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How to eco hack your blood donation

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.)

hands covered in blood
Except this one… Spooky

Change locations

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.)

Drink up

person holding pink reusable water bottle

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.

Chow down

half an orange

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.

Recovery time

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.

How to Fix Your Stuff in Portsmouth

I (Tamara) am not a fan of sewing. Actually that is a complete under exaggeration. I frickin’ hate sewing! It is the worst. I hate trying to thread a needle. I hate trying to tie a knot in the thread. I hate having to squint as I attempt to sew. I hate how I stab myself, no matter how careful I am. And don’t get me started on the terrifying pricks that are sewing machines.

sewing machine

It will come as no surprise to you that I have begun attempting to sew. This is purely a means to an end. I am tired of throwing away murderous bras with underwire as it’s weapon of choice. Bras for bigger boobs are bloomin’ expensive. But I hate sewing, so how do I solve this #firstworldproblem? 

Dear Reader, there are a breed of folks who enjoy sewing!!! I have found and befriended these strange and wonderful beings and learnt their magical ways.

Repair Café Portsmouth

This is a free monthly pop-up event where you can bring your broken items and learn how to repair them. If you can carry it, we will try to repair it. I say ‘we’, for I have volunteered at Repair Café Portsmouth since it started. As I have no actual repair skills, you will find me in the café serving up nibbles provided by local food waste champions Foodcycle Portsmouth

I have cleverly befriended the textiles team (shout out to Denise, Laura, Sarah and Meg) who have kindly mended a number of peculiar items for me – my many reusable bags have been strengthened and repaired by Denise and my backpack has been given a second chance at life thanks to Laura. They gently and patiently encourage me in my attempts to repair easier items, like ripped pillowcases, and cheer me on when I get annoyed and discouraged, which I do constantly because I bloody hate sewing!

The regular monthly Repair Café Portsmouth sessions are at the Buckland United Reformed Church, 174 Kingston Road, Portsmouth every 3rd Saturday (except for August) from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm.

Claire of Sustainable Textiles

Sustainable Textiles

I am on a mission to repair my headphones as the foam ear cushions have completely disintegrated. My initial reaction was chuck them and to buy new headphones. Luckily my cheap instincts overrode my consumerist ones! It occured to me that rather than buying new foam ear cushions I could make them! Except of course, I can’t make them as I am incapable and I hate sewing.

So I found someone who could help. And that someone is my friend, the lovely Claire, who runs a sustainable textiles drop-in group. Annoyingly, she is keen to empower me to make the headphone covers myself. I admit I was hoping she would just do it for me. Sigh! But she will walk me through the process and hold my hand (not literally as that would make the actual sewing quite difficult).

The Sustainable Textiles sessions are drop-in and can be found at The Garden Room at St Judes Church, Kent Road, Southsea. Beginners and experienced sewers are welcome. Bring an item and have a chat while repairing it, or join in with the organised activity of the session.

Upcoming dates are October 21st 10am-12.30pm, November 15th 11am-3pm and December 3rd 5pm-8pm. Come for as long as you want and sessions are free with donations welcome.

To book a place or for more information, contact Claire on 07814 864973. 

Knit More in Common

I am trying to change my attitude when it comes to skills like sewing and knitting. As you can see, it currently is: ‘It is too hard, I hate it, I can’t learn, I can’t do it and please someone do it for me.’ My attempts to repair my bras and my headphones are a positive and deliberate attempt to change my narrative to: ‘I will try, I can, please someone help me’. 

Knit More in Common is a craft group that meets at Southsea Library to make warm blankets, hats and scarves to send to migrants living rough across Europe. And the best bit (for me!) is if you can’t knit (which I can’t), they can teach you! Hosted by HOPE Not Hate Portsmouth, the next session is on Saturday 9th November, 3 pm-5 pm at Southsea Library, Palmerston Road.

And you, dear reader? Have you visited Repair Cafe Portsmouth? Can you sew? Will you fix my stuff for us please? 😉 Let us know in the comments below.

Jumping on the Veganuary Bandwagon…in February!

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

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

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

View this post on Instagram

Wonderful time in a wonderful place #victoriousfestival

A post shared by Jessie ET (@teethingpains) on

Meet Jessie, a vegan-ish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What were your reasons for doing Veganuary?

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

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

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

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

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

For lunches, I tend to have:

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

Semi-regular on the weekly dinner menu:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jessie’s Holiday Caveat: Fish is allowed

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

How has it impacted your life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to 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.