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Tips for a Plastic Free Children’s Party

The party bags, the food, the wrapping paper, the balloons, the decorations – children’s parties are full of plastic. Deflated balloons, plastic party favours, glitter, confetti, discarded party bags and throwaway tableware.

We decided that there had to be another way, we want to celebrate and mark our children’s birthdays with a really enjoyable day for them, but without compromising our principles of low waste living.

Making a children’s party plastic free may seem like the impossible, but once you have done one and have figured out what works for you, then next time you’ll have some things ready and know what to do. (For instance, if you make some decorative bunting, you can hang it up every year). So in the long run it will likely work out cheaper and easier, plus its more personal, and you’ll be helping the planet too!

It’s also an opportunity to educate your children – if they observe all the throwaway items at a party, they grow up with an expectation that this is what a party looks like, you can show them that there can be another way. Most guests will be supportive of your low-waste choices and many may not even notice the difference. After all the kids still get cake and treats, and they still get to do the activity – be it swimming, party games, picnic, bbq, etc.

Here’s some ideas and tips you can use to minimise the waste at your next children’s party.

Invitations

If you want to avoid paper completely, then you can use email, text, or messaging apps rather than sending hard copies (to the parents not the children themselves, depending on the age of your child).

Instead of opting for plastic wrapped mass produced invites, why not try making your own, you can choose recycled paper, Kraft paper, print them, handwrite them, get the kids to decorate them, paint them, whatever you want.

P.S If you wish you could include a note on the invitation that this will be a low-waste party and why, so everyone’s onboard from the outset.

Plastic-free decorations

  • Bubbles: stretch a coat-hanger into a circular wand, dip it in a tray of detergent and water and wave through the air for giant bubbles
  • Hang large sheets of paper/ an old bed sheet for a finger painting wall
  • Bring colourful rugs and cushions
  • Fresh flowers in old jars
  • make your own bunting, from fabric or paper.
  • And if your party is outside, perhaps you don’t need decorations at all.

Plates, cups and cutlery

One of the changes a lot of people make is to switch from plastic to paper tableware, but dirty paper plates can’t go in the recycling bin. A better option would be to invest in a set of bamboo or stainless steel crockery that can be reused each year.

If building your own kit is out of your budget, there are options to rent party kits or you could ask family/friends or even the guests to bring plates and drink bottles.

Say no to straws or use reusable straws that you can wash up afterwards, and your own children (and you) can use throughout the year. Our Kids love their silicone and bamboo straws.

Table cloth and napkins

Bring a fabric tablecloth and napkins — if you don’t have any, try repurposing old sheets and towels.

If you have to use a disposable cloth, look for some butchers’ paper which can double as a canvas with a few art supplies thrown on the table.

Food

  • some plastic free snacks could include: Melon slices, fruit platters, baked goods from the bakery (these usually come in paper bags, or you can use your own containers), chopped fruit and nuts from wholefood store/ refill shop
  • serve finger food
  • bring food from home to the party or store in reusable containers until the party – no clingfilm needed!.
  • try and make as much as you can yourself, using raw ingredients you can purchase plastic free and turn them in to yummy home made cakes/treats, breads and desserts.
Home made cakes in silicone cases so no waste!

The Party Bags

Let’s be honest, it’s usually a bag of plastic tat that is lovingly played with for each of the nine minutes of its lifespan. An additional source of stress and expense for parents, but a firm favourite with most children.

One option is to simply not do them, but if your children cannot compute having a party, and not having party bags, then here are some ways to avoid buying and giving out plastic bags of plastic bits.

The bag itself – instead of plastic bags, opt for paper bags – you could decorate and customize these to the theme of the party, or for each child. You could select fabric wraps and give Furoshiki a try, or if you want a simpler option use recyclable cardboard boxes.

If you’re feeling crafty you can make bags from newspapers or magazines. (This is something my mum used to do if we didn’t have gift bags for someone’s birthday.) And if you’re a whiz with the sewing machine, then making your own your own fabric bags from old t-shirts or pillowcases could be an option.

gifts – this is not an exhaustive list but you could include any of the following;

  • mini pencil or chalk packs in carboard packets,
  • dice
  • wooden pencil boxes (customised for each child)
  • mini jigsaws
  • washi tape
  • silicone straws
  • fabric finger puppets
  • activity books
  • seeds (add a mini terracotta plant pot they can decorate)
  • playing cards
  • fabric pencil cases/purses
  • second hand books or small reading books
  • jars of homemade playdough
  • melt down old broken crayons and use silicone moulds to reshape them in to animals or initial letters

food gifts – usually a slice of the birthday cake and a selection of sweet packets, with the plastic count even higher than the sugar content. Some alternatives or some more sustainable ways to buy can be:

  • wrap the cake in a paper bag instead of plastic wrap
  • you could also include homemade treats to avoid plastic packaging
  • If purchasing edible goodies from a shop, you could try your local refill shop and put them in separate paper bags or celllose food bags (which are biodegradable) mini jars or tin foil, which is at least recyclable (basically anything but clingfilm or plastic food bags!). Our local refill shop has vegan fizzy sweets,.
  • If your shopping in a super market or want something a bit healthier, look for snacks without plastic packaging, such as Bear YoYos (which come in paper packets in a cardboard box) raisins are also almost always available in cardboard boxes too.

Presents

Gifts might be the hardest part of a plastic-free party. If you do want to reduce waste with gift you could:

  • ask for money instead, or get guests to contribute towards one substantial present for the child (eg. bike or climbing frame), or ask for donations to a charity instead
  • suggest some more sustainable toys – such as wooden or bamboo, and ethical/sustainable toy brands.
  • suggest preloved gifts, or a toy/gift swap
  • ask for experience-based gifts, like a trip to the zoo or ferry tickets, or a contribution to one substantial present.
  • let guest know that no wrapping is necessary, or suggest fabric or recyclable paper wrap.
My toddler helped wrap and decorate the paper wrap for her brothers presents. We used washi paper tape so it is fully recyclable.

Avoid…

Balloons – Sorry to be the fun police but balloons are a no-no, whether they’re ‘biodegradable’ or not.
If they break free and fly off when they come down they are a risk to wildlife, as birds or marine animals can eat them. And even if they don’t, they will spend years sitting in landfill.

Instant landfill– Please think twice before doing a sweep of your local Pound Shop or the ‘tat’ section of a toy shop. These toys break within minutes and there is nothing that can be done with them other than put them in the bin.

Slime – This is such a ‘thing’ right now and I know kids love a pot of slime, but most commercially available pots are just stretchy slimy blobs of plastic. If you have to have it, then have a go at making your own (recipes can be found online – pinterest is your friend!)

Glitter – Glitter is essentially a micro-plastic and when you can finally get it off your hands/face/every conceivable surface of your home and even some inconceivable places, it gets washed down the sink and passes straight though the filtration systems and on out into our waterways. If glitter is a must, then there are eco-friendly glitters available.

Remember, going zero waste might take a few attempts, but the key is to do what you can in the time you have, then refine your approach next time.

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25 Ways To Reduce Waste Through The Food You Eat

Ways to Reduce Food Waste… With The Food You Have:

Buy less than you think that you need. We tend to over buy on food so remove one meal from your meal plan because you’ll most likely have an unexpected dinner out or leftovers! 

Measure ingredients carefully! Follow recipes and adjust the amount of ingredients to the number of people eating. This will stop you ending up with too many leftovers, that won’t get eaten.

Chop and store the produce when you get home from the shop so creating meals is easy during the week. 

Store your food properly so it doesn’t go bad! Look for storage tips on how to store your produce plastic-free, and how to maximise it’s shelf life. 

Ignore the dates. Best-by, sell-by, and use-by are NOT expiration dates. There’s no scientific way to predict the exact day something is going to expire so use your best judgement with smell and taste. If it tastes fine – it’s probably fine to eat. 

Eat your ends and stems – broccoli stalks are great for making soup.

Save the peels of your onions, carrots and garlic to make a delicious vegetable stock that you can use to infuse more flavour into rice, quinoa, etc. 

Use your freezer to freeze fruits and veggies you might not have time to get to before they turn. 

Use slightly mushy fruits in smoothies or breakfast breads. After all overripe bananas make the best banana loaf!

Make crisps from your potato peelings. Carrots, parsnips etc also work well.

Keep a stocked pantry so you can make all of your favourite meals quickly

Opt for smaller plates of food and go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. 

Use your freezer for leftovers! Almost anything can be frozen to prolong its shelf life including bread, soup and pasta sauce.

Make sure you actually eat your leftovers! My husband will also make extra for dinner, which I can then heat up the next day for my lunch.

If you do have any food waste, make sure you compost it! 

Ways To Reduce Waste… Through How You Buy Food

Write down what is inside of your fridge before you go grocery shopping! This allows you to plan meals around the food you already have, especially what needs to be eaten first. It will also stop you buying duplicates.

Opt for looseleaf tea (a lot of tea bags are made with plastic!) 

Choose plastic-free produce and food. Look for items in recyclable packaging, like paper or card, or food that comes in tins, which are easily recycled.

Buy your dry goods in refill shops. We love refill shopping! Our toddler loves to weigh the jars and attach the labels for the till. It’s a great way to cut plastic out of your shopping, you take your own containers (we use glass jars, some new and some reused jam jars, but it could be any kind of container) and fill up with rice, flour, beans, cereal, all sorts!

Don’t buy individual servings of food. Buy larger servings and portion them out at home. Buying in bulk and avoiding individual portions in plastic packaging, can save you money as well as reducing your plastic waste.

Head to your local farmer’s market or greengrocer to stock up on loose veg. Our local grocer even delivers!

Start a small garden. If you can’t quite manage a vegetable plot, try a herb garden in your windowsill. No garden – then join a local community garden where you can compost and even have a hand in growing your own food.

Try to regrow your food from scraps like green onions or celery. 

Ways To Reduce Waste… Through What Food You Eat

Eat with the seasons and enjoy the bounty of your region. Maybe even try your hand at preserving foods or give foraging a go (Please do check identifications and make sure you are 100% confident in your identification of wild plants. Know which parts are safe to eat and how to process them)

Go heavy on the plants, and reduce your consumption of animal products. The University of Oxford found that eating a vegan diet could be the “single biggest way” to reduce your environmental impact on earth. Researchers found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent.

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10 Tips for a Plastic-Free Kitchen

You’re in your kitchen. What’s one thing you find almost every place you look? Plastic.

Clingfilm, cheap sponges, plastic wrapping, plastic bottles of cleaning sprays, plastic bristled dish brushes, nail brushes, plastic bottles of hand soap, plastic wrapped dishwasher tablets, bottles of washing up liquid, plastic tupperware, plastic spatulas, the list really is endless…

Dealing with all that plastic may seem overwhelming, but don’t panic! The kitchen is actually one of the easiest places to get started on your plastic-free and zero-waste journey.

Why Make Your Kitchen Plastic-Free?

Whether you have been living the zero waste life for some time, or are new to the journey, let’s have a quick refresh on why you should care about reducing your use of plastic and aiming for a plastic-free kitchen. 

  • Plastics are made from non-renewable fossil fuels and creates a lot of pollution when produced.  
  • Chemicals can leach from plastics into food, especially when heated, when plastic is old or in contact with oily foods.
  • Many single-use plastic items are used in the kitchen – like plastic wrap, plastic bags, plastic containers for food and cleaning products.
  • Recycling is not the solution (only about 9% of plastics are recycled).

So here’s my Top Ten Tips to get you started…

  1. Choose environmentally friendly cleaning products, like these plastic free cleaning sachets. You can also have glass spray bottles for your cleaning products.

2. Avoid cling film by switching to wax wraps.  And swap plastic baggies for reusable silicone bags, or store your food in glass containers like tupperware or jars. You can also use silicone lids or fabric bowl cover.

food wrap

3. If you’re a baker – invest in silicone cup cake cases which a reusable. You can also purchase silicone sheets to replace greaseproof baking paper.

4. When you need new utensils, pick a bamboo, stainless steel or wooden replacement. Remember – anything that is now plastic, used to be made from some other material. As you get rid of plastic plates, cups and stirring spoons, return to items made of wood and metal. This gorgeous set from Huski Home are made of sustainable coconut wood.

5. Use washable or compostable cloths or reusable fabric kitchen roll instead of paper towels. If you do want to stick to disposable kitchen roll, opt for a plastic free packaging, like paper or biodegradable materials and choose a bamboo kitchen roll, which is much more sustainable than paper.

6. Plastic dishes and cups are a staple in some kitchens – especially when kids are around. But plastic is linked with hormone disruption and that’s something you want to avoid, especially with kids. Instead of plastic for your children, opt for inexpensive ceramic dishes or a set of wooden or bamboo table ware. My two love their shaped bamboo tableware!

7.Swap plastic sponges for compostable bamboo dish scrubs, fabric unsponges or biodegradable varieties, that won’t shed microplastic in to the water system and ultimately our oceans.

grey dishbrush

8. Between cooking, cleaning, emptying bins etc, your hands need a lot of washing when you’re in the kitchen. Cut down on plastic bottles of hand soap by choosing either soap bars or refill your liquid soap at a zero-waste shop.

9. For cleaning the dishes, choose a dish soap bar – this eliminates plastic bottles of washing up liquid, and is also much better for the environment and water ways. This bar is so mild you can even reuse the water for your plants!

dish washing soap bar on worktop

10. Plastic-free your laundry routine – even stain removers are available as bars. You also have the Eco Egg as an option, both for washing and drying.

A plastic-free kitchen is neither a hard, complicated nor an expensive goal to achieve.

Simple swaps will be easy on your budget, as well as the planet.

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Plastic-Free Picnics

Now that the summer weather has officially arrived and restrictions are easing, we’ve started thinking about going out more, or you know, going out at all! (I think my son was surprised that there are more than 5 people in the world!) After over a year in shielding we had to have a good think what we would need to go out and about now we have two small people in tow, if we wanted to go to the beach or for a picnic.

So here’s our tips & ideas for a sustainable summer, including my Top 10 Sustainable Swaps & Product Recommendations.

Tips & Ideas for Plastic Free Picnicking

  • Make your own dips & salads, rather than buying pre-prepared ones in plastic packaging from the supermarket. A great homemade hummus recipe is this one from The Pesky Vegan. You could even have a go at making your own crackers or pittas to dip in your homemade sides.
  • If you’re having soft drinks, choose options from cans or glass bottles, rather than plastic bottles, we love cordials as you can stretch them so much further by diluting with water. If you want to you could give making your own cordial a go (extra hippie points if you forage your own elderflowers 😉 – seriously though foraging is great fun, but only forage for small amounts from areas with plentiful supply and only if you are 100% certain of what the item is and that it’s edible. Here’s two great articles on foraging for beginners from National Geographic and BBC Good Food.)
  • You can get some great snacks for on the go from your local zero waste shop or refill store, popping kernels for making your own popcorn, or choose from a selection of nuts and snacks like spiced chickpeas, banana chips, etc. You could also use their assortments of nuts and dried fruits to make your own custom trail mix.
  • Avoid ice in bags from the supermarket, by making your own at home in silicone ice cube trays (we have tons of these from making and freezing portions of baby food for when our daughter was weaning), or freeze bottles of water use a coolers in your picnic bag, they’ll keep your picnic nice and chilled and your drink will have melted en route and be lovely and cool. You could also try frozen grapes which will cool drinks and make a great snack when you’ve finished.

Top 10 Sustainable Summer Ready Swaps

1.Reusable Straws:

Plastic straws generally can’t be recycled, so straws have to be sent to landfill, where they take a long time to degrade, can leach chemicals like BPA, break down into microplastics, and can be ingested by wildlife. There are however several alternatives:

Stainless Steel Straws are washable, and much more durable. They are BPA free and unlike plastic will not interact with and leak chemicals into the drink you are consuming.

Bamboo Drinking Straws can be reused hundreds of times and can be composted at the end of their life cycle. Our bamboo straws are an eco-friendly and sustainable solution to plastic, made without the need for any harmful pesticides or chemicals.

Silicone Straws tend to be light and durable, these ones are made from 100% Pure Food-Grade FDA/LFGB certified Silicone, they come with a lifetime guarantee from ecoLiving!

2. Travel Cutlery Set:

Avoid the traditional plastic cutlery of picnics past and invest in a reusable travel cutlery set, made from bamboo or metal which you can carry on you for takeaways, work lunches, food on the go etc. They’re stylish as well as sustainable and it stops all that waste of single use plastic going to landfill.

bamboo travel cutlery

3. Reusable Water Bottle:

Instead of endless plastic bottles, opt for a reusable stainless steel or glass bottle. They are durable, and you can find ones that maintain the temperature of the drink inside, so you can have a refreshing drink throughout the day. They’re great for around the house as well as out and about, where you can refill them with water – look out for councils or shops that are part of the refill scheme.

Our Reusable Glass Bottles are made from BPA free and fully recyclable materials and provide a clean and pure drinking experience.

4. Lunch boxes

Picnics and packed lunches are massive sources of plastic waste – from the plastic lunchboxes themselves, to plastic tupperware, ziplock pouches, clingfilm, snack packs and individually wrapped plastic food packaging.

Avoid the plastic lunchboxes and opt for a stainless steel version, or one of our Huski Home rice husk lunchboxes, made using the by-products of the rice industry. Many lunchboxes have sections, so you can do away with the individual tupperware and snack packs and put your own products in loose. If you do want Tupperware you can opt for glass or glass/bamboo combo versions. Or why not store snacks in reused jars, we have snacks in old curry sauce jars that we’ve cleaned and relabelled.

5. Wax Wraps

Similarly you can avoid the clingfilm and plastic packaging by choosing wax wraps for your sandwiches and other homemade goodies.

food wrap

6. Takeaway Cup

Whether you want a hot drink or an iced coffee, a fruity tea or just juice, taking a reusable travel cup with you let’s you ditch the disposable and many have the benefits of being insulated or double walled to keep your drink at the right temperature for longer.

7. Travel Wash Set

A great choice for the holidays we are now allowed on, whether you’re desperate to jet off or you’re choosing a Great British Staycation, maybe even just for long awaited visits to far away friends and family – a travel set is a great option for you to be low waste and avoid all those plastic travel miniatures, without having to take your full bars from home in individual tins.

safety razor

8. Sun Cream in Tins/Refills

Yes this is now an option, some zero waste shops are now able to offer sun cream refills and the majority will likely have aluminium tins of sun cream available. I find the tins are easier to get the sun cream out of rather than faffing with the spray bottles that don’t work unless they’re completely upright.

9. Toothbrush Case

Great for when you’re away from home, bamboo toothbrush cases keep your brush clean and hygienic. We have both adults and children’s toothbrush travel cases in the shop.

10. Reusable Bag

Keep your picnic out of plastic and opt for reusable bags to carry your stuff on trips out or for shopping. Fold up, cotton or net bags are brilliant for stashing on you so you don’t have to pay for plastic bags if you do any impromptu shopping.

This organic cotton bag is a great choice as it folds up small but is spacious and stylish.

Be sure to check out the shop for our featured products that can help with your zero waste needs.

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Living more Sustainably with Kids

With the magnitude of stuff that comes with babies and children you might think that living more sustainably with kids is impossible. All that stuff comes with a lot of waste – and many children’s products are typically plastic based or disposable.

Here are a selection of swaps you can make to start reducing waste! Be sure to check out the shop for our featured products that can help with your sustainable living needs.

1.Reusable drinks bottles:

Instead of endless plastic bottles or cups, opt for a reusable stainless steel bottle. They are durable, and you can find ones that maintain the temperature of the drink inside, so your little ones can have a refreshing drink throughout the day. They’re great for around the house as well as out and about, where you can refill them with water, same as you would your own bottle.

2. Bamboo toothbrushes:

Every year over a billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away worldwide, ending up in landfill, in the sea or washed up on a beach. Using a bamboo toothbrush with a biodegradable handle is a small change but together we can make a big difference. Toothbrushes are not recyclable and their packaging may not be in your area either. With how frequently we switch them out, a sustainable option is necessary and it’s one of the easiest swaps. And they’re not just for adults too, we stock both baby and child sizes as well as our adult brushes. My eldest loves brushing with her “dee-eth” with her tiny Truthbrush.

toothbrush

3. Plastic Free Lunches

Children’s lunches are massive sources of plastic waste – from the plastic lunchboxes themselves, to plastic tupperware, ziplock pouches, clingfilm, snack packs and individually wrapped plastic food packaging.

Several alternatives include:

  • Silicone reusable food pouches, we make our own smoothies and then refill the pouches, so we can take them out and about with us, or as a quick and easy snack for our toddler to grab from the fridge. When you’re finished, wash them out (ours are even dishwashable) then they’re ready to use again.
  • Wax Wraps to replace cling film or foil, to wrap sandwiches and the like. Seal in freshness without the unrecyclable plastic.
  • You can buy larger quantities , bulk buy, or visit a refill shop to obtain snack items with less or no plastic. Then divide these up in to portions yourself instead of purchasing individually wrapped varieties.
  • Avoid the plastic lunchboxes and opt for a stainless steel version, or one of our Huski Home rice husk lunchboxes, made using the by-products of the rice industry.

4. Bamboo Tableware:

When it comes to feeding our small ones, many of us ask ourselves “what is on my child’s plate?” – Is it nutritious? Is it a choking hazard? etc. But many of us rarely ask “what is my child’s plate made of?”. The majority of kids’ tableware products are made from various forms of plastic that can contain BPAs and other potentially toxic chemicals. BPA has been known to leach into foods and liquids it comes in contact with, especially when these plastic products are heated.

Bamboo is a great alternative to plastic kids’ tableware because of the non-toxic factor. Since bamboo is grown without using pesticides or chemical fertilizers, bamboo plates are non-toxic from the get go.

Additionally, the inherent strength of bamboo makes bamboo plates durable without risking bending or cracking, while also being lightweight. Bamboo kids’ plates are also non-stick as well as heat, stain, odour, and water-resistant – all important factors during mealtime!

5. Wooden Toys

Having more durable wooden toys, which are better for the environment, and can be beautiful additions to the home, is a more sustainable choice then their weaker, more easily broken, plastic counterparts. Also, if you opt for open-ended toys, like wooden rainbows, stacking blocks and ‘loose parts’, there are lots of different ways a child can play with them, hence they get bored less easily.

6. Reusable Straws:

With children, especially small ones still learning to use cups or being given glasses while eating out, straws are often necessary. However, plastic straws generally can’t be recycled, so straws have to be sent to landfill, where they take a long time to degrade, can leach chemicals like BPA, break down into microplastics, and can be ingested by wildlife. There are however alternatives( which can be easily taken out and about to be used on the go):

Bamboo Drinking Straws can be reused hundreds of times and can be composted at the end of their life cycle. Our bamboo straws are an eco-friendly and sustainable solution to plastic, made without the need for any harmful pesticides or chemicals. The entire process is safe, non-toxic and completely organic. Each straw is 100% organic, handmade and biodegradable. Our toddler gets on with them just fine.

Silicone Straws tend to be light and durable, made from 100% Pure Food-Grade FDA/LFGB certified Silicone, they come with a lifetime guarantee from ecoLiving! They are also a great option for children who love to chew straws, as they are chew-proof, so no more cracked, flattened and ruined plastic straws.

colourful smoothie straws close up

7. Shampoo/Conditioner/Soap bars

Let’s face it kids get dirty a lot, there’s painting, splashing in muddy puddles, playing in the garden, baking, sensory play and just plain life, like food or drink spills. That’s a lot of reasons to need a bath or a hair wash, and that means you get through a lot of bubble bath, soap and shampoo etc. All of which you can purchase in bars instead, drastically cutting down your plastic usage. With the added benefit of less chemicals and harsh ingredients on your children’s skin.

8. Ethical Clothes/Preloved Clothes

Opting for second-hand clothes is both financially beneficial and eco-friendly. Charity shops, facebook selling groups, local swap meets, nearly new sales, and hand me downs from friends and family are great options to get ‘new’ clothes for your little people – who we all know are constantly in need of clothes as they grow so fast. Most of our children’s wardrobes are second hand – purchased from local selling sites and gifted from family (some of our daughters clothes have been worn by 3 or even 4 of her cousins first – now that’s getting the full use out of an item) Then when she outgrows them, what we don’t keep for her baby brother to wear later, we sell on local groups or donate to charity. And only when a garment can truly not be reused in anyway, either worn or repurposed, then it is sent to textile recycling at The Tip.

Those clothes that we do purchase new for our children are made of sustainable materials, so they have less impact on the planet, and also usually last longer as well. This includes bamboo, hemp and organic cotton. Babies skin is thinner than adults skin so GOTS certified organic clothing and bedding is very important, especially for newborns. Because they are very durable and quality garments, there is usually plenty of life left in them once our children outgrow them so we can sell them on or donate them for another child to wear. This keeps items away from landfill and extends their life – it also means one less garment being made and the impact of the production that goes with that.

9. Cloth Wipes

Most baby wipes are made of non-biodegradable materials and obviously can only be used once. They are a massive source of waste at landfill and also despite not being flushable (even the “flushable” and “biodegradable” varieties are not truly suitable to be flushed) they often end up clogging up our sewers and waterways.

Cloth wipes are more cost-effective, create less waste in the landfill, and help you avoid the use of irritating soaps and chemicals on your baby’s delicate bottom.

Cleaning up with cloth is as simple as just add water and wipe, though many people use homemade wipe solutions and you can purchase store-bought solutions if you prefer. You can keep them in special wipe boxes, or just use wet bags for on the go. They are available in a variety of materials, cotton is the usual go to or for luxury feels, you can buy ultra soft minky, velour, or bamboo cloths.

10. Cloth Nappies

Get eco-friendly by opting for washable cloth nappies instead of disposable nappies. Disposable nappies are made of synthetic materials, filled with chemicals, so besides being non-biodegradable, they can be harmful to your child’s tender skin. And obviously, you can only use them once.

A cloth nappy is a reusable nappy, usually made from cotton or other natural materials. The picture that might come to your mind when we hear the term are those squares of cotton that our mothers used. Now I’m not talking about terries or the endless soaking and boiling of previous years. Modern cloth nappies are easy to clean, dry pretty fast, have poppers or velcro (no fiddly or sticky pins) and come in a multitude of prints and designs. As far as cleaning goes, nappies and many wraps just go in the wash at 40 or 60. No need to soak or to boil wash.

It can sound surprising that cloth nappies are more cost effective than disposables because they can call for a hefty initial investment (though you could always purchase preloved from selling sites to save money). But in the longer run, they turn out to be less expensive than disposables, even better if you can reuse for more than one child, and you can always sell on afterwards.

Most estimates of how much you will spend on disposable nappies are around £850-£1,100 per child. If you choose to use a nappy disposal system, it adds in the region of £200; otherwise you’ll need to add the cost of nappy bags.

However, we paid just shy of £300 for our daughters nappies, they were brand new and are a popular and fairly top end quality brand, we also bought additional spare inserts. She has been using them for 2.5 years and our son has been sharing for the last 6 months. If they were in disposables that could have been up to 7,200 nappies between them so far. That’s a lot of plastic off to landfill, not to mention a lot of money. And while our daughter has started potty training and wont be using nappies much longer, our son will be wearing them for around another 2 years, after which we can sell them on and get some money back. Yes you have the costs of washing but if you wash your nappies two or three times a week at 60 degrees, and take into account the cost of electricity, water and detergent, then the grand total is about £1 a week, or about £130 over two and a half years.

So disposables could’ve cost us £2000 for our 2 children, instead of the £300 we spent on cloth nappies and maybe £260 on washing, as we do wash ours more than twice a week as we have two in cloth. That’s a saving of up to £1440, and we still have the potential to make some money back when they sell on.

According to WRAP, the UK adds 3 billion disposable nappies to landfill every year, so making the switch to reusables can really make a difference. They are not as hard as you think and most local councils offer a nappy voucher incentive when you buy your first set of nappies. I would highly recommend ‘The Nappy Lady‘ she has all the advice you need and offers a great support service too.

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Simple swaps for a more sustainable 2021

If you’re trying to be a bit greener in 2021, then here’s our top 10 simple swaps to help you live more sustainably:

1. Reusable coffee cups vs Takeaway cups

In the UK we use 7 million disposable coffee cups every day – that’s 2.5 billion every year. And less than 1per cent of these end up being recycled. This is due to the thin plastic lining which makes them difficult to process for recycling. Reusable cups on the other hand, are designed to last for years if cared for properly. Having a reusable coffee cup in your bag or at the office gives quick access to an alternative to the single use cup, our Double Walled Coffee Cups are lightweight and durable.

Paper takeaway cups don’t offer much in the way of insulation, so your drink wont stay hot for long, a reusable cup can keep your drink hotter for longer, and offer some protection to your fingers too! Our Reusable Insulated Coffee Cups have high quality double-walled stainless steel construction to keep your drink the perfect temperature. We also have Glass Coffee Cups, which are designed to replicate your coffee shop drinking experience and unlike plastic or bamboo will not taint the flavour of your drink.

And as well as helping the planet by cutting your plastic usage, there are additional benefits for your wallet too. Many coffee shop chains offer discounts to customers who bring their own cup. If you’re a regular coffee drinker, you could save more than £100 a year. Or if you can make your own at home and take it out with you, you’ll save even more!

2. Reusable water bottle vs Plastic bottles

In 2018, UK use of plastic water bottles increased by more than 7 per cent, according to market research company Zenith. The industry is worth £3.3bn. And this isn’t just bad for the planet and the ocean, where many of these plastic bottles ultimately end up. It’s also bad for us. Plastic bottles contain Bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor which has been strongly linked to a host of health problems. BPA enters the human body through exposure to plastics such as bottled drinks. Our Reusable Glass Bottles are made from BPA free and fully recyclable materials and provide a clean and pure drinking experience.

3. Bamboo toothbrush vs Plastic toothbrush

What with the vast majority of toothbrushes being plastic, you’ll end up throwing away a lot of them if you adhere to most manufacturers’ recommendations to replace your toothbrush every three months. In fact, every year over a billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away worldwide, ending up in landfill, in the sea or washed up on a beach.

Thankfully, there is an alternative available. Bamboo toothbrushes, which are made from more sustainable materials. Once you’re finished with one, you can compost the handle and recycle the bristles.

4. Toothpaste tablets vs Plastic toothpaste tubes

Toothpaste tubes are typically made of non-recyclable plastic and can take around 450 years to decompose. The tubes are made of multiple layers of materials fused together, so breaking them down for recycling is much more complex than for other household items. One alternative is Truthtabs: these tablets are easy to use, simply pop one into your mouth, bite and brush. They foam and clean just like toothpaste but come in fully biodegradable and recyclable packaging.

5. Wax wraps vs Clingfilm

More than 1.2 billion metres, equating to 745,000 miles of cling film is used by households across Britain every year – enough to go around the circumference of the world 30 times over!

Cling film is difficult to recycle, meaning the majority of it ends up in landfill where it takes hundreds of years to degrade and risks leaching chemicals into groundwater. Like plastic bags, cling film that ends up in the sea is easily confused for jellyfish by marine animals and chokes turtles and other creatures that feed on them.

Reusable Vegan Wax Wraps are a plastic-free alternative way of wrapping sandwiches, leftovers, cheese and cakes to keep them fresh. If cared for, the wraps will last a year and are fully compostable. They look much prettier than clingfilm too.

6. Shampoo/conditioner bars vs Plastic shampoo bottles

These solid bars are more lightweight and compact than their bottled counterparts, so they require less space during transport relative to the same amount of washes with liquid shampoo. Roughly ten to fifteen transport trucks of liquid shampoo would be needed for one transport truck of solid shampoo bars to get the same number of washes! This is because the main ingredient in liquid shampoo is water.

Most shampoo bars have a far higher concentration of ingredients than their shampoo counterparts. This means that you need to use less of a shampoo bar to get the same results. So, even though a shampoo bar looks small, it lasts a very long time. And a solid bar of shampoo doesn’t need to come in a plastic container. In fact, most shampoo bars don’t come with any packaging at all. So, by using shampoo bars, you can cut down on your plastic usage and help the environment .

An additional benefit if you like to travel is that as shampoo bars are solid, they can go in your hand luggage without any arguments from border security. Carrying a shampoo bar in your luggage also means that you can save space, travel lighter, and you won’t get to your hotel and find all your clothes soaking wet because your shampoo has leaked all over them!

We are currently eagerly awaiting a delivery of shampoo, conditioner and soap bars, which will be added to the shop as soon as they arrive!

7. Dish wash bars vs Plastic washing up liquid bottles

Back in the day one bar of soap was enough to do everything, from dishwashing, laundry and even cleaning your bathroom. 

Unlike ordinary dishwashing detergent and other cleaners that are packaged in big plastic bottles, most soap bars come in recycled or recyclable paper packaging. Like most soaps, they have a great shelf life, so if they are stored properly they will last you a very long time. A single soap bar can also last for more washes than liquid soap, as you can easily pour out too much every time you do the dishes.

Our Washing-up Soap Bars are powered by organic plant-based ingredients that are tough on grease yet gentle to your hands. So mild the rinse water can be used on your plants!

8. Safety Razor vs Disposable razor

Unfortunately as the metal blades are embedded in plastic, billions of plastic razors and cartridges are thrown away every year. Switching to safety razors are a great way for plastic-free shaving. Safety razors use one single blade made from stainless steel, which is easy recyclable. You’ll likely also find that you’re able to achieve a closer, smoother shave without the razor burn and irritation that modern razors can cause.

If you’re a regular shaver, then this switch will save you money too! Disposable razors and blades can be incredibly pricey, while new and vintage safety razors are standardised and have used the same style of blades for years. You can get replacement blades which are high quality and inexpensive. With proper care, the blades can last a good while, while the handle should last a lifetime.

9. Reusable straws vs plastic straws

Plastic straws generally can’t be recycled, so straws have to be sent to landfill, where they take a long time to degrade, can leach chemicals like BPA, break down into microplastics, and can be ingested by wildlife. In addition, plastic straws tend to fall amongst the top littered items in the world. There are however several alternatives:

Stainless Steel Straws are washable, and much more durable. They are BPA free and unlike plastic will not interact with and leak chemicals into the drink you are consuming.

Bamboo Drinking Straws can be reused hundreds of times and can be composted at the end of their life cycle. Our bamboo straws are an eco-friendly and sustainable solution to plastic, made without the need for any harmful pesticides or chemicals. The entire process is safe, non-toxic and completely organic. Each straw is 100% organic, handmade and biodegradable.

Silicone Straws tend to be light and durable, made from 100% Pure Food-Grade FDA/LFGB certified Silicone, they come with a lifetime guarantee from ecoLiving!

10. Bamboo cotton buds vs Plastic cotton buds

If you are a plastic cotton bud user then why not switch to bamboo? Our Bamboo Cotton Buds are 100% biodegradable. Plastic cotton buds are often found on the beach or in our oceans, whereas bamboo an be disposed of by simply throwing them into your organic waste or compost. It is also a sustainable product, it needs no pesticides or fertiliser to grow and it’s a super fast growing grass that is more efficient at taking CO2 from the air and producing more oxygen than trees.

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Walking in a winter wonderland… (and other nature activities for kids)

winter activities

Most people don’t see winter as the ideal time for getting outdoors with our children; the days are shorter, being in the UK the weather is often less than inviting, and it’s hard to motivate ourselves to leave the comfort of our cosy houses. But children just don’t think this way. As far as my toddler is concerned, when it comes to getting outdoors the weather is pretty much irrelevant. As long as they’re dressed to suit the weather, children will happily romp around regardless. And in the world that our kids are going to grow up in, it is important that our children are eco-conscious and aware of the environment and natural world around them. The sustainable ideas for winter nature activities that are listed below can be a great way to instil the love for the environment and nature in your kids and have some great family time.

Make a birdfeeder

Winter is the perfect time to feed the birds in your garden and is a great opportunity to observe them. There are so many great ways to make simple bird feeders with kids (Pinterest is your friend here). Set the feeders up in your garden where you can easily observe them from a window.

Winter scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are fun outdoor activities for kids that can be enjoyed all year-round. Winter scavenger hunts can focus on items that can be found outside in the colder months, like pinecones, acorns, frozen puddles, evergreens, etc. You can find a lot of examples on Pinterest or make your own.

Make a winter mandala

Making a mandala, especially from natural items, is a wonderful activity to do any time of year. In its simplest form, a mandala is a circular structure with a design that radiates out symmetrically from the centre. You can find natural mandalas in flowers, tree rings, spider webs, seashells, and more. There is no right or wrong way to make one which is why it is such a wonderful way to engage children to make their own mandalas using items they find in nature.

Go for a walk to collect items to use in your winter mandala and let the children’s imaginations create something beautiful! This is a great time to discuss symmetry, shapes and colours, and just let their creativity roam.

Go on a Muddy Puddle Walk

On of my daughter’s favourite things to do outside is to jump in muddy puddles (Thank you, Peppa!) So pop on your waterproofs and head out to the park, the woods, wherever and have some fun splashing around in muddy puddles! 

Start Geocaching

Geocaching is a great way to explore outside and it’s a great outdoor nature activity for winter. It is free, easy, fun, appropriate for all ages, and it’s outdoors and amongst nature! People set up hidden treasure “caches” and then upload the coordinates so that other people can find them. You use an app on a smartphone to find them so it’s great way to lure techy kids outside!

Explore a beach (or other nature abundant area)

Obviously this depends if you live near a beach or not, if you don’t why not try a nature walk in a local woodland or nature reserve. You can look for minibeasts, birds, plants and other animals.

Living in Cornwall, we like to make the most of the fabulous coastline available to us, whatever the weather. So beach trips happen even in the winter, the wind, the chill and the rain included. We just wrap up warm and waterproof the toddler, as far as she’s concerned if she’s in her puddlesuit and wellies she’s unstoppable anyway.

Beaches in the wintertime are magical places. While the cooler temperature makes the water far too cold for swimming, there are still many activities the whole family can enjoy during the winter months. Take advantage of the lack of crowds and spend some time at your local beach, looking at shells, drawing in the sand, and observing birds and marine life. Look for a place where the sand is dotted with rocks so that the water get’s trapped when the tide is low; you will find many critters in these small rockpools. You can take magnifying glasses for identification and paper or journals to do some observation drawings.

Taken this week at Looe Beach
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“I’m dreaming of a zero waste Christmas…”

zero waste Christmas guide

After Christmas, an estimated 1 billion cards end up in the bin, 124 thousand tonnes of plastic packaging will be thrown out, 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper is binned, 6 million trees are discarded, and £42 million of unwanted presents are thrown away. The environmental cost of this waste is astronomical yet much of it can be avoided if we’re willing to alter our habits. 

(Source: envirowaste.co.uk)

Christmas is traditionally a time of overindulgence and over-consumption, but it doesn’t have to be that way. And being a little bit more conscious during the festive season won’t turn you in to the Grinch. So here’s our ultimate guide to having a zero waste Christmas and still having a jolly old time of it. (Advanced warning, you may want to get a cup of tea, it’s a long one – well we did say “The ultimate guide”.

The Tree

There’s a big debate over whether a real tree is more sustainable than a fake tree, and I’m of the opinion that a real tree is more sustainable IF they’re composted at the end of their lives. This is because Christmas tree farms grow trees all year round which absorb carbon throughout the year, then composting them turns them back into a nutrient rich soil.

If your only option is to dump your tree at the landfill, then consider opting for a fake Christmas tree or an alternative tree, like the examples below, as just one real tree that ends up as landfill produces 16kg of Co2. Of course, if like us you already have a fake Christmas tree then use it as long as possible. We’ve had ours in excess of 20 years, and now I’m using it with my children There’s no need to throw it out in lieu of a real one.

A Real Tree in a Pot: a real tree in a pot can (in theory*) be used again and again each Christmas. For the most sustainable option, don’t restrict yourself to the “standard” pine Christmas tree, look at what is suitable for growing in pots, and remember different pine trees will suit different conditions. (*we tried this a few years ago an unfortunately our tree got “shock” when we put it back outside so it didn’t last very long, this is something to be mindful of)

Rent a Tree: I recently saw a feature on Rental Claus on the news and it is a brilliant idea. The premise being you rent a true pot grown, living Christmas Tree for the month of December and after Christmas they are returned to the fields and cared for, watered and fed until its time to go out again. And you can rent a tree then have the exact tree again the following year!

Driftwood / Pallet Tree: if you’re creative, you can make a tree out of driftwood or other materials. For a slightly less labour-intensive approach, paint a tree onto a surface (e.g. a wooden pallet). Pinterest has loads of ideas.

The Decorations

As pretty as it all looks, the glitter that you’re still hoovering out of the carpets in May, the cheap plastic baubles that break easily when the tree is attacked by your cat, your toddler or a wobbly & overly refreshed relative, and the environmentally damaging tinsel can all be swapped out for more eco friendly options without losing any of that Christmas magic.

Christmas Cards: if you receive Christmas cards, hang them over string and use these as a bunting-style decoration. After Christmas, cut out the images and use to make decorations or gift tags for the following year. This is something my Mum has done as long as I can remember. I recall sitting on her bed as a child, helping her wrap the Christmas presents and sorting through all of last years cards labels to pick one that best suited each person or matched the wrapping paper.

Solar Lights: if you want to light the place up, solar lights might be an option. Candles (soy rather than paraffin) also add a Christmassy glow to things and are a more natural alternative.

Make your Own: If you want to give crafting a go then why not try salt dough or home made Airdry Clay decorations, popcorn garlands, paper decorations or make your own festive bunting. These are all brilliant activities to get you in the festive mood and great ways to involve the children, as well as saving money. Check out our blog post on making your own salt dough decorations.

Natural Decorations: sticks, flowers, cones and leaves are plastic-free and biodegradable, and the more local the better. If you can forage your own, excellent; alternatively go to a florist and find out what is in season. Decorate candles with cinnamon sticks, string together dried oranges or decorate them with cloves and hang them up. Add ribbons to pinecones to make baubles or create your own stick wreath.

The Food

An incredible 270,000 tons of food will be wasted over Christmas in the UK this year and more worryingly, Love Food Hate Waste says that we waste an astonishing 1 million tonnes of festive roast dinners worldwide. That equates to an incredible 4.2 million Christmas dinners getting binned! To put it another way, that’s enough to feed everyone in The counties of Essex, Devon and Surrey, or the entire population of Croatia!

Here’s some ideas to reduce your food waste at Christmas, cut back on the plastic and reduce the carbon footprint of your festive food:

Buy from Bulk Stores: if bulk stores, refill shops or zero waste stores are an option for you, embrace them! We are lucky to have several near to us and they are a brilliant way to cut your plastic consumption. (If your ever in East Cornwall/West Devon, check out No Wrap No Crap in Liskeard or Jar in Plymouth). As well as general groceries, bulk stores usually sell plenty of snack foods, nuts, chocolate, dried fruit etc, that usually come overpackaged in plastic. Bring glass jars or old Tupperware, and fill up, packaging free.

Make It Yourself: foods made from scratch don’t come in plastic. Plenty of food can be made in advance so there’s no need to end up overwhelmed and panicked with no food ready on The Big Day. Christmas cakes and puddings can be made a good month in advance, and some foods (pastries and even veg dishes like braised cabbage) can be made in advance and frozen. Several types of veg can be pre chopped and kept in the fridge for several days to ease the culinary burden. Decide what kinds of foods you’d like to have, then take some time to look up how easy they are to make, and decide what will work with your timeframe, ability and energy levels.

Give Vegan a Go: though it might be a controversial topic to broach around the dinner table, experts have said that the single-biggest positive impact an individual can have on the environment is by cutting out meat from their diet, or at least cutting down considerably. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that not eating meat and dairy products can reduce a person’s carbon footprint by up to 73%. Granted this may not be something everyone wants to try, but even just swapping one item for a vegan alternative still makes a difference and would not only help the planet but also the animals, and maybe your health too (though not if you’re swapping in chocolate filled puddings with salted caramel ice cream and covered in whipped cream – yes you can get vegan versions of all of these!). Win, Win, Win!

There are an increasing number of tasty vegan alternatives for Christmas dinner available at mainstream supermarkets now, or you could try making your own seitan roast or a mushroom wellington centrepiece or how about getting some vegan dairy and egg alternatives in to do your own baking. And what could taste better than knowing you’re helping fight climate change?

Reusable Containers: if you’re going to be cooking up a storm on Christmas day, or you will be pre-preparing lots of food so you can avoid cooking for the rest of the week, reusable containers are a must. Most things keep better (and last longer) in sealed containers. Make sure you’ve got plenty of glass jars, Pyrex, Tupperware or wax wraps. We have a great choice of designs on our vegan wax wraps from Waxyz in the shop.

Forgo Traditional Food: 17.2 million Brussels sprouts are chucked every Christmas, which is no surprise, considering up to half of us can’t stand them.

The carbon dioxide equivalent emissions of the 172 tonnes of wasted sprouts could power a home for three years.

refood.co.uk (Europe’s leading specialist food waste recycling service provider),

If you don’t like them, you will not be haunted by the Ghost of Christmas Past or in trouble with the Christmas Police if you decide to serve a different vegetable instead, but if the fear of not conforming (or of what Auntie Maureen will say) has you in too tight a hold, it may be your cooking method that need changing up, so have a look around for recipes with alternative ways to serve the traditional fayre.

Conscious Buying: reducing Christmas food waste starts in rethinking the way we shop for it. A bunker mentality seems to take over in the run up to Christmas. People panic-buy in droves, as if in preparation for a Christmas apocalypse. Considering that the shops only really close for just one or two days, and no one will die if you run out of Brazil nuts, it’s worth adjusting your perspective. You might have bought enough to feed an entire infantry division for a week, but who’s going to want to eat parsnips for three days straight, and you may still be eating chestnuts come Burns’ Night.

Use Leftovers: have a plan for your leftovers. Think of meals that could use up excess (e.g. bubble & squeak for your potatoes and cabbage). Ensure you use up the stuff that will go off first, and then use up the things that can wait in the fridge for a few more days.

Freeze Leftovers: lots more things can be frozen than people realise. Dips, roasted veggies and cake can all be frozen. Freeze what you can and eat up what cannot be frozen first.

Avoid Individually Wrapped Foods: if you do decide to go down the packaged route, try to choose items with less packaging and avoid things that are individually wrapped or completely overpackaged. They will cost you more and fill your bin with waste! You’re mainly paying for plastic wrapping really.

Excess Food: if you did go mad and bought too much food that would otherwise go to waste, download Olio and share food that’s going spare with your local community.

The Gift Wrap

Wrapping paper is used for such a short period of time. And so much of it cannot be recycled because it has glitter on it or is foil based. Defra estimates that enough paper is used each year to gift wrap the island of Guernsey. There are so many alternatives including furoshiki, reusable gift bags, vintage tins, tea towels and scarves:

Last Year’s Gift Bags / Paper: if you can’t recycle then reuse, so if you had the foresight to save last year’s gift bags and paper, use these this year. It’s also worth pulling all the Christmas stuff out of the cupboards and seeing exactly what is there before going to buy new so you don’t buy anything you already have. If you use a lot of wrapping consider trying to salvage the best of this year’s packaging for use next year.

Tie with Ribbon/String or use Paper/Washi tape: to avoid unrecyclable sticky tape, tie parcels with ribbon or string (both of which can be reused by the recipient). Washi tape is a paper-based sticky tape alternative if you prefer or like me aren’t the neatest of gift wrappers.

Decorate with Nature: to spruce up brown paper or newspaper parcels, use nature. Holly or pine cones work if these are seasonal where you are, cinnamon sticks look Christmassy and are easy to find at bulk stores, and rosemary is an easy find that looks (and smells) good. Pinterest will have some inspiration for you.

Newspaper/Brown craft Paper: if you receive a newspaper at home or at work then make use of this to wrap presents. And brown craft paper is a glitter-free, embellishment-free wrapping option that is much easier to recycle than many types of wrapping paper, and it can also be reused if unstuck carefully.

Furushiki: the Japanese art of wrapping items in cloth. The cloth can be scrap fabric, a scarf, or whatever you have available. There are lots of great tutorials online. You could also make it part of the gift if it is a nice scarf or tea towel.

The Presents

Finder tell us that over 21 million people receive at least one unwanted gift each Christmas. And worse still, around 5% of those will be thrown away, they won’t even be regifted, sold or given to charity!

Food Items (Purchased or Homemade): everyone eats, so food is a pretty safe bet for gifts. At its simplest, filling a jar of treats from the bulk store is a good gift, you can add a ribbon and a homemade label to add a festive feeling. If cooking or baking is your thing, Christmas is a great time to get creative.

Books: books are great gifts for people who love to read. It is often possible to find second-hand books in great condition.

Second-Hand: second-hand is a much more zero waste option than buying new, and second-hand doesn’t have to mean old, tired or worn out. Whether it’s antique furniture, vintage jewellery, preloved clothing, refurbished electronics or simply something great you found in the charity shop, gifts do not need to be straight out of the factory and smothered in the plastic wrappings that entails, buying second hand stops those items that someone else didn’t want from ending up in landfill and gives them a new life with someone who will get use or joy from them.

Plants: plants are another great gift idea, whether it is house plants, seedlings, a potted herb for their window sill or a tree to plant out in their garden.

Eco-friendly Gifts: this is gifts that encourage eco-friendly living. Maybe your mum might use less cling film if you gave her some wax wraps for her leftovers. Maybe your flat mate would eschew the takeaway cups if she had a stylish reusable coffee cup to use. Looking for more inspiration? Take a look at our shop.

Experiences, Workshops and Memberships: I’m a big believer in experiences over stuff. Tickets to an event, a workshop, a show, or membership to an attraction, a sky diving experience, or vouchers to a favourite restaurant make great no-waste gifts.

Charity Gift Cards and Donating to Charity: Charity gift cards are gifts that typically go to people in less economically developed countries, help fund charity projects, or look after animals, via the person you “gift” them to. You buy a goat for someone in South America, sponsor a tiger in Asia or donate to a school fund for girls in Africa, and your gift recipient receives a card telling them this is what you’ve done.

If you want to do away with the cards altogether, you can make a donation to charity in lieu of gifts, and tell everyone that is what you’ve done. And if you have a charity close you your own heart you could ask everyone to donate to them instead of getting presents for you.

Secret Santa for Family Gifts: If the prospect of every family member getting a gift for every single other family member overwhelms you (and you can’t bear the thought of all the excess and waste), a Secret Santa can reduce the burden. Names are put into a hat, and each person gets one name – the person they buy the present for. The upside of this (aside from the reduced financial strain) is that if there is only one present to buy, it is much easier to put thought into it, and find something that is suitable and appreciated. 

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10 Zero Waste Bathroom Swaps

10 zero waste bathroom swaps

The bathroom can be a big source of waste. It is typically home to a multitude of plastic and disposable products. When your personal care products run out, evaluate what you actually use and need and switch over to sustainable options as needed. Use up what you already have, or donate unopened personal care products to local shelters or charities.

Here are 10 simple swaps you can make in your bathroom to start reducing waste today! Be sure to check out the shop for our featured products that can help with your zero waste bathroom needs.

1.Soap:

Does a simpler swap exist? Change out your body wash for something a bit more natural… like a bar of soap! You may also want to make or invest in a “soap saver” bag to find a use for those little bits leftover at the end of each bar. If you prefer your liquid handsoap, then try your local refill store so you can keep filing the same container and save tonnes of plastic.

2. Bamboo toothbrush:

Every year over a billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away worldwide, ending up in landfill, in the sea or washed up on a beach. Using a bamboo toothbrush with a biodegradable handle is a small change but together we can make a big difference. Toothbrushes are not recyclable and their packaging may not be in your area either. With how frequently we switch them out, a sustainable option is necessary and it’s one of the easiest swaps. We stock Truthbrush in both adult and child sizes, our daughter loves brushing with her tiny Truthbrush.

toothbrush

3. Toothpaste:

Toothpaste tablets or pastes sold in glass jars are great alternatives to the unrecyclable plastic tubes that toothpaste usually comes in. Truthtabs foam and clean just like toothpaste, you simply pop one into your mouth, bite and brush.

4. Cloth Face pads

Instead of using make up wipes and throwaway cotton wool face pads everyday for your cleanser, toner, make-up remover etc., why not swap to reusable cotton face pads. You simply use as you would a cotton wool pad but instead of going in the bin, you pop it in the washing machine instead and then use again. They come in a variety of patterns and coloured prints and are so soft and gentle on the skin. Be sure to look for GOTS certified cotton.

5. Bamboo Cotton Buds

If you are a plastic cotton bud user then why not switch to bamboo? The ecoLiving ones in our shop are 100% biodegradable. Plastic cotton buds are often found on the beach, in our oceans and always found in plastic containers in the shops. These cotton buds have a bamboo stick and come in a recycled paper box. Bamboo is a sustainable product, it needs no pesticides or fertiliser to grow. It’s a super fast growing grass that is more efficient at taking CO2 from the air and producing more O2 than trees. In addition plastic-free bamboo cotton buds can be disposed of by simply throwing them into your organic waste or compost.

bamboo cottonbuds

6. Natural & Plastic-free Deodorant

You can swap out your ozone destroying aerosols, or your landfill destined roll ons for unpackaged solid deodorant bars or deodorant pastes available in more eco-friendly aluminium tins. The added benefit of this swap is the more sustainable alternatives are usually much more natural, meaning its a win-win as you’re putting less chemicals on to your skin. Natural deodorants work differently than their counterparts, so prepare for an adjustment period while your body adapts.

7. Safety razor:

Unfortunately as the metal blades are embedded in plastic, billions of plastic razors and cartridges are thrown away every year. Switching to safety razors are a great way for plastic-free shaving. Safety razors use one single blade made from stainless steel, which is easily recyclable. You’ll likely also find that you’re able to achieve a closer, smoother shave without the razor burn and irritation that modern razors can cause.

If you’re a regular shaver, then this switch will save you money! Disposable razors and blades can be incredibly pricey, while new and vintage safety razors are standardised and have used the same style of blades for years. You can get replacement blades which are high quality and inexpensive. With proper care, the blades can last a good while, while the handle should last a lifetime. You can also eliminate cans of shaving cream with a bar of shave soap and a brush. Shop our Jungle Culture safety razor here.

safety razor

8. Toilet Paper

Just like paper towels and napkins, toilet paper requires a ton of resources to be used for a few moments before being thrown away. It is also usually shrink-wrapped in non-recyclable plastic. Instead look for 100% recycled content or an alternative fibre like bamboo, or hemp. These rolls often come wrapped in paper as well.

You may even want to move on to family cloth like we have. Cloth wipes pair nicely with a bidet attachment on your toilet to eliminate the need for toilet paper altogether. It may not be for everyone but when you’ve got two small children squeamish goes out the window, plus when you already use cloth nappies and wipes for them you can easily make up a regular full wash load and it’s not really any different to washing soiled baby clothes in your machine.

9. Menstrual Products

A menstruating person will go through thousands of single-use products in their lifetime. Each requires resources to produce and can be very expensive if you add it all up. Invest instead long-lasting reusables to suit your needs, comfort, and budget. There are several options, including menstrual cups, washable pads and panty liners, period underwear, or any combination of the three.

10. Shampoo & Conditioner bars

Did you know shampoo and conditioner come in bar form too. This was one if the first eco swaps we made when we started out. Conventional products come in plastic bottles or soft tubes that are difficult to recycle, not mention that new bottles must be purchased time and again. If you have more than one bottle on the go, you may also have yourself some unnecessary shower clutter. They are so easy to use! Lather in your hands, massage it throughout your hair and rinse.

These changes may take some time to work into your routine, but soon they will just part of your daily life

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Why Zero Waste?

zero waste bathroom

So why try zero waste? Maybe you’re an environmentalist, a nature or an animal lover, you might want to be more frugal or give self-sufficiency a go. You might have watched documentaries about climate change and rising temperatures, seen images of oceans full of plastic straws on the news or read articles about melting polar ice and turtles caught up in lost fishing nets. Whatever your reason for taking steps to a more sustainable way of living, any changes you make, however small can make a difference.

For us, the reason why my family and I began to make more eco friendly purchased and sustainable choices was that we felt that the fast-paced, throw-away society of over consumption was so far disconnected from the natural world and the way we wanted to live and the culture we wanted to raise our children in.

We started our journey in early summer 2019, when after attending several vegan food and craft fairs, and speaking to volunteers from a plastic free programme, our eyes were opened to the damage being done to the planet. We watched documentaries and read articles and we decided that we needed to play our part, however small, in helping our planet and making a brighter future for our daughter. We went vegan overnight and we made a plan to start phasing plastic out of our lives as soon as we could and to do the best we could to make ethical and sustainable choices so that our impact on the world around us was a small as we could possibly manage.

When we used up the last of the shampoo in the bottle, we bought a plastic free bar to replace it. Items we bought were transitioned to more ethical brands. As soon as we had the money, we invested in cloth nappies for our daughter and loved that not only were we helping reduce the plastic going to landfill but she also had natural chemical free materials on her skin, we wished we had done it sooner and when our son was born this year we were so pleased to be able to cloth him from birth.

We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.

– Howard Zinn

We aren’t perfect by any means and we could still do and have plans to do more, but we are on our own journey to zero waste and taking steps forward whenever we can.

We buy fruit and veg locally to avoid the plastic wrapped offerings of the supermarkets, we cook from scratch more, we’re growing some of our own food, and making our own cleaning products, disposables have been swapped for reusables, clothes are repaired or repurposed, and any new purchases are thought through and properly considered first, choosing ethical and sustainable options.

We aren’t at zero waste yet and would rather classify ourselves as ‘low waste’ but we are doing something to save our planet and fight climate change, we’re protecting the animals and the natural world affected and were helping to make a more sustainable world for our children to live in.

When trying to make zero waste living work for you, it’s important to keep your own personal ‘why’ in mind. If you don’t, it may be difficult to sustain or to keep moving forward. Any changes you set out to make might not stick unless you feel the motivation to do so, and the small changes you do make will give you confidence to keep going. So find your why, and start making small habit changes. Don’t know where to start? Follow our blog for inspiration and ideas.

“Going plastic free is a lifestyle change. Take your time and don’t beat yourself up if something goes a little wrong. Simply start again.”