Green Earth Green Parent & Baby

    A lot of luna love for the Mooncup

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    I decided that I would use a menstrual cup a few years ago, just before I realised I was pregnant in fact (doh). If you’re still on the cusp and need any convincing about the benefits it will make to your life and crucially our beautiful planet, read the following:

    • Women produce approximately 11,000 sanitary towels in their reproductive lifetime
    • Producing 200,000 tonnes of waste annually
    • They ALL contain plastic
    • Most pads are 90% plastic: filling landfill, where they will take years to biodegrade or worse
    • End up in our rivers and oceans where they will contaminate water, sea-life and ultimately our eco-system

    To put the last point in perspective:

    In 2010, a UK beach clean found an average of 23 sanitary pads and 9 tampon applicators per kilometre of British coastline.

    Source: WEN.org


    I didn’t have a ‘proper’ period postnatally until the Bean stopped breastfeeding for about half a day. This seemed to trigger their return (apparently prolactin, the hormone released when producing breast milk keeps our periods at bay as it keeps our ovaries asleep and has a bit of a contraceptive pill effect-although that said, mine seemed pretty determined to return as soon as they could 🙁 …). In fact, breastfeeding in general has meant my periods were irregular until the Bean reached 8-months. At which point I was finally able to accommodate my new -and what would become my invaluable friend- into my monthly cycle properly.

    12-months+ of Mooncupping

    I have now been using the Mooncup for a whole year. In this time, I’ve gone from experiencing mild anxiety before removing it (it takes a bit of practise. For me, when trying to remove it,  it was opening quickly and the blood was spilling out. This did lead to a few embarrassing scenarios involving blood on my trousers, but be mindful: I am super clumsy, which will definitely make a difference) all the way to becoming, quite frankly, a bit of a pro at inserting/removing it, and avoiding aforementioned messy situations (most of the time). And I found myself falling a little more in love with the Mooncup with each passing Flo…and here’s why:

    1. Sustainability- I just love that it is self-contained and literally an all-in-one product that answers our needs. You need water to clean it, but that’s it.
    2. Longevity- It’s said to last for a very long time, upto 10-years in some cases!
    3. Economics- I paid £22 for mine, and I must have saved a LOT of money already by no longer buying pads
    4. Practicality-It’s just perfect for any kind of lifestyle : on the go or sedentary
    5. Transportability- I put it in its little pouch and away we go. And to date, I have not forgot to take it on my jaunts! In fact I think I’d sooner buy a second Mooncup should this happen, than buy sanitary towels again. They’re so small that they really are easy to put in your bag and GO!
    6. And I love the little cotton pouch all Mooncup’s come in **obviously**

    GRASSROOTS:


    The more I use it, the more
    I lament the amount of sanitary pads I must have sent to landfill. Why aren’t Mooncup’s (and all menstrual cups) normalised in school’s when we were young women, and being educated about menstruation.

    It’s surely time that the education of women’s menstrual products and the production of waste go hand in hand together. We need to create a new dawn: the next generation of citizens to whom being sustainable is normal. Furthermore, why aren’t menstrual cups promoted more in family planning clinics and even surgery waiting rooms? It’s time for change.

    What did women use before the invention and commercialisation of sanitary towels?

    A brief history of menstrual pads. Extract taken from Eco Menstrual:

    • Animal pelts
    • Mosses (see the episode of ‘The Victorian Farm’? Moss is extremely absorbent they say!)
    • Grasses
    • Sea sponges
    • Seaweed

    **Native cultures continue to use many of the above today.

    Textiles: Among the poorer members of society old rags were often used – this is the origin of the term “on the rag”. Once mass manufacturing of textiles and garments became possible, as well as “more modern” laundering methods, manufactured cloth pads became available (mid 1800 to about 1940).

    Also popular were underwear with built in sanitary pads, which were not unlike adult sized nappies.

    Washable pads and sea sponges have been re-discovered and menstrual cups were a wonderful innovation.

    The Keeper was the first to be manufactured in 1987 in latex rubber and several other companies followed suit making them in silicone rubber. (Many reported allergic reactions to latex rubber).

    Women are having increasing concerns about health and awareness of environmental issues related to disposable products.

    The modern tampon was developed in the early 1900s and remains the most popular disposable menstrual product today.


    Size, material and packaging:

    The Mooncup is available in two sizes and is made of medical grade silicone. It comes in a little cotton bag to transport it in and this is sold in a little paper box. It is said to last for as many as ten-years. 

    A lifestyle shift

    Periods are natural. A bleached plastic sanitary towel is not. – WEN.org

    The Mooncup has properly changed my life. As mentioned, the journey from the Mooncup fitting comfortably into my new routine was forestalled by some mildy tricky situations. I think I would advise you to:

    1. Practise inserting it to grow in confidence 
    2. Be patient
    3. Get to know your Flo

    I would advise practicing with the Mooncup before taking it abroad, wearing it to work, or in my case on a plane, for the very first time. Try if you can, to wear it when you’re in the house and then in places you feel most comfortable.  This means you can get use to it and how it feels.

    It felt funny wearing the Mooncup for the first few Aunt Flo’s, which was also distracting. I am a bit of a worry wart, plus have always suffered with very, very heavy Flo. You might even find, especially if you’ve been a tampon user (never successfully inserted one:(  ) up until the point you convert to a Mooncup, that insertion is easy and you aren’t even aware it’s there.

    1.Practice inserting and removing the Mooncup as it needs to be removed carefully to avoid spilling the collected blood everywhere. *TOP TIP*: When out and about try to locate a mum and baby, disabled or toilet with sink in. This is something a lot of people pointed out that they found the Mooncup awkward when there nowhere you could wash it.

    2.Be patient and let your vagina get used to it. Like I said, it felt really funny for me at first. I did have an episiotomy, but not sure this would still have been affecting me 8-months on. But this ‘funny’ feeling fast disappears and I started to feel really emancipated. 

    3.Get to know your Flo. I realised I lost a lot more blood than I thought. (Another great reason for using a mooncup: it keeps things real. You get to see your blood loss close-up.  I needed to know how often to empty it (this will inevitably be different for each individual) and until I got used to it there were a few incidents of leakag. I simply got to understand my Flo and when it would peak-generally day 2 and 3 would be really full-on. 

    ONE MORE BENEFIT:

    If you were previously a sanitary towel user, think how often you would change them and how many you would need to carry around with you. The Mooncup is small, discreet and you can leave it in for upto 8-hours if it suits your Flo!

    A very brief history of the Mooncup landing and other fun facts:

    • Mooncup was founded in 2002 by two friends Su and Eileen
    • In 2017 the Mooncup is available in 50 countries
    • The first store to stock the Mooncup was Infinity in Brighton
    • The Mooncup won the award for Best Non Food product at The Natural Trade show in 2003
    • In 2003 word spreads across Europe about the Mooncup and grassroots movements in Spain promote its use
    • Due to customer demands, Boots starts to stock the Mooncup
    • In 2006 Mooncup received its first full-page news coverage  in the Times
    • The Love your Vagina campaign hits the London Underground creating an impressive social media buzz in 2010
    • Mooncup became employee owned in 2014

    Some interesting links for further reading:

    Eco Menstrual

    Women’s Environmental Network

    The cost of periods: Guardian & Huffington

    Green Earth Green Eats/Health IN THE GREEN NEWS

    WastED comes to London

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    I love this⬇it’s an inspiring and important read and particularly topical right now.

    Top chefs including Gordon Ramsay will demonstrate that food need not be wasted at London’s WasteED food festival under the guidance of renowned anti-food waste chef: Dan Barber.

    Barber- who is based in New York- is a pioneer of cooking creations made from food that would otherwise be thrown away.

    Think Real Junk Food project managed by a michelin starred chef or two! Click link ⬆ to read more and source tickets.

    Green Beauty

    Living Naturally Hemp & Patchouli solid shampoo

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    , ,A shampoo that travelled from Bristol to Dhaka and back again…

    Solid shampoo bars -for obvious reasons- will find their way into any good zerowaster’s cupboard: they last a long time and there is generally no packaging, so what could be better? Also, I often find that solid shampoo’s contain less of the nasties that we should all actively be avoiding.

    NO POO

    While I am not yet a ‘no poo’ person, I have been going sort of no poo for a long while, and trying really hard to locate the best solid shampoo for my very temperamental hair. I have now tried out quite a number of solid shampoo bars, and frustratingly many don’t work with my hair type, which I am told is ‘woolly’ 🙁 And so, the search continued. On a positive note, as they are easily transportable and double up as body soap, they never go to #waste.

    Less nasties

    As aforementioned, I always find that solid shampoo bars tend to avoid much of what I would identify as ‘poo’ compared to liquid ones in particular, and as a plus they’re refreshingly plastic free. Just to be clear on the ‘no poo’ concept I found this and thought I’d add it below:

    The idea of shampooing less frequently may make you cringe. (Like this woman who didn’t shampoo for 5 years?) But according to certain hair experts and anti-shampoo advocates—some who follow what’s known as the “no ‘poo movement”—lathering up every day is unnecessary at best, and potentially harmful to your tresses (as well as the Earth) at worst. Shampoo has been around for less than a century, after all, and only in the last few decades has it become a daily essential.-Source: health.com

    What are the nasties we should be avoiding in our shampoo’s?

    Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS)
    A surfactant found in many cleaning products. Also an insecticide. The sodium and ammonium laureate sulfates are known cancer-causing ingredients. Also causes liver damage, skin rashes, depression, diarrhea and eye damage.

    Fragrance
    Fragrance of any kind isn’t good. It clogs the lymphatic system and induces major organ system toxicity. Also causes endocrine disruption.

    Cocamidopropyl Betaine
    This foaming agent has been associated with skin and eye irritation and allergic contact dermatitis. Although the government regards it as safe, many people have negative reactions to it.

    Triclosan
    With a moderate hazard rating, triclosan should be avoided at all costs. It can accumulate in our fat cells and keep our body in a state of toxicity. It causes irritation of the skin, eyes and lungs, and causes endocrine disruption and organ system toxicity.

    Polysorbates
    Used to dissolve fragrance or other oil additives. Often found in conditioners. It leaves a residue on the skin and scalp, disrupts the skin’s natural pH and destroys the natural protective barrier of our skin and scalp. Polysorbate-80 is the worst of the bunch – but stay clear of all!

    Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
    Often found in conditioners, PEG contains dangerous dioxin levels, often found as a by-product of the ethoxylation process in manufacturing. Dioxins have a direct link to cancer, and also cause organ system toxicity.

    Potassium Sorbate
    Potassium sorbate is used as a preservative in hair-care products. It causes skin and organ system toxicity.

    Phenoxyethanol
    Another preservative used in cosmetics and hair care products. Causes organ system toxicity, and is an irritant to the skin, eyes and lungs. The FDA even warned that phenoxyethanol can cause shut down of the central nervous system, vomiting and contact dermatitis.

    Retinyl Palmitate
    Retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, can speed the development of skin tumours and lesions, making it a possible carcinogen. Causes reproductive toxicity and organ system toxicity.

    Dimethicone
    Dimethicone is a silicone oil that can make the scalp and skin incredibly dry and irritated. It forms an almost plastic-like barrier on the outside of the skin and traps bacteria, sebum and impurities with it. It is also an eye irritant and is non-biodegradable and horrible for the environment.

    Behentrimonium Chloride
    Behentrimonium Chloride is a type of ammonium salt used as a preservative and surfactant. It is a toxic compound, with concentrations of 0.1% and higher having been shown to damage the eyes. It is irritating to the skin and causes inflammation.

    Quaternium-15
    This lovely chemical is another quaternary ammonium salt used as a surfactant and preservative in personal care products. It acts as a formaldehyde releaser and is definitely not safe. Formaldehyde is extremely carcinogenic, and should be avoided at all costs.

    Source: LiveLoveFruit.com

    My favourite bar so far

    My favourite by far is this one: Naturally Livings: Hemp and Patchouli solid shampoo bar:

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    The smell is exquisite and I was contemplating buying one to have as a room scent 😂. The packaging is perfect too: a cotton bag ready for on the go, as well as as an incentive to keep the bar dry which will enhance its longevity. #wasteless

    The wash

    It is really easy to use and I found it produced a good amount of lather not to mention the fragrance which is just mmmmmm. I also found that I don’t use much each time, so after nearly 3-months it is still going strong!

    Not a good start

    I must admit that I did have to work out how to utilise the hemp and patchouli bar after the first tries. Perhaps I was using too much because a residue of shampoo was being left behind on parts of my hair, leaving it looking lank and greasy once it had dried 🙁

    Just as I nearly lost faith in another solid shampoo bar, the shine on the rest of my hair convinced me to persevere and try to work out how to get the most out of it. I am very glad I did. I now like it so much it made it all the way to Dhaka and back with me.

    Ingredients

    The Hemp and Patchouli soild soap shampoo contains:

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    About Living Naturally Soapnut Apothecary:

    I discovered Living Naturally Soapnut Apothecary on Instagram. I was initially intrigued by their stain remover for clothes I had seen on another instgrammers feed. It’s quite difficult getting stains out of the Beans clothes at times, which is why I thought I’d find out more about them. When I visited their website, I was amazed.

    Living Naturally Soapnut Apothecary are a small family-run business based in London that specialise in natural handmade products for hair, skin and bath as well as laundry (their soapnuts). They’re certified vegan, natural, organic and their ingredients are ethically sourced, sustainable and cruelty-free. Their products are also free from SLS, parabens, mineral oil, palm oil, artificial additives or fragrance.

    The founders, a husband and wife team, found that both of their children suffered with eczema and so, in order to avoid aggravating the skin condition, they decided to create a toxic-free home. On recommendation, the founders switched to soapnuts for everything from cleaning the house, their clothes and themselves, and were amazed at the improvements they saw in their children’s eczema and at how effective soapnuts were.

    SOAPNUTS

    Soapnuts grow on trees and contain a natural surfactant that gently removes grease and grime. They’re biodegradable and compostable meaning they won’t add any bizarre chemicals into our water system as they’re planet kind. And so began the story of Living Naturally Soapnut Apothecary who now produce beautiful products that have been developed alongside herbalists and traditional Ayurveda. Many of their products have been acknowledged and nominated for awards in the green beauty category.

    Living Naturally also gets my vote on the packaging, look how they packaged my order ↓

    To further compound their credentials as a natural eco-conscious apothecary, look at how they packaged the goods I ordered:

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    I just love that they re-purposed an old tea carton instead of buying a brand new box. This should be standard.  I have purchased from a number of so called ‘eco’ and ‘ethical’ companies in recent years and am always surprised when they have used things like polystyrene for padding, wrap the item in plastic and provide an enormous box for something very tiny.

     

     

     

    Green Earth

    December in Dhaka

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    My Bean is half Bangladeshi which means that Dhaka is his other home. I’m always amazed by what I see. I love this city. It has trees growing wild and free at every turn, people being entrepreneurial by recycling rubbish they collect, rickshaw walas competing for business and lots and lots of colourfully dressed people are dotted here and there. And the street food vendors offer delicious snacks.

    I’m going to try to keep this post updated as the trip goes on, with all that inspires me.

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    The ferris wheel:

    As we landed on Christmas eve, the very next day,we tried to ignore our jetlag and all went to a Christmas party. There I discovered a zero carbon ferris wheel.

    I’m always trying to spot more sustainable options of doing things an6s this is such an ingenious one. There’s no carbon emissions at all as its powered by a man. And the entire ride is made from wood. At first I was dubious about its safety, but it seemed functionally sound and safe.

    Bicycle rickshaws:

    The other thing I have noticed is the bicycle rickshaws. They’re also powered by man which means they don’t give off any co2 (accept during production and repairs.

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    Sorting through rubbish to be recycled:

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    This might look like a grand mess to the naked eye, but in fact there is a sophisticated process belying it.

    The men collect the rubbish and divide into the different materials to make use of these again, to essentially repurpose.   Sometimes they’ll melt them down for example, so they become something else.

    Its basically organised chaos. ⬆✅🌍💚

    The broom made of grass:

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    This is the household’s brush. It’s replaced the hoover permanently  (since it stopped working). Its seriously effective and does such a good job sweeping all the dust. Hot countries seem to be dustier, at least here in Dhaka, so this is ideal. You’d be switching the hoover on a lot otherwise! Not only does this broom require no electricity, but it was made of grass and will entirely compost or biodegrade once its served its purpose.

    I love it!

    To come:-

    I’m going to be writing about the cotton baby teethers, cotton buds made of wood and paper bags I’ve found here, which I’m told are the norm.

    Cotton baby teethers:

    I found a cotton baby teether here in Dhaka. In fact there were several different kinds of vegetables and fruits for babies to relieve their teething frustrations on. I know you can get wooden ones back in the UK, but there are also several options for plastic ones too. Here, cotton teethers are normal, and therefore plastic ones are not easily found and when they are, they’re generally imported.

    Wooden cotton buds:

    This morning, quite by accident I reached for a cotton bud. At first the only obvious difference to the buds we have at home was that these are much smaller. Then I noticed that the stem was chestnut coloured, before realising it was a wooden stem. This really impressed me. Although the buds were contained in a plastic tub, the fact that the buds themselves weren’t a bit plastic was a refreshing discovery. There’s been mounting pressure in the UK for mainstream supermarkets to stop selling their own brand plastic cotton buds. Many such as Boots and Sainsburys succumbed to the petition carried out by 38 Degrees and have agreed to implement plastic free buds  by 2018.

    I have identified a few things that go some way to demonstrate Bangladesh is already in good standing to become an even greener, more sustainable country. The cotton bud is testimony to this, by simply shunning plastic.

    Of course, there are other brands of cotton buds available that do use plastic, but fortunately shoppers here have the option to avoid it, without the need for an initial campaign to introduce an alternative, like we’ve had to have in the UK.

    Wooden toys:

    Bean's wooden toy snake

    Bean’s wooden toy snake

    So far in Bangladesh I’ve noticed children are outside playing a lot more, which might be one of the reasons for the lack of toys. Where I have noticed toys or come across toys in shops, there’s been a notable amount of handcrafted wooden toys not #plastic. And long may it continue. These are not only more environmentally friendly but they’re keeping those that possess these skills in work. I really hope as this economy develops (its currently experiencing a boom) that plastic toys won’t take over and skilled craftsmen lose their livelihoods.

    Importantly:

    Countries that are developing don’t need lectures on how to curb this development from the West. Developing countries are often a mixture of the old and new ways of doing things and these old ways might hold a key to a more sustainable future. These old ways will have been long forgotten by the vast majority of thr developed industrial countries-and quite possibly to their detriment.  This means that the global North has a lot it can learn a lot from them, and likewise, where solutions for global warming are needed, we need to learn and grow together.

    Green Beauty

    Zao Pots

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    I really enjoy wearing lovely, gentle, kind and eco-friendly make-up. I’ve been investing in Lavera and Benecos for a while and have on the whole, enjoyed the products. I recently extended my make-up bag and introduced two new pots of loveliness by Zao which I will tell you all about…

    About Zao Continue Reading

    Green Earth Green Homes and Interiors

    My Favourite ‘B’

    Screen printed cotton shopper
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    Brandon Trust shop window, Whiteladies Road, Bristol

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    Perusing charity shops has been one of my favourite pastimes for over 15-years. I love the eclectic offerings, finding treasures and saving a lot of money. The image below encapsulates all of the above and demonstrates the quirkiness charity shopping can offer.

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    These days there is a growing interest in all things #upcycled and #preloved and initiatives, even movements that encourage and promote buying less/wasting less, re-purposing, reusing and recycling.

    As a result, charity shops and social enterprises have come into their own, and their significance has shifted and their purpose elevated (alongside shops promoting local produce and that offer long lasting, ethical and sustainably sourced produce).

    Apple juice

    Apple juice

    And as the movement grows, charity, local and higher welfare shops will undoubtedly become more important in our lives. After all, if we are collectively going to have a positive effect on the planet, and try to slow or even reverse the impacts of global warming, then we need to reflect on our current shopping habits.

    Christmas shopping

    Christmas is a crazy time of year. Families reunite, friend’s reconnect and all the merriment of Christmas is often underpinned with the need to gift. With all the normalised craziness going on, this Christmas could be a good time to reflect on your own shopping habits, and if you can implement positive change: ie, buy less, buy local, buy homemade, avoid packaging and plastic and try as you might to buy preloved or if choosing to buy brand new, make it ethical and compostable, then do it. By acting on your eco-consious endeavours, it means you are voting with your feet. Millions of people carrying out small acts such as avoiding packaged gifts, with have a combined positive impact. Most importantly, don’t doubt your intentions. I did this a lot. For example, I would feel sheepish about using my reusable stainless steel straw in cafes and pubs. It takes a bit of adapting to, but soon enough it’ll become second nature. And, even more refreshingly, you’ll find you’re in very good company.

    Live Free

    In London, my favourite charity shop was Oxfam in Camden town. It was laid out like a boutique, and somewhere in the realms of SDIG, is a post containing a lot of pictures illustrating its beauty!  Now that I am based in Bristol, one of my absolute favourite charity shops (with an epic cause) is the Brandon Trust.

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    About the Brandon Trust: services for people with learning disabilities and autism

    Founded in 1994, the Brandon Trust supports approximately 1,600 children and adults with learning difficulties and autism in southern England. According to their website, there are 1.5-million people in the UK with learning difficulties. Even though the life chances and opportunities for those with learning difficulties and autism have vastly improved over the 20-years since  the Brandon Trust was formed, a recent figure suggests that only 7%of people with learning difficulties will be in employment.

    At Brandon Trust we’re striving to change this. We inspire the people we support to set themselves free so they can reach for their dreams and be all they can be.

    -Brandon Trust, ‘About us’ page

    Their shops sell the usual preloved clothes and wares, but also stock a lot of handmade products, such as ceramics, homemade **jams** &  **chutneys** and dried flowers, products from their various social enterprises.

    Elm Tree Farm, Banwell Pottery and Fired Up are Brandon Trust enterprises.

    Elm Tree Farm in Stapleton is a working farm where the chutneys, jams, apple juice, soap and MORE are produced.

    Banwell Pottery and Fired Up based in Weston-Super-Mare and Yate respectively, produce the ceramics and pottery you find in their shops(such as the red toadstool above and below)! Their enterprises are clearly proactive, engaging and have a really positive influence on those who participate in these enterprises.

    I purchased my Christmas decorations from the Brandon Trust shop on the Whiteladies road (pictured below is the wicked display) and all are all handmade.

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    Jams & preserves

    Jams & preserves

    Waking up

    As more and more people wake up and become eco-conscious, the way we shop or rather what is made available to shoppers (what once facilitated our lifestyles) will inevitably change. That’s why the Brandon Trust (and all charity shops) are a valued presence on our street.

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    Not only do they offer roles to people who might not otherwise be in paid employment, the homemade offerings are made locally, support local craftsmen and women, and receive your unwanted clothes, making these available to shoppers who will adopt them, to see them through another life-cycle. #30wears

    The Brandon Trust is an excellent place to do some Christmas shopping if you are looking  for something homemade, ethical, local- it ticks all the boxes. If you want to buy preloved, then it ticks this box too. Even just out of curiosity, pop in- their shops are laid out with thought and are unlike most other charity shops around, which is why its my go-to and favourite : )

    My shopping list (under £30): 

    1. Apple juice for Mum £4.50 – You can reuse the bottle afterwards
    2. Chutney for Dad  £3.00- #reuse the jar afterwards
    3. Jam for Grandma £3.00 – #reuse the jar afterwards
    4. Ceramic mushrooms or gingerbread people for sisters from £1.50. 
    5. Screen-print shoppers for my friends £8.50 – excellent to promote #plastic-free shopping
    6. Dried flowers for me! £4.50 – to decorate the house. Only downside is they come wrapped in #plastic 🙁