Why I think cash back sites are a saving game changer

Saving money can often seem like an thankless task, especially when there always seems to be something that needs paying for. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to save there are some things we simply can’t avoid paying out for. Has your washing machine broken? Do the kids need new clothes? Is it Aunt Sally’s birthday already? For those unavoidable purchases you’ll be surprised to know you can actually get cash back for your purchases. I want to introduce you to my newest find on the journey to saving money, TopCashBack <<Cue applause!>>

If you make your purchase via the TopCashBack website or app you can get a percentage of your purchase back. Retailers such as Argos, M&S, ASOS, eBay, Debenhams, George and Matalan amongst many others full retailer list here) have joined to give you money back on your purchases. Time frames for cash back varies depending on the retailer and can sometimes take a few months to reach your account but if nothing else then at least you can save without even thinking about it. I’m. Fantastic spender but not such a great saver so this for me is the ideal way for me to save.

An even more useful section on the Top Cash Back site focuses on utility companies If you are looking to change energy suppliers or phone providers TopCashBack is definitely the place to go. I managed to gain £11 back in one transaction by opening a new 30 day sim-only contract with Plusnet, something I was going to do anyway, bonus!

For home improvement purchases get cash back from B&Q, Screwfix, Dunelm and Homesense to name but a few.

It’s not just the obvious companies that have gotten involved, you can gain cash back on airport parking and hire cars for those unavoidable trips. Save money on birthday and Christmas presents with Gift experiences from Buy a gift, Virgin Experience days and Red Letter Days with as much as 13.65% Cash Back.

The only two downsides I’ve found so far and one particular thing to be aware of is when you sign up you are automatically put onto the sites “plus” membership (yearly fee £5, with little to no worthwhile benefits) as opposed to the free membership so once you earn your first £5 it will be taken off! Make sure you chose free membership if it gives you the option or if it doesn’t which I don’t remember being asked make sure you switch it back in your account settings on the desktop site. The second downside is that some purchases may not track, I’ve had to open a dispute for two so far, one exclusively from Plusnet as it didn’t appear and the other a cancelled purchase from Gatwick parking. They can take up to three months to resolve so do be aware of this and don’t make purchases based on how much cash back you think you’ll get as it may not always go through based on whether or not you meet the terms and conditions.

Another amazing cash back site I discovered only today is KidStart, this site is designed as an additional way for families to save money for little ones using the same principles as other cash back sites. Like TopCashBack, KidStart also has an app. One of the most appealing parts for me was the availability of cash back from Amazon. I make a lot of my everyday purchases on Amazon so to gain money back for these is great news for my bank balance. As far as I’m aware Amazon do not affiliate with TopCashBack or any other site of this kind either so its the only place I’ve found that I can get cash back on Amazon purchases. It’s a little slow to register your purchases though, I’ve made two and they’ve still not shown up but I did get an email straight after confirming my purchase so don’t worry too much as I’m sure it’ll show up eventually.

There are other cash back sites such as Quidco but I haven’t had any experience with this one yet, it’s worth looking into different sites for your country as there may be many others, this is specifically this UK based.

I’d love to know if you have had any personal experience with cash back sites or if you have any others you’d like to share with me. Leave your thoughts in the comments 😊

P.S This is not an affiliated post I just think cash back sites are pretty damn awesome.

Happy saving!

Come and join my army of eco warriors on the Thrifty Green Life Facebook group. I would love to see you there 😊

Please leave a message in the comments, you can also find me on Instagram and Twitter 😊 follow the hashtag #thriftygreenlife for all things eco!

Eco sell outs – When “ethical” companies put money before morals

This week I learnt that “eco” brands Ecover and Method have been bought out by Johnson and Johnson. (I’m a little bit late to the party as the announcement was made in December last year!) I also learnt that J&J test on animals, a fact I had also been blissfully unaware of despite having used various products on both my children over the last 14 years.

I decided I would look into this some more just to be certain and sure enough the evidence was there in black and white!

https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/shareholder-campaigns/johnson-johnson-shareholder-campaign/

https://www.jnj.com/about-jnj/company-statements/guideline-on-the-humane-care-use-of-animals

Back to Ecover…. as an eco advocate I naturally stumbled across Ecover as a brand. I’ve been using many of their products, from fabric condition to washing up liquid prior to learning this new info.

I was naturally disappointed, and as a certified B corp I thought they were a pretty safe bet. Their B Corp status was just one of the many reasons I have been a supporter of them up until now.

A few reasons why I chose to purchase Ecover products…

The company stands for “Clean business,” (Fair trade, BCorp)

Clean plastic,” (if there is such a thing?! it’s recycled plastic anyhow)

Clean water (Phosphate free, low water usage)

“Clean sourcing,” (sustainable ingredients and supply chain)

But interestingly on this subject is their “Clean ingredients,” statement (mostly plant-based, renewable, biodegradable and VEGAN FRIENDY!)

I have a question for you, how can a vegan friendly company with a leaping bunny certification to state they NEVER TEST ON ANIMALS, allow themselves to be sold to a company who actively and so publically TEST ON ANIMALS?!

This whole dilemma begs the question why would a company with credentials such as these sell them selves out like this? Turns out money speaks louder than brand values and customer loyalty! But do we have to put up with actions like these from our chosen brands?

The body shop is a very famous example of how decisions like this can go horribly wrong for ethical businesses. In 2000 Naturewatch launched a boycott Bodyshop campaign after the Bodyshop was sold to cosmetic giants L’Oreal. The boycott lasted ten years, only ending in 2017 after new owners Natura updated their animal cruelty policies to industry gold standard.

Actions like these show us just how strong consumer power is in this century, and how it is becoming increasingly more powerful in the age of social media.

I spend a lot of time on Twitter engaging with other people with a vested interest in climate change, other eco bloggers etc and I see a lot of these types of campaigns. I’ve also personally reached out to a few companies on their plastic usage. Calling companies out in public is a great way of highlighting not only the problem but also encouraging brands to look at their own practices and listen to consumers.

As much power as these big corporations have is nothing compared to the power we ourselves yield as the consumer. We can choose what we buy, how much we buy, how often we buy and who we buy it from. If you look at it like that who really has the power? Us! We do, we are the consumers and we choose what we consume, simple.

Choose your products and companies wisely and we can slowly change the way these companies operate and how much power they really have over us and our buying decisions. If their company values aren’t in line with your own, don’t buy from them, simple 😊

Sorry ECover, I’m out.

The Allotment Diaries: Part 1

I’ve been so busy for the last month growing lots of vegetable seedlings in my journey to sustainable living. My house had officially been taken over by plants so I decided to buy a greenhouse for the garden.

Today I finally planted out the broad beans I’ve been growing for weeks, and Jude and I planted a few more beans straight into the bed.

Whilst I was planting I noticed a few unusual looking plants emerging from the soil and then I realised that my Maris Piper seed potatoes were finally showing.

I counted about 8 of them and I’m so happy as it’s the first time I’ve ever grown potatoes and they’ve taken a long time to come up. I’m still waiting for my Charlotte potatoes to come up but I know they’re ok as I accidentally dug one up today 🙈

I repotted six cauliflower plants into their own pots after initially sewing far too many seeds in one go.

I tried to choose the strongest plants but it was hard to separate the roots so I don’t know how well they will do.

I’ve learnt a valuable lesson from this and I’m now only planting one seed per module. It’ll be a miracle if the cauliflowers survive but here’s hoping. The cauliflowers will be planted with the potatoes, broad beans, garlic and eventually spring onions. I’ve done a lot of research on companion planting so this combination should work well together.

In other news we spent a very beautiful Sunday at our allotment this weekend. My husband and his dad built four raised beds and we prepared one for planting, we mixed in some soil and then I literally spent the afternoon shovelling shit! Let’s hope the plants like it! 😂

Three more to prepare, lots more to do but we are getting there slowly.

We even got to take home some delicious rhubarb from a plant that was already growing on our patch!

I can tell you it made the most incredible rhubarb crumble for after our Sunday roast. It was a great end to a great day.

That’s all from me for now but follow me on Instagram for more updates.

Have you tried to grow your own? I would love to hear from you. Leave me a comment below, and don’t forgot to follow my blog for more zero waste inspiration and eco product reviews.

Come and join my army of eco warriors on the Thrifty Green Life Facebook group. I would love to see you there 😊

you can also find me on Instagram and Twitter 😊 follow the hashtag #thriftygreenlife for all things eco!

Nikki

Gardening to zero waste

Last year I discovered I absolutely love gardening. Not so much pulling weeds or mowing the lawn but I do very much enjoy growing things, particularly things I love to eat.

In the past I’ve tried my hand at growing a few herbs and have successfully grown spring onions and tomatoes. Last summer I bought two tomato plants that grew the most delicious tomatoes I have ever tasted! This is no exaggeration.

I must admit, I am a bit of a tomato snob, I’ll always opt for the vine variety when purchasing my own as they taste so much better than those pale, cheap salad tomatoes on offer in the supermarket. You do certainly get what you pay for when it comes to tomatoes.

Here’s what my tomato plant looked like at the peak of its life before it died a horrible death 😭

My plant gave me around 15 vines of tomatoes, none of which came overpriced and packaged in plastic and tasted better than anything I could have picked up in Tesco. I paid around £3 for my plant so if you want to find yet another way to avoid buying veg in plastic then I highly recommend growing your own. Not only do they taste better but once they are ready they are available to pick fresh whenever you need them. You know exactly where they came from and exactly what was used to grow them. It doesn’t get more organic than home grown. Even better if you can grow from seed and as the summer veg growing season is almost upon us then now is the perfect time to get your seeds sown.

I’ve got an array of seed packets waiting to be sewn but I’m trying not to get too over keen or disillusioned by the freakishly warm February weather.

With this in mind I’ve started my cauliflowers off indoors and they have already grown into little seedlings. I tried not to be wasteful and reused a birthday cupcake tray from my little ones birthday to plant the seeds. With the lid on it acted like a mini propagator for the first week and the shoots sprung up a lot quicker than I expected. I hate plastic but sometimes it’s better to reuse than to throw away and I’ll be using this little cupcake tray for my next lot of seeds.

I’ve also just planted out some garlic I’ve been growing on my window sill. I purchased a garlic bulb from my local farm shop, many of the gardening websites recommend purchasing your bulbs from garden centres and not using shop bought cloves as they could be grown in different climates or susceptible to disease. I didn’t know this information before I planted time so this will be a hit or a miss unfortunately. I started my cloves off in an egg box, which was perfectly suitable for 6 separate cloves.

I put the egg box in my small wooden crate and covered it in compost.

It took a couple of weeks to start sprouting but it grew very quickly after that.

I have now replanted in the garden and the egg box should now naturally biodegrade into the ground. I’ve not tried this method before I sort of just did it off the cuff so again, we shall see how this one turns out.

We also have some early potatoes in our raised bed, Maris Piper and Charlotte. I forgot to chit them (rookie mistake) I’ve never grown potatoes before but I get over excited and want to plant things hastily. Hopefully I’ll get a good yield but if not I’ve learnt a valuable lesson for next time. Gardening is definitely a learning curve.

We’ve also just recently acquired an allotment. We have quite a large garden anyway so it wasn’t completely necessary but I’ve always really liked the idea of having my own patch. It also means I can have a chat with other gardeners and hopefully get some advice and guidance.

Our plot is a great size, thankfully it’s not in bad shape and I’ve got lots of plans for it. I want to make an area for Jude to enjoy, starting with a runner bean teepee. I just can’t resist those gorgeous red blooms and I do love watching a runner grow. I’m also encouraging my daughter to look after her own patch. I’ll keep you updated in my allotment diaries.

I think that’s all for this week! I’m super busy with digging and planting but I’ll keep you updates on Instagram.

Have you tried to grow your own? I would love to hear from you. Leave me a comment below, and don’t forgot to follow my blog for more zero waste inspiration and eco product reviews.

Come and join my army of eco warriors on the Thrifty Green Life Facebook group. I would love to see you there 😊

you can also find me on Instagram and Twitter 😊 follow the hashtag #thriftygreenlife for all things eco!

Nikki

Is there such thing as a friendly soap?

Ever since I started my plastic free journey I’ve been searching for a soap that could replace my plastic pump Baylis and Harding hand wash. After learning lots about harmful chemicals in beauty products I wanted something less harsh with no SLS. My posh handwash was full of them, and it’s no surprise than my hands had become dry with what I suspected to be dermatitis spreading.

I found a few suitable alternatives on Amazon but at over £6 per bar it was a little expensive. I kept looking and read a few reviews and The Friendly Soap company came up several times.

At only £2.10 (weirdly specific) these were a bargain in comparison to the others I’d looked at. I decided that at that price I may as well give them a try.

I ordered three bars from andkeep.com as the postage was £1 cheaper than the Friendly Soap website. I chose Orange and Grapefruit, Lemon and hemp and a wild card Lavender and geranium shampoo bar (more about that in another post)

They arrived packaged in a recycled cardboard box, with absolutely zero plastic in sight. I was very impressed by this.

First impressions

The soaps smell lovely, there’s something really nice about a hand made, natural soap. I couldn’t wait to use it.

The verdict

The soap lathers up really well, much better than any soap I’ve used in the past, so it works well as a replacement for shower gel.

So, I’ve been using Friendly soap for over a week to wash my hands and body. As I mentioned before I had the beginnings of dermatitis on my hand and the patch seemed to be spreading, but ever since I’ve been using the soap the patch has completely healed up! It’s honestly crazy! I am so happy about this! I also had eczema patches on my arms which have almost gone now too.

For this reason I’m giving Friendly Soap bath soap ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I absolutely love them and I would highly recommend them. In fact, I love them so much I’ve just ordered four more bars! This time I purchased from Wild Earth Beauty, and if you subscribe to their newsletter before purchase you will receive 15% your order! You’re welcome 😊

Have you tried Friendly Soap? What do you think? Leave me a comment below, and don’t forgot to follow my blog for more eco product reviews.

Come and join my army of eco warriors on the Thrifty Green Life Facebook group. I would love to see you there 😊

you can also find me on Instagram and Twitter 😊 follow the hashtag #thriftygreenlife for all things eco!

Nikki

BEAUTY KUBES – Are they really better than shampoo?

At the beginning of this year I decided to make the switch to a zero waste/plastic free lifestyle. Like most people in the world, my whole house is currently over run by plastic items of different types. I have spent the last few weeks contemplating how best to tackle this issue and decided that instead of simply throwing out the plastic (which would have a negative effect) I would instead simply replace items as they ran out.

As I noticed my shampoo supply began to dwindle I started to look at alternatives to the plastic bottles full of harsh chemicals on offer in the supermarket.

After doing quite a bit of research into chemicals in beauty products and in particular parabens and Sulphates (SLS, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and derivatives) I decided that I would look for a product which didn’t contain these chemicals. After doing some more research, reading reviews and speaking to other eco warriors I came across Beauty Kubes which are organic, vegan-friendly and SLS free.

Initially the high price point put me off (£8.99 for 27 cubes) as I was worried I would have wasted my money if they were no good for my hair. But I decided to take the plunge. I searched every website that advertised them but they were sold out! Luckily one of my lovely members of our Thrifty Green Life Facebook group told me that Babipur sold them and thankfully they still had them in stock.

I placed my order and a matter of days later my Beauty Kubes had arrived.

My initial reaction was the box was tiny and so were the cubes. They smelled delicious though.

The instructions state to use 1-2 cubes per wash. I followed what the guidelines said and crumbled the cube into my hand and added a little water to make it into a paste. I washed my hair with one cube but it wasn’t enough to do the mid lengths and ends of my hair (I have relatively thin but longish hair) I tried a second cube and it was much better and foamed up more as I added a little more water the second time.

After I rinsed it out it felt dry and was very tangled. I conditioned my hair with a normal conditioner (Tresemme, was still waiting for it to run out before replacing) and it felt much better, it wasn’t too tangled and I could run my fingers through it wet when I usually have to use a brush in the shower whilst the conditioner is in.

Once I had dried my hair it felt softer than it had in months!

POSITIVES

No SLS, which means no harsh chemicals and no palm oil derivatives.

No parabens.

No plastic and fully recyclable packaging.

Space saving great to take away with you traveling or on holiday

They smell amazing!

NEGATIVES

They don’t foam up as much as normal shampoo, so it might take some getting used to. This doesn’t really bother me too much though.

If you use a lot of product such as hairspray you will definitely need to use more (at least 2-3 depending on the thickness of your hair) My husband has longish thick hair and used 2 but said he could have used 3 really.

They are expensive! I wash my hair every other day and if it were just me using them at home I would go through around 8 cubes per week and they would last me about 3.5 weeks which doesn’t seem too bad. However, there are myself, my husband and my teenage daughter who would need to use the same amount per week so we would need over a box per week. This works out about £39 per month without delivery charges. That’s quite a lot of money for shampoo!

Would I buy them again?

I think I would, unless I could find a shampoo bar which worked just as well, lasted longer and was less expensive.

Are they as good as everyone says they are?

It’s difficult to say as this was the first plastic free, natural shampoo I’ve ever tried. I would say yes they are good, however, I’m still on a mission to find the best value product with the best results and I have an inkling that Beauty Kubes aren’t it.

Do you have any SLS and plastic free shampoo suggestions I should try? Let me know in the comments 😊 and don’t forgot to follow my blog for more eco product reviews.

Come and join my army of eco warriors on the Thrifty Green Life Facebook group. I would love to see you there 😊

you can also find me on Instagram and Twitter 😊 follow the hashtag #thriftygreenlife for all things eco!

Who gives a f**k about plastic waste?

Hi Eco warriors,

I wanted to update you all on my new challenge for 2019. I think most of us are well aware of the world wide plastic crisis, if you aren’t then perhaps you’ve been living under a rock or you don’t have the internet which is cool 😎 but if you don’t know then it is estimated that 12.7 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans. Items include plastic bags, bottle tops, toothbrushes, plastic cutlery and micro beads. These plastics we throw away kill endangered species and are living the stomachs of sea birds who rely on the ocean for food supplies. (Greenpeace 2019)

Last year I decided I wanted to change my plastic consuming habits and became rather depressed after looking around my house, all I could see was plastic, literally in every corner of my house. I felt over whelmed by it, but I decided that I needed to do something about it.

In a desperate bid to ditch the plastic for good this year I am making a plastic-free promise and in doing so I’m starting by replacing an item a time with something much better, that is not packaged in plastic and hopefully not full of nasty chemicals. These will be anything from beauty products to household cleaning supplies. I’m also going to post an honest review of the products I try and hopefully you guys will get some plastic-free inspiration too.

As it’s not particularly eco-friendly to bin all the plastic I already own, instead I’m going to replace things as they run out and hopefully by the end of the year I would have made some huge changes to my lifestyle.

I would love any of your suggestions for eco-friendly and plastic-free products to try.

Come and join my army of eco warriors on the Thrifty Green Life Facebook group. I would love to see you there 😊

Please leave a message in the comments, you can also find me on Instagram and Twitter 😊 follow the hashtag #plasticfreepromise and let me know if you’re making the plastic free promise too.