Your Clothes’ Water Footprint

Aside from needing to fuel ourselves every day with food which includes a very changeable amount of virtual water, another of our quotidian actions consists of wearing some sort of clothing. A couple of recent extracurricular activities shifted my attention back to virtual water within this context.

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I Wish Every Day was VegFest Day!

Yesterday, 27th September, I went to Kensington Olympia for the London VegFest event. I was very excited to be going for the first time and rightly so: it was great!!!

VegFest is a 2/3-day vegetarian & vegan lifestyle show that takes place in London in September, in Brighton in March and in Bristol in May.

There were more than 200 stalls with great food, beauty products, clothing, cooking tools, tons of delicious samples offered by the food stalls, talks about vegan food, lifestyle, vegan raw diets and campaigns, book signings, performances,

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Swap Before You Shop

It’s not a secret that in what is considered to be the First World we are actively and constantly encouraged to buy and consume as much as possible.

This “use-and-throw” disposable culture is very damaging for the planet and its resources – just think of the water cost everything has – and instills a frame of mind where as soon as there is something wrong, or a slight malfunction with any object “It’s broken” and therefore “You might as well get rid of it, it’ll be more expensive to try to fix it anyway!”.

In some cases this unfortunately is true, however with a little effort we can first of all prevent damage, then we can also try to fix things such as clothes etc.

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100 Ways to be More Sustainable – 100th Post

Hello everyone, this is my 100th post! 🙂

I started this blog on 5th February 2012, over 2 years ago, and have finally got to the 100 mark.

As I started off with the idea of writing a blog that would show that acting more sustainably can be easy and have benefits such as saving energy, money and pollute less, I thought it would be a good idea to write about 100 ways to be more sustainable for the 100th post 🙂

 

First, though, I would like to thank you.

Thank you if you are reading this, thank you if you have been following me since the start, since last year or if you are a new follower.

Thank you for every “like”, comment and share. Thank you for supporting me in my little mission.

 

Now, to the more practical side of things.

Everything we do has an impact on the environment, this impact can be more or less sustainable, if we think of it as “capable of being maintained as a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage”.

So, here we go, just over 100 tips on how to be more sustainable! Click on the links to discover more about these eco-tactics 🙂

 

Less energy-hungry food (16)

  • Eat less energy-demanding meat. It only takes a few seconds to look at this World Food Clock and realise how we produce, consume and waste every single second. (Thank you for sharing, Janina). Here are some ideas to get your newly recommended 7 (or even more) a day! 10 Ways to 10 a Day from KHGS.
  • Eat more lentils! They are an excellent sustainable source of protein and easy to grow too.

 

Lenticchie di Norcia - Italian Lentils

Lenticchie di Norcia – Italian Lentils

 

  • Store food properly. By doing so, it will last longer and you will waste less. Did you know spring onions last longer in a glass of water in the fridge? 🙂
  • Plan meals ahead and let frozen meals thaw in the fridge. This will save you energy because the fridge will need less electricity to keep the temperature low, plus you won’t need to defrost the meal in the microwave either. Guide: How to defrost safely.
  • Buy locally, go to farmers’ markets or local farms – you will be supporting smaller producers and you can save money too.
  • Have a look at supermarkets’ reduced to clear sections.
    You can find amazing bargains, especially towards the end of the day (loaves of bread for 20p), and purchase food that would otherwise go to waste. You can then consume it as soon as possible or freeze it for future use and save a lot of money.

 

Reduced Food

Amazingly cheap but still perfectly fine reduced food

 

  • Understand the difference between “best before” dates and “use by” dates. Look at the Ultimate Shelf Life Guide to avoid wasting food unnecessarily.
  • When you go out, try local produce and products. From craft beers to wine, from pies to vegetables and fruit: give your local producers a try!

 

Less Pollution (22)

  • Try natural alternative to laundry detergents, such as affordable soap nuts.

Green People Mascara

  • Give car sharing a try. Try sharing rides with colleagues, share a taxi or simply use public transport or start cycling.
  • Learn to drive consuming less fuel: Cut your speed and petrol bill.
    As a pedestrian, if you see a single car coming along, and you’re not in too much of a rush of course, let it drive past so they don’t need to break and re-depart after, which would use more fuel.
  • Walk more. Ramblers is a website that shows many walking routes, or you could simply walk more and use your car less.
  • If you need to pack a parcel, reuse bubble wrap or – even better – use strips of waste paper and ask the receiver to reuse or recycle them after.
  • Try purchasing less plastic and buying reusable items made of less toxic materials. You can start by taking a reusable bag when you go shopping. Life Without Plastic.
  • When you are eating out, ask for tap water rather than bottled water (in areas where it is safe, of course). Why Tap Water is Better.
  • To freshen your home, use essential oils rather than chemical-filled air fresheners. You only need a few drops in a burner or in a spray bottle.
  • Instead of sponges which are not recyclable and harbour bacteria, use cloths which can be washed and reused.

 

Reusable Material Cloth and Ecover

Reusable Material Cloth and Ecover

 

  • Switch to online billing rather than paper billing, some companies offer discounts for the switch too.
  • To get rid of oil stains, rub chalk on the affected area before washing rather than using harsh chemicals.
  • Take your own lunch to work, you will cut down on a lot of packaging and also save around £1,000 per year!

 

Take a packed lunch to work :)

Take a packed lunch to work 🙂

 

  • When changing the oil for your car, make sure you dispose of it properly as it can pollute waterways and kill wildlife. Find your nearest UK oil bank.
  • Try to purchase products that don’t rely on batteries, and if they must, use rechargeable ones. Look for solar power chargers for an extra sustainable option.

 

Make, repair&fix (12)

 

Make Do and Mend

 

 

  • Turn used trousers into shorts or skirts.
  • Get to know your neighbours, they may need something you can offer and they may be able to offer something you need.
    My flatmate designed the website for the restaurant next door to us.
  • Make your own body scrub, for example by mixing olive oil with a bit of ground salt and sugar. Simple!
  • Make your mirrors, windows and glass objects sparkle by using white vinegar. Add some in a spray bottle (you can dilute it with 1:10 vinegar to water up to 50/50) and apply with scrunched newspaper to leave no traces or marks.
  • Make a wood cleaner by mixing two parts of vegetable oil with one part lemon juice, use with a cloth.
  • If you prefer purchasing cleaning products, choose eco-friendly ones such as Ecover.
  • To freshen up smelly shoes, try filling them up with scrunched newspaper overnight or sprinkle the insides with bicarbonate of soda or talcum powder and shake them out the day after.

 

Buy less, use less and buy better quality (9)

 

  • Do a little research about brands you may want to purchase: do they pay sustainable wages to their workers? Labour Behind the Label.
  • Use less plastic and more natural or oil-free materials, have a look at alternatives from Life Without Plastic.
  • Reuse things: for example, jars can be used as containers for more food or other objects.
    Here are 40 ways to reuse newspaper. Take a reusable coffee cup, like a Keep Cup, to the coffee shop instead of using disposable ones. Some places give you a discount if you bring your own cup too!
  • Buy second-hand books, they can be so much cheaper! Or borrow reading material from your local library.
  • Have your shoes resoled once they need to and keep on using them. I have had my boots for 7 years and they’re great!
  • Dye clothes that have faded and give them a new life.

 

Bank Better

 

  • Triodos Bank is “a global pioneer of sustainable banking.” Their mission is “to make money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change.”

 

Lend

 

  • Give someone the opportunity to create a sustainable business and alleviate poverty with the Kiva project, you can lend as little as $25 to someone who needs it and who will give it back to you when possible.

 

Save Energy (15)

 

  • Invest in an energy-saving product such as Energenie in order to save energy and money.
  • When charging devices, unplug them once they are fully charged, avoid leaving them plugged in unnecessarily or overnight.
  • Look for energy-efficient domestic appliances.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries and replace your batteries rather than replacing your whole phone.
  • Turn off the oven a few minutes before the time is up, the heat remains in the oven for a long time after you switch it off.
  • Try to use the oven as its full capacity when you use it, you can add meals to eat later in the week or use it to make croutons out of stale bread, for example.
  • Switch to a green energy supplier.
  • Wear warmer clothing and adjust your central heating to avoid wasting energy and money.
  • When you dry your clothes indoors, avoid putting them on radiators as this will stop the heat from reaching the room, create damp and good conditions for mold to grow.
  • Cook in bulk and therefore save energy. You can freeze additional portions.
  • Cook food in a steamer, you can cook different things on each level at the same time.

 

Recycle and Reuse (11)

 

  • Save paint from going to waste, Community Repaint collect reusable paint and distribute it to those who need it, helping them and avoiding waste.
  • Recycle your shoes at a collection bank.
  • Clear your cupboards of old electronic equipment, sell it or recycle in appropriate centres.
  • Consider going to charity shops first to find what you need. It could be a frame, and even if you don’t like a picture you may love the frame. Give things a new life.
  • You can recycle all sorts of things, even ink cartridges. Check before you throw.
  • Donate, don’t throw. If you have unwanted furniture, give it to a friend or donate it to a charity.
  • Borrow instead of buying, Freecycle.org can help you find what you need with no need to buy it.
  • Share more. You will save money, use fewer resources, meet new people… 10 reasons to share.
  • Use carpets in many ways to avoid them ending up in landfill. Use them to line cupboards, cars as mats, pet beds,  as doormats and even under plant pots.

 

Waste Less (9)

 

  • Compost food and tea bags to fertilise the soil which you will be able to use to grow your own herbs, vegetables, food or plants.
  • Reuse timber material from skips.
  • Take your own suit bags to the dry cleaner’s rather than having them give you flimsy plastic ones and take back the hangers for them to reuse.
  • Reuse tea bags – when you make tea in a cup, you can often reuse it for another cup as their strength is usually enough for a few cups. Or use loose tea leaves and then compost them if possible.

CHai Tea

  • Buy in bulk or buy refills.
  • When you go to a restaurant, if you cannot finish your meal, ask to take it away in a doggy box. It’s a compliment to those who took care to source and prepare the food, and you have paid for the whole portion, don’t be shy! Too Good To Waste Campaign.

 

Save Water (5)

 

  • Choose a dual flush system or put a water-saving device in your loo tank to use less water with every flush.
  • When you are waiting for cold water to turn hot, collect it rather than letting it go down the drain and use it to water flower and plants, wash fruit and vegetables, fill the kettle…don’t waste it!
  • Use a tank to collect rain water. It’s ideal to water plants or wash the car.
  • Wash your vegetables in a bowl rather than under running water and use that water for plants and flowers.

 

What do you like to do to be more sustainable?

Do you have any additional tips?

 

*Special thanks to my amazing flatmate G for continuously contributing to ideas for this post*

H&M Conscious Collection S/S 2013

H&M have brought out yet another Conscious Collection for Spring Summer 2013 and it looks as exotic and colourful as last year’s Conscious Collection.

It is yet another part of H&M’s work towards a more sustainable future in fashion.

The New Collection includes a variety of pieces such as tropical print blouses, trousers and tops, bright dresses, jackets and shorts beautiful peach, lime, black, crisp white, khaki and mixed colours and prints made with more sustainable materials such as organic cotton, recycled polyester and Tencel.

The prices range from £7.99 for a necklace to £29.99 for a pair of heeled sandals. Just look out for the green label. There are also several men’s items made from organic and recycled materials.

French actress, singer and model Vanessa Paradis is the new face for this Spring’s new campaign which is currently abundantly advertised at Oxford Circus Underground Station.

Here is the advert…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYWlg95muI4

…And you can also watch a “behind the scenes” video with Vanessa’s comment on making sure not to waste clothes, electricity, water…

 

Vaness Paradis H&M Conscious Collection 2013

Vanessa Paradis H&M Conscious Collection 2013

 

I think it’s really exciting to see that the Swedish company has launched another campaign that draws more attention on fashion’s sustainability and eco-friendliness. In my opinion it sends a positive message of a forward-thinking, conscious business.

H&M are also the “first fashion company to launch global clothes collecting initiative”.

As much as 95% of the tons of clothes that go to landfill every year could be reused or recycled and H&M want to find a solution to avoid this waste.

As you can read on their sustainability press release from February, customers can take used / unwanted clothes in any condition and from any brand in H&M shops as part of H&M’s attempt to reduce the impact of clothes on the environment and to avoid textile waste. The customers receive a discount voucher for 15% a new H&M item for each bag of used clothes they take which are then reprocessed for new use.

There is more information at hm.com/longlivefashion:

Long live fashion! – reduce fashion waste and get money off your next purchase. The goal? Zero waste

How it works – a visual look on how they your unwanted clothes can be reworn, reused, recycled or produce energy

Question? – Questions and answers on why H&M are doing this, what sort of clothes can be handed in…

H&M Charitystar – for each Kg of clothing, Euro 0.02 will be donated to a local charity organisation chosen by H&M. More info on hm.charitystar.com.

 

 

Vaness Paradis H&M Conscious Collection 2013

Vanessa Paradis H&M Conscious Collection 2013

 

Vanessa Paradis H&M Conscious Collection 2013

Vanessa Paradis H&M Conscious Collection 2013

 

You can also find H&M’s Exclusive Conscious Collection, offering really gorgeous and glamorous red carpet and wedding numbers made with sustainable materials. Prices range from £12.99 for hair accessories to £149.99 for a tulle dress.

Have a look online to see which dresses haven’t sold out yet.

 

H&M Conscious Collection - Exclusive

H&M Conscious Collection – Exclusive Tulle Dress

 

H&M Conscious Collection - Exclusive

H&M Conscious Collection – Exclusive Top with Flared Hem and Grosgrain Trousers

 

H&M Conscious Collection - Exclusive

H&M Conscious Collection – Exclusive Dress with Beaded Embroidery

 

H&M Conscious Collection - Exclusive

H&M Conscious Collection – Exclusive Satin Dress with Train

 

I think this collections is stunning and so tempting because it’s sustainable!

 

Do you like H&M’s Conscious Collection 2013?

What do you think of H&M’s moves for more sustainable fashion?

How to Sell on eBay – Be Sustainable, Make and Save Money

Do you own anything that you do don’t use or need? Make money and be sustainable, sell it on eBay! 🙂

eBay is a brilliant, easy and sustainable way of disposing of things you no longer need or use and make money and also to purchase new or used things that others no longer need or want at affordable prices.

It encourages to make the most of something and using what’s already there rather that letting it gather dust and take up space or buying more new things from. I love how it simply connects the demand and supply of an item so cleverly.

I have bought many things on eBay such as lovely dresses, our table and chairs and our coffee table.

If one of your new year’s resolutions is to de-clutter your home or make some extra money, get selling! 🙂

I became a member in November 2009 at a time when I really needed money and could not find a part-time job while studying and have occasionally sold (and bought!) items on eBay ever since.

I have gained experience on how to successfully sell and send items efficiently and have a few useful tips for you that I’d like to share. I have embedded many useful links so simply click on the keywords to go to their web pages.

Please note these tips are all gathered from my personal experience as an occasional seller and buyer, there are different rules for business sellers and you may be able to change some settings to suit your particular needs, so please use my tips as guidance and refer to the exhaustive information on eBay.com for unequivocal facts.

 

So, to get started:

  1. Register on eBay

I remember it was really straight forward, I just followed the directions from the site.

 

2. Create a Paypal account

If you haven’t already got one, create a Paypal account. Paypal is a “safe, fast and easy” way to make and receive payments online and you will be able to use it on many other sites to pay and receive money securely.

The fees eBay takes off my sales are automatically deducted from my Paypal account, I think this is the default method, so after logging onto your Paypal account you will be able to see how much the buyer pays for each item you sell and how much is deducted from it to go to eBay.

They actually withdraw the fee from your Paypal account 10 days after sending you a monthly invoice that you will receive on both you e-mail and on ebay in the “Messages” section.

From time to time Paypal make minor changes to their user agreement policy, when they do so they send an e-mail where you can easily follow the link showing the changes so you can always be up to date with everything.

 

3. Create an eBay folder in your e-mail account

I  find it very useful to keep track of important e-mails and also to store the receipts of payments from buyers or receipts of payments I make for any future reference.

 

4. Buy your P&P essential kit

Avoid buying expensive P&P equipment from places such as the Post Office or WHSmith, their prices are seriously inflated. If possible go somewhere such as Poundland or perhaps a more affordable stationery shop or to a supermarket to buy reasonably priced brown wrapping paper, sellotape, and different sized envelopes.

If you need bubble wrap to pad something fragile, there’s no need to buy some: simply go to any shop that sells items which might be transported in bubble wrap (a supermarket’s crockery department, a shop that sells vases, frames or glasses etc.), and ask a member of staff if you could have some of their bubble wrap. All they do is (hopefully) recycle it so there shouldn’t be any problems. I have bags full of bubble wrap and didn’t spend a penny on any of it!

eBay Essential Selling Kit

eBay Essential Selling Kit

-Thin paper: got it for free from shops or kept it from previous padded items ready to reuse

-Sellotape: strong, thick one from Poundland, very efficient

-Scissors: when using brown paper!

-Normal pen: for writing addresses on small size packets

-Big felt tip pen: for writing addresses on bigger items or boxes

-Pre-made padded envelopes: they are more expensive but they save time and hassle, if you receive items in them you can often reuse them by covering the old address with a piece of paper with the new address on it

-Brown paper: cheapest way to wrap items, from Poundland

-Bubble wrap: got it for free from shops or kept it from previous padded items ready to reuse

-“Postage made easy” leaflet: got it from the Post Office to have an idea of postage charges, nationally and internationally

 

5. Gather the items you’d like to sell

  • The items that are easier to sell are those that stand out for something: the brand, the popularity of the item, the colour/print etc.

It will be hard to sell a really plain grey T-shirt as most people input brand names or certain characteristics in the search box. On the other hand, if it has sequins or it’s ’80s style or it’s of a certain brand it will come up on more searches and will be viewed by more potential buyers.

  • If you have a few items to sell, save time by taking good, clear pictures of them all at once. If possible choose a place where the items can be seen with a natural light. Have a look at how other people take their pictures and suss how you’d like to see something before buying it, the more pictures the better.
  •  There are 2 main selling methods, “Quick Sell”  allows 4 pictures (1 or 4 pictures can be uploaded for free according to what it is, clothing has 4 free pictures available); the “Advanced Sell”  method offers more detailed listing options and you can upload 12 pictures for clothing and other items. Many people who sell designer items prefer this options as it can really showcase a piece properly.
  • Check each item carefully and look for any faults. To avoid any problems after the sale, make sure you list and describe if the item has any particular fault, a stain on a top, a chip or scuff…the buyers have to know what to expect to avoid risking any sort of complaint. If something is used buyers know if won’t be exactly how it’d be straight off the shelf, however if there is a particular fault let them know and take a picture of it to avoid any misunderstandings.
  • Title and describe the items properly: you have an 80-character allowance for your item’s title so use it! I sometimes see items listed as “red jumper” and nothing else. Describe it more to appear on more relevant searches, for example: “Topshop Red V Neck Cotton Jumper with Pockets Size Medium Great Condition”. Describe it well in the description window too, write about the material, its condition, whether it’s machine washable, if there are any faults, what season it’s best for, even suggestions on what occasions to wear it if you want. It will save you time to add as much information as possible since the beginning rather than having to answer buyers’ questions such as “What is it made of?”.
  • If you are selling an item but not sending it, therefore selecting the “Collection in person only” make sure to include this in the item description too in order to avoid misunderstandings.
  • If you would like to sell something with a starting price higher than 99p, it’s better to wait the special “Free Insertion Fee Weekend” so once the item sells, you don’t have to pay them.
  • If you want to sell something valuable at a certain price you can also select a “reserve” of minimum £50 to ensure the item will not sell unless the final price is above your reserve price.
  • If you would like to sell something that buyers can buy straight away, without the need to wait for the end of the auction, select the “Buy it now” option for a small fee.

Start selling!

  • There may be times when a certain buyer will ask you to end the auction early or if you can send the item through a different postage method to the ones you have listed etc. Such requests are usually extremely straight forward and easy to handle, and eBay’s site is full of helpful articles to help you with anything at any time.
  • Be sure to be around once the auction ends as you’ll have to dispatch the items as soon as possible, make sure you are not on holiday!
  • Pack things carefully, especially if using brown paper as it can tear more easily than some pre-made padded envelopes,  and write the address very clearly to avoid delaying the delivery of the item. I usually write “From: (my address)” in case there are any problems and the item has to come back to me (hasn’t happened yet though).

Additional information and links:

 

I hope these tips are useful and will show you how easy it can be to part with something you don’t need (rather than waste it) so someone else can use it and make money too!

 

Have you used eBay or similar sites before?

Are you planning to do so?

The Art of Upcyling: Mr Brainwash and More Inspiration

Upcycling is an art. It’s the art of seeing potential in something that seems to be useless.

I have written a D.I.Y. Upcycling post about my little upcycling projects, but last week I went to Mr Brainwash’s exhibition at The Old Sorting Office in New Oxford Street in London and it really inspired me to see everyday objects in a completely new form and environment.

I first saw that there was something going on in New Oxford Street a few weeks ago, the dazzling wall paintings on the corner of the street kept adding up every time I walked past there to go and meet my friends in the West End.

Mr Brainwash’s take on The Queen and The Beatles

It was a pleasure to see more and more images and colours appearing

Inspiring Message and Kate Moss

I told my boyfriend about it and he said “It must be that man’s exhibition, the man who was in the Banksy film we watched”. He was completely right, Mr Brainwash was the street art lover in Banksy’s film “Exit Through the Gift Shop“, a film we watched together the night I made my vegan baguettes, sitting on the carpet together, watching how street artist operate and thinking “wow…..”.

I was really happy I went to the exhibition with my friend last week and breathed in inspiration.

Mickey Mouse made of Coca Cola metal plates

This Mickey Mouse was taller than me! Just nearby there was a massive Darth Vader sculpture made of tyres…!

Michael Jackson Record Portrait

If you look closely not only the hair but also the shirt’s shadows in this portrait are made from whole or fragments of records.

As far as records and CDs are concerned, I only ever thought of reusing them – if scratched and not working properly anymore – as funky coaster or to hang up outside as I once read that their reflection keeps birds away, making it useful if you have a vegetable patch.

I would never have thought of making art with them! This is really motivating.

There were many other vinyl records portraits, I loved Billie Holiday’s…

Mr Brainwash’s Billie Holiday Portrait

and David Bowie

Mr Brainwash’s David Bowie Portrait

Contemporary Madonna Pop Art

In my quest to find more ways to upcycle this exhibition was very stirring, making me realise there aren’t as many limits as we may think when we want to reduce waste and make something beautiful out of something unlikely to be useful.

Mr Brainwash’s work not only provided a most welcome contrasting and stimulating diversion after a hard week at the office, at the end of the exhibition there was a chance to make a donation to Great Ormond Street Hospital and a free poster gift, I chose the “Follow you Dreams” poster.

I have also found inspiration from other blogs: being more sustainable and saving money often go together, and on Miss Thrifty’s blog I found great uses for old maps ideas, using them as wrapping paper, to make lampshades…

After posting my D.I.Y. Upcycling post I received an amazing comment: a very kind reader told me: “I upcycled a disused gold brocade curtain that had been slapped over a junked old fridge at our old flat into my beautiful gold brocade wedding dress”.

I could not believe it, I had to see it! So she very kindly posted a picture of her beautiful upcycled wedding dress on her blog, chrysaliswithaview. Take a look by clicking on her blog name, didn’t she do an astounding job?

Her incredible intuition, motivation, vision and skill enabled her to make something as precious as a wedding dress from something that someone else had carelessly discarded. This is the best example of upcycling I have ever seen! Thank you so much for sharing it!

If everyone made a tiny effort to use their imagination and reuse more and throw away less I’m sure the results would be absolutely worth it, the Earth would be cleaner and its resources under less stress.

There are more upcycling examples on the Crafty Beggars website too.

Do you have any upcycling ideas?

Are you inspired by these examples?