25 May 2016

Results of three years of composting

We started composting our food leftovers before we even begun thinking about going zero-waste.

After all, because I am an amateur gardener composting is simply a logical thing to do.
It makes even more sense for gardens such as mine: covered with a poor quality soil and in constant need of plant-food.

We have bought a 120-litre compost bin in 2013 and have been gradually filling it with food, small garden waste and even our cats' catches. The latest might seem a bit extreme to some, but remember this is organic matter, binning it is not allowed and since these poor animals were already dead, it only felt like a natural thing, and in some primal way "a thank you" for their ultimate sacrifice.

120 litre seems like a lot, but it is not. The bin fits nicely in a corner of our fence, and on occasion seems too small!

It is made of plastic sadly, and I wasn't able to find any information about its toxicity, other than it's made of "safe" material. Just to be on the safe side, I'm using compost made in it for decorative plants only, not the ones we eat. I am bugging producer for information too.

It doesn't need aerating as it's bottom is open, and worms migrate freely out and into it. Also, plastic, even though quite thick is soft enough, so that the cover never sits tightly on top of it and so some air always gets inside. It is dark, so it also accumulates the sunshine and retains heat quite well.

As you can see from the photo, it is the classic design, which assumes that non-degraded materials are added at the top, and you take ready compost through the opening at the bottom.

Fun fact: My cats love sleeping on it in the cooler months because the cover gets several degrees warmer than the ground.

  • We do not have to turn over its contents; it is too small for it.
  • We don't put worms inside. They come on their own.
  • We rely on nature to take its course and it works great!

What goes into it:

And what comes out:

That second photo looks pretty rough and unprocessed but, in reality, it is perfect. It is already an excellent compost, and various half-biodegraded pieces of wood and twigs are providing a longer-term sustenance to any plants which will be planted into it. 

And it couldn't be easier! Frankly, the only things I have to do are:
  1. Cut bigger branches into smaller pieces when inserting into it, which really is a no-brainer and a must, because large stuff wouldn't fit into the opening,
  2. Add contents horizontally, so that they take their time "going down", 
  3. Don't add stuff that might kill worms, such as vinegar, alcohol and such,
  4. Empty the lower compartment now and then and enjoy "the spoils" :)
Feel free to ask me any questions if you are interested in my methods.

18 May 2016

Clothes upcycling, mending and reusing

Clothes upcycling, mending and reusing
Enjoy a collection of amazing ideas for dealing with clothes when they are nearing state when most people would just throw them away, as well as some suggestions as to what to do when your clothes get stained for example.

I am not the author of these tips, and I doubt people who shared them are either, but to give them due I will note that those come from an amazing thread on Quora: What are some dressing hacks everyone should know?

This is an extremely long thread and not all of the suggestions are about re-using or mending clothes, so I thought it worth to fish for the most relevant ones. I hope you like them.

or cool patch with matching stitching:

Sew old or cheap bra cups into a backless dress
Did you say you need a special bra for a backless dress? No stick-on bra, no multi-way bra, just an old cheap bra is what you really need.

    This one is well known, but just in case you don't know it and your zipper is misbehaving...

    You can also freeze it off any clothes.

    Stop your jeans from bleeding by washing it with salt.

    If you lose your earring backing, tear a pencil eraser from the back of a pencil. If you press the eraser onto the earring where it sticks out behind your ear (where the missing backing used to go) it will work just as well and keep your earring on.

    And some general advice on how to make your clothes serve you longer

    Not exactly a dressing hack, but still: A bra should NOT be washed after each wear, only when it has been worn three-four times (or when it looks dingy or when it doesn't smell fresh). By not washing it so often you make it last a lot longer. Knickers, on the other hand, should obviously be washed after each wear. So - in order not to be stranded with a bra that cannot be used because it has no matching knickers, BUY THREE PAIRS OF KNICKERS FOR EACH BRA.

    Learn to pay attention to the fabric/material of any item while purchasing. Do not fall for 70%-80% sales.

    Invest in items which you think you will wear even after 4-5 years.

    A lot of classic well-made things can be found in the second-hand shops if you don't have much money.

    Simple budget shoe hacks infographic

    This hack might save a lot of closet space

    17 May 2016

    Got An Unusual Planter? You Could Win £50

    How about upcycling and getting a chance to win with your idea?
    Green Waste Club has just announced a planter competition:

    Got An Unusual Planter? You Could Win £50
    If you’re feeling creative, why not take part in our ‘Unusual Planter’ competition?
    You could win £50-worth of garden centre vouchers. 
    All you have to do is create a unique or unusual planter in your garden, take a photo of it, and email it in. It could be as simple as an old colander, an old pair of wellies, or any other unusual container in which you can grow plants. And it’s up to you as to whether you decorate your planter, or leave it ‘as is’. 
    Email your photo, with Planter Competition written in the subject line, to gwc.@biffa.co.uk Please remember to include your name, GWC membership number, and telephone number. Entries must be received by Friday 3rd June 2016 – good luck!
    see more in the 12th Green Waste Club newsletter.

    13 May 2016

    Practical upcycling and reusing ideas

    There are very many ideas for upcycling trash or reusing old items in new adventurous or imaginative ways.
    A lot of them turn old junk into pieces of art. But what I really am amazed at are purely practical uses, even better zero-waste promoting ones.
    Here is my list of favourites, I hope you like it too!

    Sanitary pads made of old baby rompers
    source, and a detailed manual on how to do it here.

    Beautiful candles made from  old candle wax and teacups.
    source here

    Amazing lamp made of plastic bottles and disposable spoons

    Plastic bottles turned into broom

    Old suitcases turned sofas

    Comfortable sofa made from suitcase:

    or side table

    Fun Do It Yourself Craft Ideas - 62 Pics:

    Some of my ideas :)

    Reuse disposable paper or plastic plates (even used, but cleaned ones) to protect your frying pans from scratching when storing in a pile. Just alternate pans with plates.

    Use old cards or paper gift boxes to decorate and create your own. Cut into smaller pieces can turn into interesting "3D" embellishments.

    See also: 10 creative ways to upcycle your plastic bottles

    12 May 2016

    Toothbrushes Part 4 - TEA NATURA Bamboo Toothbrush for Adults review

    The last batch of the brushes arrived today.

    These are TEA NATURA Bamboo Toothbrush for Adults. Made entirely of bamboo. Just like the SaveSomeGreen ones arrived in excellent paper only packaging, the only plastic was tape, but since these came from the continent, I guess producer wanted to make sure they reach us undamaged, or maybe it was added by the postage company.
    So far concerning packaging, these come second best.

    We will test them later of course.

    At the moment, all I have are some photos.

    see also:
    Toothbrushes part 1
    Toothbrushes part 2
    Toothbrushes part 3

    06 May 2016

    Reading in an eco-friendly way.

    Reading in an eco-friendly way.
    Several years ago, when the ebook reading industry really started to take off, there were a lot of questions around the topic of eco-friendliness. And frankly findings weren't that much in favour of ebooks.
    Just check this infographic:

    To be honest, looking at the above, it's hard to disagree that ebook readers are less eco-friendly.

    But I took a different approach. My paper library is easily 500 books strong (I have never counted them TBH so there may be more. I have to pack them in three rows on my shelves to be able to keep at least 1/4th of them at home. Rest sits in my parents' cellar and my storage. No, I don't have a library room.
    With that many books (and I stopped buying them en-masse around 2005) I am probably guilty of devastating a small forest. And at some point that year, I have bought one or two books which gave me an unpleasant feeling that this level of writing doesn't deserve recycled pulp made into paper, not to mention trees.

    And that's when I decided I will never buy a paper book again unless something is so grand that I will HAVE to own it in a paper, ideally also album version.

    I got myself an Amazon Kindle then and I still have it (the old fashioned one, version 1), but nowadays I rarely use it. It will never get replaced because frankly even if it dies completely, it will make for a very cool picture frame.

    So what do I use? My mobile. There are so many apps to read books, newspapers and magazines today that it makes no sense whatsoever to buy an e-reader.
    My electronic library at the moment holds 1450 books and grows steadily; which means that I could be generating more carbon dioxide per year than a small factory if those were real books.
    But since my mobile is a utility I would get anyway, not a single tree suffered for those books.
    Maybe some in the process of supplying people working for the ebook business, but they would drink coffee regardless, so no harm there.

    Hence, the whole debate about e-readers being less eco-friendly becomes mute.
    I have no ebook reader; I don't buy paper books anymore. Mycarbont footprint in that matter is possibly the smallest possible. And I ask you to think about it.

    But - you might say - not all books come in an electronic version!

    Reduce, reuse, recycle - is my answer.

    Do you have a library card? How about trying one of the plethoras of book swapping applications?
    Did you even know there are many? There are also websites where you can exchange as well.

    It is also a perfect place to find books in foreign languages, unabridged and originals.

    Keep reading in a 0waste way!
    I know that the tactile pleasure of holding a real book and turning the pages in incomparable to paper, but is it really THAT important to someone who cares for the environment?


    • If you read a lot, consider switching to electronic versions.
      You will save environment in the long run, as long as you also:
      1. Don't buy e-readers. You most likely already have a tablet or a mobile. You don't need an extra device just to read stuff.
      2. Look for second-hand books if you have to have them on paper (only acceptable explanation is if they are not available in electronic version, though),
      3. Join a library, not only will you support local community this way, but save environment,
      4. Check book exchange websites and applications
    • If you have to buy a new book, choose eco-conscious vendors. Companies that use recycled paper and don't pollute ecosystems,
    • Speak up! Use your power as a consumer to make publishers and e-reader manufacturers to become more environmentally friendly, at every stage of the production and distribution processes,
    • It's much easier to find legal free ebooks and save a lot of money while still having something to read,
    • You can often share or download ebooks to various devices, such as your desktop, mobile, laptop, tablet, making it easier to keep up. 

    04 May 2016

    Mobile phones - zero waste ideas

    Mobile phones - zero waste ideas
    This time of the year we are bombarded with the newest, most flashy mobile phones adverts and even with very unyielding will it is hard to walk by unaffected.

    I decided years ago that I will only ever replace my mobile phone every two versions, hence, this year I am safe :)
    That's, of course, my private decision, you may choose to do it differently, what's important though is to remember that your old phone is still very valuable

    Factory Recycling

    Usually, mobile companies will offer you a "recycling" option, which means a hassle free offer to just pack your old mobile and send it back for a fraction of price.

    If you value your time, this is a good way of ensuring your phone will get up-cycled and offered to someone else as a refurbished upgrade.

    Second hand sales

    But remember that you will usually get a better price selling on Ebay, Amazon or Shpock.
    But if your phone is severely damaged it can still get sold for parts, or simply given away through freegle or freecycle. Someone may be able to upcycle it in the most unbelievable ways. It could also get used in kids school projects.
    If computer parts can be reused like this, mobile phones can too!


    I love the ManArt initiative! It's from the USA, but it'd be great to see more like this here in the UK.
    What they say about themselves:
    ManArt is an upcycling initiative. We are a creative collective with an eye for repurposing objects and giving them a second, more interesting, more aesthetically-pleasing life.

    Mobile Clock
    Mobile Clock


    You can also check Instructables for their manuals on building cool things out of upcycled electronics.
    I particularly like the Too Many Chargers idea because it helps to de-clutter your house!

    Ladies who have problems getting your husbands on zero waste board might find it easier with instructables ;)

    02 May 2016

    0wasties or how we use our veg and fruit entirely

    Now this is a very good idea if I may make this quite bold statement about our latest find.

    We've managed to buy second-hand Angel 7500 juicer.

    New ones are quite expensive, but they are worth every penny!
    What's so different about it? It's a perfect zero waste juice maker. The bigger container collects liquid while the smaller gathers everything else in an almost entirely dried state.

    You can easily juice every root vegetable in it, fruit rinds, nuts and seeds.
    With nuts you can make home-made peanut butter, or chocolate spread.

    We started a daily routine of drinking veg-fruit juice every morning. What we aim for is one leafy green veg to boost our iron intake (baby spinach is amazing for it) and some fruit to get flavour with vitamins and microelements.

    Today's juice ingredients (plus 3 carrots). Notice, we don't remove seeds or rinds. 

    Juice on the left, dried remains of the fruit on the right.

    So what makes this contraption especially suited for non-waste life?
    You can use the leftovers and make cookies out of them.Citrus rinds might be a bit too bitter, but I use them anyway,
    A bit of vanilla or cinnamon as means of enriching the taste, and an egg to glue everything together, 10 minutes in pre-heated oven, and we end up with delicious, gluten-free, lactose-free and sugar-free 0wasties :)

    0wasties :)
    This way we can use all remains such as mango peels, throwaway vegetable stems and pieces of roots. Remains can also go to compost, and because they come in very small pieces they will decompose quicker