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Tag: single use plastic

Keeping Southsea Beach Clean

Most of the blog posts at Shades of Green are focused on the small changes that Tamara and I (Emma) are making to create a greener world (i.e. buying organic food or cutting down on water usage), but this month, we are highlighting the work of local community activists.

This time we are focusing on the efforts of Lara Skingsley, the organiser of the Southsea Beachwatch since 2015, who is helping to keep our beachfront free of litter through monthly clean ups with large groups of volunteers (sometimes up to 400!).

These cleanups, which take place on the first Saturday of each month, are part of an initiative by the Marine Conservation Society to keep all human-made rubbish (and recycling) out of our oceans while leaving natural materials in place to support wildlife.

Lara sat down with me in late February (via Twitter) to explain why she organises these cleans, what we can do as individuals to keep our seaside litter free, and what Portsmouth City Council should be doing to reduce the amount of rubbish on Southsea seafront.

Keeping Southsea Clean

Beach clean volunteers ❤️

A post shared by Southsea Beachwatch (@southsea_beach) on

Lara, a former student of Marine Environmental Science, explains that she’s always loved nature, particularly coastal wildlife, and wanted to do something practical to target marine pollution, which is why she got involved with the cleans.

She said: “Beach cleans ‘do good’ instantly, and help to raise awareness of environmental issues… As well as keeping Southsea looking beautiful, cleaning the beach of litter makes it safe for people, pets, and wildlife.”

Throughout the course of the beach cleans, Lara and her team have collected tens of thousands of items of rubbish – including a catheter and colostomy bag, a bovine skull, and an intact light bulb as large as a child’s head – but the vast majority of the waste is plastic, as evidenced in the 2017 Great British Beach Clean Survey.

Pie chart of today's beach clean and survey results!

A post shared by Southsea Beachwatch (@southsea_beach) on

Lara advises that there are many ways to reduce the amount of rubbish that ends up on the beach, but the most important would probably be cutting our dependence of single-use plastic, which is why she’s made the decision not to use any plastic straws, takeaway cups, or single-use plastic bottles in 2018.

The role of Portsmouth City Council

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Another issue of key importance to Lara is what Portsmouth City Council can do to keep Southsea clean, from improving the designs of bins on the seafront (so that rubbish can’t blow out and wildlife can’t get in) to strengthening regulations on local businesses and construction projects with regards to waste disposal and secure storage of materials.

Lara said: “PCC should ensure that local construction and businesses keep their waste and materials appropriately secured. For example, recently an open skip next to South Parade Pier was left uncovered for weeks and despite people reporting it to PCC, nothing was done to cover it, so the material littered the beach. We also find a lot of disposable and novelty items, like take-out coffee cups, lids, straws, and balloons. Seafront business should be encouraged to be more responsible for the products they buy, sell, and throw away.”

Want to get involved?

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Southsea Beach Watch is always looking for new people to join their ranks. If you’d like to get involved in one of the upcoming beach cleans, then check Southsea Beachwatch’s Facebook and other social media pages for upcoming dates (next one is 10am-noon on April 7th!), locations, and any cancellations/amendments due to inclement weather.

Yours truly tried to attend the March event, but it was unfortunately cancelled due to the Beast from the East. Good thing, I checked their Insta!

If you’re planning to attend and can bring your own thick gloves (the sort used in gardening) and/or litter pickers then please do, as Lara has limited supplies of both. She does provide bin bags for collection though.

Lara said of the volunteers: “I’m always inspired by the thoughtful and positive local people who join these cleans and who enthusiastically care about our shoreline and wider environment.”

What about if I can’t do those Saturday beach cleans?

Some of us will have other commitments on Saturdays (work, sporting events, etc) which make it near impossible to make Southsea Beachwatch’s events – I once couldn’t get a Saturday off to go to Pride, so I don’t think my boss would have let me take the morning off for this.

That’s why Lara recommends the Two-Minute Beach Clean; an initiative where you do what you can in the time that you have.

Waiting on the beach for a friend to meet you? Pick up some litter and pop it in a bin.

Walking home via the beach? Pick up any litter you spot as you walk.

Going to the beach? Volunteer to take the rubbish to the bin for your friends/family so that none of it gets dropped en route.

 

Now, dear reader, I turn the floor to you. Have you gotten involved in one of the beach cleans? What do you think we can do to reduce rubbish on our seafronts? And what should PCC do to combat the problem? Let us know in the comments section.

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!

 

How to Eco-Hack Your Bathroom

Do you know that the bathroom is often one of the least eco-friendly places in the house? With the average toilet flush using 8 litres of water and even the keenest of recyclers failing to properly dispose of their cardboard toilet rolls, it’s easy to see why.

With that in mind, let Emma tell you about some of the ways that we can make our bathroom greener without resorting to an avocado-coloured suite.

Recycling

Most people- even those who love recycling- only have one bin in their bathroom and everything goes in there; from tissues to shower gel bottles to cardboard toilet tubes. No one wants to go through the bathroom bin to sort the recyclables from the snotty tissues. That’s why I’d propose getting a small bin for recyclable items in your bathroom. For a quick reminder on recyclable items in Portsmouth, check out Tamara’s earlier post.

Waste

There are some who would advocate that the only waste in your bathroom should be… well… your waste (sorry). Although I’m not quite there yet, I wanted to share some nifty little tips for reducing your bathroom’s landfill contributions.

  • Install a bidet: The idea of a bidet is that you cut down intensely on toilet roll usage and there are now many companies who sell bidet attachments for your toilet. For those of you who are concerned about this upping your water usage, it actually takes far more water to create toilet rolls.
  • Cut down on disposables for cleaning: It is far better to use reusable cloths and toilet brushes with eco-friendly cleaning products than single-use items. All you need to do is wash them afterwards.

Water

 

Water usage is a huge problem in the family bathroom! The average shower uses 35 litres of water, while baths use around 80, and toilets use a third of all water in the home.

How can we tackle this?

  • Reusing water: Greywater is the term for water that is reused instead of going down the drain. Next time you have a bath, save the water and use it to water your plants, wash your car, wash any items that need hand washing, or even flush your loo (I’m not kidding).
  • Turn off the taps: This should be obvious but don’t leave your taps running while you’re brushing your teeth- it wastes 6 litres of water per minute.
  • Flush less: I’m not advocating that you take on the ‘if it’s brown, flush it down; if it’s yellow, let it mellow’ mantra (although I’d support you). However, we can cut down on our water usage for the toilet by installing a dual-flush toilet or converting your existing one into a low-flush toilet using one plastic bottle.

 

So those are some of my favourite eco hacks for the bathroom. What did you think about them? Do you have any more that you can share?

Let me know in the comments below.

 

What’s in Tamara’s Magic Green Backpack?

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!

 

 

 

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!

 

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!

 

Spork

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!

 

Collapsible Coffee Cup

This is my pièce de résistance! A reusable, collapsible silicone coffee cup, I use it whenever I am tempted by the free coffee at Waitrose. This together with the fact that Costa Coffee offer in-store recycling of ANY brand of paper cup means that my coffee cup waste is practically zero! Huzzah!

 

Hankybook

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! 🙂

War on Straws

Earlier this year, for the month of May, my hubby and I  (Tamara) tracked and tried to reduce our non-recyclable waste  I did my best to avoid single-use plastic and to be more mindful of this when I shopped and ate out.

Plastic cutlery and straws have always been a sore spot in our house because I will always bring them home with me and reuse them till they fall apart or my hubby chucks them. My hoarding tendencies drive him mad and soon there was more plastic cutlery in our house than real cutlery!

Straws are such a small thing – but they can’t be recycled easily and straws find their way into our seas and oceans, causing havoc to the sea life. Many moons ago, I bought a metal straw from a Green Fair at Victoria Park for the grand total of £1! I love it and it has pride of place in my kitchen and it even came with a teeny little brush cleaner thingy to stop it going manky. So, refusing straws for one month would be easy…right? Uh…not quite!

 

 

First, most of the time it didn’t even occur to me that I would be given a straw with my drink. So I would be surprised when I received one and then would sheepishly use it anyway. Then, I would remember about the straw after I ordered a drink. And finally, towards the end, I would remember while ordering to state ‘No Straw thanks’ and then would be enraged when 75% of the time, my drink would arrive with a straw in it anyway!

 

Once, I was out for lunch with a friend at Koh Thai Tapas on Elm Grove and was super chuffed with myself for remembering to say no straw at the point of ordering. My delicious ice-filled cocktail arrived without a straw. Yess! I am saving the world one straw at a time! I looked at my drink. It was a very tall glass. My friend looked at it. She took her straw out of her drink and gave it to me. I shook my head defiantly. Never! I shall not yield! I will not be defeated in my mission. I tried to sip my cocktail. My nose bumped into the ice. I sighed and took her straw! I then took her straw home with me and added it to the ‘Bag of Shame’ – what we called the bag that contained all of May’s non-recyclable waste (apart from food waste…cause, Ewww!).

 

 

Though I lost that small battle, my straw vendetta continues. While I love my metal straw, I find it bangs and clanks in my glass at night whenever I sip my water. I was determined to solve this niche first world problem. I turned to my mate Google and bought myself some bamboo straws. Four for £5. Not as cheap as my original metal straw but not too expensive. My friend christened them with a number of gin and tonics – she said they made her feel like she was on holiday! I used one the next day with water and I hated the texture of the bamboo straw in my mouth and it made my water taste weird. Sigh! Maybe I will have to only drink gin and then I’ll be fine with them! So my war on straws continues…

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