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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Camping Without A Trace

Today is Tuesday, but for many it’s like a fast-forwarding Monday, as August’s Bank Holiday weekend ended last night.

I spent mine at Reading’s music festival 🙂

Last time I went to a festival was 5 years ago at the Leeds equivalent, so another live music-filled weekend was due – especially as my mate D had been suggesting it for years!

We saw more than 30 live acts, and the absolute best were Enter Shikari. They interact with the audience like no one else! I highly recommend watching their show on BBC iPlayer. 🙂

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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*

Don’t Spend, Mend!

Are you a DIY lover?

I’m actually not, but there are some things that I like to do myself to avoid creating needs for things I could simply mend and carry on using.

One thing I like to do is mending clothes. And the point is, I’m not that good at it. But I care about the things I own, I like to look after them so they can last as much as possible and if they get wounded on the way, I like to give them a hand to recover and my basic stitching skills seem to do the trick.

A button missing here, a little hole there, a stubborn stain… if you give a little bit of love and time to clothes, they will keep on loving you.

By mending things you are less likely to purchase new things, new things that needed a lot of energy and produce carbon emissions to get to you. So you’re being sustainable 🙂 oh, and you’re saving money 😉 all you need is a very basic sewing kit (I only have 1 needle and 3 different coloured cotton thread reels and manage with that).

Since the beginning of the financial crisis we have seen various “waste not want not” topics arise in different ways.

This new topic trend translated itself in creating and mending clothes too, with programmes such as The Great British Sewing Bee popping up on our screens in May last year in the U.K. and starting again next Tuesday at 8pm.

I thought of this post because I finally tackled some stitching and mending I had put aside. I “saved” 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of jeans, a jumper, a pair of tracksuit bottoms, a T-shirt, a bra, some underwear and a pair of tights.

All of these items had a little fault but they are now ready to be worn again, in fact I wore the tights the day after I mended them and have put off buying a new pair. Pretty good for about for about 45 minutes of mending while listening to the radio.

I have also received pretty interesting Pinterest suggestions on craft, sewing etc.

Some people are talented enough to make their own wedding dress out of fabric unwanted by others, which is ridiculously amazing and inspiring, however if you are not so good at sewing, stitching and darning you can find a lot of tutorials online or maybe someone in your family or circle of friends could help! It will give you a cosy sense of achievement 🙂

DIY Scalloped Hem Skirt

DIY Scalloped Hem Skirt Tutorial from uberchiforcheap.com

I am planning to save more garments by rescuing them from stubborn stains. The way I usually do it is by adding thin bleach do a little dish, diluting it with water and then gently dabbing it to the affected area (I wear rubber gloves and use cotton wool to dab it). I let it sink a few seconds, rub it gently then put the garment in the washing machine or wash it by hand.

My mum now uses a nice Summer jacket that used to be stained.

I also have the intention to refresh the look of an unwanted coat by adding colourful  buttons to it, make a cushion out of a wooly jumper I don’t want to wear and a pair of shorts out of a pair of jeans, taking inspiration from this Little Miss Bow Peep blog post.

I will update this post once I have done this 🙂

Here is some inspiration and help to mend, create and update clothes, such as this dress from the WobiSobi blog.

DIY Dress Pinterest

DIY Dress Pinterest

 

Pinterest inspiration:

Thrifty Crafts

Sewing

Make do and mend

DIY Projects

DIY: Fashion

Pin it, Make it, Wear it

Knits and Knots if you’d like to give knitting a try

 

Youtube:

How to repair rips in your clothes video

Hand Sewing Basics video

The British Sewing Bee: How To…

And if something really cannot be mended, take it to the charity shop or to H&M’s garmet collecting bins to ensure it can be reused or recycled rather than end up in landfill.

Do you ever mend clothes?

Do TV shows and tutorials inspire you to try some DIY mending?

No Waste Seasonable Vegetable Stone Soup

Before I start with my no waste soup recipe, I just wanted to say that 2013’s Fairtrade Fortnight has started (25th February – 10th March), and it is a perfect opportunity to try and be more sustainable and “Go Further” by choosing Fairtrade items 🙂 By purchasing the Fairtrade products you love you will also be supporting the farmers and workers who produce them in developing countries.

There are many ways to incorporate more sustainable Fairtrade products into your life, something for each month of the year, as I wrote in last year’s Fairtrade Goodies post.

For more information on why and how to get involved, have a look at the Fairtrade Website – did you know that rich countries waste as much food as the total annual food production of sub-Saharan Africa??

~

Last week I finally made stone soup (or home made vegetable scraps stock), and that, I’m glad to say, involves making the very most of all the vegetables you buy or grow with very little or nothing left to waste. Sustainability at its best! 😀

I first heard about using vegetables scraps, especially if organic, when my sister told me about something she heard from a programme called “Zero Waste”.

The way to make home made stock cubes at a cost of £0.00 is to keep ALL scraps such as carrots peels, courgette ends, onions’ and garlic’s outer skin, asparagus woody ends etc. and once you have enough, dehydrate them in a low oven at about 100C for about 4-5 hours (or a dehydrator if you have one of course), or lay them out on a tray for a whole hot sunny day, turning them around so they sun-dry evenly.
Once they are dry, whizz them up in small pieces in a food processor or using a pestle and mortar and then add 2x times the quantity of rock or fine sea salt.
You can put the dry mix in a jar and keep it in the fridge for months and it would be a very cute present for a food lover too.

An additional way to reduce waste is to always keep unwaxed lemons and oranges’ peels by peeling them off with a potato peeler (minding to leave the bitter pith off) as they are very rich in flavour, microelements and vitamins and use them in desserts, on vegetables, pasta or even in cocktails.
You can store them in the freezer and use them whenever needed. 🙂

This time I tried to make stone soup inspired by J-F, blogger on 222 million tons. I tried to make it even more sustainable by adding as many seasonable vegetables as possible in it: I checked the Eat the Seasons website and chose some leeks, parsnips, potatoes, swede and turnips for my soup.

February vegetables: swede, leeks, main crop potatoes, turnips, parsnips

February vegetables: swede, leeks, main crop potatoes, turnips, parsnips

I also bought some purple kale (which was half price as in season), shallots and Brussels sprouts to stock up on additional vegetables in season.

To make my stone soup I started “collecting” parts of vegetables I would normally discard -and unfortunately throw in the bin as we don’t have a garden for compost or a food waste collection service 😦 – and freezing them.

Every time I peeled or chopped some vegetables after washing them, I put the peels, skins, tips etc. in a box in the freezer (you could use a freezer bag too of course).

Precious Scraps for a Precious Broth

Precious Scraps for a Precious Broth

These quickly added up and I decided to make my stone soup by simply putting all the scraps in a big pot, covering them with water, adding some peppercorns and bringing them to a boil and then letting them simmer for about 45 minutes.

I then strained the stock and pressed the vegetables to get all the flavour and stock out,  you can use the vegetable scraps for your compost heap after that. About a litre of stock came out of the scraps and it tasted delicate, but still tasty and sweet as I had sweet potato peels in it too.

I used about half of it and I froze the rest, I added some water, herbs, my vegetables and pre-soaked pulses and made some of my usual vegan warming country soup (with added chilli sauce as I am a little obsessed): no-waste stock, vegetables in season and vegan, so pretty sustainable and very nice!

Home Made Stock Vegan Vegetable Soup

Home Made Stock Vegan Vegetable Soup

An interesting article from another blog, The Garden of Eating, lists some of the vegetables you may want to avoid using for the stock as they have very overpowering flavours such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and artichokes.

Have you tried making your own stock?

Do you have any tips to make the most of something and waste less?

 

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?