Up-cycle a thrifted cardigan and look cute doing it

Have you seen those cute little cropped cardigans floating around the internet? Well I have and I wanted, oh how I WANTED, so when I was gifted a secondhand grey cardigan I decided to see if I could recreate it and I’m pretty thrilled with how it turned out. It’s dead simple, probably takes about 2 hours if that. Easy to customise, so if you want it tighter or with little ties at the front, for example, it’d be easy enough to do.

Unfortunately I’d made the bleeding thing before it occurred to me that I should have taken photos of the process, so the ones below are guidance photos based on another grey cardigan/jacket I have but don’t actually show any arty footage of things being cut or sewn. I’ll remember to take photos of the actual process next time, maybe…

Disclaimer: you could do this WITHOUT a sewing machine but it’d take a fair while longer!

MATERIALS NEEDED

  • Cardigan
  • Sewing machine (or a needle for the patient)
  • Matching thread
  • Fabric scissors
  • Something to mark the fabric with, e.g. pins, chalk, fabric markers
  • Pins
  • A ruler
  • An iron
  • Pinking scissors *optional
  • Any additional accessories/decorations you fancy

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Pop that baby on and make a mark at the length you’d like the cardi to be shortened to. Take it off and add about an inch to that measurement, use a ruler to mark a straight line so you know where to cut, then cut it. It’s easier to stay straight if you lay it flat.

Mark where you’d like the length to to be.

2. Once cut, put it back on inside out (this is very important!) and pinch along the side edges starting from the bottom of the sleeve down to the hem diagonally, making a triangular shape. Pinch in as much as you’re happy with so that it fits your body and isn’t too baggy. If it’s quite big on you, especially around the arm area, you can pinch down in a straight line instead of diagonally. Again, use something to mark this line so you know where to sew, no need to add a hem allowance.

Starting from the bottom of the arm hole pinch in the edges in a diagonal line to the hem until you get your desired fit. Repeat on the other side.

Or you can take in more by doing a straight line, bear in mind this will make the arm hole SMALLER so this might only be needed if the cardigan is big on you.

3. Take it off and use a ruler to draw a line where you’ve placed your mark then sew along this line. On jersey material (or stretchy material) when using a sewing machine use a wide zigzag stitch so the material doesn’t pucker and will still allow it to stretch. You should now have what looks like a triangular flap.

4. Cut off the excess material of this flap, leaving about a centimetre of material, you can use pinking scissors to stop fraying OR you could zig zag stitch or overlock stitch the edge of the fabric. (You can look up tutorials for this.)

5. Now, return to the bottom of the cardigan and turn up half of the hem material and then turn up again so you have what is effectively a fabric roll at the end of your cardi (see below images), press this down using an iron and sew it down in a zig zag stitch or hand-sew it in place. I chose to hand-sew because it was easiest on my stretchy material.

There you have it!

If it doesn’t have buttons you could either add some or easier yet make a tube out of scrap material and turn it into a little tie closure. Remember to try on your piece at regular intervals to make sure the fit is good for you (especially before chopping anything off).

I hope this helps you make something cute and on trend! It’s a great way to avoid dishing out like £20-30 on something that’s relatively simply to do yourself and helps rescue and repurpose old cardigans. 🙂

Meg x

Eco-friendly reading

Doing a Masters in Literature means a lot of reading, which means a lot of books. And I’m the type of person that prefers to have the book in front of me for annotation and the like. But generally these are books I only read once and end up donating or selling.

My problem last semester was that I was overwhelmed by coming back to university and having a reading list. It had been given to us just a smidgen too late to make ordering secondhand possible, which was an expensive bummer. On reflection, maybe panic buying them all new from Blackwells was not the best eco-friendly move. So I have a few tips for buying books that ends up costing way less, both economically and environmentally.

  • Buy secondhand (World of Books, Amazon Marketplace)

Buying secondhand means this term I’ve bought 6 books for £24, which is kind of the best thing ever for my pocket. My favourite site for finding secondhand books at reasonable prices is World of Books, normally they’re quite quick as well – I think it took four days for my order to arrive.

Another choice would be Amazon Marketplace – I know the issues with associated with using Amazon, but like seems to be the case with quite a few things, it’s the most affordable option. These are secondhand copies though, normally sold by individual sellers (remember to look at their trust rating before ordering).

I would make sure to be to looking at the quality description of the book (normally Good, Very Good, and Like New), I’m happy to go with anything that’s listed as in good condition and over. And they should arrive in the condition listed.

Obviously buying in charity shops is also a plus if you can do that. Unfortunately because I have specific books I need to get, this isn’t a plausible reality for me (boo).

  • Audiobooks (Library services & Audible, even podcasts)

Audiobooks are a recent revelation for me! I normally use them for my ‘personal books’, i.e. books I actually want to read!! I got Audible because I wanted the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series to keep for myself (Stephen Fry, Martin Freeman narrating gives me heart eyes). Audible is an expensive choice, so my alternative would be checking out your local library’s audiobook selection. Join your library and then download BorrowBox onto your phone, which gives you access to your library’s catalogue. So far I’ve listened to three good books whilst being able to potter around and do other things.

It’s great because it’s handsfree reading and takes up no physical shelf space!!

  • Libraries

This is the great obvious choice – join your local library and actually go in there! They’ll probably have loads on offer and it’s good to support a local convenience such as a library, so go on, have a look. Even go into your university library if that’s what’s there – amongst all the dry, critical tombs they’ll be fictional books that you can take out and read. Remember you don’t need to keep everything, books are nice but why not keep buying them for when you find something special that you really want to keep? Think of all that money you’ve saved. And all the trees.

  • Ask a friend or have a rummage around what you already have

You never know what a friend might have! Or even you might have buried away in the bottom of a shelf. Re-reading is no bad thing, as well, especially if you can’t remember the story or you know you enjoyed it.

I have a few other tips for your books, especially if you’re like me and a lot of them are ones that you wouldn’t normally choose for yourself:

  1. Annotate in pencil – this makes it easier for you to sell or donate them because you can erase the markings – you might not be able to sell them at all if you don’t.
  2. Donate or giveaway – if you’ve got a book you’ve not enjoyed why not ask your friends if they’d like it? I have quite a few bookish friends that would normally say yes! Or donate it to a charity shop of your choice.
  3. Sell old textbooks – you can google numerous websites that will do this for you and normally textbooks pick-up a bit more money than fiction.
  4. Crafts – if it’s damaged and worst comes to worst, then you can make your own books into decorations and use them for other craft purposes. Link to a website with some ideas here.

And that’s about it! I love reading and can’t imagine ever giving it up, but as with everything it has an impact on the earth. These are just a couple of ways you can buy into the ‘reuse’ part of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’.

Meg x

Spotty vegans: breakouts + dietary change?

Now, I can only correlate the outbreak of tiny, angry second-heads on my face as a direct result of going vegan. Deep, under the skin spots on my chin, a smattering of small pimple like constellations across my forehead, trickling down into angry, welt like lumps on my temples. Even a few rearing their ugly heads on my cheeks (how dare they!!).

Ah, nothing like the power of words to make you sick.

But honestly the sudden onset of these nuisances really affected my mood and the way I viewed myself. I’d never have spots, so why now? Eating all this wonderful plant-based, easy to digest food?

Queue much googling.

Apparently it’s ‘normal’ to have an outbreak when encountering dietary change of any sorts. One source even said it could be a sign of detox – if I believed in things such as detoxing (hello I have a liver for a reason, thank you). Another said vegan diets sometimes means a switch to a more carby based foods, which can contribute.

Either way, it wasn’t so easy for me to start scouring shops for products to rid me of these evil things – what with trying to be plastic free and (as much as poss) zero waste in the bathroom. But there’s a couple of things I started doing that I thought – hoped & prayed – might help.

  • Double cleansing – once to get rid of my makeup with a facial soap bar and another with a Lush oil cleanser I found in a bag of toiletries I had.
  • Toning with witch hazel diluted with water, as it also helps reduce inflammation and smells like a witch’s workshop.
  • Mixing sudacrem with my moisturiser as it’s anti-bacterial and apparently a bit of a cult product in the murky world of pots & potions. Not plastic free but very cheap and one pot lasts for like a millennia.

I also tried altering my diet, thinking ‘oh no what if it’s the bread, processed vegan cheese, and *gasp* soya’… but I quickly scuppered this plan. I’ve only just started enjoying food again, veganism helping rid me of several unhealthy fears I’d had about food – contributing to a frightening weight loss in 2017/2018. I don’t want to start restricting myself by demonising food I’d enjoyed. I can’t do that to myself. I know I am balanced (for the most part) and healthy (for the most part) – I will not punish myself for eating food I have enjoyed.

My mum recommended Evening Primrose Oil based on rave reviews from colleagues at her workplace and I decided there was no harm trying. After some research I found there was a double whammy of it (potentially) helping with cramps during menstruation. It’s a mixed bag of scientific evidence but I can only review based on my experience. Having one pill a night before bed seems to be really helping the hormonal (?) outbreaks of spots I get on my chin, especially the deep under the skin ones. The science behind it is that it contains Omega 6 fatty acids that help keep the skin plump and soft – and I think that’s what is helping my skin as it’s naturally quite dry. Also, the pre-menstrual/ovulation related pain doesn’t seem to be as bad as normal; my periods have been appearing out of thin air with little cramp notice. The only change has been the oil, so I think it’s helped in that way. Though my pain during periods is still pretty horrible. I’m not going to start raving about it though – there’s a lot of claims of what this oil can do and a lot of science refuting it as a miracle cure.

Lastly, and perhaps most effectively, is the cheapest, simplest, and most accessible solution of them all: steaming and hot compress! After cleansing my face I’ve been soaking a reusable cotton round in hot water and then wringing it out and applying the heated cloth to my chin area. The science is that it helps release the oily sebum by opening up the pores and helping clean these gunky spaces out. I’ve also been steaming my face once a week for the same reason. I have seen the biggest difference. It helps bring the pimples to the surface on those nasty under-the-skin spots and helps soften the skin so it doesn’t feel tight and dry. I cannot recommend doing this enough. I really do think this simple remedy has made the biggest difference, especially in culmination with my other solutions.

Some say that diet related spots will clear up by themselves, and whilst I didn’t want to wait months feeling a bit uncomfortable and painful in my own skin I was not going to sacrifice the healthy relationship I’d built with my food. Life, as they say, is for living.

How do you help get rid of spots?

Meg x

Article review: How the world got hooked on palm oil

Sorry I’ve been pretty much AWOL from here for a couple of weeks. I burnt out, I’ve got to admit – things have been HECTIC.

But I have been reading up on things, continuing my eco-journey by educating myself. Which leads me to this article from The Guardian.

Worldwide production of palm oil has been climbing steadily for five decades. Between 1995 and 2015, annual production quadrupled, from 15.2m tonnes to 62.6m tonnes. 

Paul Tullis, ‘How the world got hooked on palm oil’, The Guardian

Now I’ve been aware for a while of how bad palm oil is for the environment and have somewhat tried to avoid it. But I haven’t really been awake to the ins-and-outs of why palm oil is as bad as it is.

So this article was very enlightening. I want to try and outline the reasons that, accordingly to Paul Tullis, palm oil came to be a bit of a miracle ingredient, and through that an environmental nightmare:

  • As a combination of different types of fats it is almost completely versatile, it can be used in baked goods, soaps, detergents, cosmetics, adhesives… the list goes on…
  • On top of that it has ‘low production costs’ (due to the ease and quantity of which is can be grown in comparison to other seed oil) – meaning it’s as cheap as all hell.
  • It’s a healthier additive to processed foods / as a cooking oil than the butters that preceded it. So when pressure was placed on the food industry to remove trans-fat and make products more heart-healthy, palm oil was a good solution.
  • In light of the rise of animal rights campaigning and a desire to buy more ‘natural’ products, in cosmetic etc., palm oil has replaced animal-derived fats.
  • It can be used as a bio-fuel:

A similar thing happened with biofuels – the intent to reduce environmental harm had unintended consequences. In 1997, a European commission reportcalled for increasing the percentage of total energy consumption from renewable sources.

Paul Tullis, ‘How the world got hooked on palm oil’, The Guardian

The good, the bad, and the humanitarian crisis

Can there be anything good about palm oil? Well, yeah in a way:

  • Palm oil production is centralised in Malaysia and Indonesia, giving a boost to economy that was much needed. Palm oil accounts for ‘13.7% of Malaysia’s gross national income’, says Tullis. It has also aided in reducing poverty in the nation.
  • In areas such as India, the use of palm oil is almost symbolic of the country’s economic growth. Studies have shown that national wealth increases, so does the consumption of fat. That being said, it has moved from being used as a cheap, accessible cooking oil to also being used as a staple of new junk food chains that have appeared in wake of the economic growth.

Between 1993 and 2013, Indian per capita GDP expanded from $298 to $1,452. Over the same period, fat consumption in rural areas grew by 35% and in urban areas by 25%, and palm oil has been a major ingredient in this escalation.

Paul Tullis, ‘How the world got hooked on palm oil’, The Guardian

So: economic growth, higher employment, a dependable wage, and more filling food – all very good things, all very necessary good things. How much can we weigh this against the very clearly bad side of palm oil?

In my opinion, whilst economic development in these countries is absolutely no bad thing, the fact is that the product, the contributing factor, isn’t sustainable. Demand is outgrowing production capacity, and just think about the consequence of very vital environments being razed to the ground. Eventually we’ll run out of area to chop and burn, they’ll be hundreds of thousands of animals killed, and ecosystems shattered. Resultantly, wouldn’t this cause an economic collapse? I’m not sure I can safely say, considering I have no experience in economics apart from paying my bills on time every month, but it seems like a tall, rickety tower.

The bad:

  • Pollution – when trees are burnt, a huge amount of carbon is released into the atmosphere.
  • Deforestation – again just another example of how humanity thinks it can shape the earth with ignorance of the consequence its destruction brings. I don’t think I need to go on about how heart wrenchingly bad deforestation is for the environment. But here’s a link to National Geographic’s article – according to them 502,000 square miles of land has been lost between 1990 and 2016.
  • Humanitarian issues – yes, palm oil can be associated with a global economic rise, yet children are working on the farms being paid barely more than a pittance…?
  • ‘Sustainable palm oil’ – the idea of sustainability is a bit of a myth, as per the below quote. It doesn’t make sense to me that a mill can be classed as ‘sustainable’ but this doesn’t necessarily stretch to the raw ingredients… Additionally, standards of sustainability are set ridiculously low by the organisations governing it (the RSPO).

For instance, a product can earn a “certified sustainable” label even if 99% of the palm oil it includes came from freshly deforested land.

Paul Tullis, ‘How the world got hooked on palm oil’, The Guardian

Is it too late?

As the population of the world increases dangerously, so does the demand for resources such as palm oil. According to the article, demand will have nearly quadrupled by 2050. And it’s not easy to turn to other resources, especially considering these will mean deforestation still, but with less yield and more expense.

I think what shocked me most about the article, is how it’s also pointed out that schemes implemented by organisations, such as Iceland, have failed so far. It’s hard to not use palm oil – it’s going to take a long, sticky time to separate ourselves from the web of convenience it has created.

Additionally, the cost of labour on palm oil farms will increase… the boost in the economy ultimately means a class shift, with people having a steady income and accessing opportunities and products they weren’t able to before. It only makes sense that eventually there will be a demand for increased pay in line with their hard work on the farms and in the factories.

But that model isn’t sustainable. If things continue, the forests and their creatures will be gone, and the cost of labour will increase as some workers move up the economic ladder and realise there are better things they could be doing than picking fruit.

Paul Tullis, ‘How the world got hooked on palm oil’, The Guardian

So, what do I think?

Well, this article couldn’t have been more of a wake-up call for me if it had tried. I think, on a personal level, what I can do avoid buying anything with it in. This is already a bit stressful, I don’t know what I’m going to do about vegan spread – it always seems to have a high quantity of it in. At least I know why now.

Also, support organisations that are campaigning against deforestation. It isn’t sustainable, it’s a short-term benefit, it’s a long-term crisis. We can’t give back the ecosystems and lives we take away.

I hope this post was a bit helpful, the article was a bit meaty and I wanted something shorter to come back to when I needed a reminder of how bad palm oil is for us and the environment (one and the same, really). But I thought Tullis laid it all out there perfectly, nothing like statistics to make me feel all righteous and empowered – lol.

Let’s just avoid palm oil, shall we? Yeah, sounds like a good idea. Drive down that demand a bit and invest in finding sustainable alternatives that still prosper economic growth without pushing the environment into the pits (*desperately googles ‘sustainable alternatives to palm oil’*).

Your thoughts?

Meg x

Keeping track of ambitions: 5 eco-friendly goals for March

I know I can’t be the only one who gets impassioned with grandiose ideas of how I will ‘better myself’. Getting so caught up in the idea of it that I either start to feel a) overwhelmed and scared off or b) kind of like I’ve done it by proxy. Well, to apply an example of this was my ambition of going ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘plastic free’, whereas in reality I had no clear idea of how I was going to get there.

I wouldn’t call my efforts flaky by any means, but I also didn’t have to hold myself too responsible for anything. I did a wonderful job revolutionising my skincare & bathroom routine, but found it difficult to keep track of what was to ‘come next’. I didn’t really feel compelled to either, if I have to be truthful

But having a blog has really allowed me to track my progress: the things I need to work on, and what I can congratulate myself on. I need content, so I end up researching more and reflecting on my actions in the hope of an interesting topic. I’ve realised I’m always saying ‘I should do this’, ‘I should buy that’, so in the interest of getting shit done, here’s a monthly post with some set goals for the weeks ahead:

  1. Get myself a keep cup: I don’t often buy to-go drinks, and I have a thermos I bring to work with a hot drink in the morning. But, I found that when I went to London, traversing the markets having on-the-go food, I could have done with one.
  2. Make my own snacks: last week I had a trial run of making my own oat bars as snacks throughout the week. Snacks tend to be a major area I generate waste in, so it’d be really positive for me to make my own. It was successful, but I am a bit sick of flapjack and oats in general. I am a human oat at this point.
  3. Buy environmentally friendly underwear: you didn’t ask for this information, but it’s got to the point that I need to replace some of my undies – hey, everyone wears ’em. It’s all in the material, some contains high levels of plastic that aren’t sustainable or environmentally friendly. I’m doing a bit of research into what my best, most affordable options are going to be.
  4. Stock-up at the zero waste shops: often when I go to the zero waste shop I don’t stock-up because of cost, I just get bits and pieces. Really I need to go in with a solid list and stock up on all the necessities. It’ll ultimately save me money in the long term, as well as reducing my plastic. I’m really fed-up of making my own cereal at the moment, so hopefully I’ll be able to get a big old jar of pre-made granola or something (oh, the luxury).
  5. Bring a tea-towel to work: we use paper towels at work and it’s only recently I realised how much I use. I’m slightly ashamed. I was so focused on plastic I forgot that there’s other areas I could easily save on as well. All I need to do is bring a cloth to work myself.

And there you have it. There’s something about having it laid out that makes me feel a bit more responsible for following through on them.

I think this is an ideology that we can apply to almost anything in life. If you want something, lay out your goals and regularly check in on them, reflecting on your progress. You could keep writing them out every morning. For me at least it goes a long way to actually achieving the things I want to, especially by using the blog as a sounding board.

Hopefully, with these five things I can take some small but mighty steps towards living a greener lifestyle.

Meg x

Eco-bricking it

So I spent until 10pm last night making Ecobricks, and let me tell you my hands will never be the same. Literally forcing plastic into a bottle with the end of a wooden spoon is harder than it apparently seems. Though it’s probably suitable penance for having the plastic in the first place.

The bag of plastic I’d accumulated since October 2018

So what is an Ecobrick?

Well this website can give you more info than I rightfully can. But in short, Ecobricks are plastic bottles stuffed with yet more plastic until a certain weight is achieved (this is very important), and then they get used for construction, projects etc. as they’re affordable and sturdy. You just make the brick, use them yourself, or drop them off at a collection point.

It’s a global thing, so have a look on the website and see if/how you can get involved.

Disclaimer:

Now I have to say their catechism of ‘Plastic, solved.’ is not my favourite. I don’t want to see eco-bricks as a solution to plastic waste. This is because it almost excuses the quantity of plastic we use in the manufacturing of goods and as consumers. Like, yeah I can buy a packet of crisps everyday because I know I can stuff them into plastic bottles and help the world.

Yeah… no.

That’s not the way to drive down demand on plastic use, which is surely the most important thing. However, I think they’re very useful in a certain respect. For one, this is one solution for plastic we can’t easily rid ourselves of because it already exists out there in the world, the type in the oceans and other environmental areas.

I think this is all about perspective, as everything is.

So why am I making them?

I decided at the end of October 2018 I was going to store all my non-recyclable plastic to see how much I was using. I thought it would inspire me to be more mindful. You can’t deny anything to yourself when it’s staring you in the face.

I didn’t want to just chuck the plastic away at the end, so I’m using eco-bricks as a way to dispose of it and feel conscious of it.

I took it all out last night and sorted it into different piles: snacks, vegetables, other food items, packaging, products etc. It allowed me to see exactly what waste I’d generated and where I could cut down more.

For example, my ‘snack’ pile was much bigger than I thought. I’d obviously eaten A LOT of snack bars.
Solution: make my own and avoid plastic packaging. Oat bars are like super easy to make and I always have the ingredients. So I now know my next point to focus on will be buying less packaged snacks.

The ‘Nakd’ truth of my snack pile of shame

It also allowed me to see in what areas I won’t really cut down. For example: tofu, my vegan cheese, etc. I didn’t have much waste from that in the first place because I honestly don’t use that much, but these are foods I am currently not happy to go without having only just begun my full time vegan diet .

But, I will endeavour to always buy my staples, pasta etc., from zero waste stores. I already do this with washing up liquid, soaps, etc. and as such had literally only a toothpaste bottle and an old primer container. I’m gradually shifting to fully zero waste makeup during this year (post to come), but I’m using up my old stuff right now to avoid being wasteful.

For vegetables and fruit, well I almost feel the same way as I did about the waste I had from parcels I’d received: I feel like I didn’t really have a choice. For sure, the apple and potato packets were largely unnecessary, and I’ve since swapped to buying loose. But the berries, the celery, the spinach etc. well, I’ve already documented my issues with buying this stuff loose. It ain’t easy and it ain’t always affordable. I will do what I can, but at the end of the day I can only do what I can afford and what is accessible to me.

So the outcome of hours of my labour:

If anyone has any recommendations I’d love to hear them.

Meg x

Sustainable Sunday: Sustainability of Self

This post was going to be about building a couple of eco-bricks out of the non-recyclable plastic I’ve accumulated since November.

…You know, I was even going to berate myself slightly because last week I was doing so well with unpackaged snacks up until Thursday, where I promptly bought a packet of salt & vinegar chickpeas and some microwavable rice.

But I’m not going to do that right now, because to be honest I am completely lacking in energy and actually in hindsight this has probably been one of my most eco-friendly weeks. There isn’t even half as much recycling as there normally is. And you know what, if it’s getting to the point where I can exactly pinpoint where I’ve made a unsustainable choice, then surely that’s a good thing?

Anyway.

The difference is perspective: I’ve had a bit of a rotten week in the sense I’ve been in a complete funk. I just wanted to moan and be a bit mad, to be honest. Which isn’t fair on anyone. Plus this weekend I’ve had life admin to do before it all goes a bit busy for the next three weeks (albeit with enjoyable plans). You should have seen me Friday when I got to my friend’s house for a meal: we just pretty much laid on the couch and ate carby, delicious food until we were sleepy. I’m just mentally exhausted, tired of my own negativity, and yet I’ve sort of being nagging myself all day to type something up.

(Don’t get me wrong I’ve got tons of ideas, this post was even going to be a rundown of what I want to write about in the future… but even that seemed like effort.)

But I’ve climbed into bed tonight after a weekend of being in my own funked-up, stressed-out company and frankly I’ve annoyed myself. I’m ready to hit the ground running tomorrow. But not tonight.

It can all wait.

I want my sustainable way of living to extend to a mindset where I know and do what is best for my mental health, because I’m not helping anyone if I’m a second away from ticking over.

Meg x

Ethical fashion: Will’s Vegan Shoes – review

Women’s Chelsea Boot V2 – Chestnut, £88

Shoes. I hate buying them.

I think it’s because they’re so necessary, it’s like booking a service or MOT on your car – you have to do it but it’s expensive and it’s not something you want. Unless you’re shoe obsessed, which I am not.

When it came to shoes I had one goal: they had to be ethically made and not contain any animal derived materials, such as leather.

A quick google brought up The Third Estate, a UK based brand dealing in ethically made clothing, shoes, and accessories. I knew I wanted boots with tread for winter that would last, and I didn’t mind paying a bit extra if meant I didn’t have to buy any again for a while

I was immediately impressed by the website: it was clearly laid out, had a good variety of choices (I didn’t think there’d be that much choice!), and provided me with a product description that let me know:

  • What the shoes were made of (bio oil sourced from organic cereal crops in a carbon neutral process, insoles made from recycled rubber)
  • Shoe spec etc., such as them having good tread & being water proof…
  • Ethical info (made in Portugal under EU health and safety regulations, and Vegan Society Registered)
  • The brand: in this case Will’s Vegan Shoes.

Will’s Vegan Shoes are a shoes, accessories, and bag shop, taking items we normally see made from leather and making them Vegan, as well as more ethically produced. Next time I need a bag or anything, I’m definitely going to head there (just another thing I loath having to buy).

My friend and I had to have a little ‘boot photoshoot’, which didn’t look strange at all.

The service was great, they came quickly and safely. The box contained a little info sheet on taking care of the boots and the packaging was minimum fuss. The shoes themselves were beautiful, not a mark on them. It took me about a week to wear them in properly, but now they’re very comfy and are water proof as promised. When I walk I sometimes hit the inside of my foot with my other foot (normally leading to scuffs and broken material), but the material seems to be really good quality and hasn’t marked. Apart from being a little bit muddy, they’re as good as new (except comfier).

They’re just boots but it’s nice to know I’m reducing my footprint one step at a time (ba-dum-tush).

Meg x

Sustainable Sunday

So, we’ve hit the end of another week, and it’s felt like a long one.

The good news is that I basically drank a bucket of hot choc with oat milk (funnily the barista told me it wasn’t just vegan hot chocolate, it was decadent vegan hot chocolate).

But, it terms of being sustainable this week, I think I’ve made some real progress. For one, I’ve been making my own meals all week and bringing them in for lunch. I normally do this anyway, but apart from a flapjack I bought on Friday (I needed that sugar), I’ve been eating prepared meals with fruit as snacks, with the occasional fruit & nut bar. It highlighted to me my next area for improvement: make my own snackbars in bulk at the start of the week.

All week I’ve been looking forward to having a good friend over for food. But I needed to do some shopping before that, so we headed into Market Harborough where I dropped by Refill Revolution for a refill of washing-up liquid. I also ended up buying a cute little wooden spork that I can just slip in my bag for if I buy food from a vendor, so I don’t have to use plastic cutlery. Win. FYI, the people at Refill Revolution at lovely and very helpful.

I also got the veggies and fruit needed for the dinner party from the veg stall behind, and what was good is that the owner was telling me about how you can bring your own containers for berries etc. and he’ll recycle the plastic punnets for something else. This is very, very good to know. Plus it really didn’t cost all that much!

The meal itself was wonderful, and it felt good knowing we generated fairly little waste. Food really brings people together, especially making it with each other. I think in the midst of January it can get a bit soul crushing, so make sure you’re making time to see those people that you love to speak to and make you laugh.

Vegan tarte tatin aka delicious and appley

Recipe of the week has to be Mac & Greens from the Bosh! cookbook, it’s my favourite go-to comfort food. Find it here.

Meg x

Is small, independent, and eco always possible?

I went on a bit of a mission, after last week’s shopping fail, hoping I’d find a greengrocer that would stock fruit / veg unwrapped, OR would let me use my own containers. The ultimate dream is to be able to shop locally and independently, without having to pay extortionate amounts, and without the plastic wrapped fruit/veg I’ve ranted about before. It barely needs repeating, but plastic = not good for the environment.

Spoiler: I’ve not been successful.

I live in a small town and I’ve driven past a veg shop a couple of times, so on Saturday I slipped on my coat, boots, and hat and headed out with a tote bag and (yet again) optimism.

When I got outside of the shop I was shocked. There was just as much packaging, if not more. I swear I saw large shrink-wrapped onions?! Safe to say, I didn’t shop there. I thought there could be a variety of reasons why a small store in a small town might not be plastic free: affordability, the suppliers they have access too, convenience, etc. And also general demand: big companies have government as well as public pressure to reduce their plastic use whereas a greengrocer in a village might not.

I just decided I wasn’t going to shop there and left.

I then decided I would head into my nearest town to see if they had a greengrocer or market on that would offer more selection. Unfortunately, the market wasn’t on – I could probably have used going on a Saturday. Nevertheless there was a veg shop. Unfortunately I encountered the same issue, they had a minimal amount of fruit and the punnets were shrink-wrapped so I didn’t have the option of asking if I could transfer to my own containers. I walked away with a tote-bag rattling with empty tupperware.

I ended up going to Sainburys. Though I was pleased that the apples and avocado I bought weren’t packaged, it was just a shame that the berries I bought were. Punnets, for me, are the ultimate problem.

I think I’m probably better off heading to Market Harborough, another town near to me, if I want to go plastic free. Demand is generally greater there, especially in the market. A small zero waste business (Refill Revolution) recently set up there, and they’ve had an influence on the greengrocers opposite their stall. You can now bring your own containers for things that would go in punnets, and, generally, they’ve cut down on plastic! If anything this proves how demand and influence can catalyse positive change. The only problem with going there that it’s further away, does the fuel economy trump my eco efforts?!

Sigh.

I think ultimately I did better than last week, I didn’t cave and immediately go for the easiest route. I explored my local community and said ‘no’ to settling immediately with the first option I came across. But at the end of the day there’s so much more to learn and options to explore. Instead of penalising myself for it I’m going to keep going. Step by little step.

If anyone has any tips for me, I’d love to hear them.

Find Refill Revolution here.