Trash Challenge Week 3

Welcome to week 3 of my trash challenge! It’s been interesting again this week to see where all my rubbish has come from – food is still the main culprit!

Trash Challenge Week 3

  • 3 tins
  • 1 large yoghurt pot
  • 1 milk bottle
  • 1 paper sandwich bag
  • food packaging: 1 sausage packet, 1 mince packet, pizza packaging, 1 pie box, 1 cardboard egg carton, 1 foil pie tray, 2 cereal boxes plus inner plastic bags and 1 plastic wrapper from a gammon joint (which somehow missed the photo)
  • chocolate box and chocolate wrappers, 3 chocolate bar wrappers
  • paper cases from a box of biscuits
  • baking chocolate wrapper and inner foil
  • foil
  • 1 plastic grapes bag
  • 3 bread bags
  • 1 tea bag packet
  • takeaway cartons and bag from last week (it lasted us 2 meals so spilled over into this week’ trash count)
  • 2 cardboard toilet rolls
  • medication blister packet
  • assorted papers: junk mail, scrap papers, 2 receipts, 2 envelopes and letters
  • 1 contact lens case
  • plaster packaging

I feel that it’s a little less than last week, but ultimately it’s only been 3 weeks since I started the challenge so I’ve only made a few small changes so far.

This week I continued to bake (brownies and cookies), although I succumbed to a couple of chocolate bars whilst at work. We didn’t pick up much packaging from buying fruit and veg again, and we won’t as long as we stick to greengrocers rather than supermarkets! We have also tried to buy a few more things in bulk packaging, such as meat and rice. I’m hoping that this’ll mean there’s a smaller packaging:food ratio and therefore less waste.

We also bought a joint of gammon to cook and slice for lunches during the week rather than buying small packets of ready-cooked ham or chicken. It worked really well and definitely reduced our trash in that area.

From buying the takeaway and a sandwich from a sandwich shop, I’ve learnt more forcefully how so much of being eco-friendly involves preparation and planning in advance. We’ve got very good at remembering reusable bags whenever we go shopping so hopefully I can extend this to other areas of my life too.

I also signed up to the Mail Preference Service I mentioned last week. This means that I should no longer receive direct mail from companies that I haven’t previously done business with. This should reduce our post slightly, but I think I’m also going to put a ‘No junk mail’ notice on our letter box to try and reduce the many leaflets we get each week, which tend to go straight to the recycling bin!

With one more week to go on this trash challenge, I’m going to continue thinking about changes I can make, and keep up with those I’ve already started. As a meat eater, I’ve noticed that a lot of packaging comes with meat, and I’d really like to reduce this. Visiting a butcher or meat counter with my own containers could be a good option so hopefully I’ll be able to explore this soon too.

Thank you for reading, and good luck on your own eco-friendly journey as always!

Persuading People to Go Green

Today’s post was inspired by the post ‘You Can’t Scare People Into Going Green’ from Erin at Inspired Earth Connection:

I used to think that people would adopt a greener lifestyle if they truly knew the staggering and heart-breaking damage caused to our beautiful planet and the well being of the human race by many of our modern habits.  Perhaps, they would even persuade politicians and corporations to follow suite.  I used to feel that people were just unaware of the effects of their day to day habits (after all, we aren’t taught these things in school or via popular media) and if they were aware, they would change.

While I do think awareness is part of the key (it certainly changed me), I sure as heck know that the energy of fear, anger, begging, pleading and the doom and gloom scenarios of the climate change (and other environmental disaster) is not the answer to inspire most people into effective action.

A few days ago, I came across an article that shone to me like a beacon of light. It was like a missing ingredient in a grander dish where all the other flavors can finally begin to pull together into a successful, positive creation.   In this article, the author articulates the need to educate and inspire people, while giving them manageable, life-enhancing and personally rewarding actions that create positive change.  Please enjoy Creating A Culture Of Hope–Not Fear–Around Sustainability.

In closing, here’s a little food for thought.  Sometimes, when we are confronted with the potential of creating deep and meaningful change,  our own fears, frustrations and self perceived limitations can surface.  I truly believe that these larger issues that face us, like climate change, are an opportunity for us to both personally and collectively heal our perceived helplessness, complacency and self-imposed limitations to creating the peaceful and sustainable world we truly want.

When I read this post, it made me think about how I feel knowing that the majority of people in the world have little or no concern for the environment, including many people that I know. As Erin’s title suggests, you cannot scare people into going green. Sometimes I am so absorbed in the thought that I want to make my own life as green as possible that I forget that the people around me are oblivious to everything I am working towards. They might be avid consumers, not think about where their waste ends up or not make decisions based on ethical or environmental concerns.

I used to not think about the environment much beyond recycling and turning off lights. Now I’ve started this blog and done a lot of exploration, I’ve realised that these two things, whilst easy to do and a great first step on the way, are only the tip of the iceberg. But what do you do when no one around you seems to care, even if you talk about it?

I’m as guilty as any number of people for trying to ‘up-sell’ going green and also being critical of other people who aren’t at the same stage as me. When you are so passionate about doing something (and so frustrated that not everyone has realised what needs to be done to reduce climate change), it can be incredibly hard not to try and persuade people to do what you’re doing.

But, as Erin says, you can’t scare people into going green. As I am realising, everyone is at their own stage and trying to persuade someone to do what they’re not comfortable doing will just make them more determined to stick with the way they are. Some people need educating about climate change, some people need help making the first step, others are doing their best to make a difference and others still are right at the other end of the scale, aiming for zero waste and sustainable lifestyles.

By starting up this blog I hoped to show my readers that going green isn’t overwhelming if you take it one simple step at a time. I think that by quietly doing what you can, rather than shouting about it, you will be able to show other people – without necessarily trying to actively persuade them – that a green lifestyle is one that’s both possible and enjoyable.

I have been told that when I talk about going green it is clear that I am passionate about it and I think this is something that does help people to become more engaged in the cause. If you love what you’re doing then it will seem more attractive to others!

Going green is always a work in progress and you might not feel like you’re doing very much, but by not scaring or persuading people into it, you could still be helping to shift someone’s opinion by being an example of the change you want to see in people. I think education and research are both vitally important in the drive towards sustainability but at the same time it is important not to go too far and alienate people.

How do you feel about this? Do you feel frustrated that not everyone understands the need for sustainability? Or perhaps you’re at the other end and are overwhelmed by reports on climate change and calls to do something about it?

P.S. I’m a guest blogger this week! If you want to check my first ever guest and non-environmental blog post, pop over to my friend Ellana’s blog!

100 Happy Days #3

Well, as you may have noticed from a lack of 100 Happy Days posts on my blog, unfortunately I stopped taking the time to think about the simple things that make me happy each day, let alone take photos of them!

But I have reminded myself how important it is to focus on the simple, often free, things in my life that make me happy, especially when things can get overwhelming. So here are some of my photos from this week!

I know the minimalist bloggers that I follow are great at focusing on simplicity and this really can help cut out things in your life that aren’t good for you or the environment .

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I wore this dress on Monday and it made me feel so summery and cheery! I was in two minds about keeping it before but I enjoyed wearing it and got compliments on it too, so it stays!

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I was waiting on a platform for a tube home, and it was really nice to just stand in the warm sun.

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I’m knitting a sock – I haven’t made much progress and it’s a little untidy (I’ve never knitted from the toe up before) but I feel like I’m gradually cracking it!

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A 100 Happy Days post wouldn’t be complete without a photo of a cat!

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I’m currently reading a book called The Gift (also known as The Naming) by Alison Croggon. It’s one of my favourites and I’m enjoying reading it again.

How do you incorporate this attitude towards simplicity in your own life?

Conditioner

So I’ve discussed shampoo and soap already, but I thought that this week I’d like to turn my attention to conditioner. It’s something I haven’t always bothered with, but my hair isn’t as healthy as I’d like it to be at the moment, so it’s time to investigate an eco-friendly option!

As with many other things, conditioners are generally full of chemicals, and they come in plastic bottles. If you’re a regular reader, you won’t be surprised to know that the first place I turned to for a better option was Lush! (I’m not being paid to advertise them, honest!)

American CreamMy instinctive approach was to go for one of their solid conditioners – Jungle. For what it was, it was pretty good, but I didn’t feel like it was getting to all my hair like a liquid conditioner would do, so I didn’t think it was doing as much good as I’d like.
So now I’m trying Lush’s conditioner American Cream. This does come in a plastic bottle, but it is labelled as made from 100% recycled plastic, so as least I know that Lush are doing their bit to reuse and recycle! So far I’m quite enjoying using this conditioner, so I’m going to stick with it for now.American Cream

 

 

You can also make your own conditioner – and, as usual, there are loads of ideas out there that you can try. I haven’t tried any myself (yet), so I can’t vouch for any.

If you want somewhere to start, I would have a look at this list of 5 Hair Conditoners You Can Make at Home; here’s a snippet:

Avocado Deep Conditioner

  • 1/2 mashed ripe avocado
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 drops lavender or rosemary essential oil

Combine ingredients and apply to hair, focusing on the ends. Leave on for at least 10 minutes, then rinse.

From Beauty By Nature by Brigette Mars

[…]

Vinegar Rinses

Vinegar rinses relieve itchy scalp, dandruff, and dull hair and restore the scalp’s natural acid mantle. They are best for normal and oily hair, rather than dry. Use white vinegar for blondes, apple cider vinegar for brunettes, and red wine vinegar for red-heads. Leave the rinse on for at least five minutes if you are going to rinse it out. You can, however, leave it on and any smell will disappear once the hair is dry.

From “Herbal Hair Care,” by Cristi Nunziata

  • Herb blend: For blondes, calendula and chamomile; For dark hair, nettle and marshmallow; or make up your own
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • A few drops of essential oil
  • Distilled water

1. Fill a quart jar half way with herbs. Cover with vinegar and cap tightly. Place the jar in a warm spot for 2-3 weeks, shaking daily.

2. Strain the vinegar and add essential oils. Store in a plastic bottle.

3. Dilute the rinse with distilled water. For oily hair, dilute one part rinse with four parts water. For dry hair, dilute one part rinse with six parts water. After shampooing and rinsing, pour vinegar rinse slowly over hair, massaging it into the scalp. Rinse with water.

From Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal

I’ve love to know what you’ve tried! Do you think it’s best to buy from an ethical company like Lush, make your own, or go without altogether?

Vapour Rub

As many of us are at this time of year, I’m just getting over a cold. The last time I had a blocked nose I bought myself a small tub of vapour rub from Boots, but now I’m wondering if it wouldn’t just be better if I made my own. I’m still going to use up what I already have – I feel like it would be a bit of a waste if I didn’t – but considering that its main ingredient is petroleum (crude oil – Vaseline is made of this too), I definitely want to move on from it when I can!

I’ve had this recipe saved on Pinterest for a while now, and although I can’t vouch for it as I haven’t actually tried it yet, I thought it sounded quite simple and straight-forward so I’m definitely planning on giving it a go!

Coconut Chest Rub

Ingredients
1 heaping spoonful extra virgin coconut oil, in solidified state
3 drops eucalyptus essential oil
3 drops lemon essential oil
*3 drops peppermint essential oil

*my first batch didn’t include this, but my next one did!!
As always, remember to keep essential oils out of the reach of children, and try to use organic ingredients when you can.

1. Mix them together in a small pot and rub into your chest and upper back.

2. If it’s coldish in the house (say, less than mid-20c C or 60s F) you can keep this out at room temperature. Otherwise, put it in a cool place (like the fridge or entryway) so the coconut oil doesn’t liquify.

You can find the original post at http://www.easypeasyorganic.com/2010/05/coconut-chest-rub.html.

Have you tried any similar organic/homemade/eco friendly vapour rubs or cold remedies? It would be great to hear about some more and learn which would be good to try!

DIY: Night Time Face Cream

Lovely eco idea for a night-time moisturiser from Lexi’s Green Guide:

Lexi's Green Guide

Shea Butter

This DIY face cream only needs three ingredients. It will leave your skin smooth, moisturized, and fight blemishes.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoon of unrefined shea butter

3-4 tablespoons of sweet almond oil

5 drops of lavender essential oil

Directions:

  1. Add shea butter and sweet almond oil to a mixing bowl
  2. Use a hand mixer or manually stir ingredients until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps
  3. Stir in essential oil

Shea butter is non-comodegenic meaning it is less likely to clog your pores. Shea butter will moisturize your skin and leave it feeling soft and supple.

Sweet almond oil is also non-comodegenic and is rich in vitamin and minerals to combat dryness and heal your skin. Sweet almond oil is easily absorbed by the skin and won’t leave your face feeling greasy. If you do not have sweet almond oil then jojoba or grape seed oil are great substitutes.

Lavender…

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Soap

I am a big fan of soap – I much prefer it to using shower gel. But I’m aware that loads of people use handwash instead of soap, so I’m going to deal with this in a future post.

One of the reasons I like soap so much is that it can come with much less packaging than a bottle of shower gel or handwash. Obviously this does depend on the product itself and where you buy it from, as lots of soaps do come in boxes, or wrapped in plastic (or both!)

But, soap will very often contain palm oil. The way that palm oil is produced generally means that huge amounts of land are planted up with palm trees, making for a very unvaried ecosystem which doesn’t support a great amount of wildlife. These plantations often take the place of rainforests, meaning that a lot of the world’s fragile natural environments are being destroyed. It is often very hard to avoid palm oil as it is often just listed as ‘vegetable oil’ in lists of ingredients. There is a great article on Lush’s website about The Problem with Palm Oil – it’s an eye-opening read, so I would recommend you take the time to read it!

Lush sell palm-free soaps – the only problem is that they can be a bit expensive, so you might want to just buy a small bar to start with to make sure you feel you’re getting your money’s worth!

I’ve also tried natural soaps that use sustainable palm oil, such as those made by Handmade Norfolk Soaps. I’ve tried their rose petals and rose geranium essential oil soap, and it smells amazing! It’s likely there are plenty of other companies out there selling similar products, so take your time to find something that will suit you.

You could also try making your own soap. I would be careful when doing this as homemade doesn’t necessarily always mean natural or good for the environment! For now I’m happy to buy soaps as I enjoy using them and I feel content about where I’m getting them from.

Do you use soap regularly? Have you ever considered switching to a more environmentally friendly soap?