Low Waste Doesn’t Have to Cost the Earth

As more people are moving towards a low waste lifestyle it can seem as though with the myriad of ‘low waste alternatives’ on the market that you’re going to have to fork out a lot of money. However, as someone who started living low waste as a broke university student I can tell you that it doesn’t have to cost the earth, in fact in most ways low waste is actually cheaper. A lot of the low waste alternatives, the ones that are actually useful, last much longer than they’re disposable, wasteful counterparts. But as we’re getting closer to ‘No new September’ (Blog post on that coming soon) I thought I’d give you a few tips on low waste techniques that don’t cost anything.

1. Be more energy conscious

This one may seem like a no brainer but a lot of people still waste needless energy in their day to day lives. Turn of lights when you leave a room, turn your electronics off at the wall instead of leaving them on standby. And one of the most important things that will not only lower your energy bills and reduce your consumption but will also help you sleep better is turn off your TV’s and other screens when you go to be. So many people I know watch TV or Netflix in bed and then leave it running when they fall asleep, looking at a screen just before you go to sleep reduces the amount of melatonin your brain which makes it harder to fall asleep and causes any sleep that you do have to be less restful. Instead of watching TV try reading a book before bed or listening to some mellow music, it’ll calm your brain and allow you to sleep better and has the added advantage of using far less energy.

2. Refuse excess

There are many wasteful bits of excess in our everyday lives that we don’t think about such as receipts, bills, catalogues etc. Most of these have online alternatives, try taking a few moments out of your day to opt out of paper bills and bank statements and instead get them sent to you via email. Same with catalogues, I know that I have an issue with agreeing to sign up to catalogues when I’m in shops but practically every company has a dedicated website so there really is no need to accept them. Also if given the option refuse your receipt, a lot of places will provide a digital receipt now so you cans till keep on top of anything that you may need to return, but for everyday things like groceries etc just refuse the receipt.

3. Learn to make do and mend

This is not a new concept, but it is one that has unfortunately gone out of the mainstream consciousness. Instead of simply throwing out clothes and other items when they begin to wear out try mending them instead, there are plenty of tutorial videos online that will teach you basic sewing skills. For more complicated items such as electronics look in your local area to see if there is a repair café. Repair cafes are springing up more and more and most of the time they’re free and you can learn some useful skills and possibly make some really good friends whilst there.

4. Talk to your local council

For most people it seems pretty clear which items are recyclable, and which aren’t. Plastics – recyclable, paper – recyclable etc. However, there are certain things that councils don’t recycle, depending on their recycling facilities and budget. Try contacting your local council to find out if there is anything that they don’t recycle, and then you can avoid buying products that contain them in the future.

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.

The Negative Impact of Fast Fashion

The emergence of the fast fashion industry has not only caused an impact on most peoples bank accounts but also on the economy of the third world countries that supply this industry and on the environment as a whole.

Back in the 1950s and before there were a maximum of 4 seasons in the fashion calendar, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, or sometimes only two seasons, Winter and Summer (dress for the cold and dress for the warm). Now with the advent of fast fashion we have on average 52 seasons a year, this constant creation and movement of new clothes requires the growth of more materials, the use of more chemicals and results in more waste.

Most fast fashion companies outsource their production to members of third world countries because they know that they can pay them less and exploit lax health and safety laws, whilst touting about how they are helping these countries and their employees because ‘this way they have a job and are earning money’. Never mind that this money may not be enough to feed their family, or that their employees risk death and illness in these factories.

As well as causing a negative impact on the world environment, fast fashion also has an impact on our wallets. Whilst most high street shops offer their clothes for a good price, this quick change in stock often results in people buying more clothes than they need, often clothes that they will only wear once. There have also been reports of big name companies taking overstock and slicing it with packaging knives so that it cannot be resold or donated once new stock comes in, thus driving more sales.

So what to do?

Try shopping only when you know that you need something. I never window shop and only go into town when i’m looking for something in particular, this helps me to save money which then means that I can afford to buy something that I really want that is usually of higher quality and will therefore last longer. Also, moving my thinking from ‘I want that’ to ‘do I need that?’ has reduced the effect that advertising has on me. Instead of being sold on the lifestyle that these companies are claiming to provide, I now see adverts for what they are, a company trying to get my money by making me feel inferior.

Shop in charity shops. Whilst they may not always have what you want charity shops are a great place to find a bargain and you may stumble across a hidden gem. I’d been wanting a leather style jacket for ages but didn’t want to buy one from the high street, then whilst I was looking for a scarf in my local charity shop I stumbled upon a second hand leather jacket for £6! The other upside to supporting charity shops, other than the obvious, is that by buying at charity shops I can reduce the amount of things thrown away and I can extend a clothing’s lifespan.

Try making some stuff for yourself. Now this isn’t going to be for everyone, I enjoy sewing and making things so the prospect of making an outfit for myself is quite exciting, for some of you that is probably not your idea of fun and that’s okay. Dressmakers and tailors are still around and will make something for you that fits perfectly and will last longer than the cheap mass produced items.

For more information about the fast fashion world and the impact it has on the environment, third world countries and your own pocket then I highly recommend watching ‘The True Price’ on Netflix, it goes much more in-depth into the impact the fashion industry has and ways in which you can help combat it.

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.