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.
While we know that the main polluters of the planet are the large companies refusing to take action. That being said, we still need everyone to be aware of their impact on the environment and to take steps to reduce individual effects. This alongside campaigning for change to policy and global attitudes is how we’ll make a real difference.
So, you’re ready to get started with being more sustainable and eco friendly. Then you Google ways to be green and become overwhelmed with all of the options. This is where we started! It can be so daunting trying to begin going zero waste, we’re not all the way there yet either. What’s a good swap? How easy is it to maintain this new habit? Do you have to buy expensive products to get started?
We’ve done the beginner work and we’ve got these simple swaps you can make, that you’ll actually be able to stick to.
Swap cotton rounds for sustainable bamboo ones
If you’re someone that wears makeup or follows a skin care regime chances are you have seen cotton rounds in your bathroom. If you’re a big fan of makeup you’ve probably got an instagram worthy jar filled with them at this very moment.
You would be completely forgiven for thinking that these are cotton, made from plant fibers, they can’t be bad for the environment, right? The problem is that farming cotton and producing these products takes its toll on the planet. Chemicals from the manufacturing process pollutes rivers and damages wildlife. The other damage is the amount of water used to produce conventional cotton. About one kilogram, the size of a t-shirt, can take more than 20,000 litres of water to make. This is before you even consider that these cotton rounds come wrapped in plastic.
A simple swap you can make is to opt for reusable bamboo rounds. We love these ones from My Little Eco Shop. This set has 20 cotton rounds, comes with a bamboo wash bag and arrives quickly in sustainable packaging. You can use these and wash them again and again. We switched to these specific rounds a few months ago and we’re never going back.
Reusable face masks
Next time you’re in public, count the number of disposable masks lying around on the floor. On a recent walk we counted no less than 16 masks lying in the gutter! Not only is this dangerous for humans, these masks could be contaminated, they pose a real threat to wildlife. We’ve seen far too many reports of animals becoming entangled in the ear elastic and suffering the consequences.
If you can’t dispose of these masks correctly we suggest giving reusable masks a try. As of September 2020 the UK government is still recommending that we wear masks indoors and reusable masks will help to cut down on the waste generated while still keeping you safe.
That being said if you feel more comfortable with a disposable mask or you don’t feel you can properly disinfect a reusable mask then by all means continue as you are.
As always, check with your local authority for mask recommendations and regulations.
Reusable menstrual items
It has never been easier to make the switch to reusable period products. Next time you use a pad or a tampon pay attention to the amount of plastic wrapping you’re throwing away.
The wrapping, the applicators, the backings and then the pad or tampon itself has plastic in it! Then add up how many of these you use and send to landfill each month, then times it by 12 and then by the number of years you’ve had a period. The cost alone at this point will make you fall over before you consider the amount of plastic sent to landfill!
Reusable period products help the environment by being mostly plastic free and saving you money. We won’t lie there is an upfront cost, but once you’ve made that switch you’ll be able to reuse that product again and again without having to spend more money or worry about running out.
There really is something for everyone: pads, menstrual cups and period underwear are some of the best places to start. If you’re someone that has a period, we really recommend you looking into this. Most places even create a beginner kit so you can get started straight away and give these products a try.
Reusable food wrap and plastic bags.
We’re all trying to cut down on food waste An easy way to do this is to save leftovers and store produce correctly in your fridge. If you’re currently using cling film to seal leftovers you could end up going through a lot of plastic. It’s a sad fact that only 32% of all plastic is recycled, that’s up to 68% of plastic floating around the environment and more worryingly the oceans.
We suggest switching to reusable wax wrap to seal your leftovers and preserve foods. If you’re vegan there are now beeswax free wraps you can use so you can keep animal products out of your life. These aren’t vegan but we love using these ones from The Beeswax Wrap Co.
On a similar note, to cut down on plastic from sandwich bags you can find reusable bags that come in a variety of sizes and are perfect for carrying your sandwich to work or storing veggies in the fridge. It’s even easier than ever to have a plastic free kitchen.
Ultimately, whatever switch you can make right now will make a difference. The more of us that make these changes and show we don’t want single use plastics the more businesses have to adapt to meet consumer habits.
We do live in the real world though and we know that these things do cost money at the beginning to get set up. These items can be found for cheaper at local shops and online we’ve just recommended some ones that we know and love. Even if you can only do one of these things right now, it’s the perfect place to start becoming zero waste and being more eco.
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!
The average family wastes £700 of food each year. That is 4.5m tonnes of food that gets thrown away and wasted. With food poverty still very much an issue in the UK it’s important that we don’t waste the food we have available. One of the biggest culprits for being wasted is fresh fruit and vegetables.
How often have you stocked up on the greens with the intention of using them but then never getting around to cooking. Before you know it they’ve gone slimy or furry and you have to part with them. Besides buying only what you need here’s what you can do to ensure you don’t waste your vegetables.
Store them properly
Half the battle of keeping vegetables fresh is storing correctly. Take the time to properly look up each veg you regularly buy and the proper way to store them. A starting point when it comes to storage iis to keep fruits and vegetables separate, fruits can cause veg to turn faster. Remember that no matter how much it seems to make sense not everything needs to be stored in the fridge a lot of veg prefer to be kept in a cool dark place.
Double check which containers you should keep vegetables in as well. While a lot of veg still comes in plastic, and we recommend buying loose veg to avoid this, it doesn’t mean that’s what it should be stored in. For example, mushrooms come in those awful plastic tubs and wrapped in cling film, this will cause them to go slimy. The way to store mushrooms is to take them out and keep them in a paper bag, this prevents them going slimy and if you buy them loose you can cut all the plastic out of buying mushrooms.
Cook them before they rot
It sounds simple, but use up the veg before it goes bad and don’t throw them away immediately. Yes some of your celery might not be perfect for a salad anymore but you can still add it to a sauce or a soup. This is even a good way to sneak extra veg into your portions as well as cutting down on waste.
If you’re noticing that a lot of your vegetables have nearly turned you can bulk cook a rustic vegetable soup, then you have cheap and healthy lunches for the week with no waste. Our tip is to pick or make a good quality vegetable stock as a base and experiment with seasons depending on what veg you’re adding. You don’t need a recipe to make a good soup, just get creative!
Compost is the last resort
If your vegetables have truly gone past the point of cooking, it’s time to get the compost out. Making your own compost is simple and with houseplants being the latest interior trend your new green family members will thank you.
Depending on your space there are a range of compost kits available to buy and countless guides on the internet. We like this guide from The Independent that includes troubleshooting what’s wrong with your compost and the best ways to set up your composting space.
Ultimately we need to tackle food waste in order to live sustainably, and the place to make a big difference with this is the kitchen. By starting to follow these small eco habits now they’ll become second nature and these small changes will add up to make a big difference over the years.