Ten top tips to getting a family to be a zero waste zone

Recycle: well, of course. But think about what things really can be recycled. If you do buy bread, for instance, could the bag be recycled along with plastic bags at the grocery store? Many stores have collection points so include these bags. Own a pet? Get dry food in those heavy paper bags or get wet food in tins. Also check out terracycle, you can send items that you wouldn’t normally be able to recycle (crisp packets etc).

Get a vegetable box: since using vegetable box delivery I’ve noticed we have a lot less plastic around. Also check if you have local growers, not only helping the local economy but cuts fuel and tastes great.

Refuse: when buying items, do you really need it? Still companies send out catalogues, this is pointless now we are so proficient with the web. Unsubscribe from catalogues and refuse wasteful freebies that use plastic recycling.

Don’t just bin: it’s good to have a clear out, but could items be sold on eBay? generate some cash and recycle! Maybe your local recycling has a service for clothes and shoes, it’s well worth knowing what you can do.

Compost: now if like us, you don’t have much of a garden, you can still find ways to rid of organic matter in a friendly way. Again, check local services there may be a drop off point near you or check if a company does pick up.

Buy second hand: this is even easier today with websites such as eBay or even amazon. You can get some great deals and quite often the item has barely been used.

Buy balk or larger packet size: bigger the pack the less packaging over all is used. I’m not completely convinced about these refill packs as they can be non recyclable even of they quote they save 70% on packaging (well, clearly if you compare a glass weight to a plastic weight it would be 70% less! But is it as easy to recycle?)

Is there a biodegradable alternative?: does it have to be made in plastic? Is there a natural alternative? Many items now made in bio plastics. Usually made from corn starch. Addis biosense black bin liners are actually better than most normal non biodegradable alternatives for instance.

Reuse: try and keep a tote on you when you go out so you don’t use plastic bags. Take your own bags to get groceries.

Make your own: making up meals, bread, stock can not only save money but also packaging. Stock can be frozen and just pop into pan as and when needed. Stock is also a great way of making the most of vegetables that are on their way out and, if you eat meat, use bones to give depth of flavour for a great stock.

Thea Organics skincare review (mother and baby)

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Back from our summer break, ready to get into the autumn. It’s feeling chilly already, so was pleased to receive a cute selection of products from Thea. The selection included the Aloe & Rosehip 2 in 1 Calming Bath & Baby Wash , Cellulite Body Butter and Jojoba & Chamomile 2 in 1 Baby Shampoo.

Bath and baby wash (retails at £8.95 for 200ml):

This delicately fragranced gel wash is great for skin, it also lathers well which doesn’t always happen with all natural ingredients (sulphate/paraben free). Leaves skin feeling clean and refreshed without drying. This has won the Green Parent natural beauty (bronze) award.

I used it as a face wash and it felt luxurious with blended ylang ylang, patchouli, cedarwood, rosewood, chamomile and lavender essential oils (all organic).

2 in 1 Baby shampoo (retails at £8.95 for 200ml):

This again, is lightly fragranced, contains wheat protein, chamomile, lavender rosehip and jojoba seed oil. Elka doesn’t have cradle cap any more so cannot comment whether or not it will ease it. The shampoo left her hair clean and smelling fresh. This has also won a Green Parent award (gold) and I can see why, it’s light and gentle with great cleaning.

Body butter (retails at £24.95):

This for me was the star product. Packed full of butters (shea, cocoa, kokum & mango) and essential oils (neroli, rose, jasmine, geranium, sandalwood, chamomile, fennel, carrot seed, lemon, lavender & frankincense) this lightly whipped, body butter was almost mousse like in texture. Easy to rub in without leaving too much residue/oiliness on the skin. I would have loved this when I was pregnant, not only for the texture but the scent is very mild and fresh (Having HG everything scented made my sickness worse). 

I am really surprised this hasn’t won any awards, this is such a great product. I even used it as a night cream on my face! Love it.

No sugar no salt fluffy perfect bread machine recipe (toddler friendly)

For weeks I had been trawling the internet for recipes with low or no salt/sugar bread recipes that produces lovely light fluffy bread. I happened across a very simple recipe after looking at a baby lead weaning forum.

We have a bread machine (bought for £5 off eBay!) that really simplifies the bread making process even more. It’s a Panasonic, after doing some research these were recommended but I think they all seem fairly similar.

For this recipe I used white flour, I’m going to make a brown this week so will report back if any changes are needed.

410g strong bread flour
5g easy bake yeast
260g water
40g olive oil
20g white wine vinegar (any vinegar will be fine, I actually only had cider vinegar so used that)

Set on a basic (3 hour) bake with a modicum sized loaf and whichever crust setting you desire.

Here’s some key points that may help get the best from your bread machine:

I have found that adding yeast to warm water straight away produced fluffier bread than when I followed the manufacture’s guidelines of keeping the two separate.

Always keep yeast in a fridge or preferably a freezer. This keeps the yeast fresher and therefore more productive.

Weighing liquids is far more accurate. 1 ml of water is equal to 1 gram.

 

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Organic Surge products review

This week I have been trying out Organic Surge’s gorgeous beauty products.

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I first became aware of this company by chance as I bought their hand wash. They beautifully blend natural ingredients including various essential oils. The whole range is completely free from SLS, parabens,synthetic fragrances and colourants. They seem to be a great company supporting various charities in Africa.

shampoo and conditioner (moisture boost)

There are various options in their hair care range, varying from moisturising to volume boosting. I chose the moisturising as I have very fine hair that has become a little lackluster after months of breastfeeding and baby handling.

Both shampoo and conditioner have a subtle yet sweet aroma. The shampoo is cleaning without drying. The conditioner has a thick creamy texture and leaves the hair moisturised without being too oily or leaving residue.

Skin Perfecting Face Polish
This face scrub is made from ground olive stone. This is much kinder on the environment than the widely used plastic microbeads which soak up toxins, is eaten by fish and other creatures, building up in the food chain and is eventually consumed by humans (BBC.CO.UK, 2014).

the scrub is thin in comparison to leading brand scrubs yet creamy. It leaves the skin moisturised and clean. I don’t think its the best scrub I’ve used, however, I like to really scrub the hell out of my skin (probably not advisable for someone who suffers from sensitive skin!) I have combination skin so can have oily patches as well as dry. I did like this product, I would like to use it with their everyday cleanser as I think cleaning the skin before hand you’d get the most out of this product.

 

Lavender Meadow Shower Gel

This is the same scent as the hand wash I originally bought. It’s like walking into a dewy meadow, fresh and clean but with added lavender. This is also great for sensitive skin, leaves skin clean, smelling fresh and moisturised.

 

Overall, I think Organic Surge make some great products. They are priced very reasonably for an organic beauty company. Much cheaper than Neal’s Yard with comparable results.

 

The Organic Surge range is currently 25% off at Ocado.com. I have bought these items myself without communication from Organic Surge.

 

Oh what sunshine!

Hello and apologies for the lack of posts over the last few days. The sun has been shining so we have been making the most of the lovely weather.

I have been looking into milk alternatives as even before we look into the ethics surrounding milking cattle, there is the problem that dairy farming is the largest agricultural source of the greenhouse gases methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) in Europe (Weiske et al., 2005). I wasn’t too keen on getting soya milk as I am very sensitive to hormone fluctuations (I lost a stone whilst pregnant from hyperemesis) and soya is also wiping out the Amazon rainforest (http://preview.tinyurl.com/px9ogvy).

 

I found Hemp milk in Sainsbury’s, Its made by British company Braham and Murray’s GOOD hemp. I was impressed that the ingredients didn’t have added sugar like most milk alternatives. Made from a blend of hemp seed, water, grape juice, seaweed (calcium) and rice starch. It is also a source of Omega 3 and 6, which is great as Elka isn’t a fan of fish.

I liked the flavour, it was creamy, you could tell it was made from seeds- I wouldn’t call it a nutty taste rather a ‘seedy’ after taste, but still good. It is delicious mixed with innocent smoothies, both Elka and I love our milky smoothies for breakfast.

The great thing with hemp, is a fast growing crop and therefore can be grown entirely herbicide and pesticide free, as it is a plant it takes CO2 out of the air, according to the GOOD company, Hemp crops breath in 4x the amount of COthat trees do.

The GOOD company don’t let any part of the plant go to waste:

Every 800 bottles of GOOD oil produces enough hemp straw to build an entire Eco-house. This amount of straw locks a net gain of 7.5t of CO2. More than annual CO2 produced by the average UK Household.”

It seems to be great stuff all round then.

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Eco alternatives to plastic toys

Becoming a parent makes you soon realise how much we rely on plastic, walk into any toy shop and you will see how prolific the material is. So, why is this a bad thing? Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century (greenwatch.com), it is well documented that plastic takes a minimum of 500 years to decompose. Although we have the means to recycle plastic only a measly 5% is actually recycled (greenwatch.com). It’s not great for your health either, plastic chemicals can be absorbed by the body—93 percent of Americans age six or older test positive for BPA (a plastic chemical). Some of these compounds found in plastic have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects.

What alternatives do we have? Well there are more and more products coming out with the environment in mind. There is a green version of Lego (who are currently under attack from greenpeace as they are supplied by shell gas) it’s a Japanese make called Mokulock, tiny bricks made from wood. However the colors may be a little dull for children.

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I love the American brand green toys. Not only are the toys colourful, safe, sturdy, unisex but also are made from recycled plastic. They use recycled packaging (of which there is not an excessive amount). Elka loves her ferry that comes with two cars. There’s no tiny little bits that are a choke hazard either and for the quality very reasonably priced.

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Green toys also do their own version of blocks which are similar to duplo.

Plan toys, made in Thailand from recycled rubber trees has a variety of large toys such a doll houses and train stations.

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High-earning Mums Receiving Childcare (HMRC)

littlegreenmum:

I’m re blogging this because this is all I hear from mums in the uk. It’s disgraceful that having a career is a luxury for women with children. This is why we need feminism, this is why our society is not equal.

Originally posted on tommarter:

Further to yesterday’s post, my call to HMRC this morning left me with no other choice but to quit my job. It is not until something is taken away that you begin to realise how much it is appreciated in your life. This is the case with my job. I have been with the company for 4 years, enjoy working with the team, the variety of the workload and the work environment. The simple fact is i can no longer ‘afford’ to work there. Now HMRC have said our joint  income is  over the threshold, they will no longer contribute towards my childcare costs. My salary only exceeds my childcare costs by £50 and that is before fuel, so i would effectively be paying to go to work. It seems it is a luxury if you are a working mum earning less than £15 per hour to keep the wheels…

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