Being outside the home is one of the most challenging situations to stay green. Driving your car, ordering coffee and living your day to day life has an impact on our planet. It’s easy to be swept up and forget that the little things we do add up and have a big impact on our planet. We’ve been doing the research into how we can reduce our impact on the environment. From changing your habits to which brands to try. Stick around to find out more!
Is part of your 2021 New Years Resolutions to be more environmentally friendly with the products you buy? If yes, fantastic! This is a great goal to have for 2021.
For this goal, you may have already thought about buying from sustainable clothing brands or cutting down on the amount of meat you purchase this year. These are great ways to be more eco-friendly but have you considered the benefits of going green with your shampoo?
Move away from plastic shampoo bottles
It’s not something that everyone thinks about, but start thinking about how many bottles of shampoo you go through. This is a product that is often such a part of our lives that we don’t think about the impact it can have on the environment.
Once you know how often you wash your hair, you can work out how fast you go through your shampoo and then how many bottles you’re potentially sending to landfill. The sad fact is, even if you put it into the recycling bin it doesn’t mean it will be recycled.
So much of our plastic waste ends up travelling overseas, and the plastic that stays in the UK sometimes just can’t be recycled. The best way to reduce the impact of plastic is simply not to use it.
There has been an explosion of plastic-free hair care in the UK. Before you were looking at having to buy online or finding a local Lush, but now you’re spoilt for choice. Boots, Superdrug, and the big supermarkets all have shampoo bars for you to try. Even in a lockdown, you can still go plastic-free.
What to expect if you do switch to a solid shampoo?
Before you buy a bar make sure to use up what shampoo you have before going to purchase more, there are no benefits from buying more than you need.
When you’re ready to switch to a solid shampoo bar you’ll need to do some research before you dive in.
Shampoo bars will respond to different water hardness and give you different results depending on your hair type. It’s worth bearing in mind that they can become quite harsh on your hair if they don’t have any conditioning qualities.
It is a process to switch from liquid shampoo to a solid bar, so definitely take the time and look up specific advice for your hair type. It can be a challenge, and it will take time to adjust but if you really want to cut down on plastic waste in the bathroom this is a good option to explore.
Choose cruelty-free products where you can afford to.
As with make-up, it’s important to choose products that are ethically made without cruelty to animals. We’ve done a separate guide on why ethical make-up matters if you’re looking to start switching your products.
It’s well known that animals bred for meat contribute to climate change, but so do the animals unnecessarily kept for testing chemicals before they are introduced to us in our beauty products. While this may not be the biggest factor in choosing to switch to eco-friendly shampoo, it’s certainly an important one.
Cruelty-Free does not mean expensive or difficult to find. One of the brands that we love is the Superdrug cruelty-free range of haircare. There’s something for the majority of hair types and it’s reasonably priced. If you’re looking to spend a bit more on your haircare why not try Function Of Beauty? They’re an entirely online store that specializes in customised hair care just for you.
As with anything we recommend, this is a change you can make gradually. Do some research to find the perfect cruelty-free and (hopefully) plastic-free shampoo for your hair type that’s in your budget.
If you can’t afford to make a change to your beauty routine right now, that’s fine too. Why not spend some time getting in touch with companies and letting them know that they should be taking steps to be greener and stop using chemicals tested on animals? Using your voice to let companies know that they need to change to meet consumer demands is a big way to help if you can’t necessarily vote with your wallet and is a perfect way to make a difference.
Greenwashing is not a new trend by any means, it’s been around since consumers first started to challenge companies to adopt greener practices and reduce their impact on the planet.
However in 2021, with more eco-friendly practices becoming mainstream (as they should be!) there are going to be companies that engage in this type of marketing to profit from people’s desire to be better for the environment..
So, what exactly is Greenwashing?
Cambridge dictionary defines Greenwashing as the following:
Greenwashing is a symbolic gesture. Companies engaging in this practice are either directly misleading consumers that they are eco conscious or they are exaggerating how green their products and practices are for profit. Regardless of which it is, nothing about greenwashing is good or ethical.
There is nothing wrong with companies exploring green options and making changes to reduce their impact on the environment, it’s something we truly love to see!
For some people this is the first time they’ll be making green changes and these products can often create conversation that is important to the green movement. However it’s important to be aware that while these can be a great start, these small additions to product lines aren’t always as green as they claim to be.
An unfortunate example of this is the “Garnier Micellar Reusable Make-up Remover Eco Pads”. While these seem like a great way to cut down on single use cotton pads, the Garnier alternatives are not what they seem.
They’re made of 100% polyester which will not break down when they reach the end of their lifespan. They even say on the product description “Eco Pads cannot be recycled. After 1000 uses, please dispose in the bin.”. It’s also worth considering that they will shed microfibre plastics every single time you wash them.
At first glance these look like a great way to reduce waste in the bathroom, but in practice there are far better alternatives out there.
For example, we are still loving our bamboo face pads from My Little Eco Shop. They are even cheaper than the Garnier ones. The My Little Eco Shop ones work out at approximately £1.25 per pad while the Garnier ones are £2.99 per pad*.
Greenwashing is not always that easy to spot.
A less obvious form of Greenwashing is where companies will offer greener alternatives but make no effort to contribute to ending the cycle of over consumption or changing their business practices to be more eco friendly.
A perfect example of this is H&M. This company has most definitely taken steps to be more environmentally friendly, introducing recycling schemes and promoting their conscious collection.
You would not be wrong to be taken in by this and believe they are a more ethical brand to purchase from on the highstreet, especially when there are so few green brands on the highstreet to compare their practices against. However, they ultimately still promote the fast fashion model which as we know is unsustainable and one of the biggest contributors to climate change.
Unfortunately, with eco friendly products and practices becoming more and more popular there are companies that will seek to profit from this without doing the hard work to change their businesses.
It’s important that we take the time to consider just how green the companies we purchase from are and to make sure we are not listening to the marketing hype.
As we see with the face pad example, often the eco friendly options can actually work out cheaper than sticking with the big brands we know that aren’t changing fast enough to make a real impact.
For 2021, let’s take the time to really do the hard work and consider how ethical and green our purchases really are and make the effort to purchase as green as possible when we can.
*based on non sale prices displayed on 01.01.2021.
Bees are a quintessential part of UK life. They help to pollinate a lot of our crops, worth up to £600 million per year in the UK, and keep our wildflowers returning year after year.
Unfortunately the plight of the bees is one that unless you’ve heard about it you could go years without knowing it’s an issue. Thanks to changes in agriculture, pesticide use and overly manicured gardens the number of bees and variety of bee species is decreasing.
Some species of bees can now only be found in remote areas of the UK where they are safe from human interference. The sad reality is that unless we adjust how we impact our local environment, we could do irreparable damage to the bee population in this country.
There is good news however, with some simple changes we can help to turn our gardens into safe spaces for local bee colonies.
An obvious way to counteract the impact of an overly maintained garden is to start to introduce some bee friendly plants. The easiest flowers for bees to access are single flower plants that either have their middle exposed or are tube flowers for the bees to climb inside and get the pollen. Bees are also more drawn to purple flowers as numerous studies have shown they can see this colour the easiest.
Now is a great time to start thinking ahead about plants for the garden. You can get ahead and research the best plants for your space and get them planted ahead of time ready for the warmer weather.
For immediate benefit to bees, why not choose some of these winter flowering plants to help bees that have ventured out to stock up on supplies:
- Snowdrops and aconites
The best way to use your garden to help local bee colonies is to plant a variety of plants that will bloom at different times of the year so any bees can find valuable resources no matter the season.
To find out more about looking after bees in your local area and to see how much you garden could be helping bees we recommend visiting the Bee Conservation Trust and taking their beekind quiz.
As well as making these changes at home we urge you to consider asking your local MP what they are doing in parliament to help protect wildlife areas and to help farmers create wildlife areas in their land to give nature a safe place year round.
Are you celebrating Halloween this year? The traditional trick or treating might not be happening this year but it’s still possible to get into the spooky season, while doing as little damage to the environment as possible.
Next time you’re in the shops, take a look at the Halloween aisle. If you’re aware of what our planet is facing right now, these shelves do not make for happy viewing. There is so much plastic, and single use plastic that will be going to waste come the 1st of November.
With all this in mind, and given what 2020 has been like, we believe there are things we can do to reduce our environmental impact and still enjoy Halloween.
Don’t buy plastic if you can help it
Thinking back to that aisle, at least 90% of everything on it will be plastic. Plastic chains, plastic skeletons and plastic costumes. Even if you’re seeing those creepy hanging ghosts and thinking they aren’t plastic, look at the fabric they’re made of… 100% polyester.
We love Halloween decorations, they’re perfect for setting the mood but we cannot endorse buying these plastic decorations that are poor quality. Ignoring the eco element for the moment, the paint jobs on some of these decorations is the scariest thing about them.
Where you can this year, choose natural materials. Decorations made from cardboard and paper can be recycled and if you’re looking for something long lasting, why not make decorations out of clay or find some ceramic options in the shop. These are perfect because they can also double as a fun halloween activity if you aren’t able to trick or treat this year.
Make your own Halloween costume, or better yet go second hand
One other thing hanging on these shelves are the costumes. The vast majority made of plastic and more worryingly will probably only be worn once. Buying a brand new costume every year is just not sustainable.
Personally, we don’t believe there’s anything wrong with going as a witch every year but young children and teens will want a different look each year. To avoid wasting material why not check your local charity shop to see if there are any donated costumes? Or better yet, get creative and make your own costume.
You’ll be saving clothes from landfill and most likely saving yourself money too. Just be sure to properly recycle any off cuts or clothing you can at the end of your costumes life.
If you really like a costume there is nothing wrong with keeping it for next year either. Alternatively, if you’d prefer something new you could arrange to swap with friends or family next year so nothing goes to waste.
Don’t waste pumpkins!
More than half of the 24m pumpkins carved for Halloween in Britain this year will not be eaten, according to new research. Only 42% of Britons actually realised you could eat the insides of a pumpkin. When food waste is a tremendous problem in this country this isn’t food we can afford to be wasting.
With the interior of a pumpkin being very similar to butternut squash it’s perfect for soups, roasts and curries. The seeds you scoop out of the middle of the pumpkin are great for roasting and covering with a spice mix of your choice, store them in an airtight container for a healthy snack that can be portioned out and taken on the go. We’re always a fan of a BBC Good Food recipe so here are all of their pumpkin recipes for some inspiration. Happy carving!
As with any celebration the trick to being eco-friendly is to think carefully about what you’re buying and what it’s made of. Make the conscious decision, if you are able, to buy things that will last a lot longer than a single year. Choose natural products where you can and think about what you already have at home. For example, instead of a plastic bucket for sweets if you do go trick or treating take a cotton black tote bag or a pillow case. Use coloured paper to make garlands to hang around the house instead of using plastic webbing that will go straight in the bin when you’re done.
These little swaps will be what makes a difference and can help to have a more eco friendly Halloween.
Who else enjoys doing their makeup? Combine it with skin care and it can become the perfect time to relax and reflect on your day ahead. But have you ever paid attention to the makeup you’re using?
How much of it is in a plastic container? Do you know what the ingredients are or if they people making it were paid a fair wage? When did you last actually recycle the products you finished?
Just like everything we buy, there are ethical and unethical options available. There are a few things to look out for when shopping for makeup to help you choose well.
Don’t buy fake makeup
Fake makeup can be really tempting in the moment, compared to how expensive branded makeup can be. Who wouldn’t want to save tens of pounds on an eyeshadow palette?
Here’s the thing, the price cut means that other elements of the makeup have to be sacrificed. This could range from the ingredients to the conditions it was manufactured in.
So many nasties have been found in fake makeup, a quick Google search will make you never want to risk putting fake makeup on your face ever again. Along with the poor chemical choice, this makeup is often manufactured in unsafe environments both in terms of hygiene and worker safety.
If your makeup costs £5 when it should cost £45, how much do you think the person putting it together is going to be getting paid?
There are so many reasons why you should avoid fake makeup it’s astounding it’s even an issue in 2020.
Choose Vegan and Cruelty Free products
Choosing vegan and cruelty free ensures that your makeup is as kind to animals as you can possibly make it, but what do these terms actually mean? Surely if something is vegan then it’s cruelty free right?
We thought so too, but these two labels mean different things when it comes to beauty and skin care. Vegan means that the product contains no animal products, but this doesn’t mean they are cruelty free. This means that in the UK a product can be tested on animals and still legally claim to be ‘vegan’. Cruelty free means that has been free from any animal testing during the creation and production of the product.
To be as ethical as possible for your beauty routine we recommend looking at what’s in your makeup bag, using up what you have and then choosing from a more ethical brand next time. Our current favourites are NYX, Lush and E.L.F.
Choose products made from recycled materials
This one requires a little bit more work. Instead of choosing a product that contains metal and plastic that’s brand new. Opt for a product that uses recycled packaging. We say this takes more work because this isn’t something that’s making its way to the main chemists just yet. To make this switch you’ll most likely have to look inline and do your own research, but the products are out there!
For example, we’ve been trying an all natural and zero-waste deodorant. Wild comes in completely recycled packaging, and is made from aluminium and recycled plastic products. Making this switch means that we won’t be buying disposable deodorants again, but we had to go online to find this option.
Here’s how to recycle your finished products
Where you can’t afford to switch to a more eco product, you can make sure that your products are recycled.
Several brands are now offering schemes where you can return used products and they’ll recycle them for you. Maybelline now offers a drop off service in supermarkets in the UK to drop off palettes, mascara and more. LUSH have always accepted their products back in store to send them off to be melted down to make more products as part of their ‘closed-loop’ recycling system.
If you prefer to recycle at home you can purchase a box from terracycle. We have to warn you that this is NOT a free option. The smallest box which will hold approximately 86 units is £118.91. If you calculate how long it will take to fill this box then the price becomes a little less shocking, but this is a cost you need to determine if you can handle.
Ultimately, the beauty industry has a long way to go in order to be ethical and eco. By making a switch to a brand that’s going in the right direction we can send the message that wasteful and harmful practices cannot continue into 2021 and beyond.
It’s impossible to not notice all of the plastic when you shop. Vegetables wrapped in plastic. Snacks wrapped in plastic often inside more plastic with a plastic tray. All of this is brand new material and most of it won’t ever be recycled.
While there are instances where plastic packaging is beneficial for the produce, for example the shrinkwrap on a cucumber extends product life by 14 days, we do not need individually plastic wrapped oranges and melon pots.
Around 40% of plastic is used in packaging, and the UK generates around 2.4 million tonnes per year of packaging waste. It may not be the most obvious thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, but making a few changes to how you do your weekly shop are some of the easiest ways to cut back on the amount of plastic being sent to landfill.
If you can, shopping at a local market with local produce is the best thing you can do. You can choose produce that is in season, isn’t wrapped in plastic and often for a great price.
Many local markets will have bulk options for those on a budget. The trick is to shop around and compare prices and only buy what you will use up. It might be tempting to stock up on all the fresh fruit and vegetables but there is no sense in buying something for it to go to waste. That is swapping a plastic problem for a food waste problem.
It’s the most obvious solution but avoiding plastic where you can is the best way to prevent it entering circulation. Choosing products with cardboard, recycled metal and glass over single use plastic sends a message to companies that plastic is not the way forward.
When shopping always choose recyclable materials where you can or choose products made using recycled materials.
If you can’t choose eco products then it’s still important to recycle whatever you can. With only 50% of plastic bottles and just 12-15% of mixed plastics actually being recycled, repurpose what you can too. Glass jars can be reused round the kitchen and decorated for use around the home and large plastic juice bottles can be used as airtight containers for cereals and grains.
Remember your canvas bags
Bags for life were sold as a sustainable way to reduce plastic waste while you shop because there would be no more single use bags going into landfill. However, in the UK we are still buying bags for life which means more plastic in circulation. A study found that UK households are getting through 54 ‘bags for life’ each year suggesting that they are being used as a bag for a week. This makes them a poor option if you’re looking for an eco alternative as these bags will take even longer to break down because they are “sturdy”.
While cotton tote bags aren’t the most environment friendly option either because of the process of manufacturing and harvesting cotton, they will last a lot longer and are a far better option for the weekly shop. If you want to make fabric bags even more eco friendly, why not thrift some cotton material or turn an old t-shirt into a produce bag.
Being able to make changes to how sustainably you complete your weekly shop is a privilege. There are those who set up unrealistic expectations that state everything must be plastic free, organic and this is the only way to shop.
With food desserts, poverty and food banks becoming the normal thing for many people across the world, being super green while you shop is not always a possibility. If you cannot afford to do these things, don’t stress about it.
If you can make a change these are some great ways to cut down on plastic and reduce your individual carbon footprint.
The fast fashion industry is one of the most damaging to the planet. While few organisations can agree on the exact impact it has, everyone agrees that it needs to adapt in order to mitigate its negative impact.
The fashion industry produces 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions every year and it’s estimated that it uses around 1.5 trillion litres of water annually. On top of this, the industry expels chemicals as a byproduct of manufacturing. These chemicals are frequently found to be entering the fresh water supply, which means these clothes are directly impacting our health.
Until the industry starts to take accountability for the impact it has, we can make changes at home to reduce how much we add to the need for cheap and fast clothing.
Buy Second Hand Clothes
Shopping for second hand clothes used to have a stigma attached to it. Now, it’s the responsible and fashionable thing to do. With sites like Thrift+ and Vinted you can even shop second hand from the comfort of your home. There’s nothing quite like finding the dress of your dreams at a local charity shop either. You get a bargain and normalising buying second hand sends the message that we don’t need more cheap clothing in the market. By choosing second hand it’s estimated that with about 600 kilos of used clothes bought there will be a reduction of 2250 kilos of CO2 emissions, 3.6 billion litres of water saved and the equivalent of 144 trees planted.
Shop your own closet
How many times have you sorted through your wardrobe and picked something up that has the tags on? We’ve definitely done it, I’m willing to bet there’s something in our wardrobe that has the tags on. We buy things for special occasions, keep things we’ll fit into someday and hold on to sentimental items. This means that chances are whatever outfit you’re trying to make, you already have exactly what you need. Shopping your own wardrobe saves the planet and saves your bank balance, definitely make it a habit to shop your own wardrobe before you hit the shops.
Looking for the perfect dress to wear to that wedding or fancy do? Instead of buying an expensive dress or suit you’ll only wear once – rent it! There are plenty of services online where you can shop for the perfect outfit to borrow. You’ll only wear it once, so why spend all of your cash and contribute to the production of more clothing.
A quick look online and you’ll be able to find a service near you. You’ll be amazed at what you can borrow and how much you can save. What’s not to like!
Getting coffee is part of our culture. People get coffee to go on dates, interview for a job and a lot of the time to just start the day. That experience of meeting somewhere for a drink with friends and family has become ingrained into how we socialise. Besides the price when you sit in to enjoy a coffee it’s not all bad, the problem comes when getting coffee to go.
Those paper coffee cups are not as innocent as they seem. How long does it take a coffee cup to break down?
The plastic lining on the inside of these cups often means that they can’t be effectively recycled. This means that your “paper” cup ends up in landfill and massively contributes to our waste problem.
The EU is working to ban single-use coffee cups by 2030, but right now that’s still 10 years away. With up to 7 million cups being used per day in the UK, that’s an additional 25 billion single-use cups being used in that time. This ban will not get here soon enough to make a real difference.
At the start of the year, I made the decision to no longer buy coffee in single-use cups, a bit of a new year’s resolution. It’s now May 2020 and, helped slightly by quarantine shutting the coffee shops, I still haven’t used a paper coffee cup.
I would have one coffee a morning typically, 3 days a week. If we hadn’t been quarantined and my habits hadn’t changed that would be 48 coffee cups used and approximately £124.80 spent. If you’re ever looking for a reason to break a habit, look up how much it costs you per month. This cost per use trick works really well for giving up coffee, cigarettes and buying lunch out every week.
The best way I found to switch from paper cups is to invest in a good travel mug and a nice coffee to make at home. I found a Thermos travel flask for under £10 and Aldi’s coffee for under £2 is on par, if not better, than what you get from Costa or another chain. Once you’ve found the right replacements for your coffee, it’s easy to give up paper cups.
If you really want your Starbucks coffee and do not want to make it at home. The majority of the coffee chains on the highstreet will happily make coffee in the cup you bring and some will even add a discount as a thank you for making the switch. Check out our resources for which ones will do this.
This is the best way to condition yourself to not just randomly go in for coffee and ultimately you’ll break the paper cup habit.