8 reasons why you should produce less rubbish and how you and the planet can benefit

Since the start of 2017, I’ve been on a mission to reduce the amount of waste we send to the tip/landfill. It’s not quite zero waste (which is about producing no waste whatsoever, including recycling), but it’s an important step in the right direction.

One of the things I really want to do with Girl In Awe is help you figure out how to live a more conscious, eco-friendly, and ethical lifestyle, if that’s your jam. Starting with the basics.

When I write a blog post, I sometimes forget that not everyone has read exactly what I’ve read, or even knows what the hell I’m on about. When I began working with Jasmin as my blog coach, she suggested I take some things back to absolute basics in case you lovely folk were completely beginners to some of my wafflings. I’m sorry if I bamboozled you; I kinda turn into an over-excitable puppy sometimes. I’m gonna make it up to you though. We’re gonna smash sustainable and eco-living together. Are you ready for it...? (Yeahhhh, you got the T-Swift reference.)

Today’s topic, is waste reduction and how you can benefit from it/why you should do it. Together, we’re gonna reduce the amount of crap in our general waste bins that gets send to landfill, and here’s why.

 

1. No one likes pollution

How much do you love the delicious smell coming from a landfill site when it’s mildly warm? It’s delicious, isn’t it? I used to live in a town that had a tip and my dog, you could smell it all over town on a mildly warm day. And on one of those hot, humid British summer days, you could taste it.

That smell is the stink of things breaking down (note that not everything sent to landfill will rot away). During this process, methane is created. Methane is a greenhouse gas which is even better at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, which means it’s not really something we want to be creating more of than necessary. Though, some tips harness this methane for energy purposes, which is better than letting it escape into the atmosphere.

There are additional risks of soil and water pollution due to the gross, toxic soup of liquid that forms when things break down. I don’t think any one wants that to end up in local streams, ponds, lakes, rivers, and killing anything that lives in it.

While landfill sites now are fairly well regulated, old landfill sites are polluting waterways and could impact local wildlife. Experts have also warned that coastal erosion at old landfill sites could expose us and wildlife to toxic chemicals. Not cool. I did not sign up for historic rubbish coming back to fudge stuff up for us like the plot of the fourth sequel in a horror movie franchise.

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2. ‘Things’ take a lot of time, energy, and resources to make

Whatever it is you’re throwing away - that thing had to be created and packaged. We are now so far removed from manufacturing processes that 1) don’t even think about it, and 2) when we do, we probably wouldn’t have a clue how it was actually made.

Just some of the steps that might go into making a ‘thing’ might include:

  • Mining something from the Earth (which can be rife with slavery, human rights, and environmental issues)
  • A lot of water being used in the manufacturing process; clean water is a precious resource
  • Time and energy from every person involved in the entire process (again, this could be linked to slavery, human rights, and environmental issues, such as the Rana Plaza collapse)
  • Forests or grassland being cleared to grow or extract a material used in that thing
  • The use of fossil fuels; for example, plastics can be made from fossil fuels, which are a nonrenewable source

3. It’s not just about throwing less away

For me, this is an offshoot of the last post. I used to think waste reduction was about putting less things in the bin, and it is in one way. It’s also about being more conscious of what you’re buying. You learn to really research things to find out what they’re made from, how long they will last, if they can be repaired, what you need from something, or if you even really need it in the first place.  

Reducing your rubbish definitely leads to a more conscious lifestyle, and, if you want it, it can lead to a minimalist lifestyle.

 

4. Less clutter is always good

For me, living more consciously has meant having less clutter in the house. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying our house is a clutter free zone. It’s a work in progress but I’m happy knowing that anything I bring into the house is something I’m happy with, confident will last, and fulfil its purpose.

5. We all have to do our part

We all share this planet and are equally responsible for looking after it. It isn’t just about us as individuals though. It’s about us holding companies and governments accountable.

Don’t like that your favourite biscuits come in non-recyclable packaging? Tell the company how much you love to dunk those biscuits, but are so disappointed in their packaging choices. Change might be slow, but if everyone does their part it will happen.

  • Tell your local MP that you want something to be done about all the litter thrown out of car windows and into hedges.
  • Complain to your local supermarket if you can’t buy the produce you want plastic-free.

 

6. Does anyone actually enjoy going to the tip?

I can’t imagine anyone enjoying having to load a car up, fight for a parking space, not find a parking space near the bin you want, and have to haul a load of stuff down the other end of the car park to put it in the right bin.

How about we just bring less crap and things that will break easily into our homes, so the only time we do have to go to the tip is when something is legit old and past it. And even then, you might be able to rescue it; I turned some wood from an old wardrobe into two stunning hairpin leg bedside tables.

A company, and the government, is responsible for their actions the same way you or I am (whether or not they try and shirk that responsibility). By telling them that their efforts aren’t good enough and that it’s not what their customers/the public want, we encourage the kind of change we want to see. Maybe that sounds a bit ‘away with the faeries’ to you, but let’s all try it and see how it works out.

DIY Hairpin leg mid century nightstand

7. You learn new skills

Instead of throwing that broken thing away, figure out if you can fix it first. In Edinburgh, we have the Shrub Coop and Edinburgh Remakery, both of which offer ways people can learn new skills, repair, and purpose items. Maybe there's something similar near you? If not, does one of your friends or family know how to fix something?

If something can no longer be used for its original purpose, can you repurpose it? Maybe you can...

8. You can save money

Hands up who loves saving pennies? I thought so. 

There are plenty of ways to save a penny or two by reducing your waste. For example:

  • Keeping tabs on your food waste by making sure you don’t buy food that will spoil before you use it
  • Trading single-use items in for forever-use items
  • Buying something higher quality that will last, instead of you replacing it in a few months
  • Fixing something instead of replacing it

And then, you can spend those well-saved pennies for adventures, seeing your favourite band, buying The Sims 4 and proceeding to spend your spare time cleaning up after pixel people instead of cleaning your own house, or treating you and your Mum to a long day exploring record stores. 

 

I need your help!

I’m toying around with running a waste reduction challenge next year and I want to know if that’s something you’re interested in? If it is, please tell me what kind of things you’d want it to include or what kind of questions you want answering. 

As ever though, if you have any questions or suggestions, fire away and lets produce less waste! 

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Vegan advocacy

I want to approach a really negative and counter-productive kind of vegan activism I keep seeing that is driving me up the wall.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a tweet which I will paraphrase as, “If you’re not vegan, you don’t honestly care about the environment.” That instantly riled me up. I’m studying a degree alongside people who are the future of protecting our planet, and you want to tell me they don’t truly care because they eat meat? I’m being taught by researchers who have done / are doing fascinating things and because they eat meat they don’t actually care?

I do get where that tweet came from. We know that animal agriculture is a huge polluter which increases greenhouse gas emissions, damages water quality, damages and pollutes soil, is cruel to animals, and slaughter houses are an awful place to work. I don’t dispute any of that for a single second. I wholly believe the best diet for the planet is a vegan one. My problem is the approach some people take towards trying to ‘convert’ people.

When you think of a vegan, tell me what you honestly think of. I’m willing to bet a lot of you think of the stereotypical aggressive vegan who is constantly attacking people. That kind of activism generally doesn’t encourage change; it might for some people, but for the majority of people it makes them defensive and not open to change. I’ve experienced it myself and it is counter-productive. 

Earlier this year, while I was trying to switch to a vegan diet, I was really struggling with cheese. We know that cheese has some addictive qualities and I think it’s one of the main foods people struggle with ‘giving up’. I commented on a vegan blog post about tips for moving to a vegan diet and said I was struggling with cheese. I was essentially told by the blogger that I didn’t truly care about the animals because I was struggling with cheese; if I truly cared about the animals, I would have been able to quit cheese in a jiffy. Maybe that wasn’t how they meant it but that’s how it came off to me. I was asking for help and that was not what I received. I remember my mindset being, “well, why should I bother trying seeing as I don’t care about the animals apparently?”

When someone is attacking your choices and telling you you’re wrong, you are about as far away from being receptive to change as you can get. Especially if you have asked for help and are open to change, but what you get is made to feel stupid and not good enough. 

I do understand why some vegans are so aggressive about it; once you understand the horrors and negatives of the meat industry it’s hard to unsee it and understand why some people don’t get it the same way you do. That said, that approach doesn’t work well. 

The majority of vegans were not born vegan. It’s important to remind ourselves that we used to chow down on chicken nuggets and turkey twizzlers (they were horrendous) and one day we made a choice to stop. What encouraged that choice? I can’t imagine it was someone saying you that you can’t care about something you do care about because of your dietary choices. 

As a kid, and even now, I hated being told what to do. My Dad and I used to constantly butt heads because he would tell me to do something, and I already knew I needed to do it but because he told me I wasn’t going to do it. No one likes being told they have to do something.

If someone asks me about my diet, I kind of dread saying I’m vegan because of the stereotype so many people associated with it. It shouldn’t be that way. I’m not going to preach to anyone. If people ask questions about why and want a genuine discussion about it then I love talking about it. I find those discussions so interesting because usually people will say “I think I could live without eating beef,” or “I think I could eat less meat”, and you can see people evaluating their choice in their head. I find that so fascinating.

A few weeks ago, my sister and her boyfriend came up to visit. We were trying to find something to watch on Netflix when one of them saw Cowspiracy and we ended up watching it and talking about it. Since then my sister hasn’t brought any dairy milk because she can’t stand the thought of it. She’s exactly the same as me and if I’d said to her, “you can’t drink milk that because of x, y, and z,” she’d have said “yeah, alright,” and not even thought about it.

Eating meat does not make you an awful person or mean you can’t possibly truly care about the environment. All that idea does is completely turn people off being open to a vegan diet, or a diet containing less meat. Becoming vegan requires huge lifestyle changes and it’s very hard for some people. 

What I would love people to associate with vegans is people who are not judgemental, people who encourage every small change someone makes, and are helpful and educational. That’s what the core of the lifestyle is; love for everyone and everything, and we’re being damned hypocritical if we’re shutting people out instead of helping them.

If anyone has questions or wants to talk about veganism, hit me up in the comments or on social media – I’d love to chat. 

Vegan or not; what do you think, or what are your experiences, with vegan activism?

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Plastic washed up on Aberlady Bay, Midlothian

I bang on about my frustration with plastic all the time. It’s great but it’s also absolutely awful, so today let’s talk about why plastic is so bad.

Look around right now. How many items can you spot that contain plastic? It’s an incredibly versatile material, which is precisely how it found it’s way into our homes and lives. There are things I love that are made from plastic; my record player and records being one big thing, the cases video games come in, the Playstation itself, my camera, the keys I’m typing on right now.

Plastic makes our lives easier, especially now that it’s everywhere. While it might make life easier for us, it kind of isn’t at the same time because it’s bad for the environment and it’s bad for us. “How can my phone be so bad for the environment?” you might wonder, so let’s explore some of the reasons why plastic is so bad.

Side note: read Blood & Earth by Kevin Bales to discover other reasons why technology can be bad for the environment and people.

 

Single-use plastic pollution

Approximately 50% of plastics are made into a single-use item. What?

Single-use plastic is my biggest plastic-based frustration (it’s always fun to rate and categorise your frustrations). I’m sure Daz is beginning to dread going to the supermarket with me because it always involves a lot of “this doesn’t need to be wrapped in plastic!” “Why is this non-recyclable plastic?!” “I’m writing Tesco an angry email when I get home.” Side note; I did and their response about their use of non-recyclable packaging was disappointing. They’re “working hard to make sure even more of our packaging is recyclable.”

There are few things we honestly need to use once and throw away. In fact, now that I’m trying to think about something that truly needs to be single-use, I can’t think of anything. Maybe something surgical? There is sterilising equipment, though, so? If you think of anything, I want to hear about it.

I’m not sure how we ended up putting our convenience over the well-being of ourselves, wildlife, and the planet. But it happened, and we can stop it. We don’t need single-use plastic bags. We don’t need single-use straws; if you want a straw, get a reusable glass, bamboo, or stainless steel one. We don’t need food to come in plastic containers which are non-recyclable. We very rarely need water in plastic bottles. Sure, sometimes you forget your travel bottle but we certainly don’t need to be consuming it in the quantities that we are. In 2015, Americans brought over 88 billion half-litre bottles of water. In a year. And that’s one country.

The problem with single-use plastic is that 1) it’s resource intensive to manufacture (we’ll talk about that in a minute) and 2) it’s very polluting.

Have you heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? I know, you probably wish you hadn’t. This is where some of our rubbish ends up, and sadly it isn’t the only garbage patch. I recently heard about a really interesting campaign between LAD Bible (yes, that LAD Bible) and Plastic Oceans Foundation. Their theory was that if they can get the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to be accepted by the UN as a country (called Trash Isles) then something will have to be done about the pollution. It’s unlikely to be accepted as a country but a brilliant way to get people talking about the issue of plastic pollution.

It doesn’t end with plastic floating around our oceans. It’s washing up on beautiful beaches and uninhabited islands. It’s affecting and killing marine animals in awful ways. Turtles inhale straws. They’re trapped, entangled, or choked by it. They eat it because they think it’s food and it blocks their digestive systems and kills them.

Sadly, that isn’t the end of the plastic pollution story either. Just when we thought we’d got rid of it, it comes back to haunt us like yet another Fast & Furious movie. If we eat animals that have consumed microplastics, we’re also eating plastic. As we discussed in my blog post about plastic in our drinking water, plastic doesn’t fully break down and ends up in our tap water. Even if you don’t eat seafood, you’re consuming plastic straight out the tap.

 

Resource-intensive to produce

We know that fossil fuels are not renewable sources of energy. If we want to talk about reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, we need to talk about plastic too.

Synthetic plastics can be made from fossil fuels, such as oil, coal, or natural gas. 4% of the world’s oil and gas is used as feedstock for plastic, and an extra 3 – 4% is needed to produce the energy to make it into plastic.

As well as using up to 8% of the world’s oil and gas, the extraction of these resources can be incredibly damaging to the environment. Most people remember the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. And, maybe one or two big oil spills make the news every year but that doesn’t mean they’re the only oil spills. They’re going on all the time, all over the world; we just don’t hear about all of them. They’re incredibly damaging to the environment and the effects are long-lasting.

As well as taking up non-renewable resources, plastic requires a lot of water to make. It takes 24 gallons of water to make one pound of plastic. Yes, there are other materials which require much more water to produce. Shouldn’t we be doing our best to reduce the amount of water we’re wasting wherever we can by skipping plastic as much as possible?

 

It doesn’t degrade

One of the reasons plastic is so bad is because it does not degrade. Plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces of itself, so it never really goes away. As evidenced by it ending up in 83% of the world’s tap water, delicious.

There is no straightforward answer to “how long does it take plastic to fully decompose?” Estimates range from 10 – 1000s of years, depending on what it is. But some scientists fear plastic never fully degrades, it just keeps breaking down into smaller pieces of itself. Maybe a plastic bag appears to have degraded after 10s of years but it doesn’t mean it’s actually gone. It will have broken down into microplastics (plastic smaller than 5mm) and could end up anywhere.

 

It doesn’t all get recycled

Ok, so perhaps you’re having similar thoughts to me a couple of years back right now; “if I’m separating my rubbish and recycling so much plastic, why is it causing such a big pollution problem?” That makes sense, right? We’re constantly told to recycle plastic so why is plastic pollution such a big deal?

  1. Not everyone recycles. Over the past month or so, when people have asked me about what I’m studying, I’ve ended up in conversations about how we’re destroying the planet. Sometimes we get to talking about rubbish and pollution, and I’m surprised that not everyone recycles. To me that seems so alien, but some people just don’t do it.
  2. Not all plastic that you recycle gets recycled. There are so many different kinds of plastic that it’s very labour intensive to separate them. When you add that to having to remove wrappers and stickers, sometimes companies can’t be bothered and it ends up in landfill. While you might have done your part for the environment, you might be being let down further down the chain.

When plastic actually does get recycled it can end up being shipped all over the world before becoming something new. That’s hardly a surprise given that I could sit here in my dressing gown right now and order something from the other side of the world in the click of a few buttons. In a week or two, I’ll end up missing the postie and have to collect it from the sweltering post office. That parcel will have travelled thousands of miles to reach me and I won’t bat an eyelid at that. If we’re being very pernickety, we’d say it’s not great that it gets shipped everywhere; adding more carbon dioxide to the planet. On the other hand, it’s great that it can be recycled.

 

Chemicals that damage our health  

It’s bad for the environment, it’s bad for wildlife, and hey, plastic is bad for us too. Some of the chemicals in plastic can be absorbed by our bodies and impact our hormones and cause health issues. It’s hard to nail down exactly which chemicals in plastics are causing which issues. However, researchers suspect the chemicals in plastics can cause a number of issues.

 

What’s the solution?

I don’t know what the solution is. Plastic is so versatile and heavily ingrained in our lifestyles; it’s hard to imagine a world without it. We don’t have to know what the end solution is to make a difference, though. We can begin by quitting single-use plastic, reducing our plastic consumption as much as possible, recycling plastic and hoping it is actually being recycled, supporting companies that use recycled plastic packaging, and using alternative materials.

Be careful with biodegradable plastics because it’s not as simple as you think. It’s easy to think all you need to do is throw it away and it will biodegrade by itself. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Certain conditions are needed for biodegradable plastic to degrade, and those conditions don’t exist in landfill sites. If they do, the plastic will end up releasing methane, which isn’t great for the environment either.

I am pretty cynical in that I don’t expect my current government to live up to my expectations of what they should be doing in regards to the environment. (Hey, they don’t live up to our expectations for the NHS so…) While I believe it’s equally up to you and me, the private sector, and our governments to make a change, I think the public have to force it in countries where the environment isn’t a priority.

What does that mean? It sounds like a lot of legwork, right? Maybe it is. And let’s be honest, we’re all so busy that we need things to be made easier for us. So, that’s where I can help. Below, I’ve got a list of a few plastic-free alternatives and some blogs I’ve found really helpful for reducing my plastic consumption.

You don’t have to make all these changes overnight. Do whatever works best for you and your life; small changes are better than no changes.

 

Plastic-free alternatives

When I first decided to reduce my plastic consumption I felt overwhelmed. So many things contain plastic, how do I start to replace those things? And what should I start with? I don’t suggest throwing everything plastic out at once; start slowly and replace things when they break.

The links below are either things I’ve used and recommend, or things I am looking to buy when I replace something.

  • Wooden toothbrushes look so much cooler than plastic toothbrushes
  • Travel mugs and water bottles instead of plastic bottles and takeaway cups
  • Wooden cutlery instead of plastic cutlery
  • Instead of disposal straws, try out glass, stainless steel, or wood
  • Metal or glass tupperware instead of plastic
  • Fabric produce bags for buying loose produce
  • Quit shaving your legs with plastic, and get a snazzy safety razor
  • Switch to wooden dish brushes
  • Avoid plastic microbeads in cosmetics – they have been banned in the UK for “rinse off” cosmetics like toothpaste and face scrub, but not “leave-on” products like makeup or sunscreen, which seems odd because that’s going to get washed off too…

 

Extra reading

If you want to read up some more, here are a few things I found really interesting while researching this blog post & things I’ve read recently

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Fruit and veg stall - zero waste

Over the past few months, I’ve been trying hard to reduce my waste significantly and move towards zero waste.

I have always strived to recycle and thought I was pretty good at living fairly sustainably. The more I learn about zero waste and being sustainable, the more I realise there’s still a lot more I can do. Daz and I certainly don’t have a zero waste household, we are slowly reducing the amount of rubbish we send to landfill though. Moving house created a whole load of rubbish and we did donate or sell whatever we could, and only send to landfill what we had to.

Rubbish and waste is something we all have in our homes and trying to reduce it can seem really daunting. We’ve been trying to move towards zero waste for a few months now, so I wanted to share some of the biggest things we’ve learned.

 

What is zero waste?

If this is the first time you’ve heard of zero waste, here’s a brief introduction for you. The basic idea is that you produce no waste. Nothing in your refuse bin. Nothing. Nada. Zero waste is bigger than not producing waste though, it’s about buying products and food with less packaging, reducing the amount of plastic and waste you bring into your home, buying more thoughtfully and so much more.

 

What our zero waste journey has taught us so far

Over the past few months we have noticed a decrease in how full our refuse bin is come collection day. Up here in Edinburgh, in addition to a general waste bin and recycling bin, they also have food waste caddys and a glass recycling box. That means our recycling bin is pretty much plastic, paper, and cans. And boy, is there a lot of plastic. Too much plastic. 

 

Packaging – y u no use eco-friendly packaging?

My biggest recycling peeve is packaging. I think Daz kind of dreads going shopping with me because I go off on a rant every time I see “not currently recyclable” on packaging. There are so many recyclable and biodegradable packaging options that I cannot comprehend why a manufacturer would choose to use something that isn’t recyclable. Actually, I can; I suspect it’s to do with money.

When it comes to skincare, cosmetics, and vegan / dairy free food items, it’s really easy to find products in minimalist and recyclable packaging. The brand is well aware of their impact on the environment and usually uses packaging which is environmentally friendly.

It’s when you come to other items or food products that aren’t associated with the environment or special dietary needs that it gets trickier. It’s not impossible, but it does mean you might have to do some research and maybe stop buying a product you loved. If that’s the case though, I would definitely recommend emailing them and asking why they’re using non-recyclable packaging. You might think that one email might not make a difference, but if enough people tell a company they aren’t buying their products because of their packaging choices they will make a change.

A Plastic Planet are running a really interesting campaign and are trying to encourage supermarkets to offer a plastic free aisle. How wonderful would that be?

 

Plastic bags – learn to juggle or forward plan

By this point, I think we can all agree that plastic bags are bad. I’m slowly getting better at remembering to take reusable bags to the supermarket with me. Daz is much better than me, and remembers to keep some in the car.

 

Chemicals & microbeads

I stopped buying products with microbeads in last year when I read about how rubbish (excuse the pun) they are for the environment and marine life. Microbeads are used in a lot of exfoliating cosmetics and are small plastic balls that are absolutely pointless because there are so many natural exfoliants, like; rice, charcoal, coffee, sugar, oats, bamboo, walnut shells, the list is very long.

Being a science student I have always enjoyed reading the ingredients list on products, and it always scares me when I see something and think “hmmm, I feel like I used that in the lab and needed to wear gloves…” The long and short of it is that harmful and unnecessary products are causing damage in two ways.

  1. Your body is absorbing all those nasties, and they’re not good for you.
  2. All those nasties are ending up in the water supply when they get washed down the drain.

I’m sure they’re also causing damage in other ways as well, such as the manufacturing process. I’ve not really had to buy many skincare products recently but when I do I’m going for natural and sustainable products. It is my goal to now only buy natural and sustainable products; which means saying “bye bye” to some LUSH stuff. Le sigh. Since the start of the year, I think the only places I’ve purchased skin / hair care and beauty products from are Holland & Barrett , 100% Pure, and Antipodes

If you want to learn more about being eco-friendly in your bathroom, check out my updated 8 tips for being more eco-friendly in the bathroom

 

Don’t just throw stuff out

While we were relocating, we noticed there are a load of things we didn’t use or need. Some of it we sold on eBay, a load of it was donated or given to friends, and what was of no use went to the tip. 

 

Forward planning

The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is that I need to plan. Living in Edinburgh means we have access to a couple of stores that have bulk options – something we definitely didn’t have before. We haven’t needed to use them yet because we have so much flour, sugar, and oats, it’s ridiculous. At some point soon we’ll get through them all and I’m looking forward to bulk buying – that’s kind of sad, isn’t it?

  • By forward planning, we reduce our food waste by buying what we need and using things up.
  • I remember to take some suitable bags for putting loose produce in.
  • I can go a little out of my way to get something without packaging or with packaging that’s actually recyclable.  

 

We have a long way to go on our quest for zero waste, and maybe we won’t ever truly reach zero. We’re really happy with where we’re at so far. It was bin day a couple of days ago and our waste bin was less than half full.

If you want to cut down on your waste to landfill, here are a few blog posts that I found helpful:

 

If you’ve got any tips or want to share a useful blog post / blog, please do 🙂

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Antipodes Rejoice Moisturiser, Reincarnation Exfoliator, Divine Facial Oil & Dragon Fruit Lipstick

I have known about Antipodes for years; I think I remember seeing some of their products pop up in one of Estee Lalonde’s empties videos (I love those). I was always so tempted but the price put me off.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not rolling around on a bed of cash or recreating the bath scene from the Look What You Made Me Do video with all my jewels. Since beginning to learn more about ethical and toxin-free products, I am happy to pay more for high quality, organic, ethically sourced ingredients and products.

 

Why did I buy from Antipodes?

I thought it would be interesting to include a section on why I think Antipodes meet my ethical and sustainable requirements.

 

Antipodes Reincarnation Facial Exfoliator

£20.99 for 75ml on LoveLula

I’m about to rattle on a fair bit about how good Antipodes products smell throughout this blog post but this exfoliator smells the best. It has a lovely orange scent which reminds me of those gummy Vitamin C “sweets” I used to have as a kid; it’s kinda making me crave them.

Reincarnation uses jojoba beads for exfoliation which makes it quite a gentle exfoliator; I saw another blogger refer to it more as a polish and I think that’s a pretty good comparison. I use it every morning and use a harsher scrub or exfoliating mask once a week and it’s kept my dry skin at bay pretty well. Combined with having a good moisturiser for the first time in a while and my skin is looking better than it ever has.

You really don’t need to use a lot; the old “pea sized amount” is appropriate here. I’ve had this tube for a little over a month now and have used it almost every day and there’s loads left. I think this will easily last me five or six months.

 

Antipodes Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream & Divine Face Oil

£12.00 for mini versions of both on LoveLula

I’ve heard great things about the Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream so it was nice to be able to test a mini version because my skin can be so fussy when it comes to heavier moisturisers.

This smells delicious and is definitely a heavier moisturiser than Rejoice. It’s not too heavy at all, sinks in quickly, and doesn’t leave any kind of greasy feeling on your skin. I’ve been enjoying using it as a night cream and have found that it is really helping to hydrate my skin. Personally, I don’t think I will repurchase the Vanilla Pod cream because I am on a serious ‘try to be as vegan as I can be’ campaign at the moment, and I just don’t need to rub things with animal products on my face. When I’m out of this I think I’m going to try out their Immortal moisturiser with SPF 15.

The Divine Face Oil was the biggest surprise of this little lot for me. I know that oil absorbs oil, which is great, but I have really struggled to find a face oil that I like. And by that I mean one that sinks in quickly and doesn’t make you look like someone cooked a full English breakfast on your face. To my surprise, the face oil did just that and I’ve already repurchased a full size bottle.

 

Antipodes Rejoice Light Day Cream

Free on an offer, usually £25.99 on LoveLula

I could barely believe my timing when I saw LoveLula were offering a full size day cream as a freebie when you purchased two or more Antipodes products. Again, I can’t justify buying a full price item only for my skin to be angry with it, so it was nice to get to try out two Antipodes moisturisers for a fraction of the full size price.

The Rejoice day cream is, as the name suggests, very light (lighter than Vanilla Pod) but it doesn’t skimp on hydration at all. It sinks in quickly without leaving any kind of greasy or tacky feeling, and smells delicious. If you’re concerned about the price, a little bit goes a very long way. You just need the old “pea sized amount” and you should find that is plenty to leave your face feeling all kinds of fresh and moisturised.

 

Swatch of Antipodes Dragon Fruit Pink Lipstick

Antipodes Lipstick Dragon Fruit Pink

£19.99 for 4g on LoveLula

Since going cruelty free, I have been on the hunt for a dupe for my much loved Chatter Box by Mac, and I hadn’t really spotted anything which came close until I stumbled across Dragon Fruit Pink. Not only is Dragon Fruit cruelty free but it’s also toxin free, so I guess you could eat it if you really wanted.

The bullet is a slightly different shape to most lipsticks and I think this lends itself to easier application. It isn’t a creme kinda formula, like Mac’s Chatterbox, it’s a little bit drier but it does go on easily and doesn’t feel thick or drying on my lips. I’ve also being eyeing up this lipstick in shade Piha Beach Tangerine too.

In terms of lasting power, it does a pretty good job of lasting through eating and drinking. Like most lipsticks, and to my dismay, it won’t last all day long. That said, it’s really not going to disappear after a couple of hours of wearing it. I’ve found that it wears and fades evenly as well so it looks nice and it doesn’t look like it’s fading.

Applied as it is, straight onto your lips, it’s a lovely vibrant pink colour. I’ve been toning it down for work by applying some lip balm first to give a bit of colour that I can get away with.


I think it’s fairly clear to see from my fangirling that I do think Antipodes are worth the hype. I’m also very happy because I discovered a RealFoods store near us and it sells Antipodes; I don’t even need to order it online.

Have you ever tried Antipodes before? What did you think?

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Path leading to the Athabasca Glacier, where it once stood

You don’t have to look far during extreme weather, or when a damning report is published, to find people who truly believe climate change is fake. As a scientist, that point of view seems unfathomable to me. I am more curious than a cat and I wanted to understand why people think climate change is fake.

This post was inspired by a number of commenters on Twitter talking about how the recent horrendous hurricanes were not caused by climate change. That, I absolutely do not disagree with because we simply cannot prove it either way. It’s a whole other topic, but The Week has a really interesting article on this topic and how climate change could impact hurricanes. What I was so intrigued by was people adding that climate change is fake anyway, so it definitely couldn’t have caused them. 

People have been arguing against the existence of climate change for years and years and years and years; it’s nothing new. It’s easy to dismiss views that seem so unrelatable to us, which is why I wanted to try and understand why some people think climate change is fake. After researching for this blog post it became pretty clear to me that there are issues with the way science is communicated to the public, and a lack of trust.

Why some people think climate change is fake

“There have been many ice ages, so ice melting is natural”

This is perhaps the argument for climate change being fake that I see most often. It’s factually correct and is an easy way to dismiss climate change. I think that is a really easy argument to make to dismiss it and not have to think about it. Combating climate change is going to result in changes to our lifestyles and dealing with some big issues which are overwhelming. Saying it’s natural is a good way to not have to deal with those issues.

Our planet has been through many ice ages in it’s history. So yes, that’s right. However, that argument dismisses the rate at which ice is melting. Us kicking out more greenhouse gases than would naturally occur is warming the planet up and causing glaciers and ice sheets to melt faster.

 

“This study says it’s not true”

People pick and choose data that fits their ideals and beliefs and discount those that don’t, this is called cognitive bias. Every single one of us has done it at some point in our lives. We want to find evidence to support our ideas, and sometimes that means we dismiss the truth.

However, cognitive bias is a problem in science too. While scientists are supposed to be unbiased, not all of them are. They might carry out their research in a way that could subtly (or not so subtly) change the results to fit their beliefs or what they want to see from the study. As we’re about to see, that can cause big problems because it can lead to the public being fed lies.

One of the key things in science is to be able to reproduce data. That means that anyone who understands the theory should be able to carry out exactly the same test, under the same conditions, and receive the same results. 

A review of all journal articles covering global climate change and global warming between 1991 and 2011 found that 97.1% of them agreed that humans are causing global warming (Cook et al., 2013). That means 2.9% of papers covering the same topics were either uncertain or did not agree that humans were causing global warming. Benestad et al., (2016) were curious about why those 2.9% disagreed with 97.1% of papers. In their study, they reviewed 38 journal articles that disputed global warming to try and replicate their results. The study found that flaws in the method, ignoring data that didn’t fit their expectations, and a lack of contextual information.

“Shouldn’t there be something to stop biased papers being published?” you may ask. Yes. It’s called a peer review process. That should stop biased papers being published However, the Benestad et al., (2016) paper discovered that some of the papers they looked at were submitted to journals which were not specialists in the area of the paper. It highlighted that this might mean the journals did not have reviewers who were experts in the area who could have picked up on those issues.

That isn’t something the general public would probably even consider. If you read an article about research that had been carried out, would you question it’s validity? In the past, I know I wouldn’t have. It’s only through studying science that I’ve learned to be so critical. This is not a problem that should affect the general public. Journals should only be publishing properly reviewed unbiased papers. Additionally, the media have a responsibility to report correctly, which we’ll discuss in a minute.

While the next three sections link together, I’m going to address them in three sections to explore each area in detail without it being a wall of text.

Snow on the Icefields Parkway

Some people just don’t believe it

Some people simply do not believe or understand the facts. This is nothing to do with a lack of education. Psychologists call it the “anti-enlightenment movement“, which explores some of the things we’ve spoken about in this blog post.

We probably all know people flat out don’t believe some things we believe in. Maybe you’ve even tried to show them facts and had a debate to no avail. It doesn’t matter how many facts or studies they are presented with, they won’t believe it.

Katherine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist who worked on the Benestad et al, (2016) paper I mentioned earlier on. She recently reshared the results on her Facebook page in a post that went viral. The comments section makes for a truly interesting read because she’s been very active in replying and sharing further research papers and facts.

Some of the commenters are purely looking for reasons to disprove the results she and her team found. While that is part of science, and should be, it’s happening in an unconstructive and damaging way. Some of the commenters simply did not read the article or don’t believe it. This causes problems though if other people see the post pop up, don’t read the article, and then believe what those commenters have said.

 

A lack of trust

For one reason or another, some people do not trust scientists. Maybe it’s to do with their personal beliefs, religion, the media, or something else.

Going back to the post on Katherine Hayhoe’s page, one comment really stood out to me:

“I get that the climate has changed on earth over the years. But here is the thing scientists get paid to prove said hypothesis either side that person is getting paid to prove their point. So unless we take the money out of this then why should anyone believe these papers?”

This is a false view of how research works. Research is not where the money is in science and technology. Getting funding is hard work, and I’m not exactly sure how we’re supposed to “take the money out of this”. If there was no money, no research would be carried out.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that no scientist has ever tried to sway his or her data to ‘prove’ something. Just look at the Benestad et al., (2013) paper. Bias exists in science. I understand why that might lead some people to distrust scientists.

 

Media & political spin / “fake news”

On a related note, the media and politicians use facts and studies as weapons against the ‘opposition’. The problem here is that it potentially lessens the impact and urgency of legitimate studies and facts. Think about how frustrated and sick of politics and arguing we all get during election campaigns. In the end, you tune it out and write off what politicians are saying.

Additionally, it doesn’t help when people in power dismiss climate change issues due to misinformation. Let’s look at America. In 2012, Mr Trump famously tweeted:

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S manufacturing non-competitive.”

In 2014, he tweeted:

“Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax.”

At the start of this year, he appointed Scott Pruitt to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. Problem? Mr Pruitt isn’t entirely convinced about climate change either.

When you have people in positions of power who dismiss climate change so easily, I completely understand why people think they’re right. While a lot of people know Trump spreads fake news, there are still a lot of people who believe him and I can understand why.

The majority of people don’t have the time, or interest, to read a journal article. Some of them can be incredibly boring and overwhelming for someone who is as scientist, let alone those who aren’t. The media play a huge part in disseminating the results of research to the general public. If it’s done the wrong way people perceive it as being overhyped and blown out of proportion.

Similarly, the rise of “fake news” seriously discredits legitimate news that is published along side it. In addition to that, how is the public to know what is fake news? The purpose of a media outlet is not to share fake news, yet some of them do; how do the public distinguish what’s fact or fake? How do we get around that?

There are media outlets who report in a non-biased and non-sensationalist way. Unfortunately there will always be newspapers and websites who thrive off trying to cause hysteria and publishing fake news. I don’t really know how we fix that kind of problem.

 

The retreating Athabasca Glacier

They’re not affected in their every day lives

Out of sight, out of mind. A good chunk of us don’t see, or aren’t inconvenienced, by climate change on a daily basis. Sure, there are huge climate related issues going on all over the world but it can be hard to truly grasp it until you see it yourself. One of the first times I was really hit by the reality of climate change was when I visited the Athabasca Glacier. When I saw for myself how fast the glacier had retreated in recent years I was shocked. Before that, I had never really seen the impact of global warming for myself.

I can completely understand why people don’t believe it, or simply push it to the back of their minds, when they aren’t affected by it every day. We all have a million and one things going on in our lives, dealing with something that doesn’t impact us day in day out is not always top of our list.


Seeing something from another person’s perspective has always interested me, so this was a fun post to write. It is wrong to dismiss those who believe climate change is fake as “stupid” because it isn’t true. We all believe what we believe for a reason. Name-calling and treating people like idiots never works because it isn’t any kind of educational tool.

It’s clear that people’s beliefs and the way science is relayed to the public are two of the biggest reasons why some believe climate change is fake. I don’t know how we get around that. Maybe it’s schooling and teaching people to question what they’re told. Maybe it is more eye-opening documentaries or films. I do think that our governments have a responsibility to step up as well and encourage everyone (businesses included) to make changes in our lives. Maybe it’s punishment for news outlets who publish fake news.

What do you think?

Why do some people think climate change is fake?

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Glass of water - are you drinking plastic right now?

Got a cuppa in your hand right now? There’s a good chance you might be drinking plastic as it’s estimated that 83% of the world’s tap water is contaminated by plastic fibres.

You have probably seen heart-breaking stories on Facebook about the dangers of plastic to marine wildlife. It doesn’t stop with them and our oceans; plastic is so polluting and invasive that studies have found it in our tap water.

A study by Orb Media and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health tested tap water around the globe and found the following contamination levels:

  • Worldwide: 83%
  • USA: 94%
  • Europe: 72%
  • Jakarta, Indonesia: 76%
  • New Delhi, India: 82%
  • Lebanon, Beirut: 94%
  • Kampala, Uganda: 81%
  • Quito, Ecuador: 75%

Those are some startling figures; 83% of the world’s tap water is contaminated with plastic.

The figures are worrying, so I wanted to do a bit of research into why drinking plastic is bad for us (aside from the ew factor), how it gets there, and if there’s anything we can do about it. To my surprise, I found that this wasn’t new news at all; we’ve been drinking plastic for years.

Before we get started I want make it clear that plastic pollution is a complex problem that extends beyond our drinking water. This blog post is to introduce and give an overview of the issues surrounding plastic in our tap water. If you want to learn more, I’ve included journal articles and news stories throughout the post. (Note that unless you are a university student or have subscriptions to journals you may not be able to access all the journal articles – that’s why I’m including news stories where I can too.)

 

Why are we drinking plastic? / What is microplastic?

Before we can look at the problems associated with microplastics in our tap water and how we can stop it, we need to address what they are and how they end up in our glasses.

Microplastics are small pieces of plastic. While there is some debate over size, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration classify microplastics as being small than 5mm. This means microbeads are also considered microplastics.

There are two types of microplastic:

  • Primary microplastics; these are plastics which have been manufactured to be microplastics. Think microbeands in facial scrubs and toothpaste, and clothing made from plastic.
  • Secondary microplastics; plastic is not biodegradable, it breaks down into smaller pieces of itself, called secondary microplastics. This is why reducing our reliance on plastics is so important.

Fibres from our clothes are also a big contributor to the problem. A few examples of plastic-based fabrics include PVC, acrylic, polyester, and polycotton; you’re probably wearing some of those now. The problem with these types of clothing is that microfibres can be released into the environment via your washing machine. A study by Browne et al., (2011) suggested that one garment could release more than 1,900 fibres per wash. Napper and Thompson (2016) estimated that on a typical 6kg load of washing acrylic garments could release over 700,000 fibres, polyester 496,030, and poly-cotton 137,951 fibres. All of that, from everyone’s house, results in a lot of plastic fibres in our water. (Here’s a link to a news story about these figures if you can’t read the journal articles.)

So do how they get from our washing machine, sinks, and showers into our tap water? Waste water leaves our houses and travels to waste water treatment plants. After the water is treated, it is discharged BUT treatment does not remove microfibres. Currently, there is no filtration in our drinking water systems that will remove all plastic microfibres.

Due to the size of microfibres, they could also be transported by the wind and blown into our water supplies. Dan Morrison, the leader of the Orb Media investigation, told Sky news, “it could be that they are fibres from synthetic clothes and that the friction of daily life sends them into the air and they are then deposited into reservoirs, lakes and streams that feed cities as tap water.”

Here we come across another issue, which is just as important. Plastic end that ends up in lakes and oceans is eaten by fish and other marine life, which introduces it into our food chain. Not only are we drinking plastic, we’re eating plastic too.

 

What’s the problem with drinking plastic?

That heading right there probably sparked a reaction in you that sounded something like, “why would anyone want to drink plastic?” Exactly. Water is something most of us associate with being pure, having bits of plastic floating around in it sounds anything but.

Currently, there are no published “safe” levels of plastic microfibres in drinking water. Unfortunately, research is a long way off fully understanding the impact these fibres have on humans. Though, we can probably all safely say that given the choice we would rather not drink plastic.

Plastics have been found to leach a number of toxic chemicals and carcinogens (this is another post for another day). One of the most talked about examples, which you may have heard of, is bisphenol-A (BPA). It is found in food containers, the linings of tin cans, water bottles, and more. The problem? It’s been found to leach into food, and has been linked to a number of health issues, including increased blood pressure and an increased risk of cancer. Before you replace all your plastic with BPA free plastic be aware that BPA-free versions are not necessarily safer. Consider metal drinks and food containers and avoiding tinned food if you can.

In marine research, numerous studies have found that bacteria can colonise microplastics (Harrison et al., 2014). In addition to that, microplastics absorb and release chemicals into marine life (Koelmans, 2015). The obvious way this affects humans is that when we eat seafood, we also ingest those chemicals. This is called bioaccumulation, and means that those at the top of the food chain (humans, wolves, bears, tigers, sharks, etc.) have the most concentrated levels of toxins. Delicious.

I have spent some time trying to find out if there are any published studies on bacteria colonising on microplastics in our tap water but haven’t found anything yet. I don’t fully understand if that’s because it’s very unlikely to happen so is low priority or if it’s a work in progress and hasn’t been published yet. In theory, our tap water should be clean and free of bacteria. But what about parts of the world where it isn’t as clean? Is it possible that microplastics are contributing to bacterial growth? I’m not sure, it’s just a thought. If anyone has seen research about this or can weigh in, please do in the comments.

 

How can we stop drinking plastic?

Plastic pollution is a blight on our entire planet, not just our tap water. It’s not about ensuring we can drink a glass of water or a cup of coffee that’s free of plastic; this is about tidying up the mess we made of our planet (that isn’t purely ours to fudge up).

It is easy to say “ban all plastic now” but that’s more complex than trying to explain Game of Thrones to a friend whose never seen it. To clean up the mess we made we are going to have to compromise and make sacrifices. To live our lives the way we do currently, we require something like plastic; that’s how it’s become so darned intrusive. I am not a material scientist, so I’m not going to say “there are alternatives to every type of plastic we use.” However, it’s clear that looking into alternatives is useful.

 

Governments

One issue with the prevalence of plastic is to do with consumerism and capitalism. Capitalism does not lend itself well to caring about the environment. It’s all about sell, sell, sell, and we buy, buy, buy. This is a whole other blog post for another time when I’ve learned a bit more about it. You get the gist though; we need a huge societal shift that puts pressure on companies and politicians to act responsibly. That sounds unlikely right? Governments aren’t exactly renowned for listening to the people. If we want to quit drinking plastic and clear up the oceans, we all need to make changes and do our bit, however small or large.

This means putting pressure on companies we buy from and our politicians to spur change. If you are up for it, take time to write to companies you like and ask them to make a change. Write to your MP and / or local Green Party Councillor. Where I used to live, my local Green MP was always interested so you’re likely to hear back positively from them. 

 

Reducing our use of plastic

Since plastic doesn’t biodegrade, one of the best things we can do is to significantly reduce our use of plastics. Yes, it is daunting when you first begin considering how to stop using plastic. Especially as pretty much everything seems to come wrapped up in it.

Your efforts are personal to you and your circumstances. Which means you don’t have to go in straight at the deep end and quit plastic 100% right now. Any effort and progress you make is worth it. Here are a few things you can do review & reduce your use of plastic:

  • Seriously take note of the plastic you’re recycling (or can’t recycle): what is the plastic from? Can you buy the same item without plastic? If it’s not recyclable, consider writing to the company and asking them why they’re using non-recyclable packaging. Is there any clearly unnecessary plastic in your recycling bin?
  • Quit using one-use plastics, such as cutlery, straws, cups or plastic bags. Get yourself a water bottle, reusable mug, and metal / wooden cutlery for eating on the go.
  • Switch to wooden toothbrushes.
  • Only wash your clothes when they need to be washed. No one likes doing laundry anyway.
  • Avoid using cosmetics with microbeads in them – if you like a particular product, try emailing the company and asking them to remove microbeads in favour of natural alternatives.
  • Start reading the Going Zero Waste blogThis blog has been a bit of a bible for me since starting my zero waste journey earlier this year. Kathryn has covered so many topics you’ll have questions about and in a way that doesn’t feel daunting. I am far from zero waste but I’m making progress and it feels doable when I read her advice.

This is a topic I want to cover in more detail so keep an eye out for a more detailed guide on reducing our use of plastic.

 

Bottled or filtered water

Bottled water is not a solution to the problem. Firstly, the study by Orb found some microfibres in some samples of bottled water in the US. Secondly, bottled water comes in plastic bottles which perpetuates the problem.

You might consider getting a filtration system for your kitchen, though remember that as mentioned earlier there isn’t a filtration system that will remove all microplastics and nanoparticles.

 

Fabric & clothing

More research needs to be carried out into microfibre shed from our clothing. Once we fully understand the parameters that cause more or less shedding, we can begin to manufacture clothing which sheds as little as possible, and washing machines that cause as little shedding as possible. Washing machine filters are also being developed to prevent microfibres ending up in the environment.

In terms of what you can do now, consider buying clothes made from entirely natural material.

 

Packaging materials

As consumers we have power to encourage companies using non-recyclable packaging to change. If you come across plastic packaging which is non-recyclable, write to the company and ask them why they aren’t using a recyclable option. Additionally, if you order online consider asking the seller to use non-plastic packaging. I have read about bloggers doing this and they’ve found that most of the time the sellers will try their hardest and avoid plastics.

 

You might have finished this article feeling a bit overwhelmed; that’s how I felt when I started researching it. Drinking plastic sounds pretty horrible and unfortunately it isn’t going to disappear from our water supply overnight. The most useful things you can do is educating yourself on reducing the amount of plastic you bring into your home and send out to the kerb, and writing to companies and politicians.

What are your thoughts on drinking plastic? (And did you enjoy this kind of post?)

(Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash)

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