Hello – it’s day four today of our month long period of abstinence from shopping and I have been getting a little panicky about food and whether we are going to be able to manage on a veg box a week alone. I made soup for lunch and carefully metered out the ingredients for the kids to make scones to go with the soup. My youngest said to me that I’m not very good at following my own advice in that the thoughts you focus on and give most time and energy to are the ones that are mostly likely to happen. I broke off a big piece of humble pie and marvelled how even when I think no-one is listening, it’s all being absorbed.
We said goodbye to our adopted puppy yesterday and I felt really sad to see him go, although the house had started to acquire that warm, wet dog smell and he did try to eat one of our lady chooks. Jez rescued her in the nick of time. As he is a rescue dog he was in quite a bad way emotionally and health wise. We gave him Bach Flower Remedies to balance his emotional state and fed him on ‘natural’ dog food but it got me to thinking about other ways in which we can reduce the carbon pawprint and nurture our animals in as natural a way as possible.
Over 50% of us have pets at home and Â£3 billion pounds are spent annually on petcare products in the UK. So it is certainly worth making ethical choices in this area of our lives.
COME TO THE RESCUE – Find out about your local animal shelter and adopt a rescued animal if possible – there are thousands of mistreated or abandoned animals who need safe homes. Try the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs Home or Cats Protection.
ORGANIC FOOD – Look for organic or natural petfood at your local pet food store. Try and avoid plastic packaging as far as possible. The most healthy diet for cats and dogs is said to be raw meat, combined with cooked rice and vegetables. There are many books with recipes and further information about providing pets with a diet as close to their wild ancestors as possible – try the local library. Find out more about the nasties contained in conventional pet food and about how to give your pet a natural diet in Issue 23 of The Green Parent.
NATURAL TOYS – Shun plastic in favour of homemade toys – what cat can resist a feather or a ball of string? Both Animal Pure and Ecoutlet have a great range of natural alternatives made from hemp and loofah.
SCOOP THE POOP – Bag and bin dog poo in a biodegradable Poop Scoop bag or use the Onya Dump It with biodegradable bags inside.
BANISH FLEAS – Add 2 crushed cloves of raw garlic to your pet’s food at each mealtime as a natural flea repellent. Ask a herbalist about a herbal treatment, containing wormwood and tea tree for example, that can be added to your pet’s collar. Find out more about pesticide-free flea treatments at Pesticide Action Network.
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE – Animals respond well to many alternative therapies including homeopathy, Reiki and Bach flower essences. You might also be able to find a holistic veterinary surgeon near you – we have one at the end of the road! You can read more about natural therapies for pets in Issue 23 of The Green Parent.
BIODEGRADABLE LITTER – If you use cat litter, for kittens or housebound pets, source natural cat litter, which is made from 100% paper and is completely biodegradable (although faeces has to be removed before composting).
ANIMAL WELFARE – Exotic animals are not suitable for pets but are still sold in some pet shops. These animals have usually been trafficked thousands of miles, often illegally, in cramped and inhumane conditions. Find out how you can help stop this at Traffic International. In this country some dog breeders are unscrupulous and puppies are kept in dark, cold, cramped conditions. Find out more at The Dogs Trust.
PROTECT WILDLIFE – Domestic cats are one of the main causes of declining bat numbers in the UK – fix a bell to your cat’s collar and stop him from being so stealthy. RSPB reports show that bells reduce wildlife deaths by over a third.
Any other green tips for pets – do let me know!
Mum of two (soon to be three), Helen Blaber has created a great alternative to disposable nappy wipes – the washable cheeky wipe, after four years experience of nappy changes. She says that using these soft cotton cloths instead of disposable wipes, which can contain chemicals such as benzoic acid, parabens and phenoxyethanol, could save over Â£200 during the baby’s lifetime in nappies.
Every nappy wipe that is thrown away ends up in landfill but these little beauties require only water and possibly a few drops of essential oil to soak. They come in an airtight container with 25 towelling wipes, mesh bags for when out and about and 2 different essential oil blends. A kit costs Â£29.95 and holds everything you need for one baby.
Of course, you could just do as Helen did to start with and cut up an old towel into small squares and soak in water to use as wipes. There are plenty of recipes for baby wipe soaking solutions if you fancy making your own. I like a combination of chamomile tea bags, steeped in a cup of hot water, mixed with 50ml of organic sweet almond oil. Place cut up flannels or towels (preferably organic) in an ice-cream tub and pour the solution over. Top up with water and use as needed. Great as a facial cleanser before bed too!
Well, we haven’t spent any money for three days although I did go a little crazy whilst playing shops earlier and spent a whole purse full of crystals on some pieces of wooden fruit. I also got a slight pang for lunch in a cafÃ©, rather than having to make everything from scratch again (and wash up afterwards!) but that passed quite quickly.
Our office is also part of the Buy Nothing Challenge as well so we will not be splurging on stationery items this month or indulging in edible treats to fuel the late nights that are often necessary when producing a magazine every two months. We don’t really buy ‘things’ for work though so I thought I would come up with a few other ideas on how to create a really clean green office.
â€¢ SAVE PAPER – The average office worker uses 20,000 sheets of A4 paper a year, most of which gets thrown away. It is easy to reduce the amount of paper used though – print and photocopy on both sides, send emails rather than letters, reuse envelopes and turn scrap paper into notepads. Set up an office recycling scheme and be sure to source recycled paper.
â€¢ BUY TO LAST – Avoid disposable biros and choose refillable pens or pencils instead. A plastic pen in landfill will still be there in 50,000 years time. Globally 14 million biros are bought a day!
â€¢ SOURCE GREEN STATIONERY – Buy recycled stationery, eco staplers and more from the Green Stationery Company. If each of the UK’s ten million office workers used one less staple a day, 120 tonnes of steel would be saved a year.
â€¢ FAIR TEA BREAK – Drink Fairtrade tea and coffee, bought from a local shop, if possible. Use a real mug, instead of a disposable cup. Rather than buying pastries and cakes to treat colleagues, bring in homemade goodies instead.
â€¢ PACK AN ECO LUNCH – Mrs Green recommends a zero waste approach to packed lunches over at the fab Little Green Blog, capitalising on nature’s own perfect packaging.
â€¢ RECYCLE YOUR CARTRIDGES – Over 7.5 million toner cartridges and 12 million ink cartridges end up in landfill each year – and the sad thing is that about 90% of them could be recycled. Cartridge World says that 12 months of cartridge recycling in the UK could save up to 15 million litres of oil. Look for one of its 280 stores in high streets across the country where you can refill your cartridge instead of buying new. Alternatively check the manufacturers guidelines on the packet for the freepost address to send used cartridges to for recycling.
â€¢ RECYCLE FURNITURE – Unwanted furniture can be recycled by Green Works, a not-for-profit organisation that donates office furniture to schools and charities. This reduces landfill, supports projects in need and provides employment for disadvantaged and disabled people.
â€¢ SAVE ENERGY – Position desks to get the best natural light. Switch off lights and machines when not in use. Screensavers do not save energy – switch your machine to sleep mode or turn it off.
â€¢ GET WATER EFFICIENT – The Environment Agency has produced a range of leaflets to encourage organisations to become more environmentally aware. You can download free guides on becoming more water efficient and other aspects of greening your business.
â€¢ LOOK FOR THE STAR – If you need to buy new equipment, look for the Energy Star – a system developed in the US that also applies to goods sold in the UK. Purchasing a printer, modem or monitor with the Energy Star, you know it will be one of the most efficient models and you will save around Â£25 a year in energy costs.
â€¢ READ CHANGE THE WORLD – For lots of inspiring ideas and actions to take at work, check out We Are What We Do’s book – Change the World 9-5.
â€¢ TRAVEL LIGHT – Work out your carbon footprint of travelling to and from work and how you can reduce it. Try a car pool and who knows you might find some new friends whilst saving the planet.
â€¢ GET A PLANT – House plants improve indoor air quality, they can reduce pollution by 87% in 24 hours. They look good and lift your spirits too.
â€¢ GO NEW AGE – I have a selection of crystals round my desk, specifically clear quartz, as it helps to soak up some of the Electromagnetic Radiation that leaches from electrical equipment.
Any more ideas? Do let me know ways that you have managed to make your work environment a greener, more lovely place to work!
November is Vegan Month, organised by animal welfare charity, Animal Aid, to raise awareness of an animal-free diet and lifestyle and to improve availability of vegan food.
Visitors to the site can download a vegan recipe book and action pack, enter a competition to win a hamper full of vegan goodies, find out about events taking place in the local area, source recipes, watch videos and find out why going vegan is good for animal welfare, the environment and our health.
I am going to be celebrating different vegan companies on the blog throughout the month so keep reading to find out which companies have animal welfare at their heart.
The first vegan company that I would like to feature in our spotlight is Plamil Foods because they are probably one of the longest running. Originally the company was set up in the 1960’s to produce an alternative to dairy milk, producing milk from plants, the original ‘soya milk’ called Plant Milk. PLAnt MILk became Plamil Foods.
All their products are suitable for vegans and are also gluten free. Plamil’s chocolate is almost a ‘guilt free indulgence’ and even comes as a ‘no added sugar’ bar, sweetened using Xylitol, which is made from birch trees. They also have a new range of snack bars, an organic dairy free chocolate spread and the ever popular carob bars.
Ethics are high on the agenda securing high scores in the Ethiscore ratings published by Ethical Consumer magazine. From sourcing ingredients right through to the way they do business ethical issues are at the forefront and in fact all the energy used to make the products is sourced from 100% renewable energy.
Look out for their yummy chocolate range at your local health food store.
Welcome to the new blog from the Green Parent office. Here we'll talk about what's going on in the small and quite leafy headquarters of the UK's leading green lifestyle magazine. We'll share news that interests us and talk about green issues and natural parenting. We'll share advice and information from our own experiences of living a green lifestyle. And we'll even tell you what we are reading, eating, drinking and thinking. Hope you get plenty of food for thought here.