The Earth Conscious Way / Marine Conservation

STOP THE PLASTIC TIDE

STOP THE PLASTIC TIDE

Finally, I found the time to read my copy of the MCSUK winter 2017 edition magazine and it leaves me feeling inspired to do more to raise awareness concerning the issues surrounding litter and plastic pollution of our seas.

Alongside colourful photography and stories of sea life, the MCS have included the results from their Great British Beach Clean 2017. Plastic and Polystyrene pieces were the top most found items. In second place, packets such as crisps and sandwich packets. The list goes on to include Glass, Cigarette Stubs, Caps & Lids, String, Cord, Wet Wipes, Cotton Bud Sticks, Fishing Line, Cutlery, Trays & Straws.

The way in which we humans consume is clearly showing up in our oceans and on our shores. Grabbing items on the go, purchasing cheap and more frequently all equates to a disposable lifestyle which creates excessive waste and pollution. Single use items are often used and disposed of within minutes and even seconds without thought as to what happens next. We need to re-look at the way we live and we need to start valuing and caring for our possessions giving consideration to the impact of our overall consumption.

 

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Marine Conservation Plastic Challenge - Week 3

Marine Conservation Plastic Challenge - Week 3

OK so halfway through the Marine Conservation Plastic Challenge and here's what we've been up to.

This week, we've been sending out a free reusable stainless steel straw with our Natural Deodorant orders. Hopefully, this may help encourage people to refuse plastic straws when out and about.

Reusable Stainless Steel Straw

Day 15

At home we've had a delivery of an Organic Veggie Box from a local supplier. Mostly free from plastic packaging but not entirely. Not sure why the bananas had been put in a plastic bag!? The best we can do is reuse the bags in the freezer.

Organic Veg Box

Day 16 onwards

Wow it's been a hot one. It's been so hot and busy and just no time to properly focus on the plastic challenge at all. The focus for most people has probably been trying to stay cool, hydrated, trying to get enough sleep and making sure their armpits don't smell!

I'd say the most signficant thing during the heat wave weather for us has been the constant use of our resuable water bottles. Generally our family of 6 will carry 2 litres of water with us on a regular day out. In this heat, that goes rapidly and when out and about for more than a couple of hours, refilling our stainless steel bottles is not always easy. However, thus far we have avoided buying any top up water and instead have refilled by asking in a cafe and from a bathroom tap.

Happy to say that our Natural Deodorant in its plastic free packaging has really proved itself these past few days too, so no issues there!

In other plastic free news

The lovely Humble Stuff of Scotland sent down some plastic free cleaning materials to help us along with the plastic challenge. I received some tiny soap gel balls wrapped in baking paper and placed in a recycled reusable tin to dissolve in water to use as my everyday kitchen spray. Plus, heart shaped toilet fresheners (also free from any plastic packaging) which I decided to test run in the dishwasher too! Yes, the dishwasher and I tell you they work better than the Waitrose powder which I have now stopped using due to it being too abrasive.

Humble Stuff

Anyway, I normally use the Humble Stuff Lemon Myrtle Spray which apart from being natural and toxin free smells absolutely divine and is my go to kitchen spray product (see below). You can keep the plastic bottle and spray and just buy refills which is still better than buying other not so natural products in plastic bottles! To be honest, its all very well worrying about the plastic packaging side of things but its equally as important to consider the ingredients and how they affect marine life when washed away into our waters. There are no concerns with Humble Stuff and I really can't recommend it enough.

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Marine Conservation Plastic Challenge Week 2

Marine Conservation Plastic Challenge Week 2

Two days into Week 2 of the Marine Conservation plastic challenge and our regular order of Green Cane Toilet Paper order arrived just in time! These toilet rolls are made completely free from plastic packaging. I personally feel it's important that manufacturers and brands help to make it easy for consumers to make different choices such as plastic free where possible and Green Cane is certainly an easy plastic free switch to make. 

Plastic Free Toilet Paper

Otherwise, to be honest, I'm finding it all rather a struggle. If time wasn't a constraint then it would be easier. Single Use Plastic is everywhere. It seems better to focus on the different choices we can make to minimise plastic litter ending up in our seas rather than the ones we are failing to conquer! So, in Week 2 the challenge for me is choosing plastic free options where possible but not beating myself when I can't!

Aldi's provided apples, red peppers, spring onions, bananas and a swede completely plastic free and of course Organic Eggs in cardboard is a no brainer. It's worth highlighting here that the trade off is generally you can't get Organic Fruit & Veg that is plastic free from a supermarket.

Day 11

Pleased with myself today for I have rescued a Bread Maker from a car boot for just £4 and it works! This means less highly processed bread wrapped in plastic packaging going forward.

Bread Maker

Regular items still being used here:-

Stainless steel water bottles, stainless steel straws, soap nuts for laundry, bamboo toothbrush and bamboo cotton buds. The Lush shampoo bar is still proving to be a good choice.

On the negative, the dishwasher powder from Waitrose packaged completely without plastic is totally rubbish. I think it's too abrasive and it's leaving glasses, saucepans and plates in a really horrible condition after washing. Cannot stick with this, it just doesn't do the job.

Day 12

Today we took the family on an openday tour around the local Veolia UK Waste Management Facility to see what we could learn about household waste and what happens to it. The operation is huge but the thing that struck me the most was the volume of waste they are dealing with. The photographs below show not quite one day's worth of household waste from one City and in fact the bottom photograph showing non recycling waste is just a portion of what they had *in stock* still to be processed. There was a vast amount of textiles in that pile too.

plastic recycling

household waste management

Actually, very little is going to landfill from this waste management centre, I think 95% or 98% of waste was being either recycled or burned and turned into energy. However, it left me thinking more about overall levels of consumption not just about better packaging alternatives.

Days 13 & 14

If this is too much information, I apologise in advance but in the interests of our plastic challenge, it's definitely worth pointing out that switching to reusable sanitary pads makes a difference every single month. I have been using cloth pads for around 3 years now and those in the photo have been with me that long and still look as good as new. My Teenage daughter has her own collection too. There is nothing plastic being flushed away or ending up in landfill from our household on this monthly basis! If you are interested in purchasing reusable menstrual products its definitely worthing checking out Earthwise Girls.

reusable cloth pads

Now to something completely different. The Humble Baked Bean, a regular purchase in our household and probably in most people's households. Why is it that 4 tins held together in some kind of shrinked wrapped packaging cost less than buying 4 tins singularly without plastic packaging? I'm guessing it's marketing, production & transportation reasons but it seems completely unnecessary to me. It's easy enough to buy singles and pay more to avoid the plastic (which we do) but we will continue to try other brands/options.

Baked Beans

 

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Marine Conservation Plastic Challenge 2017 - Week 1

Marine Conservation Plastic Challenge 2017 - Week 1

June 2017, the start of the Marine Conservation Society's Plastic Challenge. We took part last year too and am all too familiar with the challenges of giving up single use plastics.

I've decided to update one post a week as a kind of diary of how we are getting on. It will include the wins and the fails.

This will be our Week 1 Post.

Day 1 is a fairly easy day. As a family of 6 (2 adults, 4 children), naturally, we have supplies that we can use before we need to shop some more and there is little point wasting items. However, going forward with a challenge of buying less plastic and definitely avoiding single use plastic items will become increasingly difficult as we progress through the month.

Today, I identified a local shop that sells cucumbers without any shrink wrap plastic - a big win because almost always cucumbers are normally packaged in plastic which personally I find ridiculous.

I also worked my muscles carrying a massive Water Melon home which will last several days if not more in the fridge and serve as a healthy refreshing snack during these warmer days.

Husband baked bread using flour from a paper packet and yeast from a cardboard packet with what I hope was foil packaging.

Cucumber Melon Bread

Of course we use our own Natural Deodorant products so no plastic there and I have my bamboo toothbrush which is working out perfectly well. I know that difficulties will arise tomorrow as shampoo needs replenshing and I'm not happy with the shampoo bar that we have. I'll let you know how and if I resolve the problem.

Day 2

Another day and no plastic purchased. Loose courgettes, peaches, bananas sourced locally and a block of butter which I assume is paper wrapped, made up the purchases today.

Plastic Challenge Day 2

A breakfast of eggs (from cardboard egg tray) and toasted home made bread was an easy one. If I ate this breakfast every day as a staple it wouldn't be so bad. However, my Good Hemp milk comes in Tetra Pak and my understanding is that Tetra Pak whilst recyclable isn't fully free from plastic so when this carton runs out I will need to revert to black tea, herbal tea or water.

Lunch & Dinner still using up existing foods in the fridge/cupboards including nibbling on raw broadbeans that had been grown locally and gifted to us so no issues there. However, half a tub of hummus needing to be finished in a pot so again hummus is going to be off the menu, unless I make my own *sigh*.

Our Reusable Stainless Steel Bottles were used today whilst out with the children and  at the gym but this is not something new for us so can't really big that one up!

Haven't solved the shampoo issue yet so it will be a wash hair in just water until tomorrow.

Day 3

Went in search of plastic free bread. Waitrose came up trumps as they have loose loaves that you can place in paper bags with windows so we just took the bread without any packaging. Did the same for some loose Veg too - placed straight in our basket. It was ok except for the cabbage which was supposed to be in a plastic wrap and needed the barcode. So we scanned one with a barcode and left the packaging for waitrose to deal with. They provided paper bags for mushrooms so another win. A glass bottle of cordial for the children to drink instead of Tetra Pak juice in the morning. Simply a convenience if I can't always be bothered to use the Nutri Bullet.

Plastic Challenge

A dedicated trip to the local Lush Shop coping with the overpowering smells that come as standard with the colourful shop, we found a shampoo bar that we hope may work better than those we have tried already. It does contain SLS but it is free from plastic free packaging. Lush have this to say about SLS https://uk.lush.com/article/dont-stress-about-sls.

 Lush Shampoo Bar

Day 4

I'd say this day was a fail. We had a large BBQ event to attend which just added too much pressure. Not to make excuses, but as a mother of 4 children its not as easy to go without the plastic options as it would be if it were just me. The BBQ food was all presented to us free of packaging but there were disposable cups available for soft drinks which the children wanted to enjoy. If I had prepared better then I would have had reusable cups in the car but just didn't think properly. Our regular reusable stainless steel bottles were of course with us and I only drank from those. Another fail was purchasing some fruit options and other snack items to take with us for the day. This was all down to lack of time, too much to think about and simply needing convenience to keep the happy energy going. Mental wellbeing is incredibly important too.

On the positive side of things, the Lush Shampoo Bar works really well. I can't see any reason other than wanting to avoid the SLS to purchase an item in a plastic bottle when this little bar does the job.

Day 5

Still making bread to avoid plastic wrapped options.

Ran out of dishwasher tablets but found powdered dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box in Waitrose. It's a win for plasticfree but will have to check more closely on its ingredients being environmentally friendly. There always seems to be a trade off.

A quick shop to Morrisons secured loose ingredients for a vegetable sauce for pasta plus a stock up on tins. Couldn't buy bread, was all in some kind of wrapping which assume is plastic?

Plastic Challenge Day 5 Haul

Day 6

One loaf of bread and 6 rolls from Waitrose with no packaging because I put them straight into my basket cost £5.05. A different choice wrapped in plastic would have cost around £2. There is a financial cost increase for certain plastic free options and this isn't easily affordable for many. It's not something we can maintain as a family going forward so there needs to be a different way unless the manufacturers and brands of sliced options package them differently. Also, lets not forget that we are making our own bread in between times too which is obviously nicer than sliced options heavily laden no doubt with preservatives and additives but the time element has to be considered.

The burger options & fishfingers are all packaged in cardboard with no inner so an easy win but otherwise it was a few veggies purchased from a local greengrocer but I was unable to source salad leaves or lettuce anywhere.

Dinner tonight is going to be a combination of the items in the picture below.

Plastic Challenge Day 6

Day 7

Last day of week 1. Fact is, add extra events into the day, that make a day unusual busier than usual then you don't need the added stress of Plastic Challenge! Today was one of those days and convenience was needed. The best I could do without buying plastic was Chicken Pies from Waitrose!

Plastic Challenge Day 7

The Ryvita is in foil packaging apparently so that's ok. The bread cost a small fortune but simply not enough time in my day to make our own.

Honestly speaking, I actually feel that as a family we do quite a lot when it comes to choosing ecofriendly reusable options already but if we are to keep up next week, I am going to have to be more creative and probably something else in our lives will have to give way to cope with the extra workload.

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Plastic Free Challenge - Day 5

Plastic Free Challenge - Day 5

Today more supplies were required. We went in search of a recommended farm shop - Worzals.  Hooray for a brown sack of potatoes. The fruit and veg were mostly unpackaged but the bag option was plastic which the lady told me had only recently been changed. Shame. We just put apples, pears, carrots and a cucumber straight into the lovely wicker baskets available for shopping. My smallest girls enjoyed carrying those around.


The bread was all in plastic wrapping so we chose some bread mix again and this time also a carrot cake and a chocolate cake mix. Thing is, the cakes require vegetable oil so that will come from plastic no doubt. One of the children kneaded the bread which saved me a job.

Purchased another bottle of cordial but it’s an expensive treat to be honest. Oh, and the girls asked for Dairylea - it appears to be in cardboard with foil triangles so whilst not exactly the best option it at least ticks the plastic free package I hope.

Plastic Free Food Shop

Upon talking with the lady at the checkout (who normally operates the deli) she said we could bring containers along for deli purchases to combat the bag with film issue so thought that was helpful and we could certainly make a return visit.

As I walked around I really didn’t know what to make for dinner. Ideally, it would have been a cheap and easy vegetable pasta dish but we still couldn’t find pasta free of plastic packaging. We decided that we’d stop on the way home for fresh eggs - these are always available from various neighbours in the village - and we’d make use of the giant potatoes and have egg and chips.

Overall though, despite the farm shop being lovely, the distance travelled and the extra price paid for Cordial meant it wasn’t the most economical of shopping trips. This is a factor to consider going forward but what price do we pay for plastic convenience when it comes to the wellbeing of our planet and all who live on it?

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Plastic Free Challenge 2016 - Complete

Plastic Free Challenge 2016 - Complete

Our week of MCSUK Plastic Free Challenge is over and I am so glad. An already full on busy life with a business to run, 4 home educated children and a husband who works away a fair bit does not need complicating with only being able to buy plastic-free. Don’t get me wrong, I think plastic free is an important issue and going forward there are some obvious things that I will change.

For a start, reverting back to delivery of an organic vegetable/fruit box is an obvious choice. Seeking out Eco-Leaf toilet rolls is also something I am going to continue to do. Where possible I am going to make a conscious effort to shop in local bakeries that do not plastic wrap and whole food shops that offer loose bulk buy purchases. 

Plastic Free Wrapped Fruit

We have used refillable water bottles, eco snack wraps, stainless steel straws and reusable sanitary pads for a long while now so that will continue also but we will be looking out for more eco-friendly swaps we can make too. 

It is apparent that to achieve a bigger plastic free lifestyle, more planning is necessary and definitely more time spent on food preparation and cooking. Overall, I will be on the lookout for plastic free packaging and look to minimise our plastic consumption. 

Having said the above, it’s not fair that the solution lies with the everyday consumer. Yes, small changes collectively make a difference and the Earth Conscious brand advocate that but the packaging industry, the individual brands and the retailers need to take responsibility and make it easier for everyone to consume without this much concern. 

We haven’t compromised on the packaging of our Natural Deodorant and I am really happy that we have made it easy for our customers to make the switch without the worry of plastic packaging, toxic ingredients or even price.

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Plastic Challenge 2016 - Day 4

Plastic Challenge 2016 - Day 4

Over halfway through our Plastic Challenge now. The Marine Conservation Society are running it for the whole of June and we have committed to a week. Here is how we got on today on day 4…

No shopping today and just making do with what we have in the cupboards and left overs from our plastic free purchases. Both my eldest daughter and I are lactose intolerant albeit to different degrees. She takes Almond Milk on cereal and to drink and I take Hemp Milk in my tea. Both of these alternatives come packaged in tetra pak so once they are finished we will be stuck. I actually have two spare Hemp Milk’s in the cupboard but it feels like an obvious cheat for me to open them so I won’t.  Of course we could just decide not to drink these products. I could give up tea and only drink herbal and she could give up Almond Milk and eat dry cereal. However, health is a priority too that’s both physical and mental and life I believe should include small pleasures - we can’t always do it all but we can make some changes. After this challenge is through, the tetra pak situation is one area that I don’t think we will be able to improve on easily.

Fruit and Veg report!

We struggled in the supermarket and managed to pick up some loose items. I noticed that the per kgs price for apples was more expensive for the loose items than those bagged up. Grapes were not an option, organic bananas not an option, or organic apples come to that. No strawberries, blueberries or anything delicious like that. For the loose items I did buy, there were only plastic bags available to put them in so I had to place them direct in the trolley. I couldn’t find any salad leaves or lettuce not wrapped in plastic. The broccoli was all shrink wrapped.

Plastic Free Fruit

After the supermarket let down I tried a local fruit and veg shop. We managed to get some loose peaches and nectarines there, but still no salad leaves or berries.

Having paper bags for fruit and veg seems like an obvious easy switch for supermarkets to make. Having a way to have organic varieties not wrapped in plastic would be a huge bonus too!

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Plastic Challenge - Day 3

Plastic Challenge - Day 3

 

Angela

Baked Ciabatta from a paper packet yesterday ready for this morning but it didn’t last long so I went to the nearest bakery and purchased two loaves unsliced so I could bring home in a paper bag.

Plastic Free Bread

Back to the co-op today and the deli counter left out the plastic as per my request. Brought home slices of turkey and cheese plastic free in paper bags. A big win with a cooked chicken that also came home in just a brown paper bag. Opted for some tinned apricots as the fruit selection was limited with bananas being pretty much the only choice.

Back to the co-op today and the deli counter left out the plastic as per my request. Brought home slices of turkey and cheese plastic free in paper bags. A big win with a cooked chicken that also came home in just a brown paper bag. Opted for some tinned apricots as the fruit selection was limited with bananas being pretty much the only choice.

A big win with a cooked chicken that also came home in just a brown paper bag. Opted for some tinned apricots as the fruit selection was limited with bananas being pretty much the only choice.

I feel we’ve done well so far using what we already have and only buying plastic free but we’re not completely plastic free. I am still using washing up liquid from a bottle albeit a refillable bottle that we replenish from a much larger Eco-Leaf Container in the garage. It’s a reasonable compromise but it’s not plastic free.

The thing I am most realising is that the packaging industry needs to take responsibility here and the individual brands to make it easier for the consumer to be more eco-friendly. There is a trade-off to this plastic challenge with the amount of time being spent on shopping not to mention the diesel for the extra mileage and even the cost to health. More planning is necessary to cover all bases I feel. It’s not easy.

Elly

It’s been a busy toing and froing day today with some shopping thrown in. The first mistake was leaving the water behind in our reusable bottles and it’s a hot day today. Searched about for water in glass bottles but that was an unrealistic aim really. I don’t like to give the children drinks with sugar or sweetener, so cans were out of the question until we found some cans of Innocent Bubble which is just fruit juice and water. Achievement!

We’re pretty much dairy free in our house and while I have a supply of almond and soya milk in the fridge, I wanted to top up. Tetra Pak was the only option available. I didn’t buy any today and have postponed until I desperately need some later in the week but I can’t see a way around this right now. Of course we could make our own almond milk, but unfortunately, the children won’t drink my home made efforts!

Bread shopping was an issue in Sainsbury's so we opted for a bakery. Not being as forward thinking as Angela clearly, I asked for it sliced as we eat toast a lot. The lady then could only offer me a plastic bag as it wouldn’t go in a paper one…lesson learnt.

Plastic free living takes a lot of forward planning and organisation, in the busy lifestyle we lead it is all too easy to slip up. But so far this has been a hugely positive experience in identifying how much plastic we rely upon.

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Plastic Challenge 2016 - Day 2

Plastic Challenge 2016 - Day 2

Elly

Today is another day of little purchases as I use up the food I have at home, Mondays are usually like that and it’s a big shop on a Tuesday which is going to be very challenging, especially with a 4-year-old in tow. My eldest two children understand the challenge and are keen to participate but it’s harder for younger ones. 

What I have also considered today is that if I were to shop fruit and veg in a supermarket then the organic produce is going to be off limits. Bananas, for instance, these are one of the few products that can come unpackaged. But not if you go for organic (at least not that I have found). Living rurally I do have farm shop options which I will make the most of this week. It’s the grains like rice and pasta for example that will be a real struggle. And I’m wondering what the outer wrapper of Green and Blacks is, is that purely paper? I will have to check. An essential item for me!

Angela

Success for us today. We managed to purchase rice and cereal as they sell from tubs. They weigh and sell to customers in plastic bags but I explained our predicament so instead, the goods were weighed in the bags then tipped into the storage tubs we’d taken with us and the bags retained by the shop for use for something else.

Plastic Free Challenge

Success was also on the toilet roll. Down to the last two rolls so things were looking very bleak and none of us fancied tissues from a box, water or dried leaves. Saved by Eco-Leaf which is wrapped in biodegradable packaging made from potato starch - win! The children all chose a drink for the journey home - cans and bottles only. On the negative, even though the whole food store is a lovely store full of lovely things, plastic is absolutely everywhere. It feels good to be selling a natural deodorant that isn’t packaged in plastic.

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Marine Conservation Society Plastic Challenge 2016

Marine Conservation Society Plastic Challenge 2016

Day one of the Plastic Free Challenge for us here at Earth Conscious HQ. Actually the MCS Plastic Challenge is for the whole of June but we have decided to give it our best shot for the week commencing today 5th June. We are supporting the MCS with donations from sales of our Natural Deodorant on an ongoing basis but for the month of June we are doubling those donations.

Natural Deodorant Turtle

Here’s our thoughts on the challenge so far.

Angela

I decided to start the challenge with a visit to our nearest Co-op followed by Asda to see what they could offer us. With three of my children to help spot, we came away with lemons, spring onions, a white onion and a pineapple. To add to our success some tinned food, a packet of bread mix and a glass bottle of Belvoir Cordial. We can manage on water no problem but the children like a fruit juice in the morning and of course these all come in tetra paks (which contain a certain amount of plastic) so cordial will have to be the substitute. I do have a nutribullet so smoothies are still possible assuming I can buy the fruit and veg unpackaged! Searching the pasta, rice and cereal aisles and there wasn’t a single product we could purchase that was entirely plastic free so we didn’t.  We still have food in the cupboards and fridge that compromise the plastic free ideal but I’m not prepared to waste food so they have been consumed today amongst the plastic free items. The challenge for me is not to buy anything packaged in plastic during this week which is going to get harder as from tomorrow day 2. On the plus side, we do have radish picked fresh from the garden and the Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages in the freezer were only packaged in cardboard.

Bunch of Radish

Elly

Today was a bit easier for me than I think the other days will be as my children were not with me! Tap water has been easily available in a glass so no drinks problems. Food wise I ate out at lunch time, maybe that’s a cheat as I’m sure the cafe wasn’t plastic free but nothing come to me in plastic that’s for sure. I’m beginning to think again about bread and I’m going to need to get some baking done as plastic free bread seems impossible. I’ve a bar of soap so have shoved my shower gel into the cupboard for now. Shampoo, luckily my hair doesn’t need washing too often and not today but I’m not entirely sure how to get around that one yet. My hair is thick and needs a bit of lather. Hmm…it’s supposed to be a challenge and it feels like one!

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