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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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7 Ways to Make Soap Bars Last Longer

Now that you’ve swapped over to soap bars, here’s how to get the most out of them.

1. Keep the soap away from water, when not in use.

Nothing will make your soap disintegrate faster than keeping it wet. Water breaks down the consistency of the soap and means you need to replace your soap much more frequently. Try to avoid storing your soap in a place that is constantly in contact with water, like in the direct stream of the shower. We keep ours inside the shower cubicle, but as its a double shower, the shelf that the bars live on is away from the water itself.

2. Let your soap dry properly.

Allowing the bar to air dry and lose its moisture will make a bar of soap harder (and therefore less likely to crumble), so that it lasts longer. The more time your soap spends completely dry, the longer it will last. (This follows on to tip 3…)

3. Always keep your soap in a suitable soap dish

It’s all about the drainage – be it wire rack, bamboo soap dish or a self-draining soap dish- drainage is the most important factor. Soap dishes without drainage keep the moisture there longer and will make it harder for your soap to dry out in between uses. Although some plastic and stainless steel soap dish designs look great, unless they have drainage, they are liable to make your soap soggy. All of our soap dishes have great drainage, so you can be sure they will help keep your bars going that little bit longer. Here’s a selection of them:

4. Store smaller pieces in a soap-saving pouch.

Once your soap bar breaks down into smaller pieces that are difficult to use, put those smaller pieces inside a soap-saving pouch. These small bags will work to contain the pieces for reuse, but they have the added benefit of acting as an exfoliating washcloth that you can use to bath yourself with the soap remnants inside.

5. Use a washcloth/loufah/pouf instead of your hands.

Skin is less able to produce and retain lather from soap than other materials. If you use a washcloth or loofah instead while you are bathing, the whole process will use less soap overall because the washcloth will create more lather and it the suds it creates will go farther than simply using your hands alone. This organic cotton bath pouf lathers up beautifully!

6. Take cooler showers.

Hot water will make your soap bars dissolve more quickly and will require more effort to make lather. A cooler shower will help your bar last longer by allowing it to maintain its shape and consistency for a longer period of time.

7. Cut the bar of soap into smaller pieces.

Smaller bars of soap last longer because you have smaller pieces in use. This means that only the smaller piece gets wet during each shower, so the other pieces can remain dry and stored until you are ready to use them. You could cut your soap bars into halves, or even thirds, so you only use one small piece at a time until it is gone.

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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.