Embracing an ethical, sustainable, enviro friendly Christmas

I embrace the mantra that every cent we spend is a vote for what products we want this world to create. I also embrace minimalism so my gifts are often services (massage vouchers from a local business are a favourite); disposable (soap, candles, organic tea) or a product I feel has a positive environmental impact & will be a gift that won’t be broken/discarded quickly (reusable bag or coffee cup)

All I want for Christmas is youuuuu, but failing that, my top 12 gifts for this Christmas (in other words things I would be very happy to receive!) are:

1. Onya recyclable produce bags – I take mine everywhere (I mean EVERYWHERE – I recently took them all the way from sunny Sydney to snowy Scotland). They are brilliant in place of single-use plastic bags, are sturdy, only weigh about 10 grams each & are made from recycled plastic bottles.

2. Native flame eco candles – they are produced in Tasmania & made from coconut wax (did you know many candles are made from genetically modified soy?) & a timber wick. I’ve bought 3 so far as gifts & everyone has loved them.

3. Shampoo bar – a massive bonus to any product that has been reinvented purely with the environment in mind. Say goodbye to bulky single use plastic bottles with these bars.

4. Seedlings – I genuinely believe it’s cool to care about the environment. You need minimum space to grow some herbs & if I (no green thumb) can grow oregano, thyme, parsley, mint, basil, kale & chilli, you can do the same.

5. Home made treats – gingerbread are very easy to make, as are lots of Christmas treats. Forego the store bought goodies laden with flour, sugar, palm oil & preservatives. Pop it in a reusable container, wrap a ribbon around it & a fresh gardenia (my absolute favourite!).

6. Organic tea or coffee – tea & coffee are one of the most sprayed crops, meaning organic really is the only way to do coffee. I love Clipper organic teas, especially as their tea bags are unbleached. You can grab them in About Life.

7. Reusable coffee cup – if you know someone who is still buying single-use coffee cups lined with plastic (no peeps, they are NOT recyclable), then this is the perfect gift for them. My favourite is Frank Green – they have a great range of customisable colours. As a side note, I was thrilled to see on War on Waste last night a guy has come up with a formula to separate the plastic from paper in coffee cups. How frightening is the statistic of 7-11 selling 70 MILLION coffees per year in Australia alone. That’s one brand. In one country. In one year. 

8. Reusable water bottle – there’s nothing cool about toting a single use plastic water bottle which leeches chemicals from the plastic. Even less cool is the impact it has on our environment, with every bottle taking many many lifetimes to degrade. Don’t put your head in the sand, there are so many awesome reusable water bottles around now. I’m putting the Frank Green glass water bottle on my Christmas list.

9. Bamboo sheets – if you’ve got a little more to splash on me, I mean, your family & friends, bamboo sheets are a lovely gift. I’ve got my eye on some Ecosa sheets

10. Low-tox suncream – when you live in Australia & are applying suncream to yourself & your children daily, you really want to be applying a product that you understand what ingredients are being put on your skin daily. My picks are Little Urchin & Little Innoscents (which I am currently using on my 1 year old) – there are some other great low-tox brands out there now.

11. A subscription to Tooshies by Tom – as a Mum using disposable nappies & wipes, I am conscious of the environmental impact they have. In my experience these nappies work well & are super cute! Plus what parent or carer would be unhappy to receive their boxes of nappies & wipes delivered to the door rather than lugging them from the shops?!

12. A subscription or at least the first order to get the ball [roll?] rolling so to speak of Who Gives a Crap. I LOVE these products & have been using their loo paper & paper towel for close to a year & am proud to be using a product that is recycled & made from bamboo & sugarcane. They are wrapped in individual rolls with funky patterns (my sons love making the wrappers into paper planes). It’s a present that is sure to get used & again, is something ANYONE would love to receive delivered to their front door & not have to lug home from the shops. Plus their emphasis on charity is pretty incredible.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, health & happiness are our greatest wealth xx

 

Low environmental impact travel with kids

On a double edged sword, all of my Mum’s family are in Europe meaning we don’t have them nearby BUT on the plus side, we are incredibly fortunate to be able to travel to visit them.

I am aware of the environmental impact of flight & on this trip, I was much more conscious of the impact of the trip overall.

The things I highly recommend packing are: recyclable bags (thankfully in the UK free single use plastic bags don’t exist anymore) – I packed 2 cotton bags.

Second of all my ONYA bags – they are made from recycled plastic & are like mesh bags to put anything in – I’ve been using them for fruit & dividing up snacks for our daily outings. Third is reusable water cups – I brought our Frank Green cup which normally is for my coffee but the kids are using it; as well as my Klean Kanteen coffee cup, plus a baby sippy cup.

I brought my Nourished Life stainless steel straws although I’ve found that we haven’t used them often, perhaps as we always have our water with us.

As a side note, I’ve been disappointed with the lack of places offering water to refill. Big thumbs up to Pret at South Kensington & Borough Market for their well signed spots to refill water bottles.

For my baby, I brought about half a dozen reusable baby spoons to use anywhere we went to eat.

We’ve eaten apples & pears off a cousin’s tree. We’ve enjoyed freshly laid eggs from my Aunt’s chooks & stuffed kilos of brambles straight off the bushes into our mouths!

I’ve refused bags more often than I can count & even after saying no, some retail teams have automatically (habit?) just gone to put my purchases in a bag….until I bark at them “no bag thank-you!”.

I have been really shocked at how dirty London is & how rubbish is (depending where you live) just thrown outside the front door. No wonder the foxes are thriving! On the flip side, I am impressed that degradable compost bags are provided & collected. In Edinburgh, you need to buy your own “green bags” but food scraps/compost is also collected. How about that Australia??

Another huge area is transport. Admittedly there have been occasions where we have caught a taxi – with 5 people, 4 suitcases, 3 backpacks, a pram bag & almost always another bag we have accumulated on the way, the stairs/escalators leading to packed tubes are not always a viable option. We also flew from Sydney to London; then London to Edinburgh. We drove around the Scottish Highlands in a rental car. We caught the train from Edinburgh to London.

There are areas I have failed in include single use coffee cups. We have consumed many pre-packaged sandwiches (non-recyclable packaging) – I’m not proud of it & put it down to convenience. We have purchased 3 or 4 single use plastic water bottles in the 4 weeks we’ve been here, but have refilled them daily. I have seriously stood & had internal debates about produce in supermarkets: do I select organic (my preference) when it is inevitably from somewhere overseas & i try to minimise food miles? The organic fruit & veg also seem to be packaged in more plastic (not able to be purchased as loose individual items). I had a royal f**k up when I bought organic apples, not looking at the origin thinking apples are in season now (I’d eaten some fresh off a tree in the Scottish Highlands) & realised once home they were from New Zealand. Pathetic as it sounds, I was disappointed & angry at myself. I pride myself on making my consumer dollar count. On the flip side, big thumbs up to Tesco in Dingwall who have a clearly marked produce section of fruit/veg grown in Scotland. We were fortunate to be there for the tail end of the berry season & took full advantage of it.

So I want to know for our next trip, what other tips do you have to lessen or offset our environmental impact?