Zero-waste Beauty News: Ren Skincare

I’ve recently been impressed with beauty brand Ren for its zero-waste 2021 targets, which have involved upgrading packaging to use Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) from landfill and ocean plastics.

It’s always reassuring when a brand takes an issue by its horns, gives things a shake up and is genuine in its efforts to tackle it.

Our Zero Waste Ambition: to use only packaging that’s recycled, recyclable or reusable by 2021.

Ren Skincare

To achieve the zero-waste goals Ren is redesigning packaging to reduce cardboard and plastic, using ocean and landfill plastic in bottles and caps, re-thinking processes for a circular economy and revisiting skincare formulas for an even cleaner makeover.

Continue reading “Zero-waste Beauty News: Ren Skincare”

Get your hair done at an eco hair salon

karine jackson eco salon
Karine_jackson salon covent garden london
Karine Jackson, Covent Garden IS LONDON’S first certified Sustainable Salon

Ever wondered how eco your hair salon is? Or maybe how eco your hair routine at home is? With the rise in environmental awareness, the University of Southampton discovered haircare and salons to be highly energy intensive (surprise, surprise) so they decided to launch the sustainable salon certification….(insert applause here)…

If you pop along to Karine Jackson salon in Covent Garden you’ll get a truly eco experience as it’s now officially the first hairdressers in London with this sustainability certificate. That means Karine and her team have not only made significant changes to reduce water and energy consumption and waste in the salon but advise customers how to do the same at home.

Karine, former London Hairdresser of the Year, has been a life-long advocate of green living and was one of the first salons in the capital to offer organic hair colouring (Organic Colour Systems), which uses fewer chemicals than conventional hair dye, and vegan hairdressing services, which I’ve reviewed several times and highly recommend (- not only for the dairy-free biscuit an almond latte, but for the team’s amazing cut and natural-colour skills).

…someone who washes their hair every day, rinses, repeats and blow dries uses 500kg of carbon dioxide a year. Washing hair every two days and rinsing only once, the carbon footprint goes down by 2000% to just 25kg of carbon dioxide.

Just check out the stats above – this is a single person’s carbon footprint so you can imagine how much energy a salon gets through each day, week and year. So giving a hairdressers a green makeover is not only an environmental win but the energy saving would save the business a ton of money too – a win for all. Karine is hoping this new eco initiative will encourage other salons to get on board too.

To find your nearest certified sustainable salon visit the salon locator: ecohairandbeauty.com

 

How to stop deforestation – an infographic

We all know rainforests are endangered but do you know what from? Or quite how vital rainforests are? I certainly didn’t know that 40% of the world’s oxygen is released by rainforests or 200,000 acres of rainforest are burned down each day for cattle ranching, until a press release came through the other day to mark Earth Day.
The facts behind deforestation are quite shocking so eco business Eco2Greetings have created this infographic to spread education on the issue. Check it out and share! @yanarbeauty @eco2greetings.

The Alarming Truth Behind Deforestation

how to stop deforestation by eco2

Clean and Green – is it worth buying eco-friendly cleaning products?

Everyone wants a clean house, but what price do we pay for our spotless counters and clean loos? In the US, 69 percent of streams contain traces of disinfectant and detergent compounds from household cleaning products. Some ingredients will break down in wastewater treatment plants but others don’t so they end up discharged into seas and rivers to pollute aquatic life (and threaten our own water). Seeing as it’s still Earth Month, it’s seems apt to chat pollution.

Water pollution is a big problem – WWF says 80% of marine pollution comes from land based activities – and it’s not just industrial waste that’s to blame. Household cleaning products contain major culprits too. There are so many that can be harmful to our health and environment, but two to highlight are phosphates and APEs (alkylphenol ethoxylates).

APEs can mimic the hormone oestrogen harming the reproduction of salmon and other fish (I actually wrote about the feminisation of fish in The Ecologist a few years ago) and phosphates act as fertilisers which promotes the growth of algae blooms that starve marine life of oxygen. So it basically all dies. The over-use of farming fertilisers causes a similar contamination in waterways and imbalance in marine environments. There’s a ton of info online about other chemicals and their effects – for starters check out the Wiki page on the environmental impact of cleaning agents.

So what can we do? Go green with our household cleaning products of course…

Ecover-green-cleaning-products

I moved house recently and had to do the fun task of stocking  up on new cleaning products – none of the local corner shops had anything as advanced as eco-friendly cleaning products so I bought the nearest thing to a natural ingredient, Bicarbonate Soda Spray.

Then by chance, the Ecover PR team got in touch (magical timing) and asked if I wanted to try some Ecover cleaning products – of course, would love to. I’m already a consumer – I use Ecover Laundry Liquid, Stain Remover (it’s excellent) and Washing Powder, as well as Floor Soap (when I had wooden floors).

My favourite Ecover product that I was sent to try was Window and Glass Cleaner; because I have to actually be inside my shower cubicle to clean the glass walls, I don’t feel like I’m suffocating myself with crazy chemicals with this. I can jump in, clean and not worry about how I’m going to breathe.

What’s under our kitchen sink and in our toilet bowl inevitably ends up in our rivers and streams so choosing greener products, where possible will at least help minimise our contribution to the problem (obviously it won’t eradicate the problem, but what if we EVERYONE used better products? Then we’d really make a difference!).

I’ve always been aware of toxic waste, whether it’s the environmental impact of manufacturing chemicals, the potentially harmful pollutants we expose ourselves to at home, or what we release into the wider world. Who knows, maybe in years to come it will be law or standard practice to use safer and greener products. Let’s hope so. 

For brands like Ecover products still do the job of anti-bacterial cleaning but ingredients are plant-based so they actually break down and don’t pollute the environment. It’s a no brainer really! For more reading, Ecover gives a nice round up of the ingredients it does and doesn’t use in its FAQs section here. Ecover also now owns method (another green-clean brand I love using) so there’s even greater chance that more people will convert. And on the subject of household / waterways pollution, I read a good post on what we should and shouldn’t flush down the loo (hint: it’s not very much) on another green living blog.

Oh and talking of loos, I might as well impart some random hygiene trivia: Did you know that around 16,000 germs hang around a toilet seat and up to 40,000 in the metre square area after the loo is flushed with the lid up? Since reading that a few years ago, I’ve always flushed with the lid down, to keep all the pesky bacteria in, and never keep my toothbrush above the loo either.

Happy cleaning xx

Why isn’t every day Earth Day?

April is Earth Month and, in case you weren’t aware (and who can blame you with the multitude of national and international days / weeks / months we have now), Wednesday 22nd April 2015 is Earth Day. It’s the official time that brands, governments and communities might raise awareness about our footprint on the planet.

It’s easy to be synical about another commerative day (especailly if brands muscle in on the action and turn it into a big money making machine. Read: Breast Cancer Awareness month) but Earth Day has been going a long time – this year is the 45th anniversary so it’s no newbie. It’s also raised a lot of support over the years for grassroots projects.

Haircare brand Aveda, alone, has pooled together an impressive $32 million for environmental and clean water charities since 1999 and pretty much owns the Earth Day movement in the beauty world.  I hate to say this but it’s a shame more brands don’t get involved – not to make it really commercial – but because commitment to the environment is still a minority movement so it wouldn’t hurt for a few more brands (eco and non-eco ) to push messages of sustainability forward, even if it is just for one day.

In my ideal world, everyday would be Earth Day! But hey, I guess any given opportunity to speed up our thoughts towards a more sustainable future can only be a good thing.

Aveda Earth Month 2015 Clean Water projects

Throughout April, there are all sorts of activities and fundraisers planned worldwide to celebrate the world’s natural beauty, remind us to take a bit more care of it, and support international environmental charities and green projects. This is mainly through local community projects, schools, art initiatives and brand events. So check out earthday.org for more info.

If you’d like to give through your beauty purchases, Aveda’s Light The Way candle (£16; aveda.co.uk) has 100 per cent of the retail price going to environmental groups and clean water projects (unlike other charitable products which donate a token percentage, usually 10-20%). In fact, one candle purchase can provide a year’s worth of drinking water for someone living in Madagascar. The aroma is of organic essential oils – vanilla, cinnamon and ylang ylang – all sourced from Madagascar.

Aveda Light the way candle forEarth Month 2015

Beauty brand, Origins, is giving away a free tote bag, eco and beautifully illustrated, for every total purchase at an Origins beauty counter nationwide. Plus, for every tote bag gifted, Origins will plant a tree, so there’s something in it for everyone.

Happy Earth Day – and remember, why not make every day Earth Day? xx

Dirty Sugar

Clean Sugar Campaign Cambodia

There’s a bitter fight brewing between sugar giants Tate & Lyle and villagers in Cambodia which is putting a sour taste in my tea and coffee. Locals claim Tate & Lyle has purchased land that’s been illegally cleared for sugar cane plantation and Tate & Lyle’s supplier is accused of ‘land-grab’, child labour and human rights abuses although Tate & Lyle denies this.

I watched this eye-opening video tonight on Guardian.co.uk on how Cambodian villages have been destroyed by the sugar cane industry and the not-so-sweet journey from plantation to sugar pot.

Let’s keep putting pressure on the EU and multi-national companies who are involved in this dirty sugar supply chain. Go to http://www.cleansugarcampaign.net/ to find out more…

 

READ MORE: Land grabs and illegal deforestation in Sumatra Rainforest

The Observer Ethical Awards 2013

Joanna Lumley The Observer Ethical Awards 2013 Photograph: Harry Borden

Joanna Lumley The Observer Ethical Awards 2013 Photograph: Harry Borden
Photograph: Harry Borden for the Observer

This week the 8th and annual Observer Ethical Awards were held to celebrate environmental, social and ethical activists and pioneers. The nominees and winners include the people, organisations and campaigners making a difference and doing something that stands out in the way of ethical thinking.

Taken from The Observer’s site (and in association with Ecover), here are the winners of this year’s awards – while I haven’t described what each winner is all about, I’ve included links to relevant sites so you can check out more info if you wish…

National Campaigner of the Year – Joanna Lumley – The Gurkha Justice Campaign and Marks and Spencer’s Shwopping

International Campaigner of the Year – Afghanistan student Malala Yousafzai

Well DressedRosalind Jana blogger of Clothes, Cameras and Coffee

Lifetime Achievement Award – Comedian and founder of Comic Releif Lenny Henry

Big IdeaLoowatt

TravelUnseen Tours (this is my personal favourite! Walking tours of London led by homeless/formerly homeless people who receive a majority share of the income)

Ecover Young Green Champions – students at Queen Elizabeth II High School

Unsung Local HeroFrancis McCrickard

Retailer of the Year – Organic food delivery service Riverford Farms

Arts and Culture – film, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Products and Services – medical supplies ColaLife

Business InitiativeVirgin Atlantic for developing an alternative fuel source for aviation

 

Read more on The Observer’s dedicated Ethical Awards page.

 

 

Could you live a plastic-free life?

The plastic vortex greenpeace environment campaign

Plastics greenpeace campaign

It takes 450 years for plastic molecules to break down and most households throw away a shocking 40kg of recyclable plastic a year – so it’s an environmental nightmare, but can you live without it? Meet a Plasticarian – a person who does not use plastic in The Independent on Sunday is my environmental news pick of the week and while the people in the article sounded a bit extreme (searching for places to buy toilet paper not wrapped in plastic), I think we could all benefit from a less plastic-fantastic life.

In retrospect, and without consciously doing so, I think I’ve definitely reduced my use of plastic over the past few years. I’ve stopped buying bottles of water when out on the go (I have plenty of stainless steel ones instead); fruit and veg I buy loose from the supermarket or market and pass on the small plastic bag; weekly fresh bread comes in a paper bag; there’s very little processed food in my weekly shop (food like chick peas, lentils, beans etc are all in tins); chocolate comes in cardboard; I rarely drink juice and I make my own hummus now (I used to buy at least a couple of supermarket tubs a week) so I definitely save tons of plastic there. I think cooking most things from scratch cuts down on a lot of packaging by default.

But I still use a toothbrush and I work in the beauty industry (so have crates of beauty products in plastic containers) so I’m by no means plastic-free , but my life (and waste bin) are certainly a lot lighter than they used to be.

But plastic is in everything these days and it really kind of upsets me. Even simple things like breakfast porridge has been turned into a plastic extravaganza with fancy microwaveable pots, transparent lids, portable spoons, etc and all ending up in the bin taking hundreds of years to degrade.

What’s wrong with buying porridge in a simple bag or box and cutting out all that waste, pollution, manufacturing, etc. But packaging manufacturers seem adamant on making us consume more and more heavy plastics in more and more unnecessary ways.

I’m not proposing boycotting this modern day convenience like some people in the Inde’s article because I know that’s not realistic but it’s worth being more conscious of the plastic we consume and dispose of. Our oceans, wildlife, birds, animals, marine life, our fish farming and ourselves will be far better off if we reduce, re-use and recycle (and even refuse) where possible.

Check out these sites for more info on plastics and our world…

Newsnight report on plastics polluting our seas

Plastic Oceans

Greenpeace Trash Vortex campaign

Lucy Siegle debates plastic vs glass

 

Sumatra Rainforest – a devastating story

Burnt trees in Sumatran forest.Photograph: Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace

In yesterday’s Observer, the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforest was the focus of special report – the devastating land conflicts and illegal deforestation in Sumatra and Borneo is not a new story but last week the government renewed its decision to slow down the deforestation. Good news perhaps?

Unfortunately environmental experts say it could be too little too late as more than half of Indonesia’s rainforest (the third largest in the world) has already been felled to supply the world with toilet paper, paper, bio-fuels, palm oil and vegetable oil to make some of our everyday convenience items and food. Here I’ve highlighted some of the best points from this sad but essential-reading report…

‘The Sumatran rainforest will mostly disappear in 20 years’, Special Report by John Vidal, Observer Sunday 26 May 2013:

Burnt trees in Sumatran forest.Photograph: Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace
Photograph: Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace

  • Nearly a million hectares of rainforest are cut down each year and the last few places untouched (in Ache and Papua) are now prime targets for logging, palm oil and mining companies.
  • The deforestation means communities lose their indigenous land, which they rely on for food, building houses, and livelihood, to multinational corporations. ‘The legacy of deforestation has been conflict, increased poverty, migration to the cities and the erosion of habitat for animals. As forests come down, social conflicts are exploding everywhere,’ said Abetnego Tarigan, director of Walhi, Indonesia’s largest environment group.
  • A Canadian mining company is seeking to exploit 1.77m hectares for mining, logging and palm providing huge financial benefit for international investors at the expense of people and forests.
  • ‘Despite a commitment from the government to extend a moratorium on deforestation for two years Indonesia is still cutting down its forests faster than any other country.’ This is down to loopholes in the law and companies being granted ‘dubious logging or plantation permissions’.
  • It gets worse when you start hearing the stories from the ground.. ‘The permits were handed out illegally but now we have to work for the companies or hire ourselves out for pitiful wages…’ says one village leader.
  • ‘We used to get resin, wood, timber, fuel from the forest. Now we have no option but to work for the palm oil company.. and put plastic on our roofs…’
  •  In another village where they’ve been fighting oil plantation companies for ten years a villager says ‘Everything that we depended on went. Deforestation has led to pollution and health problems. We are all poorer now. I blame the companies and the government but most of all the government.’
  • In response, companies say the ecological devastation and illegal logging would be worse without them.
  • There seems to be some hope as pressure from international firms has forced some palm oil and paper companies to reassess their rainforest deforestation plans – Adidas, Kraft, Mattel, Hasbro, Nestle, Carrefour, Staples and Unilever have all dropped products made by rainforest timber from APP, one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies.

Read the full report here; read more about the land conflicts and human rights fight and read more about the impact on animals and wildlife here.

This is a new blog spot bringing you the best in environment, green living, ecological or ethical news from around the world each week.

EU bans bee-killing pesticides…But is it all good news?

EU bans neonicotinoids bees news

In case you missed it, the big environmental news this week was the EU banning three types of bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides to protect bees from further decline. A victory for bees! But will it mean the rosy future everyone expects?

Environmental groups have been campaigning for years to promote bee-friendly activities and farming – you may have seen Friends of the Earth Bee Cause campaign, Neal’s Yard Remedies with Bee Lovely Campaign and Melvita supported bee campaigns through its Melvita Foundation. Even fashion designers Katherine Hamnett and Dame Vivienne Westwood took to the streets to protest this week.

The good news is that the EU implemented a two-year continent-wide restriction (starting 1st December 2013) on the use of three types of neonicontinoids, the super-strength strain of pesticides linked to the dramatic decline in bee populations. This temporary ban should give bee populations a chance to recover and buy scientists more time to investigate the problem.

Sounds like great news doesn’t it, however, I looked a little more closely at the counter-argument and the potential situation bees might face as a result and it could be quite worrying.

It’s been well reported that the UK did not support the ban as our Environment Minister Owen Paterson felt the evidence was incomplete and that a ban could have detrimental effects on farmers and food production costs.

There’s been strong lobbying against the ban from farming groups and pesticide manufacturers (of course!) for several years despite over 30 separate scientific studies showing the link between neonicotinoids on insects’ nerve endings and falling bee numbers.

Then Farmer’s Weekly report this week said farmers will face a ‘catastrophic blow’ from the ban and will potentially resort to older forms of pesticides ‘with potentially worse environmental impact for bees.

“We now expect farmers to use products such as pyrethroids that we know are hazardous to bees,” said Tim Lovett, of  British Beekeepers Association. So far, not good.

The National Farmer’s Union said: “Banning neonicotinoids will put pressure on agrochemical businesses to develop a treatment which will have the same effects.” That sounds pretty worrying to me.

Now I’m no farmer or environmental expert so it’s difficult to tell the level of scaremongering going on from each side – the farming industry is warning us bees will not be better off with the alternatives farmers will be forced to use and predicting dire consequences for all.

I understand farmers have to keep yields high and keep virus-carrying aphids and beetles away from crops; after all their livelihoods depend on supplying pretty perfect vegetables for supermarkets to stock our shelves with. But instead of throwing more chemicals at the problem why don’t they try to come up with alternative solutions?? If it’s not one strain of pesticide, it’s another more harmful one…

From the little I’ve read and learnt from organic farming pioneers such as Neal’s Yard Remedies and Weleda, which adopts biodynamic farming methods, I believe crop-rotation, growing nitrogen-balancing crops and using manure to improve soil are just a few of the many strategies for pesticide-free farming.

Organisations such as PAN (Pesticide Action Network) work across 90 countries to ‘replace the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives.’ Some years ago PAN and Friends of the Earth wrote Breaking the Pesticide Chain which detailed how to adopt an organic, biodynamic, permaculture approach to farming.

The main goal is not how to replace specific pesticides but how to redesign agricultural cropping systems.’ 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if farming groups around the world adopted even just a few pesticide-free approaches? Chemical companies wouldn’t be so powerful and we’d all have clean food to eat. What a dream!  Is this just an utopian view on how to solve the problem? No. That’s why organic, bio-dynamic and permaculture farming exists and that’s why we should support it because the bigger the movement grows the more conventional farmers will take notice and see it as a viable alternative that works.

A few facts…

Neonicotinoids have been used by the farming industry for the last 20 years but for the past ten years bee-keepers have noticed a massive decline in honeybee and bumblebees which has incredibly serious consequences on world pollination and food supplies.

Scientists who have studied neonicotinoids in the UK and France said they found evidence bees become disorientated by the chemicals which then prevents them from finding their way back to hives. This then causes colony collapse disorder. However there are other factors that are known to contribute to declining bee populations and these include loss of habitat, nutrition, the varroa mite reduced immune system defences to parasites and increased exposure to pesticides.

Read more on both sides of the argument:

Farmer’s Guardian on Mixed Reactions to EU neonicotinoid ban and NYR Natural News.

What do you think???