Eco labels

EcoLabels
Some labels to lookout for 

One easy way to make a difference to the environment is in the choices we make as consumers. I’ve noticed over the past few year that more and more products are certified by eco friendly labels. But it’s not easy to make environmentally conscious decisions when you don’t know what you’re supposed to be looking out for.

Apart from the lack of awareness, I suspect one of the main reasons for people not purchasing products supporting these labels is down to cost. It is true that eco products can be more expensive, but not always. For example Sainsbury’s own tuna which has the MSC label, is cheaper than John West which doesn’t (and to me, tastes the same).

Above are some of the labels worth looking out for, and here is what they mean. If you have other favourites, please share!

An MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) blue tick on fish you buy means that it can be traced all the way back to the MSC certified fishery it came from. So you can eat your fish knowing that you are not endangering that species. You can find MSC fish in most big supermarkets now, and a lot of restaurants and fish and chip shops are getting on board too. Check menus for the blue tick!

The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label will be on certified wood and paper products (like pencils and notebooks). Anything you buy with this label guarantees that the tree cut down for it is being replaced.

Soil Association certifies that the product is organic. It can be found on a variety of products including food, beauty and textiles. I see it most frequently on food (like a loaf of bread or fruit).

EU Ecolabel indicates that what you are buying is environmentally friendly. The whole life cycle of the product is taken into account, from sourcing raw materials to recycling. This label can be found on cleaning products, furniture or even footwear.

The Rainforest Alliance label lets you know that the food or beverage you are consuming comes from farms where the staff work in safe conditions and the wildlife and waterways are protected.

Amazon Reef

Amazon Reef
Greenpeace image of the Amazon Reef

If like me, you missed this massive piece of news from last year, you might be excited to know that in April 2016, scientists discovered a coral reef in the Amazon. Very cool, especially considering how unlikely they were to find anything in the area due to the conditions not being favourable for a reef to thrive. It is a particularly exciting discovery, considering the current state of most of the coral reefs we do know about, to find one that is untouched. The reef is said to be almost 1,000km long, where the Amazon river meets the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, even before it was discovered it was already under threat. Oil companies that are a bit slow on the whole lets-move-away-from-fossil-fuel-before-we-all-die thing, are trying to obtain permission to drill down for oil. So if you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to help save the planet, right now, without having to do very much, look no further. Greenpeace have a petition going to help protect the area, and you can sign it at the link bellow.

Luckily for this coral reef, it is hard to explore under murky waters and strong currents, so we are unlikely to damage it with tourism and too much human intervention. But oil companies have different sets of priorities, so we need to make sure the area is protected. We don’t need more oil, and we definitely don’t need another oil spill. Sign the petition and pass it on!

https://amazonreefs.org/

The Microbeads App You Need

Unfortunately when it comes to new legislation protecting the environment, the urgency of the situation doesn’t seem to be reflected in the speed of its implementation. In September 2016 the government announced its plan to ban microbeads from cosmetic products. But like the 5p charge on plastic bags, announced in September 2013 and put in place in October 2015 (that’s 14 billion bags not saved), the elimination of microbeads is likely to still take some months, if not years. On the up side, some brands are voluntarily phasing them out, and some retailers are planning to stop selling products containing them without waiting for legislation to change. But in the meantime, we can do something better, stop buying them. If there is no demand for microbeads, there’s no production. If you’re unsure whether your products contain microbeads, use the Beat The Microbead app. I love it, and I use my St Ives face scrub knowing it doesn’t contain any plastic (just walnut shell!).

One thing though, if you have an unfinished product that contains microbeads, I can’t figure out if it’s more environmentally friendly to chuck the rest of it in the bin or finish it… Any opinions?

Get Beat The Microbead App here

Turn your engine off… pretty please and thank you

Is it ever acceptable to ask someone to turn off their engine if they are not moving? Or am I asking to be punched in the face?

I realise no one likes to be told what to do, and I’m trying to avoid being the preachy type. But really, on my run yesterday I counted three vehicles that were parked up with their engines running. If they don’t care about the air we’re breathing or their generous contribution to global warming, surely they must care about their money?! Apparently if you are not moving for 5-10 seconds it’s more economical to switch your engine off.

So can I knock on someone’s window and ask?

Would there ever be a valid reason to leave it running? If you’ve got it on to keep warm then nip into the nearest shop. They blast out so much hot air I assume they’re trying to grow their own tropical forest. Cheers for the reforestation but I don’t think the city streets is where the jungle is most needed.

In true British style, I gave the drivers a glare but decided against confrontation just yet. Until I pluck up the courage I will just hope they stumble across this blog post I’m hiding behind. 

traffic-safety-sign-nhe-14400_1000

UPDATE!

While I was working in my flat one morning this week, I could hear an engine running outside. After a few minutes it didn’t stop so I looked out the window, and a big van was parked up. I could see that the passenger was reading a newspaper and the driver filling out forms. I was debating whether to go down and say something, thinking as usual, that I probably wouldn’t and would hope that they would go away quickly. But after another five minutes the pointless emissions were becoming too annoying, and I wondered if they needed their engine to be on for anything, or if they just weren’t thinking. So I plucked up my courage and headed down. I was polite and asked them if their engine needed to be on. Before even answering, the driver had turned it off and apologised. I did make a point of saying it wasn’t for the noise but the pollution that I was asking, as it struck me then, that maybe it isn’t that they don’t care about polluting, it seemed like they just hadn’t thought about it.

I wondered if this would have any impact on their attitude to having their engines on generally, but I was trying not to kid myself too much. But happily, the next day when I left the flat, I saw that the van was back, the driver in his seat, and I hadn’t heard the engine all morning. Small win.

Olive Oil As Makeup Remover (yes really)

eye-makeup-remover

A few years ago, I was staying over at a friend’s house and asked to borrow her makeup remover. She said no problem, but just so you know, it’s olive oil. I was sceptical, but if it worked for her, then I thought why not try it. Safe to say I have never looked back, here’s why.

First of all, it works really well (even on waterproof mascara). As well, if not better than any removers I have bought in the past. Secondly, the savings. Makeup remover can be expensive, especially for effective ones. I don’t wear a lot of make up, but I would have to buy a few bottles a year. The best thing about using olive oil, is how little of it you need. In early 2015 I bought a 500ml bottle of organic extra virgin olive oil (about £3) and filled up an empty travel shampoo bottle with about a third of it, and kept the rest for cooking. I finished the bottle in the kitchen in a matter of months, but I have NEVER had to refill the little bottle in the bathroom, and I’m still going with it. I may have to finally buy a new bottle mid 2017. And last but not least, the environmental impact. Olive oil is natural product, you can buy it organic, and you know exactly what’s in it. I have no idea what was in my old makeup remover. There have been studies on whether they are dangerous for you skin, but I’m not finding much on whether the chemicals used are bad for the environment, so until then, might as well play it safe with olive oil. There is also less packaging involved as I buy one big bottle of olive oil that’ll last me years, instead of a little plastic bottle every few months, or worse, packs and packs of wet wipes. To make it even cheaper and environmentally friendly, I use reusable pads that I stick in with my washing.

The only downside I can think of (and I’m really digging here), is I remember at first finding the smell of olive oil strange when taking my make up off. But I either got used to it, or because it’s been the same olive oil sat in the bathroom the smell has gone. Either way, I very quickly didn’t notice it anymore.

So here’s how to use it: put a few drops of olive oil on your fingers, rub your makeup with it, then wipe with a reusable pad. If I’m wearing more makeup than usual I might do this twice. And that’s it! You can wash your face as normal after, but as I use so little I don’t tend to need to.

Chances are, you have some in your cupboard, so try it when you next take your makeup off!

7 Million Coffees

coffee1

If you caught Hugh’s War On Waste on the BBC, you will be well aware of the coffee cup problem by now. But if not, here it is: the paper cups used for take away coffee, is not in fact, made out of paper. Well, not just paper. To make the cup waterproof, the paper is lined with plastic. Basically what this means is that “paper” cups are not recyclable. It’s estimated that 7 million of these cups get wasted EVERY DAY in the UK alone. Picture that gigantic mountain of cups… there’s got to be a better way.

We could try and develop cups that are easier to recycle (it is currently being researched), but making a cup, to recycle it, to make a new cup, uses a lot more energy than have one cup that you can wash and use again straight away.

I bought a reusable coffee cup about a year ago and I love it. Of course, I don’t always remember to have it with me, but if I know there is a chance I’m going to grab a coffee on the way to work, I’ll put it in my bag. So far I have never had a coffee shop say no when I’ve asked if they could use my cup, I think they are beginning to expect it which is great. A lot of coffee shops sell them and Starbucks knocks 25p off your coffee if you use your own cup. Obviously you can be forgiven for not taking it with you everywhere you go, but every cup saved helps.

What I find more worrying though, is places where you can sit down to have your coffee, but they automatically put it in a take away cup, or worse, when they don’t even have normal cups at all. What owner of a coffee shop doesn’t have cups? I’m trying my best to avoid these places until they wake up and smell the climate change.

If you’re looking for an amazing reusable coffee cup, I love mine. It’s from the wonderful people at Surfers Against Sewage and is made from Bamboo, a pretty sustainable material. 

https://www.sas.org.uk/shop/accessories/bamboo-coffee-cup/