Tuesday, 25 September 2018

I have a new blog

Hello to anybody who is still checking in on the blog!

After a long summer break, I've decided to kick off a brand new blog, Eco on the Quiet, which you can find here.  Oh, and I have a whole new Instagram feed too, which has been up and running for a while. 

I hope I'll see you over there, and in the meantime, happy September!

Elaine x

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Latest charity shop haul

Do I need to introduce a charity shop haul?  I don't think so... So let's jump right in:

Firstly, a couple of cat-related things from my local Cats Protection shop.  Daisy has a water bowl indoors, but I noticed recently that she likes to drink fresh rainwater outside.  Maybe it tastes better to her, more natural, I'm not sure.  So I decided to get her a water bowl that can stay permanently outside, and I picked this little one up for £1.49. 

Charity shop thrift haul haulternative

Inside the bowl is a tiny little key fob (99p).  I was cat-sitting for a friend over the weekend, and I knew I had my friend's spare key, but I didn't know which one it was because I'd taken the fob off.  So I wanted a kitty-themed one to remind me.  And I found just the thing!  Often, charity shopping can be hit and miss, but this was almost like cosmic ordering!

Thrift charity shop haul haulternative
Also from Cats Protection, for £1.99, I got this vase.  I was sort of looking for a creative way to display jewellery, and I thought it would work for that, but actually, I just like it as an object.

Charity thrift shop haul haulternative

Over to the MIND mental health charity shop next, and I found this lovely big scarf for £4.  It reminds me of my student days in the early 90s, when it would have got up on the wall.  Now, I'm thinking of using it as a throw for the end of the bed.  (Please excuse the state of the wall, it's been scrapped down for repainting...)

Thrift charity shop haul haulternative

Over at Cancer Research, I found this shirt for £3.25.  I didn't used to wear shirts, but now I love them as a extra cosy layer, especially now that I don't have to look vaguely smart to go to the office any more.  This shirt is quite thick and slightly fluffy, so it will get a lot of use when autumn comes along.  Although it isn't exactly hot here today...

Thirft charity shop haul haulternative

Last, a book for £1.50, also from Cancer Research.  Lately, I've found myself reading a lot more non-fiction of various kinds, on the grounds that the real world is pretty interesting. But when I find a really good author, it's great to get lost in the realm of fiction again.  I'd previously read 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette' by Maria Semple, and loved it, so when I spotted this book, also by her, I snapped it up. 

Thrift charity shop haul haulternative

And that's it for this haul.  As usual, I'm pretty pleased with everything I've got.

Have you had any good charity shop finds recently?

Friday, 8 June 2018

World Oceans Day & Morsbags & update

Plastic bags reducing pollution Morsbags World Oceans Day

Happy Friday, everybody! 

This Friday also happens to be World Oceans Day, and to celebrate, I decided to sign up to Morsbags again, and create my own bagging pod. 

If you have never come across Morsbags before, it's a movement that was created a few years ago to combat the destructive impact of single use plastic bags in our seas and waterways.

It's a really simple concept - you get together some second-hand fabric (cotton is normally best), and sew it up into lovely shopping bags that can be used instead of plastic ones.  They should be washable, if you choose your fabric well, and will last for ages.  Mine certainly have...

The Morsbags motto is 'sociable.guerilla.bagging'.  The bagging element is obvious!  It's social, because many pods (or bagging groups) have members who get together to sew on a regular basis (although, you can also stick to being a solo pod if you'd prefer).  And the guerrilla bit is where you release your brand new bags on the unsuspecting public.  They are handed out, completely free of charge, in hopes that people will switch to using them instead of plastic bags.

I used to be in a pod back when I lived in Durham, but I moved a couple of times, and lost the momentum.  A lot has changed in the 10 or so years since I last bagged, but there is still so much to do to tackle plastic pollution.  So I'm very happy to have signed up again. 

The all-important labels are available from Morsbags for a small sum, but there are no other charges.  And here are some I made earlier:

Plastic pollution resuable bags second and fabric

You only need basic sewing skills to create these bags, and it's a lot of fun.  Lots of people get pretty creative with them too.

If you like to join up and have a go, the website will give you all the information you need, including the instructions for making the bags.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


And on to my update.  You know back when I said I was all ready to blog again after my break?  Well, I kind of wasn't.  But I haven't abandoned the blog just yet.

Long story short, work got in the way for a bit, so I've had to focus on that for the past while.  But I knew that I wasn't really happy with the look of the blog, so I'm working on a bit of a rebrand.  It's small things with the template, like having to 'curate' the five pictures at the top, which is quite difficult and time consuming.  Also, I don't like my picture, but I don't seem to be able to find a better one.  (This is a hopeless excuse, I know...) 

Another key thing is that my work involves sitting at a computer screen for 8 hours a day, most days, so I find it difficult to spend the further screen time that blogging demands.  And that makes it pretty difficult to grow the blog too, as that requires even more time on other social media platforms. 

But does it matter?  I realised that the answer is no.  I have a small readership by any measure, but actually, that's fine.  It's something I do for enjoyment, and if I can share information and ideas with other people, that's a bonus.

But an update is on the way, and when the refreshed blog is ready, I will announce it right here!

In the meantime, let me know in the comments if you are doing anything special for World Oceans Day...?

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Sustainable switches that have worked for me

Making switches to more sustainable versions of the things you used to buy can take a quite a bit of time and research. And also a bit of trial and error.  But when you find a better alternative that works for you, it is completely worth all the effort.  So, I thought I'd share a run down of the sustainable switches I've made recently that I've been very happy with. 

1) Go Cat to Yarrah Organic cat food

I first blogged about Yarrah here, when I was looking around for more ethical and sustainable ways to feed the cat.  The company seems to have pretty good credentials, and I am pleased to be able to say that we have been using Yarrah since I first offered it to Daisy. 

She seems to enjoy it as much as she enjoys any food, ie not that much, but she eats it and stays alive, so it must be OK.  I order two bags from Zooplus every four months, and it works out at around £2 a week, which is a price I'm pretty happy with. 

My only gripe is that - as with so many organic products - Yarrah comes in plastic packaging.  (Why????) But that's the only drawback, so this is a switch we'll be staying with for the foreseeable.

2) Supermarket recycled toilet roll to Who Gives a Crap toilet roll

I wanted to try Who Gives a Crap toilet roll for a number of reasons.  Firstly, it's a good way to buy toilet roll in bulk, and I'm doing my best to switch to bulk buying whenever possible. 

Secondly, it involves minimal plastic packaging.  The rolls are all wrapped in paper, and come in a big cardboard box.  The only plastic is the tape, which I guess is fairly unavoidable.  Thirdly, the company donates 50% of their profits to providing toilets and improved sanitation for many people in need. 

Finally, my delivery guy had a bit of a laugh when he read 'You've got a nice bum' on the box as he handed it to me!

It's a more expensive way to buy loo roll, but I like this company and their ethos, so I will stick with it.

3) Supermarket recycled kitchen roll to Ecoleaf kitchen roll

Whilst I've cut down a lot on kitchen roll, I do still use it now and again.  I switched to Suma's Ecoleaf version when I found it at my local health food shop.  I like that you get one big roll instead of two smaller ones - no more shoving the second one in the back of the cupboard till the first one runs out. 

The paper is 100% recycled, and the wrap is 100% compostable, which is great.  Hopefully, I'll eventually cut out kitchen roll altogether, but until then, this is the one for me. 

4) Bulk buys from Big Green Smile

Big Green Smile is an online company that sells many household products in 5 litre bottles.  At the moment, I have bottles of washing up liquid and disinfectant from Bio D, shower gel from Faith in Nature, and toilet cleaner from Ecover.  I just top up smaller bottles of each item using a funnel, which is easy - and strangely satisfying - to do.  I wasn't sure if I could reuse my smaller toilet cleaning bottle, but it turns out you can prize the nozzle off with a sharp knife, then refill and reuse. 

Whilst this clearly still involves plastic, it's less than if I was still using the small standard-size bottles.  You can buy pump dispensers to go with the 5 litre bottles, and if you had difficulty lifting them, this would be fairly essential.  But I don't need them, which saves a bit more plastic.

And these bottles last for ages! I love not having to go out and buy more washing up liquid etc every few weeks.  A couple of orders from Big Green Smile each year is more than enough to keep me going. 

So those are a few of the switches I've made.  I want to cut down on the plastic even more, but in the meantime, I'm pretty happy with these products.  It has really reduced my reliance on the supermarket as well, which is also a cause for joy!

Till next time...