Sustainable living daily

I was born in the 70’s, so not only were there less people to consume stuff, there also wasn’t a great deal of money around, in our neighbourhood at least. Packaging and marketing weren’t as much of a thing. We didn’t have the internet and hence far less access to imported goods. It feels to me like there was less of everything then, although industry pollution was pretty awful.

Nowadays though, the ability to acquire things almost instantly has become a habit driven by consumerism and profiteering. Import/export of goods, manufacturing and technology have literally exploded in size over the past 30 odd years. Economically this is good (for everyone but for some more than others). Environmentally, this is not so good.

I’ve always been fairly environmentally conscious but due to necessity, made visible by great people, projects and movements, this has become more of a priority than before.

So what kind of things do I do? I often think of new ways dispose of items in more environmentally friendly ways as necessity dictates. For example, I cut my child’s hair yesterday. My husband was quite disturbed that I put the cut hair into the compost bin. Why would I would dispose of this to landfill or to be burned when it’s 100% biodegradable and a great source of nutrition to the soil (as are nail clippings)?

We are culturally conditioned to throwing waste away without thinking where it’s going or what will happen to it… or what COULD happen to it if we give it some thought! A neighbour once told me that a farmer she knew burned sheared sheep’s wool as he didn’t want to bother of selling it or giving it away. I was totally incensed. Animal fibres are also biodegradable and compostable, so my dog’s and cat’s hair also goes in the compost in addition to my own when I clean the brush. Here is a link to a blog post (not mine) from 2009. Some items you will know are biodegradable and others may surprise you; https://www.momtastic.com/webecoist/2009/04/16/22-things-you-didnt-know-you-could-compost/

It’s good to start with making just one thing a habit. It’s not always convenient but as habits form, they are less inconvenient. I have separate bags for different items. One for cat food sachets (all recyclables washed out well with the dish water as I’m washing up. The key is to try not to create a bigger carbon footprint by using more energy than necessary). I also have a bag for bin recyclables, a bag for crisp packets and a council bag for paper. So I’m a bit of a pain to live with, but it’s for a good reason and I’m not returning to throwing these items away. Hopefully more services will be provided for these things in future.

I have replaced my dishwashing kit with biodegradables. Loofahs, coconut fibre and bamboo items are all good to use. Recently, I bought a bio plastic scrubber. Bio plastics are not the best, as many of them aren’t compostable by us mere mortals who don’t have industrial equipment to do the job. However, that said, it’s still one less drop of fossil fuel being used by me in regular plastic. It will possibly be repurposed after use too, in a way I’ve not yet thought of.

I buy stuff in bulk so that overall there is less packaging if I need to buy things in plastic. Here’s a large tub of Faith in Nature biodegradable washing detergent bought recently, along with a pump so I can decant it into smaller existing empty bottles, share around etc. I also buy large boxes of powder (it’s good for your machine to change the type of detergent occasionally, to reduce build up of scale and scum). Last time I finished a box, wiped off the residue and refused the cardboard as packaging. It’s good to know that cardboard is both reusable, recyclable AND biodegradable. I’d love to achieve these qualities for everything I buy as a long term challenge.

There are some pretty amazing local shops that sell sustainable products locally (Waste Not Want Not based at Chesterfield Market) and Steff’s Sustainable Stuff based in Inkersall, where you are warmly invited to bring bottles to fill with decant-able delights. There are also around twenty five environmentally conscious small businesses locally, who use eco friendly practices and have been awarded Chesterfield Plastic Free Championship.

I make my own soap and use basic olive oil as a moisturiser. Will also be developing a solid moisturising bar, plastic free. I did try many times, unsuccessfully (until recently) to ditch plastic shampoo bottles. I just couldn’t get on with soap based shampoo bars. My hair is coloured and I’m on the wrong side of 45, so it’s like barbed wire after using any product on it that it doesn’t like.

I did a ton of research into solid shampoo and happy to say that after a lot of experiments, I’ve made my own and I’m now using that solely, as is my youngest. Working on the other members of the family and gained good feedback from others who’ve used it. Good result. I make my own cleaning products (I will be clear, I follow chemical guidelines around ingredients and usage closely, including preservatives. It’s not worth using stuff I don’t fully understand, or have read from a blog. Some blogs are very good but many have massive holes in their processes and they often contradict each other. Always check the scientific facts!).

These are the main ways I do the bulk of my sustainability but there are many other small changes I make and I like to look for new ways to reduce waste and consumption every day. A good example of this is that I’ve always bought reconditioned laptops for myself (my current laptop was five years old when I bought it)

The amount of tech waste is really high and one thing I need to really do is to clear out my ancient mobile phones. You can take them to various locations, so google it and check with your local council waste disposal team to see if they will take them at your local refuse site.

This is almost a hobby with me, and it’s good to talk with other like minded people, swap ideas and discover new ways to consume, reduce, reuse and recycle. If you’re reading this, you may already have discovered the Plastic Free Chesterfield group. Joining the group has boosted my enthusiasm for this journey no end. It’s really disheartening when it feels you’re the only person who cares or puts effort in. But there is definitely a benefit to feeling that this is a growing community with a common purpose.

Maybe you could like and comment below me know your sustainability routines? I would be interested to hear of your ideas, plans and habits.

Have you already joined the Plastic Free Chesterfield Facebook Group? Check the group and page out here;

https://www.facebook.com/groups/plasticfreechesterfield/?ref=share

https://www.facebook.com/PlasticFreeChesterfield/

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Meet 2020 with optimism.

Here’s to an optimistic new year. 2019 was rough for many, and in so many ways.

Highlights were increased awareness of social and environmental issues, along with seeing so many people standing up against poorly funded public services.

The downsides were political and social unrest with unhappiness as to how the UK economy is being managed. The increase in the number of food banks is dreadful as is the refusal of our leaders to acknowledge UN reports regarding the poverty and lack of compassion for the vulnerable in the UK by the authorities.

I was also upset about the attacks up on climate change and other types of activists. I’m quick to defend Greta Thunberg online against nasty and outrageous, unwarranted personal attacks on against.

Social media has it’s flaws but is really good for finding like minded people and creating campaigns, gaining support for petitions and protests as well as debates and fact finding via links to so many online resources. The only things you need are passion for change and curiosity. An internet connection helps a lot too!

I recently became aware of the Surfers against Sewage National campaign, along with its regional Plastic Free groups. I joined the local groups and I run the Instagram page for one. Zero Waste groups are similar although I’m unsure if these are promoted by the Surfers against Sewage group. It’s good to find other like minded people in the social media groups and it seems to strengthen people’s resolve to continue.

I’ve been a keen recycler and upcycler in various forms, for many years. This is not easy and can be unpopular with others in the home due to collections of items which hang around until the bags are full enough to be taken to their new homes. I’m conscious of the carbon footprint being left by frequent car deliveries and prefer to take larger bags less often.

Renewed enthusiasm has come due to local shops advocating and supporting sustainable living. My new favourite shop is Waste Not Want Not in Chesterfield, as they take both crisp packets AND washed out cat food pouches, in addition to selling end of line/short dated food products, sustainable kitchen goods, handmade toiletries and bulk buy dry foods, containers of liquid toiletries and detergents that can be dispensed into your own container for purchase.

Terracycle have some exciting new developments and I believe are drivers behind newly available local recycling possibilities. Promising stuff.

I’m taking advantage of the council recycling service that now also takes bagged shoes and textiles in addition to bagged batteries . Another local council takes small electrical items for recycling. It was good to read also that a local council refuse site puts decent stuff to one side for donation to a local hospice. This is the kind of thing we need to pursue and develop.

I don’t do New Years Resolutions, but I do resolve to stay focused on what’s important, humanity, prioritising sustainable living (well, trying my hardest) and ensuring our children have a better future than it currently appears.

What are your sustainability ideas and how are they working for you?

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Paint and canvas Acrylicpouring

So I’ve been saving my lovely art products for when I have time to use them. Seems that I will never have time unless I make it. The only wasted paint is the paint that remains in the tube etc.

I made like to recycle, so I decided to paint over my old discarding pictures. I like the idea of acrylic pouring but so far I’ve had one toe in the water, and that’s not good for great pouring results. You have to dive in.

I think it’s quite an expensive hobby so I’m all for experimenting with different random silicone-like fluids  I have made the commitment and  splashed out on floetrol which does seem to improve the paint.

I’ve been watching how-to videos and note that many things I’ve seen do not work for me. You really have to tweak things. Some important things to note are;

You don’t need to measure anything, use modest amounts of paint and a few drops of pouring medium (silicone, floetrol, posh expensive stuff, whatever) and water then mix it well. This will create bubbles, so it’s a good idea to leave the mixed paint awhile and hope most of the bubbles rise to the top.

Use lots of modest amounts of paints in your dirty pour. Too much is better than too little. Scrape up the waste with a palette knife and put in in a rescue pot.

If you use white, put it in last. The white sinks to the bottom, so if it goes in first, you may not see it in the painting.

When you’ve poured the paint, don’t mess with it too much. The cells will die very quickly if you agitate the canvas too much. This is why it’s better to have too much paint. Copious amounts of paint spread more easily with less agitation.

Keep trying. Practice does make for improvement and it’s a learning curve.

Check out my Etsy shop here: https://etsy.me/2yfrokV

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New Year, and New Ideas

It’s been a busy season where I’ve found it tough to make anything. I don’t normally go for New Years fads but this year I’ve found the holiday refreshing and I’m enthusiastic about experimenting with multi media, colour and textures.

See this pendant (which I loved making). It is super lightweight, despite being robust owing to multiple sealing and drying stages.

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This was made from an upcycled Joe Browns catalogue – I like the vibrants colours and found that with a little extra colour,  the end effect is great.

The best thing about these designs is that, although they are quite time consuming and require patience, the results can differ so much. It’s always a treat to see the end item.

If you’d like to learn more about the process I use in my next post, don’t forget to like /comment/subscribe.

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Slowly slowly

I have to say that I am excited to showcase my new bead designs. It’s fascinating to me how the process I’m using ends up with these robust, shiny, intricately patterned objects that do not resemble the peice of junk mail or leaflet they started life as.  I’m even thinking about making ‘time pods’ from documentation transformed and lasting for decades for the future..

The drawback: it’s a long and drawn out process … days waiting for paint to dry, hours cutting strips, days soaking in glue, drying and resoaking – then long days sanding, trimming and sealing multiple times. But I am psyched to see these dull dusty looking pods transformed at the end, each one unique in colour, pattern, shape and size.  I think it’s a form of meditation – time slows and for a short time it’s wholly absorbing. Also feels good that these little fella’s are recycled. Happy feelings!

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Inspiring sensory delight…

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Our senses are always awake, whether we are are awake or asleep. Certain scents can send us to our childhood or a sad memory.

I’ve developed a love for abstract and multi media art, as well as other genres and feel that’s it has really developed in an exciting way over the past couple of decades. It’s no surprise then, that I’m currently grabbing any spare moments I can grab between making something aromatically pleasing at least to me.

My latest soaps are organic base with a luxurious addition of unrefined organic shea butter, my own hand picked and dried rose petals, and a blend of essential oils to delight the senses..

I have some lovely home grown lavender ready for my next batch of botanical soap. And my Christmas spice soap will be making an appearance too.

 

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Botanical Soap

A new thing, which is proving to be a lovely craft and with lots of scope for creative ideas. I’ve started out using ready made soap base (£4.99 Hobbycraft, various types) and adding coconut oil and essential oils plus the fresh botanicals.

So far I’ve ventured into Dandelion Soap (with bergamot and clary sage oils) and Luscious Lime, made with fresh limes and bergamot oil. Also have made little cup cake soaps with cornflowers, clover and buttercups.

The next thing will be to make my own base. I will start with a lye mixture but would love to make a lye free soap. All the lye free recipes I’ve seen have palm oil in them, which I will not be buying or using. So I’m hoping I can try something with castor oil instead.

http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&alt=web&id=252390634038&globalID=EBAY-GB

 

 

 

 

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