Eco-friendly shopping: five simple tips

Eco-friendly shopping and bringing less plastic home, that has been a hot topic for a while. It is not always easy to be very consistent in this, even if you are quite fanatic. Many things are in plastic packaging and before you know it your entire trash bin is full of plastic foil and other non recyclable waste. You probably already recycle your glassware, paper and plastic bottles. However, you can do much more to contribute to the environment, if you do a bit of prep at home. What can you do to reduce your weekly plastic waste?

1. Avoid spontaneous shopping & bring reusable containers and bags

Spontaneous grocery shopping is disastrous for taking home more plastic waste. You probably don’t have a bag with you, so buy yet another € 0.05 plastic carrier bag. And if you normally bring reusable containers, pots and mesh bags with you for bulk items, chances are you don’t have those with you either . So keep random shopping to a minimum and prepare your eco-friendly shopping by making a list of what you need and bringing your own packaging as much as possible.

glass storage jars

takeaways in tupperware

In health food shops and on the market, and increasingly also in regular supermarkets, you can simply take your own bags and containers to put in fruit and vegetables, flour, pasta, rice, muesli, spices or tea. Even if you go to a restaurant for a takeaway, you can consider bringing your own lockable tupperware instead of bringing your meal home in single use plastic or foam boxes. Because don’t you just hate throwing all this waste in the bin afterwards?. Maybe you feel a bit embarrassed or self conscious in the beginning, but you’ll be surprised how many compliments you get. And you can at least be proud of yourself! It’s a snowball effect. You’re bound to give someone else the same idea.

eco-friendly shopping

2. Buy in bulk

If you have an eco-supermarket or health food store in your area, it is fairly normal to buy in bulk. Large jars with pasta and rice where you can scoop out your desired amount, or large bottles or barrels from which you can drain your olive oil or detergent. If you have no possibility in your local area to buy from bulk bins, you can also try to buy large quantities of the product instead, which reduces the ratio between packaging and product. Don’t need that much? Go shopping with a friend and share the costs!

3. Eco-friendly shopping: buy fewer ingredients

You can do many different things with certain ingredients. Bicarbonate of soda for example. Very cheap and a panacea when it comes to cleaning, removing stains, unblocking the sink and of course you use it for baking powder in bread and cakes. Apparently bicarbonate of soda is even effective as a deodorant, just by making it into a paste with a bit of water and putting a little under your armpits (not tried it myself, so don’t shoot the messenger!). With a big bottle of tomato passata you can also go very many ways: soup, pasta sauce, as a basis for chili con carne, etc. You can probably think of many more simple, daily ingredients that you can use for multiple things, which means you throw away less. If you do not want waste, buy fewer items. Also good for your wallet.

homemade kitchen wipes

4. Limit your disposable items in the kitchen

Kitchen paper and plastic film are standard items in most kitchens. Used for mopping spills up quickly, wiping the counter or the dining table and covering your food before you put it back in the fridge. Alternatives? Replace kitchen paper with your old cotton T-shirts cut up into rags, after which you wash them at high temperatures. Regarding plastic wrap, you can also simply use a plate to cover a bowl. If you want something to pack a sandwich for lunch or keep veggies fresh, consider beeswax cloths as an alternative. These wraps are coated in beeswax and are therefore easily foldable for packaging food. You can clean them with cold water and a little mild soap. Find them in the eco shops or make them yourself.

Zero waste lifestyle tips

5. Recycle as a last resort

When plastics are recycled, they are actually down cycled, meaning that even if reincarnated as toothbrushes, shopping bags or more plastic bottles, the plastic ends up in landfill at some point. This is in contrast to glass or metal, which can be recycled over and over again without loss of quality. It is therefore better to immediately make positive and proactive choices when you go eco-friendly shopping and to refuse the waste directly in the store.

Product review: Abeego beeswax food wrap

The beeswax food wrap is a great alternative for cling film or foil. I have been meaning to try these types of wraps out for ages, so I was very happy when the Ethical Superstore asked me to do a review for them. I am pleased to say, they are not only pretty easy to use, they also smell great! As I want to cut down on the amount of plastic waste in my home, I’ll definitely be using these from now on.

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Product review Abeego Beeswax Food wraps

I am reviewing the Abeego beeswax food wraps from Ethical Superstore today, which come in different packs. I am reviewing the pack that contains three Abeegos – small (18 x 18cm), medium (25 x 25cm) and large (33 x 33cm), priced at £15.00. They have other sizes, a pack of six and larger packages too. The Abeego is a sustainable food wrap made from certified organic cotton and hemp, and keeps food fresher for longer. Another big plus? They come in a recyclable cardboard box, rather than plastic wrapping (you wouldn’t believe how many ‘eco-friendly’ products do!)

Antibacterial properties to keep food fresh

Although the idea of reusing something to cover your food may sound a little unhygienic, the Abeego beeswax wraps are in fact coated with tree resin for its natural antiseptic properties. In addition to that they contain jojoba oil which is anti-fungal and of course the beeswax which is naturally antibacterial. All good and natural! As Abeego is made from a cloth material rather than plastic, it will allow the food to breathe and naturally age, preventing mould and keeping leftovers fresh.

Beeswax food wrap review

What do you use beeswax food wraps for?

The Abeego beeswax food wraps are great for wrapping sandwiches, fruit and veg for picnics or lunch. If you have leftover dinner or salad, the wraps are also perfect for covering your dish or bowl before putting them in the fridge for next time. Basically, if you would use cling film for it, you can use a beeswax wrap.

How to care for your beeswax food wrap

Don’t use warm water when cleaning your Abeego beeswax food wraps! Just wipe clean with cold water and a little bit of gentle soap. Using warm water could cause some of the beeswax to rub off. When cared for properly, your Abeego wraps can last for at least over a year. After a while the wraps can contain some stains, as it is a cloth material and staining is likely but this will not affect its performance. Please note that tree resin and beeswax are soluble in alcohol so use alcohol free dish soap to wash your Abeego. Dry them with a towel or hang over a dish rack. Abeego is not suitable for the dishwasher, microwave oven, direct heat or high temperatures.

Turn Black Friday into Green Friday! Six alternative ideas to try

Happy Green Friday everyone! Your Facebook timeline and Inbox will be bombarded with Black Friday ads today trying to lure you into spending money on stuff you don’t really need. Tempting, I know, because wow, such big discounts! (or…are they really?). Here is a little reminder for some feel-good and guilt-free alternatives. Please share this post to remind others too….because advertising is powerful and people will be spending way too much on Amazon today! 😜Let’s support the small guys today or, hey, just have a coffee with a loved one instead.

  1. Buy Art


    Art, it makes you happy, it is unique, you can’t have enough of it AND you make a creative individual do a little happy dance when you buy from them. What else do you need to know? This is my personal number one when it comes to buying presents at Christmas – or for any occasion. Where to find art? Pop into a local gallery, find local artists at fairs and markets this season or browse artists on sites such as Artfinder, Etsy or Redbubble.

  2. Buy Local


    It is very convenient to buy everything at the click of a button from Amazon, and we’ve all done it, but don’t complain when another shop in the high street goes out of business! Go out there and support your local stores, craft fairs and Christmas markets. Every penny spent locally on Green Friday or any time of the year goes back into your local economy and keeps your neighbourhood, town or village alive.

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  3. Buy Vintage


    Vintage toys, vintage clothes, vintage jewellery, vintage homeware, beautiful vintage collectables. Totally guilt-free because it already existed anyway. And do you know how much love and time goes into sourcing these beauties, by passionate, knowledgeable and very dedicated vintage shop owners? I know, because I used to be one! And I know many of my vintage trading friends will 100% agree with me. And what is more unique as a gift than to give someone a gift with a story to tell? Go and support these hard working vintage treasure hunters.

  4. Swap something


    Got clothes you no longer need? Books you’ve read, too many kitchen items or gardening tools? Organise a Swap Shop! It’s a lot of fun getting a group of friends together and make each other happy with items you no longer need. I did it a few times with clothes and I tell you, they were one of the best little parties I had. A few clothes rails are handy to display the clothes, or just use a large table and some baskets for smaller items to rummage through. Expect plenty of laughter, silliness, drinks and nibbles and time for a good catch-up while others are trying to squeeze themselves into each other’s old evening dresses. You get the picture. Go and do it. It’s great.

    swap-evabstyle

  5. Buy Eco-Friendly


    How about creating some lovely hampers with eco-friendly items on Green Friday? Great for those New Year’s resolutions to finally give up on plastic bags and chemicals in your bathroom and kitchen. Think of Beeswax food wraps, a bamboo takeaway coffee cup for on the road, lovely handmade natural soaps wrapped, etc. Also check out the Ethical Superstore for guilt-free gift ideas.

  6. Make do and Mend


    Got a pile of clothes lying in the corner that need buttons sewn on, gaps repaired and patches stitched on? Before you spend too much money in the Black Friday ‘sales’, go and put the kettle on, pick a Netflix film you were meaning to watch for ages and fix those holes.


Happy Green Friday everyone!

Plastic free bathroom products: go zero waste

Shampoo bottles, make-up wipes, toothbrushes, period pads, shower gel and razors…go and count the amount of plastic and wasteful items you have in your bathroom today. I know, right? But do you know it is actually not that hard to choose plastic free bathroom products and avoid single-use and plastic containers? I mean, people went without plastic for centuries before us, so surely we can do it again. Next time you need to get some new supplies, consider not buying your usual brands and products, but instead try this. Here are five easy zero-waste suggestions for your bathroom.

1. Shampoo bars

Lush has been selling plastic free bathroom products such as shampoo bars for years. I am currently using Lush’s Seanik shampoo bar, which smells lovely, gives plenty of lather and leaves my (slightly oily) hair clean and soft. There are plenty of other shops selling them too and you may also find shampoo bars on your local craft markets and Etsy, handmade by soap making fans. Or why not have a go at making them yourself?. Shampoo bars are basically are soap bars, with natural ingredients good for cleaning hair. Rub them on your wet hair in the shower and wash your hair as normal. It is handy to buy a metal tin with it to keep the shampoo bar clean and intact and make it easier to take with you to the gym or trips away. And not just shampoo comes in bars, conditioner is available too, as is of course normal soap. Nothing needs to come home in a plastic bottle no more. Let’s go back to the bar!

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2. Bamboo tooth brushes

Imagine how many tooth brushes you have used in your lifetime. Now imagine where they all are in the world right now. Because they are not biodegradable. Time to rethink the brush! If you are using an electrical brush, this won’t be an option (or maybe yes!), but these lovely bamboo tooth brushes do an excellent job in caring for your teeth and for the planet. I have just started using my first ever bamboo brush and it works perfectly.

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Buy a family pack bamboo tooth brushes on Etsy

3. Metal razors

My husband needs to shave pretty much daily and recently decided to ditch the plastic throwaway razors in favour of an old fashioned, durable metal safety razor, with doubled edge blades. Of course it also comes with a bowl, soap and a nice brush. Take extra care, these double edged blades are sharp and shaving may turn into a bit of a dangerous act if you expect the same job as your plastic razor. But a lovely smooth shave it gives. You’ll never want to look at Gilette again. Try specialist shops in town or online, the better department stores or Amazon.

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4. Plastic free periods!

Someone on Facebook posted a funny video about menstrual cups a few years ago, so I got curious and decided to buy one. My goodness, what a life changer! Best thing since sliced bread. Day 1 still requires a backup pad, but that would be the same with tampons if you have a heavy flow. For this I have just bought some pretty fabric washable pads or you can get organic pads that are biodegradable. There’s even period-proof underwear. You don’t notice the cup at all, making your period a complete breeze. You empty the cup once or twice a day, clean it under the tap, and use it again. The cups are made of silicon, a very safe material that does not contain chemicals nor harbour bacteria like tampons would. It does take a bit of practice and some brands may suit you better than others. There are quite a few different ones on the market (here is lots of information on how to choose the perfect one for you. There are also heaps of videos on Youtube explaining the use. I am personally very happy with my Divacup.). Also, you will get very familiar with your female body parts, which you will have to feel comfortable about. But I will never go back to tampons, that’s for sure.

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5. Make-up removal pads

This is another easy plastic free bathroom swap. Do you use throwaway face wipes to get your makeup off at night? Maybe time for a rethink, especially after reading this article. How hard is it to just have a jar of reusable cloths and make-up pads sitting in a jar or basket on your dressing table? Throw them in the wash and use them again. Not rocket science and really something we should all be doing right now. No more throwaway plastic wipes. Not difficult to make yourself some washable face cloths, from some jersey fabric or old towels cut into squares or circles. Or just use simple shop bought terry wash cloths.

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Set of seven pads available on Etsy

 


A few online ethical / organic stores to check out

Etsy – the eco-friendly bathroom selection
The Ethical Superstore
Big Green Smile UK
Green People

 

Book tip:

Zero Waste Home : The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste. Bea Johnson

In Zero Waste Home, Bea Johnson shares the story of how she simplified her life by reducing her waste. Today, Bea, her husband, Scott, and their two young sons produce just one quart of garbage a year, and their overall quality of life has changed for the better they now have more time together, they’ve cut their annual spending by a remarkable 40 percent, and they are healthier than they’ve ever been. PRICE 15,54 €

Eco friendly transport around town: adult scooters

I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to scoot away on my brand new ‘patinete’ or adult scooter, when I bought it in Valencia this spring. I felt like a kid again! Living in a city where you use public transport a lot and distances are sometimes a little bit far to walk (and arrive on time), it is extremely handy to have a portable vehicle to get yourself from A to B just that little bit faster. Adult scooters are perfect for short journeys, the school run or your daily commute with public transport.

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My trusted Oxelo scooter


My little boys have scooters and yes, they are usually associated with children’s activities, but believe me, the adult version is just as much fun. Wind in your hair, stepping away, gliding with ease, passing pedestrians and saving time. What’s not to like?

Scooters or patinetes (for the Spanish people among us) come in all shapes and sizes, with or without hand brakes. I bought an Oxelo adult scooter from Decathlon recently, for 119 euro. No hand brakes (instead you have a foot brake – you slow down by pushing the mud guard down on the back wheel with your foot), but it is foldable with a strap for easy carrying.  Even the handle bars fold inwards so you basically carry a scooter over your shoulder the size of a large bag. And not too heavy.  Very useful when getting on public transport! You can get actual carrier bags too if you want to take your scooter with you on longer journeys.

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Electric scooters

There are also electric scooter available these days, which I must admit, look very attractive, especially at times when I am trying to push my non-electric scooter uphill, in 32 degrees heat. They are quite a lot more expensive, but would be a good option if you have difficulty walking long distances or need something a bit faster but still portable and easy to manoeuvre.

Which surfaces are best for adult scooters

Non electric scooters are particularly great on the flat or downhill, on smooth surfaces. Unless your scooter has big rubber tyres, don’t ride with them on old cobbled streets or very uneven roads. You get the idea, bumpetybump. Not great. Tiled paths are fine, although the bigger the tiles the better. In quiet residential streets I sometimes ride on the tarmac, as this surface is obviously ideal. Just make sure you watch the traffic and get back onto the pavement when it gets busy (yes, mum).

Wearing a helmet is always a good safety measure. If you live on a hill, it is a must. These scooters gain speed fast when going downhill, especially with a 75kg/150lbs adult on it. You really don’t want to hit a rock or curb and go flying without being protected.

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Micro-scooters is another great shop to find your ideal portable adult (or kid) scooter. Micro-scooter


Scoot to the gate: your micro scooter with built-in case

For the geeks among us, or rather the commuters who are traveling a lot, there is the Micro Luggage Scooter. No more running to the gate at the airport pulling your trolley case on wheels or clutching your cabin bag. And killing time waiting for your flight will never be the same again. Imagine the smooth surfaces in that departure lounge…

Happy scooting!

micro luggage scooter

 

What to buy the kids this Christmas. Top five guilt-free, no plastic, eco friendly gifts

Every year it’s the same issue. What to buy the kids this Christmas? This blog post gives you some ideas for guilt-free, eco-friendly gifts for children.

Eco friendly Christmas gifts for children

Go plastic-free

We all love Christmas and we all love to give each other something nice. Most of us love a bit of festive shopping, especially when the towns and shops are so beautifully decorated. Children get all excited about Christmas long before autumn and hand you a list of stuff they want from Santa. Now I have two boys who love all sorts of plastic rubbish, including transformer toys, anything with wheels on and of course, Lego. Lego I have a love-hate relationship with, as it kind of keeps its value and gets passed on most of the time once they grow out of it. It will still end up on landfill at some point.

We can’t really get away from the Christmas shopping and we don’t want to see sad little faces because there’s no boxes to open. Therefore I thought I’d give you some ideas for your shopping list as alternatives to the usual gifts. It’s hard getting away from plastic completely, but we can at least try.

To get us started, I put this handy list together:

eco-friendly christmas gifts: seven top tips

Did that get you thinking? There are so many things you could give instead of more ‘stuff’, to both children and adults. Below I have listed my Top Five of guilt-free, non-plastic eco-friendly Christmas gifts.

1. eco-friendly christmas gifts: Framed posters and prints

Posters! Made of paper! Amazing! Get your kid a poster for their bedroom of their favourite superhero, movie star or cartoon this year without any guilt. A world map is also a great idea if you prefer something more educational. GB Posters is a useful site to find a good selection of different posters plus they offer very affordable frames in all sizes.

eco-friendly christmas gifts: art prints and posters

 


2. eco-friendly christmas gifts: Wooden toys

Wooden toys are great for little hands that break stuff constantly. We have several wooden trucks and other toys in our house and I must say, they are all still in one piece – unlike many of the plastic equivalents. They are worth investing in and they make great hand-me-down gifts too in the future. These cute personalised trucks can be found on Etsy.

eco-friendly christmas gifts: wooden toys

Or how about this adorable wooden toy food set? Also found on Etsy.

eco-friendly christmas gifts: wooden toys


3. A personalised book – great for the older child

I often make personalised photo albums or calendars for family members and made an ABC book (in Dutch) to help my eldest son start reading, featuring lots of family photos. Everyone loves being loved and a thoughtful gift is worth more than all the plastic rubbish in the world. I stumbled across The Book of Everyone, maybe you have heard of them, which helps you create a beautiful personalised book for a loved one. I especially like the idea of making one for pre-teens/teenagers, which the site says will be “packed full of smile-inducing wise(ish) words personalised by you. Because your words might just help them make better mistakes”.

eco-friendly christmas gifts: personalised book


4. eco-friendly christmas gifts: Stuff to draw on

I found this amazingly beautiful online store Smallable, with gorgeous high quality toys, clothes and other stuff for kids and the home. Worth a browse. Anyway, I selected these draw-on placemats, which I think are an excellent idea for those kids who are bored waiting for their dinner or just want something to colour in. Oh, and they are of course made of paper…can go straight in the recycle bin once finished (unless your children are true Picassos, then you might want to frame them of course).

eco-friendly christmas gifts: colouring in placemats

For more eco friendly toys on the Smallable website, have a look here: Eco Friendly Toys

eco-friendly christmas gifts: cardboard kitchen


5. eco-friendly christmas gifts: Sew a costume!

I know, I know, time is not always on our hands to get these amazing Pinterest projects realised. We’re not all talented or crafty enough to make stuff look beautiful. But if your child loves dressing up, a beautiful handmade dinosaur tail must be right up there in the Top 3 of awesome eco-friendly Christmas gifts! Go on, get that sewing machine out 😉 Plenty of tutorials on Pinterest. If you are really not the DIY person but still love the idea of a handmade costume, go and support someone who hand makes and sells them on Etsy. That way you make another person happy.

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Bonus tip: Life skills!

Swimming lessons, judo, music tuition, a membership to the climbing wall or local gym, it’s all rather pricey when you add it up. Do they want do do or join something really badly? Why not give your children their membership or lessons at Christmas? Other than that it’s a great ‘experience’ gift, rather than more ‘stuff’, it also shows kids that these things are things to value and are not an automatic given throughout the year as part of the daily routines.

eco-friendly christmas gifts: life skills

I hope this was helpful, I wish you all a jolly good, guilt-free Christmas! Do you have any other ideas for eco-friendly Christmas gifts that are not listed? Feel free to share them for others to see in the comments below  🙂 Thanks! X