A Peak Inside The Christmas Bee Saver Kit

In my last post ‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Wastemas’ I mentioned some charity presents that you could gift to your loved ones and help the world at the same time. One of those gifts is the Friends of the Earth Christmas Bee Saver Kit. I bought myself a kit as an early Christmas present and thought that it would be a good idea to show you guys what you can expect to get if you choose to donate.

A Bee Themed Christmas

When I first opened the pack I was met with a small blank Christmas card that I could send to a friend or family member as well as a matching sheet of bee-themed christmas wrapping paper. Both the wrapping paper and card were beautifully patterned but due to the fact that neither had a shine or glitter they are both fully recyclable and biodegradable.

Protecting the Bees

The main part of the bee saver kit was obviously the tools to help make your garden more bee friendly. The first was a small pack of wildflower seeds, come springtime these are a great way to add some colour to your garden and attract not just bees but butterflies as well. Next we have the handy bee saver guide which contains useful tips and tricks on how to actively help the bees, from building your own bee hotel to which flowers are the best for bees. And finally, one of my favourite parts of the kit was the bee identification poster, most people are unaware of just how many species of bee are actually out there and this is a great visual representation of what to look out for.

Friends of the Earth

Much like Greenpeace I feel like Friends of the Earth are one of those environmental charities that most people have heard of. However I also feel as though most people don’t know exactly what they do or how they can help Friends of the Earth to do what they do. Friends of the Earth are the main reason why the UK now has widespread doorstop recycling, they also have a focus on educating the public about environmental issues. As well as their Bee Saver kit Friends of the Earth also have a shop which include books, clothes and other kits the profits of which go towards helping run their worldwide campaigns.

Supporting Those Supporting The Earth

A few weeks ago I went to a christmas fair, mostly it was filled with stalls of handmade gifts, food and experience days. Overall it was a refreshing change from the commercialisation of modern day christmas.

Two stalls that I was particularly pleased to see were Bamboo Clothing and The Woodland Trust.

Bamboo Clothing do exactly as their names suggest, they create warm, outdoor and workout clothes out of bamboo. This includes socks, yoga clothes, shirts, trousers you name it. The great thing about bamboo is that it’s eco-friendly, easy to grow and durable. Bamboo clothing have their own blog page attached to their store which explains more fully the advantages of bamboo.

 

The Woodland Trust is a British charity that helps to protect our woodlands and has made tremendous bounds in getting ancient trees listed, which gives them the same rights as

listed buildings. In a nutshell it helps to prevent more of our forests from being cut down. The woodland trust also run a blog which is full of informative posts from facts about red squirrels to in depth descriptions of their current campaigns.

I signed up as a member of The Woodland Trust, and as such I was sent a welcome pack which included a leaf identification pack, a copy of their monthly magazine and a booklet containing all of the locations of current Woodland Trust protected areas. Every part of the welcome pack was recyclable and is a great way to inspire people to get back into nature.

Low Waste Learning

One of the last things you may be thinking about as you prepare to go to university, whether you are going back or heading off for the first time, is reducing your waste. But i’m here to tell you that not only can it be relatively simple but can save you money as well, which as a student is something that will definitely be on your mind. These few tips that I learnt from my uni days should definitely come in handy for those first few weeks of settling down.

1. Don’t take everything

One of the mistakes I made when I first headed off to uni and moved into my shared flat was bringing everything that I could think of. Not only did this cost me more money than I needed, multiple trips to pick up crockery, cooking equipment etc. but it was also unnecessary. Most of my new flat-mates had done the exact same thing which meant that we had every cupboard in our kitchen crammed full with more pots, pans and plates than any of us needed to use.

Most university’s will have a day within freshers week where you can buy the things that you need at rock bottom prices, things that have been donated by students the previous year. When I went off to do my Masters and moved back into student accommodation with a new set of flat-mates, we did just this. I already had most of the things that I needed but my flat-mates didn’t, and we managed to get all of it for around £20 per person.

If you do go this route then please remember to donate anything that isn’t broken back to the university to help the next set of students when you leave again.

2. Freshers fair

You may think that the freshers fair is just where you go to pick up free pizza and sign up for societies but it is also a great place to stock up on free stuff. Most stalls will offer free stationary such as pens, pencils, rulers etc. (seriously I don’t think I used anything other than my student finance and Arriva travel pens that I got from the fair the entire time I was at uni). You can also stock up on tote bags which are great to use when shopping because they don’t incur the 5p charge that plastic bags do and you can reuse them for years.

A few other gems that I have picked up during freshers include: A thermos, a money bank, calendars, and so many money off vouchers that I think I lived off of free pizza for about a month.

Also don’t be afraid to go each year, yeah it’s called freshers fair but you don’t have to be a fresher to get free stuff.

3. Textbooks

Now this one depends on which subject you’re taking. For me textbooks were a waste of money as scientific books are basically out of date as soon as they’re published, and I used online journals for all of my papers anyway. My main tip though is that regardless of which subject your taking don’t buy your textbook right away, wait until you know whether or not you actually need to use them more than once. Until then the uni library often has copies or you can share with friends.

If it comes down to it and you have to buy a copy for yourself try abebooks.co.uk. This website is a godsend, it has a massive list of textbooks for incredibly reasonable prices. I’ve already said that I didn’t buy textbooks for my course, but I did have to buy some animal identification books for a field course module that I did, the book that I bought cost me £6 from abebooks, whereas everywhere else it was a minimum of £25.

Also if, like I said earlier, you find yourself using journals more than physical books you may run into the issue of the ‘paywall’. Most universities have access keys to the larger online journals but if there is a specific paper that you need for an assignment then email the author of that paper. The authors are often more than willing to send you the whole paper for free as they don’t get paid by the journals for access. Literally all of the money that you will spend getting past the paywall goes to the journal and not to the academics themselves.

4. Low waste supplies

If you really want to go all out and live as a low waste student then here are a few options for low waste alternatives to common products:

Lunch boxes – when you have a full day of classes you need something to keep you going. Investing in a stainless steel lunch box or linen lunch bag will both save you money and help reduce waste. By bringing food from home instead of eating out you reduce the chances of impulse buying expensive food or food that is wrapped in unnecessary plastic.

Drinks bottles – you may be lucky enough to get a free drinks bottle at the freshers fair but if not then invest in a sturdy metal bottle. I bought a Smash bottle for £12 from Sainsbury’s that can not only keep things cold for up to 24 hours but also keep hot drinks warm for up to 12 hours. I’ve actually taken to leaving the lid off for about half an hour so that I can actually drink my tea without burning my mouth.

Stationary – if you’re not sold on stocking up on free plastic pens at the freshers fair and want a more eco friendly option then try companies such as ‘Ecoverte’ for your eco friendly supplies. There are also many companies that make biodegradable highlighters but I find that underlining or colouring in with coloured pencils works just as well.

Earbuds – now this one isn’t necessarily an essential (although to some people it might be) but I thought it was quite cool. ‘Organic Sound’ are a company that make biodegradable earbuds so you can study and listen to music waste free.

The Vegan Hippy Market

So last week I went to a local festival called the Vegan Hippy Market. It was a great experience, especially as I knew that I could eat everything there, and there wasn’t just food, there were natural skin care products and up-cycled and recycled clothes. Meeting like-minded people and hearing good music whilst eating good food is in my opinion one of the best ways to spend a sunny day.

Food and drink

Some of my favourite stalls included the gourmet toast stall where I bought a lovely spinach, cashew and ‘cheese’ toastie. The Vegan burger stall Setain’s (pronounces satans) grill, that makes black bun burgers, unfortunately the stall was so popular that I couldn’t get a taste. There were also many vegan dessert stalls including Beau Monde that made amazing cupcakes, and Pip’s real hot chocolate co who make hot chocolate shots that you simply drop in hot milk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skincare

Many of the vegan skincare stalls provided their products in recyclable or refillable packaging. Like the Heavenly skin care organics stall where I bought some lovely deodorant powder, all of their products come in low waste packaging and they provide refills for their products if you send them your empty container.

Recycling

Finally there was a stall run by the followers of Master Cheng Yen, they work as Buddhist disaster relief workers and have also developed shopping bags made from recycled water bottles.

 

The Importance of Hemp

Hemp has many uses and should in my opinion be the go to ingredient for products such as packaging, clothing and paper. Many people have an issue with hemp as an ingredient in that they believe it can only be used as a drug, or that using a product with hemp in will cause you to get high. However the hemp plant and the marijuana plant are two different things, they are closely related, but trying to get a high from using hemp will probably not get you the effect that you expect. Hemp is easier to grow and hardier than marijuana, it doesn’t require the constant high temperatures and its fibres have been used for manufacturing purposes as far back as 8000BC.

Hemp Oil

One of the main uses of hemp is in the production of hemp oil. It can replace palm oil in many foods, as well as used to make candles, paint and in lotions for skin care. In the case of food oil, hemp is a good alternative to palm oil which is very detrimental to the environment, this is one of the reasons I no loner eat Nutella as its about 30% palm oil. Palm oil leaches nutrients from the soil making it impossible to grow anything else on the soil afterwards, and palm oil plantations often destroy native rainforests that are home to endangered species, such as the orangutang. Hemp plants take very few nutrients from the soil and have a quick growth rate which means that they only need a small area to grow in to be profitable. Paint made from hemp oil is non-toxic and has the added advantage of lasting longer than regular paint. Skin care products, such as moisturisers, that contain hemp oil aid in the regeneration of cracked and dry skin and are very good for those with skin conditions such as eczema.

Plastic

Plastic made from hemp is biodegradable and therefore can aid in reducing the amount of plastic sent to landfills. Regular plastic can take up to 1000 years to biodegrade, a plastic water bottle for example will hang around for roughly 450 years however a hemp plastic water bottle will be gone within six months. Non-biodegradable plastics are having a massive impact on the environment, you have no doubt seen news articles showing plastic bags found in the stomachs of dead animals, or floating islands full of plastic waste polluting our oceans.

Clothing

Hemp is used to make many types of clothing, from jeans to sportswear to jumpers. IT creates a highly durable fibre which helps your clothes to last longer. It is also, once again, less detrimental to the environment than its cotton alternative as it requires less water and space to grow. Many clothing lines and companies are now moving to hemp fibres so check out the labels of your next purchase to see if you can spot it.

Paper

Paper made from hemp is cheaper than paper made from trees as the growth rate of a harvestable hemp plant is 4-5 weeks, whereas a paper ready tree takes a minimum of 18 years to grow. Hemp paper is better for the environment as you can harvest enough hemp to meet demand from a relatively small area that can be replanted regularly, this also helps to save the trees as it reduces logging and protects the animals who live in those forested areas.

Construction

One of the least recognised uses of hemp is in construction. Hemp can be used to make cement for houses that is more weather resistant than regular cement, incurs less weather damage, and is once again less environmentally damaging as it is what is known as carbon-negative. Most people have heard of carbon-neutral, where the process of making and consuming a product creates as much carbon dioxide as was taken out of the atmosphere buy growing the materials. Carbon-negative products emit less carbon dioxide in their production and consumption than is taken in by the growing materials, in this case the hemp.

Fuel

Hemp is one of the plants used in many types of biofuel. Whilst many types of engines don’t currently take biofuel there has been an increasing demand for it, as once again biofuel is mostly carbon-neutral.