on labour costs, so it could have a large carbon footprint by the time it reaches you. It may even contain some nasty chemicals or animal products, which you probably don’t want near your private parts. Then, there’s the issue of disposing of your sex toy. You can’t exactly chuck it in with the kerbside recycling, can you?

 

via GIPHY

What should you do?

  1. Keep your sex toys for as long as possible, as ditching older ones before their time will only exacerbate your environmental impact. But when you are ready to retire them don’t throw them into a landfill; there are some recycling schemes available, like Love Honey.
  2. Clean your sex toys with warm water and white vinegar or, in the case of non-electric toys, simply boil them
  3. When looking for a new sex toy, look for ones that are made in your country (to decrease your carbon footprint) and choose ones made from medical-grade silicone, glass, metal or wood. If you do opt for a plastic one, stay away from any that contain phthalates, a  potentially carcinogenic chemical. You could even find a solar powered sex toy to cut down on battery and electrical use. I swear that you won’t have to leave the whole thing out in plain view; just the battery.

via GIPHY

Porn

SOURCE: PIXABAY

What porn you consume – and how – can make a big difference to how ethical your sex life is, mainly because of how the industry treats its actors. And as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have taught us, big, powerful companies – and the (mostly) men at the heads of them – generally suck at controlling themselves.

Most mainstream porn has problems with:

– unsafe sex, which some actors report being forced into

– pressuring actors into sex acts that they are uncomfortable with

– a lack of rights for workers, including unfair wages

– the fetishisation of its actors, particularly POC, LGBTQ+ people, plus size people, and mature people

All of that is appalling and it doesn’t even cover the fact that in most mainstream porn the female actors are forced to fake their orgasm, which creates an unrealistic view of sex for the consumer.

via GIPHY

If the person making my veggie burger was working under unsafe conditions, I’d be furious, so why should I care less about the people making my porn? Now, this isn’t to say you should stop watching porn. I didn’t stop eating eggs when I found out about battery hens, I switched to free-range.

Instead, look into a more ethical type of porn that treats workers fairly and promotes intersectionality. Also, it could do wonders for your sex life by showing real sex acts that actually get women off and that you could try at home- mainstream porn seems awfully scared of a genuine female orgasm, doesn’t it?

So how can we make sure that the porn we’re watching is ethical?

via GIPHY

There are no consumer reports on how ethical porn is, so it’s mostly up to you to decide for yourself, but here is my advice.

Pay: I know that we’re so used to getting our porn for free that it seems absurd to suggest you start paying for it again, but I swear there’s a good reason. When you don’t pay for porn, the industry can cut corners, which can hurt the performers.

Play favourites: Find a porn star that you like. Do your research on them, listen to what they say about their work, and find out if they have more control over what they do with whom. Some performers may even have a website (perhaps with free clips and photos!) and those actors are more likely to have control over their content.

Trust your instincts: The next time you’re watching porn, ask yourself if you think the actors are enjoying themselves and if the scene seems safe. You can still explore fantasies that may not look safe on the surface (i.e. BDSM), but it’s important that the performers are safe and happy to be in the scene.

I know this can seem like a lot, but considering how exploitative some porn can be to its actors, isn’t it worth it to support the performers who have done so much for you?

via GIPHY

 

Lube And Barrier Contraceptives

Source: Wikipedia

Did you know that your lubes and contraceptives could contain animal by-products? Or that they may have been tested on animals? It’s something that I naively assumed was only true in contraceptives from the distant past, but unfortunately, it’s something that is just as true in the 21st century.

What can you do?

Simply, it’s a case of being a more informed consumer.

Organizations like PETA and the Leaping Bunny keep track of vegan and cruelty-free brands, but you should know that obtaining these certifications isn’t exactly common among the makers of lubes and contraceptives.  Otherwise, you can always check the ingredients list on your lube for ingredients like glycerin and your barrier contraceptives for casein (or ask the manufacturer).

Now, I know that some of you are waiting for me to talk about how barrier contraceptives contribute to our landfills and that no one knows how long they take to biodegrade. However, I’m not going to tell anyone to ditch barrier contraceptives as they’re the only things that protect against STDs.

via GIPHY

The only thing I’ll say is – DON’T FLUSH THEM DOWN THE TOILET! They’re really hazardous to marine life.

Okay, so this is how I’m pursuing a more ethical sex life, but now I’d like to hear from you. Are you trying to get a more socially conscious sex-life? How’s it going? Let me know in the comments section below.

 

This article, written by Emma, was originally published on LOTL and has been reprinted with permission. It contains some amendments for a UK audience.

How to recycle in Portsmouth Part 3: Recycling the unrecyclable again

Here at Shades of Green, we receive messages on an almost daily basis about how to recycle certain items and we really love it. You’re keeping us on our toes and getting our green brains to work that much faster, so thank you for that.

So far, Tamara has shown you how to recycle all that you can through kerbside recycling or at the various recycling banks across Portsmouth and she’s even improved on that in a blog about items that take a little more effort to recycle.

This month I (Emma) am jumping on her recycling bandwagon and showing you how to recycle some of the most unrecyclable items that I’ve found in my home.

 

Elastic Bands

Pile of rubber bands

Dear Posties of Portsmouth, why you gotta keep dropping elastic bands on the pavement? Uncool.

If you want to get rid of a surplus of elastic bands, you could donate them to your local library (as my dad does), schools, or any other underfunded community group that needs to do admin work. It’s not recycling, but it is reusing and that’s much better.

Bonus points awarded for picking up elastic bands you find on the street or asking your postie not to drop them on the floor.

 

Pringles Cans (other brands are available)

Four pringles tubes

Picture by Like_The_Grand_Canyon on Flickr

I definitely eat waaaaaay more Pringles than the average person. This used to make me feel bad because the cans can’t be recycled… Or can they?!

Shocker! The majority of the Pringles can is recyclable if you’re prepared to do a little work. Want to learn how? Check out this video!

The only thing that I would add is that you need to just use your fingernails to pull the non-recyclable inner lining of the Pringles tube away from the cardboard. It’s a bit like finding the end on a roll of tape.

The metal bottom and the cardboard goes in your kerbside recycling, the plastic top goes in the plastic recycling skip at Sainsbury’s,  and the only thing to go into the bin in the silvery plastic-paper-foil covering inside the can.

 

Pens

Picture of pens that can be recycled

Milton Cross School has recently launched a pen recycling scheme in conjunction with TerraCycle, a recycling company that we’ve spoken about a few times on this blog.
Milton Cross will be collecting all kinds of writing implements for recycling, except for pencils and crayons. This includes:

  • Any brand of pen
  • Felt tips
  • Highlighters
  • Tippex Pots
  • Mechanical Pencils
  • Eraser Pens

Deborah Mason at Milton Cross said that it’s part of the school’s drive to be more environmentally friendly. She said the school sees a lot of waste and they wanted to reduce this while also teaching the students how to be greener. The money raised will be donated to the Lord Mayor’s Charity.
If you want to recycle your pens with Milton Cross, you can drop the recycling off in their secure lobby and they are looking into getting collection points in other parts of the city.

 

Now, I’d like to hear from you. How do you feel about being able to recycle these items? Are there any other items that you would like to see Shade of Green attempt to recycle? Let us know in the comments and we may feature it in our next blog.

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!

 

© 2018 Shades of Green. All rights reserved.

Theme by Anders Norén.