I haven’t posted on here in a while, I know!
But if you’re hungry for some content – check out this article I wrote about greenwashing on LinkedIn!
Hope you’re having a good day! Let me know what you think in the comments.❤️
I haven’t posted on here in a while, I know!
But if you’re hungry for some content – check out this article I wrote about greenwashing on LinkedIn!
Hope you’re having a good day! Let me know what you think in the comments.❤️
It’s easy to get swept up in the joy and indulgence of the holiday season, especially in a year like this one. I’m not here to tell you to hold back – I am diving head-first into Christmas this year. Drinking in the holiday spirit like it’s oxygen. But we all know this time of year is one of excess, leading to large amounts of waste.
I’m sure many of you reading this will make great efforts to minimise your impact at this time of year – and one of those efforts is through militant recycling! Which is great! I would like to ensure you are equipped with with the information you need to be a recycling dynamo this holiday season.
An estimate from 2013 (the most recent I could find) suggests that the UK throws away enough wrapping paper to stretch to the moon or round the world NINE times each year. I like to think we’ve come a long way since then, but knowing the chaos of Christmas and how people would rather shove it in a bin bag and be done with it – one can’t be sure. In addition to this blasé attitude, a major problem with recycling wrapping paper is that not all of it is recyclable. The paper is often adorned with glitter, plastic coatings, and metallic embellishments making them lovely to look at, but sealing their fate in the waste bin.
Similarly festive cards, with an estimated 900 million to 1.7 billion being sent each year in the UK, are also often covered with non-recyclable aspects such as glitter, glue, metallics etc. However, it is estimated as much as 1 billion cards that could be recycled end up in the bin!
Many people don’t try to recycle their Christmas waste, the stress of Christmas Day is enough already, but it isn’t as hard as you think.
If you can scrunch your paper into a ball and it stays there, it is likely that this paper is able to be recycled! If it doesn’t pass the test, it will need to be put to general waste or reused.
Tis the season of glitter. Which is, unfortunately, not recyclable. To be recyclable, your wrapping paper and cards need to be:
Anything that has any of the above should be put into general waste or repurposed.
Many councils will accept appropriate wrapping paper in their collections but some don’t as the paper mills won’t accept it. So to ensure that your paper will get recycled and you aren’t contaminating other recyclable items, check with your local authority first. Most will have a website you can check, or give them a call!
Sticky tape is non-recyclable plastic and contaminates the paper, making it much harder to recycle. To ensure that your paper can be recycled, check for stray bits of plastic!
If, like me, you hate when people just rip into the paper from anywhere so you take twice as long as everyone else opening presents carefully along the tape lines. If you’re careful enough, you will probably be able to use this paper again. Everyone’s gotta have a thing, so why not be that person who hoards used wrapping paper? It’s for the planet.
Christmas cards and wrapping paper that is beyond saving can be upcycled into new cards, present tags, a collage, a scrapbook, decoupage, and more I’m sure. Your trash could be your treasure.
If you haven’t wrapped your presents yet, consider using something other than traditional wrapping paper.
I know you have better things to be doing than painstakingly sorting your recycling this Christmas, but many hands make light work. Ten minutes out of your 2020 is nothing, and you know it. Stay safe, wash your hands, and have a happy new year!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
The world is a little topsy-turvy right now. Scary and very uncertain. But this you probably already know. I am writing this from my staycation (self-isolation). While what is happening right now is nothing short of a disaster and showing the true colours of many countries (the UK, for example), the environment seems to be grateful for a little respite.
I have sometimes been guilty of the sentiment that “people are the problem” but I know, and I’m sure you do too, that the real problem is actually capitalism. If anything, COVID-19 has shown us that people, mostly, are kind and thoughtful. When unbridled by the capitalist system, we turn to art, music, community, and mindfulness. Please keep all notions of “what do you propose instead of capitalism? SOCIALISM?” to yourself. I don’t propose anything, that is a job for someone much more qualified than I.
What prompted me to write this post was mainly the posts of the animals ‘returning’ to the canals of Venice – including the swans, dolphins, and the fish! But, we now know that this was untrue. We also know that the water in the canals being clear has nothing to do with pollution either, it’s simply because the sediment has settled out from lack of boat traffic. There are countless memes taking the mick out of people for believing this. Even I believed it at first, we all wanted so desperately to believe that nature is just that tenacious and resilient. We wanted it to be true. However, do not fret. There is still some good environmental news.
In the light of the novel coronavirus outbreak, China has banned the trade of wildlife. The virus is thought to have come from animals (a zoonotic disease) and a direct result of the erosion of biodiversity. This ban is groundbreaking as China, heavily set in its traditional ways, has been a pain in conservationists’ sides for a long time.
There are calls from conservationists to make the ban permanent, so we shall see what happens here. Although, China’s pledge is only to amend the aspects of the law that pertain to consumption of wild meat and not the sections referring to fur, leather, or parts needed for traditional medicines. There are worries that this exemption will lead to legalised trade in the future, in the hopes that regulations will prevent further outbreaks or that the temporary nature of the ban will mean business-as-usual once this is all over. Only time will tell, I suppose.
Here in Kingston, the roads are scarily clear. Usually there are hour-long traffic jams that occur twice a day. Without a reliable public transport system everyone is either driving or in a taxi. But no more. Almost everyone is staying themselves indoors. I live on a busy main road and it has never been so quiet in my apartment.
There has been a noticeable and measurable decrease in air pollution levels in areas, such as Italy and China, that have taken strict countermeasures against the spread of the virus. No vehicles or industry operation = no pollution.
If you’re social distancing (and unless you’re providing a necessary service i.e. medical or food retail etc., you should be) you are saving more than just lives – you may be saving the planet as well by slowing climate change.
With most flights grounded, and many people working from home – it tracks that the levels of greenhouse gases being produced would be greatly reduced. It is stated that one of the greatest things an individual can do for the environment, is to reduce unnecessary travel. Since we’re all going nowhere, there’s very little necessary travel to be done. There are other factors at play here, such as people using their home climate control because they’re home more and people filling the long hours with some online shopping. Both of which may end up offsetting any climate benefits from reduced travel.
I know it might be foolish of me to feel optimistic about any future environmental benefits of this, but we have to find the good where it lives. All these improvements are temporary. It is very likely that as soon as we are all set free again, these levels will quickly return to the way they were and maybe even get worse. People will double down on all the things they have been deprived of. Yes, we will go a bit nuts for a week or so. Hopefully, once we get it all out of our system we can reflect on the lessons learned from this experience and be better for it. Wishful thinking perhaps. I believe that this lil break, this little hiatus gives us the space to understand that maybe we don’t need to be on the go all the time.
Despite what may be negligible overall climate benefits, I think this is a real teaching moment. People are working from home, learning from home, and functioning with some semblance of normalcy. Things that many would have deemed improbable a few weeks ago. Some things do require us to commute, but the majority of the time it is unneeded. I personally have felt that I would benefit from being able to working from home – almost all of my work is doable from my bedroom and I could still come in for meetings or when I needed some social interaction. Unfortunately, it seems my prayers were answered (be careful what you wish for)! I’d like to think we’ll see more people taking the opportunity to work from home in the wake of this pandemic. And, as a result, lessen the impact that our excessive travelling is having on the environment. Here’s hoping the powers that be take some steps to make this a reality.
Hopefully, the inability to travel doesn’t jeopardise the climate negotiations scheduled for this year and cause more harm than good.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Lots of love,
In these uncertain times of toilet-paper-hoarding, having to get resourceful, and disinfectant wipes being used by the truckload, there are worries that our already struggling sewage systems will be unable to cope if people take to flushing all this. Here I am, writing to you live from isolation to remind you NOT to flush any kind of wipe down the toilet. Please, do not flush anything but toilet paper and excrement. That means no kitchen roll, no baby wipes, no surface wipes – this all needs to go in the bin.
The only things that should be flushed down the loo are “3Ps: poo, pee and (toilet) paper“.
It’s not the end of the world if you find yourself without toilet paper in the near future. For quite some time, people were dealing with their business without it! Get back to your ancestral roots! Here are a couple of ideas:
Groundbreaking, right? But there really is no more effective way to clean up after you go, than to have a good wash! People have been doing it for a long time. If you’re fancy, use your bidet.
The Romans cleaned up after a number two using a sponge on a stick. If it’s good enough for the Romans, its good enough for you.
If you’re too scared of your own bum to clean it any other way, then nature’s toilet paper may be for you. Do not flush these down the toilet, the compost may be a better shout.
Sewage systems are fast moving environments, there isn’t a lot of time for anything to biodegrade down there. Not to mention the mostly anaerobic conditions do not benefit degradation. This means that even things that are biodegradable, will NOT breakdown in the sewage system. This includes thick paper products like paper towels. And it means that wipes (yes, even the biodegradable/flushable ones) are out of the question.
If we do not treat our sewage system with care and respect, we can cause a lot of problems for ourselves, and for the environment. It can be very easy to adopt the mindset of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ when it comes to the sewage system – as it’s supposed to get rid of stuff. Unfortunately, it is only designed for some stuff (i.e. poop), anything else will cause blockages like the massive fatbergs that cause the whole system to crumble. Blockages like this can cause flooding and pollution. Not ideal. So respect your sewage system and bin it instead.
Only flush the three Ps: poop, pee, and (toilet) paper.
Lots of love,
Evidently, my favourite thing to do is to just up and move halfway across the world. This time it’s Jamaica! I am currently working as an (unpaid) intern, doing communications and outreach for an environmental NGO. Really living-my-best-life kinda stuff. And it feels like it! I can already see that I am gonna be very sad when I have to leave, and I’ve only been here one month.
Environmentally, Jamaica is gorgeous. But for somewhere blessed with a natural beauty only rivalled by other tropical island nations, they don’t seem to be too keen on preserving it. The environmental consciousness is almost non-existent here. And as someone said to me, quite rightly so – where so many people are struggling on the breadline, there are more important things to worry about.
Despite this, a national single-use plastics ban was imposed. This was originally for (big) plastic bags and straws, but was expanded this January to include styrofoam. And yet… since I have been here, I have been offered so many plastic bags. Often when I’m like “I don’t need a bag”, they look at me like I’ve just told them my darkest secret. Par example, I was buying sweet potatoes in the supermarket and the look that came over the cashiers face when she asked if I hadn’t seen the bags available, was that of sheer panic. Followed by confusion, when I assured her my potatoes were bag-less by design, and that I didn’t want one. When I spoke to people about the ban, the problem seems to be that no one was consulted, or even warned that it was going to happen. The ban was just imposed and people had to deal with it. Paper bags and paper straws are now commonplace here but more because they have to be. How do you change a nation’s mindset?
While there is a lot to be desired in terms of environmentalism, there are so many things to be celebrated. There seems to be an increasing environmental awareness occurring. I’m not sure if this is because it’s my job to notice environmental activism, and those who are striving to make improvements. Mostly, I’ve noticed a lot about water preservation. In a drought-prone country, this is essential but it was nice to hear it on the radio in the morning. They were even discussing the water footprint of meat and encouraging people to eat more vegetables!
The Jamaica Environment Trust has a Campaign ‘Nuh Dutty up Jamaica‘, where they are aiming to instil recycling and other environmentally sensitive ideals onto the Jamaican consciousness. And from what I can tell, they’re doing a pretty good job – by bringing a bag of recyclable plastic to one of their events, you can win a prize!
It’s exciting to see change happen in real-time. Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments!
This is a positive post, I promise!
I feel recently like I’ve lost my environmental mojo. But I am making a conscious effort to not let myself fall into apathy. Not to get too tin-foil-hat about it but big business relies on our apathy, our fatigue, and our indifference to maintain their profit margins. In a world where we are continuously scapegoated (especially millennials) for eating avocados or watching Netflix, and supposedly single-handedly destroying the environment, we need to remain vigilant and call bullsh*t what it is.
Nothing you do is without negative consequences. No matter what you do, you’re making things worse some way. I had this realisation in one my lectures recently, where my lecturer was talking about how the maps that ecologists make of forest fragments or rare species etc. are used by logging companies and poachers to achieve their nefarious goals. These scientists are trying understand those aspects of ecology more and potentially conserve them, only to further in it’s destruction. You can apply this idea to anything, really. No matter how eco-friendly you live your life it’s a net-negative impact, unfortunately. Naturally, this is not the fault of the person trying to make things better, but it does inspire a feeling of ‘what is the point then?’ness.
Anywayyyy, you will make yourself sick if you try to understand the environmental consequences of every decision you make. If you’re a The Good Place fan then you’ll relate. The world is painfully complicated now. Everything you do makes things slightly worse in some way, but that’s okay. That’s one of the many unfortunate consequences of being human and having some self-awareness. So, rather than focus on all the things going wrong, for a change I’m going to look at some positive things!
Sure, we’re probably heading for environmental ruin and some apocalyptic hellscape beyond that. But credit where credit is due, we’re trying our best. Here are some things that have brightened my life recently.
Nudes for Australian Wildfire relief:
One brave girl deserves our respect, raising over $1million for the Aus wildfire relief effort by selling her nudes. We stan a queen. People are getting real mad about it. Her family have disowned her. Honestly, as a woman people are going to sexualise you and try to use you for their own dirty ends no matter what. So, why not raise money to save the world while you’re at it? It’s obviously working and if you have a problem with it, it says more about you than it does her. Save the koalas! You can donate here.
Thailand plastic bag ban:
At the turn of the new decade Thailand introduced a plastic bag ban. Which is pretty great news on its own, but the ingenuity of the locals in carrying their shopping was the real star of this show.
The Ocean clean up – mission 1 complete!
You have probably heard of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch which is the possibly (no one is sure) the size of Texas. Well, the clean up successfully completed its first mission last month! The plastic will be recycled into new goods for sale and the last remaining kinks in the technology ironed out so that the patch can be cleaned completely!
It’s hard to be green, but at least we’re trying. Green looks different on everybody. Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments!
Warning: this post discusses mental health and suicide.
I want to talk about something that I’ve been thinking about for sometime. I started this blog just before the end of my final year of undergrad and I dove in head-first. I made all of my social media a constant influx of environmental news so that I could remain inspired and up-to-date. But, boy, did that backfire. It turns out that being constantly angry or upset about something is exhausting and not super great for your mental health.
My masters was very mentally intense and constant barrage of environmental doom-and-gloom has left me feeling slightly apathetic towards it all. I have had to remove anything remotely serious from my sphere of influence. Memes only please. I am working on this blog again, however, which is a good sign.
So, to be a hypocrite about spreading doom-and -gloom, here is some information on the mental health consequences of our current and future environmental circumstances.
Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more deadly. As you can imagine, this takes a huge toll on a person’s mental health. Losing loved ones or all your earthly possessions will do that to you.
People dealing with these extreme weather events show elevated incidence of anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress. The symptoms of which are often felt long after the event has subsided. Climate change has also been seen to increase suicide rates as a result of extreme weather. People of a lower socio-economic status are the most vulnerable.
Being prepared for extreme weather events can help reduce the mental health impacts – so if you are at risk, make sure you have proper emergency plans in place or are prepared for the worst events. In the UK, we are relatively insulated from natural disaster but preparation for events such as flooding, heatwaves, or severe winters can help save lives. You can read more about this in my post on climate change here.
With changing climates, extreme weather events are going to become more frequent. And the impacts of mental health more prevalent. If you are struggling with your mental health, you can find some more information here.
While it is hard to not want to do everything in your power to make change, you can solve every problem. I have definitely noticed some changes in myself as a result of just hearing about all the problems in the world. And I am very insulated from the actual effects of climate change.
Humans are not designed to process this amount of tragedy. A few hundred years ago we would have to deal with the stuff that directly affects us. Now, we are expected to be concerned with everything, all the time. It is important to remind yourself that you don’t have to care and you shouldn’t feel guilty for not caring. Obviously, you should care that people are dying etc. you just don’t have to take everything on as ‘you problem’.
Please let me know your thoughts on this in the comments!
I am a few days away from being finished with my degree and just under a week away from having to move (again). I am not someone who travels light, a constant source of stress for myself and those around me. But who am I without all my things?? No one. Anyway, as I am once more sifting through all my clothes and other things that I have accumulated, I realised something. Being environmentally aware has turned me into a hoarder. Some hereditary tendencies come into as well, I’m sure. But I keep things because I don’t really know what to do with them and feel guilty about just chucking them.
This is largely because:
They’ll end up in landfill. Or worse.
Take, for example, my old worn out gym trainers. I don’t need them any more, I have new ones that actually support my feet. I can’t donate them because they are worn out and who would want them. It would just mean they’d be thrown out next week and not today. Nike will apparently take any brand of athletic shoe to be recycled at participating stores, so I will have a look into that. Alternatively, you could donate to a charity, that shoes the needy abroad such as Sal’s Shoes or Shoe Aid.
I also have a big bag full of old make up, that I kid myself I will use again. If I’m honest with myself I know I only use max like 5 products so the bag of 50 will go forever unused. I have, in the past, seen the above bins in Boots but I am not sure if they are still hosting them, the website says very little. There are also the TerraCycle schemes which are free to use and set up, if there isn’t a collection point already near you.
Essentially this post serves as a public name and shame for myself. Marie Kondo your life, gal. But also I am lamenting the consumerist society that we are trapped in, and the existential crisis it is forcing me to have as I sit in front of my overflowing wardrobe. Just stop buying clothes, I hear you say. I cannot, unfortunately. I will not.
If you have any thoughts or tips please, leave them below!
I have written on here in a while, I know. Uni has taken up so much of time and brain power that writing a whole other thing seems impossible! But, I promise I will have a juicy new post for you in the next couple of weeks!
The People’s Choice Award is now open for voting! If you could VOTE FOR ME that would be amazing! Go to Menti.com and use the code 98 44 40 to gain access to the voting!
UPDATE: Voting is now closed! Unfortunately, I didn’t win. Thank you to everyone who voted for me. xx
I have been a bit absent of late, I fell briefly out of love with my blog (and I have had a lot of pressure from uni). I have been feeling that I preach too much and, honestly, who am I to tell anyone else what to do. I have since come to the conclusion that I am only human and am trying – so, I’m gonna cut myself some slack. In the spirit of transparency, this post is an honest look back at my attempts at sustainability for 2018. I realise we are well into January now, but you’ll just have to forgive me that.
A lot happened for me in 2018 – I graduated with my bachelors degree, started my masters, visited Africa for the first time, missed my first ever flight, voluntarily put myself up for an ‘election’ (and ‘won’), and started this blog! When you reach New Year, you often find yourself lamenting how quickly the year has gone, but it’s quite likely you’ve achieved more than you think. Either way, I have big plans for 2019!
I LOVE my reusable period products. So much so I almost get excited about my period because I’m such a great person for using reusable products (joking, obviously). But seriously, it does make me feel much better about my suffering, knowing that I’ve reduced my impact on the environment.
I talk about periods in this post.
Okay, so this is still one of my favourite ‘zero-waste’ swaps. It’s great! I don’t really shave that much currently because I’m lazy and I don’t really leave the house much any more. BUT I still love it, you’re always guaranteed to have a usable razor that isn’t going to fuck your legs up or give you tetanus because you left it in the shower for too long.
I talk about my razor more in this post.
The clay ‘shampoo’ I tried, I used probably twice simply because it was so much effort to wash myself and then do some washing-up after (you have to mix it up). It does clean your hair but also not as clean as a conventional shampoo would. I now use a shampoo bar – so no plastic bottles and much easier.
The apple cider vinegar conditioner, I still use but I use it in addition to a conditioner bar (a solid block of conditioner you rub on your head) to make my hair super shiny!
I made some body butter. It smelled amazing. I haven’t really used it much recently because you have to wait for it to soak into your skin. It does make your skin very soft though (and smell great). I also have a stockpile of moisturiser from Christmases past that I’m trying to work through before I make/buy any more moisturiser.
Metal straws are great, and so fancy! However, my clumsy self would lose her face if it wasn’t strapped to her head – so these straws are at great risk of never being seen again. I have so far avoided losing my straws by never taking them anywhere with me, they are my house straws. The constant losing and purchasing of reusable straws would likely end up in a much greater footprint that if I just used disposables. Leaving my reusable straws at home is probably a very sensible thing to do for me but it does mean that I end up using (sometimes plastic) straws outside the house. Especially if I’m drunk – straws are never as appealing as they are after a few drinks.
I talk about plastic straws and their reusable alternatives in this post (I got into a pretty heated argument with a Facebook mum over this post – she was mad mad).
You may recall that I tried to make my own roll-on deodorant. Well, it worked for a bit but it ended up just going brown and all solid. So, I decided to make a different one using this recipe – this one was more solid and you had to use your fingers to put it on. I used it for a month or so and it started going brown and smelling weird. On top of that, it gave me a very sore rash under my arms (which makes sense, as the key ingredient is bicarbonate of soda – you live and you learn). After two failed attempts at making my own deodorant, I’ve decided to go back to a conventional roll-on deodorant for now, but will look into some more earth and body friendly alternatives when I have the time.
The bamboo toothbrush is something that I love and still use! It’s a toothbrush.
A couple of months back wrote a post pledging to try harder at being vegan – unfortunately, I lied. I tried a little bit, but I’m about as close to being vegan as I am to fitting into a size 6 (not close at all). I want to be vegan theoretically and morally but I have the willpower of an untrained puppy. Maybe this year will be the year.
My mum bought me a ceramic My Little Pony takeaway coffee mug (I don’t have a pic, unfortunately), which I loved and used religiously for months. That was, until I realised I left it in a sink in London about two weeks ago, and was too hungover to go back for it. Hopefully, she won’t read this. I am torn between buying a new one and just leaving it – it’s either the footprint of an additional mug simply because I am an idiot or the guilt of having lost something my mum bought me.
There were some other things I changed this year but I’m pretty sure I’ve stuck with most of those – these are just the highlights 😂.
This year is going to be tough for me but I am looking forward to it! But that also means that I will probably be blogging less than I would like to.
Let’s chat soon, Jessica xoxo