Can you green your Nespresso? One Green Summer #7

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Latte o’clock with Sealpod

My coffee drinking habits are a guilty pleasure. A coffee or two a day is necessary fuel for a freelancer and parent, but I know my way of getting a caffeine fix is far from eco-friendly.

We were given a Nespresso and whilst we do recycle the pods, it is a horrifying amount of waste for one cuppa. Not to mention the ongoing expense. At 30p per cup, a two a day habit is going to set you back nearly £220 a year.

I was interested in finding a reusable option, to take the bitter taste of guilt out of my coffee.

The premise is simple – Sealpod makes reusable plastic pods that you simply fill with ground coffee and cover with a little lid – either aluminium or paper filter (if you don’t mind losing a little of the crema).

I find the Nespresso range limited and I also prefer my coffee at little milder, so being able to step away from their enforced selection is appealing. There’s nothing quite like grinding your own beans either.

The pods themselves are very neat and the sticker lids are easy to use – it was time to give it a go.

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So did it work?

Not at first. My first couple of attempts yielded dirty dishwater, with zero crema. Given that Seapod advertise themselves as the only resusable option that still gives crema, I knew it wasn’t working properly. Attempts #1 and #2 went straight down the sink and I tried a different coffee: Lavazza’s espresso blend. From reviews, this was the option that seemed to work well for lots of people who’d been down the dishwater route.

After a few more attempts – varying the amount of coffee and tamping it down differing amounts, I got it working. It made a decent coffee. Still less crema than the Nespresso pods, and a slightly less intense flavour, but one that suited me perfectly.

I tend to use one espresso shot for my latte. I also discovered that for lungho coffee, you need to use two pods.

And that I suppose is the delight of this; there is no ‘one size fits all’ you can vary your bean, the grind, and your intensity and play around with it until you get it just right for you.  In short, this is coffee with a ritual. Coffee that you need to work a bit for.

Mind you, the pods themselves are very neat, the stickers are easy to use and they are quick to clean too.

If you currently get your fix from a cafetiere or stove top pot, then I wouldn’t swap, but if you have a Nespresso or similar and feel the eco-guilt, these are well worth a bit of fiddling around.

For more info, check out the Sealpod website: www.sealpod.com

I was sent these products for free in exchange for an honest review.

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Ethical luxury: One Green Summer #6

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Wearth London, for stylish, ethical treats, homewares and gifts

Wearth London is a veritable treasure trove of all things eco. We’re not talking ‘worthy hair shirt eco’ but ‘OMG I love that’ eco. All things gorgeous and covetable. The store champions independent, sustainable and ethical brands.

The natural beauty range, homewares and gifts are full of inspiration and green luxury. Co-founder Imogen explains the rationale; “As someone who has always been interested in fashion and style, I struggled to find a balance between this and my commitment to live sustainably. This is a store for people who care about style and also conscious living – the two no longer need to be a contradiction.”

What really captured my interest was the jewellery collection. It’s something we often choose to ignore, but mining for precious metals is brutal. There can be many environmental and human costs, including poor wages, toxic chemicals, dangerous mine shafts and lack of ecological restoration of spent mines.

Wearth London stocks ethical, handmade jewellery created from recycled sterling silver. The unique pieces by Smoke and Ash are captivating and charming. I’m a total sucker for things inspired by nature.

I tried out the Starfish necklace (and was pleased to note that 10% of the sales goes to the Marine Conservation Society). It is a gorgeous starfish pendant that brings a fresh, summery take on the trend for stars – its organic curves are much prettier and more delicate than an astrological star. So often in more affordable jewellery (the necklace costs £30), the chain is a disappointment. This one is fine and sits beautifully. It’s a ‘put on and leave on’ for the whole summer piece.

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Pretty ethical

The cockle shell necklace is a favourite of mine too.

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​​All pieces are packaged in a small cotton bag that can be used to clean the jewellery should they tarnish and larger items come in a recycled cardboard gift box along with a small cotton bag.

I know exactly where I’ll be heading for stylish, eco-conscious shopping from now on.

​For more information, check out Wearth London’s website: www.wearthlondon.com

I was sent the necklace for free in exchange for an honest review.

I’m a little bit obsessed with Weaver Green: One Green Summer #5

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Ever since spying a catalogue, I knew I loved the look of Weaver Green textiles, particularly their rugs and blankets. They give that wonderfully effortless textured look, with inspiration from around the world, including Turkey, Morocco, France. I can’t help but think of summer picnics and beach trips, but they work just as well for snuggles by the winter fire.

When I discovered that Weaver Green textiles are made entirely from recycled water bottles, I was keen to give them a try. Rugs can have up to 3,000 bottles in them, whilst the blankets are made of 300 bottles.

Nelly from Weaver Green explained to me that, “We source approximately 70% of our recycled plastic bottles from land origins (saving it from being put into landfill), and about 30% from waterways and ocean borne sources.”

Whilst some of these bottles might have been recycled anyway, it is often into disposable products that then need further recycling – and this cannot go on – most water bottles can only be recycled once or twice. When made into these rugs, you have a durable, lasting heirloom item that can be passed through the generations.

I was worried that whilst they look great, and have fab ethics, that the feel of them would put me off. I needn’t have worried, the rug is impossible to tell apart from a woollen weave and the hammam throw is soft cotton.

They even passed the daughter test – she’s very sensitive; I never buy a thing without checking the inside seams, snipping off labels and  then washing with fabric conditioner. She also prefers to snuggle under a blanket in the nude, free from the discomfort of clothes. She loves the soft feel of the hammam throw – there is nothing itchy or scratchy at all.

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The Hammam throw in Dove Grey, £45

The rugs and blankets are perfect for family life. So many times, I’ve bought something beautiful only to have it ruined by someone puking on it or spilling juice, and they often can’t be washed or stain eaily. These items can be machine washed, even the rugs, and they are resistant to muddy boots, red wine stains, moth attacks and pet paws. They work well as inside/outside options.

Packaging wise, they were A*. Not a scrap of plastic – it was all sturdy brown paper.

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The cat approving of the sturdy brown paper packaging

It really is credit to this brand, that despite being send three of its products for free to review, I have asked my mother-in-law to buy me the gorgeous diamond weave blanket for my birthday. I rather have my eye on these cushions too…

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ON THE WISH LIST!

In fact, I want to fill my house with the stuff. And my garden. I’m a little bit obsessed.

To see the Weaver Green range, have a look here: www.weavergreen.com

I was sent these products for free in exchange for an honest review.

Innovation and ethics: activewear with a heart

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Flattering, comfortable work out gear makes the world of difference to persuading you to get active. It’s great when it’s the kind of thing you can wear all day, so you can grab a chance to exercise if it comes your way.

Most of the options available are polyester-based, an eco-disaster, made from a chemical reaction involving coal and petroleum.

But there are market disruptors out there, testing new, sustainable ways of making performance fabrics. I tested out the Sundried Grivola 2.0 top made from 100% recycled materials. And those recycled materials are….COFFEE GROUNDS. It’s an energy-saving process that finds a use for a waste product.

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The Grivola tee made from coffee

Sundried is all about ethics. From charitable donations, partnership with The Low Carbon Innovation Fund and responsible treatment of everyone in their supply chain, it is a far cry from the mass-produced options with very dubious ethics.

So aesthetics and performance: It is flattering, with a loose fit, dropped hem and open neckline. I’ve used it for yoga and running and it worked well for both. On a muggy hot day, I was impressed at how it wicks sweat away while staying dry. I’ve also worn it with a pair of shorts; the silky, drapey cut was lovely to wear.

Boring but necessary stuff: It washes well and dries quickly. And you know those work-out tops that still look fine but seem to have some specially patented, wash-resistant  B.O. particles hidden within them so they get smelly really easily…. well that won’t be this top. The coffee has odour blocking properties to keep things fresh. And you won’t smell of coffee either, thank goodness.

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Love the look of this hoody

Sundried is great for all-day active wear and standard workout gear, but it also does hardcore kit for competition and for triathletes. It makes me feel tempted to give triathlons a go again. The range is well worth looking at if you have a sporting challenge on the horizon.

This is performance gear with ethics and sustainability at its heart. It brings a whole new meaning to coffee on the go.

Currently, the clothes arrive in recycled plastic packaging, but the Sundried team are working on better options for this.

To find out more about the Sundried activewear range, look here: www.sundried.com

I was given the Grivola tee in exchange for an honest review.

 

F*ck flushing get Fab: One Green Summer #3

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I’ve written before about the tampon taboo and how half of all women think it is ok to flush.

It’s not. It’s really, really not, but until we all swap to the Mooncup (I will try it soon) or period pants (check out my review of them here) then there are likely to be occasions when you have a tampon to get rid of… for example, in a public loo with no sanitary disposal or at your Granny’s house with no bin.

Flushing anything other than the three p’s (poo, pee, paper – thanks for asking!) can cause blockages to your pipes and sewers, but waste can also get through the filtration systems at sewage works and end up in our rivers and seas. This means more plastic pollution – and cotton buds, wet wipes and condoms this applies just as much to you!

Sowhatdoya’do? Well you just have a pack of Fab little bags in your handbag and discreetly pop your tampon in, avoiding the whole, ‘I’ll wrap it in tissue’ thing which is unsatisfactory, especially when your kid pulls it out of your bag; “what’s this mummy?” or you have to rummage for your car keys.

They open with one hand, seal shut easily and are biodegradable. You can do your bit to keep our oceans clean and our sewers unblocked.

And while we’re at it, if you have school age kids of either gender, have you talked to them about periods yet? We need to break down taboos, and normalise a normal part of life. If you don’t do it, who will?

For more info, check out www.fablittlebag.com

No incontinent handbags and stay chilled in the heat… One Green Summer series

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Baking hot 29 degree sunshine, parched ground, no shade. My son was taking part in an Under 9s cricket tournament and he was putting masses of pressure on himself. My daughter was generously giving out rocks she had smashed open to reveal crystals within…. then regretting it and trying to reclaim them. In short, the temperature was rising!

There was no better day to test out the children’s double insulated water bottles from Klean Kanteen, promising to keep their water iced for 40 hours or (not terribly weather appropriate right now) their hot chocolate warm for 12 hours.

Made from stainless steel, I was reassured that the materials are non-toxic and BPA free and very critically for poor me who has been known to drip water from my handbag like an incontinent guinea pig… THEY DON’T LEAK.

The lid is plastic, but compared to the usual twist cap bottles we use that seem to need replacing every month (because they get yucky in the cap, split when dropped or get chewed lids) this is a massive reduction in plastic.

The kids like them, find them easy to open and close and are pleased with the fact that no one else at school has them.

Meanwhile, I have been testing the entirely plastic-free Reflect bottle. It’s made from sustainably harvested bamboo, stainless steel and food-grade silicone. Nothing else. It is a good-looking bottle, equally at home by the yoga mat as it is going to the beach.

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The plastic-free Reflect bottle

They are very effective. All three bottles can be hot to the touch on the exterior when left in the sun, in the OVEN TEMPERATURE car for example, but within the water remains icy loveliness.

And as for the cricket tournament, it all ended well. My son’s team came second, and my daughter gave the crystal rock back to the (wailing) child who she had ‘reclaimed’ it from. And the water remained as chilled at the G&T I came home to.

For more info, and to check out the plastic-free bottles and other products, visit: http://www.kleankanteen.co.uk

I was sent this product for free in exchange for an honest review.

One green summer: clingy gets good

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It is time to ditch the cling film. It is yet more disposable plastic sneaking its way into your life. But finding an adequate alternative is not easy. Tin foil just ends up in landfill, a plastic bag can only be reused a couple of times, Tupperware requires decanting hassle – sometimes you just want something to quick and easy to seal a bowl so your ratatouille leftovers are ok for lunch the next day.

Enter Beeswax Wraps…

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There is something fabulously vintage about these wraps, with their pretty prints and beeswax smell (mind you, less pretty ones are available, for teenager’s lunchboxes and so on).

These ones remind me of my grandmother, who died when I was 12. She was a proper farmer’s wife, constantly baking, making jams and generally feeding anyone willing to be fed. She had one of those net domes for keeping flies off food and loved a lace doily. She would have loved these.

They are utterly retro and charming, but also very effective. Made from locally sourced beeswax, organic jojoba oil, pine resin and cotton, each wrap is just sticky enough to adhere to the sides of bowls and containers to seal food in tight. The warmth from your hands helps it stick firmly and, once stuck, it stays firmly in place. As creators, Fran and Carly say, “Clingy, but in a good way.”

You can use them to wrap bread, sandwiches, cheese… anything really. If you want to get whizzy, you can even make cute little boxes as in this tutorial.

However, I had a small problem using mine. I realised I was avoiding them for ‘messy’ items, like the beautiful cheesecake that I made then dropped and had to scoop up and pile in a bowl. I didn’t want to ruin my pretty wraps. Then it came to me – that we have chosen not to engage with many items we use. We’d rather not feel anything for them – use, and dispose.

It’s a funny feeling to suddenly care for an everyday items, but I do, they make me smile when I use them. So I told myself to stop being a fuckwit, and to get them mucky, because after all, they clean easily and well.

After use, you simply rinse the wraps in cold water and a little gentle soap, then hang them out to dry. Every few months, you can ‘pasteurise’ them, by popping in a low oven for a few minutes. They will be as good as new.

The wraps are delivered entirely in paper and card packaging, and would make lovely gifts for eco-conscious people in your life. You certainly can’t say that about cling film!

In summary, I like my food wrap how I like my men: Ethical, long-lasting, attractive, smell great and clingy… but only in a good way.

For more info, check out: www.beeswaxwraps.co.uk or ask the lovely Fran and Carly any questions on Twitter @beeswaxwraps_uk

I was sent this product for free in exchange for an honest review.