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.

Mooncup – Can you really have an eco-friendly period?

Something I have found whilst researching for this blog post is that surprisingly, in 2018 the topic of menstruation is still a taboo subject. Period talk is definitely met with mixed reactions, particularly from males, and my husband is no exception. All talk of periods are pretty much banned in our house as it makes him extremely queasy and uncomfortable. You can only imagine his disgust when I broached the subject of menstrual cups with him. I think I remember him saying “we don’t need to save money that badly” and “I’ll buy you tampons if you can’t afford them” from my sister. I found both highly amusing and if I’m honest it only spurred me on to want to try them even more. So here I am, five cycles in and about to tell you exactly how I made the switch from tampons to the Mooncup and why I’ll never switch back again.

What the hell is a Mooncup?

For those of you who haven’t come across a Mooncup before I’ll explain a little bit about what it is. It is a replacement for other disposable sanitary products and is a silicone, reusable menstrual cup, it is inserted, rinsed, sterilised and reused as necessary. Yes, a reusable cup that you empty, rinse and reuse.

When I first heard about the Mooncup I have to admit I was just as grossed out as I imagine you are right now, but bear with me for a moment.

Reasons I wanted to try the Mooncup

First and foremost the most important reason for me to want to try the Mooncup was is that it claimed to be a safer alternative to tampons, with a very small risk of toxic shock syndrome which is associated with tampon use.

Recently there has been a new study published which states otherwise (Read here) the long and short of it is to avoid the risk of potentially fatal Toxic Shock Syndrome menstrual cups should be sterilised at the end of a cycle (in boiling water or as you would baby bottle teats and pacifiers) and changed more often than stated to be safe.

I wanted to save money

Once I calculated how much money I spend in a year using tampons (around £100!) it definitely prompted me to consider it more!

I also wanted to be a part of the solution not the environmental problem and if I’d known about the impact sanitary towels and tampons have on the environment I would have considered switching a long time ago.

“A Life Cycle Assessment of tampons conducted by the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, found that the largest impact on global warming was caused by the processing of LDPE (low-density polyethylene, a thermoplastic made from the monomer ethylene) used in tampon applicators as well as in the plastic back-strip of a sanitary napkin requiring high amounts of fossil fuel generated energy. A year’s worth of a typical feminine hygiene product leaves a carbon footprint of 5.3 kg CO2 equivalents. (https://rctom.hbs.org/submission/the-ecological-impact-of-feminine-hygiene-products/)

DID YOU KNOW? Tampons actually draw away natural moisture leaving you susceptible to infections!

So here it goes, I bought one, which cost £21.99 from Mooncup.co.uk.

They come in two sizes, one for women under 30 who haven’t given birth vaginally and one for women over 30 who have, it’s that simple.

The next thing I had to contend with was how to use it. The instructions are pretty self explanatory, you just fold it in half and insert. I recommend rinsing with water first to lubricate it slightly. They are made of a soft pliable silicone so bend easily. They have a coil effect handle which means you can easily take it out when you want to empty it.

The next bit was the bit that put me off the most and I think the people that I had mentioned the Mooncup to, “what do you do with the blood?” So basically, you have to take it out and empty it, rinse or wipe, then reinsert. Sounds gross and if you are a squeamish person it would probably be a bit weird and uncomfortable for you at first, cos let’s be honest no one really wants to have to see what comes out on their monthly cycle. As gross as it seems, all you have to do is pour it out into the toilet and rinse the cup out afterwards. For me this was completely fuss-free at home as I could rinse it out and spray my sink with bleach afterwards but I don’t think I’d be very comfortable doing this out in a public toilet or at anyone’s house so I could advise carrying wipes instead. I can’t imagine anyone would be that comfortable rinsing a cup out in front of other people in a public loo but if that’s your bag then fair play! Otherwise, definitely wipes are the way, or else I would change it just before I went out and I rarely needed to empty it whilst out. It also safely lasts 5 hours anyway but obviously for heavier periods then you would want to change sooner. You’ll soon get used to knowing how often to change and what works best for you.

So, I’ve talked about the good points, it’s better for the environment, cheaper and potentially safer but there must be a downside and there is.

It can be uncomfortable, if you don’t position it right the coil you use to pull it out pinches slightly, I shouldn’t really put this down as a negative as I’ve only recently realised you can trim the coil if it doesn’t fit comfortably so I think this is where I went wrong! Don’t forget to trim after testing it!

The only other negative for me was that it wasn’t completely leak-free, particularly on the first couple of days of my period which are relatively heavy. I had to use pads in addition, which defeats the object. This didn’t happen every time so it must have been something I was doing wrong with positioning.

Despite the negatives I haven’t used a tampon in over 5 cycles and I don’t plan on using them again anytime soon,

The verdict

Do I recommend Mooncup? Definitely, and I think if you make the switch then there’s a very high chance you’ll never use another tampon again.

Have tried a menstrual cup? I would love to hear your thoughts, or if you have any questions please share in the comments 😊

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!

Eco Egg – Is it a gimmick or a revolution?

When I first heard about the Ecoegg I was both excited and sceptical…

But what is an Ecoegg?

An Ecoegg is a complete replacement for washing powder, liquid or liquitabs. It comes in the form of a plastic egg-shaped cage that you fill with tiny detergent pellets and place in your washing machine drum.

The Ecoegg is environmentally friendly, is manufactured in the UK and is endorsed by Allergy UK and the National Eczema Society as it doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals. It is also dermatologically tested and cruelty free. Sound good so far?

How much does it cost?

You can buy an Ecoegg for as little as £7.99 for 54 washes ranging up to £19.99 for 720. It comes in three fragrances and also fragrance free. I went for the 720 wash egg as it was the most cost efficient option, and I chose Linen Fresh and purchased mine for £19.99 from Amazon.

Ecoegg claim that the 720 wash egg will last around three years but be aware it does state that the figure is based on 3-5 loads per week. In reality I do around two loads per day, sometimes more which means mine will last a lot less than three years. In comparison my usual washing powder only lasts a couple of weeks or so, so the Ecoegg still sounded like the much better option.

Is it cost effective?

With two children in our family and a husband with sensitive skin we usually use Fairy products which range from 15p to 28.9p per wash depending on the product you choose. By doing around two wash loads per day, in a year using Fairy Liquitabs for example, it would potentially cost me around £211 per year.

Ecoegg claims that it costs as little as 3p per wash with an Ecoegg. This would mean that that by switching to an Ecoegg I could potentially save our family a whopping £189 per year! Seems like a no brainier to me. If you’re anything like me and do around two loads per day, not the 3-5 per week Ecoegg bases their advertisement on, then a 720 wash egg priced at £19.99 is going to last you just over a year. At a cost of £21.90.

How does the price of Ecoegg compare to other products?

Fairy – 15-28.9p per wash

Daz – 10- 27.8p per wash

Persil – 10-27.5p per wash

Bold – 12.5-25p per wash

Ecover- 21.4- 29.4 per wash

Tesco own brand (including Tesco loves baby non-bio) – 10-15p per wash

Asda own brand – 5.2-10.9p per wash

Morrison’s own brand – 5.6-16.4p per wash

Sainsbury’s own brand – 10-13.8p per wash

Waitrose own brand – 13.6p per wash

Aldi own brand – 7.5p per wash

Lidl own brand – 7.5-8.6p per wash

Ecoegg – 3p per wash.

(Information based on MySupermarket prices and are correct at time of posting, subject to change based on supermarket and brand pricing guidelines and promotions.)

Saving money is the aim of the game for me but the product still needs to do the job it is made for.

How does it work?

The Ecoegg uses two types of mineral pellets inside the egg, which produce a natural cleaning foam. It’s been laboratory proven to work just as well as a regular detergent but without the harsh chemicals.

So how does it fare?

I’ve been using the egg for 17 days now, it’s had to deal with various different stains courtesy of my little boy, from tomato to avocado to orange juice which are all notorious for staining. Lets compare it to Fairy, it seems to be working just as well, I always use Tesco’s own oxy action spray on bad stains prior to the washing so I can’t confidently say that the Ecoegg is sufficient on tough stains by its self but it’s definitely on par with Fairy non-bio.

The downside

Yes, there is a downside, to be completely honest when the washing comes out of the machine it’s clean there’s no doubt about that but it is kind of odourless.

I decided not to use any fabric conditioner as the Ecoegg website states that it is not needed and I wanted to see how it performed by itself. The clothes came out as soft as they had done with liquitabs and softer than they had done previously having been washed with Fairy powder, so pretty impressive.

Unfortunately, after a fair few washes I gave in and bought some fabric conditioner as I began to miss the smell of fresh, clean washing. So if I have to say anything negative it is the fact that the clothes don’t really smell like they’ve been washed, or they don’t smell like I would expect my washing to smell. I did opt for Ecover eco friendly fabric conditioner and it happened to be on offer at the time at only 5p a wash, bonus! Now my washing is clean and smells lovely again.

May I also add that Sainsburys own brand laundry pearls are amazing and only a tiny sprinkle is needed, they are also half the price of other branded products of the same type. These could definitely replace fabric conditioner if you decided to to use it with the Ecoegg.

So, would I recommend the Ecoegg? Absolutely! It’s quicker and easier and I imagine pretty good for the washing machine, no gunk build up (unless you use fabric conditioner)

Will I be swapping my usual detergent for an Eco Egg on a permanent basis? Definitely!

Would I give up fabric conditioner? No chance!

Have you tried an Ecoegg? What are your thoughts? Or perhaps you have some amazing cost saving, eco-friendly products you’d like to share with me? Comment below and don’t forget to follow the blog 😊

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.

My name’s Nikki and I am an eco warrior! ♻️🌎🤘🏻

When I first started Thrifty Green Life at the beginning of last year it was with the intention of documenting our families money saving journey. We made a plan to change our money wasting habits and find “thrifty” ways to make changes to our lifestyle. We wanted to own our home, but we had no money to be able to afford a deposit for a mortgage and this was our goal.

Over the last year I’ve realised that this blog and our journey has become so much more than I ever anticipated. It’s become less about saving money and more about protecting our planet and the health and future of my family.

We still desperately want to own our own home but we also want to build our own home. We dream of living a more minimalist, sustainable and self sufficient life. We still want to save money on unimportant things but we also want to spend the money that is necessary to improve our lives and the health of our family and the planet.

I never anticipated that I would become extremely passionate about zero waste, plastic free shopping and recycling. Or that I would become a forager, a gardener and start my very own eco community. But, here I am today, with my little old blog, documenting not only my journey to sustainability and self sufficiency but hopefully providing a useful source of info and inspiration to help you change the future of our planet too (If you want to 😊)

Come and share our experiences and who knows, it may even inspire you to do the same! I promise I will have some amazing products and ideas to share with you along the way.

I am really excited for the year ahead and what ever experiences and challenges it may bring and I can’t wait to share it all with you, 2019 Lets do this!

Fellow eco warrior? Don’t forget to…

1 – Follow my blog ✔️

2 – Come and join my eco army (we are always recruiting 😉) ✔️

3 – Follow me on Instagram and Twitter ✔️

Welcome to my thrifty Green Life

Nikki x