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Interview with Portsmouth Green Party’s Fratton Candidate: Tim Sheerman-Chase

It’s that time of year again, dear reader. The local elections are less than a week away and all of us at Portsmouth Green Party have been fighting away to get you a Green councillor to represent you and hold the main parties to account.

With that in mind, I (Emma) sat down with the PGP’s Fratton ward candidate Tim Sheerman-Chase to find out why he’s running and what he would do to improve Portsmouth for its residents and the world at large.

Hey Tim, I was wondering if you could tell the readers of Shades of Green why you’re running for office?

I decided to get involved in politics and local campaigns after seeing worrying signs of environmental and social breakdown. With my background in science and engineering, I am also well aware that, without drastic change, climate breakdown is a huge problem. The good news is that pressure from campaigners can be effective and real improvements can be made.

I learned so much from authors like Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein about how current politics isn’t working for most people, so I aim to be an independent voice in politics that is a change from business as usual.

That sounds like just what we need. Now, I know that PGP have been out in Fratton talking to people to find out the main problems they have in the area. Can you tell me what those are?

Based on our survey, the main concerns of residents’ are:

  • crime
  • antisocial behavior
  • fly tipping
  • street cleanliness

Residents also face the danger of illegal levels of air pollution, which causes a wide range of health problems. All of this is against a backdrop of devastating cuts to local services under the banner of austerity.

That’s just terrible. So, what would you do to address these problems?

Fratton Green Party Candidate Tim Sheerman-Chase talking with local police about issues affecting local residents.
Fratton Green Party Candidate Tim Sheerman-Chase talking with police about issues affecting local residents.

I talked to the local policing team and they heavily depend on information provided by the public. I would help coordinate residents’ concerns with the police and other council services. On cleanliness, we need to provide more convenient recycling and waste disposal options, rather than having to travel to Port Solent or pay steep fees for waste collection. I would work to coordinate council services to keep the streets clean.

On air quality, I have been campaigning for a number of years with the #LetPompeyBreathe group. I have been pressuring the council to make significant improvements, beginning with producing a realistic plan. Unfortunately, the council has been slow in producing results. Since we need to transition away from private car usage, we need good transport alternatives, including better bus services. We also need to investigate the feasibility of introducing a charging clean air zone as quickly as possible.

Why is the Green Party the party to address these issues?

Many people are disillusioned with mainstream politics because it only offers superficial change. As Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” The Green Party is different because of its emphasis on long term planning, while valuing people and the environment. This has allowed it to be an earlier adopter of many beneficial policies that have since gone mainstream.

That’s a really good point. If I wasn’t already a member, I’d join. Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers and the people of Portsmouth?

I’ve been encouraged by canvassing feedback and the hard work of our campaign team. This means we have a good chance of getting a first Green councillor for Portsmouth. We can win and we can hold the mainstream parties to account.

Well, there you have it folks. If you care about Portsmouth, if you care about our planet, and if you’ve had it with politics as usual, get out there and vote Green on May 2. If you’d like to read more from Tim, Tamara did an interview with him about air pollution in Portsmouth, which is an important (and scary) read.

Launching into Pompey: The Package Free Larder

Changing the world. It can be as simple as looking around your local community and not just seeing what could be better but actually doing something about it.

Delphine Laveyne and The Package Free Larder Committee members are exemplars of being the change you want to see. Coming from France, Delphine has firmly embedded herself as a leader in the green community in Portsmouth.

In 2017, on meeting like-minded sustainers at regular monthly event Green Drinks Portsmouth, she set up Zero Waste Portsmouth, enabling those interested in responsible consumption to meet once a month to share ideas, tips and tricks on living zero waste, ethically and sustainably. It was here she talked of her dream of a one-stop packaging free community run shop. I know ‘cause I (Tamara) was there! Last month, that dream took a major step towards becoming a reality with the launch event of The Package Free Larder, hosted by The Southsea Village.

It was an absolute blast!  Emma, her lovely Mum, and I hung out and nibbled on dirty fries whilst listening to local environmentalists and activists speak passionately to a packed-out audience.

Serena Cunsolo, marine biologist and PhD researcher at the University of Portsmouth educated us about micro-plastics in the ocean. (Did you know that there is a Great Pacific Garbage Patch three times the size of France between California and Hawaii? I didn’t and I was horrified.) She also spoke of the effects closer to home, of microplastics in wastewater in Portsmouth. It highlighted to me the urgent need to look into my closet to see what my clothes are actually made of.

Clare Seek from Plastic Free Portsmouth (amongst her many ventures!) spoke about the growing plastic-free community in Pompey and of the importance of educating on how to reduce and then reduce some more.

Daniel Nowland of The Southsea Deli spoke about his ethical food ethos and sustainable food systems. Listening to him inspired me to encourage my household to eat less but better – specifically cheese, as we get through a lot of it!

Emma and I got a taste for local produce and went into a buying frenzy: purchasing plastic-free floss from Wild Thyme, hand-made pasta from Antica, package-free rice and coffee beans from Refill and Replenish, and reusable menstrual pads from Ngozi Sews. And we heard from Connie, Ella, and Delphine of the Package Free Larder Committee about the journey from a kernel of an idea to the reality the Package Free Larder will be.

The work that has gone into getting the Larder this far is incredible. In September 2018, Delphine hosted a meet-up for interested parties at Southsea Coffee and in 6 months The Package Free Larder was born. There is still a way to go but the foundations have been laid. The next step is to raise funds and source a property for this bricks and mortar community-led venture.

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

This fantastic community project needs YOU! For this to get off the ground and become a success, it needs people across Portsmouth to support it – financially, with time and resources, and through social media. But (in my opinion) mostly finances.

The Package Free Larder will be launching a crowdfunding campaign in the next few months and I will be there to support them. I hope you will too. Go to their website here and subscribe to their mailing list to be kept in the loop.

Let’s put our money where our mouth is. Let us be the change.

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

Tamara’s Takeaway To-Dos:

  • Research and buy GuppyFriend bags (assuming it isn’t greenwash) for my synthetic fibre clothes
  • Rediscover buying clothes at charity shops (I hate clothes shopping generally but love charity shops!)
  • Attend Beach Cleans regularly
  • Read up on the Ocean Garbage Patches. Educate mahself!
  • Purchase plastic-free cows milk from The Southsea Deli and make it my regular place for cheese.  

Jumping on the Veganuary Bandwagon…in February!

For the second half of January, I (Tamara) took to my bed with the flu in a manner befitting Austen’s Jane Bennet. To my chagrin, this lingering lurgy put a dampener on my plans for a Veganuary Pompey Crawl.

Fortunately, as there’s a myriad of vegan food options in Portsmouth available all year round,  I won’t have to wait until January 2020 to try some more vegan delicacies! I did manage a feeble outing to Two Doors Down where I gorged myself on their healing veggie and vegan Bao buns. A-bao-solutely delicious!!

My cunning plan is to force my Pompey vegan food crawl onto my friend when she next visits from Manchester. I have a restaurant or two or three in mind: Croxtons, The Southsea Village, Southsea Coffee and Paula’s Vegan Bakery in Gosport.

View this post on Instagram

Wonderful time in a wonderful place #victoriousfestival

A post shared by Jessie ET (@teethingpains) on

Meet Jessie, a vegan-ish

My Pompey vegan food crawl will be with the lovely Jessie, my friend and ex-housemate. Jessie tried out veganism last year, for Veganuary 2019, going straight from being a meat-eater to eating only plant-based meals.

A year after her Veganuary experiment, Jessie continues to eat plant-based and meat-free, as a vegan-ish. I am super impressed as when we were housemates, this was a girl whose dinners used to be the simple fare of grilled chicken or salmon with vegetables.

I spoke to her about this massive change in her eating, her holiday food caveat and why she considers herself to be a flexitarian.

Jessie, welcome! Introduce yourself to the People! How are you linked to Pompey?

Coming from London, I worked in a small dental practice in Drayton (I am a dentist) and lived close to the seafront just off Bransbury Park. I found Pompey to just be everything I wanted. There’s much going on; the seaside, eating, shopping, nights out, sporting events, nature …. recycling. (Who knew there was so much to know about recycling and being sustainable!)

(As we were housemates during your time in Portsmouth, I take full credit for your recycling revelations! )

I think it’s no exaggeration to say that living in Pompey has been one of the best years of my life so far.  I miss it hugely now I am stationed up North and look forward to my next visit!

Jessie’s pre-Veganuary weekday dinner of fish and veg looked a lot like this.

What were your reasons for doing Veganuary?

I have always been intrigued by the idea of  Veganuary. Just to see what it would be like to live without meat, eggs or dairy, and as a personal challenge to see if I could. I feel I have quite a bland palate or maybe more of a tendency to see food as fuel only. My dinners tended be quite boring; chicken/salmon with steamed vegetables/salad was the bulk of my diet. Quick and easy to cook but balanced and healthy. Weekly Cod Squad fish and chips or sausage and chips also featured occasionally…

It’s no lie the potential health benefits were also a consideration – I read a lot about healthy skin and people feeling amazing. (BTW it is still possible to be a very unhealthy vegan). Last year,  I decided I was definitely going to do it. I researched. I planned my meals and lunches. I had everything ready.

So ready, steady, go vegan! How did it go? What did you eat, both initially, and now a year later?

I researched vegan-friendly foods and brands for things such as popcorn for the cinema, or crisps for snack cravings – all very easy areas to trip up on otherwise. A lot of people find quitting dairy and for some reason, cheese, the hardest bit. I have never really been into dairy or cheese, so this was actually very simple for me. The hardest bit was actually giving up fish! I honestly miss my weekly slices of salmon more than any meat.

Now, I eat a real mix of things, cooking from scratch for most meals and trying to batch cook where possible to save time.

For lunches, I tend to have:

  • Tofu cooked in different sauces with salad during summer.
  • This winter I have been having more soups or dhals.

Semi-regular on the weekly dinner menu:

  • Fajitas or burritos
  • Vegetable stews with different spices or grains.
  • Curries are a personal favourite. I love spicy food and a lot of recipes are already vegetarian so it’s easy to veganise.
Definitely no bland dinners for Jessie anymore!

I  feel that preparing vegan dinners does take longer, but this may be because previously I didn’t really go in for fancy meal prep. There’s no easy, tasty, exciting option that can just be stuck in the oven for 20 minutes. I don’t mind the food taking longer to make because it’s generally more satisfying to eat at the end.

Tip: For vegetarian and vegan recipes to try, check out Emma’s post of 22 meat-free recipes.

It sounds like you’ve got cooking from scratch down, but what about when you eat out? Do you feel like you are missing out?

I’m lucky now that being vegan is in vogue. More diners and chains are catching onto this and there are generally vegan options in most places.

I have been really impressed with the rise of veganism in Pompey. I think the Victorious Festival 2018 was amazing and had a huge selection of vegan-friendly chow. Then there are the vegan Sunday dinners at Merchant House and a few other eateries on Palmerston Road.

I agree Southsea has such a variety of vegan-friendly places to eat. But what about when you go away out of the UK? How have you found that?

It is true that the big issue I have found is going on holidays. Some areas are great for vegan options – I have recently returned from Mexico and was quite surprised about how easy vegetarian and vegan options were to find.

But I also feel that food is a massive part of other cultures and by restricting your diet, you miss out on this. So my one caveat I openly have (I am sure stricter vegans will disapprove) is when on holiday I will allow myself fish options as well as vegetarian and vegan. I have still managed to avoid meat.

Jessie’s Holiday Caveat: Fish is allowed

I’m aware that by the end of my year as a vegan I’m probably now on the dietary spectrum seen as more ‘flexitarian’ but I do still make a lot of effort to stick to a vegan diet. I honestly don’t see myself going back to eating meat on a regular basis, however, I think I could very happily stay as vegetarian with occasional fish dishes. Although this may seem a poor compromise to some more strict proponents of veganism,  I think that is, for me,a realistic and sustainable state.

How has it impacted your life?

I have found it slightly odd that going vegan has opened me up to a lot more thoughts regarding the environment and sustainability. Its likely a hangover from Pompey where I had quite a bit of exposure to green living, but I still make a lot of effort with recycling, avoiding single-use plastics e.g. straws and swapping to moon cups, where I can and trying to reuse things more or donating to charity shops rather than throwing items away.

And finally, any tips for people interested in eating vegan?

Plan your meals. Really think about what you eat and when. Little things like a trip out to the cinema, brunch or ending up at work lunchless can really pose a challenge if you are determined to be vegan in your choices (and don’t want to be left hungry).

Thank you Jessie for chatting to us about your vegan-ish journey! Come join me soon for our vegan-crawl!

Follow Jessie’s vegan and dentistry journey on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/teethingpains/.

And let us know, in the Comments section, your recommendations of vegan dishes/ restaurants in Pompey for Tamara’s vegan crawl

How to recycle with Portsmouth Green Party

It should be no secret that Tamara and I (Emma) are keen on recycling. I mean we’ve written about it multiple times on Shades of Green and we’ve even toured Portsmouth’s rubbish and recycling plant together. (Yes, we’re very cool people.) That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised that we’ve managed to transform this love of recycling into a way of making money for Portsmouth Green Party.

We’ve recently started working with Recycling for Good Causes, which helps turn trash into cash by recycling unwanted items no matter their condition, thus saving lots of items from landfill. Better yet, we can offer a local drop-off site, so that you don’t have to arrange to ship the items anywhere yourself.

What can Portsmouth Green Party recycle for you?

There are four main categories of items that Portsmouth Green Party can now recycle for you, not including the ink cartridges that we told you about in a previous blog, and they are jewellery, currency, gadgets, and stamps. Let’s look at them in more detail.

Jewellery

recycling jewelry

This includes:

  • Watches
  • Odd earrings
  • Broken items
  • Costume jewellery

How many of our readers have got pieces of broken jewellery or sole earrings in their jewellery box because you just don’t know what you do with it? I myself have two earrings that lost their partners several years ago and one necklace chain with a broken clasp, but I couldn’t put them in kerbside recycling and didn’t want to throw them in the bin.

Thankfully, I can now recycle them along with any other unwanted jewellery, no matter what material its made from or state it’s in.

Currency

recycling money

This includes:

  • Notes
  • Coins
  • Foreign currency
  • Obsolete currency (i.e. the old style pound coins, pre-Euro currency, pre-decimal currency)

I think we’ve all had that moment when you’ve come back from a trip abroad and you have $1.93 left in your wallet or €3.47 at the bottom of your bag. Unless you’re a regular visitor, you may not want to keep it in the house and it’s not really enough to bother exchanging it back into GBP, so it winds up stuck in a drawer. The same goes for out-of-date currency – for some reason we have like 20 francs in a drawer at my house because no one knew what to do with it.

Gadgets

recycling electronic equipment

This includes:

  • Sat navs
  • Games consoles and games
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Cameras
  • Video cameras
  • Mobile phones
  • Portable music devices

Importantly, it doesn’t matter about the age or condition of the item. We can still recycle it.

This is actually fantastic because most places only recycle mobile phones. A friend of mine has been looking for somewhere to recycle her broken laptop for ages and the nearest place she could find to take it was Chichester and she certainly wasn’t going to make a special trip.  (I don’t blame her.)

Stamps

recycling stamps

This includes:

  • Loose used stamps
  • Stamp collections
  • First-day covers and presentation packs
  • Postcard collections

Yes, the things that you usually leave on the envelope to be tossed into the recycling can actually be used to earn money for PGP.

What will Portsmouth Green Party do with the money raised?

All money that PGP earns from these recycling efforts will be used to help make Portsmouth a greener (and Greener) place because while PGP is entirely volunteer-run, we do have a fair amount of expenses.

We will use the money to:

  • stand candidates at elections
  • create flyers for our candidates
  • print our newsletters
  • create protest banners

How can I get the recycling to you?
Just email me at Blog@portsmouth.Greenparty.org.uk and I’ll get in touch with a drop-off location.

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 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 2

Here at the Shades of Green headquarters, we are still in celebration mode as we pat ourselves on the back for one year of green-ish living! In our previous anniversary post, we focused on Emma as I (Tamara) asked her about her eco changes and choices.

Today Emma puts me in the hot seat as we continue our two-part series in which we discuss our Shades of Green journey.

 

Talk with Tamara

Hey Tamara, Happy Blogiversary to us! I’ll start off with a softball question. What’s the problem with me throwing compostable materials in the bin? (Also, I don’t actually do this. I’m asking for a friend.)

vegetable peelings

As this is my first question, I will refrain from speeding down Rant Road and instead will meander down Sensitive Street and say, there is no problem at all with you throwing compostable materials in the bin if there is absolutely no other option.

If you can compost, here’s why you should. First, let me set the scene…imagine The Lion King’s ‘The Circle of Life’ playing in the background. Why send organic, compostable matter to landfill or to be burnt when it could instead be composted down to produce the most boootiful natural fertilizer for the soil. From the earth, back into the earth – what could be better?

I am so lucky to have space in my garden to compost my organic waste. I haven’t always been in such a privileged position and I appreciate that not everyone in Pompey has outdoor space to compost. This is why I have signed up to ‘Share Waste’ and currently have four people, who do not have outdoor space at their homes, dropping off their veg peelings once a week to be composted in my home compost bin.

My biggest bugbear is that Portsmouth City Council don’t offer a food waste collection. This would mean that ALL food waste, including cooked food and leftover meat and bones, could be rotted down into compost. I compost as much as I can in my garden but I still throw away bits of cooked food as this cannot go into a home composter. Also, realistically – Pompey is full of flats and home composting is not an option for them! I did try a Bokashi Bin when I lived in a flat but you still have to dispose of the fermented waste.

Another bug-bear is how bio-plastics i.e. plant-based compostable or biodegradable plastic is marketed as a much more eco-friendly plastic version. It can be – if it is composted in an industrial composter. If it is thrown into the bin, it is not being composted! It is just going to landfill or the incinerator or finding its way into the sea. Sigh! The best one I have found locally is sold in Wild Thyme – their packaging for takeaway food is home compostable. That makes me happy. Ok, rant over! 

 

Eeek! Start composting now, everyone. Organic material doesn’t rot properly in landfill.  Okay, let’s move onto your green journey. What do you feel you’ve learnt about eco issues over the past year?

I have learnt that reducing my waste and what I buy needs to come before recycling. I aim to recycle as much as possible but when China banned imports of our trash that we send to be recycled, I realised I had to reduce my waste first and recycle second. This is a difficult mindset change for me and I have been helped with this by joining the local Zero Waste community. For example, I now try to buy my fruits and veg in no packaging, use soap and shampoo bars and refill my laundry and washing up liquid bottles at Wild Thyme and Southsea Health Shop on Albert Road. I’ve also joined a Bulk Food Buying group. 

 

 

That’s incredible – I’m sure many of our readers would join you with that! So, I think I already know the answer now, but lay it out for me: why should we cut down on plastic consumption if we can recycle it (I.e. plastic bottles)?

In one word, China! Recycling is a good option, where facilities exist. But what happens when we can’t recycle it – it goes to landfill or is incinerated. Therefore, reducing at source is the better option. Plastic production is resource intensive and plastic does not biodegrade, it just breaks down into microplastics and pollutes our oceans and seas. Think of the turtles!

 

I do love turtles. Okay, you’ve convinced me; not more bottled water! Let’s move on to something positive. What eco changes would you like to see PCC adopt on the next year?

Well, I have already ranted about the lack of food waste recycling! So that would be amazing. A few recycling banks for tetrapaks and food/drink cartons across the city would make a huge difference as well. I don’t expect miracles – but a trial such as the one in Southampton shouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility. And my third change would be more split bins on the street which would have a recycling section. And in case anyone from PCC is reading this, I’d also like a million pounds…. 😉

 

I hope you’re planning to share that million pounds – some of us have un-eco holidays to pay for, lol. Okay, final question, what eco changes would you like to adopt in the next year?

I am a person who has lots of intentions, tries to do it all, gets overwhelmed and then hides from the world in shame. So, keeping it manageable is key for me!  

I was tempted to say I will give up flying but with friends and family living abroad and my love for swimming in a warm sea, that would not be honest of me. But for my Europe trips, I am aiming to only fly one way and to get the train/ferry one way.

I have a weakness for crisps (cheese and onion mixed with prawn cocktail is mah jam!) but the packaging is not recyclable. So making my own crisp substitutes is a priority for me, as well as meal planning and cooking more as my local chip shop knows my order before I open my mouth!

I would also like to buy more clothes from ethical companies. I really hate clothes shopping and never have any money – which means twice a year I grab a load of clothes from Sainsbury’s and call that George!

I also have a few recycling options to explore such as Terracycle and stretchy plastics in the Carrier Bag recycling banks – this has been on my list for a while and I need to get round to it! That’s why I love doing this blog with you, it keeps me accountable.

 

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 Festival Experience

It’s summertime and for some of us, that means seeing our favourite bands perform live at our local and not-so-local festivals. If you live in Portsmouth, you could well be heading to Victorious or the IOW Festival in the coming weeks and we at Shades of Green hope you have an amazing time. However, we do also recognise that sometimes festivals are less green than we’d hoped.

That’s why I (Emma) want to show you how to make your festival experience as green as it can be.

Getting there

When travelling to the festival, try to use public transport where possible. Often the roads will be crowded anyway and car parks will really jack up the price around major events. Plus, all rock stars travel on tour buses!

Most festival websites will tell you how to get to the venue from the local train station or (in the case of the IOW) ferry port. If friends are heading to Victorious from outside of the city and they live nowhere near a train or bus route, then direct them to our Park and Ride, which has a stop about 15-minutes away from the Common.

Eco-Festival outfit

Biodegradable Glitter

We all know the dangers that microplastics can cause to our ecosystem and what is glitter but thousands of pieces of plastic that we stick to our skin at festivals? Never fear, my sparkly friends, because biodegradable glitter is now a thing.

Sustainable Swimwear

Even if you’re not planning on going for a dip, many people will choose to wear bikini tops/ board shorts to festivals. If this describes you, then you might be interested to know that you can actually buy swimwear made from reclaimed fabrics. This reduces the amount of fabric going to landfill and the energy costs of creating something from new.

Green Festival Packing List

When packing for your festival, my best advice is to bring only what you need. Not only will you not be weighed down, but you’ll be less likely to forget/abandon an item on your return. Still, there are a few green things that I recommend bringing with you.

Reusable Bottle

It’s important to stay hydrated during hot weather, but we all know that single-use plastic bottles are an ecological nightmare! Opt for a reusable bottle, which is durable and lightweight. It’ll keep your drink cool and it could save tons of £££ from vendors. Also, best to get some reusable cutlery if you’re going to eat there and a reusable straw if you need a straw for your drink.

Important: Check what you are allowed to bring before you set off. For safety reasons, many festivals will stop you from bringing in knives or glass. You may also be asked to empty a water bottle before entering (in case you were trying to smuggle in booze!), so be prepared to refill once inside.

Biodegradable Reef-Safe Sunscreen

I’m a massive fan of summer sunshine, but I’m not crazy about sunburn or any of the other scary side effects, so I use SPF 30 (Yeah, I’m very white!). The problem is the common chemical ingredients used in sunscreen products worldwide (i.e. oxybenzone) can cause fatal damage to coral and other marine plant life. Yikes! Luckily, there are all-natural alternatives available, which can protect your skin without harming the planet.

Solar-powered Mobile Charger

Whether you’re filming your favourite band’s set or trying to find your friend in the crowd, you’ll need your phone to work, but trying to find a free charging point will be challenging. Skip the queue and save on electricity by using the sun to charge your phone while you enjoy the music.

 

That’s it from me and now I want to hear from you. Are you headed to a festival this summer? Do you have any eco tips to share? Let me know in the comments section.

Every Polluted Breath You Take

Air, oxygen, breathing – I admit these are not topics I tend to ponder as I go about my daily life. When in my car, I (Tamara) tend to be more concerned with evading Pompey traffic than about the effect I am having on the air quality. When I cycle around town trying to get past the self-same bumper-to-bumper traffic, I am not thinking about the fumes I am breathing in so much as trying to survive aggressive drivers.

But as with most things in life, it is all interconnected. Air quality in Portsmouth is at illegal and unsafe level. I first became aware of these issues when my local Portsmouth Green Party activists initiated the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign.

let pompey breathe

As a lazy environmentalist,  I prefer to have issues explained to me in simple, easy-to-understand terms. Here to do just that, in this special Thursday edition of Shades of Green, is Portsmouth Green Party activist and #LetPompeyBreathe spokesperson Tim Sheerman-Chase.

Me: Hihi Tim! Thanks for joining me via email to talk about the air quality issue in Portsmouth. As some of our readers may not be aware of the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign, what it is all about and what is your role in this?

Tim: #LetPompeyBreathe is a campaign group aiming to get Portsmouth’s air pollution within safe and legal limits. It is affiliated with Portsmouth Green Party, Friends of the Earth, local neighbourhood forums and other concerned groups.

My role is as spokesperson, blogger and researcher of government published reports. These tend to be fairly large and impenetrable, but I am assisted by my science background. I am the lead petitioner on the petition currently before Portsmouth City Council.

 

In a nutshell, what is the problem with our air quality?

Portsmouth is one of the worst cities in the UK for air quality, with pollution levels in continuous breach of both legal limits specified in the EU Air Quality Directive, English law, and World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

 

Is the air pollution a problem across the whole city or is it localised to certain areas?

Pollution levels greatly vary around the city. Some particularly bad areas include:

  • Hampshire Terrace/Queens Street
  • The top of Commercial Road
  • London Road/Fratton Road/Kingston Road
  • Eastern Way/Milton Road

The residential areas of Southsea, Milton and Tipner have relatively better air quality.

Traffic is the largest factor in local air pollution. Diesel engines are particularly bad, particularly from diesel cars, buses and heavy goods vehicles. This is probably the easiest area to make improvements and bring pollution to within safe limits.

 

Gulp…I used to have a diesel car as I thought it was better for the environment than petrol cars! Luckily, it broke down on me and was replaced with a petrol-electric hybrid. What other individual actions can we take?

It is difficult to avoid air pollution completely for an individual person, apart from moving away from cities! However, you can reduce exposure by avoiding busy roads at peak times. Pollution is far worse inside vehicles than outside, so you can help yourself (while helping your community) by reducing car usage. Try to use public transport, cycling and walking instead, even if only for one day a week extra.

 

What is it specifically about our air quality that is unsafe?

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bj72L-0HpmR/?taken-by=pompeygreens

There are various types of pollution – Portsmouth has a particular issue with the levels of small particulate pollution (PM2.5) exceeding WHO safe limits. We also breach the annual NO2 limits in several locations.

 

Particulate pollution?

Particulate pollution (also known as particulate matter), is the general term for the solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Small particulate pollution is fine microscopic inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometres and smaller.

 

How is air pollution measured and who regulates it?

Regulations have been put in place to address the problem. Among the most significant is the UK law Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010. This specifies legally binding limits on the UK government for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate pollution.

 

That is a great start but it’s one thing to know there’s a problem and set national regulations and another to actually take positive action on a local level- what is actually being done about it?  Why are the council and government not being held to account?

As you said, government bodies often ignore their responsibilities and 278 of the 391 local authorities missed the legal targets in 2017.

These legal limits are gradually being enforced. The European court of justice is threatening the UK and five other countries with multi-million Euro fines if they do not comply with legal limits.  Three successive High Court victories have been won by ClientEarth over the UK government, with the government’s plans being found to be inadequate.

Responsibility has largely been given to local government, which have taken some steps to deal with it but far stronger measures need to be taken. Part of the ClientEarth ruling found that central government does not have a sufficient enforcement for local authorities to meet these legal limits. Being underfunded, local government is having difficulty in taking suitable measures. Also, in many councils, the political will to address the problem is lacking.

 

How does the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign hold Portsmouth City Council to account?

#LetPompeyBreathe has two main goals: to raise public awareness and to encourage Portsmouth City Council to take further action.

At a local level, there are two documents that the council are required to produce: an air quality strategy and an action plan. Currently, #LetPompeyBreathe are petitioning the council to urgently publish its Air Quality Action Plan for consultation. In the two months since the petition went live, we have gathered the required 1000 signatures for the issue to be discussed at the next Full Council meeting which is in July (and handed them in on Clean Air Day – which is today).

 

As for the effectiveness of petitioning, politicians respond to public pressure particularly when well organized. If they see there is a clear demand for something to be done, we are in a much better position. The petition is only one step in the campaign.

 

What specific actions could the council take to rectify the air pollution problem?

There are many things, including:

  • improve walking and cycling routes
  • make the urban environment safer and more pleasant
  • make public transport easier to use, more integrated, cheaper and cleaner
  • reduce car use through careful city planning

MPs from different parties have been calling for a new Clean Air Act which will greatly strengthen monitoring and control of pollutants. We also need to shift the cost of pollution on to the polluter, particularly in egregious cases like Dieselgate and the car manufacturers.

Most large cities will require a charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to bring air pollution to within safe limits within a reasonable time.

 

Tim, thank you for taking the time to inform us about the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign and petition. Dear Reader, please sign the petition, if you haven’t already and share it with your friends, family, acquaintances and frenemies.