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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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The title over an image of fruit an veg in reusable produce bags

DIY Produce Bags

When you buy some veggies at the supermarket/wherever, they handily provide you with some little plastic bags to put them in. These have a life-span of however long it takes you to get home. Bringing your own little, reusable bags with you shopping removes the need for these extra pieces of plastic! You may get some weird looks from the cashier, but do not worry – you have the moral high ground here. You can either make your own (like me) from some old fabric, or you can buy some online. I would recommend avoiding purchasing them from Amazon, as there is currently a boycott happening to protest pay and working conditions.


Me draped in a pink sheer curtain in the garden

fotoshoot

I bought this cute pink curtain in a charity shop for £2.20. It is made of polyester so it does pose the risk of generating microfibre pollution but I will prevent this by hand-washing the bags when they need it.


1. Cutting

Me using fabric scissors to cut a sheer pink fabric into squares

I have scissors. I’m so good with these scissors, it’s unbelievable.

First, I folded the bag into rough squares/rectangles that were twice the size of the bag I needed. Then, I chopped it all up.


2. Draw-string

The top of the fabric folded and pinned, ready to be sewed. With an apple-shaped pin cushion.

wow…amazing…beautiful

Next, sewing! First, I made a section for the draw-string to go through. To do this, I simply folded over and sewed the top edge of both sides of the bag – leaving enough space for a ribbon to pass through easily.


3. French Seams

Me using a sewing machine to sew some french seams on sheer pink fabric

i didn’t ruin them!

Then, I pinned the bags all around the edge. I did french seams to make them stronger. To do this, I pinned the bag with the right-sides out (rather than inside out), then sewed all around the edge. After this, I trimmed off the excess fabric around the seam and turned the bag inside-out. The seams were then sewn again. This gives invisible and very strong seams!


4. Ribbon

A blue ribbon through the draw string hole, tied in a knot to prevent it from moving.

The last step is to thread the ribbon through the bag. It’s good to use a paperclip or something to attach it to, otherwise it will take you a long time (from experience)! Tie the two ends together to prevent it coming undone and you’re good to go!


Some peppers, courgettes, and carrots in two of my home-made produce bags.

fruity

I love my (produce) bags but haven’t really had a chance to use them much – yet! If you don’t fancy making these type of bags, you could try making one like this.


If you have made your own bags or have anything to add, you know what to do!

Jessica xx

P.S. if you have a couple of minutes to spare please fill out this survey – it is research for a future post that I plan to do. It is completely anonymous so please answer honestly! Thank you!

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‘Zero-Waste’ Is A Con

I don’t want to sound bitter, quite the opposite – trying to go ‘zero-waste’ is a great thing to do! BUT I think people (myself included) get too caught up in the idea of literally generating no waste at all, that it becomes obsessive. Generating literally no waste is pretty much impossible, unless you live in cave somewhere. Going zero-waste is the Instagram model of environmentalism – it is possible to achieve, but is ultimately unrealistic. The ‘zero’ part of zero-waste is the bit I have an issue with. ‘Minimal-waste’ is much more fitting, but not really as catchy.

The most common thing you see associated with zero-waste is ‘I can fit 5 years of rubbish in this one jar’. This probably serves to deter more people than it inspires – as you’d probably look at that and go ‘oh, that’s so good, but I could never do it’. Other people’s resounding success may be off-putting for some. It doesn’t have to be. It’s all about trying. Baby steps.

The zero-waste movement is heavily based in aesthetic (in my opinion) – especially if you go by some of the zero-waste bloggers out there. Aesthetic usually equals money. Which a lot of people don’t have. If you are going ‘zero-waste’ for the look of it all, then by all means, buy all the lovely metal containers and shop exclusively at the organic, locally sourced, invitation only shop. But most people can’t afford to make a complete life overhaul. So, here are a few simple and cheap ways that you can (and maybe already have) start on your minimal-waste journey.


Reusable Bags:

An infographic showing how many bags a reusable bags saves over time

You’re probably sick of hearing this now but it’s working! There has been a decline in the number of plastic bags seen in UK waters since the 5p bag charge was implemented. But I am constantly saying to cashiers “Oh, it’s okay, I don’t need a bag. Thank you” – as they still go to give a free (plastic) one in a lot of places. I always refuse the bag (plastic or not) because I have me lovely tote bags with me!


Take A Packed Lunch:

A packed lunch of a salad and some strawberries

Buying food generates a lot of packaging. If you are bringing your own lunch to wherever you’re going, you reduce this by a lot. Usually, because the food you’ve bought at home is enough to make more than one meal. So, the amount of waste generated per meal is reduced. It’s reduced even further if you are shopping package-free! When you eat out, especially if the food is ‘to go’ you become responsible for a load of extra waste. Another added benefit, is that bringing your own lunch often saves you money!


Repurpose:

A lot of empty unlabelled food jars

It’s super easy to repurpose something. If you have a thing that could be used for something else, do it. This is easiest done with food (and other things) storage. Empty food containers. If it had food in it before, it can have food in it again! Glass jars are the most reusable of all the food containers (and they can be put in the dishwasher) so are perfect for all your kitchen needs. The Chinese food containers you get from a takeaway are also pretty good for packed lunches or storing leftovers. I amassed quite a collection of them last year and they came in very handy. #studentlife


Say NO:

A person in white overalls and a white mask handing out flyers

idk what is goin on here but I absolutely do NOT want your flyer, thanks

We get handed so many things we really don’t need. People are constantly handing us flyers for things we don’t care about. Or a free pen at freshers week. Or anything else you know you don’t need but impulsively want because it’s free. Don’t get me wrong, I love free stuff as much as the next person but there’s a limit to how many free frisbees one person needs. This also applies to plastic bags, straws, or literally anything else that you are being given that you don’t actually need. Just say ‘no, ta’.


Reusable Everything:

I honestly don’t know how some men cope without a bag on them at all times – mine (sometimes) has so many useful things in it. And with a bag you can carry around all of your cool reusable items that will make you the eco-monarch (gender neutral, I think it’ll catch on).

Here are a few reusable suggestions:

  • Water bottle. You probably have one from that time you were super set on going to the gym – use that.
  • Coffee cup – I got one for free at the freshers fair last year (even though I was in my fourth year of uni and not at all a fresher). If you don’t have uni to give you free stuff, maybe see if your mum has one and steal hers. I don’t really drink coffee and I think it’s a waste of money to buy tea when I’m not at home, so this isn’t really an essential for me.
  • Cutlery – I’m assuming you have cutlery at home so maybe keep a knife and fork in ya bag for those food emergencies. I was once caught in the library on a Sunday with some cous cous and nothing to eat it with! A dark day.
  • Handkerchief – A tissue is made to be used and abused, and then tossed aside. Those poor trees! They deserve so much better! A handkerchief is a tissue but forever. Perfect for when your hayfever comes to kill you this summer!

 


Repair:

A green case containing sewing supplies

Buy yourself a basic sewing kit – all you really need is a needle, some thread, and a pair of scissors. Watch a Youtube video on how to sew and boom, you’ve just repaired something. It’s really easy. Most things are easy to fix. Some glue or some tape will normally do the job as well. Try to only get rid of something when it is beyond repair.


New toothbrush:

A pack of 4 bamboo toothbrushes - each toothbrush with the months of the year they should be used for

I’m not saying you should immediately throw out your toothbrush and go buy an eco one, but when the time comes for you to switch up your toothbrush – buy a biodegradable one!


Washing Utensils:

Traditional cleaning utensils usually don’t have a very long life-span. You use them for a couple of weeks (at a push) and then they end up in the bin! This is not cool and seems like a bit of a waste of money. Cleaning when you live in a student house is an uphill battle. No one wants to spend their money (or actually ever do any cleaning). BUT the one time you can convince them to part with their cash you should invest in some reusable products, so you only have to have that conversation once!

This sponge is reusable, you just machine wash them and let them air dry. And when they do finally wear out, they are compostable!

These will last a long time, if looked after (don’t leave them in the washing up water overnight). And they do brushes for pretty much any task – pots, fruit, and even a children’s dish brush. These brushes have been reported to last for years and the heads are replaceable so when they wear out, just compost the head and buy a new one! Try to find a local stockist or order some online – if you do buy online ensure you ask the supplier to use minimal (especially plastic) packing on your order!

  • Metal Scourers

For those really hard to get off jobs you might need a metal scourer. These are generally really cheap to buy and once they are worn out, they are recyclable!


Writing a blog acts as a source of motivation for me to move closer to zero-waste because I don’t want to preach what I don’t practice. You just need to find your source of peer pressure.

If you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments!

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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My First Steps Towards Zero-Waste

I am painfully aware that the lifestyle I lead, isn’t as environmentally friendly as it could be. I have given going zero-waste a lot of thought, numerous times. And, honestly, it’s a bit scary. So, on that note, I’ve decided to take it step by step – gradually addressing one thing at a time, rather than going cold-turkey on single use plastics.

These are some of the steps I’ve managed to shuffle through so far and, upon reflection, they’re pretty simple.


Tote Bags:

We all know plastic bags are evil. They pollute our environment, and the stomachs of poor, unsuspecting turtles just looking for a nice jellyfish to munch on. Since the implementation of the 5p bag charge, the number of plastic bags used have dropped considerably (by 85%)! But what should you use instead?

A collection of tote bags

*Local girl uses bags*

Well, you could be like me and have at least one snazzy tote bag with you at all times. I have a nice little collection, all of which I got for free at various events. Or if you’re a proper adult and do actual grocery shopping, keeping a few bags for life (the not-plastic-ones are best!) in your car boot will do the trick!


Safety Razor:

I’ve wanted an old school razor ever since I saw one in a film once, where this woman was cheating on her husband and he knew but he shaved her legs?? I don’t really remember what happened exactly, but I do remember that scene and how much I wanted one of those razors.

Well, it was a passing thing at the time, but about two weeks ago I remembered and ordered one. I bought a Merker 23C long-handled safety razor. They’re German made – so you know they’re good. This is a razor that will last me (hopefully) the rest of my life. I bought mine for roughly £27 (you could save on this by buying second-hand) and spent an extra few quid on 100 replacement blades! Which should last me a long time, provided I don’t lose them. There are loads of Youtube tutorials out there with some great advice for newbies.

Safety Razor

Finally shaving like the gentleman I am

In the years in between me first deciding I wanted a metal razor and me actually getting one – I must have used, and thrown away, countless disposable razors. These pink plastic monstrosities are just bad news all round – they can only be used a couple of times and end up costing a small fortune. In the US, over two billion disposable razors are sent to landfill each year! So, do yourself a favour and join me!


Refillable Water Bottle:

We live in a country (if you’re in the UK) that is fortunate enough to have potable drinking water, so why waste your money on bottled water?? All water bottles are refillable, if ya try! Not buying bottles of water is such a small change that could make such a huge difference!

Refill are a group that have created an app, that tells you all the places that you can refill your water bottle in a number of different places in the UK! So, keep your beautiful selves hydrated this summer.

A reusable plastic bottle

a really cool photo

I have a water bottle that I got for free in Australia, which I have had for a couple of years now and use it religiously! Yes, I know it’s plastic, but it seemed more sustainable to use one I already have than buy a new one? However, there are plenty of eco-friendly water bottles out there available for purchase that are completely plastic free and do neat stuff, like keep your drink at a temperature!


Bamboo toothbrush:

Bamboo toothbrush

minimalism

22 million kilograms of toothbrushes go to landfill each year, in the US alone. Plastic toothbrushes are recyclable – with a bit of extra effort. But wouldn’t it be better to not use plastic ones at all? Recently, I saw a video on Facebook showing all of the plastic items in your house that you kind of overlook – with toothbrushes being one of them. Immediately after, I went online and ordered myself a biodegradable bamboo ‘eco’ toothbrush. I got mine from here, but there are lots to choose from and many are customisable!


Hair Care:

The bathroom is a room awash with plastic. From shampoo bottles to toothpaste tubes, it’s everywhere you look! I am very guilty of contributing to this abundance of plastic but I promise, from henceforth, no more! Or at least, a little less – baby steps, after all.

I have quite thick, long-ish hair which requires a fair amount of washing – this, in turn, requires a fair amount of products. From now on, I plan to refill bottles with shampoo and conditioner. There is a shop local to me (hiSbe) that allows you bring your own container to be refilled with shampoo, conditioner, washing-up liquid, hand soap, etc. This is a really great idea, and it’s no more expensive than the prepackaged alternatives!

Lush products

My (well used) LUSH shampoo and conditioner bars.

Another good idea for plastic-free hair care is to head on down to your local LUSH shop. I buy their shampoo and conditioner bars for when I go travelling as there is no risk of them leaking all over your clothes and you can carry them in hand luggage.  AND there is the added benefit of them being plastic-free!


My Tyre Pencil Case:

Now, a pencil case isn’t really something people replace regularly. But, I have had this one for around 6 or 7 years now and it’s still going strong! It is made from a recycled car tyre so it’s pretty damn tough!

A penicl case made from a recycled car tyre

remarkable?

Unfortunately, the company (Remarkable) no longer sells them on their website, but they do have a lot of other cool, recycled items for your buying pleasure. A quick internet search also found that you can buy these pencil cases from elsewhere online!

If you want a pencil case that’ll last you a lifetime, then I highly recommend this one!


If you, like me, are struggling to free yourselves from the grip of plastics – think about some small changes you could make in your routine and start there. Friends of the Earth are challenging people to give up plastic for one whole day a week with #plasticfreefriday. Give it a go and let me know how you get on in the comments!

If you have any plastic-free hints or feedback for me also let me know it the comments!

Jessica xx

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