Swap Before You Shop

It’s not a secret that in what is considered to be the First World we are actively and constantly encouraged to buy and consume as much as possible.

This “use-and-throw” disposable culture is very damaging for the planet and its resources – just think of the water cost everything has – and instills a frame of mind where as soon as there is something wrong, or a slight malfunction with any object “It’s broken” and therefore “You might as well get rid of it, it’ll be more expensive to try to fix it anyway!”.

In some cases this unfortunately is true, however with a little effort we can first of all prevent damage, then we can also try to fix things such as clothes etc.

Another effect is the accumulation of things.

STUFF.

I think this is the best word to describe it. It denotes the right sort of impression, something you are quite detached from, that you find quite alien and even bothersome.

It’s getting in the way, it’s taking up your space and you don’t know what to do with or can’t be bothered with it…the sheer thought of going through this stuff makes you feel like you’d rather clean the toilet with a toothbrush. :|

Ill-fitting clothes, duplicates, gifts that aren’t getting the love they deserve…

I’m under the impression many can relate to this congested space situation, so a while ago I thought we could have some sort of get-together to try to decongest our spaces and give our stuff a new home, while finding something we would actually want to keep and use ourselves without the need to buy anything.

I don’t really know how to call this, but “swap before you shop” sums it up well. :) Maybe I was unconsciously influenced by the idea of Swishing parties.

 

I sent an e-mail to some of my friends and we had our do yesterday – it went so well that I can’t wait to do it again!

My flatmate C and I prepared the flat and waited for the others to arrive and add their unwanted stuff to ours.

 

Home-made guack and snacks

Home-made guack and snacks

 

Our living room was soon filled with clothes, shoes, belts, bags, books, DVDs, bracelets, necklaces, ties and more random objects that were ready to be swapped.

 

Swap Before you Shop

 

Once everyone had arrived and all the stuff was out, we just started choosing whatever we wanted to keep, and putting them aside, trying things on, and yes, playing dress-up too. It was really fun :D

Everyone found something that they wanted to keep that someone else had brought.

C found two really nice jackets that Le brought and looks great in them…

 

Badass Cat

 

Out of the items that were swapped, I saw that L kept a dress of mine I don’t wear anymore and some Clinique products, Le took a coffee press we don’t use here at the flat, H kept several tops, including a new one, R took a corset I bought for no apparent reason ages ago, a DVD and some slippers and J said she was going to leave with more things she came with! I chose some tops, a bright nail varnish and a mountain of books :)

C actually found that my friend D had brought a book she herself bought only a week ago!

 

Shopping for free

Shopping for free

 

That’s how someone described it, shopping for free! I’m really happy everyone had fun :D

 

 

 

The radio in the picture was C’s and I’m going to try it in my room and see if it sounds less fuzzy and is less temperamental than the one I have at the moment that I bought 8 years ago.

 

Rosie looking for the missing slipper

Rosie looking for the missing slipper

 

At the end there were a row of ties that hadn’t been touched, but as soon as L mentioned she used to use her dad’s ties as belts we all went nuts and grabbed some and tried it!

H also said one of her friends cuts and stitches them to use them as bag straps.

Tie Group

A bit of creativity can really change how you see things. It’s not only a tie. It’s a strong piece of material that can fasten or hold something. What can I do with it? :)

 

A lot of stuff was leftover, but we’ve bagged it all up and we’re going to take it to the Cancer Research UK and Oxfam shops down the road as my flatmate G and I have gift aid tags for these two charity shops and it really helps them keep more money from what they sell.

After the last time G took some bags to Cancer Research UK they sent him a letter telling him they had made an extra £50 thanks to the Gift Aid stickers! That’s amazing, and to think that these things are now going to be used and loved by someone really makes me happy!

-A total of 17 full carrier/bigger bags were taken to our local charity shops :)

 

Do you find that you have things you no longer use that could be used by someone else?

Would you organise or go to a similar do?

Camping Without A Trace

 

Today is Tuesday, but for many it’s like a fast-forwarding Monday, as August’s Bank Holiday weekend ended last night.

I spent mine at Reading’s music festival :)

Last time I went to a festival was 5 years ago at the Leeds equivalent, so another live music-filled weekend was due – especially as my mate D had been suggesting it for years!

We saw more than 30 live acts, and the absolute best were Enter Shikari. They interact with the audience like no one else! I highly recommend watching their show on BBC iPlayer. :)

This was the third time I saw them live, lead singer Rou Reynolds always goes straight to the audience and crowd surfs, runs around the whole stage and jumps around like a gazelle! He also actually talks to the audience and is simply a really good human.

He also introduced a song written about the privatisation of the NHS and mentioned how he’s noticing more and more people are standing up against racism, homophobia, sexism, misogyny…not an ordinary band.

The best things is that you can go absolutely nuts during their sets and get your brain going too. Amazing.

 

Enter Shikari at Reading Festival 2014

Enter Shikari at Reading Festival 2014

 

I am going to write more about them at the end of the post :)

 

~

 

Camping in Reading

Camping in Reading

 

One thing that is pretty impossible not to notice at these events is the amount of completely avoidable waste there is.

So I thought I’d write about my experience and some useful tips about trying to be as sustainable as possible when going to a festival or camping.

 

This Reading Festival guide is really useful to see what the festival organisers are doing to be as “green” as possible. This includes using green energy and details about their recycling initiatives.

There were big recycling bins dotted all around the camping sites and the main event field, so it was never hard to find one to recycle or compost something.

It’s just a pity that some of those who do bother disposing of something in the bins think that food belongs to the paper / plastic recycling bin rather than belonging to someone’s belly or the compost bin…     :|

 

So much rubbish

So much rubbish!

 

But there are also several deposit and refund schemes: every plastic bottle’s price include a 20p deposit, which means you can get 20p back when you return an empty bottle – I took one from home and refilled it several times a day at the numerous water fountains, which saved me money, time and avoided extra waste -.

Something similar goes on with the drinks cups: the deposit is 10p. So if you were to collect 10 cups you would get £1 back.

There are always people going around collecting other people’s discarded cups – it just shows how this works, it can be fun and loads of children were running around hunting for them!

 

The NME Stage

The NME Stage

 

I also wish people who smoke were more considerate as well.

Yes, I know it’s your holiday too and you just want to relax and have a fag. But do you really need to smoke in enclosed places (such as the tent stages) when the crowd is so dense and the air is so stuffy with showerless human warmth? Must you pollute not only the air with your chemical smoke but also the ground with your ever-lasting cigarette ends? :(

We sometimes compare some people to beasts or animals but one thing is for sure, animals would never pollute like that.

To think that dozens of people were recruited simply to deal with mindlessly discarded rubbish is pretty mind-boggling. How long is it going to take to clean it all up? How small is the effort each of us can make to take care of our own waste?

 

  • Travel: the best way to get to the festival is by coach or train and the site encourages people to share car rides too.

 

  • Tents and other equipment: every year, once it’s time to leave, thousands of tents and camping equipment gets left behind. What I find painful is seeing people tearing or beating tents down and smashing them up. What is the point? Do they think that’s a cool thing to do? Do they think they’re rock ‘n’ roll? I’d better not say what I think they are.

The good thing is, you are able to donate this gear by simply taking it to one of the donation points that come up on the Monday once the festival has come to an end.

If you do take your tent back home, be careful to take all the pegs out of the ground as cows sometimes visit these fields and it would be terrible for them to get hurt by accidentally swallowing one!

You could also choose to use biodegradable pegs such as these Vango ones.

 

  • Try to reuse and borrow before buying. We borrowed my flatmates’ tent and I borrowed my mate’s sleeping bag. That way, I saved money and didn’t purchase something I would only use once every few years.

 

  • Food

There were two Vegetarian & Vegan stalls in the main arena area, and both were really popular, with pretty long queues all the time.

 

The Honest Carrot at Reading

The Honest Carrot at Reading

 

One was the Honest Carrot and it offered vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free food such as carrot or beetroot and nut roasts or parcels filled with vegetables served with houmous, salad and pita bread, they also had really nice mixed potato, parsnip and sweet potato chips which were £3 (like everywhere else) and meals were around £5.50-£7.

The other place was even busier and offered pizza and vegan versions of burritos, falafel wraps, chilli, burgers and more, all for around £5-£7.

 

Vegan and Vegetarian stall at Reading Festival

Vegan and Vegetarian stall at Reading Festival

Their soy burgers were really nice!!

Vegan Burger

Vegan burger with houmous and lettuce

 

So after this experience, I’d say my festival/camping essentials are: (the highlighted words have sustainable versions of those items)

  • Tent (borrow one / keep and reuse yours)
  • Sleeping bag (borrow one / keep and reuse yours)
  • Pillow or gummy clothing to use as such
  • Refillable water bottle (plastic or metal)
  • Sun cream
  • Wet wipes – anything disposable isn’t really eco-friendly, but there are some wet wipes that are biodegradable, vegan and use less chemicals such as these Waitrose ones
  • Rain poncho / waterproof jacket
  • Wellies
  • Antiseptic hand gel
  • Loo roll
  • Ear plugs (festivals are noisy 24 hours a day :) )
  • Eye mask for the morning
  • Hat and gloves
  • Torch (best if manually chargeable)
  • Snacks such as cereal / fruit / nut bars – I love nakd bars, they are vegan and 1 of your 5 a day, you can buy big boxes of them or 4 for £2.50 at Sainsbury’s and Cocofina bars are really tasty too, vegan and organic.

 

Fruit Bars

Fruit Bars

 

We had a great time, even though we did not litter once or leave anything behind ;)

 

Me and D

D and I

 

So, just a few words more about Enter Shikari.

I cannot really compare them to any other band I know.

Their music is pretty unique, their lyrics are about topics that not many artists seems to deal with (to my knowledge) and their performances, as I said, are like no other…

I follow Rou – Enter Shikari’s lead singer – on Instagram and twitter, and he shares clever and hilarious photos, observations and thoughts on both.

Back in March he shared a picture saying he’d be speaking at  London’s Z-Day event, so I booked a ticket straight away.

 

London Z-Day Bracelet

London Z-Day Wristband

 

Z-Day is the Zeitgeist Movement Day. The Zeitgeist Movement is ” a sustainability advocacy organization, which conducts community based activism and awareness actions through a network of global/regional chapters, project teams, annual events, media and charity work.”

His speech was truly interesting and about one of the most incredible things most of us have the chance to experience in our lives: music – and its social value.

He went from analysing the definition of music, how it can affect us, and moved onto the limitations of music within our current economic system.

 

Rou Reynolds at London's Z-Day 2014

Rou Reynolds at London’s Z-Day 2014

 

His talk is en eye opener on many levels so make half an hour fly by, take a look and have a listen: Z-Day 2014 | Rou Reynolds | Music’s Social Value.

You can even watch the video from all of the talks prior to Rou’s that evening: Z-Day London 2014 Full.

Other talks covered topics such as the gap between inventions and society’s ability to actually use them, decentralisation as the new paradigm, the relation between doing something for a reward and actual productivity, hydroponics, hydrophobic clothing, the Venus project, maglev trains, green energy and more.

 

What do you think of the festival’s green initiatives? Do you have any tips on being eco-camping?

What do you think of Rou’s talk?

 

Being Vegan on a trip to Stockholm and Copenhagen

It’s been a great year so far, in terms of trips, and it’s been an interesting challenge to find sustainable vegan food while exploring too!

After going home to Italy in February, I went back to Sweden with my Canadian pals. Last year we went to Gothenburg, this time we went to Stockholm and Copenhagen for a few days at the beginning of May.

I liked Stockholm a lot! I love that it’s a cluster of 14 different islands interlinked by a myriad of beautiful bridges and that it is so bike-friendly. The air was always fresh, it never seemed to be very polluted and I didn’t really see any traffic jams.

We didn’t need to use public transport, we simply hired the Stockholm City Bikes which were surprisingly affordable at 165 SEK or under £15 for 3 days.
We got a card from one of the many 7-11 shops and we were able to cycle up to 3 hours at a time, anytime between 6am til 10pm.

There are bike banks dotted all around the city, we cycled everywhere we wanted to during our stay there and walked the rest of the time. It was lovely to easily rely on bikes to get around.

 

Cycling in Stockholm

Cycling in Stockholm

 

Cycling also made us realise how surprisingly easy it is to go from the bustling centre to the quiet edge of the city in minutes.

Ideal if you want to have a little break and find some beautiful natural spots.

 

Cloudy sky a few minutes away from the centre

Cloudy sky a few minutes away from the centre

 

We got to a path where we could not hear anything but the wind, the water and buoy bells. Incredible :)

 

Listening to the wind

Listening to the wind

 

When we first got to Stockholm we got some really nice salads and fresh bread from a little supermarket near our hostel. Mine had falafels and spicy houmous – falafel really is the international vegan staple meal! :D

Everyone speaks excellent English so there was no problem at all finding out if something was vegan when I couldn’t figure out what some of the ingredients were. The people I asked were extremely nice and happy to help :)

I also never had so many coffees in a single week in my life! I may have been unconsciously thinking of all the coffee-drinking in the Millenium series / The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy…

Most, if not all cafés had soy milk available so it was easy-peasy to choose a vegan option.

 

Frothy Soy Latte

Frothy Soy Latte

 

We didn’t have a fixed itinerary, we just cycled and found interesting places in the city.

We did visit one museum, Fotografiska, which had several completely diverse exhibitions which got us talking a lot.
The building really stands out and the view from their café is stunning, so I really recommend it if you have the opportunity to go.

 

The beautiful Fotografiska

The beautiful Fotografiska

 

Fika.

Amazing view of Stockholm's City Centre

Amazing view of Stockholm’s City Centre

 

On 30th April, Walpurgis Eve, a night to celebrate the arrival of Spring, we went out looking for the bonfire near where our hostel was in Gamla Stan, but by the time we got there it was less of a bonfire and more like a camping fire…There was a really good atmosphere however, and the fire warmed us up as we felt the light rain and the chilly air of Stockholm on our faces.

 

Walpurgis Eve Fire

Walpurgis Eve Fire

 

During our cycling adventures we also biked past some swamps on our way back from Djurgården, the Royal Park. No landscape was the same, this city has enough to be appealing to any sort of visitor.

 

Swamp on our cycling adventure

Swamp on our cycling adventure

 

Most of the time the weather was good and we enjoyed beautiful views of the city…

 

View from Södermalm

View from Södermalm

 

… and blue skies.

Gamla Stan

Gamla Stan

 

~

And now, to the food! :)

We weren’t exactly looking to taste super traditional Swedish food, but rather spontaneously finding places where we fancied eating, so we had amazing pizza for lunch one day…

 

Vegan Pizza

Vegan Pizza

 

…Mexican food one night…

 

Vegan bean burrito with guacamole, salsa and tortillas

Vegan bean burrito with guacamole, salsa and tortillas

 

…and sometimes we just bought something from the local coop and had a picnic in the Arctic air fresh breeze outside :)

 

Vegan lunch from the shop

Vegan lunch from the shop

 

Prior to our trip I asked our Swedish colleague for some tips on what to do in Stockholm and he recommended several places to eat too, so we went to Flippin’ Burgers in Observatoriegatan.

I had their vegan burger, but I had to have it without the bun as it had milk in it. It was nice and the restaurant has a really cool U.S. diner vibe and they serve milkshakes, floats and lots of different types of beer too.
It’s very, very popular so be prepared to queue up for a little while.

Vegan option at Flippin' Burgers in Stockholm

Vegan option at Flippin’ Burgers in Stockholm

 

The only place where it was trickier to find vegan food was the airport, the few options included fruit, nuts and these kind of smoothies.

Lime and strawberry smoothie

Lime and strawberry smoothie

 

~~~

 

We then flew from Stockholm to Copenhagen – flying was about a quarter of the price compared to taking the train! – and had a great time visiting it, we wished we could have stayed longer…

Everyone seems to be very happy and relaxed in Copenhagen, as opposed to everyone looking so busy and stressed in London…but maybe the fact that we were there at the weekend contributed to that too :)

 

First walk around Copenhagen

First walk around Copenhagen

 

It was really exciting to walk around the city where some of my favourite series, The Killing and Borgen, are set. I even spotted Pilou Asbæk, who plays Kasper in Borgen, strolling with his family on the bridge opposite Christiansborg Palace, the seat of Danish Parliament ! :D

 

Christiansborg Palace

Christiansborg Palace

 

Copenhagen too is full of full of bridges linking one area to the other, every street also has wide bike lanes and although different sources cite different numbers, I have read that up to 50% of Copenhageners cycle to work.
I actually have never seen as many bicycles as in Copenhagen, not even in Beijing.

 

Bikes in Christiania

Bikes in Christiania

 

Cycling isn’t the only alternative way to see Copenhagen, you can even see it from the river itself…

Kayaking in Copenhagen

Kayaking in Copenhagen

 

…or just by being by it.

 

Friday night at the riverside

Friday night at the riverside

 

The Parental leave system in Denmark is very flexible so it was nice and refreshing to see so many men walking around with their children.

Walk where the river meets the sea

Walk where the river meets the sea

 

We visited the Botanisk Have – Botanical Garden – and it reminded me of Kew Gardens. It’s a beautiful green area in the middle of the city and it was a beautiful day when we went there.

Botanisk Have

Botanisk Have

 

We also strolled around the picturesque Nyhavn for a few hours…

Nyhavn

Nyhavn

 

~~~

Before going on our trip I had a look on Happy Cow to check a few vegan-friendly places as my friends are super lovely and were more than happy to give them a try.

We went to L’ Appetit in Frederiksborggade, which was so nice, we went there twice! They had vegan-friendly food in big portions for about £7, with choices of veggie burgers, samosas, falafels and 4-5 different salads. The lady working there was really nice and pointed out all the vegan nosh.

 

Food at L'Appetit in Copenhagen

Vegan Food at L’Appetit in Copenhagen

 

Vegan Samosa, Houmous and Salads at L'Appetit

Vegan Samosa, Houmous and Salads at L’Appetit

 

I also tried different types of bread from a chain called Holm’s Bager. These were so nice and tasty, I think they were made with different flours, including rye,  topped with seeds and oats and filled with raisins and other good stuff.
The lady working there checked which ones were dairy free for me.

Holm's Bager Raisin and Seed Rolls

Holm’s Bager Raisin and Seed Rolls

 

And of course, it was very easy to get hold of another usual great vegan snack: nuts! This pot had  the ingredients written in English too, could it be any easier to find vegan food in Copenhagen?

 

Snack from the station

Snack from the station

 

~

 

We may have spent less than a week away, but this was certainly one of the best trips of my life!

I do love travelling. I personally think it involves different elements that can make you grow as not much else can.

Organising, researching, meeting and talking to new people, seeing and experiencing something new… it can really help open your mind and make you think there are different kinds of life around you… And even if you do happen to have a bad experience, you can learn from it.

After this trip I felt inspired, I loved experimenting with pictures and it makes me feel reassured that it is possible to have more sustainable cities, it can take as little as more safe cycling routes, for example.

 

Here are some links if you would like to know more about sustainability in Sweden and Denmark:

 

 

I am very happy to have been able to see a little more of Sweden and to walk around Copenhagen, I really cannot wait to go back!

 

Have you been to a city that is known for its eco credentials?

What do you think are the elements that make a city or country more sustainable? Does it apply to everywhere?

100 Ways to be More Sustainable – 100th Post

Hello everyone, this is my 100th post! :)

I started this blog on 5th February 2012, over 2 years ago, and have finally got to the 100 mark.

As I started off with the idea of writing a blog that would show that acting more sustainably can be easy and have benefits such as saving energy, money and pollute less, I thought it would be a good idea to write about 100 ways to be more sustainable for the 100th post :)

 

First, though, I would like to thank you.

Thank you if you are reading this, thank you if you have been following me since the start, since last year or if you are a new follower.

Thank you for every “like”, comment and share. Thank you for supporting me in my little mission.

 

Now, to the more practical side of things.

Everything we do has an impact on the environment, this impact can be more or less sustainable, if we think of it as “capable of being maintained as a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage”.

So, here we go, just over 100 tips on how to be more sustainable! Click on the links to discover more about these eco-tactics :)

 

Less energy-hungry food (16)

  • Eat less energy-demanding meat. It only takes a few seconds to look at this World Food Clock and realise how we produce, consume and waste every single second. (Thank you for sharing, Janina). Here are some ideas to get your newly recommended 7 (or even more) a day! 10 Ways to 10 a Day from KHGS.
  • Eat more lentils! They are an excellent sustainable source of protein and easy to grow too.

 

Lenticchie di Norcia - Italian Lentils

Lenticchie di Norcia – Italian Lentils

 

  • Store food properly. By doing so, it will last longer and you will waste less. Did you know spring onions last longer in a glass of water in the fridge? :)
  • Plan meals ahead and let frozen meals thaw in the fridge. This will save you energy because the fridge will need less electricity to keep the temperature low, plus you won’t need to defrost the meal in the microwave either. Guide: How to defrost safely.
  • Buy locally, go to farmers’ markets or local farms – you will be supporting smaller producers and you can save money too.
  • Have a look at supermarkets’ reduced to clear sections.
    You can find amazing bargains, especially towards the end of the day (loaves of bread for 20p), and purchase food that would otherwise go to waste. You can then consume it as soon as possible or freeze it for future use and save a lot of money.

 

Reduced Food

Amazingly cheap but still perfectly fine reduced food

 

  • Understand the difference between “best before” dates and “use by” dates. Look at the Ultimate Shelf Life Guide to avoid wasting food unnecessarily.
  • When you go out, try local produce and products. From craft beers to wine, from pies to vegetables and fruit: give your local producers a try!

 

Less Pollution (22)

  • Try natural alternative to laundry detergents, such as affordable soap nuts.

Green People Mascara

  • Give car sharing a try. Try sharing rides with colleagues, share a taxi or simply use public transport or start cycling.
  • Learn to drive consuming less fuel: Cut your speed and petrol bill.
    As a pedestrian, if you see a single car coming along, and you’re not in too much of a rush of course, let it drive past so they don’t need to break and re-depart after, which would use more fuel.
  • Walk more. Ramblers is a website that shows many walking routes, or you could simply walk more and use your car less.
  • If you need to pack a parcel, reuse bubble wrap or – even better – use strips of waste paper and ask the receiver to reuse or recycle them after.
  • Try purchasing less plastic and buying reusable items made of less toxic materials. You can start by taking a reusable bag when you go shopping. Life Without Plastic.
  • When you are eating out, ask for tap water rather than bottled water (in areas where it is safe, of course). Why Tap Water is Better.
  • To freshen your home, use essential oils rather than chemical-filled air fresheners. You only need a few drops in a burner or in a spray bottle.
  • Instead of sponges which are not recyclable and harbour bacteria, use cloths which can be washed and reused.

 

Reusable Material Cloth and Ecover

Reusable Material Cloth and Ecover

 

  • Switch to online billing rather than paper billing, some companies offer discounts for the switch too.
  • To get rid of oil stains, rub chalk on the affected area before washing rather than using harsh chemicals.
  • Take your own lunch to work, you will cut down on a lot of packaging and also save around £1,000 per year!

 

Take a packed lunch to work :)

Take a packed lunch to work :)

 

  • When changing the oil for your car, make sure you dispose of it properly as it can pollute waterways and kill wildlife. Find your nearest UK oil bank.
  • Try to purchase products that don’t rely on batteries, and if they must, use rechargeable ones. Look for solar power chargers for an extra sustainable option.

 

Make, repair&fix (12)

 

Make Do and Mend

 

 

  • Turn used trousers into shorts or skirts.
  • Get to know your neighbours, they may need something you can offer and they may be able to offer something you need.
    My flatmate designed the website for the restaurant next door to us.
  • Make your own body scrub, for example by mixing olive oil with a bit of ground salt and sugar. Simple!
  • Make your mirrors, windows and glass objects sparkle by using white vinegar. Add some in a spray bottle (you can dilute it with 1:10 vinegar to water up to 50/50) and apply with scrunched newspaper to leave no traces or marks.
  • Make a wood cleaner by mixing two parts of vegetable oil with one part lemon juice, use with a cloth.
  • If you prefer purchasing cleaning products, choose eco-friendly ones such as Ecover.
  • To freshen up smelly shoes, try filling them up with scrunched newspaper overnight or sprinkle the insides with bicarbonate of soda or talcum powder and shake them out the day after.

 

Buy less, use less and buy better quality (9)

 

  • Do a little research about brands you may want to purchase: do they pay sustainable wages to their workers? Labour Behind the Label.
  • Use less plastic and more natural or oil-free materials, have a look at alternatives from Life Without Plastic.
  • Buy second-hand books, they can be so much cheaper! Or borrow reading material from your local library.
  • Have your shoes resoled once they need to and keep on using them. I have had my boots for 7 years and they’re great!
  • Dye clothes that have faded and give them a new life.

 

Bank Better

 

  • Triodos Bank is “a global pioneer of sustainable banking.” Their mission is “to make money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change.”

 

Lend

 

  • Give someone the opportunity to create a sustainable business and alleviate poverty with the Kiva project, you can lend as little as $25 to someone who needs it and who will give it back to you when possible.

 

Save Energy (15)

 

  • Invest in an energy-saving product such as Energenie in order to save energy and money.
  • When charging devices, unplug them once they are fully charged, avoid leaving them plugged in unnecessarily or overnight.
  • Look for energy-efficient domestic appliances.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries and replace your batteries rather than replacing your whole phone.
  • Turn off the oven a few minutes before the time is up, the heat remains in the oven for a long time after you switch it off.
  • Try to use the oven as its full capacity when you use it, you can add meals to eat later in the week or use it to make croutons out of stale bread, for example.
  • Switch to a green energy supplier.
  • Wear warmer clothing and adjust your central heating to avoid wasting energy and money.
  • When you dry your clothes indoors, avoid putting them on radiators as this will stop the heat from reaching the room, create damp and good conditions for mold to grow.
  • Cook in bulk and therefore save energy. You can freeze additional portions.
  • Cook food in a steamer, you can cook different things on each level at the same time.

 

Recycle and Reuse (11)

 

  • Save paint from going to waste, Community Repaint collect reusable paint and distribute it to those who need it, helping them and avoiding waste.
  • Recycle your shoes at a collection bank.
  • Clear your cupboards of old electronic equipment, sell it or recycle in appropriate centres.
  • Consider going to charity shops first to find what you need. It could be a frame, and even if you don’t like a picture you may love the frame. Give things a new life.
  • You can recycle all sorts of things, even ink cartridges. Check before you throw.
  • Donate, don’t throw. If you have unwanted furniture, give it to a friend or donate it to a charity.
  • Borrow instead of buying, Freecycle.org can help you find what you need with no need to buy it.
  • Share more. You will save money, use fewer resources, meet new people… 10 reasons to share.
  • Use carpets in many ways to avoid them ending up in landfill. Use them to line cupboards, cars as mats, pet beds,  as doormats and even under plant pots.

 

Waste Less (9)

 

  • Compost food and tea bags to fertilise the soil which you will be able to use to grow your own herbs, vegetables, food or plants.
  • Reuse timber material from skips.
  • Take your own suit bags to the dry cleaner’s rather than having them give you flimsy plastic ones and take back the hangers for them to reuse.
  • Reuse tea bags – when you make tea in a cup, you can often reuse it for another cup as their strength is usually enough for a few cups. Or use loose tea leaves and then compost them if possible.

CHai Tea

  • Buy in bulk or buy refills.
  • When you go to a restaurant, if you cannot finish your meal, ask to take it away in a doggy box. It’s a compliment to those who took care to source and prepare the food, and you have paid for the whole portion, don’t be shy! Too Good To Waste Campaign.

 

Save Water (5)

 

  • Choose a dual flush system or put a water-saving device in your loo tank to use less water with every flush.
  • When you are waiting for cold water to turn hot, collect it rather than letting it go down the drain and use it to water flower and plants, wash fruit and vegetables, fill the kettle…don’t waste it!
  • Use a tank to collect rain water. It’s ideal to water plants or wash the car.
  • Wash your vegetables in a bowl rather than under running water and use that water for plants and flowers.

 

What do you like to do to be more sustainable?

Do you have any additional tips?

Weather Problems and Climate Change Relations

For the past few weeks the news has literally been inundated with updates on the bad weather we’ve had here in the UK and also the storms that have been hitting the US.

Apparently it was the unusually bad storm in Indonesia that started it all off, as a chain reaction that affected so many people and even caused fatalities, 3 people died because of it in the UK alone.

This brief BBC video, from 13th February 2014, gives a good summary of what has been happening: UK storms: “Global chain reaction” behind bad weather.

One comment is particularly interesting to me: “Met Office scientists cannot give a definitive answer about climate change, but they ask about all the recent extremes”.

Another BBC article, published on 9th February so 4 days before the video, is titled “Met Office: Evidence “suggests climate change link to storms“.

I guess the way the media is reporting scientists’ opinions can be a little confusing sometimes, I initially thought these two statements from the same source, the BBC, were clashing.

However a few paragraphs into the article the concept becomes somewhat clearer, as Dame Julia Slingo states : “There is no evidence to counter the basic premise that a warmer world will lead to more intense daily and hourly rain events.”

Which to me means “We cannot prove that the bad weather we’ve had and climate change are not linked”.

With this, we can understand that scientists may not be necessarily trying to prove that climate change and the extreme weather we have been witnessing are interlinked, but rather they are trying to see if this hypothesis can be proved and become a theory.

It’s almost as if they are trying to find evidence to prove that they are not linked, in the meantime it is probable that the devastating weather and climate are, in fact, linked.

I find this is important to understand.

I have been thinking about writing this post for the past 2 weeks and it has changed a lot in the process, while I tried to understand more of what’s been going on.

At first all the articles I was reading seemed to make it clear: climate change is causing extraordinary weather, this weather is causing innumerable problems for thousands of people…

If climate change itself is mainly caused by humans’ emissions then we simply have to act more sustainably to produce less emissions, prevent and solve this problem.

I’d love to be able to know for a fact that change and adverse weather connection are linked.

But the fact that this cannot be proved as 100% true does not mean it is not, or at least in part.

I am just trying to understand how things are connected, why and what I can do in order to slow these hostile phenomenons down.

 

Sunny Day in London

Meanwhile, the Sun shines cheekily in London

 

Another great article, this time the Guardian’s “World begins 2014 with unusual number of extreme weather events” quotes: “”We are living in a time where the climate is changing quite rapidly. There is reason to expect that the changes in the sea ice will have large local effects. Further investigation will improve our knowledge of whether or not the effects of sea ice decline and broader changes in the Arctic have global effects,” said leading US meteorologist Jeff Masters.”

I guess it’s an ongoing quest.

In the meantime, I will continue to look for more ways to lead a more sustainable life, together with eating less or no energy-hungry food such as meat, recycling more, buying less but better quality and from sustainable sources…

I have posted a petition to ask for better flood defenses on the blog’s Facebook page.

 

Do you feel confused by the way the media shapes the news?

 

What is your opinion on the relation between climate change and the planet’s weather?

Don’t Spend, Mend!

Are you a DIY lover?

I’m actually not, but there are some things that I like to do myself to avoid creating needs for things I could simply mend and carry on using.

One thing I like to do is mending clothes. And the point is, I’m not that good at it. But I care about the things I own, I like to look after them so they can last as much as possible and if they get wounded on the way, I like to give them a hand to recover and my basic stitching skills seem to do the trick.

A button missing here, a little hole there, a stubborn stain… if you give a little bit of love and time to clothes, they will keep on loving you.

By mending things you are less likely to purchase new things, new things that needed a lot of energy and produce carbon emissions to get to you. So you’re being sustainable :) oh, and you’re saving money ;) all you need is a very basic sewing kit (I only have 1 needle and 3 different coloured cotton thread reels and manage with that).

Since the beginning of the financial crisis we have seen various “waste not want not” topics arise in different ways.

This new topic trend translated itself in creating and mending clothes too, with programmes such as The Great British Sewing Bee popping up on our screens in May last year in the U.K. and starting again next Tuesday at 8pm.

I thought of this post because I finally tackled some stitching and mending I had put aside. I “saved” 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of jeans, a jumper, a pair of tracksuit bottoms, a T-shirt, a bra, some underwear and a pair of tights.

All of these items had a little fault but they are now ready to be worn again, in fact I wore the tights the day after I mended them and have put off buying a new pair. Pretty good for about for about 45 minutes of mending while listening to the radio.

I have also received pretty interesting Pinterest suggestions on craft, sewing etc.

Some people are talented enough to make their own wedding dress out of fabric unwanted by others, which is ridiculously amazing and inspiring, however if you are not so good at sewing, stitching and darning you can find a lot of tutorials online or maybe someone in your family or circle of friends could help! It will give you a cosy sense of achievement :)

DIY Scalloped Hem Skirt

DIY Scalloped Hem Skirt Tutorial from uberchiforcheap.com

I am planning to save more garments by rescuing them from stubborn stains. The way I usually do it is by adding thin bleach do a little dish, diluting it with water and then gently dabbing it to the affected area (I wear rubber gloves and use cotton wool to dab it). I let it sink a few seconds, rub it gently then put the garment in the washing machine or wash it by hand.

My mum now uses a nice Summer jacket that used to be stained.

I also have the intention to refresh the look of an unwanted coat by adding colourful  buttons to it, make a cushion out of a wooly jumper I don’t want to wear and a pair of shorts out of a pair of jeans, taking inspiration from this Little Miss Bow Peep blog post.

I will update this post once I have done this :)

Here is some inspiration and help to mend, create and update clothes, such as this dress from the WobiSobi blog.

DIY Dress Pinterest

DIY Dress Pinterest

 

Pinterest inspiration:

Thrifty Crafts

Sewing

Make do and mend

DIY Projects

DIY: Fashion

Pin it, Make it, Wear it

Knits and Knots if you’d like to give knitting a try

 

Youtube:

How to repair rips in your clothes video

Hand Sewing Basics video

The British Sewing Bee: How To…

And if something really cannot be mended, take it to the charity shop or to H&M’s garmet collecting bins to ensure it can be reused or recycled rather than end up in landfill.

Do you ever mend clothes?

Do TV shows and tutorials inspire you to try some DIY mending?

Being Vegan on a Trip Home in Italy

Hello all! As mentioned in my last post, I went home to Italy for a week and now I am back in London! :)

It was the first time I went back home as a more-sustainable-eating-vegan so I was curious to see how it would go. I can safely say it went very well as my main occupation there was actually eating…!

My mum bought a ton of fresh vegetables for me to have and my friends also made an effort to feed me (after a few panic moments trying to figure out what to make!) :D

I started off my trip well with the usual super food salad from Pret A Manger.

This has really become a sort of ritual, a bit like some who always have a McDonald’s breakfast before a trip, only healthier and more sustainable :P

I had a delicious innocent mangoes and passion fruit smoothie, which has 2 of your 5 a day and is so thick and delicious… and a cocoa delight Nakd bar, which is 1 of your 5 a day!

With the salad I’m sure it made up 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, all in one meal! I certainly eat a lot more vegetables now I eat vegan food :)

Pret Super Food Salad, innocent Smoothie and Naked Bar

Pret Super Food Salad, innocent Smoothie and Naked Bar

My mum didn’t only buy heaps of vegetables, she also bought me several other vegan goodies such as soy milk so I could have cereals for breakfast.

Vegan Cereals in Italy

Chocolate Cereals, Soy Milk and Twinings Lemon Tea

My sister tasted soy milk for the first time and said she really likes it! She said it’s sweet and tastes good. I personally don’t really like it much on its own but it’s perfect with cereals and other recipes.

The day after I got there some of my friends and I went to visit another friend who invited us for lunch.

I asked her if I should take some food over to make things easier (she seemed a bit alarmed when I told her what I choose not to eat!), but she made a delicious asparagus risotto (and simply added butter and parmesan to it after dishing mine out). I also had the chips (only skipped the meat rolls) and yummy apple pastries she made.

My sister also had some really nice baci di dama biscuits, their name means “dame’s kisses” and they are like 2 little biscuits sealed with a kiss of hazelnutty chocolate.

Lucky for me, these were dairy free, made with rice flour (so probably gluten-free too) and egg free.

Bacetti di Riso

Bacetti di Riso

Baci and lemon tea

Baci and lemon tea

They were particularly lovely with citrussy Twinings lemon tea :)

Out of the mountain of vegetable my mum got, there was a really big bag of fresh spinach and bietoline, so I used them to make a lovely vegetable pasta which also had red peppers, tomato sauce, garlic, herbs, chilli, onions and my beloved sun-dried tomatoes. Tasty and colourful!

Vegetable Fusilli

I also managed to make another recipe again while I was home: a friend of my mum’s gave her a lovely fresh, organic cabbage from her garden so I thought it would be a great opportunity to make a cabbage soup inspired by Food to Glow’s Kellie’s Freekeh and Green Soup.

We didn’t have freekeh or quinoa (that’s what I used the first time I made the soup) so I gave it a more Italian twist by adding pasta and also a potato. My mum really liked it! actually everyone who has tried it so far has liked it :)

Cabbage Soup Ingredients

Cabbage Soup Ingredients

The picture above shows the ingredients I used in Italy.

As you can tell this soup is really healthy and can be a complete meal if you add some beans, lentils or chickpeas as a protein source. The spices Kellie recommends using give it a lovely fragrant flavour and a squeeze of lemon at the end make it really refreshing.

Cabbage soup inspired by Food to Glow

Cabbage Soup inspired by Food to Glow

 

One of the things I reaaaally wanted to have back home was pizza of course!

In order to have a sustainable vegan pizza all you have to do is order one with vegetables and ask them to avoid adding the cheese. Voilà!

Vegan Italian Pizza

Vegan Italian Pizza

It was sooo nice :) and while I was home I drank so much apricot juice too! Fortunately I discovered that a local shop stocks it here in London so I won’t have to overload on it each time I go home anymore :P

Another lovely dish I had was pasta with a creamy cannellini beans sauce my sister made.

The thing I liked about this is just how creamy it tasted. I’m not a fan of super-creamy sauces but this one was really nice.

Some may think that eating vegan food means giving up the pleasure to eat creamy textures, however this dish could prove them wrong.

It was velvety, satisfying and made by simply cooking garlic, organic rosemary from our village and a tin of cannellini beans in a little extra virgin olive oil. Once they had cooled down she whizzed them up, seasoned it all and added the pasta, garnishing with poppy seeds for extra flavour and crunch. Great!

Pennette with Creamy Cannellini Beans Sauce and Poppy Seeds

Pennette with Creamy Cannellini Beans Sauce and Poppy Seeds

 

One evening we had these beautiful mini peppers raw with some hoummous my sister made. Aren’t they lovely?

Small Fresh Pepper

 

It seems like even in Italy there are more dairy-free options, including for fresh cheese.

Valsoia Vegan Fresh Cheese

Valsoia Vegan Fresh Cheese

Valsoia is a brand that’s been around for years, I remember watching their ads when I was little “I say no to cholesterol, yes to Valsoia”!

It was pretty good and would be great in a sarnie! I tried it with organic corn cakes and freshly cracked pepper too.

Valsoia cheese with organic corn cakes

Valsoia cheese with organic corn cakes

 

Oh, and I ate all of my mum’s dark chocolate…

Lindt Dark Chocolate

 

~

Ever since I was little, simple pasta soup has been a staple soup at home.

One of those meals that are a quick dinner solution and are good for body and soul.

Tempestine Soup Pasta

Tempestine Soup Pasta

All you need is soup pasta, vegetable stock and a potato or two.

Soupette

Soupette

Ta-dah! Soupette! Which I guess in French it means little soup or perhaps simple soup.

Don’t be fooled by its humble look, it tastes amazing – especially with the comforting smoothness of the potatoes – , makes you feel good and could be complemented by a few handfuls of fresh spinach.

For my last night, my mum also made a cake, it was the first time she had baked a vegan lemon cake and it was wonderful.

Lemon Cake - Vegan

Lemon Cake – Vegan

Light. Fluffy. Lemony. Heavenly! I will have to ask her for the recipe :)

 

Last but not least, we had lunch together at our favourite Chinese restaurant. This place and its owner were one of the factors that inspired me to study Chinese, which led me to live in China for 10 months and become so passionate about the environment and sustainability.

Soy Noodles with Vegetables

Soy Noodles with Vegetables

My vegan option was soy noodles with vegetables, I just asked them not to add the prawns.

 

Going home proved that it’s entirely possible to eat sustainable food while being away. If you want to make a change, with a little research and language skills you can do it anywhere :)

Of course it was easier being at home, but even going out to eat was fine and I never felt like I was missing out on anything.

Writing this has made me hungry for more vegan food and hungry for new adventures! :)

 

Have you ever had the experience of going to someone’s home with certain requirements?

Have you tried new food or products because they were more eco-friendly?