Plastic Free Cleaning and Household

Plastic Free Cleaning and Household

Plastic in your home

Our home is where our heart is and so thats the best place to start with the plastic free journey.  I wanted to look into plastic free cleaning and household tips as I run an airbnb so have A LOT of laundry and cleaning to deal with.  I currently buy bulk supplies of eco brands but sought some advice from my step sister – The Oily Witch for some recipes for home made products. 

Plastic is a health issue

At the recent Plastic Health Summit in Amsterdam, global experts have for the very first time come together to discuss the health impacts of plastic.  It is great that the health impact of plastics is now being investigated. My take away from the bits of the conference I caught on YouTube is that the experts have identified where the gaps are in existing research and are now making it a priority to fill those gaps.  This gives me great hope!

We are now ingesting around 5g of plastic per week.  That is the equivalent of a credit card per week!  And you can’t avoid it by not eating fish.  Sadly not.  Plastic is now is honey, water, salt, beer and in the air that you breathe.  In fact, 100% of mussels tested were found to have microplastics in them.  But microplastics are now in the air to such an extent that, if you were to leave a plate of mussels sitting out on the side in your kitchen for two hours – there would be more micro plastics on the plate than inside the mussels themselves.

Around 65% of all micro plastics are microfibres and our laundry is one of the main sources.  Particles from our car tyres are also a big contributor.  So what can you do for plastic free cleaning and household?

So what can you do?

Here are some top tips for plastic free cleaning and household and reducing toxic chemicals in your home at the same time.  Part of this blog has been written and contributed to by another Claire, my step-sister the Celticwitch Mama – who gives her tips on more environmentally safe and plastic free cleaning.

waste land

Photo Alex Bamford and Lou McCurdy

#1 Plastic Free Laundry

We can have a huge impact on reducing microfibre release by looking after our clothes, washing only when absolutely necessary, not using the delicates cycle (found to release more) or using one of the microfibre catching systems listed below:

  1. Guppy Friend Bag 
  2. Cora Ball 
  3. NEW: Planet Care washing machine filter* the most effective of these options.

Fellow Oceans 8 Consultant Lou McCurdy and awesome photographer Alex Bamford have been helping Planet Care out with their marketing.  Some of our river rubbish features in their work.

Not wearing so many synthetic fibres is also a great way of reducing your impact.  But don’t go all fast fashion on organic cotton products because cotton also has a huge environmental impact due to the amount of water used in the growing process.

Head over to my films blog and check out True Cost to find out more about the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

More infomation from the Plastic Soup Foundation #WhatsInMyWash campaign here:  #WhatsInMyWash

#2 Drive Less

It’s a no brainer really!  And I can’t say too much because I do own a vehicle and I use it but not daily.  The global impact of our carbon footprint is having its toll but in this instance it’s the microparticles from your car tyres that are the issue.  If your household can lift share, use public transport, walk or cycle more that will help.  

#3 Plastic free dishes

Are you still using J-Cloths and sponges, plastic scrubbers and washing up liquid in a single use plastic bottle?

Refill stations are your new friend.  Washing up liquid is one of the most commonly available refill items so no more excuses for that single use plastic bottle.  Ask the oracle (Google) where your nearest refill station is.  Alternatively, Splosh offers a mail order refill system.

Loofah, wooden handles and coconut scrubs are readily available.  There are links to some in my Christmas blog here.  (soon to be updated)

I also love the washable sponges and cloths that are now popping up for plastic free cleaning and household stuff.

anythingbutplastic.co.uk

#4 Plastic Free Cleaning 

There are now all sorts of recipes available online for making your own household cleaners.  This is a really easy and simple way for plastic free cleaning and household products.  I know that some are more effective than others and so I turned to an expert for advice.  Here’s some intel on making your own cleaning products from my super clean step-sister Claire aka The Oily Witch.

oily witch  
Who is the Oily Witch

I am a purveyor of essential oils and creator of natural cleaning products in order to reduce the need for a plethora of harmful crap in my cleaning cupboard.  I’m also a cleaning addict.  As in my toilet seat is clean enough to eat your dinner from. 

In the past, I’ve tried and tested many more naturally based cleaning products with mixed success…. Removing grease and limescale was usually a fail, thus requiring the extra toxic muscle available in some well-known household brands.  I turned to essential oils and making my own recipes and haven’t looked back since.

I have always been into what’s deemed as ‘alternative medicine’, finding the Eastern approach to health far more successful.  As a “green” witch, I am all about nature-based healing, and finding nifty ways to keep our lives as clean and green as is possible in the 21st century. Having a clean house is also very important to my mental health!  

I am mother to two small individuals, which is a massive motivator in doing my bit to protect the planet. But also keeps my feet firmly planted in the make it easy camp! 

Every minute of time is precious to me, so my Oily solutions not only have to work well, they need to be quick to produce.

zero waste maman

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

The benefits of making your own cleaning products:
  1. More space
    Take a look in your cleaning cupboard.  How many different products have you got? How many do similar jobs? You do not need separate stainless steel and glass cleaner! Are you using plug in air fresheners? Toilet air fresheners? Toilet blocs? Scented Reed Oil Diffusers? We really go a long way in this Country to make sure our xxxx don’t stink…. It’s all gone a bit crazy!
  2. Not toxic
    How many carry sinister warning labels? I don’t want my children to breathe in the aroma of those toxic chemicals when there are safe and natural alternatives readily available. There really is no need for bleach, or noxious oven cleaners requiring a mask and immediate evacuation of the space. We’ve been conditioned through advertising into believing we need too many separate, largely toxic, cleaners in our households. They’re not only damaging our immune systems, our skin is porous and what we inhale we ingest. 
  3. Keep your house alive
    They’re killing off or disrupting the natural eco balance in our homes too.  Some bacteria are our friends and are necessary for us to live healthily with a balanced immune system.  The chemical cleaners do not differentiate between the good and bad bacteria. 
  4. Save money
    I use the same oils to treat the family’s health, cook* and make beauty products like suntan lotion and shower gel.

*Please note that as pure essential oils are so potent they are not suitable to be placed directly onto skin or ingested in water.  They must be mixed with oils  or can be used as an ingredient in some food recipes.  Really, you should consult a certified aromatherapist or naturopathic doctor before ingesting any essential oil. 

Homemade cleaning store cupboard essentials:
  1. Bicarbonate of soda 
  2. Clear vinegar
  3. Olive Oil
  4. Citric Oil
  5. Glass containers
  6. Liquid castille soap

Pure Essential Oils dissolve plastics, so anything claiming to contain them yet stored in plastic must contain barely any. And they must be stored in darkened glass in a cool dark place with the lid tightly on so they can’t be ruined by light and oxidisation. I keep all my spray heads, jars, dark glass bottles from anything I have bought in the past and reuse these.

Initially, I was worried about having glass bottles all over the house and the potential fall out if they got dropped. However, it turns out they are more robust than you’d think and the kids are really careful with them, not that they use them as much as I’d like!

zero waste cleaning

Recipe tips:

An all round cleaner if you dont have the essential oils:

  • One part white vinegar
  • One part water
  • Lemon rind (or a couple of drops of lemon essential oil)
  • Rosemary sprigs (or a couple of drops of rosemary oil)

A citric oil in combination with a distilled leaf oil, makes an all-round cleaner that not only cuts through dirt and grease like a knife through butter, but purifies the air that your breathing whilst making you feel good. It won’t kill off the good bacteria you need to keep your home alive in all the right ways and its child and animal safe. I use mine to clean my oven, fridge, kitchen counters, sink, floor, wooden chopping board, remove stains from walls and clothes and pretty much anything that needs it.

Tea tree oil has brilliant antiseptic and anti-fungal properties, making it brilliant for cleaning bathrooms.

plastic free cleaning and household 

Why it’s important to get the right essential oils

Essential oils, are between 50 and 70 times as potent as the plant themselves, because of their concentration, and are chemical plant essences. One bottle of doTERRA Lemon contains 75 skins, 1 drop of Peppermint is equivalent to 28 cups of mint tea!

Not all Essential Oils are equal either, in the UK the market is unregulated, thus only 8% of the original ingredient needs to be present for it to be marketed as ‘pure’. This is only obvious by the price, because the bottles say next to nothing themselves, and when diffused and they smell wrong. So, to be clear, I am only promoting the use of doTERRA, because I know their oils are 100% pure and more importantly, ethically sourced and sustainable.

And, because of all that they are and can do, they make an excellent base for ‘Environmentally Protective Cleaning’ products.

We need to keep it natural where ever we can, not only for our own sakes but for the flora and fauna of the wider environment, that keep us alive.

If you’re interested in learning more or how, I run Oily Workshops or 1-2-1 private consultations. I also write about this The Oily Witch.

zero waste cleaning

Happy Cleaning!

30 Films That Could Change Your Life

30 Films That Could Change Your Life

The darker nights are drawing ever closer so here is my list of inspiring films which have had a huge influence on me.  These 30 films could change your life!

Films inspire as they connect directly with our emotions and draw on all of our senses transporting us right into the story like a hyperdermic syringe.  In fact, that is a model of media influence that I studied in A-Level Sociology all those.. ahem… some years ago.  You only need to look at the impact that TV series like Blue Planet II have had on conversations around the plastic pandemic.  

As an Ocean Advocate in this new era of mass environmentalism, I am more and more drawn to looking at what mediums actually create long lasting change.  Storytelling in a variety of formats, (including film) often come up top. Us humans have for millennia been drawn to stories to pass on our wisdom through generations.  Emotional, heart driven impact is what creates long lasting change. Not excessive facts, nor relentless imagery of the problems, but these also have their place.

Some of these films will require a massive eco hug after watching and some will leave you feeling inspired that there are people out there instigating change. Perhaps you will be inspired to be the next environmental hero? So grab a huge bowl of popcorn, make a pot of tea and get comfy… These films could change your life!

 

#1 PLASTIC BRITAIN: ON OUR WATCH

 

Ok so my first recommendation isnt actually out yet, but since I have been working with the producers and have now seen the trailer I can’t help but feel excited at the possibilities that could come out of this film.

It is a feature length environmental documentary exploring Britain’s relationship with plastic. It discovers a nation whose rivers lay claim to the highest level of micro-plastics of anywhere in the world, while asking what the plastic pollution problem truly means for Britain?

 Due to be released in 2019…

 

#2 BLACKFISH

This film literally changed my life.  After watching it I found Incredible Oceans – Whalefest and became a volunteer for them.  I then meeting some of the Ex-SeaWorld trainers at Whalefest and I became inspired to take action for whales and dolphins.  Within no time at all I started my journey into  marine conservation and public engagement, determined to join those giving a voice to the voiceless creatures of our oceans.

Blackfish tells the true story of Tilikum, a notoriously aggressive orca that killed three people while in captivity at Sea World. Tilikum has since died in the prison which he lived.  I, amoung many others, am determined to keep his story alive to protect the remaining orca living in tanks. I am fortunate enough to have seen orca in the ocean and never want to see them in tanks again!  #EmptyTheTanks #WildAndFree

#3 THE COVE 

This is the true story of Ric O’Barry, the man who trained the dolphins for the TV show Flipper. Since the dolpin committed suicide in his arms, Ric has dedicated his life to releasing captive dolphins back into the wild and trying to stop the drive hunts in Japan. Filmmaker Louie Pshihoyos and a team of activists join Ric.  Together, they go on a covert mission to a hidden cove in Japan to expose the dark and deadly secret of how they treated their dolphins.  I was lucky enough to meet Ric at Whalefest in 2015, a true ocean hero.

 #4 HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD

Chronicling the birth of the environmental movement, the story of eco-hero Robert Hunter and his part in the creation of what we now know as Greenpeace.  I have close friends who were very active members in Greenpeace in its hayday. I love their stories of enviromnetal heoicism and craziness.  This film also documents how the organisation has changed over the years.  With Paul Watson branching off and setting up Sea Shepherd, an organisation that isnt without its own controvercy but in a very different way.  Needless to say,  my friends arent involved anymore.

I have personal experience of the changing tides of charities as they grow and have the demands of sponsors to think about. It always amazes me how much ego there is in environmentalism.  Dont get me wrong, they also do great work!

See what you think.

#5  A PLASTIC OCEAN

A Plastic Ocean was one of the first feature-length documentaries to shine the light on plastic pollution.  It sets out simple steps we can take to create a shift away from the problem.  It highlights the consequences of our global disposable lifestyle and dispels the myths about floating islands of plastic in the ocean.  I have been fortunate enough to meet and work alongside both Jo Ruxton, the producer and David Jones the lead diver. 

It contains never-before-seen images of marine life, plastic pollution, and its ultimate consequences for human health. During its four-year production period, A Plastic Ocean was filmed in 20 locations around the world in beautiful and chilling detail to document the global effects of plastic pollution and introduce workable technology and policy solutions that can, if implemented in time, change things for the better. 

Since the film, far more scientific studies have been conducted and Blue Planet II has also created further shift in awareness.  In fact, I understand that it was because of his involvement in the Plastic Ocean film that Sir David Attenborough insisted that Blue Planet cover the truth that his film crews and him had been seeing for so long.  So in a way, this film was the catalyst for the global rise in plastic pollution discussion.

#6 ALBATROSS

This is a chilling yet beautiful piece of cinematography and a film that will probably leave you needing a big eco-hug.  In order to reach as many as possible the film has been made available for free permanently and there is the opportunity to host your own public screening of it.  To help you with your post-film eco-hug, just remember that plastic pollution is a man made issue and so we can un-make that issue! 

Every simple and small swap away from single use plastic, or brand that you convince to take action, creates a ripple effect.  I am organising some Brighton based screenings with mindful support from me so do sign up to my mailing list for updates.

films that changed my life

https://www.albatrossthefilm.com

#7 SHARKWATER AND SHARKWATER EXTINCTION

I feel a personal connection to these films.  I have just returned from Isla del Coco and travelled through the port at Punta Arenas in Costa Rica that is featured in these films.  When diving in Socorro in 2018 the Sharkwater ship was docked in the port I left from.  I’ve swam in the ocean with Hammerheads, Tigers, Galapagos, Oceanics and Reef Sharks.  I’ve seen the hooks in their mouths and the decline in their numbers. 

It is now necessary to go further and further away to find large numbers of our oceans majestic creatures.  Why?  Shark finning and the increasing shark meat trade, knock on consequences of as other fish stocks are now also critically declined.  

Shark is now found in fertiliser, livestock feed, cosmetics and pet food.  You could be smearing endangered super predators on your face and not even know it!  We are now killing estimated numbers of 100 million sharks a year in comparison with around 5 human deaths, which will be due to an accidental mistake of identity on the sharks behalf.  If you flap around on the surface of the water on a surfboard or whatever you tend to look like shark food (seals). 

There is no doubt that we are the number one predators of the sea and these two films are the life work of Rob Thompson, a scuba diver that was dedicated to raising awareness of the illegal shark trade.  Sadly Rob passed away in January 2017 while filming Sharkwater Extinction however the film was finished and released as his legacy and hopefully others will continue the fight.  There are some great resources on the Sharkwater website for educators so do check it out.

Educators Pack

#8 CHASING CORAL

In case you missed the memo, Climate Change is warming our seas, which in turn is killing our coral reefs.  Reefs are important because they provide a vital habitat to protect juvenile species, our coastlines and act as carbon sinks as they form.  Above a certain temperature however the coral spits out the algae that lives in it symbiotically.  It is the algae which photosynthesises, a process that provides the coral with the energy it needs to survive.  If waters don’t quickly recover to their initial cooler temperatures the reefs die.  Also knows as coral bleaching as the algae gives the coral its colour, Chasing Coral is a story about those who are on the front line of coral research and also looks at what can be done to prevent the global loss of coral reef systems.  

On my watchlist for the Autumn is also CHASING ICE, which I haven’t seen yet so can’t comment on.

https://www.chasingcoral.com

Both of the ‘chasing’ films are also on Netflix.

#9  MINIMALISM

One of the biggest ways individuals can positively impact our natural world is to stop with the relentless consuming.  We are brainwashed into needing the next X or the best Y and the newest version of Z.  But, do we actually NEED all this stuff!? The more suff I have the more trapped I feel. Get out there and live!  Get in nature, get in the ocean, see for real our impact and you will soon think twice about buying that next bit of pointless tat that will sit around gathering dust.  

This docu-film has been a huge inspiration to me.  It explores how life can be better with less and takes you inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life-families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists, all of whom are striving to live a meaningful life with less.  It is though a strange transition period at the moment as with the rise of minimalism and the increasing popularity of Marie Kondo and her ‘Magic Life Changing Book of Tidying Up’.  Charity shops are in some places inundated while people clear out their unwanted crap.  Meanwhile, manufacturers are still churning out products and an ever increasing rate.  Don’t let that put you off though!  We need to start somewhere and the more we delay the more backlog there will be in the transition.

#10 RACING EXTINCTION

Us humans keep destroying the natural world and as we do so, we boot more and more creatures out of their habitat.  The same is happening to people to some extent, especially if you look at the recent fires in the Amazon.  As the rich and powerful want even more power and greed we need films like this to influence an uprise against it. 

Racing Extinction is an eco-thriller that examines our role in the mass extinctions that are happening today. Scientists, environmentalists, artists, and engineers draw attention to this pressing issue along side incredible footage and moving cinematography.  

You only need to look at the huge amount of people moving in protest recently. The ever imminent tipping point of climate change in mind and the aim to get our world leaders to take action to prevent furter loss of the natural world. Racing Extinction is a few years old now and I’m certain many more species have been lost since its release.  I would love to see a film coming out about the hugely inspirational Greta Thumberg.  

Any other films on this topic that you think could inspire or change someone’s life please comment below!

 films that change your life

#11 MISSION BLUE

Sylvia Earle is one of my all time heroes.  She has done and continues to do so much for the world’s oceans. The world would be a very different place without her.  I have been fortunate enough to be in the same room as her, to hear her speak.  She was the first female scuba diver to live under the sea a story that is also featured in this movie.  

Sylvia Earl is one of the pioneers for raising awareness of the oceans issues and has facilitated the mapping of this relatively unexplored part of our blue planet.  This film is about her, about the ocean, about inspiration and about how one person can change the world. 

Watch it.

#12 END OF THE LINE

This film has been called ‘The Inconvenient Truth About the Ocean’.  If you eat fish or seafood then you really should watch this film.  Not because I want you to feel bad but because I think it is important to know where your food comes from and the impact it has so you can make an educated decision for yourself.

As a result of watching this movie, I now eat fish probably one or two times a year only.  Some might criticise me for not giving it up entirely (I have never been a big fish eater anyway), but this is my choice and what works for me.  If every fish eater changed to limiting their intake to even once a month imagine the impact that would have on our oceans.

We are now in a world where the first blue fin tuna of the season in Japan has been sold at a record amount of over a million dollars.  Only to be sold at a loss.  Why?! For status.  Tuna (especially the rare blue fin) has become such a rare delicacy on the sushi scene that it is now a way for shushi restaurants to boast about their prosperity and to get their name up there as the place to be.  You can learn more by watching Blue Fin.

I have come face to face with tuna under water a few times.  But as with other fish, I have to go to further away and to more and more remote places to find large pelagic fish these days.  Under the surface us divers can see how few fish there are.  I wonder how much the very last ever blue fin tuna will sell for?!  It is only a short matter of time until that happens.

#13 CLOSING THE LOOP

“Unless we go Circular, its Game over for our Planet”.

Recommended to me by the Brighton and Hove Circular Economy Club, Closing The Loop is the world’s first feature length documentary on the circular economy.  It is presented by Prof. Dr. Wayne Visser, a global sustainability expert & Graham Ehlers Sheldon, a two-time Telly Award & Emmy Award winner. The documentary features innovative cases moving from a take-make-waste linear economy to a borrow-use-return zero-waste economy.

Presented in partnership with the Circular Economy Club, since it was made lots more innovation has occurred and I for one am excited at what is to come.  Claire Potter, featured on episode 2 of the Clare Talks Rubbish Podcast is a circular economy design expert, tune into her episode for more circular inspiration.  Claire has also been hugely inspired by the Minimalists film and she talks about minimising her life so she can live on the boat she is lovingly converting.

Closing the loop is open sourced and avoilable to watch for free, link for the full movie on Youtube below.

#14 TRUE COST

 The True Cost is a documentary film exploring the impact of fashion on people and the planet.  If you want some inspiration before watching the Minimalists, this is it. 

I am honoured to have worked with pioneering fashion designers Vin and Omi who for years now have been working to highlight the benefits of circularity in fashion and the detrimental effects of fast fashion.  Vin and Omi will also feature in the Plastic Britain documentary mentioned in #1 above.  I am also fortunate to know the founder of a local eco brand in Brighton and Hove Ruby Moon Swim to Gym.  Jo Malone has been making sports fashion out of ghost fishing nets now for several years.  We are super keen to have her on the Clare Talks Rubbish podcast so watch this space.

#15 ISLAND EARTH

I came across this film when listening to Cyrus Sutton’s episode on the Wild Ideas Worth Living Podcast (a favourite of mine!).  Island Earth is his story and the struggle for truth between science and tradition as he enters an industry that many feel is threatening his homeland. His complex journey through the corn fields of GMO companies to the loi patches of traditional Hawaiian elders reveals modern truths and ancient values that could save our future.

#16 BLOOD ROAD

I also found this film via the Wild Ideas Worth Living Podcast.  I have travelled extensively through Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and the atrocities that happened there in my lifetime are still so raw that it really affected me.  We are in hugely uncertain times at the moment and it pays to remember how bad things can get so quickly when politics goes wrong.   

I recently attended a talk by Simon Sinek and he used the Vietnam war as an analogy of how being in it to win it is a model of battle that just doesn’t work.  If you are in it for the long game and focus on thriving rather than winning you will generally come up on top.

Blood Road follows the journey of ultra-endurance mountain bike athlete Rebecca Rusch and her Vietnamese riding partner, Huyen Nguyen, as they pedal 1,200 miles along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Their goal was to reach the crash site and final resting place of Rebecca’s father, a U.S. Air Force pilot shot down over Laos some 40 years earlier.  However the journey becomes so much more than that.  A voyage of self discovery, the women push their bodies to the limit while learning more about the historic ‘Blood Road’ they’re peddling and how the Vietnam War shaped their lives in different ways.

#17 SEED THE UNTOLD STORY

As many irreplaceable seeds near extinction, Seed reveals the harrowing and heartening story of passionate seed keepers as they wage a David and Goliath battle against chemical seed companies, defending a 12,000 year food legacy.

#18 WALL-E

An incredible film about a robot left alone to clear up earth after it has been ransacked by humans.  Us humans having grown so fat we sit in floating chairs on a spaceship plugged into digital devices (crazy – or scarily possible future?).  If you are that way inclined (like me) its a bit of a tear jerker…. The kids films always get me!  An epic watch for a Sunday afternoon sofa session on a cold and rainy afternoon.

#19 COWSPIRACY

This film has created a huge wave in popularity of the vegan diet.  Backed up with the health benefits outlined in What The Health.  Particularly poignant at the moment with Bolsanaro turning a blind eye to the farmers who are allegedly starting fires to clear way for more lucrative cattle farms in the Amazon basin. 

I did attempt a vegan diet after watching Cowspiracy, then ping ponged between being a veggie and a meat eater.  The films has changed plenty of lives by inpiring a diet change even if not to full veganism.  Personally, I have settled at being a conscious flexitarian, barely eating meat and dairy but allowing myself to have it on occasions.  Generally, I am careful where any meat I consume does come from and I avoid beef except for perhaps one or two time a year.  I feel better as a result and am a massive advocate of this way of being. 

Veganism or even vegetarianism aren’t accessible to all so aiming for meat and dairy in moderation would have a significant impact and is more realistic and achievable for most.  I applaud vegans for doing it though, especially those who are non-judgmental in their approach.  Watch and decide for yourself. 

#20 BEFORE THE FLOOD

 “Climate Change is the single greatest threat to a sustainable future but, at the same time, addressing the climate challenge presents a golden opportunity to promote prosperity, security and a brighter future for all” Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General.

If you have heard about Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thumberg, the climate strikes, seen the protests but arent yet sure what its all about then this is the film for you.  Presented by Lionardo DiCaprio and National Geographic.

Also watch An Inconvenient Truth, released in 2006. Still no action has been taken by global leaders.

Explore some of the solutions here.

It is so important to counter the issues with the solutions so I love the fact that this movie adresses that on its website. There are also discussion and education packs if you want to run your own screening.

films to change your life

#21 OUR PLANET

Netflix’s version of the Blue Planet featuring Sir Attenborough himself.

 

 #22 THE GREAT HACK

This film was the last I watched on this list.  It exposes the corruption behind the Facebook fisching scandal with Cambridge Analytica in the elections of Donald Trump, Brexit and well pretty much all of the far right politicians who have now forged their way into power.  Its pretty scary stuff but stuff that we should all be aware of and all bear in mind.  A Netflix original.

I havent seen it yet but Data Centre: The True Cost of the Internet may also be worth a watch if this interested you.

 

#23 FAHRENHEIT 11/9

In a political environment where the rich elite have successfully used tactics straight out of the Nazi handbook to gain power and oppress the poor while getting richer and richer this film is an absolute must watch to all.  Take the content on board then join with your community to take any small steps you can to change the tide of greed.

I was a big fan of the 9/11 film of the same name, exposing the potential conspiracy behind the collapse of the twin towers in New York.  This film has far more evidence and scary tales about the ‘elected’ in power and their motives and strategies.  Including the shocking situation in Flint Michigan where the water has illegal toxic levels of lead and dirt but while children get sick and die, no one does anything about it. If that isn’t enough, the city has been turned into an army training ground and you could be mistaken that you were in a war zone rather than a city that is in the country where ‘dreams come true’. A scary and gripping watch.

If this film grabs you then also check out Vice, which documents the changes in American politics which laid the foundation for this current crazy.

IThese films could leave you feeling a bit lost, apathetic or out of control.  To that I will say, never lose hope, that’s what they want!  There are many historical instances of people winning over power.  If we all campaign and work towards the greater good, I have faith that change will come and sense will prevail.  The universe normally comes good in the end. 

Not the same topic at all but check out my podcast episode with Melanie Rees if you want to hear a positive story about people power that will inspire you and leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

 

#24 THE AMERICAN MEME

There really is more to life than being a social media influencer.  It’s an interesting insight into how social media has taken over the world.

Know that by sitting and looking at your phone, you often adopt a slumped body posture that tells your neurology you are feeling sad and low tempo.  No wonder there is a rise in instances of mental health problems.  So, despite this being a list of great films to watch, save them for a rainy day. 

Its time to shut your laptop, put your phone down and get outside.  Connecting with nature has so many benefits for your mental and physical wellbeing, and you are going to need to be fighting fit if you are to help us battle to save our beautiful planet.

 

 # 5 MORE FILMS THAT COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE (THESE ARE ON MY LIST BUT NOT YET WATCHED)

#1 INNSAEI

#2 PLASTIC CHINA

 

#3 WASTELAND

#4 TOMORROW

#5 GARBAGE WARRIOR 

 

I hope that these films inspire you.  Do let me know what you think in the comments below or on my socials.  If you know of other films that could change someone’s life stick suggests in the comments too!

 

Why You Should Care About Recycling with Melanie Rees

Why You Should Care About Recycling with Melanie Rees

How To Recycle Plastic

“It is VERY important that you follow instructions for your recycling as contamination causes HUGE problems….. “ Says Melanie Rees. 

I recently caught up with Melanie Rees, Teacher, Asian Tsunami survivor and founder of the Brighton Green Centre, Oceans 8 Brighton and numerous other grass roots projects.  Including Day For Change, a national non-uniform day which is now run by UNICEF and is their most successful fundraiser to date.  The Green Centre is a grass roots environmental project focused on activities centered around One Planet Living which she still runs along with a dedicated team of volunteers.

Her expertise on all things recyclable and how / where it can be recycled is insane.   I asked her for some tips and advice to help anyone wanting to do more about their recycling or wanting to take action; what inspired her onto this journey; and how to deal with those who feel that the task of tackling waste is hopeless.   I love her sage advice and practical responses and I know you will too. 

“It started initially with a diagnosis of Lupus followed very shortly thereafter by being in the Asian Tsunami.” Says Melanie.

How did you get involved with rubbish and recycling? 

It started initially with a diagnosis of Lupus followed very shortly thereafter by being in the Asian Tsunami. The first robbed me of my energy, the second nearly took my life. It made me focus and the environment is what grabbed my attention. I started in 2006 on George Street, Brighton with a paste table and followed the ebb and flow of the city; listening to people, going where I was invited; schools, businesses, fairs and festivals and responding to the ideas of the community, always supported by a group of committed volunteers.  After three years we took a premises in East Brighton and the Green Workshop transformed into the Green Centre.

The Oceans 8 poster was your idea, where did it come from?

I was doing research for a curriculum I am developing based on the Principles of One Planet Living. While exploring the salaries of actors and actresses I came across the poster for the movie Ocean’s 8 and thought of it literally – 8 women looking after the ocean. I made a list of women leading projects in Brighton & Hove  which focus on plastic pollution and it just so happened nearly all of them were at an event I attended. I showed them the poster and asked them if they would like to be in a new version. They all said yes!

What does the Ocean mean to you?

It means many things. I grew up on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales and so I spent a LOT of time by the sea. It gives me a sense of space. I seek it out for cleansing.

As I was in the Asian Tsunami I know its immense power and potential for destruction. I am deeply respectful of it.

What are the key components for setting up a successful grass roots campaign?

Ingredients :
  1. A well thought out, simple, clear core message – when things get crazy, you will need this to keep you grounded. 
  2. Bravery – dare to be different and think outside the box for creative solutions.
Advice:
  1.  Learn to flow, because things never work out as you plan / imagine.
  2.  Stick with it. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Resources:
  1. A business mentor.
  2. A roll of wallpaper & a bunch of coloured markers – fantastic for mind maps / planning / story boards / problem solving / etc.

What hurdles have you overcome in your waste journey, how did you overcome them and what did you learn ?

 

  • Lack of volunteers – Trust the Universe and it will always send you an angel, sometimes several!
  • Having to move from our premises – think outside the box, we bought a double decker bus.
  • Trying to inform Brighton & Hove residents that the City Council only accept plastic bottles for recycling – still struggling with this one.

What are bad recommendations that you hear?

  • Better recycling is the answer to tackling plastic pollution.
  • Compostable / Biodegradable packaging is the answer to tackling plastic pollution.
  • The Green Centre can recycle anything.

“Slow down. Consume less. Share more.” Key advice from Melanie.

What would you say to someone who thinks it is too late, the problem is too big, or that their actions won’t make a difference?

At the core of every positive action is a love for our planet and a respect for that which provides for our every need. That is all any of us can do.  

If you could make poster that would reach millions and millions of people, including policy makers and educators what would it show or what would it say?

Slow down. Consume less. Share more.

What book has influenced you the most and why? 

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight – Thom Hartmann / because it explains Global Warming and Climate Change in a really clear way AND because it suggests women are the key to tackling it. 

What films have influenced you the most and why?

 

  • The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil / because it really demonstrates how people can come together to tackle a problem.
  • Albatross / stunningly beautiful piece of cinematography.  

What have you bought recently that cost under £50 and has made the biggest impact in your life or to your cause?

I am about to buy two pieces of foam to replace the badly sagging cushions on my second hand sofa bed which I paid £20 for. I sit on it every day, so it will have a big impact on my life. 

Mel’s top misconception  about ‘rubbish’:

 

“That our personal waste is someone else’s responsibility.”

Melanie’s key piece of advice:

Be part of the solution. Get involved by volunteering. 

Melanie has been listening to what people want and creating resources and finding answers for many years.  One resource she helped create over the last 6 years is the A-Z of Recycling which can be found here.  Although focussed in part on the Green Centre in Brighton it includes vital tips on what can be recycled, where and by whom and includes many schemes that are available nationally.  I am not aware of any other project quite like it, but wouldn’t it be great if every city had one, or if there was funding available to grow this to a bigger or even a national project!

I would love to hear your comments or if you have any questions for Melanie you can raise them with her direct, in the comments box below, or on my Facebook Page.

To learn more about Melanie and her projects:

  Website: www.thegreencentre.co.uk Facebook: The Green Centre – Brighton Twitter: @BtonGreenCentre E-mail: info@thegreencentre.co.uk  

Podcast Episode 7: Melanie talks about the origins of the Green Centre

Listen to Melanie on my latest podcast episode! She talks about recycling in Brighton and Hove, the stories of our stuff and sustainable solutions and how slowing down and trusting the universe enables us to achieve great things.

What Do You Actually Want For The Future Of Plastic Products?

What Do You Actually Want For The Future Of Plastic Products?

Trash Talk

I recently attended a talk by City Girl Network and Creative Bloom, who have set out to collect and present data to brand giants such as Unilever.  They hope to influence groundbreaking changes to products with their #TrashTalk campaign to safeguard the future of our planet and have set up a survey to enable your opinions to be presented to major brands.  This survey has now closed but it has been turned into a white paper with the aim to influence positive change for the future of plastic packaging. 

There was a recent government consultation on plastics with record responses illustrating the current appetite for change.  This will be used to hopefully influence policy whereas Trash Talk will be directly presented to the brands themselves meaning you have the opportunity to make a difference at the coal face.  The #TrashTalk campaign inspired me to learn a bit more about the issues of packaging.

 

Why should you care?

In the UK we produce over 200 million tonnes of waste per year – that’s equivalent to over a million blue whales!  Household waste is a key area to tackle and something that we can all impact and have our say.  Currently, of the plastics we use only 3% are recycled in the UK (DEFRA stats).

Plastic waste will be around long after any of us. We are leaving a plastic legacy for our Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandchildren to deal with.  Since Blue Planet aired on TV both the press and public are more aware of the plastic issue.  But I really hope that this discussion will begin to focus more on long term sustainable solutions rather than just the problem.  I am inspired by kids like Amy and Ella Meek  taking matters into their own hands, cleaning beaches and campaigning for change.  As part of the 70s born plastics era who helped to create this problem I also want to do my bit.  Please join me in my rebellion against rubbish.

 

Change is Easy and Possible

You only need look at the success of the plastic bag charge to see how easy change can be. A 90% reduction in one year by the introduction of a mere 5p charge per bag (25p total on an average shop). It is now normal to take bags to the shop with you.

With that normalisation in mind, what would happen if all single use coffee cups were banned? Would the world fall apart?  Probably not.  More likely, it would become normal to sit in and drink your coffee.  Or use a reuse cup or maybe just go without (shock horror!).  Take away coffee wasn’t a thing not long ago. What has truly changed that means that this is now an essential part of our daily lives?

Consider the ‘Hidden Rucksack’

Ecological (or ‘Hidden’) Rucksacks represent the materials used and the impacts of a product that are not within the product itself.  Kind of like a hidden waste footprint.

An example would be an aluminium can. To make a can from virgin material it would likely be mined in Australia or South Africa, often with the social impact of turfing indigenous people off land.  The carbon footprint would therefore start to build as it is shipped over to Iceland for the initial stage of processing.  In Iceland they have cheap hydroelectricity so it is sent there to take advantage of that. It may then go to Germany to be pressed into sheets. Then to the canning company where ever that may be. Finally being sent to the end manufacturer.  All this leads to a high production cost from virgin material to product which therefore means aluminium has a high value. This is reflected by its high recycling rate with 75% of all aluminium ever produced  remaining in productive use. 

All materials have a hidden rucksack of waste, plastic included.  Many are familiar with the sight of marine creatures covered in an oil spill slick. This is an extreme example of the impact of plastic but a very real one.  

With the recent awareness there has been much discussion around replacing plastic in packaging.  However we must exercise caution in considering which materials we use. For instance the ‘Hidden Rucksack’ of paper is three times that of plastic.  So, while it is better for our oceans, it may not be better for our forests.  We need both (each provide 50% the oxygen in the air we breathe) and so paper may not be a viable replacement.  Bamboo could possibly be a good option as it has a high regrowth rate and therefore can be sourced sustainably.  I would love to report that there was a simple solution to the plastic crisis.  However, the reality is that we are going to have to look at each product, the materials in it and how it can be redesigned.  By doing this hopefully we can find solutions that use sustainable materials or businesses that operate a circular closed loop recycling system.

In my opinion, reducing all packaging and getting rid of all unnecessary packaging is the best solution.  In the instances where packaging is needed, we need to look for reusable and sustainable materials when all things are considered, including the hidden rucksack.

 

We Need Packaging to Keep Food Fresh and For Convenience, Don’t We….? 

Apart from the chemicals leaching into food (which clearly counter balances the ‘freshness’ argument), there are plenty of other instances where this can be debunked.  For example, over 70% of our UK apples travel from abroad, many from New Zealand.  They don’t travel in plastic and seem to survive.   Many things have their own ‘packaging’ which works perfectly well and yet is still double wrapped by retailers.

Yes, in some instances packed produce does last longer but in many instances packaging serves more as a convenience for the retailers than the consumer, giving them a means to up-sell or to help with their own stock taking system.

Once upon a time all our fruit and veg was loose and we survived.  The difference is that we were growing local and eating seasonal.  Globalisation has changed this for now but we also have the power as consumers to demand further change.  

 

What Do You Want?

Brands and retailers are afraid of change as they think people might stop buying their products.  The current packaging survey indicates that we like food packaged for convenience and speed as we no longer have time to put things in a bag to take it to the till.  Are we really so lazy that we can’t add a couple of seconds onto our shop to put loose items in a reusable container?!  Do we really want all this double layered wrapping that lasts forever and pollutes our environment?  If this doesn’t sound right to you then please join me in having your say.  Write to your favourite brands and put pressure on them to change. How about sending back their packaging to them so that they have to dispose of it.  And by doing so ask them what they are doing to resolve the problem long term.

If you are interested in learning more about the recent government consultation here is a link to the report:

Sadly, despite the report the Government failed to implement the plastic tax that they mooted.  There is therefore a lot more to be done.

Thank you for caring about our planet xoxo

Create waves

There are loads of tips, advice and inspiring stories from those pioneering positive change for the environment just over on my podcast.  I am sure the stories of these every day heroes will inspire you.  

How To Adventure With Less Plastic Waste.

How To Adventure With Less Plastic Waste.

Anyone out in the environment has a connection, an affinity to it and hopefully a desire to protect it.  So wanting to adventure with less plastic waste and leaving less impact or trace is often at the fore of our minds.  

We are all more aware now of the impact of single use plastics and the desire to produce less plastic waste.  We can’t carry on consuming it or producing it in the way we have done.  The great thing about this pandemic is that it is so easy to do something about it and to make your actions and choices create a wave of change. I tried to use as little single use plastic as possible on the last Paddle  Cleanup Expedition and I keep seeing posts in forums asking how we can reduce our impact so I thought I would share what I have learnt.

As for adventuring plastic free, I just want to expel that instantly.  Plastic itself is not a bad material indeed many of our adventure safety gear and vital kit that helps us to do the adventures we do in this new ultra light world are made from plastic. It is not plastic itself that is our enemy, only the way we use it and the way we value it.  And so here is my advice on how to adventure with less plastic waste.

 

Here Are My Top Ten Tips For Adventuring With Less Plastic Waste:

 

Tip#1 Buy Good Quality Gear

Support ethical brands that are leading in the way in waste reduction and providing quality products that last.  The more we support them, the more we provide validation for a different way of working.  In time, this raises general consumer expectation and creates a more sustainable blueprint for our future.  Brands like Patagonia, Finisterre and Craghoppers have a return and repair lifetime guarantee on their products so if it is damaged you can contact them and they will help you fix it, often for FREE!  

Tip#2. Buy Gear That Is Not Made From Virgin Plastic.  

Fourth Element, Ruby Moon, and GRN Sportswear all make performance wear from up-cycled fishing gear, and Riz Boardshorts are made from up cycled plastic bottles.  Yes I admit that these products do not solve the microfibre problem but they do reduce the use of virgin materials and highlight the possibilities if we embrace a more circular solution. 

For washing these products you can use a Guppy Friend Bag or a Cora Ball to reduce the release of microfibres into our waters.  Planet Care have however produced a filter that you can attach to your washing machine that is far more effective.  If you have a tumble drier at home another top tip is to keep the fluff, soak it in a little oil and use as fire lighters.

If you are a kayaker, check out the awesome up cycled marine plastic kayaks made by Palm Equipment and Odyssey Innovation.  I paddled one on Paddle Cleanup and it was great!

Tip#3 Buy/Sell Secondhand or Borrow / Share

How often have you had a whim to take up ‘X’ activity, bought all the kit and hardly used it only for it to sit around in cupboards.  With the digital age now there is no excuse not to put this stuff back into the secondhand market or to use this resource to grab yourself a bargain. Search on gumtree, eBay and Freegle for second hand gear where possible.  If your trip is short and a one off then try forums like Yes Tribe and Adventure Queens to see if there is someone local to you that you can borrow gear from.  

Tip#4 Cut Single Use Plastic Out Of Your Wash Kit 

This is becoming easier and easier as more products come onto the market.  You can see my wash kit for Paddle Cleanup below and that of my fellow team mate and Plastic Free Ovingdean champion Jessie.  We chose different options for our wash kits so there is a fine example of the variety out there now.  

A quick list of tips are below, I haven’t listed brands as there are a lot of options out there at the moment and I haven’t tried them all yet:

  1. Metal or Metal and bamboo safety razor
  2. Moon cup or similar for the ladies (these take a bit of getting used to but once you do, you never look back. Also think of all the money you will save!)
  3. Flannel (no more wet wipes please!)
  4. Shampoo/conditioner bars are the way forward
  5. Bamboo toothbrush
  6. Toothpaste in a jar or tablets
  7. Soap or solid shower gel (for adventures I just cut off a smaller piece instead of taking the whole bar)
  8. Deodorant in a jar or in a stick in a cardboard tube
  9. Refills (this is another option for trips where weight isn’t an issue.  I buy some products in bulk and then decant it)

Tip#5 Make Your Own Snacks 

This avoids unnecessary food wrappers, one of the main polluters of our waterways.  I made my own energy balls and granola bars for Paddle Pickup.  Top tip: make the ‘balls’ into a brownie type slab in a tupperware for adventuring as otherwise the balls can turn into gunk. 

Lots of recipes out there but I like the Ultimate Energy Bites by Deliciously Ella.  The ingredients I buy at a local unpackaged store. In Brighton there are loads (HiSBE or Charlottes Cupboard are good ones) but there are many popping up around the country if you search your local area – for London based peeps try Unpackaged at Planet Organic.  Alternatively, I go to a bulk buy shop which is super cheap, you can order stuff bulk online too.  Admittedly some use non recyclable plastic but I buy the largest container I can so it lasts a long time.

You can always try dehydrated fruit and veg too.  I haven’t tried it yet but after reading a blog by Cal Major – Paddle Against Plastic I am inspired to give this a try in the future.

Tip#6 Food Shop Wisely

It depends on the type of adventure you are doing and your dietary requirements as to the type of food you need to take with you, but my main advice is to shop wisely. 

Try to support unpackaged stores, try to buy produce that is not wrapped in plastic and take your own bags and containers with you when you shop.  

I noticed recently that Waitrose sell some pasta in paper, you can get pasta sauces in jars. Morrisons are encouraging customers to bring their own tupperware and Tesco is trialling this.  Iceland Foods are seeking to remove plastic from their own brands and over 40 companies including major supermarkets have signed up to a PACT to reduce plastic packaging so hopefully this will get easier over time.

If you eat meat then chorizo often comes just in paper and is a great high energy protein.  Eggs of course have their own biodegradable packaging!  Why not make your own humous?

Tip#7 Buy Food In Compostable Packaging

I found Outdoor Food super helpful when I enquired about plastic clever expedition food.  Recommended to me by the amazing Sian Sykes just before she set off to circumnavigate Wales.  For expedition food, it was surprisingly tasty. It comes in compostable packaging and in my opinion is a winner for those trips that need a lighter weight alternative.

For snacks, try Snact who sell vegan, gluten free, natural energy bars in compostable packaging.

Disclaimer: I am not vegan – I strive to be for environmental reasons but I believe if I tell myself I can’t ever have meat and dairy I will want it more. I would say I am a reduceatarian / flexitarian – some call it a conscious eater but that isn’t a label I identify with.

Tip#8 Take Reuseables With You

If you are adventuring in places that you can restock then take reuse bags with you, take a refillable coffee cup, take your own cutlery with you.  Take a refillable water bottle –  I use Water to Go.  The filters used in their BPA free water bottles are created based on technology originally developed for the NASA space programme, and their filter removes over 99.9% of all microbiological contaminants in water. That means that I can drink stream / river water, or otherwise undrinkable tap water. I drank tap water in India for 2 weeks with one of their filters and had no issues at all.

The image across the way is an affiliate link.  If you are interested in buying one this just gives me a commission which will help me to keep this blog and site going.  This is not why I have recommended them.  You can also buy from them direct and use discount code CTR15.

 

 Tip#9 Take ‘Leave No Trace’ To The Next Level

Not only do I take my waste home with me but I pick up whatever rubbish I can along the way.  If it is plogging, paddling against plastic, diving or hiking I tend to pick up what I can carry. 

It is interesting to save up all the single use plastic you use for a trip and document it then you can see where the problem areas are. You could maybe even write to / tweet those brands to ask them what they are doing about it.  e.g. follow the example of Kids Against Plastic and send your crisp packets back using the #PACKETin. 

For tips on what to do with the waste that you find see my blogs on what I did with the waste on Paddle Cleanup.

Tip#10 Talk about it

The more adventurers tell their followers about these tips and any others they are using, the more we can spread awareness.  By spreading awareness we raise expectations and demand.  More companies and product designers will then innovate to find sustainable solutions and governments will have to listen which helps keep this tide of change moving. So get out there and challenge yourself and adventure with less waste.  Leave any other top tips and comments in the comment box below.