Shayna EcoUnified: Turning Plastic Waste Into Useful Architectural Tiles

Shayna EcoUnified is an innovative company that uses new technology to help tackle plastic pollution in the environment, by turning plastic waste into affordable yet high performance structural materials, in the form of tiles and blocks. 

A picture of the floor and wall tiles in a range of colours piled up with Shayna EcoUnified logo in the bottom corner of the image.
Floor & wall tiles available in different colours.

About The Company

Shayna EcoUnified are the first and only company in India and SAARC countries to have the technology to produce these. This has been achieved in collaboration with the Council of Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR)- National Physical Laboratory’s (NPL), with whom this technology was developed, tested and certified for usage in multiple applications.

About The Product

The products have a range of qualities that have been successfully tested. For starters, they are incredibly durable; they are weather and heat resistant, acid and corrosion resistant, and chip resistant too. They are also hygenic, since they are both anti-bacterial and anti- microbial. Last but not least they are practical; they have anti- static and anti- skiding properties, and are ready to use with no drying required.

In summary, they offer better structural stability at a lower cost compared to conventional materials, as well as protecting the environment from plastic dumping. For example, 600 waste plastic bags are used to make one 12″ x 12″ tile weighing 900g. Each tile costs less than ‎£1.

Uses

The tiles have a range of uses such as wall and floor tiles, pavement tiles and structures such as public toilets, shelters, park benches and guard rooms. They have recently been able to produce a prototype of a roof tile and will be starting the production of it in a few months.

An image of the prototype of a roof tile with Shayna EcoUnified logo on the bottom corner of the picture
Prototype of a roof tile.

Process

The entire process of production is 100 per cent eco- friendly. The types of waste plastic that will serve as the raw materials are PP (Polyproplyene), LDPE (Low density polythene), and HDPE (High density polythene). It will be processed at a controlled temperature to ensure no hazardous gases are emitted. Furthermore, all the stages of production is largely mechanical, further ensuring a safe and healthy environment.

Ethics

Shayna EcoUnified are about to start fully fledged production in the next few weeks. The prototypes have been made by daily wage workers who they are hiring on full- time basis starting next month. The production site is adequately sized, the machine-run production area is covered, whilst the rest is open and full of greenery.

There are essential facilities provided on-site for labours, and filtered drinking water supply maintained. Health and safety measures are currently being installed. Also, they will be conducting training and capacity building sessions for women.

An image of three different colour interlocking tiles used for pavements. Shayna EcoUnified logo on bottom corner of image.
Interlocking tiles which are used for pavements.

Distribution

Once they become established in the Indian domestic market and are able to deliver maximum output, they plan to sell the product in other countries as well.

Find out more about Shayna EcoUnified on their website, twitter or facebook.

Eco- Friendly Gift Ideas (Gift Guide With Giveaway)

Do you want to find a gift with a difference? Then why not choose something that helps our planet! Here is a list of eco-friendly items to fill your (bamboo) stockings with…

Collage of all items featured in gift guide. Title written in centre.

Bamboo Coffee Cup Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) £12 each

This awesome 400 ml reusable bamboo coffee cup is dishwasher-safe, easy to carry around and lasts for years. It can be disposed of by crushing, soaking in hot water and burying with organic compost. The silicone lid and sleeve can be recycled.

A picture of SAS bamboo reusable coffee cups (boxed and stacked 3 x 2) in 6 different colours.

Annual Memberships

The Wildlife Trusts
The Wildlife Trusts do fantastic work, and annual membership is a lovely gift for eco-friendly nature lovers.

Wildlife Matters magazine and Go Wild leaflet by The Wildlife Trusts

Surfers Against Sewage
SAS works tirelessly to campaign for cleaner environments and supports the development of sustainable communities. Membership to this charity makes a great gift!

Image of SAS Pipeline journal

Homemade Soap Gift Set Living Naturally Cost: £26

This beautiful Soapnut Soap Selection Set is handmade in the UK from 100% natural, organic, vegan, sustainable, ethically-sourced & cruelty-free ingredients! They only use recycled/recyclable paper packaging, so you will not be contributing to landfill either.

A set of 7 beautiful vegan, eco, ethical, natural handmade soaps.

Salad Kit The Crop Club £30

These ‘grow your own’ kits are perfect for even small spaces and do their bit for the environment and sustainability. They include; 6 varieties of seeds, compostable cardboard and PLA pots, peat free compost discs, palm leaf trays for your pots, wooden spoon plant markers, bottletop waterer (80% recycled plastic, made in the UK) and coffee sack planter bags.

A picture of the contents of the crop club salad kit.

Every coffee sack is unique and different. They have already been used to transport coffee and are then upcycled. Due to this they can be a little dirty and messy but perfect for growing!

Eco Clothes (Custom and Various Designs including Charity Clothing) Living Life Our Way Cost: From £13

All Living Life Our Way clothing is made from 100% organic cotton, in a wind powered factory. Designs are printed using low waste, cutting edge technology. Furthermore, everything is ethically made and fully traceable from start to finish. Sustainable, ethical and good quality too. Choose from bags, sweatshirts, hoodies, tees and vests in a range of designs, or custom your own.

An image showing 6 of the different designs available from the store.

Mens Yoga Clothes OHMME 2- Dogs Yoga Shorts £45

OHMME is an eco- friendly athleisure slow fashion brand created as ethically as possible, who also donate to CALM Charity. They use GreenDefence, which incorporates a built-in antibacterial function to the garments that stops bacterial growth and reduces odors without using harmful chemicals. They also use bluesign® to minimise environmental impact and to help evolve towards a sustainable textile industry. It eliminates harmful substances right from the beginning of the manufacturing process and sets and controls standards for a safe production.

Image of a pair of blue Ohmme 2-dogs yoga shorts for men.

These 2-Dogs Yoga Shorts for men are stretchy and silky, lined with a soft compression layer for total freedom of motion. The material is stretchy; this tight but stretchy fit allows for excellent blood flow. The cut is fitted with an extra panel from the crotch all the way down the inside of the leg, removing the strain from the seams and keeping your shorts in place for maximum body mobility. They are made for all body shapes and types of workout allowing you to focus on your practice and forget about what you are wearing.

One lucky reader can win a pair of these brilliant blue 2-dogs mens yoga shorts! Enter via rafflecopter below. UK only. Ends 4th December 2017. Other T&Cs apply.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stocking Fillers

Do you have sustainable gift ideas? Please share them with me! I’d love to hear them.

This post contains affiliate links and is a collaborative post.

Planning Your Vegetable Garden

This is a guest post written by Tim from Yard and Garden Guru.

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There is no right way or wrong way when it comes to having a vegetable garden, although things have to be done a sure way to help your plants prosper. Vegetable gardening for beginners can be as natural as you want to make it, yet it is advisable to ease yourself into rather than becoming overwhelmed.

Your area will detect how large a veg garden you have, yet lack of size is no excuse not to give vegetable gardening a go. If you plan it right, you can have an abundance of crops even in the smallest of places. Regardless of the area and how you grow your vegetables, there are a few things that you will have to adhere to.

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Location

As you will be deciding where to have your vegetable garden, it should be noted that vegetables require 6-8 hours of sun per day. To make sure they can achieve this, you choose the sunniest parts of your garden and make sure your rows face east to west. Leafy green vegetables require a little less and are not keen on the harsh sun so these can go in your not so sunny areas.

It is also advisable to have direct access to your garden from your home, this way you will see when it needs tending to.

Size is Important

The ideal space allocation you are looking for is 16 feet X 10 feet. As your rows will face east to west, this means the longest edge of the bed will face north and south. If you are limited for a space of this size, you can scale it down or use raised beds. The critical thing to remember is that your rows are 18 inches apart.

Raised beds, on the other hand, should be 8 feet by 4 feet, and the depth of the bed should be 10 – 12 inches.

Soil Preparation

This process will be mainly for direct planting into the earth rather than a raised bed. However, it doesn’t hurt to add some organic material as this is full of rich nutrients that will only help your vegetables.

The first stage is to remove all weeds and then turn your soil. Regular soil should have a pH of around 7. If you find your ground is below this, a good inch to 2 inches of organic material can be added. Once done you should water thoroughly and leave for 2 days before commencing.

Planting

Once you have your prepared patch, you can think about planting your seeds. Some gardeners germinate their seeds indoors and transplant, although a plant will be hardier if they are directly sown.

Growing distances are explained on the packs of seeds. You also have climbing vegetables which have to be considered. These often go on the back of your patch to catch the most sun. 

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Raised Beds

When you plan on having a vegetable garden, you always read that you should start small. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using raised beds. They might appear to require a lot more work with construction etc… Yet they do bring many benefits when compared to growing directly into your garden patch.

A few of the benefits of raised beds are as follows:

Easier to Manage – raised beds are ideal for smaller areas.

Soil Protection – as the soil is confined in the surround, it will remain soft and will allow roots to spread much more comfortable over time.

Extended Growing Season – a raised bed will warm up quicker than the ground. Irrigation is also conducted easier due to the softer soil.

Maintenance – Apart from the surround, as many are made from wood. You will have less digging and weeding to carry out through the growing season or during the growing season.

Irrigation – as the soil is much softer, the land can drain easier, and in some areas of the country, you can grow vegetables that would not otherwise grow.

Soil Preparation – Many areas have earth which is not ideal, and it requires a lot of organic material to get the pH correct. Raised beds use good quality topsoil which already has the perfect pH levels. Raised beds also make it easier to control mulch and fertilizer as the areas are defined.

Access – if you have a regular vegetable patch, you will have to define pathways. With raised beds, these paths are automatically determined by the beds themselves. They also make it easier for individuals who are unable to bend or are wheelchair bound to access their vegetables.

A healthy high yielding vegetable garden requires only a few things. Plenty of sun, adequate watering, good soil and some tender loving care. If you have all these things, you can learn the rest as you go along.

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Author Bio

Tim Graham writes at the yardandgardenguru.com, and you can also find him on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

OFFICIAL LAUNCH NEWS: Living Life Our Way Clothing Range 

Fantastic range of ethical and sustainable clothing designs. Including custom made t- shirts using child’s own drawing to create a unique peesonalised gift. All clothing is made from 100% organic cotton in a wind powered factory and printed using low waste cutting edge technology. Fully traceable from start to finish. Adult and kids t-shirts, hoodies and bags available. Stylish and sustainable, look great while protecting our planet! Chari-tees collection also supports various causes and charities by donating a set amount per sale. Look good, feel good, do good. Shop for our ethical, sustainable fashion eco clothing.

EXCITING NEWS!!! 

Squiggle and I are thrilled to announce that we have launched our very own sustainable and ethical clothing range!

Our Story

Squiggle loves designing her own clothes and has several tops that she has hand drawn herself using fabric pens. Being the mini entrepreneur she is, toward the end of last year, she asked if she could sell her clothing designs to other people too. However, we both agreed that we would need to ensure that our items would be eco- friendly and so our mission began to turn our ideas into reality…

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And now our goal has finally been realised! We have successfully sourced a manufacturer who almost perfectly aligns with our values – and we are so happy and excited to have found such an ideal match! All of our clothing is made from 100% organic cotton, in a wind powered factory. Designs are printed using low waste, cutting edge technology. Furthermore, everything is ethically made and fully traceable from start to finish. Sustainable, ethical and good quality too, we couldn’t be happier!

But that is just the beginning of the story…

Originally this started out as Squiggle sharing her own designs. However, inspired by my lovely friend Maxine and her fabulous My&Me Jewellery range, we decided to extend this to offer custom tees in your child’s own design. This makes a really unique and thoughtful personalised gift for a child – or even a special adult in their life!

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Chari-Tees

Inspired by Squiggle’s creativity and drive, and my desire to support causes I feel passionate about, I have designed a couple of products with particular charity campaigns in mind. For each of these sold, a set amount will be donated. Details are on the website under the item description. I intend to keep expanding this collection to help raise money for more fab charities!

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Other Collections

I have also created some general designs too. I often find myself getting creative as a way to relieve stress, so either when Squiggle is having a tough time with her complex needs, and/ or if there has been something major happen around the globe.

For example, my ‘Spread Love‘ design was inspired by an instagram post asking people to share photos of love in response to the Las Vegas tragedy. I try to focus on the love and kindness in the world, especially during difficult times, and my design is a reflection of that.

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Another love of mine is music, and I find live music very therapeutic. It is an important part of my life. Hence my ‘Live Music‘ hoodie design. Perfect for wearing to gigs! 

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Giveaway

To celebrate the launch of our clothing range, I have an awesome adult or child t- shirt to giveaway! Enter via rafflecopter below. Open worldwide. Ends 1st November 2017. Winner can choose from any design. Other T&Cs apply. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Shop for clothing here. Thanks for your support!

How Your Kitchen Lighting Can Be Eco- Friendly

LED lighting is an eco friendly lighting option for the kitchen and the rest of your home. LED lighting saves energy and is environmentally friendly. Find out how you can brighten up your kitchen, and the rest of your home, with LED lighting.

Kitchen lighting needs to be able to do a multitude of things. It must be bright enough for you to practise your culinary skills, without casting shadows. It needs to be relaxing, for those meal time chats, or when you are entertaining. It should look stylish, and not get in the way of those frantic family moments that the kitchen seems to be at the heart of. Lastly, it should be eco-friendly. We’re all too aware of the effects of energy consumption, so how can we work to reduce it with lighting?

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stock image

Choose LED

LED kitchen lighting is the easiest way to reduce your energy consumption. They use up to 90% less power than other types of bulbs such as halogen and fluorescent. They use less of their energy as heat, instead using it as light, so you get a bright light at a much lower wattage than a halogen bulb by comparison. They also have a longer lifespan of up to 60,000 hours, meaning that they last over seven years without needing to be replaced. LED bulbs can also be recycled in the traditional manner, unlike fluorescent bulbs which must be treated as hazardous waste. Whilst LEDs may seem expensive initially (their cost is being reduced as more bulbs are introduced to the market), you will make the money back from your electricity bill! Plus, if you have children or you are concerned about safety – LEDs are almost cool to the touch, meaning that there is less risk.

Switch off!

At some point in your life, you’ll probably have heard someone tell you to ‘turn the big light off’, usually followed by ‘it’s like Blackpool Illuminations in here!’ Despite living just outside London, I remember my dad still used this phrase – not that we had ever actually visited Blackpool, but he assured me that was what it’s like! 😉 Although this might sound like nagging, it’s actually the best advice you can have, in terms of reducing your energy consumption. Do you need to have the main light on, or can you make a nice, relaxing atmosphere with a lamp?

LED, lighting, eco, energy saving, green living, home and garden, interior design, home decor, kitchen lighting
stock image

Best Styles of Kitchen Lighting

If you’re inspired to try out LED lighting in your kitchen, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • For a bright functional light, try undercabinet lights. You can install them above your sink, chopping board and other surfaces you need to use. Just remember to place them near the front of the cupboard, or you might get shadows making it harder to work safely and effectively.
  • For an atmospheric dining experience, try hanging a pendant light over your table or island. Bonus points for installing it with a dimmer switch – bright for eating, darker for afterwards!
  • Recessed spotlights always look really stylish, and if you purchase LED ones, you’ll hardly ever need to replace them – so you can put that ladder away!


Would you try using LED lighting, to save money and be more eco-friendly?


*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. 

How To Reduce Household Waste: Zero Waste Tips (Including Giveaway)

When people hear the concept of zero waste, it can seem somewhat overwhelming. How can someone not create any rubbish?! But the truth is, for the vast majority of people who try to practice a zero waste lifestyle, it is more like zero waste is something to aim towards by taking a slow step by step journey in the right direction. And that’s ok. It is really about doing your bit to protect our planet. Plus each action you take tends to become a gateway to the next. So it really isn’t as hard as it first sounds!

This post covers alot of different areas, but the point is just for me to share tips and alternative products with you all. I intend for you, my readers, to pick somewhere to begin, and to find new ideas to continue from whatever stage you are already at; the idea is not for anyone to try to take it all on at once! Gradual change is the key to making it feel sustainable and not too overwhelming. This is also by no means a comprehensive list by any stretch of the imagination! There are many, many people far further along the journey than I am, but we can all learn from one another, so I am just sharing what I know!

Here are my ideas for developing a zero waste lifestyle, divided into sections for ease of reference (because I like to be organised!)…

Toiletries

This is the area that I have been working on myself most recently, so I figure it makes sense to start here!

Deoderant

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Earth Conscious Deoderant Stick (RRP £8)

Earth Conscious sell a zero waste natural deoderant that now comes in both tin or stick format. I have only just got mine so too early to comment personally, but reviews on it are great! 

Shampoo/ Conditioner

Shampoo bars are the obvious choice for zero waste hair washing. Alternatively, powder is another option. However, if you cannot get on with shampoo bars or powder, I recommend that you buy a huge bulk size container of shampoo and conditioner so that it needs replacing far less often. You can purchase a smaller reusable pump bottle to make it more practical. 

For example, Faith in Nature sell huge 5 litre refills for around £50. If you feel put off by the price for a product you haven’t tried, it is well worth ordering the smaller size versions first then investing in your favourite. They also offer free samples for a small limited number of their products, so you can try before you buy that way too. I realise this may sound like it defeats the point of choosing zero waste items somewhat, but it is really about looking at the bigger picture and thinking ahead. Other brands probably have bulk size versions too, if you look into it and find any others, do let me know in comments.

As for conditioner, I have written before about natural hair conditioners. Although these are not actually zero waste ideas as such, they are items that can be used for a range of purposes and again can usually be purchased in much larger sizes so this helps to drastically reduce waste.

Soap

There are a wide range of beautiful, often handmade, natural soaps available that are sold without packaging (or minimal, recycled packaging) so produce little to no waste. If you prefer liquid handwash, again I recommend buying in bulk to reduce waste. 

Facewash/ Scrub

I totally recommend you make your own! There are some fab DIY recipes around if you google. I made a great coffee scrub last year. Alternatively, there are various eco conscious independents and other brands who ensure their packaging is minimal and environmentally- friendly. (And remember to check for no microbeads too!)

Toothbrush

Go for a bamboo toothbrush. Most come in fully recyclable minimal packaging and the toothbrush is biodegradable. I have one from Save Some Green. 

Cleaning

Alot of people buy many different types of cleaning products for all different purposes, which immediately creates far more waste. So my first bit of advice is try to simplify!

Cloths/ Wipes/ Scrub pads

Opt for resuable versions made from sustainable natural materials, such as bamboo, hemp or organic cotton cloths and wipes, and coconut hair scrub pads for example.

Multi – Purpose Cleaner

I recommend making your own DIY version if possible. We tend to use vinegar solution. Otherwise choose an eco-friendly brand in the largest size possible that covers a range of uses. 

Washing up Liquid

Again my best advice is to select one that lasts longer so less waste!

Laundry

zero waste, eco, green living, natural, sustainable, environmentally friendly, Living Naturally, soapnuts, laundry
Living Naturally Soapnut Laundry Medium Starter Kit (RRP £15.66)

I was sent this fab soapnut starter pack from Living Naturally, which I have used for my most recent washes (probably about 4 loads now of various items). I am really impressed at how effective they are; in my opinion, they leave clothes just as clean and fresh as regular detergent! Not only are they natural and zero waste but they also work out much cheaper too, so this is a very cost effective way to do laundry as well as protecting the environment. Do give them a try and tell me what you think!

Menstruation

Ok, so granted this isn’t relevant to everyone but menstruation products can cause alot of waste so this is an important one! There are various reusable products, so you will most likey find that there is something to suit everyone that needs them. Earthwise Girls are my go to site for this, since they stock a good range of items to choose from. Personally, I mainly use a cup but also have reusable tampons, period pants and cloth pads too so that I can go with the flow. (Get it?! Sorry, excuse the pun!!!)

Eco Fluffy Mama has written alot on this subject and offers great advice.

Food and Drink

This is a huge area. There are so many different aspects and I doubt very much that I have covered even the majority of them in this post, but here goes…

Groceries Shopping

First things first; take your reusable bags along! Or use cardboard crates instead, which is what we do as we find that easier.

Choose items with minimal and recyclable packaging wherever possible. Aiming for a fresh raw food diet, rather than buying convenience goods, is not only good for your health, but better for the environment too. Fruit and veg, for example, do not need plastic wrappers! Of course, I totally understand this might be ideal but is not always realistic for many – but it is, at the very least, just something to consider when doing your shop. Buying bigger versions of long lasting cupboard food also saves on some packaging too.

Food Waste

Try not to buy more than you will eat, freeze if applicable so it lasts longer and my favourite for fruit and veg – make it into a smoothie and drink it up!

Storage/ Lunchboxes/ Picnics

There are lots of durable, practical ways to store food without causing waste. Mason jars, glass or metal containers, resuable sandwich bags and washable beeswax wraps (to replace clingfilm) are all good options. For snacks on the go, carry around reusable cutlery, made from bamboo or similar. Plus carry washable cloths rather than wipes in your bag too.

Drinks

Use a resuable cup or flask, and water bottle for drinks on the go. And ditch the plastic straws, opt for eco- friendly alternatives instead if you can’t do without!

Other

Did you know? Aluminium foil is not rubbish; scrunch it into a ball and throw it into your recycling pile!

Further Reading

There are lots of great blogs, articles and books about this subject, but here is just a small selection…

Eco Fluffy Mama green living blog

12 Ways To Cut Your Waste by Grow Eat Gift

Zero Waste Guide by Earthwise Girls

Rethink Your Rubbish by PinkOddy

Zero Waste Week Supporters

Last but not least…

To celebrate Zero Waste Week, I have a fab Bathroom Starter Kit from Earthwise Girls to giveaway to one lucky reader! 

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Earthwise Bathroom Kit (RRP £14)

Earthwise Bathroom Set includes:

  • Bamboo medium bristles toothbrush
  • Wooden hair comb
  • Hemp hair & body soap (supplied in a compostable wrapper)
  • Earth Conscious deodorant
  • Divine chocolate bar
  • Pukka herbal teabag

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ends 25th September 2017. Open to UK residents only. Other T&Cs apply.

My Zero Waste Haul (with Eco Friendly Bundle Giveaway)

As part of Plastic Free July, I have been making more effort to find new ways to reduce waste in our home. We have been on a journey to consciously gradually reduce our waste, and especially plastic, for a while now anyway but there will always be more action we can take! So I walked around the house, and looked at our current waste and recycling, to come up with an action plan. Then I did some online shopping for zero waste essentials! Here are some of my purchases:

Bamboo Cloths

green living, eco, environmentally friendly, zero waste, environment, sustainable, plastic free, bamboo cloths 

I purchased these Cheeky Wipes reusable cloths through Amazon* for multiple purposes. They come in a pack of 25 in five different colours (£17), which is handy for keeping separate cloths for own their different uses/ remembering who they belong to!

green living, eco, environmentally friendly, zero waste, environment, sustainable, plastic free, bamboo cloths

I was disappointed that they arrived in plastic wrapping! However, aside from that I am pleased with them; they are a nice size and wash well.

Bamboo Toothbrush

green living, eco, environmentally friendly, zero waste, environment, sustainable, plastic free, bamboo toothbrush

I needed a new toothbrush so it seemed the perfect time to opt for a more sustainable alternative than the usual plastic toothbrush! This lovely bamboo toothbrush (RRP £2.75) was kindly sent to me directly from Save Some Green, along with one to giveaway as part of my mini eco bundle too! (See below to enter). It even comes in eco friendly packaging, very impressed!

Coconut Scrub Pads

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Again, the Safix scrub pad (RRP £2.70) was kindly received from Save Some Green and is a super environmentally friendly alternative to usual versions. It is biodegradable and compostable so zero waste.

green living, eco, environmentally friendly, zero waste, environment, sustainable, plastic free, coconut scrub



Resuable Water Bottle

green living, eco, environmentally friendly, zero waste, environment, sustainable, plastic free, reusable water bottle

Hubby bought this water bottle from a local store recently, which can also be purchased through Amazon: Brita Fill & Go Water Bottle* (£12.37). However, I also know that the Clean Kanteen water bottle (£30) comes highly recommended and is made from stainless steel, so that would have been even better still! 

Food Wraps and Zip Bag

green living, eco, environmentally friendly, zero waste, environment, sustainable, plastic free, food bag, reusables

green living, eco, environmentally friendly, zero waste, environment, sustainable, plastic free, reusables, food wrap

I purchased this Planet Wise zip bag (£5.95) and Abeego food wraps (£14.95) from Babipur. They are really easy to wipe clean and a very handy alternative to cling film!

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Babipur have also kindly offered these two fab items as a prize for one lucky winner. You can enter via instagram below:

***GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED. WINNER ANNOUNCED IN COMMENTS. THANKS ALL FOR TAKING PART.*** As part of #PlasticFreeJuly I purchased this Planet Wise zip sandwich bag and Abeego wraps, which are so useful 💚 I have now teamed up with @Babipur for one lucky instagrammer to win their very own awesome reusable eco essentials! 😊👍 Prize: Planet Wise zip sandwich bag (caribou bloom design) and a pack of 2 large Abeego wraps. To enter: All you need to do to enter is like this photo, follow me and @Babipur here on IG then tag a friend in comments! T&Cs: Winner will be drawn at random after the closing date. Ends 11.59pm on 12th August 2017. UK residents only (sorry everyone else!) Prize is kindly offered and dispatched by Babipur. Good luck! (My own items are pictured, but prize is the same).

A post shared by Katie (@living_life.our_way) on


Reusable Straws

I have already written about my fab straw purchases from Eco Straws, plus it is not too late to enter my giveaway to win a set of bamboo straws too! 
Last but not least…

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Save Some Green have sent me this awesome mini eco bundle for one lucky winner to win! Enter via rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Competition closes 20th August 2017. Open to UK residents only. Other T&Cs apply. 

St Albans Mission To Ditch Plastic Straws: #RefuseTheStraw Campaign 

St Albans #refusethestraw campaign is inspired by Plastic Free July and has one simple aim; to drastically reduce the use of plastic straws in bars, pubs, cafes, coffee shops, restaurants, schools and everywhere else across St Albans. After watching A Plastic Ocean as part of the St Albans Film Festival, Emma (founder) felt even more motivated to push forward with this movement to rid St Albans of these harmful, and unnecessary, single- use plastics from our community.

#refusethestraw, #strawless, #StopSucking, plastic free, single use plastic, plastic straws, environment, sustainability, eco, green living, campaign, St Albans, Herts

A plastic straw has a useful life of around 20 minutes, and most places don’t bother separating them out for recycling. Many end up in our oceans. A great example of human wastefulness! Local businesses can take part in the following ways:

  • Provide a straw only when requested by a customer
  • Provide compostable paper straws instead (not those with a polyethylene lining) or other eco-friendly straws
  • Get rid of straws completely* 

*Note: In the interest of considering customers with disabilities, ideally sustainable alternatives to plastic straws would still be available, at least on request. 

Furthermore, individuals can help by spreading the word, speaking to people who work in local businesses about changes they can make, and simply by refusing a straw when buying a drink.

The campaign has got off to a roaring start and is gaining momentum fast! So far 16 businesses (and counting!) have pledged their support and are taking action, with more being added to the list daily. This is great news for our environment!

#refusethestraw, #strawless, #StopSucking, plastic free, single use plastic, plastic straws, environment, sustainability, eco, green living, campaign, Beech House, St Albans, Herts
Beech House

At the time of writing, the following are all phasing out (or already have removed) plastic straws:

The Beech House

Charlie’s Coffee Shop

The Fleetville Larder

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks

The Hare and Hounds

Smokehouse Deli

The Green Kitchen

Dylan’s at the Kings Arms

The Craft and Cleaver

The Boot

The Great Northern

The White Lion

The Courtyard Cafe

Lussmanns – all 5 branches across Herts

Inn on the Park

George Street Canteen

Thank you, and well done to you all! 

#refusethestraw, #strawless, #StopSucking, plastic free, single use plastic, plastic straws, environment, sustainability, eco, green living, campaign, Craft and Cleaver, St Albans, Herts
Craft and Cleaver

I am so excited about this fantastic step forward and can’t wait for further developments! To keep up with the latest campaign news and progress, make sure you follow @starefusestraw on twitter and St Albans #refusethestraw over on facebook. Neighbouring town of Harpenden also has its own #refusethestraw campaign, which you can find on facebook or twitter too.

And don’t forget to tag us in your local strawless or eco straw photos and/ or share them with us using the #refusethestraw hashtag to help spread the word even further!

#refusethestraw, #strawless, #StopSucking, plastic free, single use plastic, plastic straws, environment, sustainability, eco, green living, campaign, Living Life Our Way

Small changes make a big impact… and together we can clean up our planet. 

If you would like to set up a campaign in your local area, here are some top tips: 

  • You can get started just by setting up an email address, Twitter and Facebook page.
  • Approach businesses initially with a polite email, following up with an update if no response.
  •  Keep it light – we all know this is a serious thing, but a big green rant might  put people off.
  • Start with green and community minded businesses who are more likely to switch to get the ball rolling and build momentum. Other people are more likely to switch if they see others doing so!
  • Take it at your own pace. Even just 1 or 2 emails / calls / visits a day makes a huge impact! 
  • Be prepared with information to be able to widen the conversation if the business would like further details e.g. disposable cups, food waste etc…
  • Don’t be afraid to try the big chains. Ask them to use your local branch as a pilot.
  • Spread the word about your campaign on local Facebook groups etc…
  • Regular updates on social media keeps momentum. Post successes, and regularly publicise a list of everyone who has switched. 
  • People like to share photos, encourage use of the hashtag to help spread the word further. 
  • Approach local media and bloggers to get coverage.
  • Work with local groups e.g. WI, Transition, Scouts. 

#refusethestraw, #strawless, #StopSucking, plastic free, single use plastic, plastic straws, environment, sustainability, eco, green living, campaign, St Albans, Herts

      Plastic Straw Alternatives

      There are various sustainable straw options. I have tested out a couple of different ones at home; including steel and bamboo reusables, plus disposable paper and wheat ones too. I recommend the best thing to do is try some out for yourself and decide which is best for you. But here are some of my personal opinions:

      Wheat Straws (£3.49 for 40 straws)

      Pros – they can be cut to size 

      Cons – feels like they are softening as drink

      Paper Straws (£7.99 for 150 straws)*

      Pros – cheap and easy to source

      Cons – they can get soggy

      #refusethestraw, #strawless, #StopSucking, plastic free, single use plastic, plastic straws, environment, sustainability, eco, green living, campaign, St Albans, Herts

      Steel Straws (£5.99 for 4 pack of 145mm angled straws plus cleaning brush)

      Pros – very durable, easy to clean

      Cons – maybe feels abit cold and uncomfortable, plus mind you don’t bash your teeth! (Some have latex covers which would be good). Also makes an annoying sound against glass

      Bamboo Straws (£3.99 for 4 pack of 145mm straws plus cleaning brush)

      Pros – Cheap for reusables, highly sustainable, I like the fact they are chunkier than most straws (comfortable)

      Cons – May stain abit from drink

      Conclusion: The bamboo straws are my personal favourites! 

      On that note; to celebrate the launch of this campaign and as part of Plastic Free July, I have teamed up with Eco Straws to giveaway a set of 4 bamboo straws (215mm) for one lucky winner! 

      Bamboo straw, giveaway, competition, eco straws, #refusethestraw, #strawless, #StopSucking, plastic free, single use plastic, plastic straws, environment, sustainability, eco, green living, campaign

      Enter via rafflecopter below.

      a Rafflecopter giveaway

      Open to UK residents only. Closes 10th August 2017. Other T&Cs apply.

      *Disclosure: Affiliate Amazon link. This does not cost the buyer any extra.

      Thank you to Eco Straws, who supplied the bamboo straw set as a prize. I purchased my own straws. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 


      Organising An Eco-Friendly Children’s Party 

      Are you holding a kids party, and considering ways to make it more eco-friendly? It is not an easy task, as I discovered when trying to organise Squiggle’s 9th birthday party a couple of months ago! You need to get a bit creative if you don’t want to leave behind piles of plastic, wrapping paper, and litter. In some ways we succeeded, others we need to work on for next time! Here are some thoughts…

      party, eco, environmentally friendly, kids party, celebrations, events, green living

      Eco- and Kid-Friendly Catering

      • Opt for reusable plates, bowls and cutlery instead of disposable options. Alternatively, create personalised party food packages wrapped up resuable food bags or wraps, or even in scarves or bandanas. They not only make colourful decorations for the table, but this approach can subtly assist with addressing allergy issues/ dietary requirements of young guests, plus they’ll double as napkins and the children can take them home afterwards.
      • Prepare fruity drinks ahead of time, using jam jars with sealable lids. It saves on packaging and if the weather’s hot and you’re outside, they’re easily kept cool in a cool box or even a bucket filled with ice. Use sustainable straws (e.g. paper or reusables) rather than plastic, and make the drinks more exciting by adding chopped or sliced fresh fruit such as strawberries.
      • Picnic or buffet areas set aside from other activities help to keep the mess and left overs in one place. They make supervision easier too, so if anyone needs help they aren’t left on their own. Dressing up metal barriers (which you can hire from staging and event specialists) with paper bunting or streaming creates a separation from other areas while maintaining the celebratory atmosphere.
      party, eco, environmentally friendly, kids party, celebrations, events, green living
      Squiggle’s 9th party

          Green Ideas for Party Activities and Take Home Gifts/ Favours

          It is traditional to give the party-goers some kind of goodie bag or favour to take home, but it doesn’t have to affect your pledge to organise an eco-friendly party.

          • How about giving each child a small plant or sapling they can take home and put in their own garden? If you wrap each root ball in hessian, there’s no waste at all since it can go on the compost heap when it’s no longer needed. This is even better if any of the party activities have a similar theme of planting and growing.
          • For example, you could make ‘plant pots’ by halving empty cardboard roll tubes, then decorate by painting before planting their seeds. Plug each ‘pot’ with balled up newspaper so it will hold some compost. This creates an activity and a gift to take home in one. 
          • Or make seed bombs at the party to take home! 
          • Recycled plantable seed paper, for instance, is also an interesting novelty for children.
          • Nature crafts are fun activities. Have a scavenging hunt with a pile of twigs, mosses and grasses, then make some nature art.
          • Hold a bug hunt. Make a short list of insects to find, with prizes for all who find some, then invite children to draw or paint their favourites.
          • You could even get everyone involved in planting a special ‘celebration tree’ as part of the party!
          party, eco, environmentally friendly, kids party, celebrations, events, green living
          Nature art

            Other Tips

              • Use Japanese blow up paper balloons rather than latex or foil balloons. These last a long time and are more environmentally friendly.
              • Reuse decorations. If you don’t want the same theme year after year, pass your old decorations on and source ‘new’ secondhand ones on your chosen theme. Better yet, also opt for decorations that are made from sustainable materials too!
              • If it is a particularly large party and you plan on having several different activities going on at the same time, or maybe with specific start times if you’re holding competitions or races, it might mean guests are quite spread out at times. Setting up a PA system to make announcements will keep everyone informed and save you a lot of running round. I remember once we had Squiggle’s party on a huge field; that would have been very handy then! 
              party, eco, environmentally friendly, kids party, celebrations, events, green living
              We held a party on this large field a few years back

                Eco-friendly parties are taking off in popularity, not just because they are good for our planet and build empathy for our natural environment, but also because they’re fun and children enjoy them! 

                Can you think of other eco- friendly party ideas? Tell me in comments! 

                *Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Alistage. 

                The Secret is in the Soil: The Importance Of Healthy Soil

                We don’t give much thought to the soil under our feet but without it, we wouldn’t have food on our plates. It takes a lifetime to create the ideal soil conditions for plants and crops to grow, but no time at all to destroy it. For every plant to thrive, it needs nutrients. And these are found in the soil. With the right nutrients in perfect balance, a plant or tree thrives.

                Healthy Soil = Healthy Planet

                So how is Soil Made? And why do we need to keep adding organic matter and other nutrients to get the best from it? Does it mystify you as to why soil in one part of the garden is fine and dust-like but in another part, heavy and dense?

                The soil is made from the earth’s crusts and its deposits being ground to a finer powder over thousands of years. The type of soil created, depends on the deposits that created it. The quality of soil also depends on how much life is in the soil. Worms, for example, are essential to mixing the soil as well as aerating it. Other soil-borne life forms are important too. Soil needs plenty of nutrients and water to offer the best growing medium, an increasing problem in a world with an increasing number of mouths to feed.

                Do you know how to look after soil?

                From adding organic matter to understanding the type of soil and what will grow best, this infographic has it all. Find out more and truly understand the ground beneath your feet. 

                soil, healthy soil, nutrients, healthy planet, soil health, garden, gardening, growing, grow your own, green living, our world, #livinglifewild, environment, rattan direct, infographic

                *Disclosure: This post has been written in collaboration with Rattan Direct.