Zero Waste Week: how low can you go?

zero waste week

Next week, from the 4th to the 8th September, it is the 8th annual Zero Waste Week. The UK alone generates over 200 million tons of waste, much of which ends up in landfill. The Zero Waste movement asks, ‘What happens when you throw something away? Away isn’t some magical place; it’s landfill, an incinerator, the bottom of the ocean, litter or the stomach of an animal. It’s always somewhere else…’

Actions you can take for Zero Waste Week

Become a champion recycler

Recycle! Many of us pay lip service to this. We may rinse out cans and bottles and put them in the Council’s kerbside collection scheme, but what about plastic bottles? And Tetra packs? They can be recycled but most end up in the bin. Check which items your council collects for recycling. If they collect food waste, make sure you have a bin and use it. If they aren’t collecting items like textiles their websites should say where local collection points are. What about batteries? Many councils don’t take them but you can recycle them in a lot of supermarkets and hardware stores.  If your local council isn’t doing enough, complain and let them know what you think.

Reuse wherever you can

Lots of things we casually chuck ‘away’, can be reused. Fold up and reuse wrapping paper, carefully open and reuse Jiffy bags, cut your letters open with a knife and use paper envelopes again, either for sending letters or writing lists.

If you have children or grandchildren, keep a ‘bits and bobs’ box for crafts. Bits of foil, coloured paper, sweet wrappers, toilet and kitchen roll tubes, fancy wrap, ribbon, string, etc can be magically transformed into art.

You can reuse all kinds of containers to sow seeds for your garden. Toilet roll tubes, yogurt pots, margarine and ice cream containers all get your plants off to a good start. Plastic containers can be cut into strips and used as plant labels too. I use these types of containers to freeze soup in when I make a large batch.

Reuse plastic bags. I rinse out and keep bread bags if we have them and wash and reuse the zip lock type bags several times.

Buy products that can be refilled.  Ecover has a list of refilling stations on its website, so check out if there is one near you. Support companies who actively reuse their own packaging. For example, Lush give you a free face mask if you return 5 plastic pots.

Reduce your food waste

I wrote posts on this here and here. Reducing your food waste means there is less to go to landfill, plus you will buy fewer items in the first place, meaning less pollution from the production and transportation processes. In addition, you will save money! Reducing your food waste is a win-win situation.

Bread is commonly thrown away. If you won’t use a whole loaf, cut it in half and freeze some. As there is usually only me and Mr S in the house these days, I buy a sliced loaf and put it straight in the freezer. We defrost and use only what we need as we go. Also, there are so many recipes to use up old bread, such as bread pudding. You can find my favourite recipe in my post Why you should make a meal of leftovers.

If you do nothing else this Zero Waste Week, see if you can cut down on your food waste. It is easy with a bit of planning.

Make conscious purchases

When you do purchase something new, be conscious about it. Is there too much packaging? If the packaging can’t be avoided, is it reusable or recyclable? Where does the item come from? If it is from Australia and you are in the UK, can you buy more locally?

You can avoid packaging altogether if you take your own containers to shops and supermarkets. If you are near local independent shops, try buying your bread, meat, fish and vegetables from them as they are less likely to be overpackaged.

Support makers who use recycled materials in what they produce. You can find a range of items made from recycled materials at Protect the Planet.  Does it have to be new? Buy second hand when you can.

Make do and mend

Develop a war time mentality. Our grandparents had to be creative and ingenious to make things last. During the war years, every week was Zero Waste Week! You could learn to sew and repair clothing or transform fabric into something else. Developing DIY and carpentry skills can save you money as well as keep your stuff in good order so that it lasts longer and doesn’t have to be thrown away. Rather than buying new, can you upcycle what you already have? There is plenty of inspiration here.

Cooking rather than convenience

Do more cooking from scratch. Making a pasta sauce from fresh tomatoes creates less waste then buying a jar. As well as making your own sauces, there is less packaging involved if you bake your own cakes and biscuits. You can even make your own crisps!


Transform your garden waste and household peelings, teabags, etc into wonderful compost for your garden. I have a post all about composting here.

If you don’t have the space for a compost heap, most councils collect material for composting. Food waste collections even take cooked food, meat and bones as commercial composting can cope with these.

Don’t forget your reusable bags!

Keep reusable bags somewhere you won’t forget them when you go shopping. I always have two foldaway reusables in my handbag. In addition, I have 5 or 6 large reusable carriers in the car boot for when I go to the supermarket.

Drinks on the move

Invest in a decent reusable bottle. Some eco-friendly alternatives may seem pricey but will save you money in the long run. I have tried a few and really like this one from Amazon.

Give up the fizzy drinks when out and about as well. Pack a reusable bottle of fruit juice or squash as a more eco-friendly alternative.

Take your reusable coffee cups when you are out and about or a good flask. We rarely leave the house without ours.

Consumer power

There are other things you can do apart from avoiding over packaged goods and taking your own containers when you buy food. How about buying washing powder in a cardboard box instead of liquid? Even better, try an Ecoegg or some Ecozone Soap Nuts to do your laundry.

Think about disposables. There are so many items we use regularly and then just toss in the trash.  You can buy bamboo toothbrushes, for example, reusable sanitary towels or a Mooncup . Instead of using cotton wool pads, invest in some washable cloths (I use these).  Invest in a decent pen and buy refills rather than the usual disposable plastic ones. I have yet to be brave enough to scrap the disposable razors, but you can buy metal ones! Ditch the kitchen roll and just keep a stack of old towels cut into squares to wipe up spills and splashes. If you have a baby, an initial investment in real nappies will cut waste and save money in the long run. You can spend a lot on fancy velcro ones, but old fashioned terry nappies are very cheap and did well for generations!

Buy solid shampoo bars and revert to old fashioned soap, rather than using hand wash and shower gel. Think of all the plastic bottles you will avoid if you do!

Stop junk mail

I can’t believe we all still receive junk mail. It is so expensive for companies to send out and mostly ends up in the recycling. This Citizen’s Advice Bureau article tells you all you need to know to prevent it arriving.

You don’t want it anymore, so who does?

As you have gone to the trouble of reading this much of Zero Waste Week post, I am sure you don’t bin stuff that other people can use. You know that you can sell your unwanted items at a car boot sale, on eBay or you can donate them to a charity shop. However, don’t forget Freecycle and Freegle. People will often take items that the charity shop wouldn’t touch and you definitely couldn’t sell. I have given away kitchen cupboard doors, non-working electrical appliances, battered old furniture and an excess of plants and seedlings. In addition, I have sold and given things away on Facebook.

Just buy less

Even better than recycling or reusing is to avoid purchasing some things in the first place. Question each of your purchases – do you really need this? Do you already have the same thing at home? This will save you money as well as reducing your environmental footprint – a win-win situation!

Spread the word! Encourage colleagues, friends and family to take part in Zero Waste Week. Paste it all over social media. Share this blog post!

Zero Waste Week resources

Sign up to receive helpful newsletters and resources on the Zero Waste Week website.

The Story of Stuff

My Plastic Free Life

Love Food Hate Waste

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Ten eco-friendly things to do this week

 eco-friendly things to do

The regular 5 frugal things linky I take part in most weeks has got me thinking. So many of my suggestions to save money end up being more eco-friendly in the process. I love this and wish to make my  environmental footprint much smaller.  There is work to be done but we are aiming for progress not perfection. So, for a bit of inspiration on how you can adopt a greener approach during this hot weather, here is a list of ten eco-friendly things to do this week. Please add yours in the comments.

A drink for the wildlife

Leave water out for the wildlife in dry periods. Bees and butterflies get thirsty, as do the birds, mice, voles and hedgehogs if you are lucky enough to have any in your garden. Some small bowls dotted around the garden in shady spots will be much appreciated and could even save a little life.

Avoid plastic bags

Take some used plastic or cloth bags to the supermarket and buy your fruit and veg loose. Obviously take your reusable carrier bags with you too. I leave mine in the car boot so that I never forget and always have a fold up cloth one in my handbag.

If you have to buy something in plastic bag, snip the top off and reuse the bag. I have a drawer full of these and they come in handy!

Take your own water bottle

Invest in a Moon Bottle. A decent reusable water bottle such as this means you can ditch the single use versions and keep your drink really cold whilst you are out and about.

Rethink your hot water bottle

Turn off the fan and freeze a hot water bottle to take to bed instead. This tip came from my lodger, Jess, and it’s a good one! As helpful in the summer as a hot water bottle is for those chilly winter nights.

Drive less

Walk or cycle at least one journey you would normally drive. How many times do you pop to your local corner shop in the car, when it is a five minute walk? In the summer, you may as well enjoy the fine, sunny weather. This is one of those eco-friendly things to do every week!

Use your grey water

Use your bath water in the garden or stand in a washing up bowl and collect the water from your shower. You have to get creative to keep your plants alive in a heatwave!

Snub the packaging

Refuse to buy anything with more than one layer of packaging. Some items really do need packaging to protect them, but the number of things that are ridiculously over packaged is alarming. Challenge companies that do this on social media. There is nothing like a bit of people power to change attitudes.


Be scrupulous about recycling and pressure your family to do the same. Think about things you might not consider putting in your recycling bins. Plastic toothpaste tubes, for example. Batteries may not be collected in your kerbside collection but many supermarkets and hardware stores will take them. Lots of charities will happily take your old spectacles, such as VisionAid.

Make your own lollies

Another one for the hot weather. Make healthier versions of commercial ice lollies, and avoid all the packaging that comes with them. Silicone versions are a more eco-friendly alternative to the plastic varieties as well.

Make your own toiletries

Cass from Diary of a Frugal Family has some lovely ideas for home made versions of products that might normally be over packaged or contain lots of chemicals. I really love her home made peppermint cooling spray. Perfect for this hot weather.

As well as avoiding chemicals and saving money, this sort of approach means you can re-use an old plastic spray bottle rather than throwing it away.

I hope you enjoy my ideas for ten eco-friendly things to do this week. Can you add some eco-friendly things to do, especially when it is hot?

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Can you do eco friendly cleaning on a budget?


eco friendly cleaning

Have you every considered eco friendly cleaning products? Maybe you have made your own? I am sure I am not the only one looking at a gentler way to clean the house. However, can you do it on a budget?

A chemical cocktail

Many of us use a multitude of household cleaners. One for the bathroom, another for the kitchen. Something for the oven and a different product for the sink. Window cleaning sprays, powders to sprinkle on the carpets, bleaches and toilet cleaners, spray polishes, laundry products, dishwasher tablets, washing up liquids and floor cleaners all combine to make a chemical cocktail in our homes that can’t be good for us. We then add to this indoor pollution by plugging in air fresheners! Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

All of the chemicals in these various products, not to mention the plastic bottles they tend to arrive in, also have potentially negative implications for the wider environment. In addition, you can spend a small fortune on this stuff! Buy less and spend less.

So, how can we reduce this chemical cocktail and create a healthier environment for ourselves, our families and the planet?

Reduce the number

eco friendly cleaning

You can reduce the number of chemicals you use when cleaning simply by using fewer products. Our great grandparents would have been totally befuddled with the choice. They cleaned with carbolic soap, soda crystals, hot water and elbow grease. I am not saying there was no room for improvement, but it is an illustration of how we got by perfectly well without so many detergents and cleaning products.

A general purpose cleaning spray can be used in the kitchen and the bathroom, for example! A big, cheap bottle of disinfectant in a bowl of hot water will do all your surfaces and floors.

Make your own

I make my own eco friendly cleaning spray from time to time. It’s not as powerful on really dirty areas but I try not the let the house get that bad. You can use products from your larder, such as lemon juice, white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to clean pretty much anything. Cass over at Diary of a Frugal Family makes her own window cleaning spray and even an alternative to Febreze!

I have used a vinegar and water mix instead of a window spray or furniture polish for years and it works perfectly well. In addition, I have a small bottle of linseed oil to put on wooden surfaces every now and again.

Making your own eco friendly cleaning products saves you lots of money and is much kinder to Planet Earth.

Buy eco friendly cleaning products

Not everybody has time to make their own eco friendly cleaning stuff, of course. But there are so many products available, even for those of us on a budget.

I was amazed to find Carbolic Household Soap still available, for example. Maid Simple Laundry Soap is good for removing stains before washing or for hand washing clothes. It is also great as a  laundry wash when travelling.

Soap Nuts or Ecoeggs are also great eco friendly alternatives to standard laundry liquids, although I am not convinced they work well on really dirty items. They do a lot of washes for your money though.

eco friendly cleaning

In the course of researching this post, I was sent some natural non-bio washing powder and dishwasher powder to try. Both are from LabNatu and are free from chemical additives, bleaches and petroleum. They are 100% natural and the ingredients are organic. I was very impressed with them both. They cleaned well and smelled lovely. Both are available from Beauty Naturals at £7 for a 500g bag, but if you buy before the end of August you can get 25% off this. Incidentally, check out their whole range of beauty and home products! I was very impressed and most items are not overly expensive.

Ecover is another favourite of mine for really effective eco friendly cleaning. They use plant based ingredients and, although they do use plastic packaging, say they are on a mission to stop their use of virgin plastic. I currently use their all purpose cleaner, multi-action spray and toilet cleaner, which I bought when they were on offer in Sainsbury’s. Along with my vinegar spray I need very little else for my eco friendly cleaning routine. I use them quite sparingly as they are pretty powerful.

Yes, I could go back to buying all the cheapest cleaning stuff from Aldi (and I still will if my budget gets really tight), but whilst I have the option I am happy to pay a little more for eco friendly cleaning products.

Eco friendly garden cleaning

You can also get eco friendly products for the garden too. I was recently sent some Ecofective path, patio and decking cleaner and Ecofective Safe to Clean general outdoor cleaner to review. The latter worked well on our bench on the patio. It is safe to use around children, pets, wildlife and ponds and uses friendly bacteria to get rid of the dirt. They do a whole range of green gardening products, which look quite interesting.

Think about the packaging

Buy laundry powder rather than liquid, as it comes in a biodegradable cardboard box. Buy soap in solid rather than liquid form and there will be no plastic bottle to recycle. White vinegar tends to come in glass rather than plastic bottles, which is another good reason to use it. Make sure packaging is recyclable then ensure you recycle it! Avoid products that are ridiculously over packaged. It might be a silent protest, but maybe manufacturers will stop doing it if we all refuse to buy these things.

Do you try to avoid too many chemical nasties in your home? Which eco friendly cleaning products do you find effective?

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Ten easy ways to reduce plastic waste and save money

reduce plastic wasteI have been attempting for some time to reduce plastic waste at Shoestring Cottage. It sometimes seems an uphill struggle! However, there are simple steps we can all take to reduce plastic waste in our day to day lives. Here are my ideas.

Cut the hand wash

Until about 20 years ago, I swear we all washed our hands with bars of soap. Now you have to have hand wash. Instead of arriving wrapped in a small amount of plastic or paper, it comes in a plastic bottle with a dispenser and promises to kill 99% of all germs.

I am pretty sure that the caustic soda that is the key ingredient of solid soap also does this. So I am giving up the hand wash to reduce plastic waste. Soap is also cheaper, even the posh stuff.

Dump the shower gel

The arguments for not using shower gel are the same as for cutting out hand wash. We used to use solid soap and it worked absolutely fine. I have always preferred soap. It is easier to deal with when you are in the shower. No fiddling around trying to open a bottle for a start.

Unfortunately I cannot persuade Mr S to make the switch, so it seems we will continue to have some shower gel. I don’t use it at all.

Try a shampoo bar

I have had a few solid shampoo bars from Lush and they last absolutely ages. They are very good value and work just as well. The ones sold by Lush smell divine as well. Lush claim that each bar gives you 80-100 washes, which is economical by anyone’s standards.

There are a range of solid shampoo bars on Amazon, such as this Oatmilk and Argan Oil Shampoo one. These are cheaper than the Lush ones so may be worth a try.

Lush also sell solid conditioner bars. I didn’t enjoy the one I tried as much. It didn’t seem to coat my hair.

Choose glass

reduce plastic wasteIt can be quite hard to find your favourite products in glass bottles and jars rather than plastic. However, it’s not impossible. Even the discount supermarkets offer some of my regular purchases in glass containers now. I am not saying they are cheaper, but they are generally not hugely more expensive.

reduce plastic wasteAldi sell the most delicious farmhouse yogurt in a glass pot. At 69p a pot I would say it is a premium product but so worth the money. The pot comes with a reusable lid so you could keep your buttons or paperclips in it afterwards.

I also buy their glass bottled olive oil. It is very nice quality.

Cut the cleanser

reduce plastic wasteI bought myself and my daughters these Makeup Removing Cloths for Christmas. I wasn’t sure how they could possibly work, but they do! Just soak them in warm water and wipe off your cosmetics. I tested my skin by cleaning it again with my usual cleanser and there wasn’t a trace of dirt or make up left.

I have pretty much stopped using cleanser – mine comes in a plastic container – and now just use a face cloth. This will save me money too.

Reduce your cleaning products

I have blogged before about using bicarbonate of soda to do some of your cleaning. You can also make your own cleaning spray. I buy white vinegar in glass bottles from the supermarket and large bags of bicarbonate of soda online.

I occasionally do buy slightly stronger cleaners but not as often as I have in the past. This is reducing my plastic waste and saving the pennies.

Carry a fold up bag

I have carried a reusable bag or two in my handbag for years and years. Now that there is a 5p levy on carrier bags, it seems the rest of the country is finally catching up.

The downside is that we can rarely find a plastic bag in the house if we need one! I can live with that.

Invest in a reusable water bottle

This is so obvious it is barely worth a mention. And yet it is, as the waste caused by plastic bottles is a major problem.

It’s not just water, of course, but cola and juices that are sold in plastic bottles. I would love to go back to a time when returnable glass bottles were the norm. However, they are heavy and there are consequent transport costs. It is unlikely to happen. So I carry my reusable bottle with me and I don’t buy other drinks when I am out.

If you are tempted, then buy drinks in aluminium cans or glass bottles, then take them home and put them in the recycling.

Buy a bamboo cup

My daughter bought me this bamboo cup for Christmas. I am impressed with how long it keeps drinks hot for. I intend to stick it in my bag for when I go to town. If I splash out on a coffee I shall ask them to serve it in this.

It takes some forward planning, but if you are someone who buys a lot of coffee out it is worth getting organised. I can’t say this will save you any money but it will reduce your use of plastic lined coffee cups.

The last straw to reduce plastic waste

Another Christmas present for my daughters was a set of stainless steel straws each. Plastic straws are terrible, and end up in our oceans and water systems.

They loved their steel straws and are using them almost daily. They come with a little cleaning brush too.

I was encouraged today to read this story about how Iceland Stores are reducing their plastic waste. If others follow suit this will make it much easier for us all. Good move!

In the meantime there are many small behavioural changes you can make to reduce plastic waste. What others can you suggest?

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Wildlife friendly gardening – keeping it untidy!

Take a walk on the wild side

Wildlife friendly gardening

Wildflower patch

We aren’t worried about a tidy garden here at Shoestring Cottage. Just as well as we don’t have enough time to spare to keep it immaculate. We are more interested in wildlife friendly gardening, with lots of grasses, nettles and wildflowers. There is a little pond that attracts loads of frogs and insects too, and always lots of birds singing and bugs buzzing around.

This year we decide to finally sow all the little packets of wildflower seeds that we seem to collect; freebies from various garden shows and magazines. We had a tiny circle of wildflowers surrounding a beautiful clematis last year. It was very pretty but I longed for a meadow with a carpet of colour.

Move over carrots

We had two vegetable patches previously but just didn’t have time to cultivate and preserve so much produce. This year we gave over the smaller patch to the wild! We sowed about 7 or 8 packets of wildflower seeds and then let nature get on with it. It hasn’t turned out like the carpet of flowers I imagined. Rather, the plants are tall! But there is a huge variety like cornflowers, poppies, foxgloves, daisies and loads I have yet to identify. It is choc a bloc full of bees and insects as well, which is fabulous.

Wildlife friendly gardening

Not too tidy

We deliberately keep some areas of grass long so that the frogs have somewhere to hide.  There is a big pile of old logs and twigs at the bottom of the garden, which the stag beetles like. They are rare generally, but we happen to live in a stag beetle hot spot so like to encourage them. I am hoping for a hedgehog some day but haven’t had one so far.

Lightly controlling some areas of the garden and keeping them a bit untidy means that wildlife friendly gardening saves us time – this is great for busy people! I will save the clipped and perfect lawn for my retirement (maybe).

Wildlife friendly gardening saves money

The great thing about wildflowers is that they tend to self seed. We have foxgloves pop up every year, although we never bought any. They arrived all by themselves! I am hoping that our beautiful wildflower patch will come back each year and won’t cost us anything. So wildflower friendly gardening saves cash too!

The garden is just starting to become productive and tonight I picked our first red and blackcurrants, as well as three courgettes. We should have broad beans in the next week as well. Food production can carry on alongside the wildlife friendly gardening.

Do you make room for the wildlife? Do you have bug hotels or a pond? What works best to attract nature into your garden?

What would make you recycle more?

How much do you recycle?

Most of us recycle some of the time. Probably easy stuff like newspapers and cans. Maybe plastic bottles if your local authority collects them. There is lots more that can be recycled, of course, but many people simply don’t. Maybe they are confused about what is recyclable, can’t be bothered to wash things out or sort items into different bags or don’t really think it is important. So what would make you recycle more?

Our local council is about to bring in some quite dramatic changes to our rubbish collections, which might actually make people recycle more. At least I hope they recycle rather than deciding to tip everything by the side of the road or in a quiet beauty spot!

How to change behaviour and recycle more

Recycling has been a thing for long enough that you would have thought people’s behaviour would have changed and that they would be in the habit of recycling. However, this is clearly not the case. Some of my neighbours never seem to put out anything except black bins. A few of my work colleagues throw cans and plastic bottles in the general rubbish even though the bin is right next to a recycling container (I spend quite a lot of time fishing them out and telling people off – I am the Recycling Police! I am constantly trying to get them to recycle more). It is not surprising then that some local councils have decided to take more draconian measures to change residents’ habits.

From next week they will only collect 3 black bags of rubbish per household per fortnight. For a smallish household such as mine who recycle quite a lot already this is fine. We generally produce about that much, although I am sure we can do better. For large households I can see this is going to prove quite a challenge.

However, I’m not that sympathetic.  The fact is that all food waste can be recycled and this is a lot of what ends up in the bin (don’t get me started on how much is too much!). Raw stuff like peelings can be composted; cooked and raw can go in the food waste bin.  This includes meat, fish and bones, as well as teabags and bread. Glass bottles and jars can go in the recycling bin.  Rinsed cans, tins and metal aerosols can go in too. Don’t forget the aluminium foil. Paper and card can easily be recycled.

Perplexing plastics

Plastics seem to be the area that causes the most confusion. Because folk don’t know what is recyclable they seem to recycle hardly any of it. You can recycle bottles, yogurt and cream pots, butter, ice cream or margarine tubs and plastic trays like those meat and fruit arrive in – just rinse them first. There are other items like roll on deodorant containers that can be recycled but you might not think about it.  I met the local waste and recycling officer when I worked as a polling clerk the other week. He told me that they were now using an excellent company who could recycle almost any type of plastic, so to throw it all in and they would sort it at the other end. I am tempted to do this as we will seriously shrink the amount that goes into our black bags.

I had a quick look at the British Plastics Federation website and this is what it says:

Nearly all types of plastics can be recycled, however the extent to which they are recycled depends upon technical, economic and logistic factors. As a valuable and finite resource, the optimum recovery route for most plastic items at the ‘end-of-life’ is to be recycled, preferably back into a product that can then be recycled again and again and so on. The UK uses over 5 million tonnes of plastic each year of which an estimated 29% is currently being recovered or recycled.

How about a compost heap?

We compost most of the garden waste, but put weeds in for the council to collect. We struggle with bindweed and don’t want to risk any seeds or roots surviving in the compost and spreading. If you have no space for a compost heap then let the council take it away.

I think we are pretty good at recycling at Shoestring Cottage but I know we can improve. This is the kick up the backside that we need. I hope the rest of the town follows suit! Are you a rampant recycler and, if not, what would motivate you to recycle more?

Save money and the planet

A warm, green glow

Happily, lots of things that save you money are also good for the environment. Simply consuming less, wasting less, holding onto things for longer, repairing rather than replacing, buying second hand, etc. will give you a greener lifestyle. Getting off the treadmill of working more to buy more stuff pays dividends to the state of your bank balance. It is also more friendly to the planet – not to mention your sanity!. There is so much you can do to get a warm green glow. You can save money AND the planet!

How to save money and the planet

Don’t waste food. Plan your week’s meals and then go shopping with a list. Stick to the list!!! Watch your portion sizes too. This will help your waistline as well, so double bubble.

If something stops working get out the manual to see if it is something simple. Look on the Internet to see if there are any suggestions. Get a quote for repair.

Likewise, repair your clothing and get your shoes mended rather than throwing them away.

If you need to replace an expensive item check Freecycle or Freegle first, then the noticeboard at the local shop, eBay, charity furniture shops, etc. When you really need to buy new, look at as many reviews as possible and buy energy saving devices – they are cheaper to run.

If you have a garden, make your own compost. Don’t throw peelings, apple cores, teabags, eggshells, etc in the bin. Mix them with your garden waste and compost them. Save as much as possible from going to landfill.

If you like crafts check out websites like Pinterest. They have a whole section of ideas for recycling and upcycling. I spotted some fabulous planters made from old tyres and also brilliant Christmas tree decorations made from old lightbulbs.

More veggie food

Eat less meat – firstly, it is expensive and, secondly, according to Donnachadh mcCarthy in his excellent and informative book Saving the Planet Without Costing the Earth: 500 Simple Steps to a Greener Lifestyle, one acre of land can produce 30,000lb of carrots but only 250lb of beef. Also 15% of methane, a gas that contributes to global warming, comes from farm animals.

Let your garden be a bit untidy – don’t waste money on chemicals, and create a wildlife friendly garden. Gardening costs very little, is good exercise and a great stress buster.

Grow some of your own food! I can’t afford to buy organic in the shops, but everything from the garden is chemical free. Packets of seeds cost just a few pounds and produce masses of delicious vegetables.

Use vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to clean your house. It is extremely cheap, plus do you really want your home to be full of chemicals?

Buy large containers of washing up and laundry liquid. This produces less plastic waste and usually works out cheaper.

Buy second hand

When you need new items for your home, buy second-hand. Most of my furniture, curtains, bedding and rugs has come from the charity shop, eBay and auctions. If you are a creative sort you can shabby chic a solid piece of furniture and make it a work of art.

Forget nasty chemical air ‘fresheners’ and plug ins. You are literally inhaling pollutants! If you want fresh air, open a window.

Insulate your house – check to see if you are eligible for any grants. Your energy supplier should have information on this, or try the Energy Saving Trust.

If you exercise, try to resist the urge to buy energy drinks and bottled water. Invest in a sports bottle and fill it from the tap.

Turn it off!

Train your family to turn off lights, PCs, TVs and DVD players. Don’t leave items on standby.

Don’t buy clothes that need to be dry cleaned. This is expensive and the dry cleaning process uses toxic chemicals.

If you like to read, use the library or buy second-hand from the charity shop or online.

If you have a baby check out reusable nappies rather than disposables. This saves so much money!

This one will separate the greenies from the dark greenies! Consider using washable sanitary towels or perhaps a Mooncup instead of tampons.

Reuse scrap paper

Keep a scrap paper box. The back of junk mail letters and the envelopes they come in are good for list writing!

Re-use wrapping paper.

Save water – if you are on a water meter this makes financial as well as economic sense. Shower instead of bathing, but put the plug in and use the ‘grey’ water to water your plants in the garden.

If you buy fruit in the supermarket, save the plastic bags it comes in and reuse them as sandwich bags.

Keep your accelerator foot light and save petrol. Boy racers must all live at home with their parents – once they have to pay their own rent and bills they may slow down a bit…

These are just a few ideas as to how you can save money and the planet. There are so many other things you can do once you start to think about it. I would love to hear your suggestions.

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Reducing plastic waste and saving money on toiletries

reducing plastic waste

Almond oil makes a good cleanser and moisturiser

A while ago I blogged about trying to reduce plastic waste.. I knew that this could save me money too, and it has! I focused on my toiletries and stopped buying handwash and shower gel, instead reverting to good old fashioned bars of soap.

Reducing plastic waste with shampoo bars

I began buying solid shampoo bars from Lush. These aren’t that cheap to buy at around £6.50 a bar, but they do last a long time. I am on my second bar since April and think it will last me another couple of months. I like them! I did try a solid conditioner bar but this was not a success. It didn’t feel like it was doing anything. They are a good way of reducing plastic waste as they come packaged just in paper.

I also tried almond oil purchased in a glass bottle but it made my hair rather lank. I am back to cheap conditioner in plastic bottles and still looking for a decent alternative that isn’t expensive. I know you can use vinegar to get a good shine but my hair is dry so I need a bit of moisture.

reducing plastic waste

The solid deodorant has so far lasted 3 months

Almond oil

The almond oil has proved a decent cleanser and I also use it as a body lotion. Mine cost £2.50 for 250ml from a shop in Hackney.

My solid deodorant, again from Lush, has been a huge success and looks as if it will last at least 6 months. It really works and I use it on my feet too so no more expensive aerosol sprays. Mine is based on bicarbonate of soda but they have others. I’m not sure they would work as well.

I have explored other items sold in glass or metal containers which look nice but are far too expensive for me. They tend to be hand made or luxury items. What a shame the mass producers don’t think about their environmental footprint when producing and packaging their goods.

Any more ideas?

Mean and Green: saving money with an eco-friendly lifestyle

Cutting back on meat

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I intend to eat a lot less meat this year. This makes financial sense and brings certain health benefits, but my main reason for doing it is that meat production is really bad for the environment. I found this on Wikipedia:

The 2006 report Livestock’s Long Shadow, released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, states that “the livestock sector is a major stressor on many ecosystems and on the planet as a whole. Globally it is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases and one of the leading causal factors in the loss of biodiversity, while in developed and emerging countries it is perhaps the leading source of water pollution.”

Being green saves money

Thinking about this has made me reconsider how many other activities that save money are also greener, and vice versa. These are some that we already do:

Growing ourown fruit and veg, mainly organically (I have given into the odd slug pellet in a rage at having my efforts decimated by the little blighters)
Making ourown compost
Turning off lights and electrical appliances when not in use
Wearing an extra jumper rather than turning on the heating
Insulating the house
Driving carefully – boy/girl racers use more fuel and wear their vehicles out more quickly
Not buying bottled water – when this happens (very occasionally), we reuse the bottles for months before recycling
Not wasting food, including leftovers. Food production doesn’t just cost money – think of the transportation, packaging, water and chemicals used during production, etc.
Buying second hand – clothes, furniture, tools. Whatever we can find – this saves so much money and these items should be reused.
It is rare for us to buy new electrical appliances, but when we do we make sure they are triple A rated for energy and water use. This saves money in the long run.
Collecting water in water butts for the garden. We are not on a meter yet but as our household reduces in size I think it may save money and make us think about the water we use.
Reusing envelopes and wrapping paper
Reusing old bread bags to pack sandwiches
Using cereal boxes and scrap paper from work to write shopping lists on
Repairing rather than replacing clothes and household items

Eco-friendly lifestyle

I am so far from perfect when it comes to living an eco-friendly lifestyle though. I would love to only buy organic but unfortunately my budget doesn’t allow for this. I do it when I can. I would also like to only buy fruit and veg in season and try to do this when I can but sometimes will go for a bargain whatever. I try to buy food with fewer food miles, but my restricted budget means that most of the time I shop in Aldi and their produce is often imported.

This year I will be changing my car and going for a much smaller one that is more economical and greener to run as it will use a lot less fuel. In an ideal world I would walk/cycle/use public transport to get to work, but in the real one I live too far to walk and cycle and would have to get two buses, which would add hours to my working day. I want an eco-friendly lifestyle but still have time to enjoy it.

We also want to look again at whether we can get solar panels on the roof without it costing us anything. There are various schemes about that allow you to pay for the panels with the money you make from selling your excess power back to the grid but we want to research the best deal. There are some charlatans out there!!

I expect a lot of you do all this and more. What are your eco-friendly tips that also save money?