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I’m An ‘Eco’ Hoarder

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:

  • I know what will happen to these items if I throw them away.
  • I know what will likely happen to them if I recycle them.
  • I know what will likely happen if I donate them.

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.

boots

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!

Jessica xx

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Safe Sex, Waste Less

*WARNING – this post contains some very mature themes and sexual references*

So, sex – it’s pretty great (obvs, not everyone is of this opinion but this post isn’t really for them). But what is less great are unwanted babies and STDs. That is where the modern miracle of contraception comes in! I am here to tell you that you CAN indulge in all your sexy desires, stay safe, and maintain a low environmental impact!

I will say that NOTHING is more unsustainable than putting another person on the planet (especially unwanted ones) – this should be avoided at all costs!! Luckily, us millennials/Gen Zs are killing every other industry, so the baby industry might as well be next! Babies, you have been warned.

Honestly, the only thing that will keep you safe form children and/or STDs are condoms/femdoms/dental dams. But these are NOT reusable (despite what some may say). Until such a time you find a long-term bae (if ever, who needs ’em?) where you are both tested and on appropriate long-acting reversible contraception, the aforementioned are your best bet. It is impossible to have safe, zero-waste sex without a trusted sex partner!

While some of what I am going to cover mostly applies to everyone (i.e. condoms, etc.), most of what I am going to cover is geared towards penis-in-vagina sex. Enjoy xx


A venn diagram of the contraceptives that protect you from stds, babies, and both.

Abstinence is on there to make sure I don’t go straight to hell (NHS)


Condoms/Female Condoms/Dental Dams:

Okay, so, in terms of safe sex – condoms are king! This should be pretty much common sense. Don’t be silly, wrap your willy. Condoms come in all shapes (really just one shape), sizes, colours, and flavours – so there shouldn’t be any issues with finding one that works for you. Unfortunately, by virtue of what they’re made of and their single-use purpose, condoms are not ‘zero-waste’ but there are some things you can do to feel better about using them! Remember, using a few condoms is wayyy more sustainable than having to be treated for an STD or putting whole other person on the planet!

A female hand holds a condom in the foreground with a man led in a double bed in the background.

Condom choice:

Making good choices makes all the difference, in all areas of your life – from sliding it in, to buying a car. Condoms are always going to come in those little safety foil wrappers (until they come up with something better) which are not recyclable, so there’s no winning on that front. But you can buy more ethically sourced condoms!

These condoms are all-natural rubber latex and vegan finished. The rubber is fairtrade and sourced from a plantation in Southern India. These condoms are produced in Germany.

L. condoms are are fair trade and eco-friendly. For every condom purchased, one is donated to a developing community. Particular attention is paid to women and girls, who are exclusively hired to distribute the condoms in the recipient communities.

These condoms are produced from natural rubber latex sourced from a sustainable FSC organic rubber plantation in Southern India. The condoms are vegan (no animals proteins used in finishing) and are free of carcinogenic nitrosamines. The plantation workers are paid a living wage and no child labour is used.

These condoms are vegan, fair trade, and ethically made. The rubber is sourced from sustainably run plantations with efforts to reduce carbon footprints. The packaging is recycled and uses vegetable inks for printing. The company also donates millions of condoms to HIV/AIDS prevention.

Sir Richard’s condoms are vegan, chemical-free, and made from natural rubber latex. For every condom sold, they donate one to the developing world.

Half of the rubber produced every year is synthetic, the other half is naturally occurring latex. Rubber (what latex is made from) production originated in the Amazon basin and is produced from the sap of the native Pará rubber tree. Amazonian have been producing latex products long before the white people came and stole that too. Now, most of the natural rubber latex is produced on plantations in Asia.

A lush green forest with a waterfall over a cliff - a blue sky with some white clouds. Photo by Renan Bomtempo from Pexels

Natex is a company, in partnership with Wild Rubber, that produces condoms from independent rubber tappers and wild trees in the Amazon rainforest. These types of rainforest products are incredibly valuable as they help locals earn money from the forest without deforesting! The Brazilian government purchases these condoms for free distribution in the fight against AIDS. Nine million of these froest-friendly condoms were given away at the Rio Olympics in 2016! Unfortunately, they do not currently sell them internationally, but perhaps they will in the future!

More Natex condoms = Less deforestation

Most of the eco/ethical condom companies I could find were based in America. You can still buy them online but all that shipping probably negates any environmental good the condom itself does. If you are lucky enough to live near a zero-waste or whole foods type of shop, see if they carry some ethical condoms! I do know, however, most people my age get their condoms from the clinic because free – condoms are not factored into a student budget, unfortunately.

Compost:

I bet you didn’t know that condoms are compostable! Well, now you do. You can throw a condom in your compost heap and it will biodegrade (albeit quite slowly). This only applies to the natural rubber latex condoms – do not throw synthetic latex condoms in the compost, as they  do not degrade and will stay there forever. The Pasante ones you get from clinics on the NHS are made from natural rubber latex! If you plan to compost your condoms, stick to water-based lubricants. Also, I wouldn’t suggest composting your condoms if you don’t have a private compost bin at home. It might not be ideal for others to be finding your used condoms in their communual compost bin!

A sign pointing in the direction of the toilets in front of some greenery. Photo by Hafidz Alifuddin from Pexels

Whatever you do with your condoms, never flush them down the toilet!!! No matter what they are made of. Theses will clog our sewers and could end up in the ocean. Not even natural latex condoms biodegrade in water. A giant fatberg that formed and blocked a sewer in London was comprised mainly of flushed condoms.

Synthetic condoms:

Synthetic condoms are made from petrochemicals, which is not great for a number of reasons. Not least being oil extraction methods. So, where possible try to stick to natural latex ones. I know some people are allergic to latex so they should definitely continue to use whatever condoms they want (except lambskin ones, that’s gross and don’t protect from STIs). Here are some of the condoms that are made from synthetic materials.

Condom wrappers:

Each condoms comes in its own individual safety foil wrapper – this is plastic-covered aluminum foil. This is not recyclable, which isn’t great. With such a big push at the moment to reduce the amount of waste we produce (especially plastic) this unavoidable waste stings a bit. So, you could try having less sex (ew) or you could save up your condom wrappers and have a go at making an Ecobrick!

An Ecobrick is a plastic bottle filled with non-recyalable plastics – like crisp packets and condom wrappers! The bottle is tightly packed with plastics so that it becomes rock solid (it would take a lot of condom wrappers – so get busy). These ‘bricks’ can then be used to make all kinds of things. They have become especially useful in emerging economies where they have a lot of rubbish and a lack of infrastructure to properly deal with it. It kills two birds with one stone! In countries such as the UK, it is more of a novelty thing but can still be amazingly useful – you could build some furniture or flower beds, using rubbish!


Intrauterine Device (IUD):

The IUDs are small, t-shaped pieces of plastic that are inserted into your womb by a trained medical professional. They prevent pregnancy by releasing copper and making the womb uninhabitable by both sperm and the egg – the womb becomes no mans land. This an example of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) as once the device is removed, fertility returns to normal. The IUD can remain in place for 5-10 years, depending on the type. Periods can become heavier, longer, and more painful but it really depends on the person. I have the copper IUD – so, no babies for me. I love it! I am fortunate enough to have minimal period discomfort (some of my friends can’t move from their bed when bleeding, because it hurts so much) and this foreign object only makes the cramps mildly worse. There is also an Intraunterine System (IUS) which is a hormonal version working to thicken the cervical mucus and thin the womb lining to prevent pregnancy.

There is an increased risk of developing Bacterial Vaginosis or BV (is NOT an STI) with the IUD/IUS, which I have become far too familiar with since getting mine put in. I am very reluctant to get rid of my coil as its so easy – there’s nothing to remember and no hormones (so no contraceptive depression!). I’m not yet at the point where I want it out, but unless I can figure out the trigger for the BV, I may have to reconsider my contraceptive options.

This method will stay with you for a long time so that means less resources and a lower environmental impact! Unfortunately it does not protect against STIs, only babies, so you’ll still need to use a condom if you’re at risk of catching one. Also, if you continue to get BV, you’ll continue to need to treat BV – this is not so great for the environment (or your body, if using antibiotics). The nurse at the clinic told me that it will go away on it’s own, eventually, but that’s a lot longer than I would like to have it.


Hormonal Contraceptives:

Hormonal contraceptive How often it needs a re-up.
The Pill(s) Everyday
The Patch Once a week
Vaginal Ring Once a month
Injection Every 8-13 weeks
Implant Every 3 years
Intraunterine System (IUS) Every 3-5 years

Hormonal contraceptives either work by preventing the release of an egg each month or by thickening the cervical mucus and thinning the uterine lining to prevent sperm reaching the egg and the egg implanting. I was on the pill for the best part of a year and I liked the freedom of worry-free sex. But it really came at cost – I was depressed, gained loads of weight, and generally wasn’t myself. I would find myself snapping really easily at the guy I was seeing and generally being kind of a bitch. So, at that point I decided I’d rather just use condoms than put myself through all that. But everyone reacts differently to hormones and there are so many different types of pills to choose from.

Unfortunately, they all have side-effects (having a vagina van be so tough). Symptoms include increased risk of blood clots, increased risk of cancer, increased risk of depression, and mood swings. But they can be invaluable, many women suffer from excruciating period pain or have endometriosis – the combined pill can help reduce pain levels greatly.

Environmentally wise, the less often something needs replacing or topping up, the better. The pill hormonal comes in plastic blister packs, which are recyclable, but it is better to avoid plastic water where possible.  And as you have to constantly take the pills it can add up to a lot of plastic! Hormonal birth control also contributes (along with many other sources) to the estrogen pollution of our environment – this has a negative impact on the reproductive capabilities of fish. Again, hormonal birth controls do not protect from STIs, so condoms will still be needed.


Vasalgel:

This is a Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive for men! A polymer gel is injected into the sperm-carrying tubes in the scrotum. The gel carries a positive charge which damages the negatively charged sperm cells, rendering them infertile. This method of contraception is 98% effective and is as permanent as you want it to be. The gel is dissolved by a second injection and fertility returns to normal! Your performance is not affected.

This is a great development in contraception as it finally relieves some of the burden on women! It will vastly reduce waste but, as with all the other contraceptives, it should still be used with condoms if you are with a new partner (or if you or your partner have been in contact with an STI).


Sterilisation:

If you are certain that you’ll never wanna produce a mini-me, then sterilisation could be the answer for you! Your reproductive organs are permanently closed off (it is possible to have it reversed but not guaranteed, so it’s best to be sure) to prevent a baby invasion. Both penis-having and vagina-having people can be surgically sterilised (it’s one of the few ways men can contribute to contraception 🙄). Obviously, sterilisation doesn’t mean you can never have kids – you could have your stuff frozen, you could foster or adopt, or you could just get a pet.

An operating theatre - two female medical practitioners are looking at something on the other side of a sheet

Sterisation is one of the more sustainable /zero-waste options as it’s done once and you’re done forever. But, of course, if you have sex with people you don’t know that well etc. you should 100% use a condom because being sterile does not protect you from STIs.


‘Natural’ Family Planning:

Natural Family Planning is possible, but you really have to be committed to the cause. Like really committed. Which I suppose you would be, if you didn’t want a baby! This method of contraception involves a woman keeping track of a number of indicators everyday and keep a log of them. These factors include recording your basal body temperature, changes to your cervical secretions, and the length of your menstrual cycle. Small changes in your life can change how accurate the readings are – things such as illness, stress, travel, or other lifestyle factors.

This method, when used perfectly, can be up to 99% effective – that’s the same as condoms! But when you are ‘fertile’ you have to either avoid sex or use a condom. There are apps you can get to help you to remember to measure your indicators and to keep track of them. These apps are not a substitute for getting advice from a trained specialist! I am skeptical of methods like this, it just seems like such a big gamble. People forget stuff. And, who has the time (or energy) to be taking their temperature and measuring their mucus everyday?

How ‘eco’ this method of contraception is really depends on how much sex you’re having. If you are having little to no sex then this is great for that as it would almost be a waste to use another kind of contraception. But if you are having a lot of sex


Diaphragm/Cap:

The diaphragm is a a soft, circular piece of silicone that is inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix and prevent sperm from entering the uterus. The diaphragm is covered in spermcidal jelly before insertion, to kill the sperm. The cap needs to be left in place for 6 hours after sex and more spermicide is needed if it has been in place for more than 3 hours before use. This method of contraception is 92-96% effective. You cannot use it during your period as there is a risk of getting Toxic Shock Syndrome, so alternative contraception will need to be used or sex should be avoided. A diaphragm will last up to a year, if cared for properly.

In my opinion, a diaphragm seems like a lot of work. But in terms of waste and environmentalism is it better for the environment than using a load of condoms. Obviously, if you have a new partner or are on your period you should use condoms anyway – so it doesn’t completely eliminate the need for condoms. Also, silicone is a plastic and therefore a derivative of crude oil – which is generally not great.


The pinterest pin for the 'Safe sex, waste less' post - features a banana dipped in cream


Long-acting reversible contraceptives are the most sustainable in terms of waste generation and baby prevention, But the only sure-fire way to prevent STIs is to use condoms and dental dams. Sex should be fun so you need to be comfortable with the contraceptive you are using. You obviously can use any information you like to make a decision on contraceptives but ensure it is YOUR decision and that you are happy with it. You might have noticed that I did not list the ‘pull-out’ method above – this is because it is not a method of contraception and should not be done.

If you want to read some more about my vagina, check out my Sustainable Period post!

I’ve overshared about my sex life, why don’t you – let’s chat in the comments!

Jessica xx

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Giving Oil Spills A Haircut

*WARNING – this post contains content that some may find distressing*

Obviously, in an ideal world, a discussion about oil spills is one that we wouldn’t need to have. A world where oil is left where it is because we don’t need it, as all our energy is renewably sourced and capitalism doesn’t exist. We can only hope for the future. But as it stands, oil spills are a recurring reality. You would think with all the money in it and how long they’ve been at it, they could figure out how to do it safely. But no. It almost seems like we aren’t supposed to remove it from under the ocean!

Ships moving a boom through an oil slick

An oil spill occurs when a tanker, drilling platform, pipeline, refinery, or oil-well have some kind of incident and release liquid petroleum into the environment. This can happen either on land or at sea -but it is the most environmentally costly at sea. At sea, oil spills spread out over a vast area – there is NO way to effectively contain and clean something that essentially spans a whole ocean. The spill can impact on every level of the marine ecosystem and has far-reaching effects.

In the last 40 years there have been ~149 oil spills, both on land and at sea, ranging in size from 314 litres of oil up to 730.46 million litres of oil. This doesn’t account for any unreported spills i.e in Russia etc. There is a lot of oil being put into the environment on a regular basis, and yet we still don’t know how best to clean it up.

Black waves - a close-up of the oil in he ocean water

Oil is hydrophobic, which means that it doesn’t mix with water. So when an oil spill happens at sea it mostly stays as a slick across the surface of the ocean, initially anyway. As time goes on, the turbulence of the ocean breaks the slick up into little globules which disperse throughout the water column. This eventually settles out on the sea bed. An oil spill is easiest to clean when it remains as a slick in the open ocean. A whole other raft of problems occur when it makes it to shore.


Deepwater Horizon:

The most famous recent spill was Deepwater Horizon in 2010. You probably all remember this one. This spill was one the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. There is no way of knowing exactly how much oil poured out over 87 days into the Gulf of Mexico, but it is estimated between 578.18 and 730.45 million litres of oil.

Boats trying to put out the fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig

Approximately, 317.97 million litres (~50%) of the oil is thought to have settled out on the sea bed and are now infiltrating into the ecosystem – including our food chain (seafood is a minefield). Some of this oil is potentially still there. The creatures that live in and on the sediment directly ingest the oil and this works it way up into larger organisms. A lot of oil (10% of what spilled) washed up on the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico, oil was found on 2,113km out of 5,930km (35%) shoreline surveyed. Coastal wetlands in the Gulf are an important habitat for numerous species, these were heavily impacted by the oil spill as they are far more difficult to clean and more fragile than a beach.

Environmental impact:

Crude oil is an incredibly toxic substance. If it was released into your body, it would probably do you some damage. This is what happened to large amount of marine life in and around the Gulf of Mexico. Between 27,000 and 65,000 Kemp’s ridley sea turtle died as an immediate result of the spill. 12% of Brown Pelicans and 32% of the Laughing Gulls populations in the northern gulf were wiped out. Up to 800,000 birds are thought to have died as a result of the oil spill.

A pelican that has been covered in oil and is visibly distressed

Impacts are still being felt in the ecosystems. The poisons that were released in the water have done lasting damage to wildlife communities. Marine species have shown the most notable damage – some now showing signs of genetic mutations from the toxicants. Fish species such as Mahi-Mahi, Gulf Kilifish, Bluefin Tuna, and Yellowfin Tuna have all shown signs of abnormal development. The chemical oil dispersants that were released into the water have been found in sea birds egg in multiple sites in North America. Just because the oil looks like it’s gone, doesn’t mean it is. Coral reefs in different locations in the Gulf have shown significant oil damage. The oil has been linked to increased strandings of whales and dolphins as a result of infection. Dolphins are being found dead four times as frequently than the historical average, and the incidence of dolphin stillbirth is also increasing.Only time will tell the true extent of the impact that this oil spill (and others) has had on the ocean.

Many local economies were practically destroyed by the oil spill – fisheries and tourism the most notably. But, the overall economy actually was positively impacted – the money lost locally was far outstripped by the money poured into the clean up effort. The initial cost of cleaning up the water and shorelines of the Gulf of Mexico was USD$14 billion. The total cost of clean up and reparations has totalled USD$65 billion this year, and for a company that’s worth USD$147 billion, that’s quite a sizeable dent. Fortunately for BP, the rising oil prices should cover any damage to their profit margins.

Clean-up:

A primary method of cleaning the spill was treating the oil with 8.6 billion litres of chemical dispersants to break the slick into smaller droplets. This was done to try and prevent the oil covering marine life and shorelines. However, this does not remove any oil, it just makes it less immediately problematic – it will still cause problems for coral and anything ingesting it. Also, the dispersants themselves add to the toxicity of the disaster, as the chemicals used (Corexit) have been cause genetic mutations and are carcinogenic.

Crude oil covering a beach - a shovel is used to remove

Another method employed to combat oil sills is to release adsorbant plastics into the spill to adsorb some of the oil. This is method is also controversial as the marine plastics problem is bad enough without willingly putting further plastic into the ocean. Many containment booms are also deployed to either protect sensitive areas or keep the oil from spreading. In areas away from structures or land, oil can be burned off. Any oil that reached the shorelines was manually removed with shovels or pressure washers. We did not ‘clean’ up much of the oil, simply redistributed it – it is still out there working it’s evil magic on poor, unsuspecting sea life.

Oil-coated birds are treated with dish soap, charcoal solutions, anitbiotics, and forced to swallow Pepto-Bismol. But it has been found that cleaning birds of the oil is as harmful to their immune system as it building up in their liver and kidneys. It is better just to kill any oil coated bird – for their sake. I mean, obviously, people won’t just let these birds die and will try all they can to save them but it is likely most will die anyway.


Using human hair:

When you go to get your hair cut you sit there as all your hard-grown hair falls to the floor. What happens to it after you leave though? It most likely just gets swept up and put into the bin (unless, of course, your hairdresser is knitting some kind of jumper with it). Hair is something that humans continue to produce and will continue to chop off. Over 300,000kg of animal and human hair is cut off everyday in the US alone, so surely we should be able to find something useful to do with it?

It has been found that hair is really good at collecting oil (most of you are probably all too aware of this). Hair adsorbs (rather than absorbs oil) meaning the oil collects on the surface of the hair, allowing the oil to recovered once collected. Human hair is much more adsorbant than animal fur/hair and feathers. It is also very cheap as hair is a waste product – nobody really wants the hair they’ve paid to have removed, whereas animal hair is in demand. AND with nearly 8 billion people on the planet, that is a whole lotta hair which could be put to good use!

A mountain on hair booms for oil spills

This idea has been tested by NASA and found that you could adsorb 7 litres of crude oil very quickly with 1kg of human hair. So, to adsorb all of the oil that was released during Deepwater Horizon you would need 82.6 billion kg of human hair. Assuming that each person on Earth has about 1kg of hair, that they are suddenly willing to donate, there still wouldn’t be enough. BUT hair is reusable (who would have thought), the oil adsorbed can be wringed from the hair and it can be reused! Once the hair booms have fulfilled their purpose they are fed to worms to be broken down into fertiliser. Considering that the 2010 oil spill was a particularly lengthy one (87 days), that would be plenty of time to clean up and reclaim a substantial amount of oil.

Matter of Trust:

Matter of Trust is a charity which runs an international programme, Clean Waves, to collect off-cuts from hairdressers, pet groomers, sheep farmers, etc. They use this hair and recycled nylon stockings to make containment booms. These booms were used unofficially during the Deepwater Horizon spill as there wasn’t enough of the conventional ones.

Ask your hairstylist what they do with the off-cuts of hair, if they are just sending them to landfill then recommend that they connect with Matter of Trust. We really don’t know when the next big oil spill disaster is going to happen so we should be prepared!


Until we break away from our dependence on oil, we are going to keep cleaning up a mess with one hand, while we create one with the other. This shift away from oil is a long way off, if at all possible, unfortunately. Oil is being dumped into our environment almost continually – so much so that any efforts to ‘clean’ up oil spill seem borderline pointless. But that doesn’t mean we should stop trying! Avenues that are less environmentally impactful such as using human hair are ones we should be exploring further and investing in! It doesn’t make sense to clean-up a chemical disaster by throwing more chemicals at it.

If you have anything else to add, let me know in the comments! Also, don’t forget to sign up to my mailing list for a monthly recap of my blog and a few articles I found interesting!

Jessica xx

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A More Sustainable Period?

Updated: March 2021

tl;dr: GET A PERIOD CUP! Will honestly change your life.

If you’re squeamish about periods, avert your eyes! But know, I’m judging you.

Plasic period march poster of Brighton beach covered in llustrated pads and tampons #PeriodPower #GoPlasticFree

Yesterday (July 1st 2018), there was a Plastic Period Protest March in Brighton (UK) hosted by the Marine Conservation Society and Natracare. This march was to raise awareness of, and protest the use of, plastics in sanitary products. It was also to promote proper disposal of sanitary items – many people flush their pads and tampons down the toilet, resulting in oceanic pollution! Everyday 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million sanitary towels are flushed down the toilet. These end up in the ocean and have a huge impact on marine life .

If you menstruate, you are guilty of being unsustainable – at least, for some of your life. For most of my menstruating life I have been, like most people, dependent on disposable pads and tampons. But during a recent moment of clarity, I decided to change this. The average menstruating person uses some 15,000 disposable products during their lifetime! What a waste!  Reusable products generate a fraction of the waste, and at a fraction of the cost too – that’s one of the beautiful things about reducing your waste, it often saves you money in the long-run.

There are a number of sustainable options out there – one to suit every type of period!


Here are some sustainable period alternatives :


A mooncup with it's cotton carry bag and packaging
*it hadn’t been inside me yet*

There are so many brands of period cup out there, you could probably buy a different period cup for every day of the year. I have a Mooncup. Sussex Uni does ‘free periods’ on Wednesdays, so I managed to get mine for free. It is designed to replace the tampon and works functionally in the same way – collecting the blood while still inside you. The cup sits low in the vagina and collects blood, it should be emptied every 4-8 hours. But can stay in for up to 12 hours, dependent on your flow. I usually empty once in the morning and once before bed.

A diagram of how to use a mooncup

 It can be quite gruesome to see a cup filled with your blood but it’s actually quite useful in getting to know your body better. It might look quite big but because of the soft material it is really easy to insert and comfortable to wear. It does take quite a bit of getting used to – they say on their website that it can take up to 3 cycles to become a pro mooncupper. BUT I am determined to make it work! I have been using this with the reusable pads below, just in case it leaks! The instructions say to trim the stem but I personally didn’t need to and would recommend you use it for a trial period before altering to understand how it feels.

A menstural cup will last for years, if cared for properly!

So, three years on and I haven’t looked back. Using a mooncup has literally changed my life!! It’s so easy. I never have the panic of when your period arrives and you are caught without sanitary products. For the next something something years I will be free to roam without more than 10 seconds thought about my period. Imagine if everyone had that privilege.

 


4 reusable sanitary towels - 2 folded and 2 opened with the matching wet-bag
won’t stay perfectly white for long!

My nan said that I “was going a bit too far” when she found out I got some of these. In my opinion, I’m really not going far enough – but that’ s probably a post all its own. I got mine from Earthwise Girls – I bought a starter bundle of 4 pads in different sizes. On some pad bundles, for every 3 pads sold, one pad is donated to an orphaned girl in Kenya through the Nasio Trust. There are also a number of other online stockists to be found, so have a look around.

4 reusable sanitary towels in different sizes - folded and poppered.
little bundles of sadness

These are very comfy and very absorbent – they get more absorbent the more they are washed. They don’t smell any worse (or better) than any other pad. The only fault I could find with these is that they aren’t adhesive like their plastic cousins, so they do shift a little bit when you move a lot. As you can see in the photo above they have poppers on, which allows you to fasten them around your pants and so you can fold them up. This is good for when you have to change it when you’re out and about as you can just pop it in your bag and worry about it later.

I managed to get the blood out of mine using cold water and salt before I threw them in the wash but, in my opinion, it doesn’t really matter if you have blood on them. That is their sole purpose! But if you don’t want the stains to set, the blood should be dealt with as soon as possible. They can be machine washed and then should be air dried. These pads won’t last forever but will last a very long time, if cared for properly.

 Three years on – I still have these. I don’t use them really anymore as the mooncup serves me perfectly. I will keep them, however, in case my needs change!


Three people stretching out a pair of Thinx pants
“ooooh paaants”

These pants can hold up to two tampons worth of blood. They don’t leak and look just like normal undies. I haven’t tried them myself yet as it would be quite expensive to kit yourself out for a full period, at like 20 quid a pop. I was thinking about maybe getting one pair for those days when you are barely bleeding and it seems pointless using a pad/tampon. (Disclaimer– If you do buy via the link above, you will get a $10 discount)

Once used, the pants should be rinsed in cold water, machine washed, and air dried. Simple! Again, these pants will last a long time if looked after properly. And will reduce the number of pairs of pants ruined by your monthly guest!

 


A green, plastic reusable tampon applicator.
Someone will still think this is a sex-toy

Applicator tampons are miles easier to use than the non-applicator ones. But once you are done with the applicator – you just throw it away. This reusable tampon applicator solves that issue. It is made of medical-grade, BPA-free, antimicrobial plastic. You just pop in a non-applicator (plastic-free) tampon and once you’re done give it a rinse so it’s ready for next time. It comes with a travel pouch for easy storage and a lifetime guarantee – so you’ll never be without it! This would save vast amounts of unnecessary waste — especially from the ones that have plastic applicators (and let’s be real, I doubt many people are recycling the cardboard applicators either).

 


  • Menstural Sponges/Reusable Tampons – £15/$19.60

While I get the idea of these, they both seem like a lot of hard work – I feel like your hands would get quite messy during use and rinsing! So, I think these are going a bit far (even for me).

The sponges last for approximately 6-12 months and the tampons will last a few years, when cared for properly. The sponge is a natural sea-sponge so can be composted when it is no longer useful! Most of the tampons are made of organic cotton or hemp so could likely also be composted.

 


If you aren’t ready to take the reusable plunge then look for better options in your disposables. These products are organic, chlorine-free, plastic-free, and biodegradable. Natracare are stocked worldwide so you should be able to get hold of them! (There are most likely other brands as well, but this is the one I know about.)

4 boxes of Natracare organic, 100% cotton tampons
there were no tampons left in these boxes (the internet is all lies)

Sussex Uni would only stock Natracare products for their ‘free periods’, so when I was at uni I had a constant free supply of environmentally conscious period products. But I have finished uni now so I have to do it for myself. These work exactly the same as any other tampon or pad but are far easier on your body and on the environment! However, they do only last one use – so you are literally throwing money away.


  • Free Bleeding – £0

If you have a vendetta against your underwear – you should give free-bleeding a try! Free bleeding is simply the absence of trying – just let it flow! I can’t say I’ll ever give it try but if you fancy it then, by all means.

gone girl

Unfortunately, this is the reality for millions of women and girls all over the world. This often results in them missing out of valuable days of school/work and can have terrible consequences. This infographic has lots of useful and saddening information about mensturators everywhere. The 28th of May was (and is) World Menstural Hygiene Day which is used to raise awareness of these issues – check out their website to see how you can get involved!


I use an app to track my period (Flo) so I am never surprised attacked and can always be prepared for it. This is really helpful if you want to use reusable products as you don’t have to have them with you all the time.

If you have anything to add or have used any of these products/methods – let me know in the comments!

Jessica xx

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DIY Self-Care: Part 2

So, last week I talked about my endeavor to make my own shampoo and conditioner – which yielded varying degrees of success. This week I will be tackling a different (clay) shampoo, body butter, and deodorant.


Clay shampoo: – £0.23/wash

I tried baking soda shampoo but with little success so now I am using clay as a shampoo. It is super simple as it also only has two ingredients (one of them being water). Clay is basically just mud and, consequently, completely natural! You can use it on your hair or body and is great for alleviating the symptoms of eczema, psoriasis etc.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Tbsp of Rhassoul clay
  • Enough water to turn into a paste
  • Something to mix it in (and with).

A fine clay powder in an empty spice jar

You just mix up a little bit of clay with some water and use as you would a normal shampoo. This one has to be mixed every time it’s used otherwise it’ll just dry out and harden. The 1-2 spoons of clay was enough for me, even though I have quite thick hair, as I only wash the roots. I used my hairbrush to ensure the clay mixture was distributed properly. I only bought a small amount (enough to fill this spice jar) to see if it would work, the price per wash reduces vastly when the clay is bought in bulk.

Wet mud-like substance in a jar

delicious

It works! My hair is clean! I almost didn’t think it would work but it does. After using the clay be sure to use the apple cider vinegar (or other vinegar) rinse to restore the proper pH level to your hair.


Body butter: – £1.50

I have eczema (which is the medical term for really dry skin) so I am dependent on moisturiser. Without it, I’d look like Spongebob in that episode where he’s too polite to tell Sandy he needs water. I love a good body butter, the ones from The Body Shop are great. BUT they come packaged in a plastic tub AND they contain palm oil (and cost like £15)! In light of this, I decided to try and have a go at making my own. This one probably cost me £1.50 to make.

https://img.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeed-static/static/2016-01/14/14/enhanced/webdr06/enhanced-25889-1452798080-10.png

me

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp Coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa butter
  • 2 Tbsp Shea Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Almond oil (or any other oil you don’t mind slathering on yourself)
  • 10-15 drops of an essential oil of your choice (I chose vanilla)
  • An empty container

The ingredients for body butter - coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, almond oil, and essential oil.

Melt the coconut oil and the two butters in a bowl, over a pan of boiling water. Once completely melted, set aside to cool. Once cool, and creamy in colour, add the almond oil and the smelly stuff. You can use it like this if you want more of a lotion, but I whipped mine to give it more of a buttery texture. It does melt quite easily so, if you live somewhere warm, keep it in the fridge to prevent this.

My finished homemade body butter, in a repurposed body shop tub

smells better than it looks

Now, while this recipe doesn’t contain any palm oil, it didn’t really cut down on the amount of waste generated. All of the ingredients came in their own packaging – so it actually made more plastic waste than it saved. I’m gonna let it slide this time, however, as it was my first time making it and I didn’t know how it was going to turn out. If the ingredients were bought in bulk then it would likely save on plastic packing.

Overall, I really like this recipe! It does the job – it’s not exactly the same texture as store-bought body butter but that is to be expected really. It melts on contact with the skin and soaks in really well – my skin is so soft! Also, the vanilla and cocoa butter combo is amazing – I smell good enough to eat! 😉 I read somewhere that adding a teaspoon of cornflour will make it feel less greasy, so I might try that next time.

*Don’t use on your face, it will probably give you spots.*

I adapted this recipe from here.


Deodorant: – £0.20

There have been a number of studies and claims that deodorants contain a number of substances that can be causally linked to breast cancer (Source). However, these claims cannot be substantiated (Source) but I think it’s probably best not to use quite so many chemicals on my skin anyway. Aside from that, most, if not all, deodorants contain our old friend palm oil and usually come in plastic packaging. So, hopefully, this deodorant will be the answer to my plastic-free prayers.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tsp Coconut oil
  • 2 1/2 Tsp Cornflour
  • 2 Tsp of Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1/2 Tsp almond oil
  • 10 drops of an essential oil (Optional – I chose vanilla, again)
  • An empty container or roll-on deodorant applicator

Deodorant ingredients - coconut oil, essential oil, cornflour, bicarbonate of soda.

Ensure the coconut oil is liquid. Mix the baking soda and the cornflour together in a bowl. Add the coconut oil gradually, mixing in between until you achieve a smooth cream. Add the essential oil (I added far too much, so be careful not to get carried away!).

A repurposed roll-on applicator filled with homemade deodorant

I don’t want to say what I want to say this looks like

It works! I wear it to the gym and I still smell good after a hard workout! In between sets I kept thinking “omg I smell so good” – must be a new experience for me. I will say to make you don’t put too much on, otherwise it won’t soak in and will just sit on top of the skin.

I adapted this recipe from here.


If you have tried these recipes yourself and want to share how they worked for you, or have anything else to add – let me know in the comments.

Jessica xx

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DIY Self-Care: Part 1

I have really fallen into the zero-waste rabbit hole. Since my First Steps post, I’ve been reading a lot and seeing all these people achieving so many amazing waste-reduction feats. It made me realise that I’ve got a lot of things fundamentally (environmentally, and probably, otherwise) wrong in my lifestyle choices. So, as another step towards my mirage of a zero-waste heaven – I’ve decided to make some of my own products.

I am SUPER lazy so I wanted recipes that I could make once and not have to worry about again for a while or that were super simple like mixing with water. These are some of those recipes, tried and tested by yours truly.

I’ve decided to tackle shampoo and conditioner first because I found recipes that literally had only two ingredients – one of those being water.


Shampoo:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp of Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 250ml / 1 cup of water
  • A re-purposed bottle

For my attempt at homemade shampoo, I used bicarbonate of soda. It was not a huge success. It is a very simple recipe, just diluting baking soda in water. If you know how much water the bottle holds – just fill it up, put in the baking soda and give it a shake. I bought my soda from a supermarket for about 90p, which is super cheap.

I tried using it for a couple of weeks. It left my hair feeling very dry but also still greasy. I looked gross to be honest. I’m sure it was just that my hair needed to get used to it but, unfortunately, I’m too vain and have too many people to see to let myself live like that.

Baking soda shampoo is clarifying so a lot of people recommend using intermittently if you are still using chemical shampoos – this would remove some of the chemicals from your hair.

A container of bicarbonate of soda and a repurposed bottle filled with the soda shampoo

Bye-carbonate of soda shampoo

After my lack of success with the soda shampoo, I decided to try using a clay one – which I will talk about in my next post.


Conditioner:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 250ml / 1 cup water
  • A few drops of an essential of your choice, to make it smell pretty. (Optional)
  • A re-purposed bottle

For conditioner, I use an apple cider vinegar rinse. This I did like. I used it after a conventional shampoo and my hair looked just as good as it would with any other conditioner. This, again, is simple recipe – only diluting the cider vinegar in some water.

A bottle of Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar and a re-purposed shampoo bottle

I don’t smell of vinegar btw (or at least no one has told me I do)

As per everyone’s recommendations – I used Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar that is with the ‘Mother’. It sounds weirdly religious to me but it apparently means it isn’t filtered, so it has all of the good stuff still in it. Make sure the bottle is given a good shake before using, to ensure the ‘mother’ is well distributed. I bought my cider vinegar in a small health food shop for about £6, and as you are only using a tiny amount it lasts a very long time!


Dry Shampoo:

Ingredients:

  • A pinch of Bicarbonate of Soda

I’m trying to slowly train my hair to need washing as little as possible, currently I wash it every 2-3 days. BUT just because I don’t want to wash my hair, doesn’t mean I need to look like I’ve just been swimming. I have found that using bicarbonate of soda works as a great dry shampoo. This works much better than the spray stuff in my opinion, and without all the chemicals! I just dip my fingers in it and jhuzz my fringe – after brushing, I’m good to go.

Some fingers dipped in baking soda

hand model ova here


If you have tried these recipes yourself and want to share how they worked for you, or have anything else to add – let me know in the comments.

Jessica xx

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YOU Are Polluting The Ocean.

Updated July 2020.

Anyone who has seen my wardrobe knows that I have an obscene amount of clothes (and an allergy to folding). I would say 80-90% of these clothes were bought second-hand from charity shops, made out of something repulsively synthetic, and probably highly flammable. I am telling you this because I have found out that most of my second-hand treasures are likely causing untold amounts of pollution – in the form of microfibres.

An infographic about the origin and lifecyle of microfibres.

It seems that every-damn-day I learn about some hot-take on environmental destruction – this time it is microfibre pollution. A lot of our clothes are made using plastic (polyester, nylon etc.) – 64% of new fabrics produced are made of plastic. When these items are washed, they release tiny (micro) fibres which are smaller than 5mm in size. Often thinner than a human hair. These microfibres end up in the water system, eventually washing into rivers and the sea where they continue to break down into smaller and smaller pieces. At which point there is very little can be done about it, as they are so minuscule that it is impossible to separate them from the water again. These fibres are then consumed by ocean animals, passing into their cells, and end up in our food chain. Microplastics have even been found in our air, soil, drinking water, beer, table salt, fruit, and veg! We do not yet know what the full extent of the consequences of these fibres will be, but it’s probably not good.

How microplastics enter and bioaccumulate in food webs.

Tuna is a large predator fish so likely has very high plastic concentrations.

A single garment can release over 1900 microfibres per wash. This can be up to 17 million fibres per load of washing. Europeans do around 36 billion loads of washing a year, releasing an estimated 13,000 tonnes of microfibres into the environment. Globally, it is estimated that 1.7 million tonnes of microfibre are released into the oceans this way each year. Those are some scary numbers! Microfibres are worse polluters than microbeads (which are now banned in the UK) but we can’t ban clothes. So, what can we do about microfibres?


Gadgets:

3 coraballs. They are colourful and have many curled spines to catch microfibres.

A Cora Ball is soft rubbery ball that collects microfibres during washing – designed to emulate the way coral filters ocean water. Once the fibres have built up enough, you can remove all the fluff and dispose of it properly. If 10% of households in the US used a Cora Ball, the equivalent of 30 million plastic bottles will be prevented from entering into global waterways.

A guppy friend bag. A fine mesh bag that is see-through, containing a item of clothing.

The Guppy Friend is a fine mesh bag that you place synthetic fabrics into prior to washing. The bag will then collect any microfibres that come out during the wash – these can then be disposed of properly.

  • Machine filters

filtrol-160-lint-filter

Filtrol 160

There are a number of filters that can be attached to your machine to remove most, if not all, particulate matter from your laundry wastewater – including microfibres. Reducing the amount of pollution that enters the water system. A few brands to look into:

Planet Care

Filtrol

Xeros

Lint Luv-R


Choices:

The Cora Ball and the Guppy Friend cost actual money. So, if you don’t feel like splashing the cash, here are a few other things you could do to ease your conscience.

  • Fill up your washing machine!

When you do a load of laundry, fill your machine all the way up. This reduced the friction between clothing items and thus reduces microfibre shedding.

  • Detergent

A cap of liquid laundry detergent and a scoop of powder detergent.

my drink of choice

What you use to actually clean your clothes also changes the level of microfibre shedding. Using liquid detergent rather than powder will release fewer microfibres. Powder detergents often have mineral abrasives in them to increase cleaning, which also increases shedding.

Adding a fabric softener will also greatly reduce the amount of microfibres shed during the wash (a simple DIY one is to add a small amount of white vinegar mixed with an essential oil to your wash).

  • Type of wash

The wash cycle used will determine how many fibres are shed from the clothes. A short, gentle cycle on cool will release fewer microfibres than washing on a hot cycle or a heavy-duty cycle. So, washing at 15°C or 30°C is good for the environment in more than one way! If European households all made the switch to less intense washing cycles, we could prevent 3813 tonnes of microfibres from entering oceans every year!

If an item is prone to shedding or is stained try washing it by hand. AND if you’ve worn something once, it doesn’t automatically mean it needs washing – try hanging it up to air outside or pop in the freezer to kill some of those pesky bacteria and it should be good to go! This not only helps the environment but preserves the quality and lifespan of your clothes.

  • Type of clothes

A large pile (of potentially thousands) of unwanted items of clothes

my wardrobe

Some clothes will release more microfibres than others. These clothes should be handled with extra care and washed as little as possible. Also, trying to avoid buying clothes of low-quality wherever you can will help.

Cheap clothes from fast-fashion labels will release a lot of fibres, as the fabrics are not as well made.

Older fleeces shed twice as many fibres as new ones. Avoid buying new synthetic fleeces.

Big wintery, fluffy clothes will release more microfibres than light, summery ones.

Purely synthetic clothing sheds more than polyester-cotton blends.

Keep your clothes for longer – the more they are washed, the less they will shed.

  • Type of washing machine

A top-loaded washing machine and a front-loaded washing machine.

throw-down

If, for some reason, you have two different types of washing machine at home – choose your front-loaded one to wash your synthetics in. As top-loaded washing machines cause more microfibre shedding than front-loaded machines. And if your current washing machine is on its way out, keep this in mind when shopping for your new one.

I will say, however, that I have never seen a top-loaded washing machine in the UK so this is more for the Americans out there.


Consider signing this petition supporting new UK plastics legislation.

If you have anything to add, let me know in the comments.

Jessica xx

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Environmental Impacts? In MY Diet?

Food production occupies ~30% of the total land surface area, generates around 30% of all greenhouse gases, and is responsible for ~80% of all freshwater use. These figures are set to worsen with climate change and population increases. So, surely, we should be trying our darnedest to reduce our food impact?

I have been vegetarian now for 4 years, but I am in no way claiming that my diet is as environmentally friendly as it could be. I did my dissertation on the environmental impacts of meat and meat substitutes – and what I learned from that, is that often the changes we make to be better come with their own, equal set of issues. With all this in mind, I thought I’d share some ideas about the simple ways in which you can try to eat more sustainably and reduce your food environmental footprint.


Animal products:

I think everyone should be trying to reduce the amount of animal products in their diet, just for health reasons, if nothing else. But if you wanna keep eating them (I know how hard it is to kick cheese) then here are some other changes that you could try making!

  • Switching from Beef, Pork etc. to chicken

An infographic showing the comparative resource uses of Beef, Pork, and Chicken. Beef uses the most, Chicken uses the least.

Cows are evil (jk they so cute, it’s not their fault)

The environmental impact of chicken is vastly smaller than that of most other meat-producing animals. So, if you want to eat something meaty – choose chicken.

  • Weekday vegetarianism/veganism

It is quite daunting to quit meat cold turkey. So, perhaps try being ‘flexitarian’ – this way you can indulge your meaty desires and feel no guilt. In my opinion, it’s all good as long you’re making an effort!

  • Reducing the amount of animal products

A cartoon of an almond with eyes, legs, and udders being milked.

almond milk

You don’t need meat for every meal of the day, or everyday for that matter. Eating less meat in general will be good for both you (many medical conditions have been linked to meat over-consumption) and the environment. And, if you are just using milk in your tea or cereal etc., then maybe consider swapping animal milk out for a plant-based alternative.

Cows are the most environmentally damaging livestock animal – so avoid eating cow products wherever you can.


Meat substitutes:

  • Don’t eat Quorn!

A lot of people are forgoing meat and replacing it with Quorn. I applaud and fully support your move away from meat BUT Quorn actually has the same environmental impact as chicken. So, if your choices are being made on environmental grounds – Quorn probably isn’t the best shout.

A graph showing the relative environmental impacts of various meat alternatives compared with chicken. Quorn has the same impact as chicken. Soy-based alternatives have the lowest impact, followed by wheat.

Chicken = Quorn

  • Better meat replacements

It is often tough to imagine a meal without something to fill the gap left by meat – this is why meat substitutes are so useful. They perform the same functional role as meat – being both high in protein and similar in texture etc. Meat substitute products made using wheat and soy have reasonably low environmental impacts (much lower than Quorn) – so these are the ones you should look for.

A supermarket own-brand meat-free sausage

Sainsbury’s meat-free sozzies

Quorn is popular for a reason – it has a great range of products that are very similar in sensory quality to meat. So, if you want the Quorn experience without the environmental price tag – look for the own-brand versions of their products, as they will likely be made of soy instead. This is beacuse Quorn holds the patent on mycoprotein (what Quorn is made of) so they are the only company that can legally produce it.


Other changes:

  • Food of low nutritional value

A large pile of chips with a slice of bread

A well- balanced meal imo

Most people love a big ol’ plate of chips, a bar of chocolate, or a cold glass of their fave fizzy drink. But, you guessed it, these are all really bad for the environment. Not to mention how bad they are for us! Cutting down on these items will save large amounts of energy and resources – and, subsequently, reduce your environmental footprint!

  • Food waste

Food waste from Cedar Rapids and Marion Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores will be worked into yard waste and composted at the Solid Waste Agency's compost site.

a pig’s wet dream

Some of the biggest environmental impacts come from the incredible amounts of food that gets wasted. Roughly 1/3 of all food produced for human consumption, is wasted each year. The amount of food wasted in Europe could feed 2 billion people – that is enough food to feed the entire population of Brazil!

This wasted food is sent to landfill where it breaks down, releasing lots of greenhouse gases –  this is mostly methane, which is a greenhouse gas 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide. Food waste occurs at every point in the food production chain – during production, at supermarkets, and after purchase.

Reducing food waste is so important, here are some ways you can do it:

1. Keep a waste list

A note page with a list of food items that have been thrown away.

mourning that tub of hummus

When you have to throw something away, make a note of it. That way when you next go shopping, you know that maybe you don’t need to buy so much. This is a really good way to make you more aware of just how much food you are wasting – so you can guilt yourself into being a better person.

2.  Use by dates are just guidelines

A gif of a man removing an eclair from the bin and eating it.

You’re all pretty smart. If food looks like you shouldn’t eat it – don’t. But if it’s past it’s ‘use by date’ and still looks/smells good to go, then it probably is. Please don’t waste food that you could eat.

Tesco is going to remove ‘before before’ dates on its fruits and vegetables as these dates are completely arbitrary and increase the amount of food wasted. With food storage and packaging methods today, food is often good for some time after its ‘use by’ date. This store exclusively sells products that are (often years) past their ‘sell by’ date – which are much cheaper and still good to go! There are number of stores like this popping up all over the the UK and online.

3. Try ‘freeganism’ or dumpster diving!

Freeganism is the practice of buying a little as you can, and surviving mostly on reclaimed food items. This follows on from the point above, often food is thrown out when it is damaged or past its ‘sell by’ date but is still edible. A lot of the food wasting occurs before anyone can purchase it, so this practice can reduce that amount significantly.

There are a a lot of charity groups that use the concept of freeganism to make a difference. They work with businesses to take food that would otherwise be wasted and re-purpose it for those in need of a meal. UKHarvest is a national charity that also that has counterparts in Australia, New Zealand, and soon in South Africa. FareShare is a similar nationwide project. The Real Junk Food Project is a global (or at least hopes to be) network of local projects aiming to abolish food waste through pay-as-you-feel cafes. The Brighton branch of this project will cater events – so you could have your wedding catered using food previously destined for landfill!

Gleaning:

A group of people at a farm near a very large pile of parsnips that have been gleaned.

some cheeky parsnippers

When farmers produce crops they often have quotas to meet, once they have met this there is no point in harvesting the rest of the crop. OR the fruit/veg is too ugly for a supermarket. This is where gleaning comes in. People go to farms to harvest any leftover crops, which they can then keep for themselves. There are plenty of gleaning groups all over the place, so get in contact with your local one and snag yourself some free food!

Dumpster diving:

A picture of me in a dumpster looking for food.

where i belong

This one is pretty self-explanatory. You go diving in a bin to find some abandoned treasures. I dumpster dived a few times when I was living in Adelaide (see above) and got SO much food. It is shocking how edible food just gets tossed. Many shops etc. now lock their bins to stop people rummaging through them, unfortunately. So, if you find somewhere that doesn’t lock their bins ensure that you leave them as tidy as you found them. Also, don’t take more than you need, as you could be taking the food out of the mouth of someone who really needs it.

4. Olio

Olio allows people and businesses to share surplus/unwanted food etc. with others rather than throwing it away! It’s a good way to clear out your cupboards or to snag yourself a free meal. This app was really useful when we had to move out of our house, as we had so much food that we just couldn’t eat! The food was claimed within minutes and collected the same day – it’s a great way to clear out your cupboards and get more involved with your community!

A screenshot of the Olio app.

this way for free food

They have an app or you can log in on their website – so get sharing!

5. Meal Plans

Planning your meals is a good way to ensure you don’t waste any food. If you know what you’re going to eat, you won’t buy food you don’t need. This doesn’t have to be an elaborate plan, but just think about what you actually are gonna eat until you next go shopping.

6. Less food on your plate

20 unfinished meals on a table

when you wait for 1 meal and 20 all turn up at once

If you find that you end up not finishing all the food on your plate, try putting less food on your plate. If you are still hungry, you can always go back for seconds! This way you don’t end up scraping good food into the bin, and you can have any food leftover for lunch tomorrow! It seems like a no-brainer but it would have a lot of benefits. We have become accustomed to having such large portion sizes, when we don’t really need that much food. Eating less food would be good for your waistline, your wallet, and the environment.

7. Petitioning supermarkets and producers to reduce waste

In the last couple of years there has been a change in the way some supermarkets operate. In 2016, a law was passed in France that prohibits supermarkets from disposing of unsold food and instead requires them to donate it to charities and food banks. Unfortunately, this is only one country – but it is a start.

Part of the problem lies with us – the consumer. Much of the food wasted, is done so due to ‘cosmetic imperfections’  (it’s ugly), but is otherwise still edible. If you have a choice in the supermarket between a beautiful looking orange and an ‘ugly’ one – please choose the ugly one. Chances are it’ll still taste exactly the same. If everyone made this choice then maybe the retailers and producers would take the hint.

This TEDTalk on food waste by Tristam Stuart sums up this point quite nicely.

8. Cook recipes that use up what you’ve got!

A large pot of soup on the stove

never enough soup

‘Kitchen sink’ recipes such as a quiche, soup, chilli, or a stir fry are a great way to use up products just about to go over. Recipes like these usually have a lot of room for experimentation, so you can bung just about anything in and it’ll still be bangin’.


The environmental impact of a person’s diet is HUGE but there are things you can do to reduce your dietary footprint. Reducing your food waste and cutting out foods of low nutritional value can be better, environmentally, than going vegetarian or vegan!

This is by no means an exhaustive list so if you have any other ideas or thoughts, let me know in the comments!

Jessica xx

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Why Palm Oil Is The Worst Thing Ever.

*WARNING – this post contains content that some may find distressing*

A person holds oil palm fruit cut in half over a large pile of intact fruit.

Oil palm fruit

Palm Oil is made from the fruit of the African oil palm, which is now grown in most tropical countries. It is a main ingredient in almost all of our favourite products –  from soap to Nutella. But to produce this life-giving elixir, they are cutting and burning down the rainforest. Rainforest deforestation is happening at an alarming rate – an area the size of a football pitch will be chopped down quicker than you can say “Can you pass me that spoon and the Nutella, please?”


A diagram of products that contain palm oil

Nooo… Oreos 😭

60 billion tons of palm oil are produced each year. This is grown in some of the world’s poorest regions, and is often instrumental in lifting people out of abject poverty.  However, the land used for these plantations is usually ex-rainforest and incredibly infertile, so can only manage 2-3 years of crops. This results in the benefits of oil palm being short-lived. And the consequences of deforestation often impact the poorest, local communities first.

Oil palm plantations in Malaysia surrounded by rainforest

This area of Malaysia used to be rainforest, but is now oil palm plantations.


There are ‘sustainable’ palm oil sources available, through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO); which a number of big companies such as Nestlé are involved with. BUT it has been found that many of the oil RSPO logorefineries and companies (Nestlé) involved, still source palm oil from sources that are actively deforesting tropical rainforests. Now, don’t get me wrong, sustainably certified palm oil is miles better than the alternative as they do offer a number of benefits for the palm oil farmers. But the whole idea behind something being ‘sustainable’, is that it can actually be sustained. If large-scale deforestation is allowed to continue, then it isn’t sustainable.


Deforestation using the 'slash and burn' technique

Rainforest is usually removed using ‘slash and burn’.

We cannot keep carrying on like ‘business as usual’. Rainforest cover has decreased ~80% in the last 20 years. If deforestation continues at its current rate, the forests will completely disappear within the next 40 years.

Deforestation contributes more to greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transport sector and is catastrophic for biodiversity. One of the most poignant examples for the impact oil palm has, is the 6000 orangutans that are killed each year through palm oil deforestation.

An orangutan severely burned during deforestation

An orangutan severely burned during deforestation.


Palm oil is just that – an oil. It can be replaced with almost any other type of oil or fat, but is often chosen due to its low cost and high yields. Until there are stricter regulations on palm oil sourcing, it is best to avoid buying (boycott) anything containing palm oil! A lot of companies know that people don’t like palm oil, so they can be quite sneaky by listing it under a different name.

Here are some of the things that are code for palm oil:

  • Vegetable Oil
  • Vegetable Fat
  • Palm Kernel
  • Palm Kernel Oil
  • Palm Fruit Oil
  • Palmate
  • Palmitate
  • Palmolein
  • Glyceryl
  • Stearate
  • Stearic Acid
  • Elaeis Guineensis
  • Palmitic Acid
  • Palm Stearine
  • Palmitoyl Oxostearame
  • Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Kernelate
  • Sodium Palm Kernelate
  • Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate
  • Hydrated Palm Glycerides
  • Ethyl Palmitate
  • Octyl Palmitate
  • Palmityl Alcohol

It is tough to say whether you should boycott these products completely, as the millions of palm oil farmers are the ones most likely to be impacted. However, companies only care about one thing – money. So, in order for them to listen, you have to hit them where it hurts – their profit margins. Also, it is important to make your voice heard –  we need to let these companies know that we aren’t happy about what they are doing!

If we don’t do something now, it might soon be too late.


If you have any other suggestions or anything to add, let me know in the comments!

Jessica xx

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Recycling My Dildo

This post is about something I love very dearly – my vibrator. I had this one for a good 3-4 years before it finally gave up on me. I was then stuck on what I should do with it.

My broken pink rabbit sex toy

RIP

Obviously, you can recycle all sorts of electrical items at recycling centres, but I didn’t really fancy the embarrassment of trying to deposit my dildo. Also, what are the chances they’d actually recycle it? Slim, at best. And taking it to be repaired was completely out of the question.

Putting my toy into an envelope for posting

a heartbreaking goodbye    (this envelope was repurposed from some online shopping)

So, I found:

Posting it or dropping in a box = no embarrassment. Except maybe for the mailman, if it miraculously starts working again in transit! 😉

A giphy of a drummer catching a dildo instead of a drumstick

I know sex toys are generally quite taboo, but please don’t let that deter you from disposing of them responsibly!


The pinterest pin for 'Recycling my Dildo - features a pink vibrator and it's charging cable


If you know of any other schemes or have anything to add, let me know in the comments!

Jessica xx

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