Small efforts.

Sometimes taking steps for the environment seem like massive sacrifices. Sometimes we think it’s only worth it we make a big impact. Today I thought I’d share a few things I’m trying that still count towards my effort, however small they may be.

 

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Spring onions and a leek 🙂

The window sill shenanigans are starting again! I know it doesn’t really make a major difference to the amount of food I have in, but re-growing veg in water is the first step in what I hope will be the beginning of growing food. It’s pretty amazing watching things grow! In a week my spring onions went from an inch long to a foot long and I chopped them up to use in a curry (below); now the roots are back in water again! Next week I’ll find a use for my regrown leek, and I also want to get a lettuce growing. See here for all the veg you can regrow in water.

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‘curry’ made completely from scratch!

I was eating a peanut butter and jam sandwich for lunch today when I noticed the peanut butter has palm oil in it. It’s so annoying! Ever since I watched Before the Flood (see my review here) I’ve been super motivated not to endorse that industry, but I haven’t been too successful. It’s in so many things! However, the next time I buy peanut butter I’m hunting down one without palm oil.

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The debris from a paper cull I did recently…

In general I’m alright at avoiding printing. My train/plane/coach tickets are always on my phone, and other than that I have very few reasons to actually print anything… eeeexcept for uni. We get a lot of handouts, which there isn’t a lot I can do about, but I also have to do a lot of reading from online books. I used to print out the readings every week so that no matter where I was, I could get to them. A week ago, I decided to just try and read off the screen and take notes instead, then print if I really felt the need. I have yet to feel that need. I think I used to tell myself ‘it’s all very well trying to be better to the environment, but I NEED to print this stuff for my degree!‘ when actually it turned out not to be such a massive thing. Hoping to keep this not-printing thing up as much as possible going forward!

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Sneaky cinema shot!

Every Wednesday I go to the cinema on my own to watch a foreign film. It’s my me-time. Part of this mid-week treat is buying myself some popcorn. I could make it myself, but I don’t have that much time on a Wednesday, plus it’s nice to give back to the uni cinema whose prices are insanely cheap and staff are lovely. Since the beginning of the year I’ve been bringing back the same box that I bought popcorn in for the first film. They refill it and at the end of the film I pop it back in my bag for next week. The cardboard has softened a little but it works just fine, and I must’ve saved a good dozen other boxes from going in the recycling. It’s super simple and easy, but it all helps!

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GO WORMS GO!

I got a worm bin back in the Autumn, and whilst that has helped to absorb a bit of my food waste, they don’t eat quite fast enough at the moment to deal with everything I create (and then there’s the odd thing they can’t eat like onions and citrus). I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to chuck that stuff in the general bin in the kitchen until it hit me recently that I could take it into uni where they have food waste bins. About once a week, when I have a decent amount of scraps, I’ll take them onto campus and put them in one of their bins. Landfill diverted again, woo!

 

 

Water only face washing

 

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So moody haha.

Hullo. So, for about a year now, I’ve been using water only on my face. If you told me a few years ago that I would now be leaving my face completely alone to do WHATEVER IT WANTS (!) I would’ve been very sceptical to say the least. My skin, from pretty much the day of my 13th birthday was spotty. More than averagely spotty. It did get a bit better as I got older but I still suffered into my late teens. I tried all the face washes and creams and even got prescribed this horrible roll-on thing from my doctor which admittedly did sort out the problem, but made my face so dry that I decided I’d rather go back!

I didn’t notice a significant change until I went vegan. A few months into my new, healthy diet (I decided whilst cutting out animal products, to actually pay attention to what I put in my body and up the wholefoods) I noticed that the problem areas I still had left were clearing up. Nowadays I would say my face is manageable. I still get the occasional one or two, but it’s no longer a concern. My skin feels on the whole quite healthy.

I don’t have a routine as such for washing my face. I’ll normally wet it when I’m in the shower (so around 4 times a week) then any other time if it feels too oily I use cold water. If I notice dryness or dead skin, I give my face a brush in small circular motions either whilst dry followed by a water wash, or I rub the wet brush over a bar of soap and apply to my face then water wash.

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my face brush on the far left

Unlike some branded face washes, this method doesn’t in itself hold the answers. In other words, it won’t sort out your face if it isn’t already healthy. Here are some tips for going water-only…

Eat well– lots of fresh produce, less refined sugars and oily foods. Basically eat healthily. I really notice a difference in the oiliness of my skin and usually break out after I’ve eaten badly. If you are eating well and you still have a significant problem, it’d be worth seeking advice from an expert in nutrition because certain foods affect people differently.

Drink water– same as above; water has a dramatic effect on the clearness of skin. Drinking water helps expel what your body no longer wants and fuels it to function like it’s supposed to.

Exercise– if your diet is half of the picture, exercise is the other. It all comes together and helps all the processes in your body run smoothly. You’d be surprised how getting a sweat on helps you look brighter and healthier!

phase out soaps– This stage will differ from person to person depending on what your skin has become used to. I would advise transitioning gradually though, because that way you won’t have to go through a period where your skin has to adapt to an extreme change, which could make it unpredictable. Find something a more natural version of what you usually buy in the supermarket. When that’s finished, switch to a soap bar. Then start cutting down on the number of days a week you wash your face with soap and use just water instead.

Avoid touching skin– This one is a struggle for me, especially when I’m stressed, but the less you touch your face the better. Every time you touch it you are making it dirty, so try to refrain as much as possible. Then when you do want to touch it, wash your hands first. I’ve noticed a change in my skin since I’ve been making an effort to leave it alone.

Learn what is normal for you– now that I have no products on my skin, I can feel what state it’s in, I know how my food affects it, and I have the instinct to know what it needs and when. Pay attention to what it’s doing and try and find out why. The better you know you’re skin, the better you’ll be able to give it what it wants.

5 things this Monday.

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(Source)

I was determined to get this post up today, and there may only be half an hour left of Monday, but it still counts! Without further ado…

  1. Ariana from Paris To Go is a regular feature on 5TTM because she writes so well and knows so much more than me about navigating different situations without picking up trash on the way. Recently she shared 1o ways to travel zero waste which I’ll definitely be re-reading before I next fly.
  2. I think I’ve mentioned once or twice that I’m interested in going completely shampoo free at some point in the future. The more I read about it, the more it makes sense that your hair can take care of itself. Previously I’d only ever come across people with straight or wavy hair doing it (mine’s curly), but I saw this post and it’s really encouraged me to pursue it. Watch this space…
  3. Julie from The Beauty in Simple shared her reflections on not buying anything new. It’s so good to see others doing things like this to remind you why it’s so important. She is honest about her failures doesn’t let them discourage her from doing her best- go Julie!
  4. I love my menstrual cup, but the thought of travelling with it to places where I don’t know what facilities there are has often crossed my mind. Girl For A Clean World’s post covers her 8-month travelling experiences and she also interviews other travellers on why they use theirs. The verdict? It’s still the best way for convenience, money-saving, and not having to find/get rid of sanitary products in the middle of nowhere! I would highly recommend giving this a read whether you have a cup yet or not, it’s interesting 🙂
  5. I don’t like to end on a downer, but I was shocked when I saw an article that read that the Great Barrier Reef was dead. In actual fact it’s not quite dead, but it’s is under severe stress due to global warming. I don’t know about you, but I want to make sure I’m doing something to stop that from happening. It’s not too late!

Small steps.

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I am reluctant to even mention the word ‘gardening’ at all in this post, because what I’ve been doing feels pretty far from it in many ways, but it’s exciting and a small step in the direction of gardening!

I found out recently that you can grow certain vegetables (spring onions, leeks, lettuce etc.) from the root in just water. So in theory, if I planned it right, I wouldn’t need to buy any of these again! I started off with spring onions, saving about an inch off the bottom and submerging its root in some water in a jar. Just over two weeks later I have these babies!

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The longest one (which I’m assuming I planted first)  has had about 5 inches of regrowth! In the next few weeks I’m going to chop it up and see what it tastes like. In hindsight, I might still be buying spring onions in the future, as the yield I’m currently getting is considerably smaller than you would get if you bought them. However, I’ll add a shoot or two to the shop-bought onions I’m using, why not. Eventually when I have a nice big collection, it’ll pay off, especially when you consider that they are organic.

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several of my growing onions has started to sprout another stem!

I have enjoyed watching these little guys shoot up so quickly, and it’s nice to have something low-maintenance to look after to ease myself into it! This week I’m adding a leek root to see how that does alongside the spring onions on my windowsill. See this article for a list of veggies you can regrow from water with tips 🙂

 

1 year on: Salt of the Earth deodorant

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I bought this alum stone deodorant in the summer of 2015 from Holland and Barrett, very soon after I discovered the zero waste movement. I was super eager to stock up on supplies for my ‘new life’ and did research into waste-free deodorants. Of all the alternatives I found, I thought this one seemed pretty easy; all I had to do was buy it and use it, just like I did before. Only this time, I would be using a completely natural product that created no waste!

To use an alum stone as a deodorant, all you need to do is wet it underneath the tap then rub it over your armpits. It doesn’t soften, nor does a load of liquid come off it, it just feels like you are rubbing a wet stone on your skin (funnily enough!) But it works- it does an amazing job of keeping you odour-free all day long, plus if you’re already a little smelly it ERASES IT INSTANTLY. Can you tell I’m impressed?

I would say the difference between this and a conventional roll-on is that it doesn’t actually smell of anything. It prevents or removes smell, but doesn’t add anything else. No perfumes, no chemicals, no colour, yay! Another thing I only discovered in the last few weeks is that alum stones can be used after shaving to stem and close any nicks or cuts or settle any redness or inflammation.

Price:

I paid ÂŁ3-ish for mine (the smaller travel size version) which is about double what a conventional roll-on costs, but this lasts wayyyy longer so I’ve definitely saved.

Durability:

As I said, I bought the deodorant stone a year ago, and it has only shrunk by about a 1/4 or a 1/3. If you make sure to dry the stone after use- which I have done with the exception of a couple of times when travelling-  it will last a crazy long time. It’ll no doubt still be going in another year!

Verdict:

My review of this product is near-on flawless. The stone is lightweight and small enough to travel with, it keeps you fresh, it lasts a billion years, literally what more do you need? My only regret is the packaging. In my hurry to stock up on all things zero waste I neglected to notice that it comes in a plastic screw-on cover (pictured). When my stone eventually runs out I am going to try and source the bare stone. If you fail to find one package-free, this is a good compromise.

5 things this Monday…

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  1. First up Pret a manger, a UK-based sandwich shop for anyone international, set up a veggie (all vegetarian/vegan food) pop-up shop for a month in Soho, London. It did so well they kept it open all summer, and that did so well they’re keeping it open for good! It’s so encouraging to know that society is moving in the direction of plant-based food, and that even massive chains are taking note. See the article explaining their decision here.
  2. Talk about blowing my mind, here’s another awesome story: Bundanoon: Australia’s First Bottled Water Free Town. To protest against a bottled water company that planned to truck water from them to sell in Sydney they sent a clear message and banned plastic bottles in 2009. ‘Bundy’ residents can fill up their reusable water bottles at taps all over the town. SO COOL!
  3. Courtney from Be More With Less shares 8 tips for small-space living, that are simple and straight forward, but really useful too. No matter if you live in a small place or not, following this advice will have you on your way to simplicity and freedom from an endless cycle of messing up and tidying up (I know that all too well!)
  4. Brasilian brand Insecta takes on the dominant culture of leather and meat consumption by creating vegan shoes made from vintage clothing (pictured above). The business has been doing really well and it just goes to show that people are eager to support green alternatives. Plus they’re really awesome-looking shoes 🙂
  5. Finally, have you ever wondered how to pack a zero waste picnic? As with everything, it’s all in the preparation. This article explains down to the smallest details how they avoid waste from the food containers to wet wipes. I’m definitely hanging on to this for future reference!

Teeth.

 

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Convention dental care is a disposable nightmare with plastic everywhere you look. What makes it even worse is that toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss need to be regularly replaced meaning tonnes of landfill. I used to think there was no way around this- we have to brush our teeth after all- but I have developed a pretty near zero waste routine that works for me and I thought I would share.

Firstly, there are many different approaches, enough to suit everyone’s needs and preferences. Alongside my solutions I will list sources directing you to other alternatives for dental hygeine that I don’t personally use, but that you might find helpful nonetheless. I know it’s a personal thing.

Toothbrush:

This bit is an easy swap-out. Instead of buying plastic toothbrushes, get your hands on a bamboo toothbrush. I started off with this one from the Environmental Toothbrush Co. which was really soft and was thick and sturdy and ergonomic to hold. It was nice for a first dabble into wooden toothbrushes but the bristles were non-biodegradable, so I switched to Save Some Green. This toothbrush really is 100% biodegradable, and although it isn’t as luxurious, it uses less wood and does the job. I buy them online from their website in a pack of 12 which lasts around 3 years! I haven’t had to stick any of my past brushes in the compost yet because I save them to use for cleaning.

Toothpaste:

I’m nothing if not lazy haha so I picked the easiest toothpaste recipe I could find. 2 parts coconut oil to 1 part bicarbonate of soda (see here for recipe and demonstration video). I put a pea-sized amount on my toothbrush and brush as normal then rinse with water and spit. It does taste a little salty (due to the bicarb) and it doesn’t froth like traditional toothpaste, but I’m not a fan of mint anyway- if you are add peppermint oil- and within a week I was used to the taste and consistency.

When I saw my dentist in May, he asked if I used a fluoride tothpaste and I told him what I use. He said that my teeth were perfectly healthy and there was no decay in my mouth. He said that bicarbonate of soda was fine to use to brush my teeth but he did recommend fluoride toothpaste as it is good at protecting teeth from staining. Basically, the gist I got was that it’s down to what you eat and when which determines your liklihood to develop tooth decay or staining. As a healthy eater who only really drinks water, I’m dong half the job.

I also know that the act of brushing is the most important element of the process, regardless of what substance you use- if any at all! Sometimes if I run out of toothpaste or leave it somewhere I brush with a dry toothbrush, and whilst I wouldn’t do it everyday, my teeth are still clean and smooth. I also use natural soap such as Dr. Bronner’s or Living Naturally occaisonally (wet the brush then rub it over the bar) which does the job too.

Floss:

I have to admit, I’ve never been a flosser. My teeth are on the gappy side so it’s not a massive problem, but in recent years I have been making an effort. Finding a plastic-free or vegan floss (some use silk) has been a bit of a challenge. I settled for now on a gum stimulator which I bought in a pharmacy (unfortunately came in plastic + cardboard). I run it in between my gums and teeth a few times a week at the moment, and when I feel it necessary.

This link will take you to an article by a vegan zero-waster analysing the options available to you if you do want a floss alternative.

5 things this Monday…

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  1. Going Zero Waste posted a really practical and detailed explanation of how to get zero waste takeaway food. The author is honest and realistic and her tone is so cheerful. I am super grateful for this article as it is something I definitely need to work harder at…
  2. I love it when The Simple Things post up snippets of their life- it’s a reminder to notice the beauty in the everyday. Here’s how making your own food and living waste-free can be gorgeous.
  3. I have decided not to buy any more new leather for environmental and ethical reasons, but eco-friendly and durable alternatives are difficult to come by. However, there are brilliant people inventing materials that perform similarly to leather, made from natural, plant-based sources!
  4. Zero Waste Home’s app for sourcing package-free products worldwide had to take a break due to funding and technological issues, but it’s back! This time you can access bulk locations from your phone or online which is even better. Definitely worth checking your local area as well as anywhere you might be visiting to find tried and tested zero waste shops.
  5. Ariana of Paris To Go has reviewed her year of washing her face and hair with solely water, and I have to say I’m inspired. She, like me, suffers with acne and her skin- after a period of adjustment- seems to have reacted really well. I can’t keep my eyes off her hair either, it just looks so healthy! I’m keeping this as something to work on in the future.

5 things this Monday..

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Lake PoopĂł, Bolivia 2013-2016 (Source)

I realised recently that I do way too much research to even document here. Some of it deserves to be written up in an article, but some of it doesn’t really need any introduction. I’ve decided to share 5 things I’ve learned and liked with you every week, starting today!

  1. It is easy to forget why I have chosen not to buy any more items made from animal products when they are packaged and marketed to gloss over the process of how they get to the shops. This is why, as uncomfortable as it is, I watched this 15-second video by PETA showing one of the many coyotes whose fur is used to line clothes brand Canada Goose’s coats. I am no longer happy to pretend that animals do not suffer when they have to die for me. If you’re not up to watching it, the short article is here.
  2. This recipe by Green Kitchen Stories is so up my street! Greens upon greens packed into a creamy vegan sauce to accompany that lovely-looking pasta. Healthy, good-looking, and simple.
  3. Style Wise‘s article on the 6 myths about buying ethical clothing is a must-read! I used to give myself some of these excuses in order to justify my lifestyle, others I really and truly believed. If you’re wondering how ethical shopping is really done, as well as the answers to the hard and all-too-common questions, this does a pretty good job of summing it up.
  4. What was the second largest lake in Bolivia has almost completely dried up as a result of climate change, NASA found recently. The pictures speak for themselves and remind us that we cannot afford to wait a moment longer to reduce our footprints, for the sake of the world and everything living on it.
  5. I stumbled across the website Buy Me Once not too long ago and I’m so pleased. Part of the challenge of living sustainably is investing in products that last, so that the need to replace them is eliminated. This site includes a directory of clothes, items and homeware designed to last, that have repair services and lifetime warranties- an absolute dream!

Have a great day 🙂

5 simple steps to reducing waste

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Whether you’re aim is to produce no landfill waste or just to be a bit more considerate to the environment, you’re more likely to be successful when you start small. Here are 5 simple steps to being more earth-friendly that take a little getting used to and initial effort, but will end up reducing your waste enormously!

  1. No more plastic water bottles > switch to a reusable bottle

Plastic is particularly bad for the environment as, although some of it is technically recyclable (less than 10% of it is actually recycled), it is only able to be downcycled into lesser quality plastics, temporarily delaying its arrival in landfill, where it leaches harmful chemicals. Plastic NEVER degrades, only breaking up into smaller and smaller pieces which are mistaken for food by animals or absorbed by sea creatures in tiny pieces. Since switching to my stainless steel bottle by Klean Kanteen, I’ve noticed my water tastes cleaner and I don’t need  to shell out on any more bottles- what’s not to like!

2. No more plastic shopping bags > use reusable bags

This one took some practice to remember, but I can safely say I haven’t used a plastic shopping bag in 6 months, and I won’t again. Now every time I go out, whether I know I’m going to buy something or not, I have at least 1 trusty canvas bag with me to carry it in. For the same reason as the bottles, plastic bags are terrible for the planet. Many of them claim to be biodegradable as well, which is misleading (everything is technically biodegradable– that doesn’t mean it won’t take 50 years). Due to their light weight, they often fly off in the wind to end up caught up in trees, swallowed by wildlife or floating in seas and rivers. Not cool!

3. Go paperless > digitise what you need

Whether it be bank statements, subscriptions to magazines or newsletters, or just plain junk, an awful lot comes through the door only to be dumped directly in the recycling. Recycling is great, but it still requires energy and resources which could have been avoided if you cut the waste off at the source. Most if not all banks offer online statements, and keeping magazines and newsletters online means less resources used to print and send them to you. Putting up a ‘no junk mail’ sign over your letterbox is all that’s needed to take care of the rest. Scrutinise your mail and see if you can cut it down.

4. Say no to tissues + napkins + hand towels > carry a handkerchief

I got seriously excited when I realised being eco-friendly meant I got to carry around a hanky. It always seemed really cool to me, like this was a part of history I had no idea why had gone extinct. Hankies are great- obviously you can wash and reuse them forever instead of cutting down forests for the sake of blowing your nose, but they also don’t make my nose all rough and sore like tissues do after a few days of use (did I mention they are also super adorable and picking which one to take out each week makes me happy?) My mum gave me a set of tartan ones for Christmas, and I’m not looking back!

5. Out: plastic toothbrushes > in: bamboo toothbrushes

Toothbrushes, due to their need to be replaced several times a year, contribute to a large proportion of landfill sites, where they will sit for generations in exactly the same condition as the day you threw them out. There has to be another way… And there is! Bamboo toothbrushes can be composted after use, so the wood can biodegrade naturally in the earth causing absolutely no pollution. If the concept of using a wooden toothbrush seems strange, I would encourage you to try it- after a matter of days I’d already felt like I’d been using them for years. Bamboo has antibacterial properties and is universally considered healthy, whereas the health effects of plastic as a synthetic material are as yet inconclusive.

Happy switching!