The psychological problem with plastic

I had a bit of a revelation the other day. I can’t imagine I’m the first person to think of it, but it struck me as significant at the time.

I was at work, and we had some leftover birthday cake in the office. Some people wanted to take a few slices home, but didn’t have any containers with them. “I’ve got a spare container you can borrow” I said, offering a colleague my metal lunchbox (pictured above, minus the lunch). “I can’t take that” they replied, “it’s far too nice to borrow!”

Searching further in my desk drawer I found a plastic box, the type that takeaway food comes in. “That’s perfect”, my colleague said, “I’ll bring it back tomorrow.”

And that’s when it hit me – the problem with plastic isn’t just that it’s disposable, but that it somehow intrinsically embodies the quality of ‘disposable’-ness as well. Plastic represents something that doesn’t require care or preservation – it looks as though it was made to be discarded. Continue reading “The psychological problem with plastic”

Eco audit: the bathroom

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“The littlest room in the house” is an apt expression in our home

Sometimes it’s easy to get swept up in the big picture of wanting a lovely eco, pared-down life, and feel a bit overwhelmed with the task at hand. When there’s just too much of everything, it often ends up with nothing getting done.

To that end, I’m taking on a room-by-room approach to my house, seeing what’s been ‘greenified’ as much as possible, what could be better, and what needs a complete rethink. I’m starting with the bathroom because it’s a room with a lot of potentially disposable items, and with the expertise of the lovely zero waste community I’m sure that some of the easier wins here will help me with some of the trickier rooms.

Our bathroom is on the small side of what estate agents would call ‘compact’. In the picture of our bathroom at the top of this article, the toilet is behind the wall on the left. Essentially, if you want more than one person in the bathroom at once, one person has to stand either in the bath or on the toilet. It’s friendly. So where items can be minimised or multipurposed, all the better. Continue reading “Eco audit: the bathroom”

Plastic free and on TV

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A slightly wonky snap of me from my TV!

This was definitely not a post I was expecting to write, but on Saturday I was interviewed about shopping plastic free for Sky News! One of their reporters got in touch with me via Twitter on Saturday morning following a referral from the lovely Kate at Plastic is Rubbish, and a few hours later, I found myself in one of my favourite places, Earth Natural Foods, being mic-ed up and ready to film.

In all honesty, when I was first asked, my first reaction was to refuse. I feel incredibly awkward and shy at public appearances, and didn’t want to make a fool of myself. But my lovely partner gently persuaded me that it was a good idea Continue reading “Plastic free and on TV”

The most expensive cardboard box I’ve ever bought

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Behold my beautiful cardboard box. What a treat, eh?

As you can guess from the title of this post, I purchased an eye-wateringly expensive cardboard box this week. £117.62 worth of cardboard box to be exact. There it is in the picture above, in all its glory. Isn’t she lovely?

Have I gone completely off the rails you ask? No, I have not. For this isn’t just any old cardboard box, it’s a Terracycle No Separation Zero Waste Box. What this box will enable me to do is to recycle almost all of the final few bits of landfill waste I’m still creating. The stuff that is just too difficult for me to give up, at least right now.

Terracycle are a company who pride themselves on recycling the bits and bobs which aren’t easily recyclable elsewhere. The range of things you can recycle with them is huge: items such as tennis balls, sponges, crayons, backpacks, cassette tapes, safety goggles, flip flops and about a million other things. Continue reading “The most expensive cardboard box I’ve ever bought”

Compassion is still our currency

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It’s very easy to become disillusioned when you care a lot about the environment. The earth, and our fragile place on it, can feel very precarious at times. 2017 seems set to be a year that will test our resilience to its very maximum; most notably an incoming US president who doesn’t accept the clear, established science of climate change. He is depressingly accompanied by our own UK government who appear to see environmental protections as ‘red tape’ to be swept aside along with investment in renewable technologies, as it goes on a mission to alienate itself from its neighbours on the continent. Also in attendance is a shocking resurgence across large swathes of the Western world of a far-right ideology that sees compassion for the planet, and indeed other humans, as a weakness to be mocked and exploited. Continue reading “Compassion is still our currency”

What price happiness?

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Definitely no magic land at the back of this wardrobe…

Over the last few years there has been a growing backlash against the rise of a culture based on hyper consumption. The movement towards buying and having less has grown as people have begun to realise that a. more stuff doesn’t necessarily mean more happiness, and b. that our planet doesn’t have the resources to sustain our growing levels of consumption.

There is a level of affluence and technical innovation that greatly increases our happiness and ability to lead full, productive lives – from a warm, safe home, access to food, clean water, healthcare, through to education, and access to freedom of ideas and time to discuss them with others. Continue reading “What price happiness?”

A Plastic Ocean (and how you can start doing something about it): Part 2

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Running low on pictures this week, so here are my kitchen shelves again…

So in November, I wrote a post focusing on easy ways to start reducing everyday single-use plastic after seeing the film ‘A Plastic Ocean’. I was beyond excited when Plastic Oceans shared the link on their Facebook page (I still am to be honest)!

Now on to Part 2 – taking it past the easy wins and up to the next level, particularly in an area close to my heart, or rather to my stomach: food. Rather than my own recommendations, this post is going to be a guided tour round some of my favourite parts of the internet; the people, posts and pages that have inspired me.

Grocery shopping

So first up, you’ve got your water bottle, reusable cup, canvas bags and all that jazz, but you’re still finding that grocery shopping seems to involve a whole load of unnecessary waste? Supermarkets are difficult places to avoid this waste, and it’s definitely worth looking to shop elsewhere. Continue reading “A Plastic Ocean (and how you can start doing something about it): Part 2”

A Plastic Ocean (and how you can start doing something about it): Part 1

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Plastic, plastic everywhere. Everywhere it shouldn’t be.

Earlier this year, I went to see A Plastic Ocean as part of the Raindance Film Festival in London. Directed by Craig Leeson and starring world-record breaking freediver Tanya Streeter, it’s a film about how plastics get into the ocean, the devastating effects they have, and what can be done about it. I thought my trip to see it would end up being a one-person event, as whilst many of my friends politely humour me about my enthusiastic commitment to avoiding plastic,  I appreciate that for many people it’s a bit of niche subject and perhaps not what you go to the cinema to see.

To my surprise, four friends agreed to come along.  Continue reading “A Plastic Ocean (and how you can start doing something about it): Part 1”

Countdown to book launch: Zero Waster’s Travel Companion!

So I’m counting down the hours, because Friday, 14th October is the day that the Zero Waster’s Travel Companion goes on sale! A helpful guide to take you round the world whilst looking after it 🙂

This project was the idea of the lovely Inge, who blogs over at www.gruenish.com and is the brains behind the Zero Waste Bloggers Network. She has worked her socks off, and lots of us have been helping, each contributing a chapter on where you can eat, shop and live zero waste in a whole host of cities across the world!

The book will be available as an ebook, and you’ll be able to purchase and download it from http://zerowastebloggersnetwork.com/products/

I am very proud to be able to have written the chapter on London, covering all the way from Bloomsbury, through Camden, Kentish Town and up to Highgate. Continue reading “Countdown to book launch: Zero Waster’s Travel Companion!”

Restaurant review: Silo

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A Silo philosophy: Waste is a failure of the imagination
Last weekend, I was lucky enough to find myself in one of the very nicest cities in the UK, Brighton. It has pretty much everything I could want in a city – the sea (with accompanying gorgeous views), market stalls, indie shops selling one-of-a-kind vintage items, enough vegetarian cafes to make it seem like a normal lifestyle, and a great approach to life (they elected the only Green Party MP in the UK, which makes them pretty awesome and progressive in my book).

There is a huge range of places to eat – the wonderful Terre à Terre makes some of the most exciting vegetarian food I’ve ever tried, or the excellently-named Wai Kika Moo Kau (say it out loud), but there was somewhere new that I have wanted to try ever since it opened…

Silo is a restaurant with a rather unique and exciting way of doing things – the zero waste way. It oozes out of the room itself, which is furnished with functional second-hand furniture and repurposed items. All food is delivered in refillable or reusable packaging, and any waste that created is compostable, although Silo’s website says they create so little of it that they also offer their composting services to local business and residential neighbours! Continue reading “Restaurant review: Silo”