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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.

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 Recycle in Portsmouth 2: Recycling the Unrecyclable

In one of our very first posts back in August, we talked about what can be recycled in our lovely port city of Portsmouth, both at kerbside and at recycling banks scattered across the city.

 

To quickly recap, the council kerbside collection accepts metal cans, tins and aerosols, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard as well as small electrical equipment (WEEE). Easy peasy lemon squeezy as I (Tamara) don’t have to leave my house.

 

For those adventurous souls who like to venture into the great outdoors, there is a mix of council, charity, and supermarket recycling banks across the city that accept a variety of materials – mostly textiles, glass jars and bottles, and printer cartridges. But let’s not forget my piece de resistance – mixed plastics at Sainsbury’s.

 

Though I am pleased I can reduce my waste through recycling mixed plastics, it does require more effort than kerbside collection as I have to leave my house – you know how I feel about that!! I have rocked up to Sainsbury’s Farlington with a car full to the brim – and this is no exaggeration – with mixed plastics from my household, my next-door neighbour, and at least 5 other people from Portsmouth Green Party who don’t have cars. And then…prepare yourself for the horror….the recycling bank is overflowing and I have to take it all back home again. Bloody pain, I tell you! First world problems, I know – but incredibly frustrating nonetheless! So much so, I took it upon myself to contact Sainsbury’s to ask about their scheduled emptying of the banks and they notified me that they had ordered a second bin to the store to accommodate all the recyclable plastic. I’m rock ‘n roll like that!

 

 

Enough of my ranting. Let’s turn our green dial up and look at the other household bits and bobs that can also be recycled in Pompey at supermarket collection points and recycling banks. 

Household Batteries

batteries

Collection bins for domestic batteries can be found in most chain supermarkets – and not just the larger superstores but also, for example, your local Tesco Express. Check the supermarkets you frequent the most and I guarantee you will find a battery collection bin.  My nearest one is at my local Co-Op. You can also locate your nearest battery recycling online. A quick postcode search on Recycle More shows collection points at a variety of shops including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, One-Stop, Toys ‘R’ Us, Debenhams, Mothercare, and Maplin Electronics – but remember not all options are necessarily listed online or in one place.

 

Since 2010, a change in the law means that larger providers that sell batteries also need to provide in-store collection for used batteries. Tesco has battery-recycling points at all Express, Metro, Superstore, and Extra stores and also accepts batteries from mobile phones, laptops, hearing aids, watches, cameras, cordless power tools, electric toothbrushes, razors and hand-held vacuum cleaners. Sainsbury’s also offer a take back scheme for all portable waste batteries. Lots of other stores also have collection bins for batteries – just keep your eyes peeled.

 

It is so important to recycle batteries as if disposed of in landfill they can leach chemicals into the ground causing soil and water pollution. The majority of our waste in Pompey is incinerated and burning batteries can cause atmospheric pollution. A large proportion of batteries bought in the UK are not recycled and end up with household waste. Prevent these toxins from entering our environment and recycle your batteries!

 

You can also consider switching to rechargeable batteries which are a greener, more cost-effective option and can also be recycled at the end of their lifespan!

 

A final note, check the batteries of your smoke alarms and, unless it is a ten-year alarm, remember to change (and recycle!) the batteries once a year.

 

 

Plastic Carrier Bags

I have noticed collection points for recycling plastic carrier bags at some larger supermarkets such as the Commercial Road Sainsbury’s and the Palmerston Road Waitrose [and the Commercial Road and North Habour Tesco’s- Emma].

 

Some of these collection points also allow for other packaging films to be included such as plastic bread bags and the plastic wrappers from toilet roll and kitchen towel packs. I will write a follow-up post on this as I want to be sure of what exactly can be included before I send you off on a recycling pilgrimage!

 

Water Filters

 

Online search facilities have failed me on this one – however, luckily Emma, our Instagram Queen, spotted that the big Tescos at North Harbour has a recycling station for water filters cartridges. Other than Tescos, the only other option I am aware of is collection points for  BRITA branded water filters. These can be recycled locally at Boots, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Argos, where boxes are provided for the collection of used Brita cartridges.

 

Cartons

juice carton

Juice cartons, milk cartons, cartons for tomatoes and soup…I wish I could tell you these can be recycled locally. But sadly, they can’t. Don’t get me wrong, it is totally possible to recycle cartons and tetrapaks – Portsmouth City Council just doesn’t provide this facility.

Some of you have asked us if cartons can be recycled with kerbside recycling of paper and card or at Sainsbury’s mixed plastic banks. Good question but the answer is unfortunately no. This is because cartons are made of a mix of paper, plastic and aluminium foil and so would contaminate either the paper or plastics collection if included.

The nearest permanent carton recycling banks I have found through Recycle Now are in Bognor Regis and Chandlers Ford. Southampton City Council is currently trialling mixed plastics recycling banks which happily for our neighbouring city does include cartons (tetrapaks) as well as plastics like plastic meat and ready meal trays and plastic bottle tops. I am seriously jealous. This is my call to action – if Southampton can have cartons recycling, so can Pompey!!!

 

Energy Saving Light Bulbs

lightbulb

Let’s end on a bright note – haha, do you see what I did there? I am pleased to tell you that recycling light bulbs are pretty straightforward. Old style standard light bulbs cannot be recycled but energy saving light bulbs – which are a type of fluorescent lamp – can be recycled. Robert Dyas, Commercial Road Sainsbury’s and Curry’s PC World all have collection points/ recycling banks for energy saving light bulbs.

 

Have you spotted any recycling banks or collection points that I have missed? What other recycling facilities would you like to see in Portsmouth? Let us know in the comments below. And ’til next time, Happy Recycling!

 

18 Green Resolutions for 2018

Every January, social media feeds are full of people pledging to run more often, learn a new language, or how to sculpt their eyebrows perfectly. I (Emma) can help you with none of those resolutions but if you want to learn how to be more green in 2018, then I have a few ideas of where to start.

Beauty

1. Bypass toiletries with microbeads: The UK Government has recently banned the use of microbeads (tiny plastics) in cosmetics/toiletries because they’re a big contributor to plastic pollution in our oceans. However, the ones that were already produced are still on the market. Don’t buy them! Need a good scrub? Look for products with salt or sand instead.

2. Save your bathwater: If you have a bathtub- even if you use the shower all the time- try leaving the bath plug in and save the water. You can use it to water the plants, clean your sports equipment, or even flush your toilet.

3. Turn off the tap: You’ve heard it before, but don’t leave the tap running while brushing your teeth, shaving your face, or removing your makeup.

FOOD AND DRINK

4. Meat-Free Mondays: If you’re not already vegetarian/vegan, consider cutting out the meat for just one day a week. Not only is it kinder to the animals but it’s also better for the environment because producing meat uses more energy and creates more greenhouse gases than a plant-based life.

5. Avoid clingfilm: Instead of keeping your food fresh with clingfilm, use reusable sandwich boxes or even put one plate on top of another.

6. Refuse straws: Many people don’t use straws at home but it’s a little hard to escape them when you’re out and about. Ask your server not to use a straw when you order a drink- you could even put a note in your purse to remind you.

7. Make it reusable: Not all plastics are created equally. A reusable bottle to fill up with tap water is going to be 100% better than disposable bottles. The same is true of reusable coffee cups because takeaway cups are hard to recycle and most end up in landfill.

Shopping

8. Refuse plastic bags: I know, I know. They already have the 5p charge on plastic bags so you’ve definitely got your reusable one on you at all times. The thing is that the plastic bag charge doesn’t go far enough. Smaller shops and takeaways are exempt from the charge, which means that the cashiers there often bag your purchases without asking. Produce your reusable bag before they start packing and let them know that you have it.

9. Cut down on packaging: When you’re shopping, look around for items with less packaging or packaging that is easily recyclable like buying loose fruit or snacks sold in cardboard boxes rather than plastic/foil wrappers.

House and Home

10. Print double sided: Many printers are still not set up to print double-sided automatically but very few documents will need to be printed on just one side.

11. Switch energy suppliers: If you want your energy supplier to use renewable energy and oppose fracking, then make the change to Ecotricity or Good Energy. Bonus: You can even get them to donate to the Green Party on your behalf at no added expense.

12. Use less energy: Whether its remembering to turn off lights when you leave a room, drying clothes on the line rather than in the dryer, or putting on a jumper rather than turning on the heating, everyone can do something to cut down on their energy usage. Find out what your energy Achilles’ heel is.

13. Go paperless: Sign up for online banking and get your statements delivered via the internet (remember to check them) and use your mobile devices to store your tickets (you can’t lose them if they’re in your email account).

14. Recycle more: There’s no doubt that Tamara and I love recycling and that we dream of living a zero waste lifestyle, which is why we’ll continue to show you how to recycle more on both the PGP blog and Instagram. If there’s anything that you don’t know how to recycle, ask us and we’ll let you know.

15. Use your dishwasher: If you have an energy-efficient dishwasher, then running a full load is actually less wasteful than washing by hand in terms of both water usage and heating.

Community

16. Cut down on car usage: A lot of public transport is overpriced (#RenationaliseTheRailways), but getting the train or the bus may actually work out cheaper than the parking prices in some parts and it’s much kinder to the planet. Try buying season/annual passes if travelling for work (ask your company if they offer loans to cover the initial cost) or buying in advance, using discount sites for one-off trips, and walking/cycling wherever possible.

17. Do a beach clean: When rubbish gets into the ocean, it gets into the sea life and into the human food chain. If you live near a beach, volunteer a few hours a month to help remove trash from the area. Pro tip: Take separate rubbish and recycling bags.

18. Join the Green Party: One thing that we can all agree on is that while individual green acts are important, the real change needs to come from government. By joining the Green Party, you can help fund the election campaigns for the next round of Green councillors and MPs to pressure the government into making Green choices that will make your eco-friendly life a little easier.

Now I want to hear from you. Are you going to adopt any of these resolutions? Do you have more to add? Let me know in the comments.

LET POMPEY BREATHE

 

As we welcome in the new year with all its possibilities, we also warmly welcome our first guest post written by Portsmouth Green Party Coordinator Mike Wines. As the Green candidate for Fratton ward in this year’s upcoming local council elections, Mike is spearheading the #LetPompeyBreathe joint initiative which addresses the city’s poor air quality and brings together local groups: Portsmouth Friends of the Earth, Milton Neighbourhood Forum and  Portsmouth Green Party.

 

Mike puts this global and national issue of air quality and outside air pollution firmly in local perspective as he discusses the effect of outside air pollution on Pompey residents health, the council’s 10-year Air Quality Strategy which was published last summer  and the follow-up Draft Air Quality Action Plan which is currently in the ‘scoping phase’ and is still not published and consulted on.

So without further ado, Mike, please take us back, waaaaay back to the summer of ‘17 and tell us – what’s the deal with air quality in Portsmouth?

 

Image of Portsmouth Green Party Coordinator and local council candidate Mike Wines campaigning for clean air.

Mike writes…

On 17 July 2017, Councillor Simon Bosher, Portsmouth City Council Cabinet Member for Traffic & Transportation, ‘stressed that he was approving the Air Quality Strategy report and he was awaiting the action plan which should be brought back in a timely way; he would expect a report back before Christmas.’  It’s in the minutes so it must be true.  Sadly he omitted to state which Christmas.  As we welcome in 2018 it would appear, despite the natural assumption, he didn’t mean 2017.

On 28 October 2017, I joined many others on a Clean Air Walk organised by our friends at Portsmouth Friends of The Earth.  The route took us along Fratton Road, Kingston Road and London Road Corridor, an area that breaches national targets with its high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The walk was aimed at highlighting the direct impact of traffic on local communities and our city’s air quality.  I found it sadly ironic that I was personally unable to complete the walk thanks to the actual lack of air quality in the city.

Image of Keith Taylor, the Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the South East region, being interviewed on Portsmouth’s illegal pollution levels.

Image of Keith Taylor, the Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the South East region, being interviewed on Portsmouth’s illegal pollution levels.

On 2 November 2017, SE Green MEP Keith Taylor and I met with representatives from Portsmouth City Council, Dr. Jason Horsley, Director of Public Health, and Richard Lee, Regulatory Service Manager and Air Quality Specialist to discuss the city’s poor air quality.  After the meeting, Keith stated that he welcomed the news that the upcoming Air Quality Action Plan will be put out for consultation. He went on to say “However, it is worrying that there is no timeline to do this. Every day that passes, is one too many for those vulnerable to dirty air. We need to urgently ensure the city is brought within legal pollution limits and made a safer place for pedestrians, cyclists, and children walking to school.”

Image of Keith Taylor, the Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the South East region, being interviewed on Portsmouth’s illegal pollution levels.

Image of Keith Taylor, the Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the South East region, being interviewed on Portsmouth’s illegal pollution levels.

I don’t know about you but, personally speaking, I am fed up with having streaming eyes and getting out of breath walking 10 minutes out of my front door.  I’d love to enjoy the markets on Palmerston Road and in the past I’d have happily taken the 20 minutes to walk down there.  My only option now is to drive down there and add to the problem. It would be nice also not to be an added burden on our overstretched NHS. (On a side note, click here to see Mike talking about his personal experience on how the lack of funding for the NHS and Care in the Community has impacted on his father’s deteriorating health. Ok, back to Mike’s post!)

To quote myself after the November meeting with MEP Keith Taylor and the Council representatives: “The city council’s Air Quality Action Strategy is wholly inadequate for the task as it stands. Unless the strategy is accompanied by a detailed plan to bring air pollution within safe levels, we are left with poor a prospect of Portsmouth being rid of its air pollution scourge. We need to see urgent solutions to address the traffic problem in the city. Not just to and from the tourist areas such as Gunwharf Quays, but the traffic problem across all areas of the city such as Fratton Road, Kingston Road, and London Road where residents live, work and learn.”

Councillor Bosher appeared to neglect to ask Father Christmas last year for the Action Plan.  Let’s hope he’s asked the 2018 Easter Bunny.

 

Thanks, Mike!

To find out more about the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign, visit:

 

But wait, there’s more! Why not go offline and learn more about Portsmouth’s air quality from an informed local resident whilst having a chat and a pint with like-minded individuals?  Check out Portsmouth Green Drinks upcoming  event this January 10th at The Kings Pub, 39 Albert Road, Portsmouth, PO5 2SE at 7.30pm.

From 8pm, Mike Dobson from Friends of Old Portsmouth Association will be speaking on ‘A Community Perspective on Air Quality’. He will talk about some of his findings in relation to Air Quality in the city.  

He will briefly explore:

  • the misreporting of estimated mortality from air pollution,
  • the limitations of the analysis of air pollution and flawed assessment of trends,
  • the lack of response to inputs on consultation,
  • the strange decision not to publicise that unnecessary engine idling is illegal, and
  • question if increasing active travel (walking and cycling) is a tool to improve air quality or a hoped-for outcome when/if air quality has improved.

Portsmouth Green Drinks is a great way of meeting others working in the environmental sector, or who are simply interested in environmental & sustainability issues and want to enjoy a relaxed evening in good company.

Portsmouth Green Drinks is part of the Green Drinks network, an international informal networking group on an environmental theme.

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