Donating blood is a wonderful act that doesn’t take a lot of effort and can save a life. I (Emma) have been donating blood for ten years now, when my iron counts allows, and was thankfully able to donate last on September 23.
However, as with most aspects of my life, I’m looking to make my blood donation more eco-friendly and these are the steps I’ve taken over the past couple of sessions to improve the greenness of my blood recycling. (I know, it’s technically reuse, but blood recycling sounds better.)
(This is the closest thing Shades of Green has to a Halloween post in 2019. Don’t worry, we’re not going to talk about blood.)
I used to donate with a friend at Fratton Park, which would mean she’d pick me up on her way home from work or I’d have to get down there via a lift or public transport. However, given that I tend to feel really faint (or actually faint) after giving blood, getting the bus home by myself is not an option, especially when the buses from there to my house are fairly lacklustre.
After my friend got pregnant and couldn’t donate, I switched to the Mountbatten Centre, which is close enough to walk to and I take one of my parents with me.
There are blood donation locations all over Portsmouth, so there should be one close enough to you to walk/get the bus from home or work. (Just take someone with you.)
You’ve heard me and Tamara talk about water bottles for two years now and I’m going to encourage you to get one again. In my experience, you can fill up your water bottle with squash or water from the dispenser on the snack table before your donation and have the nurse refill it from the jug after donation. No need to use unrecyclable plastic cups.
If you like hot drinks after donating blood (you can only have them from your second donation onwards!), then take a pre-filled flask because the hot drink machines don’t look like they can accommodate a traditional or travel mug, only the disposable cups.
However, if you do want a hot drink and forget your thermos, you can always take the cup with you to be disposed of in the carton banks, at Gunwharf, or at Costa.
It’s highly recommended that you have a snack before and after donating blood, preferably something that’s very sugary or very salty. With that in mind, why not take some sweet fruits, like an orange, with you to enjoy and avoid packaging?
If you’ve forgotten your snack, opt for one of those provided that comes in recyclable packaging. As spotted on an earlier donation, Portsmouth’s blood donation team will take crisp packets for recycling as long as you put them in the right box or you can opt for a chocolate bar or popcorn if you plan to take the packaging home to recycle.
Two-minute recycling pick
Nurses don’t often have the time to sort out the bins for plastic bottles and other recycling that others have thrown in the bin by the pre or post-donation snack tables. While you’re waiting there, see if there’s anything in the bin that shouldn’t be and move it.
Full disclosure, my dad actually did this while I was complaining about feeling faint (weakling!) and not wanting to leave, so he should get the credit.
And finally, remember to compost the cotton pad that they stick over your arm. (importantly, not the plaster or the tape), rather than throwing it in the bin.
That’s it from me this month, but let me know in the comments if you have a blood donation coming up and if you have any more eco tips about it for me.
You may not know this dear reader, but Shades of Green shares its name (quite by accident) with a Walt Disney World golf resort. In fact, every time I (Emma) Google our blog that is what comes up. Why am I telling you that? Because WDW is the subject of today’s blog. There’s no getting around it, taking a holiday in a place that is several thousand miles away and is a major tourist trap is hardly the greenest thing that I could do, but what can I say? I love Disney – I even worked there for a time – and I’m not going to stop going. So, last month I went. However, I did want to make my trip as green as possible and this is what I did to make that happen.
The only practical way to get to the USA is via plane, so I offset my flight’s carbon footprint. As it turns out, flying direct and in the economy cabin is better for the world than having a change or flying in premium/business/first class, which is good because I flew there direct and economy class. (Although, I did have a change on the flight back, which I didn’t think about until I’d booked it.)
I was never going to be able to take just hand luggage with me to the USA for three weeks, so I took a suitcase. Although I’ll admit it could have been a bit lighter because I over packed on cardigans for the evenings – two would have been enough – and I could have washed some clothes (underwear, socks) in the shower. (I am considering just taking a carry on next time because of this.) However, these are the things that I packed to make my trip greener:
water bottle: WDW is filled with water fountains, meaning that you never
have to buy a plastic water bottle or ask for a cup of ice water. Plus the
Chillys bottle (recommended by Tamara) kept my water cold even in the Florida
tote bag: While I didn’t buy a lot on my trip (two t-shirts and a postcard,
I think), I wanted to make sure I didn’t have to take a plastic bag at the
store. (No one batted an eye in WDW, but outside of Disney, cashiers were
really shocked when I kept refusing a bag for things like food and one even
tried to force me to take one because he’s already put my crisps in the bag.)
pants/ reusable menstrual pads: While this didn’t entirely cut my need for
tampons – I couldn’t wear these at water parks and I didn’t have the luxury of
changing my pants/pads
during the day, as I do at home – it really helped me cut down on the
disposable pads that I would have worn in the parks to avoid an accident while
in a two-hour line.
box: I took this to carry in snacks to avoid buying something with
packaging in the parks, but also to take back food that would be wasted at the
end of a meal.
straw: Given that I was generally drinking water, I didn’t have much of a
chance to use this. However, it did save me from taking a straw when we sat
down at a table service restaurant and I ordered a soda.
knife edge: I used this so that I wouldn’t have to take disposable cutlery.
Then, I washed it every night at our hotel. (My parents didn’t bring one, but
they did reuse the cutlery that they got on our first day for the rest of our
I took a few of these so that I wouldn’t have to use paper napkins. Each one
lasted about three days, before being put in the washing pile.
While in Orlando, I travelled on the hotel shuttle and WDW
transportation (buses, monorails, boats) with dozens of other people, so it was
just like using public transportation back here.
We took a taxi to and from the airport, but I did try to get
a shuttle. It was just too full by the time we got there and couldn’t
accommodate my mum’s wheelchair and the next one wasn’t for like an hour. Not
great when you’ve been up for 16 hours already.
I will admit that this was probably my greatest green failure. (It kind of wasn’t even my fault, but it was really annoying.) I didn’t choose the hotel for its eco standards, but rather price and proximity to WDW, but I figured all hotels must have the same basic guidelines of not changing your bed linen every night, having recycle bins, and not changing towels that were hung up on the rack.
When we got there I realised there were no recycling bins
but figured that it was okay because we could recycle stuff like the milk
bottles in WDW. (We just had cereal in our room each morning, which was more
eco than eating in the park or at the buffet.) However, their coffee cups were
the disposable kind, which is annoying because I was expecting a china cup.
Still, I left a note for the housekeeper (with a tip!)
asking them to leave the cups, as we would rinse and reuse, and to not empty
the bins unless they were full. If all, I’ve put in the bin is the flight tag
from my suitcase, it doesn’t need changing. When we got back, the housekeeper
had taken the note (and the tip!), but completely ignored my request by
replacing the cups and emptying the bins. They also, despite the eco-guidelines
that were in the hotel welcome folder, changed towels that I’d hung on the
rack. I had a little bit of a freakout that my mum found funny.
We worked around it by hiding the cups in the microwave and
putting all our rubbish in one bin, as opposed to using the kitchen and
bathroom one, but I couldn’t do anything about the towels. It still annoys me.
As we all know, one of the best ways to lower your eco-impact is through being careful with what you eat. Eating locally, choosing the option with low or no packaging, and eating fewer animal products all help to lower our carbon footprint.
Now, I ate vegan
about half the time and vegetarian
for the rest of the time. There are a lot more options than you might initially
suspect, especially if you seek out the sites I’ve linked for help.
As for packaging
free, that’s difficult in Disney. Cast members aren’t allowed to take things
like bottles or boxes from guests so they can’t place your vegan burger into
your lunch box or fill up your bottle with soda. There are ways to limit your
packaging though, including:
taking your own non-packaged snacks in
taking reusable cutlery, straws, bottles,
napkins, and boxes (for leftovers)
opting for your ice cream in a cone rather than
dining at table service restaurants (be warned,
this does take longer and will eat into your park day, which is why we only did
You might think it’s hard to eat local in WDW, but it’s
easier than you think. See WDW grows a lot of its produce on property and the
Living with the Land ride at Epcot shows you how they’re always looking for new
ways to grow food using less water, less soil, and utilising permaculture.
As mentioned above, I didn’t really buy anything when I was
in WDW. A couple of tops for me, but nothing for anyone else. Not even my
nephews and niece. (Sorry kids!) Also,
on a related note, I will sound like the sourest person in the world, but I’ve
never understood why adults buy other adults gifts from their holiday.
By limiting what I bought, I reduced the amount of packaging to just a couple of price tags and limited the amount (in a very small way) that Disney would have to replenish with brand new items largely made from virgin materials.
Well, that’s it from me on how to eco-hack your WDW holiday, but there will be a follow-up piece on how Disney is working to reduce its eco-impact. Now, I’d like to hear about any tips you have for making your WDW vacation greener. Let me know in the comments.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I (Emma) love travelling but I also recognise that my (occasional) jet-setting lifestyle can be harmful to the world around me. I’m certainly not advocating that everyone stop travelling as that’d be really hypocritical but I, as a card-carrying member of the Green Party, have some really cool susty hacks for eco-travelling so I’ll be sharing my tips on how you can make your travels more earth-kind.
Take it Slow
One of the biggest contributors to our carbon footprint is the actual method of transport. It shouldn’t be surprising that the plane is often a very un-eco form of transport; especially if you’re only travelling short distances. So if you’re not going very far- like around Western Europe – consider using slower methods of transport like the train, bus, or boat. To check the best method for a specific journey, head to the WWF’s Travel Helper.
Choose Alternative Holiday Spots
Travelling is about exploring the unknown but there’s no reason that why that has to be halfway across the world. There will be places in your own country, state, and even hometown, that you have yet to explore and they can still be as exciting as a place much further afield. You may even find yourself somewhere that tourists never see. Plus it’s a lot easier to use slow travel methods to get to those places.
Pack it Right
Transport, or lack thereof, is the biggest environmental hurdle for all eco-travellers but there are tons of other ways to cut your damaging impact on the globe. A lot of travelling can involve other unsustainable practices, like eating take-out food, drinking bottled water, and even abandoning your usual recycling efforts. That’s why I have a susty travel kit in my suitcase to help me stay green while getting a tan.
Reusable water bottle
If you’re going somewhere hot, it’s worth investing in a reusable bottle which will keep your tap water cool all day without producing condensation on the outside of the bottle. If you’re travelling to somewhere where the tap water is questionable at best, consider using a Steripen which sanitises water using LED light and can be charged via USB or the LifeStraw water bottle, which filters water through its straw.
Lunch Box (or cooler bag) with picnic cutlery and crockery
The benefits of this are two-fold; not only will you be more eco-friendly but it will save you money on food. Even if you are grabbing something while out and about, using reusable cutlery, straws etc will cut your waste.
This cuts down on your paper napkin usage by allowing you to wipe your face after meals or mop up after a drink spill.
These are the easiest way to make a green difference while travelling, load them up with souvenirs (ec0 choices are discussed below) or lunch.
Period Panties/ Menstrual Cup/ Reusable Pads
For those of us with a uterus, one of the biggest ways we can be greener is by cutting out the pads and tampons. Even if you don’t think that you’ll be ‘on’ while you’re away, make sure you’ve packed them.
Those miniature bottles of toiletries- which some people think are cute?- are actually terrible for the environment. Some companies, like Lush, are embracing reduced packaging and offering packaging-free body lotion, facial moisturiser, shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Even their toothpaste comes in recyclable packaging.
Buy Fewer Souvenirs
While we’re on the subject of what to take, let’s discuss what not to bring home.
Cheap trinkets from touristy shops are often poorly made and will break within months (or even weeks) of purchase, meaning they’ll end up in a landfill.
Try to find locally made products or edible gifts, rather than the Made in China products. Not only is it better for the environment, it also reduces the chances that your souvenir was produced in a sweatshop.
So, those are my main eco-hacks for your travels but what are some of yours? Do you have any tips that I didn’t mention? Share in the comments below.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a short one from me (Tamara) this week. With the autumn drawing in and my depression coming out to play, I’m focusing on the small wins. So let’s play, what’s in my backpack?
Inspired by my zero-waste experiment earlier this year, I made myself a zero-waste pack that lives in my backpack. The aim is to actively reduce my use of single-use plastic and as I mentioned in a previous post, it started with a straw!
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Reusable Bamboo Straw
Luckily the lovely people in my life are used to my green ways and do not bat an eyelid when I decline a straw and triumphantly pull out my huge bamboo straw from my backpack. I am slowly getting used to the texture of it and have found that chocolate milkshakes are the way to go!
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Bag in a Bag
I first discovered these on a visit to my in-laws in Holland for 1 euro! Needless to say, I bought way more than I could use in a lifetime and felt very smug when they started making an appearance in the UK following the 5p charge on plastic bags. I keep one in my backpack, my car, and my husband’s motorbike and I heart them! Zero waste win!
This had been languishing in the back of my kitchen drawer for millennia and has found a new lease of life simply by being rehomed to my backpack. Is it a fork? Is it a spoon? No, it a super spork! I also had a disposable plastic knife but they kept breaking as they are so flimsy and also didn’t fit my lovely little dedicated purse – so when I saw a plastic take-apart-able knife, fork and spoon set in the sales I added the knife my pack. The fork and spoon live in my car and are great for unplanned chip shop visits!
Reusable Water Bottle
Finding this bottle was a labour of love and I will tell you all about it in a future post. But its key points are it’s a stainless steel, BPA-free bottle that keeps my water chilled to perfection without condensation! I never leave home without it!
This is probably the most controversial item in my backpack! Those lovely people I mentioned earlier who are so accepting of my plastic straw war baulk at my hankybook. Beats me why! It is a reusable and washable cotton cloth ‘book’ that I use instead of… ok, honestly – as well as- disposable paper tissues. It has a protective cover but to be doubly sure I store it in a cute little pineapple purse a friend gave me for my birthday.
Disclaimer: The links to the particular items that live in my backpack are not sponsored or affiliated or anything like that – just my personal choices purchased either after lots of research or after no research whatsoever! They all have their pros and cons and some are quite pricey, so please do your research! Or don’t – it’s up to you! 🙂
Promoted by T Sheerman-Chase, 99 Pretoria Road, PO4 9BD on behalf of Portsmouth Green Party. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other party, agency, organization, employer or company.