Green Footprints:Living the Greener Lifestyle

Walking around my local supermarket the other day, I came a cross an obscure sight that once again made me question the eco friendliness of modern consumerism- Baked beans in a  non recyclable)microwavable pouch!. When it takes a few minutes to open a tin of beans and microwave or pan cook them in the first place, do we need to waste more plastics on microwavable bags that do the same thing anyway? This got me (once again!) thinking about the fact that people really are more concerned with saving time than their own futures and those of their children, not to mention their fragile environment.

Ook, so I bet you are reading this now either thinking: “So what? I’ve heard all this before, the ramblings of yet another offbeat hippy verbally flogging a dead horse *sigh*” OR , ” wow, that is insanely pointless man! when will people get the message and start to think and stop all this earth damaging madness?” We have all heard it before: “ONE person Can make a difference.!!” But,like it or not, this is true; And If each person realised this, and acted upon it the difference would soon be evident…..

No, I am not writing this to preach from atop my rainbow coloured high horse that we must all stop suddenly jump up and sell item we own, move into a in a solar powered recycled box with only vegan candles for heat and lighting, ride a unicycle to work, wear shoes and clothing made from grass and live on soya milk and beans; But merely to show the very simple steps that can be taken and to offer some tips on greener living and where to find eco friendly items and services.

Green living is not the huge pain in the ass it was once considered. In fact, it is pretty easy and straightforward once you get into it. Not only that, but it’s becoming easier to get into by the day.

Eco Lunchtimes, by Boots.

Being a fan of the Boots “Meal Deal”, I decided to ditch their pre supplied paper bags and pick up one of these little gems instead at my local Boots store. The new “Little Green Lunch Bag” is designed by Boots and Diet Coke and made from 100% recycled bottles (each bag is made from about 2 of the 500ml bottles). They only cost £1 each, can be re-used and are great for storing meal deals among other things.

The hunt for the Greenest Supermarkets.

The Winners:

It seems M&S is coming out on top currently in planning to become the greenest by 2015 by undergoing some large improvements,including:

Encouraging M&S customers to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Tackling the living wage debate.Encouraging 10,000 farmers to join the sustainable agriculture programme. Sourcing all cardboard for M&S food packaging via a single ‘model’ forest programme.Ensure full traceability of all the key raw materials used in our clothing and home products, including cotton, wool, polyester, nylon, leather and wood. Ensuring that that six key raw materials they use – palm oil, soya, cocoa, beef, leather, coffee – come from sustainable sources that do not contribute to deforestation. Offering free home insulation and a free home energy monitor to all eligible M&S employees.

Close by are Morrisons, with it’s plans for carbon reduction, ethical and sustainable sourcing and waste prevention. And Waitrose, with it’s strong commitments to Fairtrade,British sourcing and maintining of high farming standards. Sainsburys are also at the top right now.

Asda, somewhat surprisingly here, as having previously lacked somewhat severely when it comes to environmental issues among other things, seem to be making somewhat conscious efforts so improve by reducing carbon & energy emissions and waste. However, that said,their sourcing and animal welfare issues mean they still have a fair way to go.

Eco Food Shopping

The best way to shop green? go LOCAL. Pay a visit to your local farmers, butchers, bakers, fruit and veg suppliers. you are not only helping them, but reducing transportation emissions and packaging as well as buying foods that are much more likely to be produced with chemical addition and animal welfare in mind. They tend to be of much better value and quality too.

Eat In season- It’s just as healthy and delicious but reduces the fuel and emissions needed to transport produce from other countries to make sure its in season all year round!

Eco your pet foods- many pet foods contain meat from sources known as 4-D” which is short for ‘diseased, dying, dead, disabled.’ slaughterhouse animals.Look for meat that is sourced from better treated animals.

The Great Plastic Vs Paper Bag debate

Most plastic bags are made from a type of plastic called polyethylene. 80% of polyethylene is produced from natural gas – an abundant, yet non-renewable resource. Polyethylene, as a raw material that can be recycled, but cannot be recycled over and over nor returned to an organic state.

Plastic not being recycled can be burned.Inks and additives found in plastic can create dioxins when burned as well as emit heavy metals into the air. I must note that the plastics industry claims that more and more manufacturers now use water based inks.The ash itself is toxic and needs to be disposed of in toxic waste dumps.

“Ok, fine, whatever.. so what about the paper bags then?” I hear you ask:

Trees must dry at least three years before they can be used to make paper. Once aged, machinery( requiring fossil fuels and roads inhabitants) is used to strip the bark, which is then chipped into squares and cooked under heat and pressure. This wood stew is then dissolved with limestone and sulfurous acid for 8 hours. The steam and moisture is vented to the outside atmosphere, and the original wood becomes pulp. It takes approximately 3 tons of wood chips to make 1 ton of pulp.

The pulp is then washed and bleached, both stages requiring thousands of gallons of clean water. Coloring is added to more water, and is then combined in a ratio of 1 part pulp to 400 parts water to make paper. The pulp/water mixture is dumped onto a web of bronze wires, the water showers through, leaving the pulp to dry. This final product is then rolled into paper.

The bottom line? Recycling both paper and plastics takes a huge amount of resources and chemicals, so really neither one is actually vastly better than the other. It seems that CLOTH bags, are now the way to go.

Green Cleaning

“Green cleaning?! sounds a like a right hastle!” I hear you say,reaching for that over sized bottle of flash..

Green cleaning really is very easy , and cheap. Simple everyday items can be used for general household cleaning purposes that are readily available, and far safer than chemicals- but just as effective. My personal favourites are Vinegar, Tea tree oil, Bicarbonate of soda and Citrus fruits (lemon, oranges and limes more specifically)

Green cleaning tips:

Baking soda deodorises and is a tough cleaner particularly on sinks, baths and cookers. You can also sprinkle it onto carpets then vacuum off .

Add an open pot of baking soda to a fridge to eliminate smells.

Add 1/4 cup Baking soda to 1 cup vinegar to clean Drains.

Mix lemon with water use distilled witch hazel to clean windows and mirrors.

Use lemon on a cloth to clean vinyl surfaces.

Polishes are poisonous and usually not very pleasant smelling so use 2 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice and apply it to your furniture using a soft cloth.

When a hot serving dish or glass of water has marred the surface of a wood table, you can quickly get rid of the mark by making a thin paste of salad oil or lemon oil and salt. Wipe the paste on, then lightly buff the area as you wipe it off with a soft cloth.

Lemon and vinegar can also clean tarnished metals such as brass and copper.

Vinegar in a room can eliminate paint smells so leave some round the painted room in dishes till the smell goes.

Tea tree makes an excellent disinfectant and is totally non chemical. it can be used instead of detol and other kinds of spray when added to water with a spray bottle or cloth.

There is also a wide range of eco friendly cleaning products out there. Here are somes sites, but own brands in supermarkets can be even cheaper so shop around also. http://www.ecotopia.co.uk/


Eco your Home

Give your fridge a once over. check the seals, defrost it regularly, keep it at a reasonable temperature and make sure the back coils are clean of dust and dirt.

Add a water butt to your roof drain to collect water . use it for watering plants, washing the car etc. http://www.waterbuttsdirect.co.uk/

Switch to energy saving light bulbs, using up to 80 % less energy and lasting ten times longer- and which can save you around £60.00 in the long run- all for the same amount of light! They are cheap and available most places these days from supermarkets so drugstores.

Fit draft proofers: http://www.expertverdict.com/ They can save tons of energy throughout the house; Dramatically cutting heating bills!

Descale! attach the limescale in your washing machine, kettle and dishwasher with descale packs available form most hardware stores for as little as £2.00 ( for kettles, white vinegar can be used instead)

Use Eco balls in your laundry. They remove dirt without the need for any chemicals. Eco balls are becoming readily available now. They start at about £8.99 for one or two; though I paid £30.00 for 3. This sounds expensive but when you consider that they last around 1,000 washes, they are very reasonable. You generally need to use 2 in each wash but can get away with one on lightly to non soiled items; and most now also come with a tube of eco stain remover for soiled items! http://www.tradeeasy.com/search/manufacturers-products/eco%20laundry%20ball.html

Get Composting! for as little as £10.00 you can buy a compost bin and get started with fruit and vegetable peelings, soil, cardboard etc. check out http://www.recyclenow.com/ for more information.

Eco friendly Kitty- use eco friendly cat litters where possible as clay based cat litters are made using disruptive mining processes.


Eco Your body

We all do it. We use shampoos and conditioners offering volume,shine and repair; skin creams promising a glowing and youthful appearance, make up. But What do they really contain to achieve these effects? Chemicals. yes even those products labelled as “natural” tend to have more chemicals than anything else. Chemicals such as Sodium Laurel/Laureth Sulfate or proplyene Glycol ( better known as de greaser and de icer) used to make items such as shampoos and toothpastes foam. They strip oil from the skins and can cause anything from nerve damage to blindness and cancer. Crazy when natural products can be used instead, for example:

Herbs, such as lavender, natural oils such as olive, jojoba, avocado,Tea tree and grape seed, are great for adding to the skin to moisturise but also remove make up. Honey is very antibacterial and softening. Sugar, makes an excellent scrub ( mix with honey and lemon juice for a good face scrub) Oats can be made into a paste with water and calm skin irritation. Witch hazel makes a great toner and dries up spots. Bicarb of soda mixed with mint makes a very good toothpaste.

If you prefer buying ready made products, here is a huge range of some of the best: http://www.theorganicbodycareshop.com/

Eco Clothing and accessories

Being eco friendly with clothing doesn’t mean having to wear outrageously obscure outfits, grass skirts and vine leaf sandals- There are some very stylish and affordable pieces out there! Here are some of my personal favourites:

http://www.nomadsclothing.com/ more of a somewhat Bohemian quality but some pretty fashionable pieces to be had too.

http://www.wombatclothing.com/ bright and funky outfits

http://www.ascensiononline.com/ Slightly more upmarket designer type clothing.

http://www.thegreenloop.com/ List of stylish ethical clothing retailers

Bulk Buying Containers- The Refil System

Many places,I have recently discovered,seem to have adopted a refil system involving large tapped containers of cleaning products and personal care products such as shower gels, shampoos, moisturisers and conditioners. You buy an empty tub, fill it up then bring it back for a refil once it’s empty thus saving the need to throw away or recycle the pot in a bottle bank. Keep an eye out for this system, there are several already in place in new age and health stores.

Eco your Water intake

Say goodbye to refilling plastics and hello to eco bottles. They work in exactly the same way but are more durable, have non of the chemicals that can seep into liquids upon refilling and do not need recycling in bottle banks or throwing away. They are lightweight so you can take them anywhere you go.
http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/5-eco-friendly-water-bottles-to-reuse-rehydrate-refill-160432/

Eco your Workplace

See full size image

Get greener in the office (or your home office) There are many places selling and bulk supplying eco friendly stationary and office supplies. Here are just a few: http://www.livingethically.co.uk/pages/shopping/office.htm

Amazing  EcoStore

http://www.myecostore.co.uk/ Sell everything including candles, gifts and wraps, household items, office items, toys and games, books and magazines starting under £5.00.

My recent Ecostore purchase:

Coconut Shell Candles filled with 100% compostable soy wax and virtually smoke free. For those of you who dont favour coconut smells, there are others to choose from including Mango, Vanilla and Manderin. £12.00 Each. Yeah, I know what I said about the whole candle thing above, but I must admit I’m a sucker for candles and this find made my day : )

The idea of on street Recycling

An idea for the future: recycling bins in towns and city centres along the streets so they will be nearly as readily accessable as standard rubbish bins.Worth thinking about.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. I love your Blog. It is very informative. What a Great Job!

    Reply

  2. Furthermore, some green lenders will donate towards the environment on behalf of the borrower. Environmental

    Reply

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