Review: 3 Natural Soap Bars Everyone Will Love

If you hadn’t yet noticed, soap bars are having a revival moment. To quote one friend who recently stayed at mine and used one of the three soaps from Earthbits.com that I’ve reviewed here: ‘I haven’t used a soap bar in years – I’ve forgotten how good they are!’

For me natural soap bars are the ultimate in eco and sustainable beauty. If made with planet and people in mind, they could boast no plastic packaging, natural and non-polluting ingredients, zero-waste, kind on skin and can even be homemade.

Continue reading “Review: 3 Natural Soap Bars Everyone Will Love”

Weleda Teams Up with Terracycle to Increase Plastic Packaging Recycling

It’s been great hearing about all the recycling initiatives from brands this week for Recycling Week 2020.

If, like me, you’re frustrated with the limited recycling services offered by your local council then you’ll be pleased to hear that Weleda has partnered with TerraCycle to offer nationwide drop off points to recycle its soft plastic tubes.

Continue reading “Weleda Teams Up with Terracycle to Increase Plastic Packaging Recycling”

How Yoga Can Connect Us To Nature

As the world continues in lockdown you might find yourself with a little bit of extra time to pause and reflect. I recently wrote about how traditional yoga practices can bring us closer to nature in Bloom magazine (spring issue), timely to share today for Earth Day.

Practices from classical and integral schools of yoga involve daily postures, meditations and breathwork exercises that focus on sharpening the senses and honing an all-round awareness of ourselves and of the world around us.

Continue reading “How Yoga Can Connect Us To Nature”

Step-by-Step Guide: How To Do a DIY Natural Beauty Home Facial

weleda Skin Food facial review

If you’ve been inspired by the continued rise of natural and organic beauty then you’ll love this DIY natural facial massage from Weleda, one of my favourite natural and organic beauty brands. It’s also a lovely, nourishing treat to give skin at this time of year as the season and temperatures change.

The key product in this facial is Weleda Skin Food – an iconic skincare product that contains natural extracts of calendula, chamomile, rosemary and lavender, with natural waxes and plant oils (now also available in light version, lip balm and body butter) – alongside a few other Weleda products.

Continue reading “Step-by-Step Guide: How To Do a DIY Natural Beauty Home Facial”

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

 

Best advice I’ve received: Lisa Bronner of Dr. Bronner beauty

lisa-bronner profile image

Lisa Bronner is the sister, wife and daughter to the Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps family and granddaughter to the founder Dr. Emanuel Bronner. I spoke to her on the phone to learn more about her passion for sustainable living, her interest in inspiring people on their journey for greener living (check out her blog Going Green with a Bronner Mom) and the best advice she’s ever received.

The best advice I’ve received

‘Live intentionally – if we are too aimless or thoughtless in our day to day decisions we go nowhere and accomplish nothing and let opportunities slide by. Realise the ability you have as an individual to influence people around you or start a movement. People don’t realise they have the power we do; if use it we’d can all get a lot done.’

Best advice for going green

‘Start simply with one product at a time; going out with too much gusto and clearing out everything will be too much of a headache. Newbies should start with one product, look at the ingredients you don’t understand and find an alternative you enjoy using. Then go onto the next. One step at a time.’

If you could be president for the day

‘Treat people with respect and courtesy. Listen to one another and do things to empower each individual to live to their full potential. Be proactive rather than reactive, strengthen people and educate them on wellness so health is stronger and inform the public to make better decisions. Give people the right tools to make the best choices for their lives.’

Check out more from Lisa…  her tips and tricks for green living here. 

Read more… When I met Mike Bronner of Dr Bronner skincare in London – and the six things I discovered about the brand.

New eco-shopping app launches in London

urbit app shopping review blog post

urbit app shopping review blog post

I love hearing about new places to shop for eco and ethical products so I was recently introduced to a new shopping app called Urb-It. It’s a Stockholm-born app that’s now available in London and delivers purchases from any retailer on the app in an eco-friendly way to a London address of your choice.

The concept is simple, you browse and shop through a selection of curated products from one of the cool retailers such as Ethical Collection, 58 Lifestyle or The Idle Man and your products are delivered from their London stores or warehouses by one of the Urb-It team by bike, public transport or foot making it an environmentally low-impact way to get your home/office delivery. Depending on what time you order and where the store and where your delivery location is, you can get it the same day or even within a few hours.

I put an order through from two different retailers at around 1pm and by 5:15pm the lovely Urb-It delivery girl (pictured below) had arrived at the Healthista offices where I work on Edgware Road with my parcel of goodies. Just like an Uber app I was able to track where she was at and what her expected time of arrival was going to be. You can even organise a return free of charge. Move over Urban Outfitters!

urb-it delivery app review
My Urb-It delivery girl who picked up my orders from two London retailers and delivered my shopping by bike

There’s an A-Z range of retailers on the app, mainly independent boutiques, designers and makers covering jewellery, clothes, gifts, lifestyle, home and even delicatessen foods, flowers and artisan chocolates. There are lots of beautiful, high end products as well as some lower priced items under £20. Delivery is £9.99 which is obviously more expensive than a postal delivery but this is same day.

I realised going through the A-Z list of retailers is a great way to discover new labels and independent designers too.

With £100 to spend on the app I headed straight to The Ethical Collection and picked O My Bag Canvas Toiletry Bag, £34. Fair trade made, vegetable tanned and made with no harsh chemical dyes such as chromium PCP and minimal waste. Oh, and super super stylish. My kind of product!

urbit app ethical collection bag inside shopping review blog post.

I then checked out the homecare products and found some great looking organic and sports washing detergent (domesticated I know, but they looked so good!) by Totally Swedish from The Idle Man, £14.90 each. I also bought a silver bottle stopper as it’s just one of those things I don’t own and have never got round to buying or asking for it as a gift. So now I own a very lovely, elegant one (pictured above).

urbit app ethical shopping organic detergent review blog post.

There were just a handful of retailers on there when I did my shop in September but now there are many more and a huge product range so do check it out, especially if you’re in London and want to avoid the high street (who wouldn’t say no to that). You’ll also find some really cool unique products without having to search the internet for hours. Available on Apple Store now.

NEW: Mr Black Sport Refresh – the eco version of Fabreze

I’ve always loved the idea of Fabreze to refresh clothes but now I’ve found an eco version with biodegradable ingredients and I’m totally hooked.

mr black refresh review
@mrblackessentials instagram

Mr Black Sport Refresh is made from natural ingredients that gently reduce sweat odours and kill bacteria in sporty technical fabrics. The lovely scent is from rose leaf, ylang-ylang blossom and vanilla.

If I’m heading out for the day after a workout then I’ve been carrying it in my gym bag so I can spritz my kit to avoid that gross smell by the time I get home. It’s also good product to take away on holiday if you’re not able to do a regular wash.

The Refresh range also includes Denim, Wool & Cashmere, Shoe, and Cotton & Linen sprays, as well as a Cleanse Sports Wash (pictured above) that I’m keen to try; another biodegradable option for sport fabrics.

My only disappointment with Mr Black Refresh is that it comes in a 125ml bottle not 100ml which meant I couldn’t pack it away in my hand luggage on a weekend trip abroad recently. Maybe a set of minis could be next for Mr Black…

Buy it at www.mr-blacks.com £9.99 for 125ml.

How to fragrance your laundry naturally with essential oils

indigo herbs essential oils - how to fragrance laundry naturally
Image: Indigo Herbs

I can’t remember where I got the idea to use essential oils as a natural way to fragrance my laundry but it’s become a habit that I do with every wash now.

It means I don’t have to add artificial chemicals via a perfumed fabric conditioner so it’s a brilliant natural alternative to fabric softener. Ok, so, it doesn’t actually make your clothes soft but it makes them smell great!

I don’t mind what essential oils I use as long as I like the scent. I’ve found that not only do clothes come out smelling lovely but the aroma drifts around the room too as they’re hanging to dry.

Continue reading “How to fragrance your laundry naturally with essential oils”

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

Whoop! Best Blog for Green/Eco Living

Cooperative-Energy-logo

Cooperative-Energy-logo-best eco blogs

Thrilled to hear my humble little Brighter Shade of Green blog has been chosen by Cooperative Energy as one of the top 5 blogs to ‘help you stick to your green goals in 2016’. Thank you Coop Energy!

They had these lovely words to say:

“If you’re tired of being lectured on global warming and rising sea levels, why not cast your eyes over Yanar’s green living blog, A Brighter Shade of Green. Offering a different perspective on sustainable lifestyle choices, Yanar offers her thoughts on decluttering her home, fashion made from recycled car parts and whether it’s actually worth buying eco-friendly cleaning products. If you want to go green but feel talking about climate change is all doom and gloom, Yanar’s optimistic and engaging posts could help you stick to a few green goals this year.”

top 5 blog for greener living

Check out the rest of the top 5 for eco blogging at cooperativeenergy.coop – I’m in pretty good company!

Thanks again Coop Energy x

Wrag Wraps: Try eco wrapping paper this Christmas… 

Worried about excess waste at Christmas? Trying to have a festive season that treads a little lighter on the planet? Fear not, I assure you it’s possible! Yes, Christmas is probably one of the most un-eco times of year but if going green with wrapping is on your radar then check out Wrag Wrap – reusable, fabric gift wrap. A innovative new way to wrap and give.

wragwrap eco wrapping paper 4

I discovered Wrag Wrap on Twitter  – a small company inventing a novel approach to wrapping. A lot of thought has gone into making Wrag Wraps as ethical and as sustainable as possible.

Did you know that the UK sends 5 million tons of paper waste to landfill every year? And it takes six mature trees to make one tonne of paper. That’s 50,000 trees for the 8,500 tonnes of paper used at Christmas.

The ‘paper’ is made from 45% plastic waste (from recycled plastic bottles) and 55% polyester (although they would like it to be 100% recycled materials in the future). The type of recycled polyester used has a 50% lower carbon footprint than organic cotton, and apparently keeps 900 million plastic bottles a year away from landfill. Read more here about why WragWrap choice recycled polyester over cotton or other sustainable fabrics.

wragwrap eco wrapping paper 3

Wrag Wrap founders know that people like the tradition of wrapping and unwrapping presents so they added crackle into one of the styles: A 30cm x 30cm square with vibrant, fabulous prints, a cord and button attached so you don’t have to use tape, plus a tag pouch so you can write a message – they’ve thought of everything!

If you’re wondering about the crackle (could it be some un-eco cellophane paper?), I can tell you even that’s been considered: made out of discarded music festival tents, collected before being scooped up and taken to landfill. Brilliant!

wragwrap eco wrapping paper 2

If you’re wondering how to make reusable wrapping work for you, WragWrap co-founder, Nick has this note of inspiration: “Some prefer to keep their Wrag Wraps in the family, starting a new tradition and passing them around from year to year.  Others like to send them out on a journey – give one to a special friend, who then gets to pass it on.”

I love the ingenuity of Wrag Wrap and hope they go from strength to strength!

Read more about the staggering problem of paper waste here and the shocking stats of plastic waste here.

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

A Win! Brighter Shade of Green in Top 20 Greenest Blogs

Top 20 greenest blogs by GreenMatch

It was very cool to hear that my little blog, Brighter Shade of Green, has been named one of the Top 20 Greenest Bloggers list by GreenMatch, an energy sustainability and green energy comparison site, as part of its Top 100 Green Initiatives list.

The Top Greenest Blogs list was a fabulous who’s who of environmental champions, from charities and brands to independent blogs and families – from Green Peace and The Ecologist to the Transition Network, Wrap (promoting sustainable resources) and ScrapStore (a community group that puts clean material waste to good use). I’m particularly passionate about re-using and recycling so those last two organisations really stood out – congratulations to all.

GreenMatch says: ‘At GreenMatch, we strive to encourage more people to go “green” and take advantage of different eco-friendly energy sources. For that reason we really love seeing people like you, promoting the same cause in any possible way.’

Top 100

As a magazine writer and online editor in the beauty industry, I’m surrounded by brands and activities that are far from green so I set up this blog to try to share and celebrate the products and people I come across that tread more carefully on the planet and on us. I do believe a greener and more sustainable commercial world can exist, we just need to be encouraged to work towards it.

As well as Top 20 Greenest Bloggers there was also Top 20 Greenest School, Greenest Projects and Community Projects, all featuring a plethora of amazing initiatives. Totally thrilled (and pleasantly surprised!) to be in such great company – thank you GreenMatch!

x

How to Grow Avocado Plants

how to grow avocado plants
Avocado plants in bloom – the tall ones in the centre of the pic

Clearing out some old pictures I found this one of my old avocado plants. Taken over two years ago just before I moved from my old house, I remember snapping a pic as they were in full bloom and feeling so sad to be leaving them, my avocado babies.

It’s not the best pic but if you ignore the spider plants on the left and right, the avocado plants are against the wall and one tall one in the window.

They were my babies, all planted from real avocado stones. They love to grow long, tall and fairly quickly. Unlike native avocado plants, which are like big trees, these are slightly gangly with tall, thin stalks and floppy leaves.

Give it a go – after eating your avocado, pop the stone into a pot of soil and see what happens. First a little shoot and before long, hopefully, you’ll have an avocado baby of your own.

(Funnily enough just found a post on this already, had completely forgotten I’d written! Oh well, two posts on this amazing plant)

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.

 

 

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???

Share a shower

share a shower campaign by method

share a shower campaign by methodI’ve been meaning to write about this campaign for a while, so I’m glad I’ve finally got round to it…A campaign by my favourite cleaning brand (oh dear that sounds sad!) – Method – who I honestly think are brilliant. In fact I love the brand through and through because every part of the production, design, ethos and branding has been thought about from a sustainability and environmental point of view. Their bottles are made from old bottles, and non-toxic cleaning products that biodegrade instead of toxic chemicals that don’t.

One part of what they do comes from the Cradle to Cradle vision. Cradle to Cradle begins with the assumption that the problem is not that we are too many or that we consume too much, but that what we consume is not designed properly.

I really agree with this because a) we can’t keep the population down (without drastic one-child Chinese style birth control policies) and b) we can’t stop people from consuming or wanting to develop themselves, especially developing nations. So what we make and how we make it has to be the thing that changes. Unfortunately I don’t think companies, especially large corporates, will make a change to the way they do things unless there’s an economic reason or government regulation.

One day (hopefully), all plastics will be biodegradable or made from an alternative material because oil will become a genuinely rare commodity but until then, we’ll have to turn to clever people, like the ones at Method, who are already busy in their labs concocting environmentally innovative ways of doing things. Hoorah!

I digress from the campaign, I know, but let me quickly tell you about the other principle they stand by, which is green chemistry. In a nutshell this is a belief in the precautionary principle (avoiding ingredients where there is any shred of doubt over safety) and assessing each ingredient against all the possible effects on people or the environment – e.g. how the ingredient is sourced, how it’s used and its impact on the environment once it’s been disposed. There are also lots of other great strategies – like trying to make all their factories recycle 100% of their water and waste and spread the word about  – but I’ll let you read about the rest here.

Back to the campaign! Basically, team Method wants us to share a shower and use less water. They say ‘an average shower uses 63 litres of water so if everyone in the UK shared a shower – just once – we could save 1.5 billion litres of water.’ A few celebrities and brands are on board and if you ‘pledge to share a shower‘ Method will send you a £1 voucher and you’ll be in with the chance of winning a year’s worth of Method cleaning products. Err… I’m in! While obviously the campaign is more conceptual than practical, the valuable idea of saving water is there. Join the Share a Shower Facebook page to try the app and enter the competition.

It’s seems relevant to make the point here, one that many have made before, that the water we waste at home is so small in comparison to the water lost through leaks in the water system. According to Leo Hickman’s post on the Guardian’s environment blog last week, ‘Thames Water lost 669.9 million litres of water a DAY – equal to 32% of the total it delivered – through leaks in 2009/10, according to Ofwat.’ Incredible and hypocritical for water companies to pass the blame (and guilt) to the consumer. I digress again, but despite this statistic we should all still all do our bit and save water!