Archive for January 2016

Zero Waste Alternatives: Makeup Remover

This must be one of the easiest zero waste solutions that I have come across. It's super easy and there is no preparation needed, which makes it a keeper in my books. Plus, my face smells like coconuts which is a nice bonus!

I don’t wear makeup every day but a few times a week I will use a mascara and a blusher. From time to time, some of my foundation comes out of hibernation as well.  I have not bought any make up wipes in a while and so I got into the habit of just washing my face or leaving it on which I am sure is not that healthy.

This is a great example to show that if you are trying to reduce your waste, you need alternative zero waste solutions otherwise you will revert to buying something disposable when you suddenly need it.

Washing with water works up to a point but mascara and foundation seem to be leaving residue. There are quite a few natural makeup remover recipes but why complicate things when this works just as well?

All you need is two things, coconut oil and cotton pads. I bought reusable organic cotton pads from this lovely shop on Etsy a while ago. They are made out of organic flannel cotton which is really soft and pleasant on your skin. 

Coconut oil usually comes in a jar and so all you need to do is dab a little bit of the oil onto the cotton pad and wipe your makeup off. As easy as that. I have also used olive oil when I had no coconut oil at home and that worked for me just as well. Try and not get any of the actual oil into your eyes as it will blur your vision a little bit (found out the hard way) and instead just use it around the eyes. You can press your lashes against the skin under your eyes and just sort of dab it with the cotton pad.

Instead of throwing the pads away, you can wash them in the washing machine when you are done. Mine came with a little cotton bag which I use for storage and for washing.If you are using a lot of makeup, I would suggest soaking them in some warm water with a bit of washing powder and giving them a bit of a hand wash beforehand. 

Make up wipes are widely used because they are so quick and easy. Using coconut oil is just as quick and without the use of artificial fragrances and chemicals, so I am definitely hooked. No more overnight make up for me!

Zero Waste Alternatives: The Fountain Pen

Everyone has a profound moment once in a while which seems to be the catalyst for change. There may be quite a few steps leading up to that moment, with each of those just as important, but somehow that one sticks in our head as ‘’the moment’’.

As I was going through a round something of my clear out (will post on this soon) I seemed to be finding pens everywhere. There were pens in the draws, bags, bathroom, the small creek of the fridge door (wtf). 

I went into a bit of a pen frenzy and tried to find all the pens in the house.

I found over 60 pens. Six Zero. I don’t think I have bought any of them, I just seemed to accumulate them.  That was the moment when it sort of sank that I most definitely have too much stuff, especially the disposable plastic ones. Surely a person only ever needs one pen!

I remember as a kid having a ‘’special pen’’ which I used to write with. My parents would buy me one at the start of the year and I would use it at school. 

I got a fountain pen last year for my birthday and I have been using it ever since.  It is currently ‘’living’’ in my purse so I have access to it all the time. I absolutely love writing with it and every time I use it, it feels like I am writing with something special. The thing about a fountain pen is that you can’t scribble really fast. You have to take your time and write properly so it makes writing even the dullest notes into a pleasurable experience.

Instead of buying disposable refills, I have bought a converter and a bottle of ink. I have been using the same converter for over a year now and it works great.  I used to fill up my pen before going to work each day. I now carry a tiny air tight bottle in my purse so I can fill it up whenever I need to.

By using ink from a bottle rather then cartridges, I have saved up literally hundreds of refills. I can’t find a stainless steel tiny bottle that would not spill and so I use Nalgene durable tiny plastic bottle. It is not an ideal solution as I want to reduce my plastic consumption, but nevertheless it is still better than using refills. The bottle is made out of sturdy plastic and so it will last for years when it eventually gets recycled. 

You can get all sorts of different ink shades. I am planning to invest into another fountain pen which I will fill with coloured ink so that I have two different colours.

In case you are wondering what I did with the pens, I gave it to my friend who used them up at work. There are different charity schemes which collect pens and send them to countries where kids can’t afford to buy stationery. It is a wonderful idea in principle but in my opinion these countries often don’t have recycling facility for the pens and so we are essentially creating an offshore landfill. There must be other ways we can support education where it is needed which don't leave a plastic footprint behind. 

If you are looking for a way to dispose your pens, you can recycle them via the Terracycle Programme. All you need to do is find your local collection point and drop your pens there.
I still have a couple of pens left in my kitchen, which I am waiting to use up and after that, adios plastic pens.

P.S Start a love affair with fountain pen

Organic Fruit and Veg Box

Since I am on the topic of supporting local producers and idle attitude to shopping here is my organic fruit and veg box.

Rather than solely shopping in supermarkets, I try to do a lot of my shopping in small local shops. Meat, bread, milk, fruit, veg, cheese and even fresh pasta once in a while (yum). The only downside to this is that the shops are quite far from each other. If I had a car it would be much easier to do the weekly shop and drive around to pick up everything that I need. But since I don't have one, I take advantage of home deliveries.

I get most of my fruit and vegetables from Beanies, which is a local cooperative shop in Sheffield. They stock both organic and non organic produce, as well as a range of wholefoods and natural cleaning materials. If you live in the Sheffield area, have a mooch on their website for the cost and options of their delivery boxes. 

I get a large fruit and extra large veg box every two weeks. The good thing about this is that you never know what you are going to get and so it forces you to try cooking with new ingredients. I made a really tasty spiced red cabbage just before Christmas to try and use up unwanted cabbage. It turned out to be one of my new favourite dishes! If this Russian roulette with vegetables is a bit too much for you, you can always request items that you like.

I have requested that none of my produce comes wrapped in plastic so the staff put the veg lose or in a paper bag in a recycled box so there is no waste there! 

Why going more organic?

At the moment, organic fruit and vegetables are a bit more expensive than non organic ones. This is largely due to the fact that there is not that much demand for it. I am no economist but the more you buy it, the cheaper it will get.

In case you are interested- the total cost of both boxes is £27, but since I have it biweekly, it only works out as £13.50 a week. Not bad for a weekly fruit and veg shop in my opinion.

The number one reason for me to buy more organic fruit and veg is that I don’t want to be ‘’polluting’’ my body with pesticides. There is some evidence that pesticides can build up in the body over time. So the cocktail of chemicals that is being sprayed on all different produce ends up in your body. I would not be willing to eat any of those chemicals (obviously) so why would I want to have them as a condiment to my food?  

There is also evidence that pesticides from agricultural farms effect rivers and water bodies which in turn effect the quality of water that we use for drinking and bathing at home. The UK government is working with farms to reduce the amount of this kind of water pollution but it seems to me that the best way to do this is to support the organic farming industry. Whenever you shop and exchange money for something, you are essentially giving kudos to what you are buying and what you are really saying is ‘’can I have some more of this please? ‘’

Obviously there is a degree of being realistic with your finances. I still buy top ups like bananas and avocados from my local grocers (non organic) as we get through kilograms of both. But again this becomes the last resort rather than the usual choice.

P.S Buy more organic

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