After the kick-off of Glastonbury recently, it’s official – festival season is well and truly upon us. With hundreds of different festivals taking place in fields, on beaches, and in cities across the country during the summer months, you might already be compiling a list of your “must attend” events.
Camping out in a field for a few days, can be challenging at the best of times but if you are someone who lives an eco-conscious lifestyle, it can be even more difficult to stick to your principles. Single-use plastics, hygiene issues, and even glitter- there are a whole range of things you need to consider before you pack up your bag and head off into the musical wilderness of festival land. Continue Reading…
Today, May 28th, is Menstrual Hygiene Day. Menstrual Hygiene Day is an annual awareness day to highlight the importance of healthy menstrual hygiene management, to break the silence around menstruation, to raise awareness and change negative social norms. This year’s theme ‘It’s Time For Action’ is one we can get behind. Action to change negative social norms, to catalyze progress on education, and to ensure everyone has access to menstrual hygiene products, so that no girl is left behind because of her period. Continue Reading…
We’re heading into Holiday season, the Easter break proved to be a weekend of glorious sunshine and we may not want to think of it as being that close, but the countdown is now on for the six weeks of school summer holiday. I need to start thinking about whether I still fit in last year’s summer clothes and I need to start thinking about family sun care.
Whether your concerns are kids with delicate skin, keeping the wrinkles at bay, protecting against skin cancer or just avoiding sun burn, you’ll need some sun protection this summer at home and abroad.
First and foremost, I’m buying sun-cream because I want protection
Cancer research UK advises that we should reduce our exposure to UV rays to reduce the risk of skin cancer. They suggest we should spend time in the shade, cover up and use a sunscreen (at least SPF 15 and 4 stars) and to reapply cream regularly.
Safe to say we all know what a sun protection factor (SPF) is- the higher the number, the more protection you get, right? And the stars? Well they tell you the percentage of UVA that is absorbed by the sun cream compared with how much UVB is absorbed. Higher star, better protection, but only in line with the SPF.
Thing is, I’m looking for more environmentally friendly sun protection and a lot of sun-creams I look at don’t have the star system on the packaging. I want to do the right thing for the environment but not at the expense of my health, so I got to wondering why the eco-brands don’t have the star rating… are they as good at protection as their cosmetic giant rivals? Well, the answer is almost certainly yes. It turns out that the star system is proprietary, it belongs to Boots, and you need their permission to use the logo. Crazy that the big companies have got their proprietary information woven into the guidance we all trust! So, what can we look at instead, if we’re buying a brand who hasn’t paid Boots to use the star rating logo?
The letters “UVA” inside a circle is a European marking. This means the UVA protection is at least one third of the SPF value and meets EU recommendations.
You can also do your research a little. Sunshade have tested their SPF25 product and confirm that if they were allowed to use the star rating system, their product would come out at 4/5 stars. I’m looking for environmentally conscious sun protection which meets the NHS and Cancer Research recommendations and I found one: Shade All Natural Sunscreen. If, like me, you have fair skin or have an active lifestyle which means avoiding the sun isn’t as easy, try the SPF50 that Amazinc! offers. The tube is easy to fit in a handbag for on-the-go use and the stick design means it’s easy to get the backs of the kids’ necks, often without greasing your own fingers up. I’m not usually so on the ball that I have a full bottle of sun cream in my bag, but this stick can stay in there all day long, it so convenient!
What makes sun-cream eco-friendly?
So, what’s in a sun-cream? What about the sprays and creams and gels? Ever wondered how we got from rubbing cream in like we used to in the 80’s to today’s convenience of a quick spritz and whoosh you’re off? How we got there is the same story as how we got from using a block of soap with a flannel to using an aerosol luxury foam with plastic net exfoliating buffer.
Just what are we on the progression to with our time-saving, convenient, luxury cosmetics? You’re here and you’re reading this so I’ll take it as read that you know the cost of this progress in terms of plastic waste but are you aware of the ingredients in sun-cream that have a direct and immediate toxic effect on coral reefs and marine life?
What is coral?
Coral is a symbiotic organism. Simply put, there are two organisms living together; a polyp which provides a home and algae, which is the food source. Both need each other to survive and provide something the other needs. It’s the algae that gives coral its colour. Coral bleaching happens when the algae either leaves, dies or is expelled by the polyp. Coral bleaching is often reversible so it isn’t too late to start making changes which could help save our coral reefs.
You might have heard that some resorts have introduced local bans on some sun-cream ingredients to preserve our precious coral reefs. Some chemicals used as preservatives and UV filters are known to have immediate, detrimental and irreversible effects on reefs and marine life. Industry has no current standards to help us determine which are coral or marine safe brands and which aren’t, so we need to do a little bit of label reading ourselves. Be aware that any claim of reef or marine safe means nothing. At the moment, it’s down to us as consumers to check the label and to challenge the manufacturers. The “Be reef safe” initiative advises against parabens, cinnamates and benzophenones (more information at Be Reef Safe) and the organisation “Marine Safe” has a realistic ethos that there is no fixed definition for “Marine Safe” but that with new scientific findings the definition will change over time. The more we know, the more we can adapt to preserve our marine life. Be Marine Safe has an evolving list of chemicals to avoid (Marine safe chemicals to avoid). One thing that every such organisation agrees on is that Oxybenzone is bad news. Oxybenzone is prolific in sun care products and is used as a barrier to UV light. It’s harmful to coral, causing coral bleaching and death of baby coral at levels we know to exist on our reefs today.
The European Chemical Agency regards Oxybenzone as being “very toxic to aquatic life” and “toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects”. The toxic effects this information comes from is tests on algae. We know algae is critical to coral survival. They also have initial grounds for concern for a list of areas including endocrine disruption and allergic reactions. Check out the long list of alternative names of Oxybenzone so you can check if it’s in your cosmetics at Marine safe chemicals to avoid.
I’d usually advocate using what you have before rushing out to buy new “eco” goodies but with these chemicals we really shouldn’t be using them anywhere near the sea. They’ll make their way through the water system and ultimately end up in the sea wherever we use them, but I would beg that you don’t use products containing these chemicals if you know you are going into the sea afterwards.
What am I buying?
I’m buying long sleeved, natural fibre tops- the Oxfam online shop is amazing for picking up affordable, conscious-clear holiday clothes. I’ll be digging out my sun hat and I’ll be sitting in the shade whenever I get the chance. To be honest, I’ll mostly be in a wet-suit but those times I’m not, I’ll be in the sea again soon, so I do want to protect myself, but I don’t want to be responsible for more reef loss. Last year’s sun-cream has probably lost its potency already so to keep my family safe and to keep marine life safe, I’ll be buying a biodegradable marine-safe products this year. I understand that I can only go on current recommendations and that things may change in the future, but I can make choices based on what we know now. I’m choosing Shade All Natural Sunscreen and Amazinc!
“Be Marine Safe” recognises how difficult it is to find a perfect solution and advises that what you can do immediately is:
-recognise this is a problem
-reduce the amount you use by covering up
-replace your sunscreen with less harmful alternatives
Good to go snorkelling now the sun cream is sorted?
You’d think so but no. These chemicals are in other holiday essentials and products we use all the time. If you’re following the advice of your hairdresser, as I have done in the past, you’re using colour protect shampoo and conditioner. The chances are that these products also have Oxybenzone and other harmful chemicals in, and it doesn’t even have to be a shampoo and conditioner designed to protect your hair from UV. Out of the two, conditioner is the most harmful as it sticks to our hair and releases the toxins into the water when we swim. Conditioners without oxybenzone and quaternary ammonium compounds are more expensive up-front, but they don’t leave harmful chemicals on your hair or deposit them in the sea and they don’t kill the algae in your local river. A little goes a long, long way with these products so just a small amount of natural liquid conditioner, such as Bain & Savon, decanted into a tin will last you all holiday and take up less room in your suitcase!
Oxybenzone and the other chemicals “Be Marine Safe” advise us to avoid are also found in your mascara, your shampoo and other products. I don’t wear much make-up on holiday, but I do love to wear mascara for the holiday snaps, and it has to be black for me. Do I need a new mascara? Well, it’s been a good while since I last bought one because I don’t wear make-up as a general rule, and we’re advised to change mascara every three months. ZAO do a volume and sheathing mascara which ticks all my boxes and a new mascara will mean I avoid eye infections whilst I’m on my jollies!
It’s not just reefs we stand to harm in the product choices we make. The ecosystems right on our doorstep rely on algae as the primary food source. So, when you’re thinking Marine safe, it’s not just about your sun-cream, not just about the sea, and not just for holiday.
Spring is in the air and if you have a bit of a spring in your step as well, the chances are you are considering giving your house a good clean.
Out with the old, in with the new, and getting rid of all the dust and grime that may have accumulated over the winter months is immensely satisfying and therapeutic. The problem is that traditionally, cleaning involves chemicals that end up in our rivers and oceans, and plastic cloths and sponges don’t get recycled, instead taking 100’s of years to break down.
So how can you get the job done without overloading on chemicals and plastic? Here are some tips from us to you, detailing how you can revolutionise your spring cleaning regimen the eco way!
Did you know that you don’t have to buy your household cleaning lotions and potions from a supermarket and in a single-use plastic container? There are hundreds of refill stations dotted around the country where you can take your own containers and fill them up with clean, biodegradable, and safe products that will keep your home clean, with minimal environmental impact.
We also stock a lovely amber glass spray bottle that is just perfect for filling up with linen spray, air freshener, or surface cleaners. Take a big step in the zero-waste direction by replacing your plastic spray bottles with reusable alternatives!
Reuse and repurpose
When coming across items such as old toothbrushes, socks with holes, and old towels, don’t just throw them away- repurpose them instead. Mops, dusters, cloths, and other spring-cleaning utensils can be crafted from items that would have just ended up in the bin.
Switch out those chemicals
Not only can you buy eco-friendly cleaning products but you can even make your own from ingredients you can find in your kitchen.
There is not much you cannot clean with ingredients such as lemon juice, water, vinegar, and baking soda. Add in a few drops of an essential oil of your choice, and you are good to go!
But for those of you that prefer to stick to a professionally formulated product, you can check out our new range by Iron and Velvet– floor cleaners, mirror and glass sprays, and antibacterial surface cleaners are all ready for you to get your hands on. With delicious scent combinations such as coconut and lime, orange and ginger, and fragrant ylang ylang they could prove a little hard to resist! These innovative water-soluble refill sachets are a perfect way to reduce unnecessary waste and plastic in the home. Just pop a sachet in a water bottle, top up with the required amount of water as instructed and the sachet dissolves leaving your cleaning solution ready to go!
Consider a clothes swap
Instead of throwing out all of your old clothes, why not organise a clothes swap between your friends or community? Arrange a date and a time where you can all meet and swap items between you. Whatever is left over can then be taken to a charity shop or donated to a homeless shelter.
Ditch containers completely
Whilst switching to products from refill stations is great, there are some household cleaning products that you can do away with in liquid form completely.
You are probably already using solid shampoo bars and conditioner bars, but you can also get your hands on the Zero Waste dish washing block from No Tox Life. 8oz of solid, soapy goodness, not only is this product zero waste, but it is vegan as well. It lathers up wonderfully and cuts through grease and stubborn stains without leaving behind chemicals in your drain and plastic in your kitchen.
You can also switch your liquid hand soap for one of our many varieties of soap bars– all made from 100% natural ingredients and completely plastic free.
Consider your cloths
Did you know that the plastic sponges you use to clean your dishes, kitchen, and bathroom with, could take up to 52,000 years to break down? But there are other options you can utilise instead of the polymer, polyurethane, and foam options that lurk next to your sink.
Take for example the Unsponge range available here– crafted from 100% cotton, these eco-alternatives are reusable and completely plastic free. Long lasting and totally sustainable, they make a great alternative to plastic sponges, and are surprisingly easy to keep clean and fresh.
You can also kiss goodbye to paper towels and disposable wipes, instead replacing them with unpaper towels such as these from Marley’s Monsters.
Top quality and made to last, they come in an assortment of designs and can even be used outside of the house on picnics, in packed lunches, or even just packed in your bag for emergencies.
Liberate your laundry
A change in the seasons means a change in bedding and clothing. Digging out bags of musty summer clothes and cotton sheets that haven’t seen the light of day since September usually requires a marathon freshening session. But you don’t need to rely on chemical products to get your summer wardrobe in order, instead there are lots of great natural options that you can use to liberate your laundry, all year round.
Soap nuts are a great alternative to powder and liquid detergents, as they are gentle on your skin and clothes whilst getting the job done when it comes to cleanliness. They are completely natural and contain no additives whatsoever, instead producing a natural soap called saponin. Just pop them in a muslin bag, throw them in the machine with your laundry, and get ready to be impressed.
are also great additions to your arsenal to help you blitz away stubborn marks and smells. Just don’t forget to hang your washing out to air dry afterwards, rather than putting it in the dryer!
They say that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and this applies to all of the junk that you have lying around your house. Magazines, books, old toys, ornaments, knick knacks, and bits-and-bobs- all of these could be worth something to someone else.
Be ruthless with your belongings- if you haven’t used it in six months then designate it to the thrift pile. Charity shops will gladly take them off your hands and others can be taken to local NGOs or charities to be donated, upcycled, or repurposed. Don’t just assume that your possessions final destination should be landfill- chances are that someone else can put it to good use.
To pick our brains for more eco-friendly spring cleaning solutions, you can chat with us on, Facebook, Instagram or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not so many years ago when someone mentioned going Eco or green as we knew it then, it instantly brought a vision to mind of some crazy hippy tree hugger who was hell bent on saving the world, but this is definitely not the case now, in fact nothing could be any further from it. As more and more media attention and television shows highlight what is happening to the world right now, its been brought to the forefront on everybody’s mind that the current plastic situation on our earth and oceans is devastating due to the damage that has been done since the 1960’s and lets face it realistically that was the real beginning of the plastic population that we know today! Continue Reading…
When it comes to bathroom and hygiene products, you would be pretty hard pressed to find any that aren’t supplied in single use plastic containers. For many out there, the stacks of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel bottles that line their baths and showers is just the norm and something the majority are used to now.
But what happens to all that stuff once we’ve used it up? Some of it gets recycled and you guessed it, made into more plastic – with the rest going to landfill and possibly finding it’s way into our oceans. Continue Reading…
There is no doubt that shopping for Valentine’s Day gifts for men is almost next to impossible, and yes, it can be even more difficult than shopping for a woman! However, there are so many eco-friendly and vegan options out there that the man in your life will love just as much as you do. Continue Reading…
Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, which means that you need to find the perfect gift for your special valentine! There are so many different products out on the market, as well as so many directions that your gift-giving options can go! We want to make this entire shopping experience much easier for you, so that you can spend most of your time with your valentine instead of in the stores. Continue Reading…
The New Year is here and there is just no better time to make big, positive changes!
One resolution guaranteed to change your life is going plastic-free, and that single choice magnifies to benefit every living thing on this planet! Even better, switching it up to go plastic-free is as easy as swerving plastic bags or choosing bamboo straws. It’s incredibly easy to start and simple to maintain.
In a two-part blog on going plastic-free (and the move into a more eco-friendly lifestyle), I’ll be sharing the swaps, tips and wisdoms I’ve learned over the past year in my own plastic-free journey, to help you (in any way I can) begin yours 🙂
Part one (click here to see it) highlighted some quick and simple plastic-free swaps to get you moving plastic-free, from switching bottles for bars in the bathroom to carrying plastic-free bottles and bags with you.
Part two is all about the bigger picture! Here, I’ll be sharing some useful mindsets and mantras for going plastic-free, and talking about why it all matters.