Vegan-Friendly Brighton and VegFest Excitement

Some people get excited for Xmas. I get excited for Vegfest.
And it’s coming up, at the end of this month, in Brighton! πŸ™‚

On Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th of February, a beautiful congregation of animal-free, cruelty-free things Continue reading

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,

Continue reading

Christmadness: How to Avoid Waste at Christmas

Hello! Are you feeling Christmassy yet? πŸ™‚

DIY Christmas Jumper for Save The Children

DIY 3D Christmas Jumper for Save The Children charity day: Christmas decorations and safety pins πŸ™‚

-On Friday we wore Christmassy jumpers at work for the Save the Children charity.

We all donated a minimum of Β£1 and had a bit of a tacky Christmas jumper competition. The donations will help buy mosquito nets, treat children and save lives, did you have a Christmas jumper day?

Rather than buying a cheaply made one from Primark and then not wearing it again and wasting it, I simply secured some of my Christmas decorations to my second hand jumper with safety pins! πŸ™‚

You could also be a little craftier a make one with beads, pearls or glitter like what they did in this boohoo TV video!

~

Sorry about the long silence, I recently moved to NW London and it has taken me weeks to complete the move! I was waiting to sort that out before churning out new posts. I hope you are well πŸ™‚

Christmas preparations have been simmering away since the end of October and we’re getting closer to the big day.

What is Christmas for you? I guess it can be a myriad of different things for each of us: a time to be kind, cheerful, celebrate, indulge, spend time with loved ones, a time to be generous…it’s all lovely but can be stressful and hectic too, hence the “Christmadness feeling” of having to get so much done.

Many of us will have some time off around Christmas and will be able to relax, sleep more and will be busy cooking, preparing, clearing, eating and perhaps thinking of all the things that have happened this year while looking forward to a prosperous new one.

Of course there is another side to Christmas: celebrations often come with the sort ofΒ  “more is more” mood and excess often means waste (of food, time, money, energy…).

Fortunately there are some very useful tools that can help wasting less and making the most of Christmas!

Avoid Food Waste

When I think of Christmas I think of food, and I am not the only one, right?

Here is the Love Food Hate Waste Advent Calendar (I know it’s a bit late but all the tips can still be useful now!)

This clever advent calendar has 24 tips that can help you avoid food waste this Christmas. Making room in the freezer, planning meals and portions, recipes to use up leftovers…have a look πŸ™‚

If you want to try to eat more sustainably too, try to incorporate more seasonal and local vegetables and less meat in your Christmas menu, you can find delicious vegetarian and vegan Christmas recipes from:

+

How to store food safely to avoid wasting it – NHS guide

A sustainable tree

…Have you put a Christmas tree up? My friend R and I were talking about this the other day: what’s more eco-friendly, an artificial tree or a real one?

Artificial tree: built to last

Artificial tree: built to last

I said an artificial one, because you can use it for 20 years without cutting any trees, but R said a real one would be better as producing a fake one must use a lot of energy and chemicals. I did a little bit of research and found a popular eco-friendly option: potted Christmas trees!

Buying a potted Christmas tree from companies such as Clifton means you can have a real, live tree for several years (if you can keep it somewhere!) or you can even rent one from companies such as this U.S. one called Living Christmas CompanyΒ or from the Little Tree Company in the U.K. – isn’t that great? You get to have a real tree for Christmas, with its lovely resiny scent and know it won’t be disgracefully left on the pavement in January.

More information on the artificial/real tree debate is provided on this Friends of the Earth page full of eco-friendly tips. You could get a tree from Freecycle or eBay or purchase a real one from a Soil Association-approved company and why not try energy-saving LED Christmas lights which use a fraction of the electricity?

Sustainable gifts

One of the aspects of Christmas I don’t like is that daunting feeling of having to buy presents for people. People you may not see very often, who you may not know well…gifts that end up being generic, bulky -a foot SPA that you will never have time to use, anyone? – probably unnecessary, unwanted and ultimately wasted.

It really upsets me that so many gifts we end up buying are a waste of time, money and energy…what happened to writing Christmas lists?

We are all so busy nowadays that it is pretty hard to know exactly what someone may desire or need (there are only so many pashminas a lady may need, trust me!)…but a Christmas list can help! πŸ™‚ It may be less of a surprise but buying something your loved ones need can make them happier and avoid your gifts from becoming desolate dust-gatherers.

Candles are pretty...but maybe we can buy something a little more useful ;)

Candles are pretty…but maybe we can buy something a little more useful πŸ˜›

There are more interesting tips on the F.O.E. website to make your Christmas sustainable with homemade gifts – if you can, have a look at these lovely vegan ones posted by Poppy-, and sustainable gift wrapping: I will either be using recycled wrapping paper (paper I saved from previous occasions and put aside for the next occasion), newspaper with colourful ribbons or I will be wrapping gifts in colourful cloth or scarves that can be kept as a gift too.

Recycling all the paper after being used will prevent it from going to landfill and give it another life (and can possibly make you feel like a superhero!).

Sustainable Gift Ideas

  • Organic, vegan, fair trade food is more sustainable, needs less energy to be produced and is fairer to the producers, so if you know a keen cook you could put together a lovely hamper of food goodies or purchase one such as these Organic Green&Black’s ones
Delivery Time!

Delivery Time!

Organic Goodies

Organic Goodies

A few birthdays ago my mum got me this amazing food delivery for my birthday, it was a great present! It had lots of organic goodies I would not have bought myself, tons of amazing sun dried tomatoes and it was simply a treat! I made a lovely Sunday lunch the day after with all those vegetables πŸ™‚

  • Chocolate – if in doubt, buy chocolate! Soph at Raw Nibbles makes sustainable raw, vegan, organicΒ  and refined sugar-free chocolate and other treats in England – so healthy you will be able to enjoy them even during a January diet! They have 10% off orders over Β£25 in December too πŸ™‚
  • Vouchers: people often moan about not having enough room and space where they live, so instead of a (potentially dust-gathering) gift, you could get them a voucher for their favourite shop or restaurant to look forward to using during the “January blues” period
  • Buy from sustainable companies, such as Lush – I got this amazing Lush gift box last year and it had lovely vegan freshly handmade cosmetics such as Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner which smells so utterly delicious you’ll be tempted to eat it!
Lush Xmas Goodies

Lush Xmas Goodies

Lush only make vegetarian and vegan cosmetics, fight against animal testing and use as little chemicals as possible – they have something for everyone!

  • Natural Collection is a website full of more sustainable gift ideas, from food to garden and beauty products
  • National Geographic Magazine: you could purchase an all-year round gift such as a magazine subscription for National Geographic, which can only inspire to love our planet more
  • Adopt an animal – that would be another great gift, especially for a child! You can do so with WWF
  • Nigel’s Eco Store has gift ideas to make you save energy such as solar-powered lights and waste less with reusable coffee take-away cups
  • Etsy – “Etsy is a marketplace where people around the world connect to buy and sell unique goods.Β  Etsy is proud to be a certified B Corporation β€” a new kind of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.Β  – Have a look to find all sorts of clothes, crockery, jewellery made by small producers.

Borrow more, spend less

If you need extra chairs, beds, lights, try to borrow them from friends, family or use Freecycle, Streetbank or Ecomodo to source them, you will save money and avoid having to get rid of all these things once the holidays are over.

Are you looking forward to Christmas?

How do you enjoy spending it?

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 mapsΒ 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.Β 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?

D.I.Y. Upcycling

Upcycling is converting waste materials or useless things into something new and better than what they were before.

It’s extremely sustainable to upcycle as it skips the energy needs and efforts required to recycle and of course it still keeps materials away from landfill by giving them a new life.

I just love the fact that with a little imagination you can turn something unwanted and discarded into a unique masterpiece.

Just think of the very basic properties of things around you: jars can hold jam just as they can hold buttons or paper clips, a piece of material can cover something or cat be sewn into something else, cut up…

I’m really not that good at building things or arts and crafts but I managed to upcycle 2 things recently:

Lime pickle Jar

Up to a few weeks ago I kept my cotton wool in the plastic bag it comes in from the shop, hanging in the bathroom. Not a great sight. So I was wondering how I could keep some cotton wool in the bathroom without that plastic eyesore.

I love lime pickle and the Sharwood’s brand one comes in a really lovely shaped jar. I decided to wash it and reuse it.

I had some old nail varnish that had gone a bit gloopy and was no longer suitable for painting my nails so I painted the jar’s lid with it. Here is the result!

Upcycling a lime pickle jar into a cotton wool holder

Definitely nicer than a plastic bag! It’s very simple and I like it πŸ™‚

The second object I upcycled was my electronic dictionary box. When I bought it in China I thought this sturdy box would be great to reuse, I therefore shipped it back to the U.K. together with other China goodies and, after 3 years, I finally carried out my plan and covered it with some really beautiful thick wrapping paper.

Box and wrapping paper

The wrapping paper came from a birthday present my boyfriend gave me so that too was upcycled.

Upcycled colourful box

Now I just need to think what to put in it.

Cheese grater? Pencil holder!

Isn’t this a cool idea? This picture comes from a very interesting article on the innovation diaries about how upcycling is actually better than recycling.

Interesting sites:

Upcycling.co.uk

Upcycle magazine

Inhabitat

The Guardian fashion from cast offs

Do you upcycle? Do you have any upcycling suggestions or idea?

Make your Home more Sustainable

Home sweet sustainable home.

After writing these few words there are so many things spring to mind that I am not quite sure where to start.

I think of the Grand Designs episodes where I saw people making their dream home out of hay, insulation made of recycled shredded jeans, installing solar panels on their rooves and using rainfall water in their home.

I think of using second (or third, or fourth) hand furniture to personalise a home, using leftover paint to update old chest of drawers and going to car boot sales to turn other people’s unwanted items in centre pieces.

I think of how exciting it is to be able to have your unique, bespoke dream home without damaging the environment but actually saving money and I can’t wait for the day when I will be able to do this for my own!

Have a look at this extract from a Grand Designs episode: I absolutely love this home and the bottles walls are gorgeous!

As usual National Geographic’s newsletters provide me with some of the best articles I would like to share some with you all.

National Geographic’s Green Guide offers an infinity of interesting articles, tips and information on Green Living.

Did you know there are tiles that transform people’s steps into energy? -A few years ago I heard about something similar to be done in gyms, with people’s workouts producing electricity: I think it’s both fascinating and logical.

Have a look at the interactive living room page: you can click on each living room staple to take a quiz and discover its energy use and more sustainable versions.

I learned a lot when I took the insulation quiz, and if you are thinking of buying a new TV, find out which ones won’t add high electricity costs to their own price.

The Buying Guides page will also enlighten you on how to invest in energy-efficient cars, water heaters and filters, laptops and even toilets.

The Green Guide also offers more info on growing your own vegetables, saving energy while cooking, turning food waste into fertilizer and more.

If you like to quiz your way to sustainability knowledge National Geographic’s Green Guide Quizzes will make you wiser on anything from making your kitchen greener -did you know washing dishes by hand can actually use up more water compared to using a Energy-Star rated fully loaded dishwasher?- to seasonal and organic food, types of plastics, saving fuel and green gardening.

Upcycle your suitcase and make a beautiful cat bed – from thedailygreen.com

Finally, the Sustainable Home & Garden page gives tips on how to make each of your home rooms and garden green with more interactive pages and quizzes.

I really recommend you take a look as there really is something for everyone πŸ™‚

I also follow a great design blog, Inspired to Share, which shows some beautiful examples of using recycled materials to have a charming home.

I think we did a good job at furnishing our rented flat quite sustainably so far, we have been using many second hand pieces of furniture and crockery.

We bought the table in the picture second hand from Ebay for Β£40 down from Β£80 and it looks more unusual and interesting than most tables I have seen in high street shops, the glass ball was about to be thrown away and go to landfill but my boyfriend saved it, I got the milk jug from a car boot sale for 50p, the white dish is also second hand and my Nan gave me the Atlas.

Second Hand Furniture and Crockery

I like to have mismatched dishes and objects, they have a lot more character and personality as they can tell a story of who you are and where you have been (like all the bowls I got when I was in China) and in my opinion too many matching things give a sense of rigidity.

What do you think of the house shown in the Grand Designs video?

Do you like collecting second hand things for your home or do you like everything to be new?

What steps are you going to take to make your home greener?

My Greenpeace poster has arrived! + Kidney Bean Soup

I have been receiving Greenpeace newsletters for a couple of years now, signing petitions to stop arctic drilling and the deforestation of Indonesian forests to name a couple. A few weeks ago I filled out an online survey and now the poster they promised me has finally arrived!

Greenpeace Polar bear

“Greenpeace stands for positive change through action: the independence and global reach to defend nature and promote peace.”

Today was day 3 of my vegan pledge and I made a lovely bean soup for dinner and my omnivorous boyfriend liked it too!

It is a simple, quick and very tasty recipe which uses cupboard staples and is inspired by a vegan cookbook I borrowed from the library.

Kidney Bean Soup

Ingredients:

  • a 400g tin of red kidney beans
  • a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • a carrot, chopped
  • chili flakes (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • pinch of paprika
  • vegan stock cube
  • 1 litre hot water from the kettle
  • coriander to garnish

-Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion, cook for about 5 minutes or until soft on a medium heat.

-Add the garlic, carrot, chili flakes, cumin and paprika. Cook for another 2 minutes.

-Add the beans, a litre of water from the kettle, the vegan stock cube, the tomatoes and the thyme.

-Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Garnish with coriander if you want and serve with tortillas. Enjoy!

I have also prepared my lunch tomorrow: a simple but tasty sweetcorn and tomato salad.

Assembling this salad is super quick, all you need is:

  • Tinned sweetcorn
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Mixed herbs
  • Chili sauce

What’s your favourite salad?