Creative ways to avoid food waste – A mini-series

Food waste is a much bigger problem than you might think. Not only does it burn a hole in your pocket, but it negatively impacts the environment as well. A lot of energy goes into food — water, materials, labour, and transportation all go into producing it, and energy goes into storing and disposing of it too. Despite this, we waste about a third of food that we get, and when that goes to landfill, the food rots and causes methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

I’m in no way innocent when it comes to wasting food (my partner could tell you), but I’ve been trying to get a lot better at it recently, and I’ve even had some fun with it. That’s why I thought I would make this mini-series of articles on creative ways to avoid food waste. This series is going to include making natural plant dyes, face masks, and some awesome community projects you can get into. I’m really excited to take you on this journey, and I hope you are too!

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

A fore-warning though, I’ve recently moved house (and country) hence why I haven’t been so active lately, and I’m starting up a new job, so basically… there is no planned schedule for when these articles go up. It might be all clumped together or quite irregular, so please bare with me! To tide you over, here are some simple things you can do right now to help the environment when it comes to food waste.

Composting is a clear option, as it’s better than food going to landfill and causing greenhouse gases. You can also save your leftovers for the next day in Tupperware containers or simply in a bowl covered by a beeswax wrap. (If you want a DIY article on how to make a beeswax then comment below!) If you’re really excited about this like I am (yes I am an environmental nerd) then here are some links where you can learn more about the topic: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/food-waste

https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/fight-climate-change-by-preventing-food-waste

I hope this helps and I look forward to posting again soon.

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Cheap ways to avoid fast fashion

Fast fashion is a big issue, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calculating that it causes 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions each year! On top of that, it also uses about 1.5 trillion litres of water annually. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the fashion industry exploits underpaid workers in the process of making their clothing lines. So there are many reasons to want to avoid fast fashion, but how do we do it when more sustainable clothing brands can cost quite the pretty penny? Well, I have a few Eco-friendly suggestions that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

  1. Charity shops

My favourite places to shop are charity shops. You never know what you will find — some of my favourite, most unique clothing items are from Age UK or the Red Cross. And all the money you spend on your second-hand items are given to a good cause instead of fuelling fast fashion. What’s not to love? We’re lucky to have a lot of charity shops in the UK so why not look around, browse and have some fun. The only thing is that it is quite difficult looking for something specific. If you’re searching for a winter coat you might have to try a few different shops before finding one that’s your size, style and within your budget. So if it’s something specific you’re after, then that’s where Depop comes in.

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2. Depop

I only just found out about Depop a couple of months ago and I am already hooked. If you don’t know what Depop is, it’s an app that allows you to log on and see all sorts of people selling their clothing items for often quite affordable prices. This is a great place to find second hand clothing which is tailored to what you’re after. You can even adjust the settings for your size and price range, and save items to compare them later on. All of this is wonderful, but be wary as some sellers buy new items to sell on, and sometimes you might not even get your order, so make sure you check out the seller’s profile beforehand, looking out for their reviews and what they’ve previously sold. There’s no point buying from Depop to avoid fast fashion when the seller got their wares from Primark yesterday.

3. Making & fixing clothes

This is the most sustainable thing you can do when it comes to clothing. If you have a hole in your leggings, why not take out your sewing kit and patch it up yourself? This can be a bit daunting if you’re not used to it but there are tonnes of tutorials on Pinterest and Youtube that can help you out. And going a step further, why not re-purpose or make your own clothes? You could tie-dye an old shirt with some natural plant-based dyes, or even go a bit extra and watch more tutorials to learn how to make a skirt.

4. Car boot sales & Vintage fairs

Car boots and Vintage sales are again places where you can discover amazing second-hand items for a good price. Car boots often have things going very cheap and you don’t know what gems you could find there. Vintage sales might be a bit more pricey, but sometimes you can nab a bargain. I got an embroidered plaid shirt from a vintage sale for £5 and I’m still wearing it five years later.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

5. Clothing Swaps

Clothing swaps are an amazing eco-friendly initiative where you don’t have to spend any money. The main premise is that you bring some clothes along and add them to a table or clothing rack which you can then explore and find other clothes you want to take home. If you haven’t heard of any going on where you live, why not start one yourself? It’s probably not the best time to host one in a pandemic, but when all this has blown over, what’s stopping you? You could talk to your work, university or local council and see what they say. Alternatively, why not swap things on a smaller scale among friends? You might all find you something you want and you get to remember where it came from with a smile.

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5 ways to be sustainable on a budget

Here are 5 great hacks on sustainability for when you’re on a budget!

The pandemic has hit us hard in many ways. Jobs are scarce at the moment and a few of us are on a shoe-string budget. Sometimes it can feel like you have to be rich to afford some of the products in Eco Shops (who can afford a bamboo razor for £17!?) but when my friend asked me for some tips on affordable sustainability it made me think of some of the hacks I’ve learned as a student fighting for the environment.

  1. Eco Swaps!

You don’t have to pay lots of money on bespoke Eco products when something a lot simpler will do the trick. Use your imagination and see what you have around you that can do some good. For example, last year I bought some cute eye-make up remover pads for about £6 which fell apart in days and got bits of fluff in my eyes. I’ve since discovered that a simple £1 face cloth from Home Bargains will do just the trick. Or instead of buying expensive beeswax wraps for keeping food fresh, why not use jam jars, takeaway boxes, or even a bowl covered with some tinfoil instead? (Remember to rinse and recycle the tinfoil after.)

2. Growing Food

Organic fruit and veg can be expensive, so why not grow some from seed? Seed packets usually only cost a couple of pounds (the usual price for an organic punnet of strawberries) and you can grow loads of produce yourself! I’ve grown cherry tomatoes in my window with enough leftover to give some to friends and family. Also, some foods you can regrow, like spring onions. Save the bottom bit of your spring onion in a little jar of water, changing the water every couple of days, and watch it magically regrow itself! Saving money and waste.

3. Save plant seeds for next year

If you’re a plant lover like me, you’ll enjoy getting your fingers green come spring-time. Plants are great for the environment too, they help purify the air, and you can grow insect friendly plants to help our pollinators thrive. Something simple you can do to be thrifty is save your plant seeds for next year. I hadn’t even thought of this until I was dead-heading my Marigolds and discovered lots of little bits underneath the petals which looked just like the seeds that had come in the packet. I ended up with hundreds of seeds from just a few flowers and I can’t wait to grow more next spring.

4. Have a Stay-cation

This is kind of a no-brainer with the pandemic going on, but why not have a stay-cation instead of going abroad? Air travel is one of the biggest polluters and can be the reason why your own carbon footprint is huge. So instead of spending money going to Ibiza this summer, why not stay in the UK and go to a B&B in Cornwall or camping in Wales? Wales also have some free bus services on the weekends, although always remember to wear your face-masks and social distance.

5. Upcycle

I’m a big believer in up-cycling things. I save all my glass jars and use them as flower pots, a container for my shampoo bar, or I make bath salts in them for Christmas. I also save plastic tubs to keep my plant pots in, or I keep broken cardboard boxes to make into placards for Climate Strikes. Speaking of which, on a last note: activism is free.

It doesn’t cost any money to share environmental posts on your Facebook page, to borrow books from the library on the climate crisis, or to go to a climate strike. So be an activist to your heart’s content without having to dip into your wallet.

— This blog post was inspired by a question from my friend. If you have any Questions on environmental or sustainability things then go ahead and ask me on my contact page and I might just make a blog post to answer it. Also follow my Instagram where I’ll share more information and regular Q&A opportunities. —

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