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Simple tips for starting your journey to a #lifelessplastic

When it comes to giving up on plastic it might seem like a mammoth task, or it might not become apparent just how much plastic there is out there, in our daily lives until you actively avoid it! Consider your working lunch if you get it from a standard supermarket or Pret?

The best advice I would offer people starting out on this journey is always (or almost always!) be prepared with: your reusable water bottle, reusable STRAW, your reusable coffee cup, your tupperware, spare shoppers, produce bags if you have these and your reusable cutlery. See gallery below! These simple steps means that when on the go, you can still say no to single-use plastic sch as water bottles straws, cutlery, and so on! Consider the number of plastic cutlery Pret A Manger or the like get through in one day? Even if you’re sitting in, many chains and non-chains offer customers single-use disposable cutlery. If you have yours, not only are you voting to refuse #singleuse but your act of rebellion against what has become the norm will likely inspire the same act in others who are there…

That’s how I would suggest carrying in your bag daily, to avoid single-use plastic.

Reducing plastic in your home: 

When I look  around my flat now I still see plastic. But since becoming so preoccupied with giving it up, which was pushed by the documentary Plastic Oceans, I set about making small tweaks here and there, until I had made notable changes in areas that were once plastic ridden.

Sometimes it is just impossible to avoid it. And sometimes buying something with a smaller amount of plastic, such as a pot of tahini with a seal, means on balance, you’re avoiding an over packaged ready-made pot of homous. Therefore in these instances it is OK to buy tahini. Perhaps one day I’ll learn to make this too, but for now let’s adjust to changes we are determined to keep up, otherwise they’ll be short lived and have less impact long-term.

One thing to say here is: don’t just throw everything away. I am convinced tht there seems to be a link with zero waste living and minimalism: a lot of pictures we see on instagram suggest as much, yet zero waste is a journey and as with every journey there need to be a beginning and thoughtful planning. Make use of all your items and dispose of them responsibly by recycling or repurposing once they’re used up. We’ll get there!

Where did I start to de-clutter my life of plastic? With my PERIODS! I grew offended by the waste  I produced on a monthly basics: surely periods needn’t be this pollutant? And of course they needn’t be. I also didn’t like the artificial look or the feel of sanitary towels a long time ago. That’s why I first switched to Natracare pads having happened upon them in Wholefoods years ago. They are natural and as far as I can remember the packaging is plastic free, but I still felt as though I was producing too much waste, and just like biodegradable nappies, these pads as kind as they are, would still end up in landfill, and it is suggested, they’d only biodegrade in the first layer of landfill! How can we justify this?! That’s when I decided I needed to look into alternatives and discovered the silicone menstrual cup.  Silicone is one of the most abundant natural materials found on earth. While there are still eco costs incurred in mining silicone, it is known to infinitely recyclable as well as safe for our bodies, unlike plastic which leached toxins. Since purchasing my menstrual cup I really haven’t looked back and each month not only do I save loads of money, but I , along with all the women who ave chose the menstrual cup, divert a lot of plastic waste from landfill. There are alternatives to the menstrual cup which are also sustainable, such as the Eco Femme Pad. These are not only made of GOTS certified cotton, but they are also part of social enterprise that gives sanitary pads to impoverished girls in India.

A huge area that is dominated by plastic is personal care. If you look around your bathroom you’ll probably suddenly notice there’s a lot of plastic in there, but it needn’t b this way with so many amazing alternatives out there. For me making changes in the bathroom were generally easy and in fact very enjoyable to implement too as it meant I got to discover great companies such as Living Naturally, Balm of Gilead and Friendly Soap, companies I now work with and stock in my online shop.

Easy bathroom switches:

Liquid soap – bar soap = EASIEST 

Liquid Shampoo and body wash: to solid shampoo that can double as a body wash

Plastic Toothbrush- bamboo toothbrush

Plastic toothpaste – glass jar of #TruthPaste or Georganics

Plastic mouthwash- glass jar of Georganics soluble mouthwash

Plastic and nylon dental floss- refillable glass jar of biodegradable silk floss

Cotton wipes- reusable wipes or flannel

Cotton bus – bamboo cotton buds that will biodegrade

KITCHEN Not everyone has a local scoop shop that mean you can avoid packaging. But by now there are quite a number of online plastic free shops that I mentioned in my earlier post, such as Plastic Free Pantry, who will deliver your plastic free shopping to your door. By now I am nigh on plastic free in the kitchen and have reduce all forms of packaging by making my own: oat milk, homous, soak all my legumes, and I am learning to make bread and biscuits. I think the journey to reduce your waste might also have a positive impact on health when you consider what’s available in plastic packaging: largely what we would qualify as ‘junk food’. It’s not to say I don’t have cravings, of course I miss crisps A LOT but I have come up with cool alternatives that might just be healthier: baked chickpeas!

GET ORGANISED: For those of us that have local options for bulk, the easiest switch is to make the most of these shops and the best way to avoid running out is to look at what you eat the most and buying enough to last you a good 3 weeks, when you start getting low, then top up to avoid needing to rely on your local corner shop! In our flat, we live on rice and dhal so as long as there’s rice and lentil we’re OK. The beauty of dried goods is they last a very long time provided they are stored properly.

SAVE YOUR JARS: even if you shop using cotton shoppers, you’ll still need to store your produce once you’re home. Save as many jars as you can or search local charity shops, this will avoid the risk of food going bad if it’s lefts in your cotton breathable bag too long (about 5 days)

Avoid the supermarket and instead visit your local green grocer over your local supermarket or order a veggie box, this is the simplest way to avoid packaging.

Most importantly, don’t give yourself a hard time and give up! Plastic has been an everyday aspect of our lives for 5-decades and learning to rely less on it will take a period of adjustment. And there’s still a sizable majority who don’t want to change or who are yet to learn about plastic’s negative impacts, which can feel frustrating at times. There are a number of practical elements that will take time adjusting to, but if you have your out and about kit ready you should be able to avoid some of the most insidious uses of single-use plastic: namely the water bottle and the straw!

Your goal to #refusesingleuse and divert as much away from landfill as you can, and the simplest way to do this is to be organised and committed.

All you can do is carry on your good work, as somewhere out there you’re wisdom and activism will be having an impact. Change is already happening all around us as more companies and individuals are coming forward in revolt of single-use plastic, vowing to seek greener alternatives or better still are just choosing to go naked! 

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Plastic free February: top tips

This month is a chance to challenge yourself to live without plastic for 28-days.

 

For some, this is easier as they’ve already adjusted many aspects of their lives to living without plastic.

For others the prospect  might seem daunting, even impossible. Which is why we’ve come up with a few simple tips and ideas for a successful Plastic Free February.

 

  1. Buy bread from the bakery NOT supermarket (unless they offer loose). In Bristol we’re lucky  and have a number of micro bakeries. Take your biggest food wrap or cotton/linen bread bag and ask to have your bread straight in the bag

  2. Only buy fruit and veg produce loose. REFUSE all prepackaged. Try to visit green grocers who often have a better selection of loose produce. Either take your produce home in one bag or use cotton produce bags

  3. Buy foods in jarred or tinned varieties that can be easily recycled or reused

  4. Visit the deli counter with pots for olives etc. If you can’t find olives loose then buy jarred (can you tell olives are one of our staples?!) Deli counter also offer things like samosas, spring rolls, and many other snack type foods. This is the place to visit, in place of the pre-packaged aisles

  5. Visit your local farmers market and stock up on loose produce and even loose biscuits and package free cakes

  6. As sad as it sounds DON’T BUY HOMOUS! Instead make it yourself, it’s very easy and on the upside, you can control the amount of oil that you add. You’ll need to buy tahini for this! And it doesn’t stop there: all dips and olives and most snacks and READY MEALS are in plastic 99% of the time, which means if you’re participating in FFF and once relied on ready meals, you’ll probably find you’ll be doing a lot more cooking.

  7. Unless you have a TIFFIN or anything tupperware like, then you can take this to your favourite take-away and get it filled up. Call ahead to make sure they don’t put in their boxes. While you’re there you might even spark an idea for them to incentives the use of BYO (it’ll save take-away shops money in the long run!)

  8. Also, to add to the saddess of not buying pre-made homous, dips and ready meals etc, you can’t buy CRISPS or biscuits either. I did find this quite hard at first BUT there’s a silver lining, they’re not all that healthy and if like me, you really, REALLY miss them, (crisps mostly) you can make your own. I regularly soak, boil and roast chick peas in all sorts of spices and have started doing the same with cashews. I have yet to make my own crisps but google recipes as most things we eat today, was once a homemade snack

  9. For those who eat dairy and meat, support local and take your own food wrap and tupperware pots and insist they go in here. I have heard people being denied this on meat counters in supermarket so mores the reason to #shoplocal

  10. As a nation of tea drinkers, this switch should be easy as it actually tastes a lot better: ditch tea bags and go loose. These days, loose tea is easy to come by again, after being overshadowed by the plastic ridden tea bag:( I have found a number of online tea supplier and will be adding to our own range here in the coming weeks. Invest in a good tea infuser too (also coming!)

  11. Assess you bathroom and beauty habits: Can you switch to a bat of soap instead of plastic dispenser or can you refill yours locally? Can you switch to a bar of shampoo or make your own? Toothpaste and toothbrushes are super difficult to impossible to recycle, which means they’ll largely end up with landfill (boo) or worse in many cases, as pollution scattering our land and sea scapes and in the oceans themselves. Switching to bamboo toothbrushes means there’s a LOT less plastic involved in your oral regime. Toothpaste can include micro-beads too, another reason to switch today. We stock an artisan range of toothpastes by Truthpaste and Georganics.

  12. Who Gives a Crap toilet paper is another good swap: it’s plastic free, recycled and 50% of the profits go to WaterAid. I have heard people criticize WGAC as it’s made in China, but SOOOO many things we use are made in China. The way I see it supporting local means supporting local artisans and businesses who bring something unique to the table. Generic things like toilet paper isn’t artisan and isn’t unique, it’s a necessity. It’s all about balance, and they give 50% of their profits to an amazing cause which for me offsets any qualms I might be inclined to have.

  13. Finally, one of the most important things is to get organised. Be ready with extra bags and boxes and jars that mean you’ll never be caught short. Then try to explore your bulk options in your local area, you might be surprised that there is one. If not, try the PLASTIC FREE PANTRY who will deliver food to your door without any plastic packaging at all!

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GIVEAWAY

Giveaway #plasticfree
Plastic free giveaway

We have  a MEGA giveaway running at the moment over on our Instagram page.

If you’ve not entered, there’s still time, the winner will be announced on the 10th Feb.

The competition is all about being sustainable and #plasticfree when out and about, and highlighting the epidemic of single-use plastic items we’d use then discarded within minutes in a eat on the go or in a cafe/pub scenarios, namely: cutlery and enemy number one, STRAWS!

That’s why we have curated a set that means you’re ‘out and about’ ready and armed with your single-use plastic repeller’s.

You’ll be able to REFUSE single-use cutlery at every turn, and use your straws over and over again (and inspire others in the process) and you’ll be proactively taking part in the ever growing #reuserevolution that is fast building momentum and for good reason too: turns out most of us give a crap!

What’s up for grabs: a 3-piece organic bamboo cutlery set with an organic cotton pocket and a spork in a cork wallet, both by Bambu. And 2 x stainless steel straws and a cleaning brush. They’ll b packed in post-consumer packaging and delivered to you within 3-working days of competition closing and sent first class. 

Good luck everyone!

Winner to be selected at random and announced on Instagram 🙂

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11 Tips to help you shop plastic free in a supermarket

Before I begin, I would urge everyone before going directly to a big chain, why not make a little extra time to support your  local independent shops to buy  your food?

Green grocers, butchers, fishmongers, health shops and so on, are often owned by a few people or family, which means they’ll appreciate your business. In supporting their small business you are also diverting money away from big corporations who are truly a massive part of the global plastic crisis. Never underestimate the powerful impact millions of small acts can have upon effecting and bringing about change.

Plus, it is much easier to connect with  and engage the owner or employees in discussions on the subject of unnecessary waste and plastic pollution in particular. You can highlight the dangers of single use plastic and even suggest alternatives.

At the moment the climate is perfect to host such a discussion as there is hardly a day that goes by when plastic pollution isn’t being discussed, be it on national radio, the local newspaper or the 6 o’clock news!

11 Tips to help you avoid plastic during your weekly shop in the supermarket:-

1. Take your own cotton produce bags and only buy loose fruit, veg, nuts etc. Herbs are rarely out of plastic so these will need to be sourced elsewhere:( .

I have about 20 produce bags, some cotton and some cotton mesh. This number seems to serve me well and nearly all are in use during a restock

2. Take your own tiffin’s and Tupperware boxes. The deli counter is your friend where you can buy all the food items that would normally come in plastic such as olives, samosas, meats,  and so on, but you can buy without plastic. You just need to tell the assitant to put these into your boxes. I haven’t seen homous in main stream supermarkets as yet, but health shops often sell homous in bulk. Otherwise, abstain from buying it and make your own instead

3. Take your wax wraps with you, you can use these for cheese and even bread

4. If they have an in-store bakery head there, where you can find loose bread, pastries etc, where you can use your cotton bags to avoid their plastic bags. If there isn’t a bakery, you could check out the easy bread mixes if you were rushed, these are normally in paper. Or head to your local bakery and ask for your bread to go in your own cotton bag

5. Sadly as far as I am aware if you’re determined to avoid plastic, then you cannot buy ANY biscuits as they’re all in plastic. However, you can buy flour as this comes in paper, so the good news is you can still have biscuits, you just have to make your own! The same applies to crisps and popcorn too. Why not try to make these at home too?

6. Jarred foods are OK , at least they can be repurposed and every element is recyclable. Only seek out jarred food with metal lids

7. You can buy tinned food as well, but be cautious to look out for plastic. Some tins are coated with plastic which means they can’t be recycled. You can reference the recycling instructions on the labelling to see whether or not it contains plastic. Plus, it’s probably best to avoid any food stored in plastic altogether

8. Unfortunately you are unlikely to find plastic free kitchen roll, tissues or loo paper in the supermarket, therefore you need to look elsewhere for this, unless they sell recycled paper wrapped in bio-plastic*? I have yet to see this, but I am sure in time they will appear.For now though, you might need to order your loo paper online or visit a local bulk or health shop instead, where you’re more likely to find it. Perhaps controversially, I have chosen to buy #whogivesacrap loo paper.  I chose WGAC because every element is recycled and there’s zero plastic. They also donate 50% of their profits to Water Aid. The loo paper is delivered to your door as well, which is very handy!

9. The freezer section  often has a lot of paper boxed items, although be cautious to check there isn’t an inner plastic wrapping by reading the recycling instructions.

10. While nearly ALL the sweets on the shelf are in plastic, the Pick and Mix ‘bulk’ section is loose and therefore, definitely OK to use!  I’m not claiming it’s a necessity and its definitely not healthy, but it’s there if you want it. They seem to label the ingredients really clearly, which means you can  read whether they contain gelatine or dairy etc.

11. Nearly everyone already does this thanks to the 5 pence bag charge introduced way back when, but never ever, ever forget to take your shoppers. The bag charge is really where our concern about plastic pollution and raising awareness of this, all began after all!

I should add here that tea and nearly all coffee is out of bounds as nearly all have elements of plastic, be it the lid or in the tea bags themselves (see earlier post). Even the loose tea is packaged within a plastic based foil. Order your tea and coffee an online plastic free grocery store or find somewhere local that offers these options in bulk.

Also, sometimes the item you need isn’t available outside of plastic packaging.  Either you avoid it OR you use your democratic right to protest and #leaveitatthetill

Let us know how you get on!,😁🌱💛✌🙌

*better than petro based plastic, still single-use 🙁

#beplasticfree #plasticfreetea #plasticfreesupermarketshop #plasticpollution #plasticoceans

 

Further Reading

Guardian: Supermarkets must stop using plastic 

 

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Tea & Plastic

Did you know that “Some bags contain up to 25% non-biodegradable polypropylene…when you think how many teabags are actually used…” that’s an insane amount of tea right? Some popular brands in the UK proffered the following information about plastic in their tea:

  • Yorkshire Tea said their bags contain 25% polypropylene but they were “actively developing plant-based and biodegradable alternatives”. 🙁
  • Tetley said the plastic in their teabags will not break down in compost but they are “normally so small they are not seen”. It’s called MICRO-PLASTIC Tetley, doesn’t make such great soil
  • Twinings said their pyramid bags were free from plastic but their heat sealed bags do contain some polypropylene fibres.

Source: BBC

 At in green’s we have long known about the non-biodegradable aspects of mainstream tea bags, as well as the bleaching agent used in the process of making the tea bags whiter. Some bleaching agents are chlorine based, which is completely unnecessary.
Why medle with something that is perfectly perfect already: have it loose! This is why we promote the use of loose tea.
Loose tea was the only way tea was served once upon a time, until the invention of the tea bag. The tea bag  has certainly made things neater and a whole lot more complicated too. As with so many other aspects of our modern life, it really isn’t all that surprising that plastic has found its way into our tea, but I do think we should be alarmed, for our health as well as for their lack of biodegradability.
Plastic is known to leach toxins into our foods and drinks, and therefore we should avoid ingesting it at any cost.  As mad as it sounds, a Yorkshire tea teabag contains up to 25%  polypropylene according to the tea manufacturer themselves. Which is quite off putting if like us, you’re trying to live a toxin free life.
Plastic in tea was bought to the nations attention thanks to one Mike Armitage, a gardener from Wrexham in Wales. He grew tired of the tea bags non-biodegradability in his compost heap. So tired in fact that he has started a petition to get plastic out of tea. Mike Armitage’s petition comes at a time when all aspects of plastic is being scrutinised.

You can read the full BBC  about plastic in tea here. And sign Mike Armitage’s petition here if you want to enjoy a cup of tea, plastic free. 

 

 

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Reflections on my first ever fair

Saturday marked my first ever fair. I have done car boot sales before, but this was my first fair as a (plastic free) shop owner. Although I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the Ystradgynlais Christmas Hospital Fair, and although admittedly a few people laughed out loud at the sporks in cork! What could have turned out to be a bit of a depressing realisation that people don’t give enough of a shit about plastic pollution and challenging it, actually and happily, turned into a really, really fun day with a lot of positive engagement, feedback and awareness from the public about plastic pollution.

You can never judge a book by the cover: There’s absolutely no ‘look’ or genre to define the worries people harbour about the state of our planet, because this is a universal problem that’s uniting us. Therefore, the idea that you have to be a hippie, whatever that means, to participate in a beach clean up is completely outdated and doesn’t reflect the status quo.

If Saturday taught me anything it is this:  environmentalists are everyone and anyone who cares enough to participate in a productive and fruitful conversation. That conversation might lead to more conversations, that might in turn lead to action. Perhaps it will begin by switching from plastic to reusable bags or giving up on cling film, whatever the results, all are significant and important if we’re to have a collective, citizens response against plastic pollution and keep raising peoples awareness to the problems of ubiquitous plastic.

This is the main objective because governments are not doing enough: it’s down to people power. To care is to converse on the matter and to mobilise is taking positive action. This is what we need to realise as a community of stewards caring for our ailing planet: we cannot wait for the government,. Surely they’re part of the problem anyway.

Even though I entered the hospital with slightly cynical expectations, I left feeling optimistic that even if the people there had never considered plastic’s harmful ubiquity, then at least now they might having been presented with a plastic free stall full of alternatives to their plastic disposable counterpart. In the future I intend to have a lot more information about the products, what they replace and why we need to replace them, on my stalls. In Green’s is a concept store, one where most products have a truly useful purpose and always replace plastic, while the gifts are wrapped in packaging that means they are recyclable, repurposable or become something else, like the sprouting pencils.

 

 

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We’re open!

Hello, and thank you for popping by In Green’s Plastic Free shop.

Did you know:

So, here it is. After taking much longer than I initially thought it would (I started the prep for this shop in 2015) I am finally the proud, optimistic and thankful owner of an online plastic free shop. The shop is an extension of my blog, shedreamsingreen, but also marks the beginning of a new era in my life, one that intends to tread even more gently on our planet.

I mentioned a little bit about ‘why a plastic free shop’ in my ‘About’ page, which by the way was about 20 times longer and was accompanied by a Facts page! I realised that those of you who pass by this shop and blog will already gather I am vehemently against plastic, and that also as this is just the beginning of what is hopefully a long and fruitful journey, then of course there is  plenty of time to share with you all my thoughts, feelings, frustration (and how to deal with them), ideas, collaborations(if anyone has any ideas/wants to collab?!) films to watch, events to attend…this will all be delivered at a more digestible pace as In Green’s evolves. I.e, it doesn’t all have to be said in one breath on the opening day! That’s a relief as the ever growing ‘Facts’ page, where I has a LOT of  info about straws, cups, bags, multi-packs, marine life and so on, was the main reason my shop launch was as ‘delayed’ as it was.

A little about me: 

I started my blog shedreamsingreen in 2011 after I completed the NCTJ Dip in Journalism. I always knew SDIG would be an important part of my life, as it is still a place I channel so much passion into, a subject I have always cared about: our planet. It was during 2012 that I stopped buying as many first-hand clothes as possible, started reevaluating my life and tried to live more gently and lessen my own personal impact on the planet-something that is in our control.

In 2014, when we relocated from London to Bristol, I felt ever more engaged with sustainable living. I discovered Scoop Away (initially through links on Instagram) and started visiting this lovely shop and buying their loose produce.

In December 2016 I saw A Plastic Ocean. It wasn’t that I was unaware of the problems plastic posed. I had already given up on single-use water bottles, straws, bags etc, but the extent of a problem as huge as this, is often difficult to comprehend. Plastic Ocean ‘helped’ to illustrate the extent of the problem in a visual way, that wasn’t just shocking, but was incredibly sad too. Trust me, if you haven’t seen this film, firstly I urge you to watch it. Secondly, I guarantee it will make you cry and you will not be the same person leaving as you were arriving. You WILL notice plastic in and on things you hadn’t even questioned before and it will undoubtedly leave a mark. Without this film I would perhaps not have felt the true scope of plastic pollution. I really hope they show this film in schools…And this compelled me to pursue my Plastic Free shop concept with gusto. A Plastic Free shop isn’t merely a place to make better decision on our consumerism, it is also an opportunity to spread the message of plastic’s destructiveness. As I grow I hope to attend markets and festivals, where I will be equipped with information to help people understand better the problems of plastic.

In April of this year, I attended an event on Zero Waste living where Bea Johnson shared with us her tips on how to achieve a zero waste life. This event had a big impact on me, mainly because her talk made zero waste sound a lot easier than we all imagine it to be. If you haven’t already, then I urge you to read up about Bea Johnson. Her lifestyle is all about ‘collecting memories not things’, and even if we just adapt to a few of her zero waste habits,  it can make a small but positive dent.

The shop’s future: 

I am still trying to source some key items I think are vital if we are to #ditchthedisposables and one that’s very important is the safety razor. I hope to introduce this in the coming months.

I am also bringing out organic cotton and cotton mesh produce bags, these should arrive by January!

Thank you for popping by. be plastic free. be green. be happy. 

Lowri xx