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Category: Eco Friendly Living

  1. How to shop more ethically and sustainably for clothing

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    In a previous blog post I looked at 13 ways to get rid of unwanted clothing without sending them to landfill.  I was shocked after reading 300,000 tonnes of clothing went to landfill in 2016 when they all cold have been repurposed, reused or recycled.  So now you know what to do when your clothes are worn out or unwanted, but perhaps you are wondering how to shop more sustainably or ethically for your clothes in the first place.  This is something that is quite new to me too and naturally feels like the next chapter for me to explore in my healthy living and living more sustainably journey.  Over the past few years I have changed all beauty and household products to natural where possible, changed all the food that we can to organic, become more conscious about plastic use and the amount of landfill waste in our home and made several other changes which you can read in my blog post 15 eco-friendly things I do on a regular basis.

    In this blog post I am going to explore some of the ways you can shop more consciously for your clothing:

    Fair Wear Foundation

    The fair Wear Foundation is a non-profit organisation that seeks to improve working conditions in 11 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa.  They keep track of the changes the companies implement to ensure workplace conditions are improved.  They help to ensure there is no child labour, a fair wage is paid, conditions are safe and work hours are reasonable as well as setting many other fair working standards.  They currently have 80 companies signed up which represent over 120 brands including, for example, engelbert strauss who are a German workwear company who also sell amazing all weather protective kids footwear, perfect for outdoor loving families.  Simply go to the FWF website and search the brands that are signed up.  You can check out their reports and be sure that these brands are working with the FWF to improve labour conditions where the clothes are produced.

    How to shop more ethically and sustainably for clothing

    Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 

    Organic cotton

    Chemical pesticides and fertilisers are so destructive to the planet, wildlife, our water supply and our own health.  We are a living experiment for the routine use of these chemicals and I’m sure all their devastating health consequences are not yet fully known.  We know we are suffering from soil erosion which is having an impact on food production and its mineral content is reducing.  The best way to make a stand against chemical farming is to choose organic instead.  Yes you can choose to eat organic food, but you can also choose to buy organic clothing which is made from organic cotton.  This is much kinder to the environment and in my experience the clothes are of a higher standard, softer and last longer.

    Sustainable brands

    Buying sustainably doesn’t always mean giving up the brands you love.  Even popular High Street brands such as ASOS, H&M and Urban Outfitters have green, conscious and upcycled ranges.  You can still shop in some of the stores you love whilst making a more planet friendly choice.  Before shopping with a brand have a look in the footer of their website to see if they have any information on their sustainability efforts.  Just dig a little deeper before choosing a brand to make sure they are taking responsibility for their clothing production and to ensure their vision aligns with yours.

    Buy second hand

    So many people give away perfectly wearable items to charity stores or even sell them on eBay.  Perhaps the fit was not right for them, they’ve not worn as much as intended or they have worn the item but no longer require it.  Either way, there are plenty of second hand clothing items for you to snap up!  Buying second hand is cheaper than buying a brand new item, plus it prevents the planet damaging production of a new item for you.  If you buy from charity shops you are also supporting a worthwhile cause.  It’s also exciting to rummage through rails in thrift stores as you’ll never know what you’ll find.

    Opt for a capsule wardrobe

    Far too many of us have far too many clothes in the first place.  There’s no need for this over consumption and throwaway fashion culture that we have been used to.  I’ve been working on reducing my capsule wardrobe to around 50 pieces of clothing only.  Count your clothes and you may be surprised at how many you own in total.  By starting a capsule wardrobe you will automatically become more conscious when clothes shopping as you’ll need to ensure the piece can mix’n’match with several of your other clothing items, as well as ensuring it’s a staple piece that you’ll wear time and time again.  I saw an article once say to follow the rule of 30 – if you won’t wear it at least 30 times then don’t buy it.  I’d like to disagree.  I think 30 is still too little and you should go for a rule of 100 at least!  I have several items of clothing I have had for several years and work them on a weekly basis, if not a few times per week.  This is what we should all be striving for to drastically reduce the unnecessary clothing production, pollution and waste.  We need to get it out of our heads that we can’t be seen in the same outfit more than once and this is something the celebrity world needs to adopt and encourage.

    Hopefully we can all start to make a change in the way clothing is produced and instead choose recycled, organic and repurposed clothing as our first choice.

    Related blog posts

    7 ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle
    3 Important Reasons to Choose Organic (other than your personal health)
    13 eco-friendly ways to start saving money in the kitchen
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     How to shop more ethically and sustainably for clothing

  2. Lil Packaging goes eco-friendly with their ecommerce packaging range (and I review three products)

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    If you run an online shop like I do then you’ll understand the importance of appropriate packaging.  Since selling goods online as a small home business I’ve sold items from handmade cards and trinkets to jewellery, scarves and clothes.  Needless the say the bendable items such as cards need sufficient board backed packaging to protect them in the post, photo frames and the like need even more protection to prevent breakage and even the jewellery is easily broken if the postal wrap is not suitable.

    Clothes and scarves have been easier to sell as they are quite happy in a light mailing bag.  This usually provides me the most affordable option when it comes to packaging, but I’ve started to question whether it is the most environmentally friendly.  I switched to biodegradable bags only a year or so ago, but since watching several documentaries highlighting the plastic pollution problem, I’m no longer sure these are even an ideal solution. 

    Yes, the product may biodegrade into tiny little pieces, but these little micro plastics may never ever fully decompose back into their original elements.  Micro plastics are those which are less than 5mm in length and are harmful to our oceans, sea life and even those of us who eat fish.  Tiny fish unwillingly consume these plastics, larger fish eat those and larger fish eat those and so on, meaning the amount of plastic inside the fish is accumulating.  Then who catches those fish to eat them along with all the plastic?  That’s right, us.  Well, those of us who eat fish.  It’s kind of like karma in a way; we pollute the planet and now it is polluting us back.

    Lil Packaging goes eco-friendly with their ecommerce packaging range (and I

    Lil Packaging have realised how devastating single use packaging that contains plastic is upon our environment and so they have committed to being more sustainable by the end of 2018 by removing all their plastic lines.

    They say ‘By the end of 2018 we will have removed all plastic packaging from our stock product line up. This includes removing all mailbags, bubble mailers, plastic ecommerce tape and reformulating inks and glues to be more eco-friendly and sustainable going forwards. We want our brand Lil Packaging to become synonymous with plastic free packaging by the end of 2018.  As a packaging company that makes products with a short lifespan, we realise just how important it is that we do our bit to protect our environment.’

    Of course, I hope most of us don’t just receive a package and bin it!  I always keep mailing bags, cardboard sleeves and bubble wrap envelopes that I receive my online orders in, to reuse to post items to friends, family or for personal eBay orders.  Not only does this save money on personal packaging, but it reduces waste and the single use of these items.

    Lil Packaging Recyclable Cardboard Packaging Review

    With all this in mind I may move away from plastic mailing bags altogether and start using sustainably sourced cardboard packaging that can be reused and recycled (as well as compostable bags made from vegetable sources which Lil Packaging will be looking into).  Not only is this beneficial to the environment, but the cardboard is both sturdy and stiff so it will protect my goods in transit.

    Lil Packaging kindly sent me three of their products to review and they’ve arrived today.  I am bit of a stationery and organisation geek, so I do get excited by deliveries like these.  I love seeing the neatly stacked boxes and trying them out!  Having sent well over 3000 orders I am very used to packaging deliveries, but I still remember the excitement of setting up shop and receiving my very first packaging delivery that made me one step closer to being in business!

    Lil Packaging goes eco-friendly with their ecommerce packaging range (and I

    The first thing I noticed when I ordered from Lil Packaging was the competitive prices.  I usually order from eBay and assumed it was the cheapest, but Lil Packaging are very comparable.  Plus you know exactly who you are ordering from and their packaging has some extra touches which make it even more small business friendly.  Delivery is free if you spend over £25 and you can place orders with a minimum of only one quantity, but the price per item will obviously get cheaper the more you bulk buy.

    I’ve noticed the three items I ordered all have ‘Thank you for shopping with us’ printed on them which is a perfect touch for the customer to see when receiving their goods.  They also have strong glue strips which will save me getting in a sticky tangled mess with a roll of Selotape!  The boxes have fold lines which makes packing orders even quicker and easier.

    Lil Packaging goes eco-friendly with their ecommerce packaging range (and I

    Here’s what I ordered:

    Cardboard envelopes – These are strong envelopes made from FSC certified environmentally sustainable materials.  They are so quick and easy to use for my scarves and I can easily slot one inside, but I can also squeeze up to five in for a larger order.

    Twistwrap – Now these are promoted at use with toys and items such as board games that are in boxes that need great protection, but I was intrigued to see how they work.  I often receive goods in the post in these clever boxes and now I can use them to dispatch my scarves too.  They are much quicker than building a flat packed box and offer protection if you do have a boxed item that needs to arrive in perfect condition.  They are so quick and easy to use.

    Letterbox – The final item I ordered was a letterbox that is the maximum size of the Royal Mail large letter dimensions.  This is often the size of one or two of my scarves in one package, so it’s handy to know if they fit in this box without bulging out then that’s exactly the right size postage I need.  Again, it will save time having to measure the packages or test them with my Royal Mail size guide as Lil Packaging have made them to the specified size already.

    Why it’s so important to package your online orders correctly

    • High quality packaging will prevent customer complaints
    • The number of broken item returns from damage in transit will reduce
    • Good packaging gives a good impression of your brand
    • It keeps the products safe and protected during transit
    • It shows you care about the products inside and how they reach the customer
    • The packaging is the first impression of your brand once the goods are received for an ecommerce business
    • Professional looking packaging implies a professional brand (ever received something wrapped in a bin bag and far too much brown tape?...)

    For small business owners like myself it is vital to use appropriate packaging that ensures the goods arrive to the customer in perfect condition.  Lil Packaging definitely offer a wide range of competitively priced, high quality, responsibly sourced and eco-friendly packaging options for small online stores as well as large retail giants.

     

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    Lil Packaging goes eco-friendly with their ecommerce packaging range (and I

    I was sent some packaging in exchange for my honest review.

  3. 13 eco-friendly ways to start saving money in the kitchen

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    The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in the house.  In ours it is probably the busiest room and I can never seem to get out of there enough!  There’s always cleaning to do, food to cook, lunchboxes to prepare, laundry to tackle, recycling, waste to dispose of and cupboards and draws to sort out.  It’s never ending, especially as a family of four.  I expect it’s also the most expensive room in the house.  There’s always something switched on whether it’s the washing machine, kettle, extractor fan or our water distiller.  The fridge and freezer are always plugged in zapping energy all day.  In this blog post I am going to share with you how to start saving money in your kitchen whilst being more eco-friendly too.  Win-win!

    Wash by hand

    Hubby and I debate this all the time, but I’m certain it’s better to wash by hand.  We do only have a slim dishwasher and it just doesn’t fit much in at all.  We can fit one family meal’s worth of washing up in at a time and it runs for almost two hours!  I can’t see how that is cost saving as it is using electricity for two hours.  If I wash the same amount up I will use one or two hot soapy bowls of water and no electricity, perhaps a tiny bit of gas for the hot water.

    According to this statement I would definitely be saving money by washing up - ‘One cycle in a typical dishwasher costs the same in energy and water as heating between four to six washing-up bowls of water in the kitchen sink’ - Source

    I guess it depends on how much you can fit in your dishwasher and how many bowls of washing up you would do, but for us I’m certain it’s cheaper to wash by hand as I never use 4-6 bowls per load.

    Break dishwasher tablets in half

    If you do use the dishwasher then try breaking your tablets in half.  Hubby always does this (he prefers the dishwasher) and it washes everything just as effectively whilst making our tablets last twice as long.  Plus there’s less of the tablet getting washed into the environment each time.

    Use Eco-Eggs

    Save time and money on your laundry by using Eco-Eggs.  These are egg shaped cases that are filled with pellets made from minerals.  Chuck them in with your wash load and you’ll not need to use any detergent.  They come in various sizes that can last one year or more before you need to replace the pellets!  The dryer balls have fragrance sticks to make your clothes smell nice, reduce drying time and soften the clothes to stop fabric softener use in the wash.  Just replace the fragrance sticks every now and then.  Using both of these will stop you from buying detergent and softener, reduce your drying time which will save on energy costs and it’s much better for the environment.

    Use cloths instead of wipes

    Cleaning wipes may be convenient, but they are terrible for the environment.  If you must buy them then choose eco-friendly options, instead of non-biodegradable versions that are smothered in nasty chemicals.  Try using a plant based kitchen cleaner spray instead with cloths that you can wash and reuse time and time again.  Much cheaper than wipes, nontoxic and there’s no waste.

    Make tea with a teapot

    Do you always put a teabag in each cup when making tea for everyone?  Invest in a teapot and you’ll be able to use one teabag to make four or five cups of tea!  I regularly do this with green tea bags and have even got six good tasting cups of tea from one teapot.  Previously I used a bag per cup so this would have wasted six tea bags!  Less waste again and more money in your pocket as you need to buy less teabags over time.

    13 eco-friendly ways to start saving money in the kitchen

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    Cook from scratch

    Making homemade meals is much more cost effective than buying expensive readymade meals and it’s healthier.  There’s a lot of debate online about which is really cheaper, but I definitely believe cooking from scratch is.  Just take a look at the price of a potato compared to a part baked one in the chiller section.  Just bake it yourself and save pennies or even pounds.  Another comparison is to look at the price of a readymade pizza.  It’s easy enough to make a thin dough base with water, oil and flour, then top with tomato puree and grated cheese.  You’ll have loads of flour left over and tomato puree and cheese… enough to make even more pizzas another day.  I’m sure making your own food can be much cheaper, just less convenient.  Plus there’ll be less packaging waste.

    Meal plan

    Meal planning can help to save money by reducing food waste.  If you’re buying random items each week not knowing what you’re going to be cooking then there’s a higher chance you’ll waste some.  If you plan your week’s meals in advance then you’ll shop for exactly what you need and use everything.

    Save leftovers (or give to pets)

    If you have left overs then save them to use the next day for another meal.  Throwing them into the bin is just throwing money away!  If you have pets then they may appreciate the leftovers and this can reduce how much pet food you need to give them.

    Bulk buy

    Buying in bulk or larger sizes is a great way to save money.  Just check the labels in the supermarkets for the ‘price per’ to see which size offers the best value for money.  It can also reduce the packaging waste too.  It may be more expensive upfront, but will save money in the long run.

    Batch cook

    Batch cooking is a great way to save time and money!  You can buy ingredients in bulk which will save money, you’ll be doing the majority of the chopping/cooking/food processing and so on in one go which will save on energy costs, plus you can divide the food into controlled portion sizes to reduce waste.  It’s also a brilliant way to use up veg that will turn if left for another day or two and so prevents food waste.

    Freeze browning fruit

    Don’t throw away browning fruit, especially bananas.  Peel and freeze bananas to use at a later date in a smoothie or dessert.  Frozen bananas make the best milkshakes when blended with your favourite milk.  We love almond milk for a sweet taste.

    Distil or filter water

    We were buying mineral water at first as our tap water tastes so horrid and isn’t very clean at all.  I actually measured it with a TDS meter to see how many dissolved substances were in it and it read 200ppm.  That’s 200 parts per million.  200 different little things floating in the water that I don’t want to consume regularly!  Plus I was concerned about the amount of plastic waste from the water bottles.  Oh and it was expensive to buy mineral water for our whole family!  So after looking into the water thing more I decided I wanted to distil our water at home and invested in a home distiller for around £150.  This means we get pure water to drink and cook with and over time we’ll make our money back compared to buying high quality bottled water.    If you’re regularly buying bottled water then look into buying your own filtration system or a water distiller.

    Change energy supplier

    One of the best money saving things we did this year was to switch energy supplier for the first time saving ourselves over £250 for the year.  We switched to bulb who use renewable energy sources and they are much cheaper than the main energy suppliers.  You can get £50 credit as well as saving around £200 per year (we’ll save £264) by joining Bulb with my referral link by clicking here

    There are so many ways to start saving money in the kitchen and be more environmentally conscious too.  Just start looking at where most of your money or energy usage is going and see if you can make a change.

     

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    13 eco-friendly ways to start saving money in the kitchen