12 April 2017

Storing food part 2 - or how to deal with tricky food

Storing food part 2 - or how to deal with tricky food

My personal list of tricky foods that went to waste (OMG yes I said it) previously is quite short:

  • Raspberries and Strawberries
  • Mushrooms
  • Crispy vegetables such as lettuce or kale

Bowl Of RaspberriesMould - or what looks as if berries were growing fur is caused by fungal spores and bacteria.

The best way to kill those spores and germs is to give your berries a brief wash in vinegar, followed by water one then dry them throroughly (by spinning or placing on a towel for a couple of minutes) and store in a container in the fridge.

Container can't be airtight, as there will be some mistore left from washing and it needs to escape.

Fresh Mushrooms
Slimy - mushrooms need to breathe or they will become limp, slimy and spongy.

Never use plastic bags to store them.

Opt for paper or waxed bags instead.

You might want to use: If You Care - Paper Sandwich Bags

KaleLimp - this happens because stored in the fridge these vegetables are in constant humidity, and this isn't good for most of the vegetables (except celery)
To stop this from happening line the drawer in which you keep your veggies with something to absorb moisture you'll keep your leaves fresh and crisp for longer.

Try: ecoegg bamboo kitchen towels

08 February 2017

Children with a loud voice

Children with a loud voice
My name is Ella Meek and I am 11 years old. My sister (13) and I are running our own campaign called Kids Against Plastic against single-use plastic beverage items, mainly plastic bottles. Our website is www.clearplasticuk.net in case you are interested. 

This is how the Kids Against Platic initiative has been introduced to me. In an email. A bold, very sweet and enthusiastic email.
And of course, I was interested! After all, what I'm doing with this blog, and with my shop is done mostly for the future generations. For my daughter, her children and all these kids who are against plastic and care about our planet.

Grownups often get engrossed in everyday life small issues, burdened with daily routine and disillusioned by the mighty power of corporations who stroll across the Earth without any care for the wellbeing of its creatures.

Like the recent HSBC exposure. See more on Greenpeace UK.

So it is of paramount that children like Amy and Ella get our support, and never give up their enthusiasm!

They've started a petition to the largest UK supermarket chain: Tesco, to provide alternatives to bottled water, you can sign it here.

And they are touring around the UK running their Water Table; an interactive table explaining the issues with plastic.

The Water Table

02 February 2017

My Quora activity part 2

My Quora activity part 2
I'm an active beast, so here comes another part of my posts :)

What are the advantages of recycling waste materials?

A lot of everyday items are made from non-renewable sources such as oil or minerals. Recycling those puts less strain on the Earth natural resources.
Producing new materials costs a lot of energy, recycling usually is more energy efficient, and thanks to that doesn’t drain natural heating reserves (again). Making products from raw materials uses at the best 95% more energy than recycling! (numbers from the US: The Steel Recycling Institute has found that steel recycling saves enough energy to electrically power the equivalent of 18 million homes for a year.)
Landfill sites where non-recycled waste ends up are polluting the soil, water and air on a catastrophic scale, due to dangerous chemicals leakage.
A lot of countries are either already running out of spaces for landfills or are soon going to be in that situation, which pretty much means, that we either will start polluting our oceans on an even bigger scale (yes this is already happening) or start living on garbage heaps.
And there’s also an economic advantage: recycling creates more workplacesespecially a diverse local recycling manufacturing industry which in many cases might be a solution for places where there are no other businesses but costs less overall (making products from raw materials costs much more than if they were made from recycled products).

One very particular thing to mention here is deforestation which leads straight to Green House Gas emission, and all issues connected. Recycling paper is taking the strain off of our forests and plays an important role in kerbing the greenhouse effect.

When I first started on the road to zerowaste (my house creates close to no landfill waste), I have found that it is extremely hard to fit the rules that’d help me on this way in my busy life.
Most influential zerowasters are either singles or families where at least one parent either works from home or takes care of the children full time.
I’m a working mum. I wish I had more time to go and do the shopping with all my local farmers, and choose only those products in supermarket which are 100% zerowaste.
But it is impossible. So instead of giving up I’ve created an online shop: https://0waste.market.
It is still in its infancy, but I believe that it is very needed. With it we take the burden of searching for products, checking if they are indeed recyclable/compostable/reusable off the customer. We offer reused packaging, we print on recycled paper and we use carbon neutral delivery where possible. We only offer recyclable plastics, but even those we try to minimalise, as I believe most are harmful not only for the environment but also for our bodies.
We believe that enabling and making environmentalism easier for busy people is exactly what’s needed to make that change, and that’s what we try to do.
We deliver in the UK which regardless of the big words is very much behind environmental policies of Germany or France for example.
This is my idea. You could help us spread the word :) You could start your own shop in some other country, you could make people aware that there is such a movement as zerowaste.

Are there eco-friendly methods of making plastics?

The problem with plastics is not only where they come from, as @Addison Manning has mentioned, but also what are they combined with.
Most plastics do not get sold as clear polymers or resins but usually have a lot of extra agents added in order to change their characteristics. These usually make them if not outright harmful then at least less friendly or non-recyclable.
Ideally we should not use plastics at all. That's the most eco-friendly way.
But if we have to then opt for recyclables. That way you will ensure that more and more plastics are made from recycled materials.

And recycling is second best.

What makes them good?
What are they made out of?
By “scourers” I mean this (but they don’t have to look like these… just be as effective):

We offer these:
These are made from leftover foam supposed to go to landfill. The ecoFORCE stuff is all made off recycled materials, so in terms of eco-friendliness it is very good.
Of course it still is made of plastic, but plastic that can be recycled again (maybe not everywhere), so it doesn’t have to go straight to landfill.
Another option, much better, but not always good for everyone is getting a scourer made of unbleached coconut fibres, bamboo fibres or maybe burlap. These however, due to the fact that they are 100% natural may not be suitable for someone who needs consistent texture.

Depending on what your business model might be, the best options these days are reusable bottles.
Either metal or glass, or offering your customers a way to re-fill their bottles from bulk containers or vending machines.
Vending machines are popular for coffee and fizzy drinks, and are becoming more and popular for soups or other hot drinks, so I see no problem in adapting these to smoothies :)
None of these of course are cheap in the short term, but long term might be quite a viable option.

Several ideas here to be honest.
Depending on what you need them for.
Starting from your old-fashioned candles when wind is no issue, and ending with led illuminated sticks. That’s something I use.
They’re not 100% eco-friendly, but way more than normal ones. And it’s not about the trash they become (LED lights last much longer, even the batteries they use, than regular glowsticks), but mostly because the processes during which they are created ar far less damaging to our planet.
You can also look for environment safe glo-paints, there several brands of those. And you’re problem may be sorted.

I am super fascinated by the zero waste lifestyle, and how it’s the attempt to create less trash by using reusable, sustainable items. What are some zero waste stores in your area? Do any of y’all have a zero waste home? Share your story with me! Thanks in advance.

I agree with Brian Fey in many respects.
I also know that majority of us simply have no time, means or will to go full out zerowaste.
Many people wish they could, but in reality they can’t deal with it. They have houses already, and they can’t easily switch to no heating, no driving, non consumerist style of life.
We want to change it at 0waste.market, for these people, offering them products which are already vetted for sustainability, compostability, recycling, animal-friendliness, dietary needs and many, many more.
Our store is online only, however in Europe there are many great shops offering bulk products for example.
My personal favourite is this:
Pretty amazing idea, don’t you think :)

My Quora activity

My Quora activity
I love Quora.

in their own words:

Quora’s mission is to share and grow the world’s knowledge. A vast amount of the knowledge that would be valuable to many people is currently only available to a few — either locked in people’s heads, or only accessible to select groups. We want to connect the people who have knowledge to the people who need it, to bring together people with different perspectives so they can understand each other better, and to empower everyone to share their knowledge for the benefit of the rest of the world.
That's why I get involved in many conversations, and a lot of these come from people interests fall into the zerowaste or eco-conscious field.
I thought I'd share some of my answers.
Format: Question, followed by question details and my answer.

Obviously glass bottles are best but this is not an option for me for several reasons. I’m trying to get to zero waste a little bit at a time. I want to make the best choice for the time being.

As you’ve seen from many answers here it all depends on your local recycling.
However, where I live, and where we have excellent recycling offer the plastic bottle seems to be a better solution, because it is easier to wash.
Recycling facilities struggle with dirty, contaminated plastic.
Yes, after sorting, the plastic is pulverised, sterilised, melted and reformed into pellets, but it is plastic that’s most vulnerable when contaminated.
Now let me explain one thing, if you don’t wash the plastic it will still get recycled, but
  1. One dirty item can contaminate thousands of pounds of collected plastics,
  2. Plastic is so easily contaminated that even residue from a label can alter its chemistry and affect the quality of the recycled material,
  3. Contaminated recycled material has less market value, so the provider gets less money to spend on improvements.
Bottles and bags are usually PET or HDPE plastics. These need to be thoroughly washed given that they are very sensitive to contaminants.
From a personal point of view, it’s way easier to clean a bottle, than a bag.
I am a busy, working mum. I need a lot of milk, and I am very eco-conscious. But I understand the tough choices people are sometimes made to make, and even though I’m in a lucky situation where I get glass-bottled milk delivered to my door (not an option at your place?), if I had no other choice I would go for a plastic bottle rather than a bag. I’d just ensure they ARE recyclable and ideally sourced from recycled material.

I’m a keeper too.
And a collector on top of that, which is possibly the worst combination ever.
If I got two nice things of the same kind I would start a collection.
Until I had no time to sort it. There is no fun in having one if you can’t, every now and then, enjoy it. And I can’t because I’m a busy working mum now.
Did I throw it all away at once, upon realising?
No, I still kept it.
I’m not saying you should become a busy working mum, of course, even if it helps.
My problem was that I didn’t realise it’s all useless until I was snowed under. It became a burden. I had no space for more important things. Things I really needed in everyday life.
Do you have a life? Do you invite people over? Do. That way you will see if you have space to host a party without tripping over some old box full of memorabilia.
How you get rid of things is irrelevant, in my opinion, the end will be the same: they will be out of your life.
What is important, is getting the correct mindset. Stop the ADDICTION! Admit to yourself that you actually are addicted and you liked it. Probably still like it. And either deal with it yourself, if you know how to (lots of books to read out there) or get help. Family help, even.
Good luck.

I think that e-book readers are eco-friendly, as long as you use them for a long time and not replace every year with newer. I still have first generation Kindle, and it works well. Sure it doesn’t display colour, but standard books I used to read didn’t have images either.
Today I read mostly on my mobile, but when battery time might be an issue my good old Kindle is the way to go.
Now, why do I think it is eco-friendly if there're so many resources used to create it and energy needed to use it?
Please check my post for a long answer :)

If you have choice to purchase eco-friendly unique product or regular product. Which one will you buy?

If the regular would be cheaper and the price difference would not make any economic sense (situation, where you pay for a brand, but the quality is very close or the same), then obviously I’d chose the regular.
On the other hand, if the difference in quality was huge I’d go for the better, as long as it would make sense to my needs, regardless of the uniqueness of the product.
Now bear in mind that I am not your usual customer and I am not interested in showing off brands and such. I think for a lot of people status is much more important than to me, so they’d choose unique just to show off.
There is also aspect, which is very close to my heart and that’s the overall eco-friendliness of the sale.

If I knew that the unique product is more eco-friendly in itself but comes in square metres of bubble wrap, in a non-eco-friendly transport and its overall carbon footprint is huge compared to regular then quality and price would lose their appeal to me immediately.

There are many ideas that are already introduced at a smaller scale too, I'm thinking flats.
One is, of course, switching to less electricity consuming lights, but also making sure daylight is used to the maximum potential even through the introduction of fibreglass cables as a light source.
Waste water disposal and recycling is another idea. From reusing dirty dishwater to flush toilets to actually mounting a full recycling system.
And, of course, let's not forget my favourite green roofs. Not only local bees and insects will love them, but they are also providing a very good insulation without introducing harmful agents.

You’ve already had some brilliant answers on how tourism can raise awareness and improve the social and economic state of the local communities.
What nobody has mentioned yet is the missing education children from the major cities have no way of obtaining unless put in direct contact with nature.
And I’m not speaking of the aforementioned raising of the awareness about local birds and flowers.
I am talking about making it simple to understand and close to heart that whatever we do affects nature. Which only makes sense and can be absorbed if shown on real life examples. Children who can interact with live animals, plant their own trees in a new forest, observe wild ecosystems in their wholeness, have much higher chances of growing into eco-conscious adults.
It's one thing speaking of birds choking on plastic, or even seeing images of such on the internet. But if you understand that those birds were trying to feed their young, and if you can feel those young hearts flutter in your hand it's a much more powerful lesson. Lesson nobody can forget.
public domain image from Wikipedia Commons

21 January 2017

New Year Zerowaste Resolutions

New Year Zerowaste Resolutions
I'm walking past the shop windows and chuckle every time.
How everyone is trying to cash in on all those New Year resolutions. We want to lose weight; we want to get better sleep. We'd like to start eating healthier.
And shops offer us a variety of things to help with it. Exercising equipment, nutrition packs, better sleep pillows.

What I supposed is the best New Year resolution for a zerowaster or a someone who wants to waste less and become a zerowaste person?

I'll share my steps, and maybe you'll like them.

Step 1: Inform

Everyone seems to forget about this step, and it's the most important one. Whether you have a family or live alone everyone should be made aware that you're going zerowaste and what that means.

This will help them get used to the idea that you will at some point ask them to throw away some unused items of sentimental value, or that from next week coffee will be made in a different way.

Your friends and less close family will also know not to gift you with items that will only become clutter at a later stage.
Ask them instead for:

  • gift cards, 
  • attraction tickets 
  • recyclable presents.

Step 2: Declutter and minimise

Decluttering means getting rid of all the items that are not being used very often, or as you may find with surprise, haven't been used at all.
Minimising is all about replacing larger things or less eco-friendly with smaller but equally useful and better for the environment.

File:Living room 01335.JPG

It seems like a truly daunting task. After all most of us collected items for years. It would be unreasonable to think it's possible to clear everything out in one day. But you have to be ruthless.
Don't give in to this very well known feeling of remorse, because you're sad to part with something that has nostalgia attached to it like a tag. Remember: 
It isn't items that help us keep the memory of loved ones.
You're free to throw those items away, and the memory will stay. Even better think of donating. It will help you part with something because their life will be prolonged. And they will still be useful.

But most importantly, if you want to declutter quickly, the clue is to get organised about it.

Start with the room that has the highest number of potential trash. 
It will boost your morale once you look at it after transformation.

For me, this room was my kitchen. I had four frying pans. I really only need one pan and one small pot.
I had a huge coffee maker which was given to me by my father, so it was hard to part with it. But I always thought that filter coffee tastes better anyway, so what was the point? When I could have saved so much space by using a coffee dripper:

iNeibo Stainless Steel Coffee Dripper + bonus coffee scoop and a brush

iNeibo Stainless Steel Coffee Dripper

But let me get back to the point. It is all about deciding on the value of certain items and putting them into categories:
  1. Useful and used often
  2. Useful but not used often
  3. Not useful
Now this works for all things. Be it kitchen equipment, beauty products, clothes and tools.

Start with not useful. It's an easier task and will prepare you for the harder ones.

If you have already decided that something isn't useful, let's say your children have grown and you still have a box of old toys it's an easy call. You or your kids don't need it. Chances are that if they keep onto some beloved teddy bear or toy soldier, then they still have it, and not in that box.

Now look at those things and put them into:
  1. Trash
  2. Working (could be donated)
  3. Working and valuable (could be sold)
  4. Not sure
Trash is simple. Just make sure you put whatever possible into recycling as opposed to landfill :)

You may also want to donate all your things and not bother with selling. It's entirely up to you. 

If you want to donate, you have several options. Either use one of your high street local charity shops or get in touch with charities online.
You can also think of Freegle, FreecycleStreetbank or Olio.
They are community sites designed to help people give away and ask for unwanted items.

If you're not sure, then I suggest you get several storage boxes label them well and put those things in them. 
Mark each box with a date as you put items into it, and then set a reminder for six months in your calendar.
Then store them. Attic, storage company, garage... 
If you haven't used those items even once in 6 months, then chances are you don't need them.

I've mentioned Streetbank before. It is very useful when you're dealing with tools. I know the hardest decisions are to get rid of this specialist hammer that I have and which could be of use at some point, but so far I didn't need it. 
Streetbank is designed to share too. So maybe someone offers that hammer and you don't have to keep yours? Or you could share yours, so you'd keep it, but it'd stop being just a piece of unused garbage with potential :)

For sales, you have a multitude of options, from the most popular Ebay and Gumtree, to more localised like the Shpock app.

Step 3: Reorganise

Now that you have gotten rid off all the unwanted items you should be left with a lot more space.

Decide on the purpose of spaces in your home first.

Which part of the kitchen should be used to store food and what type of food?

Where is your office space and which part of it will be devoted to stationery?

Where in your home will you keep cleaning equipment?

Once you get those ideas clear, start moving things. You will end up with a space where if you stick to the plan you will never have to search for anything again! That's a holy grail of busy people, and you can achieve it!

Get some boxes and use clever storage solutions, such as vacuum bags or under the bed storage.

And get rid of anything that can be turned into a digital version.

My way of doing the latter in an organised manner is to scan every document which is older than one year and could be useful for some obscure credit purposes such as old bills, house rent agreements for places I no longer live in and so on. I only keep tax papers and payslips. Most of my photos are in digital. I really don't them in dusty old albums I rarely look into. It's easier to find them on my computer too.

Any paperwork which is older than 1 year and has doubtful value lands in the recycling bin straight away.

I also remember to switch to paperless whenever I change media providers or get a new credit card, for example.

Step 4: Change your buying habits

Now that you have gone through all the hassle of cleaning stuff it's definitely easier to plan for the future. You should have the idea what may become clutter in three months and simply stop yourself from buying it.

Also when you need to get something new start opting for:
  1. Reusable items, lasting items,
  2. Disposable, but eco-friendly items,
  3. Planned meals, without wasting food.
Steel straws instead of plastic ones
Compostable toothbrushes instead of plastic ones
OEM Cloth Menstrual Pads (S-XL)
Reusable hygiene items instead of single use ones

Wheat bran edible plates 24 cm / 9.45 in 10 pack
Edible plates for barbecues instead of paper or plastic ones

Always remember that we are there for you. You can rent or borrow certain things without having to buy them.

And most importantly:

It is supposed to be better for you, have some fun with it. 
Enjoy your new life. 
Instead of buying miniature figurines, maybe go for dance lessons? But if you really want this figurine, don't feel bad about it. Get it. Enjoy it. 
And maybe give it away in a year :D

07 January 2017

Upcycled clothes go mainstream?

Upcycled clothes go mainstream?
Upcycled porcupine quill,
upcycled turquoise,
vintage chain,
I shouldn't be asking it.

When Emma Watson wore her multipurpose gown made from recycled plastic bottles at the 2016 Met Gala, the entire eco-friendly world held its breath.
Not only she looked stunning, but also made an important statement.
That seems very mainstream, right?

Not really.
What can be done for a star on a one-off piece of clothing, may not necessarily be an option for us, everyday bread eaters.

If we want to stay green, we use Freegle and Freecycle, to get rid or find some free things (works particularly well for children's clothes and household stuff), or Ebay and Shpock, to buy second hand.
Less online minded go to local charity shops, and I must tell you, my newly made friend met a the train station is a master in finding amazing pieces and splendid second-hands.

But new things? Like Emma? Nope.

Or maybe?

Only yesterday someone pointed me to a website Modafirma. It is a social fashion platform that offers designs of pre-selected independent fashion designers from all over the world.
Their target demographic focuses on 20 somethings and or Millenials within the 24-35 age group.

But that's not so unusual, what is worth noting though is that they make a lot of effort to advertise their eco-friendly designers.

Have a look:

100% Recycled Denim

Kente dress

Glass Bottle Bag


Upcycling Fashion



We do the Eco Friendly Swimwear the African Way


I'd say they look pretty good.

Granted, not the cheapest, but these are actually designer stuff. Unique. Stylish and New (in a green way) :)

What do you think?

10 November 2016

How to identify unknown plastics using home methods

My biggest problem so far is time.
I have no time to go from one shop to another just to get fresh organic food, which isn't packed in tonnes of plastic, foil wraps and nets.
Most of the time I have no idea if it's recyclable, and I bet you don't either. How can we?!

Just take a look at my recent communication with a producer, when I tried to order something to sell in 0waste.market:

We have just ordered a sample of your products to check if they are a good match for our shop:
However they come in paper/foil packaging, and we have strict rules about informing our customers what the packaging is made of.
So, would you please let me know what kind of plastic foil are you using?
Thank you
Hello, many thanks for choosing our products. There is our supplier for foil packaging *****
Then I went on to contact the supplier of those foils, and when nothing happened came back to the producer of the starting product.

We have contacted them last Friday, but they have not responded, would you be so kind and step in?


All our products are certificated-all materials, colours. In supplement I'm sending certificate for our toys. Page 9 - there is written that packing is all right - foil packaging.

Brilliant, right?

Let me get back to my main thought:

Most of the time we get some information on the packaging, but it is:
"not recycled".

Or sometimes it is: "not usually recycled" or even worse: "check your local recycling centre".

And they will tell you: We recycle HDPE, but not and here you can insert your abbreviation of choice.

Even if you do know what HDPE or that other thing is, most of the times the packaging simply says: "foil", or "other".

So I came with this idea. It takes time, yes, but it might save your time in the long run (after all once you know what that net in which you get nectarines is, you don't have to check it every time), but also the environment.

The Idea: Identify unknown plastics using home methods.

  1. Check if your foil or other plastic packaging really has resin code given. They can sometimes be given on a separate leaflet, outer paper packaging (common for breakfast oats and flakes), or on the bottom of the container (plastic bottles and cans). Follow to step 2.
  2. Take a look at the table of resin codes from Wikipedia and if you know the code search for it and look up recycling instruction. If you don't know it follow to step 3.
  3. Look through the list of uses and try and narrow down possible resins (plastics). For example if you have a plastic bottle with no code in your hands it could be:
  4. Cut a small piece of your bottle and perform a float test following this excellent and simple diagram, coming from a Density Column Using Recyclable Plastics exercise for students (click the title for details about the exercise).
  5. If your piece sinks in water, sinks in Glycerin but floats in Corn syrup it is most likely a PETE bottle.
  6. But you want to be 100% sure, and for that you can perform burn test. It is less pleasant and if you're a child I don't advise it at home or without adult supervision. Trust me, burning plastics can be way more dangerous than you think. www.boedeker.com has a great table on how to distinguish plastics based on: flame presence, flame colour, drip  presence, burning odour and fumes. You can download the table from here too.  
  7. You think the bottle is PETE, which is an abbreviation for:  Polyethylene terephthalate, now if you look at the table you will find polyethylenes there but it will also have a remark stating that it will float. Our piece doesn't! That's why you have to check floating first, because plastics can have different densities. So your plastic could still be PETE, but simply a high density one. Check the flame and bubbling when buring and that's a good indicator. 
Although the smell of the flame or burnt plastic is an identifying factor I advise you don't do it.
Many plastics (especially vinyls) are very harmful to us if inhaled!

Some more excellent reading:
How do I recognize nylon from plastic? by Miranda Marcus
Polymers: What does burnt plastic smell like? by Miranda Marcus
How does a recycling facility separate PLA from other plastics? by Amadeo de los RĂ­os
Which is more environmentally friendly—a cup made from corn, plastic, or glass?
Great Pacific garbage patch