Green Earth

    Compostable picnic sets

    These days, there’s no shortage of ‘eco-friendly’ alternatives to plastic, and I truly believe that in time this will become the new normal. Just consider how commonplace plastic is at the moment (although thankfully it is very fast becoming the most demonised material in use today) I hold out hope for plastic alternatives to become the new go-to. And rightly so.

    You may have noticed an increasing number of products entering the market that are made from a waste products such as sugarcane bagasse, rice husk, wheat straw and so on, all of which  are being turned into single-use or reusable ecological alternatives to plastic. All have required human ingenuity and passion to produce. Yet, what if there’s an even less interventionist solution out there that requires just some really strong palm leaves, a mould and a pair of scissors?

    Well, this product already exists, and it really is the most natural approach to single-use; it’s eating from or drink from a leaf after all.

    Areca leaves are huge and very strong. They fall naturally to the ground where they are then collected by the employees of the areca dinnerware factory. In the factory they’re moulded into cups, dipping pots, plates and bowls, to become a thing of use and beauty, before they can be returned back into the ground to be devoured by microbes only too happy to help it biodegrade.

    Additionally, you can compliment the dinnerware set with bamboo straws (see above) or rye or wheat straws. I will be socking these in my shop ingreens.co.uk but in the meantime, they’ll be available from  my etsy shop.

     

    Green Cleaning Green Earth

    Solid soaps and dishes

    I think refills are brilliant. In fact, I actually get a little bit excited when my Eco Leaf washing up liquid is running low because it means I can take my bottle and meander down to my local Better Foods to refill it. When I am there I generally get some treats too :). It’s a good opportunity to check out any interesting new lines and the seasonal local produce as well.

    That said, and as much as I love Eco Leaf washing up liquids, if my search for a solid dish soap finally returned fruitful (I’ve tried to find a natural one) I would definitely switch to a solid one, no questions asked, as long as it worked effectively, I’d make the switch because it’d require less packaging = better for our waste foot print.

    A bar or a rope of soap 

    I have been using solid soap instead of liquid for sometime. I felt like a teenager on discovering LUSH, exploring the different options for solid soaps. I love essential oils and those that have strong citrus or warming aromas generally get my vote. Although, unlike my teenage self, my objective isn’t to buy bright or neon coloured, glittery soaps; instead this time around I’m seeking out natural, handmade, colour-free, organic and above all package free solid soaps. And luckily, within one mile radius of my front door I have about several options to choose from.

    …Don’t forget that solid soaps need a home

    If you have or are planning to switch from liquid to solid soap you’ll also need a soap dish or three to house your soap. I didn’t carry out any research before buying mine, the ones I now own and use came about through spontaneous purchases. But through observations I can include how effectively the soaps each fair in their own dishes. For example, I have considered how effective they are at keeping their  soap free from excess moisture and water to avoid squidgy soap scenarios. Below you will find my reviews.

    Kitchen:
    SOAP: Faith in nature solid grapefruit unpackaged soap from La Lune, Gloucester Road

    DISH: Hemu soap dish with narrow grooves from Living Naturally

    I really like Faith in Nature products but decided to stop refilling our hand soaps with their lavender hand soap as I felt the bulk quality wasn’t ask good, and the scent not as strong. But their solid grapefruit and aloe-vera soap has a great smell, and was  purchased loose from a local shop.

    The hemu soap dish with narrow grooves retains a lot of soap residue which then keeps that side of the soap soggy. I do rinse and dry the dish as often as I can throughout the day, which doesn’t take very long. Possibly because it’s in constant use, this isn’t the best option. We benefit from direct sunlight in the kitchen through out the day as it’s an attic flat, which does help the soap dry out, though. I wonder it it didn’t get the opportunity to dry out, then perhaps it would be even less effective.

    Bathroom x 2:

    1. Sink-

    SOAP: Suma coop Tea Tree and Eucapluptus

    I LOVE this soap! It has made the bathroom smell fresh and energised. It was perfectly formed (I just love a well-formed soap) and it has managed to stay really dry?! But perhaps this is also due to the magical soap dish we have it in.

    DISH:  Platanesoap dish ladder from Living Naturally

    The soap dish is as describe, just like a ladder, meaning the gaps allow the water and soap residue to slip out,  and the soap has he opportunity to dry. This is why  I think I will opt for this design in the future. And it looks pretty snazzy as well.

    2. Shower-

    SOAP: Charcoal soap from Living Naturally

    I really enjoy washing with this soap and although I am planning to try out a different body soaps  once this one is finished, I will be ordering more of this in the future. It’s detoxifying with a great smell. If like me, you’ll wear face masks, exfoliate your face etc but forget about the rest of you, then this soap ensures your whole body can get a bit of detoxifying lathering!This soap is basically a good all rounder- it’s warming and lasts ages!

    DISH: Ceramic soap dish from Seven Seas, Cheltenham Road

    I love the aesthetics of this dish. It’s from a local independent shop that stocks products made by local artists.  The soap dish has 3 holes in the center where the excess water and soap residue is meant to drain through, but I feel it isn’t doing the  job effectively.

    I switched it to look after my charcoal body soap instead, meaning it will only be used once/twice per day max. Of course now it’s fine and the charcoal soap is another that seems self-drying! is this a thing with good soaps? As for constant use, this soap dish doesn’t cut it

    Overall favourites:

    Bathroom SINK! The Suma and the ladder combo- it just works: it’s look stylish, smells amazing, works effectively and it’s super anti-bacterial. Only downside it, this Suma soap came in a paper box. Apart from that I’m really in love with this combo and it might just become a staple…

     

    To end I’ll proffer this top top: drying your soap on its side a few times seems to extend its life and last longer which is what we want right?

     

    Green Earth

    Produce bags and scoop shops

    Shopping with produce bags is actually really satisfying and it gives one a sense of being proactive and making their own tiny but highly valued contribution to combat plastic pollution and the negative impact it is having on our planet, specifically but not limited to by any means, marine life and marine birds.

    It’s also pretty fun if you’ve made the bags yourself or managed to pick some funky designs up on etsy -the cheerful and bright patterns beats brown paper any day.

    Furthermore, produce bags are practical, and fundamentally avoid the need for single use packaging. If you are finding it difficult to remember to take yours along, hang in there and set yourself little reminders and you’ll eventually get into the swing of having them ready for any given shopping opportunity that might arise, even the spontaneous ones.

    Plus, you might, like myself, fall in love with scoop shops and actively shop in these more than mainstream supermarkets that fail to offer scoop option. In doing so you’ll be supporting your local independent shops and the local economy so it’s a win for localism and a win for plastic reduction.

    What is a scoop shop?

    Scoop or bulk shops are shops that provide loose unpackaged produce allowing the customer to take as much or as little as they need and want.

    I discovered the concept of scoop shops when I moved to Bristol nearly 4-years ago. As a customer you have the option to try an abundance of food options from seeds, lentils, grains, dried fruits, teas, coffees, sweets, flours and cereals.  It can feel like a tempting invitation to get excited by the prospect of experimenting with foods we seldom or have yet to taste! It also offers you the option to buy healthy produce while sticking to a fixed budget. 

    This morning I paid a visit to my closest and favourite scoop shop, the aptly named , Scoop Away on the Gloucester road, Bristol.

    At the time of my visit I seemed to be the only customer with produce bags. The other shoppers were making use of the abundance  of plastic bags available.

    Granted there are paper ones too, but these are small and if shoppers intend to stock up then they’ll have to opt for the plastic ones as they’re much bigger.

    What amazes me is that scoop away don’t sell produce bags. This makes me think that unlike Unpackaged or other package-free stores we are still patronising scoop and bulk shops for primarily economic and health reasons rather than an opportunity to avoid packaging. Yet I think it’s high time we marry these elements together to enable us to tick all the boxes that means we eat well, manage our budget while refusing destructive plastic. 

    Health+economics+package free= happy earth

    Instagram photos:-

    By simply documenting your scoop shop visit you are actively alerting others to the importance of refusing single-use packaging while demonstrating others forms of packaging are available.  With this in mind I have included a few tips for shoppers on how to shop in bulk shops without relying on plastic or paper bags.  

    TOP TIPS to avoid single-use packaging when shopping at scoop shops (and loose products in mainstream shops):

    • Take your own jars but weigh them empty before you go and write the weight down on the jar
    • Take tupperware or take-away pots that have been gathering dust, these are  light and easy to carry
    • Make or buy about 10-20 produce bags. Why so many? I think if you commit to owning a lot of produce bags you are more likely to use them, and also you will have surplus when the others are in the wash.  Etsy is a good place for this. I made mine and it took me about 30 minutes.

    How to take care of your produce bags:

    Produce bags need to be clean to store and transport your produce. I keep mine clen by generally ashing about once per week.

    1. Turn your produce bag inside out and soak in warm water with 1 part vinegar to 5 parts water, a sprinkle of salt, sodium bicarb and just a few drops of essential oils.
    2. You can add a couple of soap nuts too. I leave mine soak for about 20minutes and then give them a really good rinse.
    3. Dry in the sun if this is possible or air until completely dry before using.

    Go forth and shop happily without single-use packaging!

    Green Earth

    What’s the buzz about Bamboo?

    There has been a lot of noise surrounding bamboo in recent times. You might have noticed a swathe of bamboo products and brands popping up everywhere such as chopping boards, cutlery, Eco Coffee cups, baby dinnerware set and more, in mainstream and local independent shops. It’s even an ingredients in some cosmetics due to its high collagen /age defying properties and increasingly but more controversially in the form or socks and clothings. As a result bamboo has become a buzzword that seems to have become synonymous with the sustainable living and zero waste movement sweeping the world orchestrated by her green patrons as well as those keen to cash in on our fears about climate change. So let’s find out what all the buzz is all about…

    Growing power:

    Bamboo is championed as being the world’s ‘fastest growing plant’ meaning in the perfect conditions it can grow a notable amount -up to 3ft-in a 24 hour periods. Watch this timelapse video to see for yourself:

    This growing power makes it unique and highly attractive to producers. 

    Bamboo does not need pesticides or insecticides!

    As bamboo contains its own unique and highly potent in-built antibacterial properties, it does not need insecticides to protect itself from potential threats nor does it require fertiliser for the soil- this comes from its own fallen leaves which are highly nutritional ✅♻. It is a hardy, self-reliant plant loved by environmentalists.  Insecticides and fertilisers contaminate crops and can deplete soil, this means if one less plant doesn’t  require these ‘pollutants’ it’s another reason to love bamboo and it’s win for our eco-system ⬇

    Organic versus GM crops

    Source: The Soil Association

    CO2 absorption:

    Bamboo absorbs an impressive amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (such as methane from intensive farming)! In fact bamboo can absorb 30% more carbon dioxide than hardwood trees making it far more effective as a plant in polluted places than other varieties of plants and trees. It can help to cool warmer cities that have produced a microclimate due to high levels of pollution. Is this an option in the UK- could we see more bamboo plantations in inner-cities in the future, to combat the high levels of pollution?  

    Sustainable times ahead:

    Bamboo is a genuinely  sustainable and viable alternative to plastic and other man-made materials that can take years (or never) breakdown. And in the case of plastic, they simply become smaller and smaller particles that are toxic and contaminate  everything around them.

    As a result of so much information on our changing climate, global warming and the ecosystem, everyday individuals are acting in defiance of companies and governments that seem intent on ignoring the dangers posed by continuing to rely on fossil fuels, many of us are choosing to live more consciously. Opting for bamboo or other organic material is far better than choosing plastic. And these days the alternative are available. I even bought a bamboo potty.

    To recap, here’s 11 reasons why bamboo is brilliant:

    1. Bamboo IS the fastest growing plant in the world, in the right conditions, can grow 3 ft in 24 hours
    2. Bamboo  releases 30% more oxygen
    3. Bamboo absorbs more carbon dioxide than other plants – excellent for dealing with greenhouse gases
    4. Bamboo can reach maturity within 1-5 years, unlike hardwood which takes 30-40 years
    5. Bamboo is a renewable source: when it’s cut, its roots will continue to grow new shoots!
    6. Bamboo is so sturdy it does not need any pesticides or fertiliser to grow. Instead bamboo derives its nutrients from its own fallen leaves
    7. Bamboo can prevent soil erosion in hardwood forests due to its amazing strength in its root system
    8. Bamboo is highly versatile and can grow in a range of environments and terrains although fares best in warm climates
    9. Bamboo is naturally antibacterial. It contains Bamboo Kun which is effective against 70% of bacteria that tries to grow on it, whether this is while it’s growing in soil or in fabric form- it’s efficacy doesn’t wane
    10. Bamboo is deodorising and as charcoal is able to filter harmful chemicals in water!!
    11. Because bamboo is naturally deodorising it’s increasingly popular material to produce shoe insoles, deodorant, sports clothing and other items that eliminate the need for chemical based deodorisers although the process has come under critisism for the process being deemed pollutant

    In an age where the state of our planet’s ecosystem is more fragile than ever due to the irresponsible behaviour of corporations, governments, companies, and individuals, the power to vote through what we buy has never been more paramount. As consumers we vote by choosing the purchases that we do. Why do you buy Rainforest Alliance #bananas or Faur Trade tea?  We need to use this capacity to choose sustainable materials. As comsumers can use this power of influence to create a more sustainable world. 

    People power versus the Govt

    1 Million women quoting Leonardo Dicaprio

    References:

    Bamboo Botanical

     

     

     

     

    Green Beauty

    Living Naturally Ayurvedic Herbal Hair Mask (No-Poo 3)

    No-Poo has been really tough…

    Much tougher than I could have anticipated. I mean not washing your hair sounds like a challenge, but I would never have expected it to make my hair look so lank and greasy (that even a homemade arrowroot and cocoa dry shampoo could not rescue) I started to feel a bit lank and greasy on the inside too:(! Coupled with the daily aches of being a Mamma to a super busy toddler, that something had to give.  I know if no-poo worked for you, you are probably thinking, “surely no-poo is a time-saver?” Yes, if it works! Otherwise you’re just trying to find inventive ways of disguising the grease and in my case for nearly 4-months.  

    Is it just me, but when I am tired, no wait, exhausted, I just love and need to wash- this makes one feel much better about everything:  a lovely long, replenishing shower! I guess that I also craved running my hands through my hair without getting them caught on a knot! And also leaving it down- this is not a good look when your hair is clumped together with glue-like grease. 

    Perhaps hair like mine: very, very thick, was never going to take to the no-poo experiment well or that it might just take a lot longer. I gave it my best shot and refrained from all soap-based products and used rye flour, followed by cider vinegar and lavender hair rinse and followed this with a lavender  water rinse. And at the end of the day, there are so many natural options to choose from anyway, right? The lure and promise of clean hair for the rest of my life, without ever needing to wash it is still tugging at me (have I slightly exaggerated/romanticised the no-poo in my head, with visions of waking and giving my hair a shake and off I go?!) but that said, I may try again…

    Besides, my hair showed no signs of adapting to cleaning itself at all. And I waited for over 3-months, and this just feels like a very long period of time when you’re waiting for a miracle to happen. I read it should take 6-weeks for your hair to learn to clean itself, so  I had long surpassed this point and felt and looked poo! Anyhoo, no-poo does not mean a return to nasty and plastic packaged shampoos, I am still actively avoiding both the nasties like SLS and the packaging. So with this in mind, I turned again to the lovely Insta-discovery shop,  Living Naturally Soaps (aka soapnuts.co.uk).

    Who are Living Naturally?

    Living Naturally are based in the UK and produce among other things, a lovely range of handmade soaps and shampoo bars that come in a cotton bag. Mindful of avoiding wasteful packaging  and inspired by nature to create products that can be used by those suffering with eczema and psoriasis, their products are proof that we can place our trust in nature. And thank goodness for companies like this one!

    As part of their hair care range Living Naturally offer an Ayurvedic Herbal hair mask that contains an eclectic mix of ground ingredients that combine to give your hair the waw factor- I am very happy I ordered this little pot of wonder. The mask contains: amla, shikaki, Maka, brahmi, neem, tulsi, and organic hibiscus.

    The hair mask comes in a cute little tin pot (below) and you simply blend equal parts powder to water to use either as a mask, which is left on for minimum 10-mins or a shampoo. If  you’ve ever used Henna on your hair, it has a similar consistency but I assure you, it it much easier to rinse off.

    Clarifying herbal hair mask inspired by Ayurveda

    Ayurvedic Herbal Hair Mask

    As a shampoo…

    As you have the option of using the powder as a mask or shampoo, and I have tried it as both. I first used it the day it was delivered, last Saturday when I used it as a shampoo: made the paste, rubbed it into hair and scalp and rinsed it off. The results were perfect: my hair felt very clean, looked really healthy and it was unusually easy to brush. Given that my hair is prone to tangling, this impressed me.

    Ayurveda: inspired by nature

    Living Naturally Ayurvedic Herbal Hair Mask

    As a hair mask…

    This afternoon I decided to use it as a mask. I mixed it up, smothered all over my hair and left it for nearly 1 hour! (Bean is asleep so I caught up on some I-Player and pottered for a bit-a rare treat!). The results of leaving it on mean my hair is even shinier compared to when I used it just as a shampoo. I gave it a very good rinse and even though I think there are a few grain remaining (the only tiny criticism I have) my hair feels absolutely lovely. Again, as though  it is a flower or plant, fed some highly nutritious feed! In case you’re unclear, I would definitely recommend this hair mask!

    Next time…

    One thing I didn’t order from Living Naturally was their conditioning hair rinse. I did worry that the hair mask alone might leave the ends of my hair feeling dry but happily, my hair felt incredible. In fact as though it had been conditioned meaning the mask has deep condition properties as well…Although I am probably going to make their herbal rinse my next purchase.

    Final thoughts: 

    Even though I have declared I have given up on the no-poo challenge for the time being, I used this hair mask on Saturday and it has kept my hair looking really clean/grease-free until today: that’s 5-whole-days!

    I love a discovery that ticks all my favourite boxes:

    -handmade

    -100% natural

    -eco friendly

    -non-plastic reusable or recyclable packaging

    -cruely free

    -vegan

    Green Earth Green Eats/Health

    Kitchen compost

    Vegetable peelings and food waste

    I have been mulling the different purposes of the food waste caddy supplied by our locals councils, in my case Bristol City Council and home composting bins. I have heard people say they add paper and other non food items to their caddy but this just sounded wrong. It’s fascinating to think our food waste goes on a journey once the rubbish people collect it.

    According to Bristol city council’s website you can put:

    • bread, pasta, cereal and rice
    • cooked and uncooked food
    • dairy products and egg shells
    • fruit and vegetables
    • leftover food
    • meat, fish and bones
    • tea bags and coffee grounds

    You cannot put:

    • any other household waste
    • corn starch liners without the compostable logo

    You can learn more about what the council do with your food by visiting your local council’s website. Spoiler alert: it’s fascinating! The addition of the caddy food waste bin demonstrates that our local authorities have recognised the need for, and are participating in positive action to redirect our waste away from landfill so that it can become something a lot more useful such as biogas and fertiliser. The green fingered home composter is also playing their part, particularly when the food caddy option isn’t yet available in their area. By choosing to not add your vegetable and fruit peelings to the ‘general waste bin’ we avoid contributing to the greenhouse gas methane that builds up in landfill


    HOME COMPOST

    On the spur of the moment I gathered my vegetable peelings and put them in a really big jar with the hope of it becoming compost. Since discovering that many chocolate companies are now using compostable foil to wrap the chocolate in, I was encouraged to see whether it really does work. This along with wanting to start my own indoor herb garden is the impetus behind the impulse.

    Since adding my very muddy peelings which were from vegetables from the veggie box I have conducted a bit of research into home composting to make sure I’m on the right track. Although before I begin, I want to list the things that my instincts told me would fair well in a composting situ:

     

    vegetable and fruit peelings

     

    tea leaves

    coffee grounds

    paper shreds

    What foods will I avoid when home composting for the first time?

    I will avoid bread, garlic and any food items overly moist for now as I want to (cautiously) observe what happens to the above before getting adventurous, especially with food that might take longer than I expect veggies and tea and coffee grounds to break down. 

    What do you need to ensure your home compost will work?

    Just layer organic materials — garden clippings, dry leaves, kitchen vegetable scraps, shredded paper — and a dash of soil to create a concoction that turns into humus, the best soil builder around. Before you start piling on, recognize that there are two types of composting: cold and hot. – Better Homes and Garden

    I am cold composting, piling up vegetable and even garden waste in my pot and according to Better Homes and Gardens waiting for about a year for my ‘materials to decompose’ (!).  I guess gardening is a slow and patient art form. I will not be sealing the lid as air needs to enter the jar. 

    Therefore, this morning I am going to take a wander to my local park, Redland Green, and collect a handful of leaves and twigs and scrape a little bit of soil, bring it home and add it to my ‘compost’ to create the right environment for the materials to hopefully one day become ‘humus’.

    I will need to buy an organic soil for my herbs anyhow. I am determined to keep my homegrown herbs as organic as possible, eliminating the doubt that often accompanies the food we buy these day. Does anyone else question foods that have been labelled organic?

     

    Source: 
    recyclenow.com

    bristolcitycouncil.gov.uk

    betterhomesandgardens.com