Zero Waste Week Round-Up

It was fantastic to see so many people taking part in Zero Waste Week, and there were so many inspiring, informative blogs to read! I have tried to include as many as possible, which is why it has taken me several days to write this post. No doubt I will have forgotten loads of other brilliant ones too, but here is a round-up of just some of my favourites…

Zero Waste Week Round-Up #zerowasteweek

Becster took part in my personal challenges I set. Yay, thank you for joining in! Read how she got on in the following posts:

Zero Waste Week (challenge 1)

Zero Waste Week – challenges 2 and 3

Zero Waste Week – challenges 4 and 5

See how The Real Meal Deal got on with their plastic-free day. They have also got posts about zero waste cleaning, make and mend Monday, the problem with plastics, and other fab posts!

Thoroughly Modern Grandma has lots of excellent posts, including how to achieve a zero waste party, tips for zero waste gardening, some of her favourite places to shop and her fave zero waste products, amongst other things.

Treading My Own Path has been plastic-free and living a zero waste lifestyle since 2012! She has tonnes of advice on her blog.

Emily at Grow Eat Gift wrote a post about 50 ways to go waste free for good, which has plenty of useful tips. She has also written other zero waste posts too, so do have a read through her lovely blog!

Inspire Create Educate has written about 7 ways you can ditch plastic. Also check out her post about reducing food waste too.

Pebble Mag has some interesting information and stats about plastic waste in their zero waste week article. Did you know 4 in 5 of us are now concerned about the amount of plastic we use? The message is certainly getting out there!

A Sustainable Life has plenty of tips for leading a sustainable(ish) lifestyle, including podcasts, free resources and a detailed e-guide.

No Serial Number are campaigning for plastic-free crafts, because they are concerned about the amount of plastics often currently used in crafts. Check them out!

The Mum Diaries wrote about 5 ways you can reduce your household waste.

Anna Pitt went a year without plastic waste. See how she got on!

Ethical Influencers shared their tips for zero waste week in an informative post.

Spot of Earth offers cleaning advice, tips for zero waste personal care, reviews an online zero waste shop and warns about greenwashing on the blog.

Gina at Gypsy Soul is one of my fave eco bloggers. She has handy make your own posts, such as toothpaste and reusable face wipes, and often writes about her eco product switches.

The EcoLogical has useful tips and advice too!

HuffPost also wrote about 5 ways you can get involved in zero waste week.

Sophie at A Considered Life wrote her advice for zero waste shopping.

And if that isn’t enough, you can also find the full list of Zero Waste Week Ambassadors here!

Zero Waste Week ambassador

Do you have a favourite zero waste post or top tip? Tell me in comments!

Did I Manage A Plastic-Free Birthday? #ZeroWasteWeek

So on Friday, for the final challenge of Zero Waste Week, I tried to manage a plastic- free day. Actually, I tried to manage a zero waste day! But how did I get on…

Did I Manage A Plastic-Free Birthday To End Zero Waste Week?

Day Out Struggles

We went to a local farm for a day out. We had a lovely time feeding the animals; of course this meant washing our hands afterwards for hygiene reasons! We had to use paper towels to dry our hands and Squiggle was the first to notice there were only landfill bins, no recycling. I guess this could be for sanitary purposes but it was still disappointing.

Potential solutions could have been to take our own cloth to dry our hands (I don’t know whether that could pose hygiene risks though, I suspect the farm might not allow it, if they saw us) or to take our paper towels home to recycle (same issue?) I am not really too convinced that we had much of an alternative in that scenario, unless we avoided feeding and stroking the animals, but depriving ourselves of such experiences is not really the idea! So sadly a few paper towels went to landfill.

Squiggle feeding goats at farm

My personal waste audit for the day:

Aluminium coke cans – recycled

Plastic container – reuse then recycle

Paper bag x 2 – recycled

Cardboard roll – recycled

Paper towels – landfill

Squiggle couldn’t go without her rice cakes, which come in packets, so that also created landfill.

Ok, so I didn’t manage an entirely zero waste, or even plastic-free, day. But I think I did pretty well! Now to find new and creative ways to tackle some more of those weak spots…

How did you get on with Zero Waste Week? What did you find most challenging? What is one thing you have improved on, thanks to these challenges? Let me know in comments!

My Zero Waste Week Challenge: Progress Update

Last week, ahead of Zero Waste Week, I set some challenges of my own. As promised, here is an update of how I am getting on so far!

My Zero Waste Week Challenge: Progress Update

Weak Spots and Improvements

I explained in my preparations post that just prior to Zero Waste Week I had already made some observations, noticed what my weak spots were/ are and started to make preparations to tackle them. I have mentioned some of these in various other posts, but here they are in more detail anyway…

Take Away Containers

We literally never eat out because Squiggle cannot cope with it. To make up for this, we probably get more than our fair share of take aways (we do usually opt for the same type of restaurants that most families would go to eat out though, and just order food to go, rather than actual fast food places!)

We would drastically reduce our waste if we took reusable containers with us. But we forget! So one of the things I have done to prepare for this week is to get some containers, and a reusable bag to put them in, to make a dedicated kit just for this purpose – in the hope that we will then remember to use them! But one of my challenges for this week (that I haven’t done yet!) is also to find out where will actually allow us to use them too, so I will see how I get on with that task!

Snacks in Packets and Wrappers

The issue of packet snacks, such as crisps, has come up alot in discussions throughout this week and is one of the main things I noticed in our rubbish to. My first thought for such items that currently have no alternative was to send them back to the manufacturer. It certainly helps to get the point across.

But if I sent them back what would they do with them… dump them in landfill anyway? So I have since had some other ideas; I could email the companies and ask what they will do with them beforehand. If they won’t recycle them I could get a Terra Cycle bin then send them the bill?! It is time the responsibility is put back to the manufacturers in some way I feel. Especially as these types of items are a common issue that keep cropping up.

I wonder what alternatives could be used? How could they be kept fresh? Could they be sold in zero waste shops?! This definitely needs more thought and further research!

Fruit and Veg

This was what inspired my shop thoughtfully, aka plastic-free packaging challenge. We used to be better at this one to be honest, but we have let it slide too much recently and it is a time we got back on track. Unfortunately, even the best laid plans sometimes go awry.

As I shared in my post yesterday, rather than reorder a fruit and veg box delivery from past companies I have used, which are usually low waste and plastic-free, I tried somewhere new. Big mistake! I have discovered a fab local place to visit with my reusable bags for next time we need more though, so I will do better next time. And if I need to order, I will stick to ones I can trust!

Zero Waste Shopper set Brighton Frog #zerowasteweek

Bathroom Supplies

I wrote a long time ago about buying huge Faith in Nature containers for shampoo and conditioner because we don’t personally get on too well with bars. But buying in bulk – having the funds up front and space to store – isn’t very practical and consequently we didn’t really manage it. We always recycled our bathroom plastics but that is not the point. When I observed our rubbish throughout the house, all that plastic jumped out at me – and I felt guilty as it was very much on my ‘I know I need to tackle this but not got round to it’ list – you know the ones!

However, as I wrote about in my Zero Waste Week Bathroom post, we were able to finally switch our shampoo, conditioner, handwash and shower gel to plastic-free versions thanks to our new local zero waste shop. So that is brilliant news! Happy about that!

The Refill Pantry reusable refillable aluminium dispensers for zero waste shampoo, conditioner, handwash and shower gel #zerowaste #plasticfree

So that is where I currently am with my personal challenges. Some have turned out to be bigger tasks than perhaps I thought, or maybe it is more the case that once I got thinking about them fully I decided I would rather do it properly, to make lasting changes and impact, rather than just focus on getting it ‘done’ this week. Either way, implementing the changes may go beyond Zero Waste Week, but it will happen. And I shall keep you updated!

Food and Drink: Reducing Plastic in the Kitchen

I made a mistake today. I made a wrong assumption, when I should have checked to be sure. I usually ask the right questions, but this time I didn’t. This arrived…

Fruit and veg box full of plastic packaging

This is what happened…

I knew we wouldn’t get a chance to go out to buy plastic-free fruit and veg this week, so I ordered a delivery from somewhere new; a local family business. I was thinking it is a nice thing to shop local and support independents. Other fruit and veg boxes that I have ordered from different companies before have been very low waste and no plastic, so I just expected it to be the same.

Sigh.

But I don’t want to dwell on it. I am gutted we now have more plastic waste than any other week, I won’t lie. But here’s the thing…

I am on a zero waste journey. I don’t pretend to literally be ‘zero waste.’ I don’t claim to have all the answers, or to get it right everytime. I will happily share my successes, and my failures too. Because we all make mistakes – but we can learn from them too.

“Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn.”

Today was a reminder for me; ask those important questions! And keep going, even when things go wrong. This was like a scene from a horror movie for a Zero Waste Ambassador to be honest lol! But I will get over my epic fail and keep trying – I got this!

Anyway, I don’t have any intention of naming and shaming the company or anything like that, I just feel that sharing my mistakes might help others feel better about theirs – zero waste can sound extreme, and very daunting, so I am keen to paint a clear picture of what it means for us in reality! We are just a family trying to do what we can to reduce waste, especially plastic.

Zero Waste Snacks

But let’s move onto celebrate our successes now! Look at these yummy plastic-free snacks I got from The Refill Pantry recently…

The Refill Pantry zero waste plastic-free shop #zerowasteweek

Zero Waste Shoppers – Brighton Frog

And the lovely people over at Brighton FRoG have sent me a Zero Waste Shopper Box. This fab set is currently onsale at £14 and includes a gorgeous aqua Turtle bag (which matches my bottle – love the colour!), as well as a mesh bag for fruit and veg, plus three different size canvas bags for pasta, bread and so on. They are 100% plastic free, organic cotton, ethical and fair. Also, they were sent in a small cardboard box with no excess packaging – really impressed!

Zero Waste Shopper - Brighton FRoG #plasticfree #zerowaste week

Living Life Our Way Selfie. Holding Zero Waste Shopper set from Brighton Frog. #plasticfree #zerowasteweek

The Refill Pantry

I will be using these bags to do a better job with my fruit and veg next time I go shopping! Also, another main reason I got them is that I want to stock up on more food from The Refill Pantry as and when our dried goods run out and need replacing – pasta, grains, and so on. So I am looking forward to putting them to good use very soon!

The Refill Pantry food stock - pasta, grains. Zero waste. Plastic-free. Zero Waste Week

Convenience vs Zero Waste

For us, the biggest challenge is balancing convenience (and sensory issues) with our mission to reduce plastic waste. It is difficult when so many snacks come in plastic wrappers! This was the main weak area I noticed immediately when I did my rubbish observations recently. That is why I am turning the responsibility back to the manufacturers for that one.

On The Go

We take food with us from home if we will be out for a while and will need to eat before we get back. The only snacks we ever buy on the go, rarely, are ones that we could only buy from a packet anyway, or the occasional ice-cream in summer!

Drinks

For drinks, we mainly use our reusables. Slight confession here; I admit, I am rather fond of diet coke as well – but I always recycle the cans and buy them in a cardboard box, so no plastic packaging! Not good for my health, but not as bad for the environment at least! I must get back to drinking more smoothies though – excellent for nutrition and reducing food waste too!

Summary

I have probably missed loads of stuff – but one thing at a time! Every small step in the right direction is a success. It is much more beneficial to focus on what you have done, and can do next, than try to tackle it all at once. So on that note…

#ZeroWasteWeek how can you reduce plastic in your kitchen?

What is the one thing you could do to reduce plastic in your kitchen? Tell me in comments!

Personal Care: What Plastic is Lurking in YOUR Bathroom? #ZeroWasteWeek

Ok, so today’s Zero Waste Week question is…

How could you reduce plastic in your bathroom?

#ZeroWaste Week how could you reduce plastic in your bathroom?

So now I get to tell you about some of the fabulous goodies we got from our local zero waste shop, The Refill Pantry, recently! They sell an excellent range of personal care items, which made it much easier to go plastic-free in the bathroom…

The Refill Pantry personal care zero waste products

I already have a bamboo toothbrush, and I have used the same plastic disposable razor for a very long time that I will continue to use for as long as possible because it would be wasteful to throw it out otherwise, just because it is plastic! I don’t wear make up very often so doubt I will need to consider replacing that in the near future. I don’t use skincare products either; water for my face and coconut oil to moisturise my skin where needed, but that comes in a glass jar.

However, the rest of my bathroom products are a different story, so I made some simple switches…

Plastic bottle of shampoo switched for zero waste refillable reusable dispenser

Obviously I haven’t thrown out the plastic products we were using, because that would be pointless. It makes sense to use up anything we still have laying around, rather than discard it before it is empty. Once they are properly finished with, they will be put in recycling, not landfill though!

Also, I am still toying with plastic roll on deoderant at times at the moment, but I do have also have a cardboard Earth Conscious one that is effective! Toothpaste is tricky due to sensory issues, so I have decided not to tackle that at the moment. But let’s stay positive and focus on what improvements we have achieved…

So anyway, we now have reusable dispensers for our shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and handwash – yay!

Zero waste refillable, reusable dispensers shampoo, conditioner, showel gel and handwash

When empty, they will be taken to our local zero waste shop to be refilled. Simple!

Huge containers of bathroom products at zero waste shop

Now admittedly, it isn’t perfect, because these particular products do still come from plastic containers, but they are the biggest size they can get of course! And I have no doubt they are then recycled or even reused if possible. Bottom line is, if you prefer, or need, liquid rather than bars it is certainly much closer to zero waste!

So that is our bathroom… what plastics are lurking in yours?!

Welcome To Zero Waste Week!

Hooray, Zero Waste Week has arrived! I am so proud, and very excited, to be an ambassador for this inspirational challenge! This year the focus is on reducing our use of (unnecessary) plastics.

Zero Waste Week Ambassador logo

Plastic has its uses. However, it is also designed to last for years, yet gets used for items that are only needed once for a few minutes! And much of our plastic packaging is excessive too. It is this reliance on single-use plastics and over-use of unnecessary plastic that we would like to reduce in particular.

The main concern with plastic is that it is not frequently recycled, and cannot be recycled many times over. Plastic is also not gentle on the environment either; it leaks toxic chemicals. It also breaks down into microplastics that harm our marine life and end up in our food chain. Not ideal.

Zero Waste Week - Microplastic facts

Read more about how plastic pollution is harming our environment.

So here is today’s question…

Why do you want to reduce your use of plastics?

There are lots of good reasons; caring about how we leave our planet for future generations, protecting our environment and saving wildlife, or saving money. Squiggle said it is important to be environmentally- friendly and not create landfill; it is just the right thing to do. That sounds like a good enough reason to me!

#zerowasteweek - why do you want to reduce plastic?

Read 10 ways reducing plastic can benefit you.

Tell me your reasons in comments!

Zero Waste Week: Our Preparations

As I mentioned in my Zero Waste Week Challenges post a couple of days back, our preparations are well underway and I am excited to share them! I have been busy reflecting on our current waste, considering where our weak spots are, and then thinking about what we can improve on, and how. So here are some of the things we have already done in advance to prepare for Zero Waste Week…

Zero Waste Week: Our Preparations

Observing Our Current Waste Habits

I have yet to fill out an actual audit sheet for the day, but I did a general observation of what we are throwing away into landfill, in order to determine what actions we could take next. Now, I will admit one thing from the outset; we have been slacking abit lately. After Squiggle had a prolonged bout of poor mental health (anxiety issues) earlier this year, we let some things slide. We needed to. And I don’t feel guilty for that, but I do see this as an opportunity for us to get back on track.

Looking through my landfill waste, it tends to be food packets that dominate my bin. The quick, easy to grab snacks. Rice cakes and Quorn veggie sausage rolls are a couple of examples. The frustrating thing is though, these can not easily be switched for the same product in plastic- free packaging either, because it doesn’t exist. Yet. And that is why I also intend to send the rubbish we do accumulate this coming week back to the companies, to encourage this change.

A zero waste lifestyle goes hand in hand with healthy, clean eating. When we opt for convenience food, our landfill waste automatically goes up. But whilst healthy eating is ideal, sometimes there are actual reasons (not just excuses!) why someone may genuinely need to opt for convenience at times. So I feel companies should be prepared to make more effort with their packaging too!

Click here for Zero Waste Week

Zero Waste Shopping

Other items are very easy to switch, and I started my shopping in advance so I would be ready to start the week off right! As well as stocking up supplies from our local zero waste shop (more about that in a later post!) I was also kindly sent some essentials to add to my zero waste kit…

Klean Kanteen reusable drinks - cup, straw set and insulated bottle

Klean Kanteen

If any of you watched my insta stories last week, you might have seen my eco fail! We went to Ikea, where Squiggle always gets a drink (it is literally the only place she gets one from, rather than just taking her own drink in her reusable cup from home!) We remembered our straw but forgot the lid is plastic too – doh! (And she does need a lid).

So when I spotted Klean Kanteen have a handy straw set that fits neatly onto their stainless steel cup, I thought how perfect it would be for Squiggle!

Klean Kanteen stainless steel cup and reusable straw set

I also love their insulated bottle, which keeps drinks hot for 14 hours and iced for 48 hours. Very useful to make sure I actually find time to drink it… eventually! I adore the colour too!

Klean Kanteen wide insulated bottle. Aqua

Both the steel cup and the insulated bottle come in different sizes. Klean Kanteen also have an excellent range of other eco- friendly bottles, cups, tumblers, accessories and canisters. See the website: www.kleankanteen.co.uk

Elephant Box

Elephant box and salad box - stainless steel - eco

I had specific ideas for these fab containers from Elephant Box. But Squiggle spied them and claimed them as her own! To be fair, they are ideal for eating on the go, as she often has food from home while we are out, so it does make perfect sense!

Stainless steel reusable Elephant Box

The larger box is the Elephant Box. It is deep, big and sturdy, with a capacity of 1.8L. Good for big appetites! It is freezer safe so helps with tackling food waste by freezing it to use later. Price: £29.50

Square salad box, stainless steel, eco, plastic-free, zero waste, Elephant Box

The Salad Box fits neatly inside the Elephant box, so handy for storing them when not in use, or for making compartments. The salad box has a capacity of 500ml and is perfect for sandwiches or snacks too! Price: £16

I also have a Brighton Frog Zero Waste Shopper Box on the way too, more on that in a later post!

So I am all set for tomorrow! Are you ready?! Join us for #ZeroWasteWeek

Passionate about a better future? Passion led us here. Join us for zero waste week. Zero Waste Week logo. #zerowasteweek https://www.zerowasteweek.co.uk

*Items kindly sent free in exchange for feature.

Zero Waste Week: Take the Challenge!

The concept of zero waste is an ideal, but is it realistic? Well, you decide just how far you can take it! The term ‘zero waste’ is frequently meant more as a journey than a destination itself. The key idea behind it is that as an individual, as a household, or even as a business, you actively try to reduce your waste, even if it is just one small thing at a time; it all helps!

With Zero Waste Week (founded by the lovely Rachelle Straus) looming in just a few short days, from 3rd – 7th September, I thought it would be fun to set some challenges of my own to help reduce landfill waste. And I would love for you to take part!

Click here for Zero Waste Week

(You can also sign up to the official Zero Waste Week emails here)

I have set 5 challenges in total, but you don’t have to complete every challenge to join in – do just one, some or all – it is up to you! Afterwards, let me know what you did – and how you got on – and I will share your stories (only if you would like me to obviously!) And of course I will be sharing how we get on too!

So here are the challenges…

Zero Waste Week: Take the Challenge! Faded background image of landfill

Challenge 1 – Audit your waste

Spend a day recording all of the rubbish you throw away. The wonderful folk over at Zero Waste Week have created an audit sheet for you to do this easily so grab yourself a copy and get auditing!

The audit sheet includes what item of rubbish it is, why is it being thrown away (remember: reuse if possible!) where it will end up (recycling is way better than landfill rubbish of course!) and what improvement can be made (e.g. could you have avoided this item of rubbish somehow?) This will help you to reflect on your current waste and identify small positive changes you could make.

Challenge 2 – Tackle a Weak Spot

Pick one thing that you know you could improve on and is something you can change immediately. We all have that one thing that jumps out at us – that we know we could better – we just haven’t got round to it… yet. Maybe you still grab your coffee to go in a disposable cup. Or perhaps you buy plastic water bottles. It could be something else entirely. Whatever it is, now is the time to make that switch – and stick to it!

For this challenge, you might need to make an investment – but baring in mind reusables are, well, reusable, it will be money worth spending. In many cases you might well find you will actually be saving money as you are no longer throwing it away (quite literally!)

I have a few weak spots that I am tackling for this challenge, so I will write a separate post sharing details very soon – my preparations are already well underway! (You might even have spotted some sneak previews on my social media?!)

Reusable insulated bottle - Klean Kanteen - Living Life Our Way selfie

Challenge 3 – Shop Thoughtfully (Aka Plastic- Free Packaging Challenge)

It is almost impossible to do an entirely plastic- free shop. However, you might find local independent shops that will help make this much more achievable!For example, use your local greengrocers if you have one nearby, or find out if there is a zero waste shop near you.

But even in mainstream supermarkets there are ways you can try to reduce the amount of plastic waste that you will create. For every item on your shopping list, choose options with less overall packaging and in particular little or no plastic where possible.

If you can find any alternative to plastic packaging then choose it, or decide how much you really need that item in the first place if not. (Obviously I am not suggesting you go without essentials or feel guilty if you do buy the items – we all have such things on our list – hence the next challenge!) Some stores allow you to take your own containers to the deli counter, and you can often take your own bags to buy loose fruit and veg too. So be organised and take your reusables with you!

The Refill Pantry - Zero Waste Shop - St Albans

Challenge 4 – Refuse and Return!

As consumers, we can only do so much to reduce our waste. We also need to put pressure on the companies themselves to change their habits, and provide more sustainable choices as well. But this particular challenge takes guts!

Actions speak louder than words. So either refuse the plastic packaging at the till straight after you pay – by removing it and handing it back to them immediately – or return it to the supermarket at a later date after you are done with the contents.

The alternative, if you find it is a particular brand you tend to use and gather landfill waste from, is to post it back to them direct along with a covering letter. Hopefully they might take a hint when it turns up back at their door!

Challenge 5 – Spread the Word

The last challenge is simply to spread the word. Let people know about your zero waste/ rubbish reduction efforts. Celebrate your successes. And remember, if you let me know, I will also share them too!

Good luck with the challenges – I look forward to finding out how you all get on! I will be posting about my own personal Zero Waste Week preparations in the next couple of days, then afterwards I will write about how we got on too, so look out for those posts coming soon!

Social Responsibility: Top Tips For Looking After Our Environment

We are all jointly responsible for our environment. Individuals and organisations need to all work together to protect our planet; we all have a part to play and even small actions help to make a big difference. Glasdon (a cool company who supply all sorts of recycling options, such as bins etc…) have released a really useful e-book all about being socially responsible. Here are some of their top tips for looking after our environment…

Social Responsibility: Top Tips For Looking After Our Environment

At Home

The first thing to do at home is reduce the amount of waste you create, such as food, packaging or even clothing. Try to buy items that use less packaging, meal plan and buy only the food you will use and opt for a capsule wardrobe of slow fashion items. Switch to reusable items as much as possible, freeze any leftover food and take old clothes to charity shops. Last but not least, recycle what is left wherever possible.

The second key thing to do at home is to save energy, which will conserve the Earth’s natural resources. Simply turning off light switches and plug sockets when not in use will help to reduce your power consumption. You can also help by switching to a clean energy supplier too.

Unplugged plug

On The Go

There are various ways you can help to protect the environment whilst on the go. One of the most highlighted ones here in the UK is reusable shopping bags. Plastic bags can take anywhere from 15 to 1000 years to decompose. It was reported that in 2014 over 7.6 billion single-use carrier bags were given to customers by major supermarkets in England. This equates to around 240 bags per person, the equivalent of around 61,000 tonnes. Since the 5p charge scheme was introduced the number of plastic bags used in England has reduced by 80%.

You can also ditch plastic straws in favour of more environmentally- friendly alternatives, switch to reusable coffee cups and water bottles, and opt out of single- use containers by taking your own. Last but not least, look for recycling bins whilst out in the community to discard recyclables.

Reuse bag surrounded by leaves and nature

At Work

Companies can make small changes, such as going paperless and recycling. They can also help financially by supporting local environmental charities and campaigns. Other ways that companies can make a positive impact is to celebrate key events, such as World Environment Day, using their social media to raise awareness, hold local community awareness events and also provide opportunities for employees to volunteer within the local community too. Whilst an individual employee may not be able to influence all of these ideas into action, you can certainly approach management to raise these suggestions.

Educating Our Children

We can teach our children social responsibility from a young age by setting a good example to them. Show them through your own actions and talk with them about why it is important. Encourage children to help with simple tasks, such as litter picking and sorting recycling. Shaping eco- friendly attitudes and behaviours from a young age is vital to the future of our planet.

In Summary

As Glasdon explain: “By adopting the mind-set that your individual changes can help to make the world a more sustainable place, you can inspire others around you to follow suit. Working together to make better, more mindful decisions surrounding sustainability will ensure we continue to protect and grow the environment for generations to come.”

What steps do you take to improve the environment? Tell me in comments! And don’t forget to join the conversation by using the hashtag #MySocialSpirit too.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Do You Know What Stuff Not To Flush? (A Really Useful Guide To Drains)

Do you know what should – and more to the point, shouldn’t – go down your drains? A whopping 93.9% of people declare that they are confident knowing what should and shouldn’t be poured down the drain or flushed down the toilet, leaving only 6.1% saying they are not too sure.

Infographic % of people knowing what should flush or pour down drains

But are they correct? UKDN have conducted some research to find out more about what people put down their drains – What The Flush? – and discovered that many people don’t quite have their facts straight after all.

Do You Know What Stuff Not To Flush? (A Really Useful Guide To Drains)

Down the Drain

When asked what items they pour down the sink, almost a quarter admitted to pouring cooking oil (24.7%) and coffee granules (24.7%) down the sink. Worse still, just under half the people surveyed – 43.5% of them – pour sauces down their drain. Other culprits included meat fat (22.3% of people) and actual food leftovers (18.4%). So it seems some people don’t have it quite right after all…

What do you pour down the sink infographic

Bathroom Habits

The research also looked into what goes on in the bathroom; which items people flush away or pour down their bathroom drains. Whilst I was less surprised to see that 18.6% confess that their hair goes down the plug hole, I was disappointed to find out that a small minority of people still flush away their sanitary wear (10.6% for tampons and 8.6% towels) and was even more shocked to discover that 5.5% of people flush away nappies, 3.7% cigarette butts and 4.7% also dispose of condoms this way too?! Wet wipes are a massive issue as well, so it was sad to see 14.1% of people are still yet to get the message about those.

What items do you flush or pour down bathroom drains? Infographic.

So what’s the issue?

There has been plenty of media attention about wet wipes lately, the main problem being that they are made of non biodegradeable plastic. Packaging is often misleading too, stating they are flushable, which causes a huge amount of concern for our environment. Some research suggests wet wipes account for as much as 93% of blockages in UK sewers and many campaigners would like to see a ban on them altogether.

But, of course, it is not just the wet wipes that are the issue here. Even the kitchen items which, whilst in theory might seem less of an issue as at least these are more organic matter, still block up drains. Oil can solidify, food lumps together, sauces congeal, and so on.

All of this combined is then the real major issue; because put together it creates a solid mass known as a fatberg. A fatberg is a congealed lump in a sewer system formed by the combination of non-biodegradable solid matter, such as wet wipes, with grease or cooking fat. They have become an increasing problem in recent years. The remains of a massive fatberg found in London sewers is even on display at The Museum of London to try to highlight the problem!

How would you feel if a fatberg was discovered in your street? Infographic

In addition to this issue, other single-use plastics, which never break down completely and cause huge issues for marine life, are also being sent off to pollute our environment. Along with the various other items, if they don’t turn into fatbergs and block our sewers on the way, still end up somewhere they shouldn’t be! All of which leads to damaging effects on our environment, water and wildlife. One way or another, it causes an issue.

Furthermore, when our drains get blocked at home, harsh chemicals are often then required to unclog them too, leading to yet further pollution. Clearly the best solution would be to just stop doing all this in the first place!

Plug hole

Top Tips

So here are my top tips to help keep drains unblocked and to develop more environmentally- friendly habits in your home…

• Avoid putting oil, fat, sauce, coffee and food waste down your kitchen drain by disposing of it correctly. For oil, fat and sauce either let it solidify then tip it into the trash, or pour it into a non- recyclable container and throw it away. Small amounts of solidified waste can be put in with food waste in some areas – check with your local council. Coffee granules and all food leftovers also go in your food waste bin.

• Keep hair out of your bathroom drains by brushing it thoroughly before you shower. Use a plug hole guard if you are prone to shedding and ensure you remove any trapped hair then discard it before it has a chance to disappear into your drain.

• If you use coconut oil (or any other type of natural oil) to wash your hair, try to rinse it off into a bowl so that it doesn’t wash down your drain. Failing that, run the hot tap for several minutes straight after rinsing, provided the tap comes out with very hot water. Or pour boiling water down the drain straight after use.

• Try to replace disposables with reusables if at all possible. If you do use single-use items, dispose of them correctly. This usually means in the bin, unless it can be recycled!

• Use home-made unblocker if needed. Try using baking soda and white vinegar to clear your drains. It will fizz up and create bubbles instantly; pour it down the drain as quickly as possible. Follow it up with boiling water later on.

• Contact UKDN drain unblocking service if you are experiencing issues with blocked drains. Sometimes a professional is needed!

I hope this advice is helpful. Have you discovered any useful drainage tips? Let me know in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.