Pens

This week’s topic is one that has been bothering me pretty much since I started writing this blog. Can you recycle a pen? Can you buy eco-friendly pens? Should you even stop using pens altogether?

Pens are made of a lot of different components, including plastic, metal and ink. Because there as so many different bits, it’s currently very difficult to recycle them. You could take them all apart and try to recycle all the bits separately, but I’m not sure how many of the pieces would actually be able to make it through the recycling process. With this, I think that the best way to go is to contact your local recycling facility. If you can find out the type of plastic the main part of your pen is then you might be able to recycle that too.

But there aren’t any nationwide programmes to recycle pens. Unless you’re willing to use the components to make other things, or to create pen artwork (it’s true, some people do it!), then I feel a little stumped. Pens are everywhere…school, work, you get given them free wherever you go, and they seem to breed at home. Plus I used to love buying new stationary so I bought a lot for myself too, which are now lying around, half-used.

I think for this topic my main pointers are:

  • Try not to pick up new pens, whether they’re freebies, handed to you at work or staring temptingly at you from a shop shelf.
  • Use the pens you already have. I think that if you’ve already got something, it’s even more of a waste to throw it away without using it. So stick to using the pens you have at home – this could save you money too! I took a pen I got in a Christmas cracker to work the other day, instead of getting a new one from the stationary cupboard.
  • Use pens that allow you to replace the ink component or ink cartridge (such as a fountain pen). Although this is still generating waste, I think that this is less than it would be if you bought a whole new pen.
  • If you do need to buy a new one, find one made from recycled materials. Although it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a pen made from recycled pens, this option is better than buying one made from brand new materials. A lot of websites sell pens made from recycled materials (such as Nigel’s Eco Store and Eco-Gifts, to arbitrarily name a couple). The charity WWF also sells pens and pencils made from recycled materials.

What do you think? Do you do a lot of writing by hand? Or maybe you’ve gone completely digital and have no use for pens any more? I’ve love to hear if you’ve thought of any solutions!

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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?

Umbrella

Well, it was raining here in London when I left the house this morning, and my umbrella closed itself twice just as I was walking down the road! So I thought maybe it’s time for a new one … but is it even possible to get an eco friendly umbrella?

It seems there definitely are some possibilities! Obviously the cheapest and greenest option – going without an umbrella entirely – isn’t really something that appeals! But umbrellas made from recycled products such as plastic bottles are available (if slightly pricey!) Here are some of the ideas I’ve come across so far; I hope they help you to find the ideal eco umbrella!

  • WWF Eco Umbrella, £29.95 – the canopy is apparently made of 100% recycled plastic bottlesWWF Eco Umbrella. And it has the bonus of supporting a good cause too!
  • Remarkable, an online eco shop, sells a variety of eco umbrells, ranging from £23 to £40, the more eco friendly the more expnsive of course, unfortunately. I would be most tempted by the 100% Recycled Blue Umbrella, as it also had a bamboo handle and shaft. But do I really want to spend £40 on an umbrella? Not really…
  • For something a bit weirder, how about this Eco Brolly?  (Although I haven’t worked out where to go on the website to actually buy it!) Basically it’s a foldable frame that you can attach an item – newspaper, plastic bag etc. – to as the canopy. Quirkiest idea I’ve found so far!

But what if you don’t want to buy a new umbrella? Although I’ve never tried it myself, I’ve found a good guide online on how to fix a broken umbrella. This is the best solution to both fixing your umbrella and avoiding having to buy a new one!

When I started this post, I was focused mainly on finding a new eco umbrella, but I think I might try and fix my old one before I spend the money on something new! What do you think? Have you tried any of these suggestions or something similar?

Have a green week!